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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, August 28, 2009, 9:00 AM ET


    Privileged Money Tries to Derail Healthcare Insurance Reform
    By Boris Danik

    A major source of funding for government subsidies envisioned in President Obama's healthcare insurance reform is expected to come from a marginal tax increase in the top income class (those making over $500,000).

     ·  NY Times, Aug. 13, 2009 — Ad Campaign Counterattacks Against Overhaul Critics
     ·  The Ukrainian Weekly
     ·  Is Universal Healthcare the Same as Socialized Medicine?
    Wiki logo
     ·  What are Copayments?
     ·  What is Universal Health Care?
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    The allergy in the top bracket to such a possible tax hike became an instant trigger for the proxies of the monied elite to mobilize the hackers to sink the reform. The New York Times named the US Chamber of Commerce as one of the organizers of a multi-million dollar campaign to derail the reform (August 13, 2009 online [August 14 print version] Ad Campaign Counterattacks Against Overhaul Critics). The Chamber's commercial paints the expense of the reform as something that "would all but break the national bank."

    The instigated quasi-populist assault is focused on a soft link in Obama's plan, the one that admittedly relies on savings to be realized by getting rid of "the inefficiencies" in the existing system. The hackers quickly dubbed it "healthcare rationing."

    In particular, their polyphony is distorting the provision in the proposed reform that authorizes optional, voluntary consultation with doctors about hospice care and options to permit aggressive intervention that may be life-saving. The detractors call such consultation "death panels."

    But, lo and behold, a similar provision was passed in Congress last year without such a furor. This provision makes sense, and here is why. Approximately, one-half of all Medicare expenses take place in the last six months of the patients' lives — no doubt due to heroic treatment efforts and market-indexed technology that may or many not make much sense for the dying but are profitable for the medical-industrial establishment.

    So, when The Ukrainian Weekly features a column in which the writer shows an alarming concern for his Baba as a potential victim of "Obama-care," try not to panic (ref: The Ukrainian Weekly, August 9, 2009, p.7).

    Healthcare rationing is what we have now, and the uninsured get the skimpiest ration. Along these lines, insurance policies have exclusions and limitations depending on the premiums paid. If in poor health, private insurers can charge a higher premium, or deny insurance renewal ("cherry-picking").

    Co-payments can drive the chronically ill into bankruptcy, and often do. High medical expenses are the underlying cause of a large percentage of individual bankruptcies in the USA (on the order of a million each year). Most of them (85% according to The Ukrainian Weekly columnist) were probably "satisfied" with their insurance — before becoming blacklisted by private insurers due to devastating illnesses or decked by co-payments from the treatments.

    The phrase "the cure was worse than the disease" (i.e., the patient died) is not merely an anecdotal one-liner when the wife of the deceased gets a $70,000 bill — the patient's co-payment responsibility for medical care from his bout with cancer.

    An epochal transfer of wealth — from the bottom and the middle to the top — marked the eight years of the Bush administration with its reactionary legacy of tax cuts for the top echelon on incomes and the capital gains. It left the duped believers in the Republican "family values" in the dust with debts and foreclosures.

    Getting some of the wealth back, specifically for equitable healthcare, is the name of the game for the Democrats and for "the left-wing liberals." This is being resisted with tooth and nail, and with plenty of deception. "Would you like to have the government decide when you should have hip replacement?" — chimed-in The Wall Street Journal.

    When the executive elite is bonusing-off with multi-million dollar payouts, it is impossible to have an ethical explanation why their income tax rate should not be higher than 35% as it is now — in contrast to the steeply progressive rate during the post-World War Two period, the time of the middle-class boom.

    Tax cutting for the top tier in the Bush era caused record budget deficits and spurred reckless lending ("investing") into the housing bubble and consumer debt from the unprecedented accumulation of money at the top of the social pyramid. This was the root cause, shrugged off by establishment gurus, of the ongoing mortgage default catastrophe and the financial meltdown of 2008.

    The distraction may be about Baba, but health insurance is all about the money. It can be found where wealth is concentrated: on the Avenue of the Gilded Age, which the majority of Americans seldom see or comprehend.

    Dr. Boris Danik
    North Caldwell, NJ

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