What the US needs is an outburst of common sense

Posted: Monday, August 10, 2009

If ever there was a time for comprehensive health-care reform it is now, and yet the forces of darkness are lining up against this urgent need, buttressed by lies, mobs inflamed by those lies, and millions of dollars changing hands and changing votes in Washington.

The idea that simply doing nothing and going on without changing the way this country's health care is delivered works to the benefit of only one industry - the insurance companies, the giant health care providers and the big pharmaceutical companies.

That industry is now pouring $1.4 million A DAY into lobbying - read that buying or renting members of Congress - to water down or delay or preferably kill health-care reform and hope it goes away for an additional 20 years or so.

Part of that high-dollar industry budget is going to the really low end of K Street, the firms and folks who specialize in dirty tricks, panicking the uninformed and most vulnerable citizens, financing the creation and spread of lies written, spoken and spread like viruses by robot dialing machines.

The Republican Party, on life support itself, somehow sees an opportunity in encouraging and participating in this flim-flam operation. It ought to, and should, seal their doom.

Each night for the past week we have been treated to the sight of mobs screaming and ranting and shouting down Town Hall meetings where congressional representatives had come to answer questions of their constituents.

No questions got answered. No information got provided. No one left more informed than when he or she arrived.

That's because they and their organizers were following the online playbooks telling them where to go, where to sit, how to make it appear there are more of them than there are and, above all, to stop the program and allow no discussion of this issue.

They scream that any government-run health care is socialism or communism. But look at them; look at their gray hair and thickened waists. At least half of them depend entirely on Medicare, a government-run program and a damned good one, for their own health care.

They scream that the bills still being written and amended in Congress will deny vital treatments for older Americans and doom them to an early and unnecessary death.

What utter, unadulterated BS.

The only outfits in America who have the right to refuse you treatment for an illness or deny you an organ transplant are the health-care corporations, if you are unlucky enough to have to depend on that wonderful private insurance the right wingnuts are so loudly praising and defending.

This is the same wonderful health coverage that has driven hundreds of thousands of American families into bankruptcy because their private insurers refused to pay for urgently needed surgery or cancer treatment, or simply cancelled their coverage.

And why is that?

It is because those very same corporations have, in just one decade, driven their profits and overhead (hiring those lobbyists and buying those Congress critters and building their fleets of private jets) from 5 percent to nearly 20 percent.

In other words, the corporate bite has gone from 5 cents of every dollar paid in premiums to 20 cents of every premium dollar.

It is good old unregulated American greed of the same stripe that drove this country into its current economic meltdown. Wall Street loves these guys.

We desperately NEED a government-run health-care program that can, by good old American competition, force the private health insurers to get off their pirate ships and back in the real world. The 40 million uninsured Americans need somewhere to get their health needs tended. The millions more in dire danger of losing their jobs and their private insurance need some alternative immediately available.

And all of us need some people in Congress who haven't been bought or rented by the pirates, liars and thieves to speak out in favor of filling those real needs.

Wonder how much Big Pharm donated to the key committee members who amended the health care legislation to specifically prohibit any government-run health program from negotiating lower drug prices with the price-gouging drug companies of, you guessed it, Big Pharm?

What we need right now is a huge outburst of common sense and enlightened self interest.

What those gray-haired Medicare recipients who are playing angry mob need to do is stop screaming and start listening and reading and learning who is manipulating them and why.

Follow the money trail back to the pirates and thieves and their handmaidens, the greasy liar lobbyists and those in Congress who slurp at their troughs.

• Joseph L. Galloway is a military columnist for McClatchy Newspapers and a former senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers; he is co-author of the national best-seller "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young." Readers may write to him at: P.O. Box 399, Bayside, Texas 78340.



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