Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Criminalizing the Sick

As Hillary Clinton cynically vows to incrementally build upon the "successes" of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration keeps chipping away at them.

The latest chip punishes people who desperately sign up for expensive private health insurance when they get sick or hurt. Such behavior is a rude slap in the face to the free market predators, who are then forced to dip into their obscene profits and pay a portion of your hospital and doctor bills. 

Of course, the way the insurance companies spin it, it's those conniving sick people who are to blame for driving up everybody else's premiums. It's the same old Divide and Conquer ploy that the ruling class has used since time immemorial in an attempt to hide their own greed and malfeasance.

As Barack Obama might explain it, if you "game the system" by waiting until you're at death's door to use your rent and grocery money to pay hefty insurance premiums, you're going to have to pay the piper. You'll have to wait until the next open enrollment period to have your bursting appendix removed.  You might even have to die as prematurely as you would have in those awful days before the health care sweepstakes were instituted. You can't buy a lottery ticket after the drawing, people! You can't put a flat screen TV on your credit card just to watch the Super Bowl, and then expect a full refund when you return it the next day, all full of smudges and fingermarks. 

As the New York Times explains it,
The administration, which had created more than 30 “special enrollment” periods, sent emails to millions of Americans last year urging them to see if they might be eligible to sign up after the annual open enrollment deadline. But, insurers and state officials said, the federal government did little to verify whether late arrivals were eligible.Kevin J. Counihan, the chief executive of the federal insurance marketplace, said Tuesday that special enrollment periods “are not allowed for people who choose to remain uninsured and then decide they need health insurance when they get sick.”
Since the Neoliberal Project has deemed your body to be a commodity which you only partially own, you are expected to behave like a responsible consumer. If you seize up your engine because you didn't oil the capitalistic machinery as directed, don't come crying to Obama when you stall out. If you don't pay through the nose for the pricey undercoating deal, tough luck if your bod gets rusty. Keep yourself polished and gassed up, and pledge your financial allegiance to the underwriters instead of to the undertaker. Above all, keep up those monthly extortion payments, lest you get an unpleasant visit from the WellCare repo man. 
Mr. Counihan said the administration would eliminate six of the special enrollment periods, including two for certain lawfully present noncitizens who experienced “system errors” and “processing delays” when they used In addition, he said the government would clarify eligibility standards and step up enforcement to prevent abuse of special enrollment periods.
The actions appeared to have several purposes: to motivate consumers to sign up by the Jan. 31 deadline; to prevent an influx of large numbers of sick people into the market in the middle of the year; to persuade insurers to enter or stay in the public insurance marketplace; and to minimize rate increases in 2017 and later.
Medical care cuts both ways, said Counihan. The right of protection racketeers to get rich hinges upon the fear cooperation of regular people, who must pay for Medical Care Product in advance. You see, in the most exceptional nation the world has ever known, health care is still not a basic human right. It is a privilege for only the select few with a high enough credit score and bank account balance to qualify for survival.

The new rules mean that not only will people have to go shopping every year for a new insurance plan, they will now have to prove they have a permanent address. People who temporarily move in with relatives (maybe because they lost their job when they got sick) won't qualify for coverage outside the narrow enrollment period. People who get sick or hurt outside their home states will have to jump through hoops to prove that they're not trying to cheat the system. All citizens shall be considered suspects until and unless they can prove their financial and medical innocence:
In a blog post on Tuesday, Mr. Counihan said, “Our program integrity team will pull samples of consumer records nationally and may request additional information from some consumers or take other steps to validate that consumers properly qualified for these special enrollment periods.”
In addition, he said, officials will emphasize to consumers that “they may be subject to penalties under federal law if they intentionally provide false or untrue information.
These are the same pathocratic clowns who profess to be so amazed that Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All campaign is so popular. They seem to be honestly baffled that people aren't in love with Obamacare. Who, except lefty unicorn believers, wouldn't rather pay high premiums and co-pays and deductibles to the for-profit insurance racket and then get treated like a criminal if they show up in the emergency room?

The architects of the Affordable Care Act and the private insurers they serve are now criminalizing and intimidating the sick. Before you know it, newspapers and websites will be adding photo galleries of Obamacare Cheats to supplement their regular poor-shaming features on Food Stamp Grifters and Welfare Queens.

So use your Obamacare card at your own risk. And keep up those monthly payments to Blue Cross. Stay close to the phone in case a government official, acting on behalf of United Healthcare, decides to call you in for an audit. A hospital-to-prison pipeline could be in your future if you don't get sick responsibly.


Nasreen Iqbal said...

I can't believe this is the best we could do when the Democrats had a super-majority.

Pearl said...

A Canadian friend set me this:

Hillary Clinton's Strident Opposition to the International Criminal Court -

Ken Wallace said...

