All of the grassroots efforts for the substantive, effective health care reform that is so needed by American families, have been attacked – for months, for years, and for decades – by insurance corporations, by their corporate allies, and now by crass strategists within both major political parties. Much of the lavishly funded incessant attack has been stealthy and subliminal. A health care crisis has thus materialized and been getting worse fast.
The words “public option”, have received overwhelming public support in national polls (be sure to see this article analyzing those polls) this year when contrasted with the status quo in health care. However, the proposed public option plan(s) proved vulnerable to certain attacks from the professional spin-meisters who are working to derail any substantive health care reform. Here are three of the most effective PR attacks recently made on “public option” health care reform efforts. The response that is necessary concludes this essay.
1. The public option would mean a government takeover of health care. They ask, “Do you want the government getting between you, your doctor, and your health care?”
2. The public option, and the bills currently being talked about by politicians and talking heads, will cost lots more than what is currently being spent on health care in America, and that would make the already horrendous deficit even worse. They ask, “Who’s going to pay for this?”.
3. The public option and the bills currently talked about in the newspapers and TV and radio, will cause Medicare to be robbed, and health care for elders to be curtailed. They ask, “Do you want these reformers to establish death panels and pull the plug on Granny?”
What should be our answers to these PR attacks on the health care reform needed in America? These attacks on the public option plan have clearly shown a major mistake was made in allowing the Medicare for All solution to the health care crisis (HR 676) to be taken “off the table” before there was even a public discussion of it. Eliminating the Medicare for All solution from the public discussion for meaningful health care reform has (so far) marginalized and isolated those with the most knowledge about the health care crisis and those who have been longest and most deeply committed to the struggle. Eliminating the Medicare for All solution from the public discussion abandoned the clearest analysis and the strongest arguments, and kept us from neutralizing those attacks. It is plain stupid (or a sinister betrayal) to leave one confusing, flip-flopping proposal for an undefined “public option” on the table to be attacked from all directions. The people can’t fight the odds against true reform with one hand tied behind our back and the other hand unable or unwilling to hit hard.
It is easy for anyone to explain or quickly understand the Medicare for All solution to the health care crisis. It proposes to strengthen and enhance Medicare, and expand it to provide comprehensive health care to ALL Americans, throughout life, with no co-pays and no deductibles. The Congressional Budget Office has reported that the amount of money that would be saved by changing the administration of the existing health care system from for-profit insurance corporations to Medicare would be more than enough to provide universal coverage for everyone. Medicare for All is supported by a wide majority of nurses and physicians that provide primary health care, and by a majority of American families (despite the powerful efforts to put it “off the table” and keep it out of view). Medicare for All (HR 676) clearly defines the health care crisis, identifies the primary reason for it, and presents a simple, understandable, proven workable solution, in a 15-page bill that anyone can read. So here are (or should be) our answers to the PR attacks directed against the public option and health care reform:
First, the government did not “take over” and harm the health care of those over 65, or the disabled, when Medicare was established in 1965, or the health care of those who now serve or have served in the armed forces, or the excellent health care provided by these military facilities to our Presidents, members of Congress, and their families. Caregivers providing health care today are faced with intervention and interference from insurance corporations, but not from Medicare. Where would American families be today, and where would elders and the disabled be, if the insurance corporations had continued to administer and be the gatekeepers of their health care, instead of Medicare, which has done so for almost half a century? Where would your family be today if Medicare had not been established? How many elders would have lived and died uninsured, under-insured, and without needed care, and how many more families would have gone bankrupt trying to help their elder or disabled members get the health care they need? Everyone needs to be reminded that health insurance corporations and their allies interfere with families’ choice of providers, and with needed treatment plans and prescriptions. The excellent active duty military family medical care system (which IS a completely government owned and operated system of “socialized medicine”) and Medicare (which is NOT) do not let administrators get between the doctors and their patients, like the for-profit insurance corporations do, who insist it is their right. We should loudly and clearly say that, “American families have a right to get health care we need without insurance corporations getting anywhere between health care providers and the people”. Families don’t need health insurance – families just need health care. Comprehensive guaranteed health care for all. And that means, everybody in, nobody out.
Second, with regards to projected financial costs, we should simply and clearly say, “Hey, if you don’t like the up front cost of the ‘public option’ then look at Medicare for All! HR 676 would save four hundred billion dollars annually in unnecessary, wasted expenditures, easily providing universal comprehensive health care with no deductibles or co-payments, and no increased outlay. Enhanced Medicare for All is clearly the most fiscally conservative solution to the health care crisis, from both the standpoint of individual American families, and from the standpoint of the American economy (to say nothing of providing the best health care outcomes).” If you insist on keeping the insurance corporations in the role of health care gatekeeper, then America will be forced to pay a costly premium. And for what? So that American families can continue to play Russian roulette with health care treatment and costs? Let American families (not behind-the-scenes corrupt and greedy power brokers) make the choice between Medicare for All and the new, compromise public option proposals, which retain insurance corporations as gatekeepers, and do nothing to end the hugely costly, complicated billing procedures and eligibility determinations, the gross profits, and the outrageous pay and benefits to executives.
