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John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado

As I write this, the politicians and lobbyists in Washington, D.C. are brawling over the proposed reform of this nation’s health care system.

By the time you read this, if all goes as scheduled, the U.S. House of Representatives will have voted to either pass President Barack Obama’s health care reform legislation, or to reject it.

My prediction is that the bill will be passed, and I sure as hell hope I’m right. If it is not, we as a people have a job to do, and that job is to let our representatives know that we are neither amused or happy about their actions.

In particular, the voters need to inform the Republican party, in very clear terms, that their slavish devotion to the needs of the insurance industry is nothing but an obvious sellout and betrayal of their constituents.

Not that I am entirely happy with the health care bill as it stands, you understand. The bill itself, thanks to a swarm of special interests, is but a pale and weak version of what Obama promised and what we need, which is a nationalized health care system that focuses on actual health care instead of profits.

The for-profit model, based on a wicked conspiracy among lawyers, the medical-industrial complex and a corrupt political establishment, has been tried and found wanting. All it is good for is lining the pockets of an elite cadre of specialists and the politicians they have bought, while the rest of us go quietly bankrupt.

But the current bill, pathetic as it is, is at least a step in the right direction. Given the way politics works in the U.S. of A., it’s the best we can hope for at this point, along with the hope that reason wins out over political chicanery and that further reforms will follow.

Make no mistake about it, though – the battle will rage on, regardless of how the House decides.

Already, Virginia is the first state to pass legislation aimed at blocking implementation of this or any other national effort to reform health care. I guess Virginians don’t mind dying for lack of health insurance, or being overcharged for everything from aspirins to enemas if they do have health insurance, or being misdiagnosed and mistreated as part of the medical establishment’s determination to milk every penny it can from our bloated and diseased bodies even if it kills us.

And according to USA Today, 34 state legislatures have announced the intention, or begun working toward, similar anti-reform moves.

It’s all politics and bullshit, of course. Republicans and conservative Democrats, scared witless by the prospect of an electorate that demands they actually do their jobs, are tossing out a blizzard of disinformation and outright lies in the hope of confusing the voters into abject helplessness. That’s the way they want us to be, fulfilling our role of meek little sheep being led to slaughter while the insurance CEOs and their pet politicians laugh all the way to the bank.

According to the website, Answerbag.com, health insurance got its start in the 1700s in Europe, where it primarily was used for work-related disability payments. If you got hurt on the job and couldn’t work, your family would not starve, thanks to regular tithes taken from your wages.

During the Industrial Revolution, according to the EH.net Encyclopedia, the modern concept of health care was born. But until about 1920, many insurance companies shied away from it. It did not offer great profits because health-care costs were low, and the quality of health care itself was uncertain and often led to complications or death of patients, which would have eaten into any profits.

But as health care costs skyrocketed during the 20th century, the insurance industry realized money was there to be made, and the rat race began.

Today, health insurance generates billions for the companies involved, and we are all aware of the horror stories about denied coverage, deadly delays in payments, and worse.

So, here we are. The insurance industry doesn’t want health care reform, most of the rest of us do want it, and the politicians seem capable of hearing only the wails from the fat cats in skyscrapers.

I await the vote in Congress with a mixture of fear and loathing, leavened only by a small shred of hope.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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