It’s Simple: Medicare for All

We just started a new piece on the simple idea of extending Medicare coverage to all U.S Citizens and Permanent Residents, but in researching for the article we ran into an opinion piece by George McGovern in the WaPo  that makes our point more elegantly than we could do ourselves. Enjoy:

 

It’s Simple: Medicare for All

By George S. McGovern
Sunday, September 13, 2009

 

For many years, a handful of American political leaders — including the late senator Ted Kennedy and now President Obama — have been trying to gain passage of comprehensive health care for all Americans. As far back as President Harry S. Truman, they have urged Congress to act on this national need. In a presentation before a joint session of Congress last week, Obamaoffered his view of the best way forward.

But what seems missing in the current battle is a single proposal that everyone can understand and that does not lend itself to demagoguery. If we want comprehensive health care for all our citizens, we can achieve it with a single sentence: Congress hereby extends Medicare to all Americans.

Those of us over 65 have been enjoying this program for years. I go to the doctor or hospital of my choice, and my taxes pay all the bills. It’s wonderful. But I would have appreciated it even more if my wife and children and I had had such health-care coverage when we were younger. I want every American, from birth to death, to get the kind of health care I now receive. Removing the payments now going to the insurance corporations would considerably offset the tax increase necessary to cover all Americans.

I don’t feel as though the government is meddling in my life when it pays my doctor and hospital fees. There are some things the government does that I don’t like — most notably getting us into needless wars that cost many times what health care for all Americans would cost. Investing in the health of our citizens will enhance the well-being and security of the nation.

We know that Medicare has worked well for half a century for those of us over 65. Why does it become “socialized medicine” when we extend it to younger Americans?

Taking such a shortsighted view would leave nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance and without the means to buy it. It would leave other Americans struggling to pay the rising cost of insurance premiums. These private insurance plans are frequently terminated if the holder contracts a serious long-term ailment. And some people lose their insurance if they lose their jobs or if the plant where they work moves to another location — perhaps overseas.

We recently bailed out the finance houses and banks to the tune of $700 billion. A country that can afford such an outlay while paying for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can afford to do what every other advanced democracy has done: underwrite quality health care for all its citizens.

If Medicare needs a few modifications in order to serve all Americans, we can make such adjustments now or later. But let’s make sure Congress has an up or down vote on Medicare for all before it adjourns this year. Let’s not waste time trying to reinvent the wheel. We all know what Medicare is. Do we want health care for all, or only for those over 65?

If the roll is called and it goes against those of us who favor national health care, so be it. If it is approved, the entire nation can applaud.

Many people familiar with politics in America will tell you that this idea can’t pass Congress, in part because the insurance lobby is too powerful for lawmakers to resist.

As matters now stand, the insurance companies claim $450 billion a year of our health-care dollars. They will fight hard to hold on to this bonanza. This is a major reason Americans pay morefor health care per capita than any other people in the world. The insurance executives didn’t cry “socialism” when their buddies in banking and finance were bailed out. But to them it is socialism if the government underwrites the cost of health care.

Consider the campaign funds given to the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over health-care legislation. Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, a Democrat, and his political action committee have received nearly $4 million from the health-care lobby since 2003. The ranking Republican, Charles Grassley of Iowa, has received more than $2 million. It’s a mistake for one politician to judge the personal motives of another. But Sens. Baucus and Grassley are firm opponents of the single-payer system, as are other highly placed members of Congress who have been generously rewarded by the insurance lobby.

In the past, doctors and their national association opposed Medicare and efforts to extend such benefits. But in recent years, many doctors have changed their views.

In December 2007, the 124,000-member American College of Physicians endorsed for the first time a single-payer national health insurance program. And a March 2008 study by Indiana University — the largest survey ever of doctors’ opinions on financing health-care reform — concluded that 59 percent of doctors support national health insurance.

To have the doctors with us favoring government health insurance is good news. As Obama said: “We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it.”

