Baucus’ Immoral Mandate…

Commentary by JC

Baucus’ “Health Care Reform Provision Is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules”

I knew it would eventually come to this. Today’s headlines all over the media and blogosphere blaring out the news that the legal arguments against the mandate are beginning to advance in court. The battle against Obama’s health insurance reform act, and Baucus’ part in it are going to fuel right wing and tea party clamoring for repeal, but for all the wrong reasons.

And of course, we’ll be getting a basket full of the following ostrich mentality:

“Administration officials told reporters last week that a negative ruling would have virtually no impact on the law’s implementation, noting that its two major provisions – the coverage mandate and the creation of new insurance markets – don’t take effect until 2014.”

My goal here isn’t to take the debate about the individual mandate on again, or offer my opinion about its constitutionality under the Commerce Clause. I in no way support, or have supported the mandate. And I am on record in hundreds of comments here and at LitW about my opposition to the mandate.

Instead, I’m going to continue on with the line of reasoning I put forth about why the mandate, as constructed by Baucus and signed into law by Obama, is another step in the wrong direction for progressives and civil libertarians. Given that there now is movement on the mandate’s constitutionality, which most agree will put the provision before the Supreme Court before it ever gets implemented, it is time to start looking for alternatives, as there will be a huge drive to “amend” (read as “repeal” in some form or another) the bill in an increasingly overt conservative environment in Congress and the White House.

My support for single payer, in one form or another was vocal. Through many hours of discussion and debate on the blogs about this, I was persuaded to support a public option (not as a beginning point from which to compromise, but as an end point to which I would tie my support for the legislation). I have a moral objection to being coerced into purchasing health insurance from a private insurance industry.

My reasoning is that I repeatedly have been refused health insurance. It has affected my work choices, promotions, and opportunities for business partnership. It has affected my health care choices, my quality of life, and the longevity of my life. It has allowed much needless suffering into my life, struggling against diseases with no, or little health care. I struggle to pay–paying inflated rates to subsidize the health care of those with insurance that underpays, and for those who cannot/do not pay–for the little health care I do receive.

I have come to view medical bankruptcy as the only alternative when the next crisis strikes, as I am at the breaking point. It’s either that, or let nature take its course. I don’t relish making the choice to stiff the providers that may offer the only path to survival. How do I look my doctor in the eye and say, I will not be able to pay you, but will you treat me anyway? In many ways it is easier to let nature take its course than to fight an immoral and corrupt health care system. But choosing to be a martyr–like the 10’s of thousands that die each year because of lack of health insurance–is cold comfort.

In the face of debilitating and potentially life-ending conditions, I am refused entry into the system. I have developed deep antipathy for our system of health insurance and those who blindly support and perpetuate it. So when Baucus constructed a system that turns around and forces me into purchasing insurance from the same corporations that discriminated against me, and basically have made life hell for me and my family and friends, of course I was opposed. To me it is a moral matter: it is wrong to force me into contractual agreement with a corporate “person” which has abused me.

If there had been a public option, I would have not had the opposition to the mandate, per se on those grounds. But I was also opposed to the Baucus provision that left enforcement of the mandate up to the IRS. Now I have no idea why the IRS would have enforcement ability over my decision to defy a mandate on moral grounds, but there you are. Max Baucus and President Obama, and majorities in both houses of Congress have no problem with that.

There are many other ways to construct a health care system that doesn’t need to rely on mandates to purchase insurance from private corporations. I hope that as court actions ruling against a private mandate work their way through the legal system, that activists and health care reformers take the opportunity to come up with more enlightened, rather than draconian and fascist, ways to construct a health care system that offers opportunities for all citizens (not just 95%) to participate within.

There is an obvious solution, single payer, but that has been taken off of the table for ideological and political (read lobbyist and corporate coercion through revolving doors and campaign contributions) reasons–not policy reasons. Max Baucus extolled a “uniquely American” solution to our health care dilemma, and the result is an immoral, convoluted mess… like much of today’s America is.

Well, now that his unique solution is well on its way potentially to becoming unconstitutional, it is time to renew the debate on how our country wants to move to a more just and egalitarian system of health care. A way that does not rely disproportionately on a private health insurance industry more concerned with profits than with people’s health (at least without a far stricter regulatory framework than we have, or that the ACA provides). Let’s not wait for a SCOTUS ruling to begin the process anew. The time is now, as the Affordable Care Act begins to unravel.

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  1. Such colossal stupidity in angering the very constituency (over 70 per cent of americans hate private health insurance) which might have propelled this nation toward much needed real reform and guaranteed democrat wins and republican weakness for years.

    Such unforgiveable corruption – the kind that lingers like the stench of death- baucus hcr is a slap in the face. It is nothing but cowardly betrayal for the very people who voted for change.

    It will go down in history as the impetus to the most unlikely reversal of fortune in the annals of the two party system.

  2. Nice, JC. Good words and thinking. I can only add one sobering fact – refusal of coverage for preexisting conditions was not outlawed. Instead, the insurers will still refuse you coverage, sending you to an adversely selected exchange with high premiums, deductibles and co-pays, much like the pre-“reform” Montana system that only kicked in $1.00 coverage after you have spent $12,000.

    • JC

      Yeah, it was a shocker to see that the fed-funded high risk pool that opened in August here in Montana was completely unaffordable. As you said, it was going to be $12,000k/year before any benefits would be paid out.

      And the system is hardly being utilized, because at that cost, the only people who could afford it most likely have a job that has health care benefits.

      And the other kicker? I had to apply–again–to BCBS to get a fresh denial letter. Then of course, who does the state choose to manage the program? BCBS.

