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Monday, May 30, 2005

Universal Health Care -- Brought To You By Exxon-Mobil

A recent article in the NYT announces that a variety of groups has banded together, including the AMA, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, The AFL/CIO and other labor unions, as well as members of Big Pharma to urge federal policymakers to take a "pragmatic approach" and take "incremental steps" to address the health care crisis in the US.

Talk about a deal with the devil.

Over at the Mahablog, Barbara says:
I've long believed that, someday, there'd be a tipping point.  Someday, when a big-enough chunk of middle-class Americans began to worry about their own access to health care, then people would listen. We'd be able to get past the noise about waiting lines in Canada and persuade Americans we don't have to put up with this.
But I think others correctly point out that government does not generally respond to public opinion, it acts when Big Business tells it to act. While many would argue that General Motors is suffering because of a complete lack of corporate responsiveness to what consumers want, they think they're being crippled by health care costs. Companies who traditionally pay health care benefits feel they are being hamstrung when they have to compete with the bottom lines generated by monoliths like WalMart who let taxpayers and public social services pick up all their health care expenses.

When BushCo. started banging the drum to privatize social security, my brother-in-law made an interesting observation to the effect that what the program REALLY needed was a big middle man akin to the role played by insurance companies in the health care industry. Basically a huge chunk of every dollar spent on health care in this country is being skimmed by people whose only job is to shuffle paperwork and reject coverage for all but the healthy. And there is absolutely, positively nothing "incremental" that can fix that.

In the end, we'll all have universal health care when GM decides we will. But if policy is being dictated by people who are largely responsible for the problem in the first place, expect the price tag to be enormous and any benefit to the public incidental.

(photo courtesy stock.xchng)