I see Paul Krugman is at it again today, wringing his hands over Bernie's single payer plan. It seems that the serious rise of Bernie has caused faux progressives to head for the hills for fear the ideas they championed may not work! Best to distance themselves in case things go South. With friends like these ...

I commented recently that my wife and I, feeling we're reasonably intelligent people, find the yearly battle with the insurance bureaucracy exasperating, ranking right up there with my last colonoscopy. Getting rid of that alone justifies single payer. Ezra Klein can agonize over the details all he wants, we know it can work, and we know it can save money. Single payer is a huge (make-work) job killer, no doubt, but surly we can find better things for those folks to do.

Pearl said...

Hillary Clinton to doctors in 1993: "Convincing case" for single-payer by @ZaidJilani

Jay–Ottawa said...

Wretched news, Karen. I suppose eugenics never dies; it just morphs into other forms using other means. Sterilization is out; the ovens are out; asylums are out, the camps are out. Those were expensive operations. Private insurance is the new dispatcher of bad genes. The latest implementer for improving the American stock is the private health insurance industry (PHII).

Through the ACA, government has given PHII greater authority to cull the herd so that only the wealthiest, and therefore the healthiest, survive to repopulate the next generation. By now it should be crystal: the prosperous get healthy; the healthy get prosperous.

Why do governments back the eugenic effort? Simple. It takes good genes with fat wallets to make a great nation. If medical neglect doesn't hurry along the poor on their way to the grave, then the ACA's enforcement lawyers will. All they have to do, as politely, legally and obliquely as possible, is to bounce off the roles all those sickly people, i.e., poor people, one way or another, the sooner the better.

It's the law now: healthcare must be earned. If you can't buy into the system, you're on your own, the dark side of individualism and privatization. Bye-bye. (Some adjustment will have to be made to the foundational requirement forcing everyone to buy into the system.) Anyway, kicking people off the rolls is no more complicated than the ancient practice of depositing the unwanted newborn deep in the woods and walking away. Only now you can do this, or delegate PHII to do it, to millions of your fellow citizens with full legal backing. That's the new and ever-improving ACA, right Hillary?

Without those many millions of overutilizing spongers, Medicare will disappear, Medicaid will disappear, taxes will disappear, ERs will empty out, even the ACA and the PHII itself will disappear as everyone returns to the age-old practice of paying docs and hospitals directly. When that day comes America will be great again.

Meredith said...

Ken Wallace.....more readers are seeing Krugman as a faux progressive, judging by comments to his column and the blog re Sanders on h/c. With friends like these, indeed. At least with the radical repubs we know what we're getting.

It's now obvious the Times has no liberal op ed columnists expressing what most Americans really want. But we won't even have the chance to vote on we want, since the nominees won't offer it on their platforms. This is what our democracy looks like. Platforms only within narrow limits of what the donor sponsors approve.

Pearl said...

From the British The Observer

Berserk Clinton Bigwigs Launch Nixonian Attack Against Surging Sanders

Karen Garcia said...


Just a small point: The Observer is owned by Donald Trump's son-in-law, which is fully disclosed in the article you linked. Still, the piece is entirely accurate in its portrayal of the centrist New Dems being in full panic mode over Bernie. They're acting like a bunch of red-baiting McCarthyites.

Paul Krugman has finally been fully outed as a party shill by his legions of fans. Better late than never, although a few (including right here on this blog, I am proud to say) have been onto him for years now. Hopefully the well-deserved blot on his reputation for honesty and liberalism will stick. He certainly doesn't deserve the influence he wields. His vaunted Nobel Prize is actually a monetary reward given out by a group of wealthy bankers -- entirely separate from the Nobel Committee itself.

The Clintonites and their Establishment friends (if using people can be called friendship) and hangers-on are not interested in democracy. They're interested in grabbing and maintaining power and prestige. And they're having an increasingly hard time disguising this unpleasant truth from the ordinary people starving for change and a better life.

annenigma said...

Check out 'Sarah Palin is Making Sense (Really)' at the Intercept

Hillary is so bad off that CNN has added a Town Hall forum in Iowa for Monday night to help rescue her. Afterwards they'll declare she's got her mojo back.

The Democratic Establishment must surely be planning for a savior at the convention, like Joe Biden. He sure sounds lately like he's campaigning. Ditto Republican Establishment.

I sure hope we end up with Bernie and Donald. This could be a really wild election year!

Pearl said...

