Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina likes to parade himself as a man who would consider options and act in a bi-partisan manner. He made a big show of voting for an impeccable Supreme Court Candidate, Judge Sonya Sotomayor, a woman of almost unparalleled accomplishment. Big deal. Most over-the-road truckers I know would have made the same decision while drinking a glass of beer and, even if their lives depended on their decision, would never have lost a minute’s sleep. Hardly bi-partisan for doing what you should have done anyway.
But what about an issue of much more concern to the Neconservative support system…big corporations, in particular big health insurance corporations? Here’s what our “bi-partisan” Senator from South Carolina said about the current health care bill…keeping in mind that he is a Republican and is therefore automatically in the hip pocket of big pharmaceutical companies, big hospital companies and big health insurance companies. From 2001 to 2006 Senator Graham, in addition to $414,000 in funds from health care companies, took another million from lobbyists who represent energy companies and health-care related companies among others.
Senator Graham for some reason, in his bi-partisan mode, failed to vote once in 9 months for any provision of health care reform, following the Party line about health care reform which is merely to refuse to participate.
This does not quite explain, however, why Senator Graham, as deeply involved with health care lobbyists as he is, would now say that Democrats are involved with “bribes” to get health care done for the People. He also says that the Senate is using ENRON (the favorite company of the Republican Bush Administration) accounting techniques. To confuse the issue even more he tosses in a raft of comments on what Senator Nelson is doing about abortion and what he should be doing about abortion and what Representative Stupak is expecting on abortion and how Stupak is right on abortion and Nelson is a bad guy on abortion. The problem is that the bill is not about abortion. It is about providing health care efficiently.
In a bill that is supposed to be about providing health care to 31 million more people and saving as many as 90 million some money on their current health care, not to mention other safeguards from the insurance industry, how did Senator Graham suddenly make it about abortion? We already have something called the Hyde Amendment about abortion and a ruling by the Supreme Court called Roe versus Wade about abortion. We don’t need new laws on abortion. We need affordable, reliable health insurance.
Of course Graham did not leave it there. Making it about abortion was not diffusing the issue enough. Next, he tried one of the tens of hundreds of ploys the Republicans have used to try to kill health care for Americans. Payments to doctors on Medicare. According to Graham, there will be $247 billion in overdue payments for doctors which have been owed to doctors since 1997. Does this make sense? The Republicans have been in power since 2001. They had control of Congress at times before that, during the Clinton administration. There was plenty of time to fix payments to doctors from government programs. So what happened?
Nothing. Until the Democrats took power in the Senate and the House in 2008. They immediately issued legislation to cancel the roughly 10% pay cut to doctors from Medicare and instead gave them a 1.1% increase in pay. After President Bush vetoed the bill, the Democrats overrode his veto in both the House and the Senate and the doctors got their pay increase.
So much for Senator Graham’s crocodile tears over the shortfall in payments to doctors. The record is clear. The Democrats are in favor of paying doctors properly. The Republicans are not. And then there is long-term care. This is something urgently needed and has been for years. Republican-backed insurance programs that border on confiscatory were supported by Republicans and by the Bush Administration, with the idea that this would be a good business.
Why? Because Republicans would see to it that there were no public resources to cover long-term care or long term home-care which is much less costly. For several years, the big health insurance companies were out with direct mail programs scaring people into buying long-term care insurance citing the fact that Congress and the Bush Administration were not likely to pass any legislation to provide any help. Now that it has been passed, Senator Graham calls the program a “Ponzi Scheme.”
Let’s see if we have this straight. A Senator takes something like a million dollars, more than ten percent of his campaign funds from health care lobbyists. As a Republican he is on the side of those who create legislation to deny pay increases to doctors and in fact cut their pay. He lies about aspects of the health care proposal, tries to confuse the issue by attempting to create a huge emotional diversion by talking about the abortion aspects of it which do not materially change anything, except perhaps somewhat in favor of pro-life people. He is one of 40 Senators to vote against every aspect of the health care proposal and offers nothing….nothing…as an alternative.
He does not mention the Republican bill because, even though Democrats asked that the Republicans come up with an alternative, they did not do so until it was too late to discuss it without postponing work on the Democratic bill. The phony Republican bill which the Senator supports has only two significant points.
First medical liability lawsuit reform. Because lawsuits lost by doctors are less than one-half of one percent of health care costs, they are irrelevant to this current issue. But they are important to lobbyists, and so important to Republicans. The tort reform is a main cause of many health insurance companies, but, it turns out, has no effect one way or the other on liability insurance for doctors.
The other provision in the Republican “health care” bill is health savings accounts. They would allow people who can save substantial amounts of money to create tax free health savings accounts. Then they would create high deductible plans that would make up the difference. The problem is that these things already exist and they have done absolutely nothing to cut down on health insurance premiums. They merely encouraged the insurance companies to raise the deductible and the rates on the higher deductibles. Another “Ponzi Scheme.”
The Senator needs to come up with some less transparent arguments for his pals in the health insurance lobby and stop insulting people…and even more…stop using his public school education to try to insult our intelligence. It is embarrassing. Especially to him