DNC - Keene Sentinel: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants you to love the current health insurance system

KEY POINTS: So, what is the health care system that the U.S. Chamber is so devoted to preserving intact?

A system in which small businesses are all but crushed under the cost of providing coverage for employees, who are nonetheless always just a pink slip or serious illness away from health care destitution.

A system where the insured are forced to pay increasingly large premiums, an expanding share of their own medical expenses and subsidies to care for those who are not insured.

A system in which private insurance is so ruinously expensive and callously administrated that between 45 million and 50 million Americans have no coverage at all, including people with so-called pre-existing conditions who are refused the right to buy insurance.

...

But the champions of the status quo nixed universal health insurance when Harry Truman proposed it in the early 1950s. They did it when Richard Nixon proposed health insurance reform 20 years later. They did it when Bill Clinton tried 20 years after that. And they are working mightily again today to crush another effort. We should all bear that in mind whenever that gravelly voiced TV guy and his colleagues open their well paid mouths.

http://www.keenesentinel.com/articles/2009/11/21/opinion/sentinel_editorial/free/id_379814.txt

SENTINEL EDITORIAL: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants you to love the current health insurance system

 
Published: Saturday, November 21, 2009

There’s that voice on TV again. It’s a raspy voice, mature and serious, the voice of a talented announcer generally associated with Republican campaign commercials. This time he’s warning us about reforming the nation’s health insurance system. Reform will drive up health care costs, he says, and make a shaky economy worse. “Call Congress,” he urges. “Tell them the new health care bill is a bill America can’t afford to pay.”

This series of commercials is paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization that once was known in the past to play a constructive role in public affairs. This time, in a bit of cart-before-the-horse flimflam, the chamber has sent an e-mail to other business organizations asking for help hiring a “respected economist” to conduct a $50,000 study that would conclude that health care reform “will kill jobs and hurt the economy.”

The ads are a scare tactic, of course, part of a wave of special interest commercials seeking to preserve the grip of private health insurance on our economy and our lives. Someday we’ll laugh about this latest melodramatic assault, just as we shake our heads today over the fact that so many people were duped by the pharmaceutical industry’s Harry and Louise ads the last time reform was proposed.

Meanwhile, we are witnessing another expensive and potentially effective campaign to scuttle reforms that would assure access to health care for all Americans. The effort takes many forms.

There are the earnest op-eds and speeches of thoughtful conservatives, such as New Hampshire’s senior U.S. senator, Judd Gregg. These people have ideological objections to government intervention in health care. They would prefer libertarian nostrums that, even if reasonable, will never see the light of day in Congress. Bringing them up at this time serves only to sidetrack real reform. They must know this.

There are the political and media zealots intent on thwarting an initiative associated with President Barack Obama. They include Sarah Palin and her “death panels” claptrap. And they include House Minority Leader John Boehner, who came to New Hampshire the other day to pledge his continued opposition to health care reform, which he said is “the greatest threat to freedom that I’ve seen in the 19 years I’ve been in Washington.” That’s what he said.


u And now there are people and institutions attempting to kill health care reform by turning it into a debate over abortion.

Back to those TV ads. The Associated Press says opponents of reform are outspending supporters 2 to 1. Dozens of institutional players are involved. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent $24 million on its commercials during the past month alone.

The chambers of commerce in Brattleboro, Keene and Peterborough aren’t part of the vicious campaign. They don’t belong to the U.S. Chamber, mainly because of its partisan proclivities. In interviews, executives with each organization said they don’t take public stands on national issues. “That’s not what we’re about,” said Thomas Dowling, head of the Keene chamber.

So, what is the health care system that the U.S. Chamber is so devoted to preserving intact?

A system in which small businesses are all but crushed under the cost of providing coverage for employees, who are nonetheless always just a pink slip or serious illness away from health care destitution.

A system where the insured are forced to pay increasingly large premiums, an expanding share of their own medical expenses and subsidies to care for those who are not insured.

A system in which private insurance is so ruinously expensive and callously administrated that between 45 million and 50 million Americans have no coverage at all, including people with so-called pre-existing conditions who are refused the right to buy insurance.

Given this sorry situation, unique among western democracies, it takes a great deal of special interest resources to stamp out efforts at reform. We have established Social Security and health care for seniors, both highly popular and effective programs, although periodically in need of structural modifications.

But the champions of the status quo nixed universal health insurance when Harry Truman proposed it in the early 1950s. They did it when Richard Nixon proposed health insurance reform 20 years later. They did it when Bill Clinton tried 20 years after that. And they are working mightily again today to crush another effort. We should all bear that in mind whenever that gravelly voiced TV guy and his colleagues open their well paid mouths.