Life Support for the Insurance Companies

Most Americans pay more for health care than for housing or food – especially those unfortunate enough to ever get sick. The largest block of those expenses go to insurance companies, which dole out significant portions of their income to doctors and pharmaceutical companies. The greatest profits, however, go to these non-medical “regulators” of America’s health industry.

Unlike most countries in Europe, Japan, or Latin America, the U.S. does not provide health care for its own people. Republicans and cowardly Democrats have refused to support single payer health care as a platform, and have abandoned Americans to sub-standard health care, if any. Employers of those lucky enough to have jobs in this country are the real providers of health benefits to less than 50% of the public.

As they have with Wall Street, the Pentagon, the oil companies, or the insurance industry, Congress has sold its soul once again to the rich in exchange for political contributions.  And the public suffers as a result.

The Democrats clearly are trying to show some gumption over the health care issue after they so disgustingly caved in to the Republican right-wing demands for life support for insurance companies, and didn’t fight for single payer insurance that would have guaranteed health care for us all. Obama is correct when he stated in his latest Midwest swing that “This used to be a Republican idea.” ((Lee, Patrick G., Wall Street Journal, “Obama Confident Supreme Court will Defend Health Care Law,” 8-15-11))

Obama’s economic mandate was stopped by a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in Atlanta that basically said: “Hey, you can’t require the American people to pay the insurance companies for health care.” As the editorial in the pointed out: “Congress can do a lot to get millions of Americans health insurance. What it cannot do: mandate that individuals enter into contracts with private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die.”

There are many questions left unanswered by Obama and the Democrats about this mandate. It is as though they really don’t want their voters to know what this plan is about; i.e.,  what the specifics are. For instance, what happens when people can’t pay for the mandate? Will they be fined? And, if they can’t pay, will they be thrown into prisons? Maybe he has Gitmo in mind. What if people choose not to pay? What will be the punishment?

Dwindling access to medications, limitations on doctor’s visits, ever-increasing premiums is the answer put forward by both political parties. When will the American people throw these charlatans out of Congress and replace them with individuals who will serve the people and not the corporations?

Luke Hiken is an attorney who has engaged in the practice of criminal, military, immigration, and appellate law. Marti Hiken is the director of Progressive Avenues. She is the former associate director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and former chair of the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force. Read other articles by Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken, or visit Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken's website.