George S. McGovern, a former senator from South Dakota, was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972

 

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Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child

Please read this post from Salon.com’s ‘Broadsheet’ section The bolded words are mine:

Roman Polanski raped a child. Let’s just start right there, because that’s the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fairfor the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in “exile” (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never — poor baby — being able to return to the U.S.). Let’s keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her, before we start discussing whether the victim looked older than her 13 years, or that she now says she’d rather not see him prosecuted because she can’t stand the media attention. Before we discuss how awesome his movies are or what the now-deceased judge did wrong at his trial, let’s take a moment to recall that according to the victim’s grand jury testimony, Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, began kissing her even though she said no and asked him to stop; performed cunnilingus on her as she said no and asked him to stop; put his penis in her vagina as she said no and asked him to stop; asked if he could penetrate her anally, to which she replied, “No,” then went ahead and did it anyway, until he had an orgasm.

Drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are

Can we do that? Can we take a moment to think about all that, and about the fact that Polanski pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, before we start talking about what a victim he is? Because that would be great, and not nearly enough people seem to be doing it.

The French press, for instance (at least according to the British press) is describing Polanski “as the victim of a money-grabbing American mother and a publicity-hungry Californian judge.” Joan Z. Shore at the Huffington Post, who once met Polanski and “was utterly charmed by [his] sobriety and intelligence,” also seems to believe that a child with an unpleasant stage mother could not possibly have been raped: “The 13-year old model ‘seduced’ by Polanski had been thrust onto him by her mother, who wanted her in the movies.” Oh, well, then! If her mom put her into that situation, that makes itmuch better! Shore continues: “The girl was just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, which was the age of consent in California. (It’s probably 13 by now!) Polanski was demonized by the press, convicted, and managed to flee, fearing a heavy sentence.”

Wow, OK, let’s break that down. First, as blogger Jeff Fecke says, “Fun fact: the age of consent in 1977 in California was 16. It’s now 18. But of course, the age of consent isn’t like horseshoes or global thermonuclear war; close doesn’t count. Even if the age of consent had been 14, the girl wasn’t 14.” Also, even if the girl had been old enough to consent, she testified that she did not consent. There’s that. Though of course everyone makes a bigger deal of her age than her testimony that she did not consent, because if she’d been 18 and kept saying no while he kissed her, licked her, screwed her and sodomized her, this would almost certainly be a whole different story — most likely one about her past sexual experiences and drug and alcohol use, about her desire to be famous, about what she was wearing, about how easy it would be for Roman Polanski to get consensual sex, so hey, why would he need to rape anyone? It would quite possibly be a story about a wealthy and famous director who pled not guilty to sexual assault, was acquitted on “she wanted it” grounds, and continued to live and work happily in the U.S. Which is to say that 30 years on, it would not be a story at all. So it’s much safer to focus on the victim’s age removing any legal question of consent than to get tied up in that thorny “he said, she said” stuff about her begging Polanski to stop and being terrified of him.

Second, Polanski was “demonized by the press” because he raped a child, and was convicted because he pled guilty. He “feared heavy sentencing” because drugging and raping a child is generally frowned upon by the legal system. Shore really wants us to pity him because of these things? (And, I am not making this up, boycott the entire country of Switzerland for arresting him.)

As ludicrous as Shore’s post is, I have to agree with Fecke that my favorite Polanski apologist is the Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum, who finds it “bizarre” that anyone is still pursuing this case. And who also, by the by, failed to disclose the tiny, inconsequential detail that her husband, Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, is actively pressuring U.S. authorities to drop the case.

There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.

There is also evidence that Polanski raped a child. There is evidence that the victim did not consent, regardless of her age. There is evidence — albeit purely anecdotal, in this case — that only the most debased crapweasel thinks “I didn’t know she was 13!” is a reasonable excuse for raping a child, much less continuing to rape her after she’s said no repeatedly. There is evidence that the California justice system does not hold that “notoriety, lawyers’ fees and professional stigma” are an appropriate sentence for child rape.

But hey, he wasn’t allowed to pick up his Oscar in person! For the love of all that’s holy, hasn’t the man suffered enough?

Granted, Roman Polanski has indeed suffered a great deal in his life, which is where Applebaum takes her line of argument next:

He can be blamed, it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee. But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment. Polanski’s mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto, and later emigrated from communist Poland.

Surviving the Holocaust certainly could lead to an “understandable fear of irrational punishment,” but being sentenced for pleading guilty to child rape is basically the definition of rational punishment. Applebaum then points out that Polanski was a suspect in the murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, a crime actually committed by the Manson family — but again, that was the unfortunate consequence of a perfectly rational justice system. Most murdered pregnant women were killed by husbands or boyfriends, so that suspicion was neither personal nor unwarranted. This isn’t Kafkaesque stuff.

