Meh Culpa

Re: Universal Health Care. My questions for Senator Sherrod Brown

(AmericaBlog took questions from readers today, which will be transported to Senator Sherrod Brown for review.  With any luck he’ll answer a few good ones.  I hope he doesn’t mind a little familiarity.  I used his first name because I hadn’t heard of him. Well, it’s actually more interesting than his surname. 🙂 )

Greetings, Senator Sherrod.

I would like to know how a person who qualifies for and uses an indigent health care plan can afford to get well. For instance, let us say that a person with a chronic illness might be able to work with the right drug cocktail. Since,according to law, drug companies must provide patient assistance for those poor enough to qualify, imagine that this person has improved using an indigent health care program. He has become more functional so he would like to contribute to society.

Bravo.

Unfortunately, he faces a few hurdles. For one, being out of work for a long time, as often happens with the disabled or chronically ill, doesn’t look so nifty on a CV, and while it’s difficult for a healthy person to find work nowadays what with the unemployment rate being so high, a disabled person will have that strike of a lengthy unemployment against him.

Let’s give him a little luck here. Let’s say this person obtains a fairly good job: his wages begin at entry level, yet once his health insurance kicks in, he must pay the going rate for medications and insurance coverage. Unless he’s taking generic medications, and even then, the cost of his medication is prohibitive.

He then realizes he’s experiencing the ultimate health care Catch-22: if he keeps working for as little money as he makes, he won’t be able to pay the co-pays for doctor visits or buy his medication; without medication, he will become too sick to work; and his health will suffer because he won’t be able to see his physician. He might even develop a life-threatening condition in the meantime.

How do you propose to help people such as this man afford their health care? I’m sure you’re aware of insurance companies’ tactics. If they have to take a customer with a pre-existing condition or a serious illness that arises while the customer is covered, those companies will make sure he pays a much higher rate than anyone else.  If it comes to pass that this man cannot be denied health insurance because of his chronic illness, who will make sure his premiums are truly affordable? (I don’t buy into the competition scheme because I think insurance companies could pull an Enron or develop secret cartels like OPEC. ) Who will decide what is “affordable”–even with a public option? Will demographics, such as cost of living, be taken into account? Will a person’s debt be factored into the mix? Will a person living in San Francisco pay the same rate as someone in, say, Mississippi?

And *why not* single payer? I mean, we already have single payer: Medicare. It’s easier and it works.  Or we could have a combination: single payer with an option to go with private insurance like people do in the UK. (By the way, most Brits *like* their health care system.)

Frankly, I do not trust the insurance companies to initiate or complete true reform. I think we’re witnessing the same song and dance they’ve fed us like pablum us since Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman (http://cthealth.server101.com/why_doesn%27t.htm). We did the same thing with the auto industry–trusted the Big Three to change and allowed them to dictate terms–and look where they are now. We need to stop bending over backwards for these companies. They don’t deserve it.

I realize that our nation’s leaders are chary of single payer in part because so many people in the insurance industry would lose their jobs and that wouldn’t help the economy. But why not retrain them and/or give them jobs doing mostly the same thing in the public sector? Why is Congress so short on answers and ideas? Why not look at the countries with the best health care and try those on for size? We’re number 37 in health care, for goodness sake! Behind third world countries! We’re behind Colombia! Can you believe it?!

As I see it, our nation’s leaders would rather pay for wars, help the Wall Street gangsters (who then made out like bandits), and protect their own campaign dollars. What does that say about us as a nation that we put up with such morally reprehensible derangement? What does it say about the Legislative and Executive branches of our government that politics is almost always more important than our own people?

Thank you for reading, Senator. If you’ve gotten this far you’ve got quite an attention span. 🙂

September 21, 2009 Posted by | automakers, bailout(s), banks, Congress, corruption, Economy, Executive branch, political parties in the US, politics, recession, Senate, unemployment | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In His Own Defense, Cheney Requests Classified Torture Memos That Appalled Others

Not only that, a 2002 Pentagon memo declared that torture gained unreliable information. Rachel Maddow’s guest, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, agrees with me that the Bush administration was outrageously fearful, more so than was necessary given the level of terrorism aimed at the USA versus the terrorism other countries have lived with.

