As I watched CBS's Face the Nation yesterday with Bob Schieffer and the confrontation between Representative Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and Karen Ignagni, President of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), it dawned on me that we are in a battle against a conspiracy against the American people. It also dawned on me that the confrontation was rigged in favor of Ignagni with the help of Schieffer. The first thing was that Ignagni, sitting across the table from Schieffer, couldn't hear Congresswoman Shultz's, who was on a remote video feed, rebuttal or the issues she spoke about, and Schieffer attempted to recount what Shultz said to Ignagni. He did a very poor job of it. It also seemed very clear to me that Ignagni was following talking points that had been compiled by a consensus of insurance industry firms and politicians, mostly Republicans, against health care reform. Her comments were to arouse fear of reform while Congresswoman Shultz was trying to allay fears of reform. Even when the legislation essentially followed what the insurance industry wanted, Ignagni was still against it. In other words, Ignagni, who is the largest lobbyist for the insurance industry in Washington, and who has had a great deal of influence in the way the legislation is written, wanted no legislation at all. It seems to me that the legislation in Congress is more for the insurance industry than it is for us, “The People.”
Bob Schieffer did nothing to resolve the issues. He simply let both views hang in mid-air; on the one side fear of government sponsored health care claimed to be too expensive and too “socialist,” and on the other an attempt to reduce insurance cost and to insure 31 million uninsured less fortunate people. People who are afraid heard nothing to alleviate their fear. People who understand the issues, and I believe I do, continue to be frustrated that nothing was made clear, no definitive side was “for people.” In fact, Schieffer cut Congresswoman Shultz off for an end-of-segment commercial so that Ignagni had the last word.
In the final analysis anyone, in my opinion, should be able to see all the forces aligned against the American people, the consumer of health insurance. Huge amounts of money is given to lobbyist like Ignagni and Public Relations firms to galvanize fear of change to the point that we will likely have no or little change at all. The current legislation does nothing to stop insurance companies from continuing to do what they've always done; holding people hostage to its premiums, treatment plans and exclusions to care. If you want to talk “death panels,” it's the insurance companies that have them already, not the government.
I am a member of a number of activists organizations, such as moveon.org, colorofchange.org, boldprogressives.org and Sojourners so I can join the forces against those, such as the insurance special interests and lobbyist like Ignagni, who conspire against social justice for their own pocketbook. I don't agree with all of these organizations' philosophy and beliefs, but I know that the only way people who have limited income can fight against all of the misinformation and distorted fear mongering is to contribute collectively. Even then, the need to contribute is simply too much, such as this week when health care legislation is in its final battle in Congress and these organizations are in high gear to combat the distortion and lies. There is simply too much money being spent against America and I simply can't afford to give anymore. I hope someone else does. And the GOP is in high gear claiming “The People” are against health care reform, a blatant lie. Fear mongering also is in high gear.
We have only two options that will reign in the insurance companies; first is the Public Option and the second is Single-Payer Health Care. The Public Option would give those who can't afford health care insurance a way to be insured. It would compete directly with insurance companies and it would bring health care insurance costs down by the shear volume of people being insured. But, it would not solve the enormous inefficiency in the health care industry. We pay dearly for the inefficiency. For example, Canada, a Single-Payer system, has one insurance clerk processing claims for ten in the United States. Canada has one claim form for several hundred in the United States. It is Canada's system that was the primary reason that General Motors built factories in Canada, moving several thousand manufacturing jobs to Canada, because Canada's system is 1,000% more efficient and less costly.
Canada also does not have thousands of lawyers lined up to sue for health care costs, such as happened in New York City a week or so ago and where New York offered a settlement of $657 million to all of those whose health was jeopardized by breathing the World Trade Center dust. In another case in California a year or so ago, Anthem Blue Cross canceled policies of several thousand customers because they became sick, actions that are against California law. But, when the State Attorney General threatened to sue, Blue Cross filled the courtroom with over forty lawyers and boxes of documents for an extended, long legal battle that would last years. California backed down because it didn't have the money or lawyers to wage that battle. Blue Cross smiled and went on doing what it was doing – breaking the law. A single-payer system would have eliminated all of that legal maneuvering and tremendous costs to American tax payers who pay for court battles. Talk about a way to lower taxes! Single-Payer would do it.
There's also the worry all of us have when we get sick. Even when we are insured, we worry whether it will be enough or will the care be too expensive in spite of having insurance. Will the insurance pay? I have someone near and dear to me who is scheduled to have an aneurism looked at tomorrow. The aneurism has grown in size and so has the worry. Worry about what the doctor will say AND about whether the insurance will pay. Under a Single-Payer system, the latter worry would be nil.
Not one single person I know, family and friends, can guarantee that their children and grandchildren will have access to health care under our current system. We are simply passing on to them the same worries we have, perhaps worrying them to the point they become sick. Some in our family have already chosen not to be insured because it's too expensive. Try as they might, they can't afford it. Some grandchildren that I know would have no insurance at all if it were not for Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), a government program for poorer children. There, but for the Grace of God, go us, if we haven't already.
Yet, we hear Ignagni and all the nonsense from insurance company sponsored advertizements, assisted by CBS and others, and we become afraid. There is absolutely nothing to fear from the Public Option or the Single-Payer systems and everything to gain. In fact, when we hear anyone speaking against these options, that's the time to run like hell in the other direction.