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Blog of Mass Destruction

Health Care Reform Debate: Just Starting

By The Reverend Published: October 13, 2009

I've purposely avoided writing very much about the alleged debate allegedly going on over health care reform. As I see it, up til now, we haven't been debating anything. However, now with President Max Baucus' (D-MT) immaculately-conceived version of health reform coming up for a vote today in his Senate Finance Committee, we're getting closer to starting the real debate. What we've had up til now has been the equivalency of a pre-game cheerleader dance routine......something to look at and divert our attention but having nothing, really, to do with the "game."

Worth noting is how Village conventional wisdom on health care reform legislation instantly coagulated around President Max Baucus' Finance Committee bill. You would never know that there are FOUR other congressional health reform versions to be considered, all of which, by the way, include a strong public option alternative.

Villager media members exist only to please the national status quo powers, therefore insuring continued "access" to those powers and maximizing their future career and financial opportunities. So it has been no surprise that the most conservative committee with the most insurance and big pharma-friendly version of a bill, the only bill out of five which does NOT include a public option, has been made the centerpiece of attention for most Village coverage of the health care reform process.

Baucus' horrendous piece of sewage-bill proposes exactly what I had predicted earlier. It hands over tens of millions of new customers to big insurance and big pharma, uses tax dollars to subsidize poorer new customers and does absolutely nothing to "bend the cost curve", nothing to keep for-profit, Wall Street listed, insurers from continuing their parasitical pillaging of the American people. No public option to keep insurers honest and no bulk discount purchasing rights for government to drive drug prices down.

Indeed, in a classic Village piece in the Washington Post yesterday, Ceci Connelly, obediently, told us what her Insurance Masters are really thinking. Astonishingly, or perhaps not, big insurance....the same big insurance that President Max Baucus is seeking to guarantee tens of millions of new customers to without any cost control mechanisms......responded to those proposed giveaways and handouts by saying something like this....

'F*ck you very much.'

Big insurance really knows how to express their appreciation.

Villager Ceci, by now probably capable of channeling the brain-waves of the powerful status quo players, tells the unwashed masses that in appreciation for all the Mad Max giveaways, big health insurers are promising to thank him, and us, by significantly raising the prices of all Americans' health care premiums.

I've never seen a more persuasive argument for adopting a single-payer, government run health care system in my entire life.

What we're seeing with big health insurance is the same attitude we saw with the banksters. Banksters showed their appreciation for tax payer handouts by refusing to negotiate troubled mortgages, by rejecting any transparency of how they spent all those tax dollars, and by a continuation of their in-your-face practice of rewarding billions in individual bonuses. Insurers are now doing the same.

It is only more proof that "too big to fail" corporate monsters, whether in banking or insurance or pharma or whatever.....control our federal government, and thus, control important aspects of every American's life.

Now to the crux of the matter, the pivotal point, where the rubber will hit the road...or any other stupid, yet applicable, cliches pertaining to health care reform.....

For those who would like to see effective health care reform legislation passed (that excludes most Republicans and conservatives) pay close attention to the final cloture vote in the Senate, which is still weeks away. Obstructionist Republicans plan on filibustering the senate bill no matter what it contains, which means that Democrats need 60 votes to bring the bill to the floor of the senate for final amendments and then on to a final vote which requires only 51 votes for approval.

The still-unknown dynamic is whether any senate DEMOCRATS will join in with the obstructionist Republicans to try to stop any bill from moving forward. Further muddying the situation is the fact that Senator Byrd (D-WV) is in poor health and may not be able to vote at all.

If a bill reaches the floor of the senate, if a filibuster by obstructionist Republicans fails, then there is a 50-50 chance that a public option will survive the final bill and tougher people-friendly provisions will be included. The final bill, in this scenario, could actually benefit the American people.

If the obstructionist senate Republicans are successful in blocking the will of the people from moving forward....then the "reconciliation" process may have to be resorted to in order to accomplish any reform worth the paper it's written on. That's a subject for another day.

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