With so many Americans now unable to afford health insurance, the private insurance industry is facing a catastrophic problem: how to keep profits high, executive compensation exorbitant and campaign contributions excessive?
Fortunately, $200 million in lobbying and campaign contributions have convinced a majority in the senate (41 members) that the problem is not the fox or the hen house, the problem is the shortage of chickens. Agreeing with the house, the Senate will force every chicken-livered American above the poverty line and below the retirement age to get back in that hen house and act happy about it – 30 to 40 million of us.
The hen house will still be run by private, for-profit corporations not responsible to anyone (no public option, no Medicare buy-in, no co-op chicken coop in the Senate bill). Sure, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny you coverage because you are old or sick or male or female, but they will charge you up to 3 times what others pay. Sure, there are a lot of wonderful little rule changes that will get us on the road (roads in Iraq are safer) to real reform. Sure, individuals and tiny businesses might get the chance to enter the hen house at rates similar to groups. Sure, a few years from now there will be some subsidies to help you afford health insurance until you are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. Sure. We’re totally screwed.
There’s a tiny chance something good could happen in conference. Or, some of the Republicans purchased by the insurance lobby would accept a bigger bribe from Obama & Company. Or, maybe, they’ll just go home for holidays and forget all about it. Personally, I think I have a better chance free range.