There are very rich, cynical people who, because speech has now been equated with money by the Supreme Court, can speak ten or a hundred million times more articulately than the average struggling mutt. It is now common knowledge that the extremely privileged have unfettered access to lawmakers, who, dependent on their wealthy benefactors’ generous campaign support, will move mountains to privilege the advantages of the already privileged at the expense of everyone else.
There are two brothers, the Koch brothers (pronounced “Coke”) who are only recently becoming well-known for their tireless, well-funded and influential speech against sustainable environmental policy, universal health care, collective bargaining, a living wage and many other things an unbiased person might consider basic rights of citizenship in a wealthy democracy. The Koch brothers combined “worth” of about 100 billion dollars, puts them close to the richest twosome in the world today. As anyone who has been following the news recently knows, it will never be enough to be among the richest people in the world today without making every effort to become richer still.
The Koch brothers stand to double their money when Obama quietly signs off on the other half of the Keystone pipeline (he’s already opened the southern half). This pipeline will pump oil sludge, tar sand, the dirtiest form of nonrenewable fossil fuel, from Koch-owned lands in Canada to refineries and shipping points in the American south. It will enable the profitable extraction of a very dirty and unsustainable fuel source that climate scientists (but, in fairness to science-deniers, only about 99% of them) say will put immense amounts of additional carbon into the biosphere. It will accelerate climate change at a time when we need to slow it down, for the survival of life on the planet. The extraction leaves behind a ravaged strip mined landscape and the toxic consequences are frighteningly far reaching; on the other hand, the Koch Brothers stand to make as much as $100,000,000,000 when the president quietly signs off.
My question is a purely rhetorical one that I will never have access to actually ask: do you work directly for the Koch Brothers, my man?
I mean no disrespect to our president. I love a Nobel Peace Prize winner with a sense of humor. I’m just frustrated because he speaks so well and people want so badly to believe pronouncements that let them cling to the ghost of idealism rather than accept the evidence of even more eloquent and entirely consistent actions. It’s depressing to judge this good man on the damning evidence of what he actually does, rather than on the strength of the uplifting things he has the talent to say.
And so it is with Obamacare, written by a lobbyist for the health insurance industry who has since gone back to work for that industry. There are corrupt scumbags on both sides of the aisle, and in the aisle, and sliding slimily through the revolving door between lobbyists and legislators, everything oiled by the money, er… speech, of the legally created persons known as Corporations, entities whose only consideration, like the Koch Brothers, is maximizing profits. If the corporation was actually a person it would be a psychopath. And so it goes.
I received no invoice this month from Obamacare — which does not allow me to keep any of the doctors I’ve seen for years– so I called on February 20th to find out how to pay. Can’t do it on-line or by phone, it emerges, so the nice woman at the insurance company emailed me an electronic copy of their invoice, prepared 2/14 and not received by most consumers yet, with this maddening sub-punchline:
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Our records show that you have not paid your premium for this month. This premium is now overdue. This bill includes your overdue premium in addition to the premium you owe for next month. If we do not receive both of these premium payments by the due date set out on this bill, your coverage will be suspended. Any charges for services (claims) will not be paid.
So the consumer, not billed until the last week in February, deemed late and threatened with cancellation unless the “overdue” (payable by 2/28 at 5 pm. after all) premium and the preemptive March premium payments (payable by 3/31 at 5pm) are both mailed and received by the due date.
Punchline: there is no New York State agency, known to the operators and supervisors of the New York State of Health Marketplace, that monitors or oversees the business practices of the corporations that do business in that so-called marketplace.
Nor is the hundred million dollar website easily navigable, or even updated, there is no on-line support to be accessed, nor any way to email anything to anyone at the Marketplace. You can theoretically initiate a web chat, but that feature is not currently working. The FAQ section, last updated in December 2013, has nothing about complaints, grievances, appeals or getting help, outside of calling their overwhelmed help line.
On the plus side, waiting times to speak to operators have gone down impressively, from over an hour to about ten minutes. The operators are helpful, and overwhelmed and their hands are tied. The consumers, well, can you spell SCAMMED, good citizens? LOL! Have a very nice day!