Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Exceptional USA: So Special, So Sick

The New York Times finally discovers what thinking people living in the real world have known all long: that Obamacare is not only not all it's cracked up to be, it's a disease unto itself. Insured Americans are still going bankrupt, getting sicker, and dying younger. (Hillary Clinton, for her part, has cold-bloodedly called such atrocities mere "glitches.")

The Times is even openly soliciting testimony about medical insurance nightmares from its readers.The lede of the front-page article is reminiscent of Rep. Alan Grayson's legendary 2009 rant on the House floor:
Here is the surest way to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having health insurance: Don’t get sick.
The number of uninsured Americans has fallen by an estimated 15 million since 2013, thanks largely to the Affordable Care Act. But a new survey, the first detailed study of Americans struggling with medical bills, shows that insurance often fails as a safety net. Health plans often require hundreds or thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket payments — sums that can create a cascade of financial troubles for the many households living paycheck to paycheck. 
In the new poll, conducted by The New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly 20 percent of people under age 65 with health insurance nonetheless reported having problems paying their medical bills over the last year. By comparison, 53 percent of people without insurance said the same.
These financial vulnerabilities reflect the high costs of health care in the United States, the most expensive place in the world to get sick. They also highlight a substantial shift in the nature of health insurance. Since the late 1990s, insurance plans have begun asking their customers to pay an increasingly greater share of their bills out of pocket though rising deductibles and co-payments. The Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in 2010, protected many Americans from very high health costs by requiring insurance plans to be more comprehensive, but at the same time it allowed or even encouraged increases in deductibles.

Sick and Sicker:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson came uncomfortably close to channeling Heinrich Himmler as he outlined his reasons for rounding up Central American refugee families for imprisonment and quick deportation back to the countries they had fled out of desperation for their very lives. Many of the deportees face almost certain death upon their return. Johnson's cold-blooded statement:
 The focus of this weekend’s operations were adults and their children who (i) were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally, (ii) have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court, and (iii) have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws. As part of these operations, 121 individuals were taken into custody, primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, and they are now in the process of being repatriated. To effect removal, most families are first being transported to one of ICE’s family residential centers for temporary processing before being issued travel documents and boarding a return flight to their home countries. 
Given the sensitive nature of taking into custody and removing families with children, a number of precautions were taken as part of this weekend’s operations. ICE deployed from around the country a number of female agents and medical personnel to take part in the operations, and, in the course of the operations, ICE exercised prosecutorial discretion in a number of cases for health or other personal reasons.
.... I know there are many who loudly condemn our enforcement efforts as far too harsh, while there will be others who say these actions don’t go far enough. I also recognize the reality of the pain that deportations do in fact cause. But, we must enforce the law consistent with our priorities. At all times, we endeavor to do this consistent with American values, and basic principles of decency, fairness, and humanity.
Contrast this to Reichsfuhrer Himmler's cold-blooded rationale for rounding up and deporting the Jews (and unlike Johnson's boasting, his speech was given in secret):
 I ask of you that that which I say to you in this circle be really only heard and not ever discussed. We were faced with the question: what about the women and children? – I decided to find a clear solution to this problem too. I did not consider myself justified to exterminate the men – in other words, to kill them or have them killed and allow the avengers of our sons and grandsons in the form of their children to grow up. The difficult decision had to be made to have this people disappear from the earth. For the organisation which had to execute this task, it was the most difficult which we had ever had. [...] I felt obliged to you, as the most superior dignitary, as the most superior dignitary of the party, this political order, this political instrument of the F├╝hrer, to also speak about this question quite openly and to say how it has been. The Jewish question in the countries that we occupy will be solved by the end of this year. Only remainders of odd Jews that managed to find hiding places will be left over.
 As Ian Buruma writes in Theater of Cruelty, "Evil deeds are often committed by people who have convinced themselves that they are doing something good. When Heinrich Himmler told his audience of SS officers in Posen in 1943 that 'exterminating' the Jews was a necessary duty carried out 'for the love of our people,' he was most probably sincere. No doubt he reveled in his own power, but I don't think he was evil for the sake of being evil. Himmler was not Satan, but a repellent human being with the means to put mad and murderous fantasies into practice."

