Monday, August 15, 2011

Health Reform Without an Individual Mandate? Yes, It's Called 'Medicare for All'

From the Nation via Common Dreams courtesy of Digg:

The individual mandate was always a bad idea. Instead of recognizing that healthcare is a right, the members of Congress and the Obama administration who cobbled together the healthcare reform plan created a mandate that maintains the abuses and the expenses of for-profit insurance companies—and actually rewards those insurance companies with a guarantee of federal money.


But those of us who have no desire to perpetuate the insurance industry can and should recognize that the proper—and entirely constitutional—reform is an expansion of Medicare to cover all Americans.

There is no question that Medicare is a sound and popular program. (Just ask House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who took an epic political beating when he proposed a scheme to replace the successful single-payer system with a voucher scheme designed to enrich insurance firms.)

While Medicare is exceptionally popular, polling shows that the individual mandate is not—according to recent surveys, roughly 60 percent of Americans oppose it.

It also passes constitutional muster.

More here.

The individual mandate, if I understood all the horse trading correctly, was all about getting the insurance companies to accept customers with preexisting conditions, as well as other stinky new regulations. It was like, okay, we're going to make you do some stuff you don't like, going to make you take a few for the team, but in return we're going to require everybody to buy your product, which will more than make up for any revenue losses. Indeed, the mandate stands to go well beyond simply making up for lost income; if it passes an inevitable date with the Supreme Court, Big Health Care will make billions more than they're making now.

It took a while to figure this all out, but it very much now looks like Obama's universal coverage will be happening only because he's forcing everybody to buy private insurance. The above linked essay goes on to quote Obama the candidate criticizing Hillary's plan, which also included an individual mandate, saying something to the effect of how this is like solving homelessness by passing a law requiring everybody to buy a house. Indeed. Perhaps we should also consider passing a law requiring terrorists to stop threatening American interests abroad, or a law requiring drug users to stop taking drugs.

Oh wait, I guess they've already done that last bit, and with rip roaring success, I might add.

At any rate, Obama Care is now utterly exposed as nothing but a giant giveaway to the health insurance industry, at the expense of average ordinary citizens. And there is absolutely no guarantee that people will be able to pay for this shit, or that it will even cover the most dire illnesses, which is why people actually need insurance. I know liberals are really pissed right now at the President about the way he handled the whole debt ceiling mess, but the writing has been on the wall for several years. Really, the fact that Obama's a corporate shill became apparent almost immediately, when he handed over hundreds of billions without any strings attached to the bankers who nearly toppled the economy.

He's not our guy, and he never was.

That's why he'll never, ever, ever even attempt the simplest and most workable solution: extend Medicare to the entire nation. His bosses in the health insurance industry wouldn't like that. Not one bit.