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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

News flash: Republican congressional leaders have come up with yet another grand scheme to fix America’s health care system. So, look out — because when they say “fix,” they mean it in the same sense as your veterinarian uses the word!

For the gazillionth time, GOP lawmakers have put a shiny new ribbon on their same old ugly package of health insurance deforms. As before, this latest plan would eliminate coverage for millions of Americans, raise the price of insurance for the middle class and deliver much less care. But one guy says he loves it: “A great bill,” tweeted Donald Trump.

I’m guessing that, once again, our Twitterer-in-Chief hasn’t actually read the bill he is praising, or even scanned the factual summary of what it does. But, he might want to hear the opinions of his fellow corporate chieftains who have read every word of it. For example, the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield flatly rejects the re-write, because it “would allow states to waive key consumer protections [and] undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions.” Also, he points out that the plan would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans.

Or Trump could ponder this conclusion of a health policy expert: The bill is “just basically injecting chaos in 50 state capitals for the next two years.” Or maybe he’d value a state health executive’s perspective: “The [bill’s] cuts could be devastating to [Alaska’s] health care system,” and “patients will bear the consequences through reduced access to health care and lost insurance coverage.”

Trump and the GOP are wasting Congress’ time and what little public credibility they have left by continuing to play partisan politics with people’s health. Nothing great about that.

Rather than a health care system, our country’s leaders have been keeping us shackled to a “corporate care” system, allowing insurance giants, drug company gougers, hospital chains and other profiteers to ration our care based on whether a family can pay whatever outrageous price the corporations demand to maintain their exorbitant profits.

Forget the centuries-old admonition from the Greek physician Hippocrates that individual caregivers must “do no harm,” the corporate imperative to maximize profits makes our present system itself a gross violator of that primary principal. For example, Americans spend some $3.2 trillion a year on this system (more than nearly every other country in the world); 28 million of our people have no health coverage; tens of millions are so underinsured they can’t afford to use the policy they’re paying for; one out of five adults are not able to afford the prescription drugs they need; our people are less healthy than other advanced nations (for example, the U.S. ranks 42nd in life expectancy); and CEOs and top shareholders of insurance conglomerates, Big Pharma, hospital chains and other components of the system are hauling off multiple-millions of dollars each.

Can’t we do better than that? Of course we can — if we start treating health care as a human right, rather than a corporate profit center.

And doing this doesn’t require a whole new complex system. Congress can just extend America’s successful Medicare program to every man, woman, and child in our country. This egalitarian “Medicare for All” idea would deliver comprehensive care, be much easier for patients to navigate, and be far cheaper than today’s rip-off system. At last, a hospital stay would not bankrupt a family, people wouldn’t avoid going to the doctor because they can’t afford it, prescription drugs would be affordable, and workers wouldn’t be stuck in bad jobs just to get basic health coverage.

This is a health care system that’s worthy of us, one that embodies our people’s egalitarian values and strengthens our country. By actually delivering universal care we will unite our society under the essential democratic principle that we Americans really are “all in this together.”

Populist author, public speaker, and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at


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11 responses to “Do Better Than A Rip-Off Health Care System”

  1. TZToronto says:

    What Republicans in Congress don’t seem to grasp is the fact that creating a Medicare-for-All health care system will do more for their re-election than all of the corporate campaign contributions could ever do. Rather than trying to trash health care for all and braying about the evils of socialized [sic] medicine, they should be telling McConnell, Ryan, and Trump to see the real world, the one in which people suffer and die because they can’t afford to visit a doctor or hospital. (If they want to point out the flaws in the Canadian system, they should point to the failure of that system to cover prescription drugs, not wait times for elective surgery. But Americans want instant service, even when waiting can sometimes allow the body to heal itself.)

    • FireBaron says:

      But, but, but, TZ, isn’t that SOCIALISM? Shudder, shudder, gasp, gasp! How could they possibly support something that would actually provide for people the same levels of care they enjoy?

    • dtgraham says:

      There should be a national program, agreed, but at least each of Canada’s provinces has it’s own pharmacare system with similarities: people receiving social assistance get coverage either for free or for a minimal co-payment, and low-income seniors as well as other low income people tend to be covered. Many Provinces also provide catastrophic coverage for drug costs above a set amount, such as 4% of household income. That still leaves some people not covered though.

      I don’t think Republicans care about providing health insurance to boost their election chances. With extreme state and federal gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics, they’ve molded the electorate that they need. When they talk about fulfilling promises, they’re talking about campaign promises made to wealthy donors. That’s who the promises were really made to — not to voters. Voters, they don’t need. At least not in the traditional, normal, sense of a political party.

      They’re also strongly opposed philosophically to the concept of health care for all as a human right. They violently disagree with the idea.

      • This entire debate is a continuation of the early AMA’s decision to regulate medical care to maximize profits during the times of Franklin Roosevelt and Truman’s attempt to provide relief and aid to Americans unable to foot the financial cost for healthcare.

        • dtgraham says:

          It seems inevitable eventually, Aaron. It’s been talked about for so long by Democratic Presidents. Kennedy and Johnson extended it to seniors and the low income. Clinton gave it a try for everyone else, and Obama came closer than anyone in that regard.

          Now, if only the SCOTUS had not allowed the Red States to opt out of the Medicaid expansion….

  2. FireBaron says:

    “Trump and the GOP are wasting Congress’ time and what little public credibility they have left by continuing to play partisan politics with people’s health. Nothing great about that.”
    What credibility? They have none.

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  3. idamag says:

    Key words: …”Treat healthcare as a human right, rather than a corporate profit center.” What I foresee, is they are waiting for John McCain to die so they can try again.

  4. With each passing day, we note with concern the utter ineptitude of the GOP and their collective madness which compels them to worship a false god called “Conservative Ideology”.

    This modern-day idolatry is taking a toll not only on their reasoning capacity, but is inflicting harm on both the hapless wonders in ‘Red” states who continue to re-elect the same godless men and women whose only concern is to stay in office, and on those who are caught in the middle of the same insane electorate and the GOP’s insanity-complex.

    Divine Intervention appears to be the only means to putting this assemblage of dunderheads out of their misery. In the meantime, we have to hold on to something to wait out the storm of swirling idiocy, with Trump as the eye of the storm—a walking hurricane and HealthCare grim reaper, with a heap of racism, narcissism, and misogyny added for extra kick.

  5. All reasoning abandoned the conservatives and most medical professionals when some individual members of the nascent AMA towards the end of WW2 decided that the best way to insure their hold on how medical care is provided is to make up a lie that government-sponsored healthcare is a socialist plot to take over the country—a scare tactic which was fed to a witless Congress, easily manipulated to believe that the country would be in grave peril if the country were to reject an excessive hunger for greed—in a manner of speaking.
    The AMA and insurance companies had successfully indoctrinated Conservative law-makers with this fear of “socialist” taking over America, and rob the greedy of their God-given right to plunder and accrue as much money as possible without oversight.

    This process of indoctrination about the so-called evils of government assisting its citizens only afflicts America. Unfortunately, the propaganda has even seduced the ordinary GOP supporter to believe this fantasy; to consider any help offered to a fellow citizen as being against the Will of God Himself, and these so-called supporters who refer to themselves as Christian could care less about displeasing God, The Most Compassionate, the Provider, The Help in Peril, and other attributes mentioned at the end of every prayer Baha’u’llah has revealed, which Muhammad recited in the Qur’an at the beginning of nearly every Surah, and which Jesus recounts in His many sermons and summons.

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