But what of the now-45-year-old victim, who received a settlement from Polanski in a civil case, saying she’d like to see the charges dropped? Shouldn’t we be honoring her wishes above all else?

In a word, no. At least, not entirely. I happen to believe we should honor her desire not to be the subject of a media circus, which is why I haven’t named her here, even though she chose to make her identity public long ago. But as for dropping the charges, Fecke said it quite well: “I understand the victim’s feelings on this. And I sympathize, I do. But for good or ill, the justice system doesn’t work on behalf of victims; it works on behalf of justice.

It works on behalf of the people, in fact — the people whose laws in every state make it clear that both child rape and fleeing prosecution are serious crimes. The point is not to keep 76-year-old Polanski off the streets or help his victim feel safe. The point is that drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not — and at least in theory, does not — tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are, no matter how old you were when you finally got caught, no matter what your victim says about it now, no matter how mature she looked at 13, no matter how pushy her mother was, and no matter how many really swell movies you’ve made.

Roman Polanski raped a child. No one, not even him, disputes that. Regardless of whatever legal misconduct might have gone on during his trial, the man admitted to unlawful sex with a minor. But the Polanski apologism we’re seeing now has been heating up since “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” the 2008 documentary about Polanski’s fight to get the conviction dismissed. Writing in Salon, Bill Wyman criticized the documentary’s whitewashing of  Polanksi’s crimes last February, after Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that if the director wanted to challenge the conviction, he’d need to turn himself in to U.S. authorities and let the justice system sort it out. “Fugitives don’t get to dictate the terms of their case … Polanski deserves to have any potential legal folderol investigated, of course. But the fact that Espinoza had to state the obvious is testimony to the ways in which the documentary, and much of the media coverage the director has received in recent months, are bizarrely skewed.”

The reporting on Polanski’s arrest has been every bit as “bizarrely skewed,” if not more so. Roman Polanski may be a great director, an old man, a husband, a father, a friend to many powerful people, and even the target of some questionable legal shenanigans. He may very well be no threat to society at this point. He may even be a good person on balance, whatever that means. But none of that changes the basic, undisputed fact: Roman Polanski raped a child. And rushing past that point to focus on the reasons why we should forgive him, pity him, respect him, admire him, support him, whatever, is absolutely twisted.

Members of SACD, the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques” (Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers, wrote and signed the following petition for Polanski’s release. Although this has been done already (and possibly better), we’d like to offer our non-Hollywood translation of the petition:

Petition for Roman Polanski

We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski’s arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.

His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.

Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision. It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him.

By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.

The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no one can know the effects.

Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.

Filmmakers, actors, producers and technicians — everyone involved in international filmmaking — want him to know that he has their support and friendship.

On September 16th, 2009, Mr. Charles Rivkin, the US Ambassador to France, received French artists and intellectuals at the embassy. He presented to them the new Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy, Ms Judith Baroody. In perfect French she lauded the Franco-American friendship and recommended the development of cultural relations between our two countries.

If only in the name of this friendship between our two countries, we demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski.

Translation: How dare you enforce YOUR laws on One Of Us!

Neocons: conservative momma’s boys

Nice title...

Nice title...

Neoconservatives are supposed to be Smart Republicans who’s influence and power went a little too far in the Bush years and who are now discredited. Their just quietly STILL featured on Sunday Morning Newshow Panels and publishing books and magazines.

We think that these guys were never intellectuals to begin with. Instead, they are, almost to a name, the embodiments of what they claim to be against: entitlement. They are in high positions not because of merit but because of who their parents are.

Huffington Post reports on insurance company abuses; Anthem advertises on Huffington Post!

Huffingon Post is an excellent website with lot’s of incredible original content and interesting, up to date news. Huffpo does a lot of reporting on insurance reform, and they have documented the immoral and oftentimes illegal actions of private insurance companies.

Of course Hufpo also has advertisements on the sides and in the middle of its pages that change every time you change or reload a page. One of Huffington Post’s advertisements right now is for Tonik Health Insurance, which is owned by Anthem, the insurance company that owns Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Huffpo has documented abuses by Anthem in the past, and we think that Anthem is overall representative of the insurance industry (full disclosure: BC/BS did reject one of the Nabobs for having a ‘pre existing condition’).

