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How About This: Reform or Die!


Of course, we’re all going to die some day anyway. But health care reform and Republican, that is Neoconservative Obstructionist, opposition, have a lot to do with how soon we’ll die. And what about the death knell for the private health insurance lobby? The appearance of the grim reaper has sent the health insurance business off its moorings.

Thus far this year, the assorted groups in the health care industry have spent over $400 million to stop any kind of meaningful legislation. They have spent $23 million alone on campaign contributions to Senators and Congress persons to influence their votes. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the health care industry has spent $75 million on advertising and $280 million on lobbying. So who is getting all this money?

Senator Mitch McConnnell of Kentucky, the Minority Leader in the Senate has received $524,000. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has received $448,000. Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa has received over $491,000 from the health insurance industry. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina has received over $275,000 in campaign contributions from the health care industry.

But the situation is even more incestuous than the dollar amounts would show. Take “Chuck” Grassley. (I have to laugh when I hear him called “Chuck.” He is no “Chuck.” Calling him “Chuck” is like calling Martin Bormann “Marty.” “Chuck” has two daughters who work for the Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Michelle Grassley Clarke is the Executive Director. Wendy Grassley Speckerman is also on the staff of the organization, which is opposed to a public option that would be part of part of a national health care reform program. Grassley had a staff member Kristin Bass. She left in 2009 to become a Vice President with a pharmaceutical lobbying organization. She had come to Grassley’s office from Wellpoint health insurance where she had been paid as much as $426,000 in deferred compensation.

But “Chuck” Grassley is of course only doing his job in trying his best in trying to thwart health insurance for the average citizen. The question is this: why is the average citizen in Iowa, where they are enlightened enough to have sent people like Tom Harkin to the Senate and Jim Leach to Congress and elected men like Tom Vilsack to the governorship…why hasn’t the average citizen caught on to “Chuck” Grassley after he voted to send their kids to die for nothing in Iraq, after he voted for tax cuts for the rich, voted to eliminate Glass-Steagall that caused the Great Recession, still tries to get Paris Hilton hundreds of millions in tax-fee inheritance money…and now tries as hard as he can to kill reasonably priced health care for the middle class?

His political health should be dire. His next campaign should be dead on arrival.

Greed, simple greed, has somehow permeated the upper reaches of the health industry. Rather than offering a modification of health insurance…really working with Congress to create a better private health care delivery system…they have grabbed onto the Right Wing…the Neocon Obstructionist…as a saviour. They were probably encouraged to focus on the short term by the success of the media coverage of the mobs that FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity and others were able to turn out and the resulting confusion that they created.

In a Democratic society, there inevitably comes the time when your public image matters. There comes a time when you make a mistake and you need the public to forgive and forget. The reason you do is that, if the public wants your head, they will have it. Your best friends in Congress will ignore you. They will walk the other way when they see you coming. Because the mob, the great unwashed, will have no mercy on the Senator or Congressperson who defends you.

The health care industry has been raising rates at extortionist levels. They have been denying coverage. They have been refusing claims, delaying payment, ignoring urgent calls and letting people die for lack of simple attention…to their paying customers. Some of what they have done is criminal.

The problem is that we have so many criminals in our society, starting with the former President and Vice President, who–a case can certainly be made–are war criminals. Then there are their former cabinet members and political activists and even judges and U.S. Attorneys. We have jailed some. A treasonous White House aide who gave up CIA secrets was convicted and then had his sentence commuted by the President.

A convicted criminal is set free by a President. The traitor who was convicted of four felonies served no jail time. While part of a scheme to release the name to the press of a covert CIA agent for political purposes, the scheme quite probably caused the imprisonment and perhaps the deaths of our covert intelligence operatives around the world. He was set free by a President who started a war for oil or perhaps for revenge. Who knows? Certainly not because the country was a threat to the United States.

Now these same people are being given millions by the health insurance industry to defeat health care reform which will provide health care for tens, or perhaps even more than a hundred million people in this country and establish a true system of accessible and affordable health care.

Maybe it should be reform and die to the health insurance industry. We may need a single payer, government-run health insurance company that will replace all the other health insurance companies. And let the private companies die the way they have caused tens of thousands of deaths each year through their greed.

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