This Isn’t Reform, It’s Robbery by Chris Hedges

by Chris Hedges
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
August 24, 2009

Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large US health-insurance companies: +87%Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies: +428%Chances that an American bankrupted by medical bills has health insurance: 7 in 10

—Harper’s Index, September 2009

Capitalists, as my friend Father Michael Doyle says, should never be allowed near a health care system. They hold sick children hostage as they force parents to bankrupt themselves in the desperate scramble to pay for medical care. The sick do not have a choice. Medical care is not a consumable good. We can choose to buy a used car or a new car, shop at a boutique or a thrift store, but there is no choice between illness and health. And any debate about health care must acknowledge that the for-profit health care industry is the problem and must be destroyed. This is an industry that hires doctors and analysts to deny care to patients in order to increase profits. It is an industry that causes half of all bankruptcies. And the 20,000 Americans who died last year because they did not receive adequate care condemn these corporations as complicit in murder.

The current health care debate in Congress has nothing to do with death panels or public options or socialized medicine. The real debate, the only one that counts, is how much money our blood-sucking insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit health services are going to be able to siphon off from new health care legislation. The proposed plans rattling around Congress all ensure that the profits for these corporations will increase and the misery for ordinary Americans will be compounded. The corporate state, enabled by both Democrats and Republicans, is yet again cannibalizing the Treasury. It is yet again pushing Americans, especially the poor and the working class, into levels of despair and rage that will continue to fuel the violent, proto-fascist movements leaping up around the edges of American society. And the traditional watchdogs—those in public office, the press and citizens groups—are as useless as the perfumed fops of another era who busied their days with court intrigue at Versailles. Canada never looked so good.


via Truthdig

Copyright © 2009 Truthdig

Chris Hedges is the author of the new book “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.”


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20 thoughts on “This Isn’t Reform, It’s Robbery by Chris Hedges

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  10. I’ve been fighting for a single payer for 20 years. There are two crucial problems:1. There is zero % chance for single payer. 2.There will be a bill. 3. Choice is bill w/ public option or bill without. If we sit back and fight for “All or nothing”, we won’t get the “nothing” – we will get Reform w/o a public option.

    If you truly believe that it’s OK for reform to go through without a public option, because you want all or nothing… You will not get it, and in the process you will help pass reform that is more of a WINDFALL than you can imagine.

    The Insurance Companies launched a full force attack against the public option. – Why do you think that they are fine with the co-ops but adamantly opposed to the public option? Because they KNOW it will eventually drastically lower their profit margin.

    Mandatory buy in: If you do not have a public option to force competition – no one can sign up for anything but a for-profit Insurance.
    If we have a public option, people will sign up – yes it will take time – not everyone will be eligible (that’s wrong, and we should fight to change that in reconciliation). But it’s a start.

    If you are interested in fighting to include a public option (details of it can be changed for the better in reconciliation). Here is a letter I wrote that people from 4 different states are using to send to their Senators and Representatives. (full permission given)


    Are you more concerned about re-election than your constituents? Are you willing to lie and deceive them for political gain? The fact that 45-53% believe lies is your responsibility and it is unconscionable. Are you actually willing to vote against a public option at the expense of your constituents health, their financial stability and our nations solvency?

    The Insurance Industry will protect their profit margin, and the profits to come (mandatory participation) at all costs. Republicans need money from the Insurance Industry in order to take back congress and win the presidency. They need the public option to fail.

    We are paying billions for insurance industry advertising, exorbitant salaries, and billions for the insurance industry to lobby against us to increase their profits and remove competition. Nothing prevents the Insurance Industry from buying up, buying out, or even starting co-ops to prevent real competition (e.g. blue cross/blue shield). They can claim co-ops “work” without decreasing their profit margin or “triggering” a public option.

    Without a non-profit public option, the Insurance Industry will not lower costs, in fact it would increase the % of GDP that is already unsustainable. This will force tax increases to an unsustainable level, heavily subsidize Insurance Industry profits, bankrupt our country and the Democrats will be blamed.

    The top 10 rated countries have universal coverage, require non-profit health care whether it’s public or private sector, and have sustainable % of GDP. Singapore, rated 6th, has the lowest % of GDP because it requires public health care to compete with private.

    Because or profit driven Insurance we pay approx. $4-6000 more per person than any other industrialized country, yet we don’t have universal coverage and we are rated 37th as a nation for our Health Care (just above Costa Rica).

    Colleagues who lie, or constituents who believe those lies, must never be allowed to dominate. If you are truly concerned about your constituents then you will vote for real reform, even if it means losing your job.

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  15. This is not the only plan to rob the most vulnerable and least able to protest in our society. Yesterday, the Social Security administration announced it was freezing cost of living adjustments for Social Security recipients for the next two years and increasing the deductions for Plan B and Plan D of Medicare. I already make so little in Social Security that I can’t afford Part B and Part D and so no complicated testing like MRIs for me, just an emergency visit to the hospital as I am dying. One might get the suspicion that they are deliberately trying to kill off old folks, so there will be more money in the Social Security fund, when it comes time to privatize it and put it in the stock market or borrow from it to finance their wars.

  16. The disgraceful and criminal conduct of Congress and the lobbying interests is outrageous.

    There is one glaring misconception here–that people don’t choose their illnesses. The epidemic of degnerative diseases that is in the process of bankrupting the country and its citizens is by an large a lifestyle choice. This is explained well in Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. What we choose to eat, by and large determines one’s health.

    I recently watched a video showig people effected by ill health and the deplorable health care services system. All but one of them had diseases that have been demonstrated to be produced by diet!

    Single payer is needed, but people need to start getting informed and take responsibility by and large for their own health.

    • Good point, Shaine, however, for most of the poor in our country, eating healthier is cost prohibitive. That’s one of the reasons I grow my own veggies/fruits, otherwise I would not be eating fresh veggies/fruits as they cost too much at the store.

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