Third, orchestrated astroturf opposition surged this summer against the changing, confusing varieties of the thousand-plus page HR 3200, or the unspecified “President’s plan”, or the “Kennedy memorial” plan, or the “Baucus/lobbyists plan”. This opposition to health care reform planted and exploited fear that Medicare would be fleeced, health care for elders pinched, and “the plug would be pulled on Granny” to pay for the costs of whatever plan might emerge from the confusion. This understandable but misplaced fear is obviously and easily countered by HR 676, Medicare for All, which simply proposes to enhance and strengthen Medicare, and extend it to all Americans of all ages. That would both make Medicare stronger, and protect health care for seniors against future possible attempts to impose budget cuts on it. (And Medicare cuts will continue to be promoted if Medicare continues to be only for the elderly and the disabled.) True health care reformers need to say, “So you think the ‘public option’ proposal threatens health care for seniors? Then check out Medicare for All. If you really want to protect Medicare and health care for seniors and the disabled, then adopt Enhanced Medicare for All. Nobody is going to get away with cutting Medicare for elders if Medicare covers every member of the family.”
Can leaving the insurance corporations in place as gatekeepers in charge of the health care system in America, while even further increasing their massive power and wealth by mandating everyone in America to purchase their flawed products (with their profits further enhanced by taxpayer funded subsidies) be anything other than a sham and a fraud and a broken promise? The insurance corporations and their lobbyists and allies would like that kind of “reform”. A very small percentage of the public that is best described as woefully uninformed might be fooled and accept it.
Deciding that Medicare for All (HR 676) should be marginalized and dismissed because some talking heads and bosses say it does “not have the votes in Congress to pass” is a self-fulfilling prophecy, an abject surrender to corruption of our government by corporate power and money, and a losers way to play a winning hand. It is understandable why the sickness business corporate strategists insisted that Medicare for All (HR 676) be shoved off-the-table before the public discussion even began. It is intolerable that anyone masquerading as a friend of health care reform needed by Americans helped them get HR 676 off the agenda and out of the media.
It should now be clear to all that discarding the trump card of Medicare for All before the hand was even played is such an obvious and continuing mistake, that the old maxim, “follow the money”, provides the only possible explanation. And a sad and sorry one it is, implying pervasive corruption in both major political parties and unwillingness by both parties to reject government that is by and for the corporations and the lobbyists, and replace it with a government that is of, by, and for the people. Over a million dollars is being spent every single day by corporate vested interests just in lobbying the 535 members of Congress to prevent the people from getting the health care reform all America so badly needs. And this is on top of the billions in campaign and PAC “contributions” that have greased elected officials, candidates, and strategists of both major parties, and the billions more to come. We can’t kid ourselves. We, the people, pay every dollar of that. And we pay for all the consequences of that legalized bribery, as well. That is just part of the huge hidden cost of compromised health care and of corrupted government that American families will have to keep paying – until we ourselves put an end to it. It won’t be easy, but it must be done.
The people should have a choice between (1) a strong public option that is available to all Americans (regardless of what their employer and the employer’s choice of insurance policy may provide them) and (2) enhanced Medicare for All (HR 676), and should be provided accurate, understandable information about each. Such information about the Medicare for All, solution to the health care crisis has long been available, but has been taken “off-the-table” by corporate lobbyists, by the mass media and by corrupted strategists running both major parties. (And by the way, in case you didn’t know, a truly strong public option as indicated above in choice #1, does NOT exist in ANY of the “public option” proposals currently before either the Senate or the House.) American families don’t need a choice in health insurance plans and policies. (Most people don’t really have one now, anyway, and will not have one with any public option proposal that emerges.) We want choice of health care providers. We need lower costs, more financial and health security, better health care outcomes, and a stronger economy for the people. And we will get it, with Enhanced Medicare for All (HR 676).
If we truly want to get the health care America needs, we will also need to get a government that is of, by, and for the people, instead of government that is by and for the corporations, the lobbyists, and the super-rich. Contact your choice of the following national organizations now to see what you can do to help the grassroots effort to get the health care America needs.
National grassroots organizations for the single payer solution –
“Physicians for a National Health Program” http://www.pnhp.org
“Single Payer Alliance” guaranteedhealthcare4all.org
“Healthcare not Warfare” pdamerica.org
“National Nurses Organizing Committee” http://www.calnurses.org
“Unions for Single-Payer Healthcare” unionsforsinglepayerhr676.org
Single Payer Action http://www.1payer.net
“Mobilization for Health Care for All” mobilizeforhealthcare.org
A few locally produced or related websites
“Business Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare” SinglePayer.info
“Defend Your Health Care Rights – Three Principles and Five Myths”
“Center for Media and Democracy” http://www.PRWatch.org
“Wisconsin Democracy Campaign” http://www.wisdc.org
Three latest reviews of the “health insurance reform” now being considered in Congress
“The Public Option in Congress is Now a Sham”
“Public Bailout of Private Insurance Corporations”
Sue J’s comment at the end of this item-by-item critique is brief, poignant and right on target.
“Top Ten Enemies of the Single-Payer Solution” by Russell Mokhiber