Sunday, November 8, 2009

The House Trips the Light Fantastic

To be a player in the corporate state you’ve got to be fast on your feet. It takes moves worthy of an Astaire to appear as if you’re tossing gold coins to the starving masses when all you’re tossing is lead slugs.

Last night, the House passed the “Affordable Health Care for America Act,” a measure that gives much if you can afford to take advantage of it. It is a bill long on aspiration and painfully short on detail.

Yes, there is a public option and yes, the wingnuts denied federal funding for abortions.

It’s a boondoggle for private insurers because everyone has to have coverage. If a family can’t afford it, they’re hit with a fine equal to 2.5 percent of their gross income. For a family of four, the poverty level is $22,050. So if the family can’t afford the public option, they are fined $551 or 30% of a month’s salary. (No food on the table during that month.) Waivers are available, but details are short as to how they would be granted.

Medicaid is expanded from 100 percent to 150 percent of the poverty level. For our family of four, this would boost their eligibility to $33,075. The family making a dollar more than that would still be forced to purchase insurance. If they failed to do so, they would face a fine of $827, still 30% of a month’s salary.

The bill offers tax subsidies for individuals between 150 and 400 percent ($33,050-$88,200) of the poverty level. However, this provision overlooks the fact that poor families life hand-to-month and paycheck-to-paycheck. It’s not as if they have stock holdings that will compensate for the hold torn in their income by fines or premium payments until the tax subsidy kicks in. But, what the hell! Stale Cheerios still taste good even with water instead of milk.

With the abortion exclusion, Congress kicked a little more pork to the insurance industry. Women who want coverage for abortions will be able to purchase a rider from a private company.

What we have here is an irrational bill cobbled together to give as much to the proles as possible without unduly upsetting the House’s corporate handlers.

Now it goes to the Senate, then to a House/Senate conference.

The only sane approach to health coverage is a single payer pan. What will finally emerge is a bill that does its damndest to look sane, and is sane, as long as you ignore the straight jacket it is wearing.


david m said...

I hear another bill is being pushed through congress by the distinguished rep from Arkansas requiring people to spend at least 10% of their monthly income in Wal-Mart or get fined. And if you can't pay the fine, you must work as a greeter until your fine is paid off. Which means you will be greeting people the rest of your life because wal-mart pays less wages than the fine. Just kidding! But welcome to the wonderful world of the Corporate State anyway.

American justice said...

I also wonder more about what will really emerge from this healthcare program. Will things really be better or worse in the end? Who really benefits and will it end up saving or costing money...

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Case Wagenvoord said...

My fear is that the health insurance reform bill that finally emerges will have so many holes in it it will resemble a piece of swiss cheese.

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