Today Huffpo has an unfortunate story about a law school student who couldn’t get health insurance (and therefor health care) after he found out that he had cancer. After begging for his life, the young man was treated for his cancer by the hospital’s “charity” program.

The subject of the article sums up his experience:

“I’m a pretty humble guy, but it’s really demoralizing to have to beg a hospital for your life, to be to be able to be treated for this thing you just found out that you had,” he said. “I don’t just have a right to be healthy? I have to beg for it? I have to show that I am poor? It’s frustrating. It’s embarrassing. It’s really unacceptable.”

Ironically, the advertisement for Anthem’s insurance program for young people (like the subject of Huffpo’s article) Tonik’s appeared on this unfortunate stories page. The screenshots are below.
Screen shot 2009-10-02 at 9.31.22 PM

And when you mouse over the part that says “Legal,” this appears.
Screen shot 2009-10-02 at 9.32.26 PM

Since Huffington Post reports (very well) on insurance reform, and has documented the industries immoral and sometimes illegal practices, it shouldn’t allow Anthem to advertise on their website. But given the subject matter of this story, it is especially inappropriate.

UPDATE

Salon.com, another Nabob favorite, has the same Tonik ad on the page of a (excellent) story that is critical about  the health care industry.

Screen shot 2009-10-04 at 11.51.20 AM

We can’t stop listening to this

We cannot stop listening to the fantastic version of this fantastic song! We sent the youtube video to our incomparable girlfriend in Spain, but we couldn’t think of a good way to say the phrase “dig it” it in Spanish.  Instead, we tried to basic equivalent: diviértate.

Dig it.

Obama, enemy of progressives

We ‘re sorry to say this, but based on facts and observations, there doesn’t seem to be any other conclusion but that Barack Obama is an enemy of progressives.

He isn’t just a disappointment to progressives because he ‘s not a liberal as our side would like–though is viewing his senate record, it’s no surprise that Obama is a centrist Democrat, not a liberal or even left-leaning.

And the president is not just a disappointment because he’s thrown people and groups that helped him get elected(ACORN, progressives, Van Jones) in a misguided attempt to quiet his most virulent critics–who will never like him–in the name of bipartisanship.

Instead, President Obama’s agenda so far appears to be actively in support of the status quo. He actively supports Wall Street executive out-of-control pay, maintaining a general culture of unaccountability for the architects U.S’s biggest financial and foreign policy screw-ups, and sadly he supports allowing private insurance companies–who have proven to be detrimental to our health and our countries prosperity–to continue reaping profits by our sickness and misery.

What a disappointment.

Big Insurance: “We’re in favor of reforming our own practices…when reform laws pass.

BCBS's website banner: "Multi-ethnic Family in Field of Flowers." Dad lost his job and lost his insurance, so daughter's chemotherapy got cut off and the family went bankrupt.

BCBS's website banner: "Multi-ethnic Family in Field of Flowers." Dad lost his job and so the family lost their insurance. Daughter's chemotherapy got cut off.

In an exercise in cynicism and machoism, the Nabobs visited the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Website. WARNING!!! What is seen after clicking this link can never be unseen.

We are 100% in favor of Universal Health Care for all American citizens and permanent residents–nothing else will do. But so long as we are living in the U.S (which won’t be much longer, with any luck) we are captive to health insurance providers like everyone else is (except for those over 65 years of age, current military and veterans, the very poor, Native Americans and federal workers including elected officials). When we had to get health insurance after losing coverage from our prior insurer (in no other industry would consumers be punished for being a long-term customer ) we were denied coverage by BCBS and some others insurers for having a ‘preexisting condition,’ though by most measures we are physically healthy. Mentally, however…

Of course we are very cynical, and so not much surprises us. But even OUR faith in humanity was challenged when we visited BCBS’s website. To see the Blue Cross/Blue Shield website, one would think that they were visiting the website of a pro-insurance reform group.

STOCK REFORMS

We’ve learned how to differentiate a real activist group from a corporate sponsored ‘astroweed’ group like “Citizens United” and “gethealthreformright.org.” is a group that is linked–literally–with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. If the organization uses archival (stock) photography for it’s website’s images, than it is most likely not a grassroots organization. These images can be bought online:

Getty Images website:

Multiethnic doctors> Multi-Ethnic Group > Healthcare And Medicine > Doctor > Looking At Camera > Happiness:

sb10069454b-001 sb10063567v-001 Getty Images 4

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION. SUPPORT HEALTH REFORM.”