Likewise, Jeh Johnson can ease his alleged conscience by adding social workers and medical personnel to his own de facto extermination squads. He sends "illegal" people to their deaths in the sincere belief that he is acting purely from decent and humane principles, for the love of Exceptional America.

Likewise, if millions of the beloved American people who are allowed to remain in the Homeland by virtue of their birth on American soil go broke, suffer and die prematurely through a lack of basic medical care, then the architects and defenders of the Affordable Care Act are smug in the knowledge that at least they are giving mercy to a chosen, select few. The unlucky others have been simply designated as necessary internal deportees. Despite Obamacare, as many as 17,000 legal Americans are still dying unnecessarily every single year. That is a feature, not a bug.

  Internal and external deportees are what the neoliberal thought-collective, the cold-blooded cullers of the herd, euphemize as the collateral damage of their "hard choices."

Sick, sicker, sickest.


Nasreen Iqbal said...

The ACA seems like a mess. I can't believe that we couldn't have done better than that.

Meredith NYC said...

Hello out there---is anyone else finding that today's NYT op ed page is still showing yesterday's columnists as of 637pm????
Unless my computer is stuck on Jan 3 or 4.

Karen....thanks for this on ACA. At least the Times is reporting on it. Let them put ACA problems on the front page, as they did with the 158 families that donated the most $$ to our election.

But how much can the shortcomings of US h/c be a campaign issue, in our system? How can our election redress grievances?

A country that makes h/c a profit center will be stuck, and have no way of solving problems with affordability. Countries that respect their citizens enough to have lower cost h/c for all since mid 20th century have a different attitude. It's ok for govts to regulate and negotiate prices.

This is basic---it's not a question of fixing glitches. And when our famous liberals like Krugman just report on how many more people have become insured with ACA, not how many aren't, and we should just shut up and elect Dems not Gop so ACA won't be totally destroyed.....then there is little effective pressure for reform.

We have to face an ugly truth---health care for all at lower cost, like dozens of other nations, is deemed basically 'unAmerican' in our politics. Let's start from there. Just like gun control, common in dozens of nations is also deemed unamerican. No matter how many people want it in the polls.

Anything not leading to profits, but that has more govt participation for the common good is too socialistic and against the American way. This hoax has been sold well, and keeps the US behind the rest of the modern world.

Pearl said...

The Toronto Star had a video of part of Bernie's speech. Let's hope more U.S. media take note of future ones.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Stayin on topic here...harrumph....

The more I look at the ACA, the more I suspect its failings are intended. It is only a corner of something big and strange, as from a tale by Umberto Eco, a conspiracy hatched in a castle ages ago by the illuminati. The ACA just might be evidence that dark powers have always run the world through elites sworn to secrecy about an overarching conspiracy running back through generations since the pyramids, if not earlier. The rest of us are extras, a supporting cast hatched or snuffed through the ages as needed to provide what the illuminati need to keep going while we think we're in the know. How droll our foolish parallel history of the world. The chosen, what the rest of us call the elites or "them," are growing bolder, coming out of the closet, so to speak. Among "them" are the billionaires who fund operations. These elites––the superrich, the superthinkers, the supersinister, the superidiots in Washington and other capitals––no longer require the labor of seven billion nobodies, the current number of their plodding workforce. The ACA is just there to keep aggressive US types quiet a bit longer with hopeyness. "They" have got what they need to eventually take what's left of humanity, "The Remnant," deep underground for a few million years to sit out the Sixth Extinction. Or else––big decisions for the last minute sometime around 2110––they'll rocket off to another solar system with a planet like Earth to start over once more. You still don't think NASA is about pure science and admiring the wonders of the heavens, do you? As a first step these elites, specifically, the illuminati, have lately embarked on radically thinning our numbers within two or three generations. Looks like everything is set to go: some impressive science set aside on the shelf for their use; another biblical flood has begun rising; famines and more depopulation along the way; waves of emigration on The Road; and those old standbys, ethnic hatred, wars and plagues; and, if needed, nukes. Ebola in West Africa was only a test; the Middle East is a good start on pitting billions of nobodies against each other. As for the ACA, it's just a repeat of the Tantalus myth, in this case putting cures, care and medicine just beyond the reach of people too dumb to stay healthy. Yup, we're on our way alright. Just sayin'.