Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kabuking the Odds

House Speaker John Boehner and comic relief Michele Bachmann announce the repeal of health care in the House today.

So the House repealed the health care reform bill on their end. Their employers in the pharmaceutical and health insurance rackets will give the Republican Party a little something extra in their Christmas stockings this year.

Now all they have to do is get the Democrat-controlled Senate to vote accordingly then get Obama to sign it, thereby completely abolishing his (sadly) signature domestic achievement on which he's (unwisely) staked so much of his political capital. Yeah. That'll happen when James Sensenbrenner wins an Olympic gold medal in figure skating.

So, in the event this sci fi, speculative fiction scenario actually plays out, what would they replace it with?

Nothing. That's the whole point. This was political kabuki theater, lots of incoherent, Tea Party screaming, signifying nothing. It was a waste of perhaps millions of dollars when the House could've been focusing on passing bills that actually would've benefited the American people and would've had an actual chance of passing.

Never mind that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that repealing health care would add about $230 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. Forget the fact that millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions would have no protection if the health care reform was completely repealed, which would mean the immediate end of the high risk pools that were implemented until the law fully takes hold in 2014.

The Republican Party wants to take all that away from you and whatever little good the HCR reform would've done us. They want to go back to the good old days, that wonderful slice of time between 1971 and last year, when the Nixon administration essentially let Kaiser Permanente run roughshod over its policy holders and set the standard for the most expensive and least efficient health care infrastructure in the industrialized world. Let's just do away with those middling little protections churlishly disguised as actual reform, even though it never addressed single payer universal coverage and didn't have a public option and had covered end of life counseling removed after Sarah Palin held up and shook poor Trig and started screaming about death panels.

Let's just go back to the good old days when health care wasn't a right but a privilege available to the relatively few who could afford it.

The problem is, and this point seems to elude the Republican Party, much of our health care is employment-based and many, many people are out of work and are under-employed. Those who are underemployed are either told to go to their state health connector, which, as with Massachusetts, has been co-opted by the biggest private HMO's, or that they'd have to assume a higher and higher percentage of the weekly premiums.

Theater is more important than real life. And the real life fact is that 45,000 people, or one every 12 minutes, dies through lack of health care. Perhaps Alan Grayson wasn't being facetious when he said the GOP's health care plan can be boiled down to two words: "Die quickly."

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