Thanks Karen: Yes I read the connection of the Observer to Trump but interesting that they still told the truth. Today, I tuned into the middle of CNN analysts telling their opinions of the democratic candidates to Wolf. I missed some but then a woman CNN analyst whose name I don't remember was asked whom she thought would make the best democratic president. She immediately began to talk about all the problems Hillary was facing and repeating including e-mail investigations coming up, very critically, and then indirectly praised Bernie. Wolf was quiet when she finished speaking. I think this ground swell is encouraging reporters to be more outspoken. None of the nytimes articles I listed about the Hillary/Bernie battle allowed for comments. They may be afraid of the strong reactions coming in.
And Wolf announced that Hillary would be on CNN tomorrow afternoon about five I think. I wonder if he will invite Bernie afterwards.

Pearl said...

More on Hillary from Truthout

The Most Disingenuous Attack on Bernie Yet via @sharethis

Pearl said...

Some more food for thought.

I am also waiting to have a conversation about the plans for military and foreign decisions from the democratic candidates and hear deeper explanations about the clear hawk statements Hillary has made about demolishing terrorists when she is in office. Bernie has outlined his attitudes but in articles that have not been printed in the main press, just in reports to his supporters and in interviews that occasionally come our way, some from you Karen.
Meanwhile, things are drifting under Obama's watch with many happenings not clearly reported nor explained, waiting for someone to take over. Whomever becomes president will be presented with decisions and choices that may be surprising to Bernie (and voters)but with Hillary's 'connections' she knows a great deal about what goes on in the present administration which may not be available to Bernie.
The e-mails going back and forth when she was Secretary of state harbor secrets and information not known to her competitor which could be catastrophic for Bernie should he take over. Even if she wins, we will be then presented with an agenda we knew little about which frightens me. I think some of her appearance of confidence is due to her hand in the pie for many years that do favor her campaign and the privileged knowledge involved.

annenigma said...

I wish there was a way to vote the blog post and comments when we have nothing to add but just totally agree. I'd like to give thumbs up to Karen as well as to Jay's comment.

On another matter, last night all 3 broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, coordinated their nightly report with the same 'news' that top Democrats are concerned (oh sure) that Bernie is a 'Socialist!' and unelectable and would be detrimental to other Democratic candidates. Millionaire Senator Claire McCaskill even warned that the Republicans! would portray Bernie with a hammer and sickle. A list of the institutions that Bernie would nationalize was also shown. It's being implied that Bernie's a Communist, but they're evidently saving that label for later 'news' when they go nuclear. The Democratic Establishment handwriting is on the corporate wall.

Pearl said...

annenigma: I would just like to say how much I appreciate any additional information coming in to Sardonicky to help try and understand what is happening politically which is monumental. I have sent in a number of access to articles which are unusual in the sense that it creates a picture of the reactions to events that we have not had for awhile. The internet is a wonderful source of knowledge now and my Canadian friends are hungry for information about the U.S. which is often not well covered here.
I look forward every day to following comments and Karen's column to inform us which is much appreciated.
Events now bring back similar scenarios of the past and how they were resolved, often negatively and hope something truly positive comes our way this next year.I wish some of the better U.S. news stations were available here (like C-span) but we can only access those that our TV-phone-computer arrangements allow and I appreciate any wider information coming in from our website and others.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Ditto on the voting issue, Anne. Just so long as one need not, as with the NYT and other sites, first enroll in Facebook or Twitter merely to be able to click an 'up' or 'down' box.

Pearl, you must check out Greenwald here:

He does a Kubler-Ross type of thing by identifying 7 stages in an establishment's trashing of upstarts like Bernie. It's as artificial as those neat numerations––e.g., "the world's 10 most dangerous highways"––at the bottom of just about every other aggregated news site, but it helps to gage the hate coming and yet to come in Sanders' direction. If Sanders is really in this and keeps gaining altitude, brace for a rough ride ahead. Commenters following Greenwald (scroll down to 'Benito Mussolini') add worrisome stages 8 & 9.

Pearl said...

Bernie Sanders, and Simon and Garfunkel, Put Focus on Voters

Pearl said...

Dear Karen: I glanced at Krugman's slimy column first thing this morning and hoped that the responses would echo my thoughts. Yes indeed, there they were and your brilliant response as well and I am so thankful for it. No matter what, the country will never be the same (even with Trump)and to see what is happening finally is something I never expected.

To hear other slimeballs coming out of the woodwork everwhere trying to lamely explain the Sanders phenomenon is music to my ears.
Hillary looks and sounds shriller and shriller and that is becoming more and more obvious added to which are numerous reports of her many connections and actions involving the worst of the worst people calling the shots during her tenure as Secretary of state.
I have refrained from sending some of these items on as I don't want to hog the comments section but what she has been involved in and had effective power on administration decisions is shocking and increases worries about her agenda should she step foot in the oval office.