Lawrence Wilkerson was former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff.  He has written “Some Truths about Guantanamo Bay,” in which he called Dick Cheney ‘evil’  and “‘They’ Have Stolen My Party And I Want It Back.” Wilkerson  has also appeared on Frontline‘s The  Dark Side” where he depicted  Cheney’s reaction to 9/11 as paranoid and claims, rightly I think, that Cheney has misunderstood the nature of our conflict with Al Qaeda.

Personally, I’d like to see a call for Nuremberg Rules.  We have the obligation to prosecute war crimes, whether or they are formulated and committed by our own people.  Unless we hold our leaders to the same standards we hold leaders of other countries, no one will ever trust us again. And they’ll have good reason not to.   They’ll also be able to turn around and say, “Hey, look:  Democracy doesn’t work.”

April 25, 2009 Posted by | Abu Ghraib, Afghan War, Afghanistan, Arab world, Bush administration, Cheney, Executive branch, Guantanamo, human rights, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Pentagon, politics, torture, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Color Me Disgusted

Josh Gerstein and Craig Gordon’s article in Politico yesterday, “Should America Torture?,” begs the question by assuming it’s a reasonable question to ask based on the specious notion that maybe, just maybe, if torture works, it might be all right to use. Not only that, they insert a rationale for “outlawing torture”–as if it were never illegal in the first place–that neglects what Obama has said on the subject. Say Gerstein and Gordon:

Obama took water-boarding and other tactics out of use — not because experts said they never work, but because they offer a recruiting tool for al-Qaida that on balance made America less safe, not more, the White House said Thursday.

Uh, hellllllo?! During his inaugural speech, Obama said:


As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

….Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

There is nothing in that speech about stopping torture because it doesn’t work.  In fact, Obama repudiated the “false choice” between allegedly defending our nation in ways that he considered expedient because we somehow thought it would make us safe. In essence, he was arguing that we should act with courage rather than from fear.

Fear brought the Bush administration to its moral knees and left it cowering. Obama has tasked us with the obligation to stand on our feet once more.  I am not certain what the President’s up to now.   I think his political machinations may be such that he can say,”Oh, I’d rather just move forward,” while at the same time delegating authority to his Attorney General, who will decide what to do with those in the last administration that formulated torture as a policy and saw to it that war crimes were carried out by CIA operatives, medical personnel and psychologists. Obama may not approve the idea that Congress should investigate,  partly because some members of Congress approved torture themselves, but he may say something else,  such as, “I think we need to concentrate on the economy, health care and other government business.” That might be the best way for him to proceed, actually. And it would be strategically brilliant because how then could anyone blame him for legal proceedings?

This morning I brushed by an article on HuffPo entitled “Never Again.” How many times have we heard that mantra, and yet how many times, equally mantra-like,  does the same sort of thing happen over and over and over again? The Turks perpetrated genocide upon the Armenians, and still won’t admit to the crimes. The Nazis tried to exterminate all Jews, gypsies,  disabled, mentally ill, and homosexuals.  Serbians conducted ethnic cleansing on ethnic Albanians, Croats and Muslims.  They raped the women as a  tactic of war. The Tutsis massacred Hutus. The National Islamic Government of Sudan has taken Southern Sudanese women and children into slavery; the government-sponsored Janajaweed have murdered “upwards of at [least] 250,000 black Africans” in Darfur. The Israelis and the Palestinians have both perpetrated war crimes against each other.

Never again: those are just words now, a worn out refrain.

April 24, 2009 Posted by | Afghanistan, Arab world, Bush administration, Cabinet, Cheney, Congress, Defense, Executive branch, Gaza, Geneva Conventions, Guantanamo, human rights, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Obama, politics, torture, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment