The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is one of those taunting, ironic names government sometimes gives to things. That patients are not protected from billing practices that violate the law, that the rights that must be protected are not discoverable without massive effort (my own efforts continue, I’ll let you know when this lawyer discovers the section of the massive and complicated law that outlines these inviolable rights) that there is no place to have a clear adjudication of the many violations of protected rights, and that the health care is not necessarily affordable add to this citizen’s sense of being taunted.
My frustration reminds me of how angry I felt, the day after millions gathered across the globe, and I was one of hundreds of thousands in New York City out protesting on an arctic day, threatened by NYPD on horseback and kept blocks from the U.N., when then President Bush announced that we would invade Iraq in a war based on endlessly repeated lies and the profit calculations of a few powerful corporations.
“Those stupid, cynical, Nazi motherfuckers!” I remember thinking as Operation Shock and Awe began in my name. That was just my frustration speaking. The architects of that illegal war were not stupid– they made a ton of money whacking that hornet’s nest and destabilizing an already volatile part of the global warming puzzle. Nobody whose actions lead to amassing a fortune can be called stupid, not here. Cynical? Perhaps, you could make a good argument there, but there is no law against being a cynic.
Nazis? Well, to put things into perspective, the Nazis started a war that killed tens of millions while deliberately exterminating many millions in specially designed death camps. The Bush Administration killed only about 500,000 Iraqis, many of them, undoubtedly people who hated America. Moreover, not one of these Iraqis was killed in a death camp, there simply were no death camps. Perhaps 1% of that number of Americans were killed liberating Iraq from a monster, so already comparisons with the Nazis seem a bit strained, don’t they?
The Bush Administration, as President Obama finally admitted “tortured some folks”, but even a quick comparison makes one realize how unfair it is to call them Nazis. They really believed they were doing the right thing!
Maybe Max Baucus, whose committee wrote the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act so reviled and attacked by the President’s legions of bitter enemies believed the same thing. The health insurance industry, and the pharmaceutical industry, two huge supporters of the long-time senator, would be badly hurt by a single payer system that would allow a few hundred million Americans to bargain for health services that could be fairly regulated by the federal government. Where is the freedom in that? Stinks of Socialism and restraint of the free market, don’t it?
Don’t believe me, here’s what Wikipedia says about Mr. Baucus and the practical conflict of conscience * he endured while overseeing creation of the immensely dense Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In a five year period prior to beginning his work on Obamacare he took in almost $5,000,000 in campaign contributions from the industries the new law would either make much more profitable or rob of a good share of its profitability. Doesn’t take a genius to put the sad facts together.
What I’m looking for, and haven’t found yet, in addition to a clear cut answer on whether I should pay bills for hundreds of dollars for a covered preventive service, on top of my $471 monthly premium, is the name of the woman, one of the primary authors of the grotesquely tangled ACA, who went through the revolving door President Obama announced would be closed, and returned to work for the health insurance industry at an annual salary in the millions. Can you say “job well done”? Good thing Mr. Obama closed that revolving door, as important as his closing of Gitmo. Ask the prisoners there who are being force fed with tubes down their throats how that closing of Gitmo thing worked out for them.
Sarah Palin winks atcha.
* Baucus has been criticized for his ties to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and was one of the largest beneficiaries in the Senate of campaign contributions from these industries. From 2003-08, Baucus received $3,973,485 from the health sector, including $852,813 from pharmaceutical companies, $851,141 from health professionals, $784,185 from the insurance industry and $465,750 from HMOs/health services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A 2006 study by Public Citizen found that between 1999 and 2005 Baucus, along with former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, took in the most special-interest money of any senator.
Only three senators have more former staffers working as lobbyists on K Street, at least two dozen in Baucus’ case. Several of Baucus’s ex-staffers, including former chief of staff David Castagnetti, are now working for the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries.Castagnetti co-founded the lobbying firm of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, which representsAmerica’s Health Insurance Plans Inc, the national trade group of health insurance companies, the Medicare Cost Contractors Alliance, as well as Amgen, AstraZeneca PLC and Merck & Co.Another former chief of staff, Jeff Forbes, opened his own lobbying shop and to represent thePharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Advanced Medical Technology Association, among other groups.
A statistical analysis of the impact of political contributions on individual senators’ support for the public insurance option conducted by Nate Silver has suggested that Baucus was an unlikely supporter of the public option in the first place. Based on Baucus’s political ideology and the per capita health care spending in Montana, Silver’s model projects that there would be only a 30.6% probability of Baucus supporting a public insurance option even if he had received no relevant campaign contributions. Silver calculates that the impact on Baucus of the significant campaign contributions that he has received from the health care industry further reduces the probability of his supporting a public insurance option from 30.6% to 0.6%.
In response to the questions raised by the large amount of funding he took from the health care industry, Baucus declared a moratorium as of July 1, 2009 on taking more special interest money from health care political action committees. Baucus, however, refused to return as part of his moratorium any of the millions of dollars he has received from health care industry interests before July 1, 2009, or to rule out a resumption of taking the same or greater health care industry contributions in the future. His policy on not taking health care industry money reportedly still allowed him to accept money from lobbyists or corporate executives, who, according to The Washington Post, continued to make donations after July 1, 2009. A watchdog group found that in July 2009 Baucus accepted additional money from the health care industry in violation of his own self-defined moratorium terms, reportedly leading Baucus to return those monies.