      The program was only supposed to run at a 2:1 rate compared to a healthy person at the same age group. But it turned out that the plan is set to run at about 4:1 of a healthy person. Crazy.

  3. Other judges have found it constitutional, and I think if this thing had been signed by a President Romney, there wouldn’t be any question at all that it would hold up. And since Judge Hudson severed only the one section, (and refused to enter an injunction against even that section), the pressure to do something is going to come from the insurance companies.

    It’ll get to the Supreme Court eventually, obviously, although it might have en banc review at the Fourth Circuit first, so maybe we’ll have a final decision on this in June 2012.

    Which is OK, since there’s no chance at all of any legislative improvement of any kind between now and January 2013.

  4. Ezra Klein has an interesting take on what the consequences may be of fighting the individual mandate.

  5. i believe that working within the system is no longer viable. it is too corrupt and too dominated by corporate money. our system of government no longer represents us….. but we still have power, and our power grows proportionately to the amount of corruption these entities dare attempt.

    i heard this guy speak on alternative radio for a few minutes today while working and was impressed with much of what he says….

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/no_act_of_rebellion_is_wasted_20101213/

    “We may feel, in the face of the ruthless corporate destruction of our nation, our culture, and our ecosystem, powerless and weak. But we are not. We have a power that terrifies the corporate state. Any act of rebellion, no matter how few people show up or how heavily it is censored by a media that caters to the needs and profits of corporations, chips away at corporate power. Any act of rebellion keeps alive the embers for larger movements that follow us. It passes on another narrative. It will, as the rot of the state consumes itself, attract wider and wider numbers. Perhaps this will not happen in our lifetimes. But if we persist, we will keep this possibility alive. If we do not, it will die.

    All energy directed toward reforming political and state structures is useless. All efforts to push through a “progressive” agenda within the corridors of power are naïve. Trust in the reformation of our corporate state reflects a failure to recognize that those who govern, including Barack Obama, are as deaf to public demands and suffering as those in the old Communist regimes. We cannot rely on any systems of power, including the pillars of the liberal establishment—the press, liberal religious institutions, universities, labor, culture and the Democratic Party. They have been weakened to the point of anemia or work directly for the corporations that dominate our existence. We can rely now on only ourselves, on each other.” – excerpt from above linked article.

    the amount of corruption within our system of government was not clear to me until the failure of the health care bill became increasingly apparent. i had thought that by getting rid of bush and his pals the nation would finally be cleansed of people who only work for entities and the wealthy….. i still had faith in our system of government -until the day max baucus, our own senator and a long time democrat, ordered doctors and nurses out of his hearing and called on capital police to silence their voices.

    that day is when i realized that voting for either party in this country is futile.

  6. Welcome to daylight :) it’s not a pleasant sight but at least it’s real. It’s difficult at times to maintain that critical view and not succumb to despair. So – RESIST!

    Did you read The Constant Gardener?
    **http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Constant_Gardener
    FICTION -A novel -large pharmaceutical company-fraudulent drug tests-severe side effects-roots of the conspiracy stretch to a German pharmawatch NGO, an African aid station, and most disturbingly, corrupt politicians in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

    TRUTH: Pfizer Conducted Illegal Drug Trials on Nigerian Children http://www.politicolnews.com/pfizer-exposed-on-wikileaks-revelations/
    Illegal investigations of Attorney Generals, Illegal drug trials, circumventing regulations, corruption with a U.S Embassy in a 3rd World country Nigeria, Wikileaks explodes corporate interests and US government intervention in a foreign country’s legal system.

    “the drug was given to 200 children, proved fatal in some cases and damaged dozens of other children the total of which is unknown”

    So when the Nigerian AG tried to bring charges for the crimes committed by Pfizer, they fixed him!

    Truth is not only stranger than fiction but more horrible.
    And John le Carré, the author of The Constant Gardener, wrote: “The things that are done in the name of the shareholder are, to me, as terrifying as the things that are done—dare I say it—in the name of God.”

    Chris Hedges has spoken a lot about Pfizer and the other pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies. And their influence in crafting the “Healthcare Hindenberg” as he called it. And points out that democracy is a useful fiction. He also shines a pointed light on the complicity which permits it all, “To be innocent in America is to stand by as insurance and pharmaceutical companies, in the name of profit, condemn ill people, including children, to die.” http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/happy_as_a_hangman_20101206/

    I hope he will be safe on Dec. 16, when he is joining Dr. Margaret Flowers (one of the doctors Max had arrested- http://www.democracynow.org/2009/5/13/baucus_raucus_caucus_doctors_nurses_and ) and Dan Ellsberg and Medea Benjamin. They will try to give Obama a message, but resistance has other purposes as well, as Mr. Hedges says, “Don’t let your friends or colleagues talk you into believing it is useless. Don’t be seduced by the sophisticated public relations campaigns disseminated by the mass media, the state or the Democratic Party. Don’t, if you decide to carry out civil disobedience, be cowed by the police. Hope and justice live when people, even in tiny numbers, stand up and fight for them. There is in our sorrow—for who cannot be profoundly sorrowful?—finally a balm that leads to wisdom and, if not joy, then a strange, transcendent happiness. To stand in a park on a cold December morning, to defy that which we must defy, to do this with others, brings us solace, and perhaps even peace. We will not find this if we allow ourselves to be disabled. We will not find this alone. As long as a few of us rebel it will always remain possible to defeat a system of centralized, corporate power that is as criminal and heartless as those I watched tumble into the ash bin of history in Eastern Europe.”




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