The Gatekeepers

September 18, 2009

Though I typically role-play only within the privacy of my own home, I thought we’d try a little exercise here on SEMI. Lets pretend that we’re presented with a group of starving people. Why are they starving? I don’t know. Pick a reason. Ok, let’s go for broke here. Maximum emotional impact. Extreme example. They’re starving because they are in a concentration camp, duh!

“I want to help!” you say. “Let’s get these people some food!” A group of your friends agrees. You go about trying to devise a way to get these poor starving folks some food.

“We’ll give them money, and they can go out and buy food,” offers somebody. Another person points out that, unfortunately, even with all the money in the world, these people will still be burdened by a lack of access to food, seeing as they are, uh, confined to a concentration camp. Not a lot of food providers around these parts.

“Ok, let’s distribute food directly to them,” counters someone else. Someone in your group objects, claiming that they believe your group is too inept to perform such a task yourselves.

As a group you mill over various ways of providing the people in the camp with money, food, and access to food for a while before another person in the back raises his hand and jumps up and down excitedly. “Oh, I got it! I got it!” he shouts. You recognize him. Wow! It’s Republican Senator Grassley from Iowa.”Let’s give money to the people RUNNING the concentration camp! They seem like they know what they are doing! Then people in the camp can apply to these wonderfully organized, efficient camp managers for food!”

This proposal receives robust support from the camp managers. Your group of friends cuts a check to them, and everyone goes home.

Is this a poor way to illustrate Sen. Grassley’s proposal mentioned in today’s Washington Post?

“Some Senate Democrats, along with a key moderate Republican, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine), are now discussing ways to increase assistance for individuals and families who could face premium costs of up to $15,000 per year by 2016. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on Baucus’s committee, is suggesting government assistance to insurance companies to help them control premium costs.”

Maybe. Is it extreme to compare insurance companies to Nazis? Sure, I suppose. I don’t know. The Nazi/Hitler analogies have been rampant of late, so I’m just jumpin’ on the bandwagon here. But in this case, many people have died from treatable conditions due to denial of coverage. Could this perhaps be because an insurance company’s existence is predicated upon taking money and keeping it?

Another choice quote from todays WaPo article:

Obama sought to ease concerns among young adults, who are now among the least likely to purchase health insurance, but who would be required to do so under the Baucus plan. Healthy 20-somethings are key to successful reform, because their payments to insurance companies would offset the costs of care for older adults.

You know, this is really funny. Like how young workers would pay into social security to offset the costs of all the old folks collecting social security? Except now the young people, like me, get to cushion a private company’s profit margin so that they can continue denying the claims of old or sick people. Fantastic! So here’s my open appeal to old people:

My dearest Old People,

I understand that, through no effort of my own, I am young. I understand that being young furnishes me with responsibilities towards those older folks who built the world in which I am living today, and as such are no longer young. I am prepared to accept this responsibility. But couldn’t I just give y’all the money directly, or couldn’t I just pay taxes and work a job in which I directly care for old and sick people like I’ve been doing for the past five years?

Smooches,

SEMI

P.S. My most precious Old People, I eagerly await your reply.

By the by, I can’t wait to live in a world where we all spend 20% of our income on goddamn “health care”:

For families buying insurance through the exchanges, the expenses are likely to mount even more rapidly, the CBO said. For example, a family of four making $78,000 would face insurance premiums of 13.9 percent of income, or $10,800, in 2016. Add deductibles and co-payments, the cost could rise to $15,300 — just under 20 percent of income.

Note: even a family of four that does not access health services even ONCE during the year is still legally obliged to pay almost $11k for insurance.

So we’ve heard the financial projections on the Washington side: this plan costs about $800 billion over ten years, it doesn’t add to the deficit, and amending the plan will naturally result in a higher price tag. But what about the financial projection for insurance companies and other “industry leaders”? I can’t wait to hear about their third-quarter earnings following enactment of this legislation.


Maxed Out

September 17, 2009

If the very best thing that can be said about your piece of legislation is that it (hopefully) does not add to the federal deficit, I’d say you probably failed to do your job and protect Americans from the ravenous pockets of private insurance execs. In fact, you led your flock to the slaughterhouse by mandating that they purchase health insurance (is this even, like,¬† constitutional?) while failing to provide a public option or even reasonable subsidies. Though expansion of Medicaid and insurance industry regulation are laudable, the rest of the legislation, including major cuts to Medicare reimbursement, lame insurance cooperatives, and forcing people to give up to 13% of their income to insurance companies, seems pretty¬† disgusting.

As one of the coveted uninsured, I suppose I’ll be going to jail when I refuse to pay the fine for failing to acquire insurance, because I’ll be damned if I give my money to an industry that has demonstrated its capacity for pure evil time and time again OR a spineless government that spoon-feeds the insurance companies 30 million new customers without providing a viable alternative. The Washington Post notes that Uncle Sam expects to help pay for this program by collecting 50 BILLION dollars from penalties imposed on individuals who don’t purchase mandatory insurance. In other words, the Baucus bill would rather collect $50 billion by fining people who are already unable to afford insurance than by imposing additional taxes on filthy rich people, or even by collecting revenue from a well-run public option (though I admit the notion of revenue from such a program may be wishful…nay, delusional, thinking.) If I’m missing something here, please, enlighten me. Until then, grow a pair, Washington. Then we can talk.