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    Occupy Wall Street: What Just Happened? eBook on Amazon

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We Need Health Care, Not Insurance

What Real Health Reform Looks Like

from Counterpunch
by Carol Miller

A very complex, mandatory private insurance scheme recently passed the U.S. House. . . . . But there bad provisions, which comprise most of the 1,990 pages of the bill. Five key reasons this legislation must be stopped:

• If passed, this law will move the U.S. farther from universal health care, making it harder than ever to accomplish health care justice in the future. If Congress does not have the courage to stand up to the private insurance industry now, it will be even more difficult in the future, especially after giving the industry trillions of new dollars through this terrible legislation. Let’s call this what it is: another corporate bailout on the backs of working people.

• The legislation institutionalizes permanent inequality in health care. Unlike Medicare where all beneficiaries have a single plan, this bill further divides the U.S. system into tiers based on ability to pay. It creates basic, enhanced, premium and premium-plus plans. A basic plan will provide only 70 percent of the coverage of a “reference benefit package,” one that includes even fewer services than most insured people have today. The bill doesn’t even mention coverage for essential services like vision and adult dental care except in the most costly premium-plus plan.

• Out-of-pocket costs remain sky high. Everyone will be required to pay monthly insurance premiums. Some low-wage workers will receive taxpayer subsidies on a sliding scale. The lowest income people will have full subsidies. But remember, this is not money for care, it is support only to buy insurance.

• The legislation makes it illegal to not buy health insurance. The penalties are described in a section of the legislation called “Shared Responsibility.” This will let the IRS impose a tax of up to 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income for not having health insurance. People on the financial edge, people fighting foreclosure to stay in their homes or people who are unemployed all or part of a year will not be able to afford the insurance premiums or the penalties for not having insurance.

• We will all be drowning in paperwork, which will continue to drive up administrative costs. Right now, insurance administrative waste is about 30 percent of every health care dollar— or about $1 billion a day. Adding more people to an insurance-based system will result in even more money going into this bottomless pit.

Carol Miller first rose to prominence in the New Mexico Green Party by running for Congress in 1997. She was active in the Nader for President Campaign 2000 and sought the Green Party nomination for President in 2004.


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