Clicking on BCBS’s stock photo banner (“multi-ethnic Family in Field of Flowers”) takes you to this website where BCBS helpfully explain:

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association strongly believes it’s critical that we enact comprehensive healthcare reform legislation this year. Healthcare costs are squeezing American families and businesses, and costing billions of dollars in government spending. Nearly 47 million Americans do not have insurance coverage. Too many people are not filling prescriptions or going to the doctor because they can’t afford it.

We believe we can’t afford not to fix our healthcare system.

You read that correctly; one of the largest insurers in the country claims that, “it’s critical that we enact comprehensive healthcare reform legislation this year.”

They continue: “We believe everyone in America should have health insurance and access to quality care.”

On what planet do these people live on?

Reform is necessary and nearly 50 million people are uninsured, American families and businesses are getting squeezed, and 18,000 people die every year (that goes unmentioned on the BCBS website) because of BCBS’s OWN PRACTICES. BCBS is rubbing this fact in the reader’s face while it cynically asks it’s customers to support insurance reform.

In the ugly background, however, insurance companies like BCBS, Cigna and United Health are funding the ugly anti-reform efforts that counter pro-reformers with arguments like, “WHAT ARE YOU A [COMMUNIST?!?!, SOCIALIST!?!?. FASCIST?!?!?], HEALTH CARE IS FOR NAZIS!!! and I INSURANCE COMPANIES!!!.

Whatever helps them and their employees sleep at night…

RIDICULOUS

Insurers like BCBS could change their practices TOMORROW and help alleviate some of the problems they highlight in their website–which they began and have exacerbated–that they mention on their own website. BCBS could drop the practice of denying coverage for ‘preexisting conditions’ (denying coverage to applicants because of a prior condition) and recessions (that is, taking away customer’s health care coverage WHEN they need it). Also, they could help curb the cost of insurance by LOWERING PRICES.

We must conclude that BCBS (and other large health insurance companies) do not support health insurance reform once bit. A nice mom and pop corporation like Blue Cross/Blue Shield does not want to be seen down in the mud with the reform opponents who tote placards showing President Obama as an African Medicine Man , compare him to Hitler and the Nazis or paint him in white face to look like Ledger’s The Joker with the words “Socialist” underneath. Instead they give large donations to conservative ‘astroweed’ groups like the ‘Swift Boat’ founder David Bossie’s Citizens United, and Dick Army’s Freedom Works; groups which organize those charming Tea Party marches on Washington.

But lest you still believe that BCBS actually supports Barack Obama’s milquetoast health insurance plan, continue reading BCBS’s ‘reform’ page. Towards the bottom BSBC provides readers with a link which says: “Tell Congress to get Health reform Right.” By clicking this link, we were taken to this website: http://www.gethealthreformright.org/. Reading this website puts BCBS’s position in a little more perspective:

We all agree more must be done to help those without coverage and to keep costs down for everybody. Instead of trying to change the healthcare system that works today, let’s build on it to ensure coverage for the uninsured. Creating a new government-run health plan is unnecessary to expand coverage to the uninsured and will cause many people to lose the current employer coverage they like today.

Since, unfortunately, nobody is proposing “creating a new government-run health plan,” we must conclude that this is the same type of scare tactic used by the ‘Right Wing Noise Machine.’ The only difference is that BCBS’s website has a nice stock photo: “Three Multi-Racial Doctors Smiling in Background with Smiling Asian Doctor in Foreground.”

IT’S NOT PRICE FIXING IF IT MEANS YOUR HEALTH

The Nabobs were wondering why competition between the few insurers that there are doesn’t lower insurance costs. One would think that skyrocketing prices + competition would be the obvious sign of Price Fixing: the maintaining of prices at a certain level by agreement between competing sellers.

The Nabobs looked into this and discovered that in fact the health insurance companies ARE, in essence, a Price Fixing Cartel. But the health insurance industry in fact ONE OF TWO INDUSTRIES IN THE U.S.A THAT ALLOWS PRICE FIXING. The other industry is baseball. Health care and baseball are exempt from price fixing regulation. But the MSM doesn’t seem want to mention that.