I hope Bernie is aware of her sordid record in some hidden areas and will use the information if it helps his cause safely. Anything goes now especially when the opposition is planning all kinds of sordid attacks on Bernie's integrity. And I keep coming across his foreign policy stance over the years in various articles from people who knew him and it is a very strong anti war one which I hope will surface.
I am so proud of all the great responders to Krugman's column and especially yours, Karen. I hope the nytimes gets rid of him. He is an albatross.

Pearl said...

An excerpt from the top commenter in the Readers choice section:

"No we can't!" is not a smart strategy, politically, intellectually or emotionally by Clinton and her surrogates (fishing for a position in her administration, Paul?).

Karen Garcia said...


I've reached the point where reading Krugman makes me literally nauseous. All fine responses to his latest kludge, but not as harsh as they should have been,in my 'umble opinion. Outrage is what is called for, not disappointment and friendly chiding of the Krugman Brand.

Pearl said...

Karen: I was thinking of writing a comment to the NYTIMES about asking him to leave as he no longer represents the attitudes and concerns of the major number of readers. However, it would only make matters worse and who knows what kind of contract he has with them. Other publications who would have such differences between a columnist and publication views would not continue such an arrangement.
I think as one reader hinted, he may be waiting for the election and then gracefully leave to his new post with Hillary (god forbid). Or remain to torture Bernie.
I think we have to be reminded occasionally of how the establishment mind works.

annenigma said...

Right on, Karen. If it's not the corporations killing us with their defective products and poisonous substances, it's the government. Too often they're one and the same. Do y'all recall the corporate-government pesticide study done in Florida on poor Black children? Talk about genocide. It's definitely time for a POLITICAL REVOLUTION!!!

Re: Krugman

Most of Krugman's commenters are groupies. They're the ones who get up at 3am so they can get the jump over others, like getting front row seats. They might scold him gently but that's as far as they'll go. They're under the illusion/delusion that he reads their comments personally, knows who they are because of the multitude of their submissions, and might even Pick their comment if they play their cards right. They probably hope he's lurking about and reads just the NYT Picks his moderator has chosen for him.

Isn't Paul Krugman playing a similar game when he won't criticize Hillary - he's hoping to be Picked too. At least she actually knows who he is!

I don't even check out the opinion columnists anymore. It's fun for them to write but not for me to read. I'm sticking to the real news articles where comments are about issues rather than about what the columnists think. The readers are more astute than the overpaid, overrated NYT Op-Ed columnists.

annenigma said...

Oh wow! I just remembered what made me a big fan of yours years ago, Karen.

You were the ONLY commentator in the NYT to come out and use the word revolution and state why that was necessary. To hear someone actually dare to say what I was only thinking, and do so in such a convincing way, set me on fire. After a false start with Obama, but then Occupy adding some real sparks, here we are with the roaring fire of a real Political Revolution finally underway.

Thanks for carrying that torch, Karen.

And Happy Birthday Sardonicky! (It's pretty soon, isn't it?)

Jay–Ottawa said...

So I cleared out my cookies and cache to read Paul Krugman's op-ed. What the hell, no bus to catch this morning, and other Sardonickists say his column is a doozy. Furthermore, the headline writer's skill was so adroit it stilled my habitual yawn as my dismissive cursor passed over the column of the great Nobel Laureate, he who carries water for realist Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who carries water for #44 and for Hillary Clinton, soon to be #45––if DWS and Krugman and the NYT have their way. Here's my take-away message of Krugman's wise counsels of today.

You stuck in the mud purists, you na├»ve dreamers, so out of your element in a world grounded on money and power, curb your enthusiasm, get real, forget Sanders the Extremist. Sanders will never fly, no matter how much he flaps his arms in Washington's thin air. "[T]he question Sanders supporters should ask is, When has their theory of change ever worked? … Don’t let idealism veer into destructive self-indulgence."

Obama's way, so soft, so smooth, so low, skimming like a seagull inches above the white-capped waves of reaction, is the only way. Obama––how wise is he and blessed be his accomplishments––never reaches for more than a half a loaf. In this way––LISTEN UP!–– "he’s been an extremely consequential president, doing more to advance the progressive agenda than anyone since L.B.J."

I hope there's room to chisel that line on a prominent slab of marble in Obama's forthcoming Presidential Library. What more can Krugman do to advance Obama's and now Hillary's kind of progressivism?

If Sanders wins in November, expect nothing by way of accomplishment, not even half a loaf once in a while. Should Hillary take the prize, however, she will tag Krugman as her chief economic advisor. (You heard it first here.) Then brace for a Second Progressive Era. Like Obama, Hillary with Krugman will dislodge manna from the cupped hands of the elites on high to fall ever so gently like snow upon us all here below.

Karen Garcia said...


Time flies when you're getting old. I completely forgot the blogiversary, which was earlier this month. High Five! Thanks for reminding me!