Friday, August 21, 2009

The Onion Reports the Truth on Health Care

Sometimes The Onion just gets it so right. The banner headline of this week’s print edition reads, “Congress Deadlocked Over How To Not Provide Health Care.” Here are some excerpts (my comments in brackets):

Democrats want to create a government-run system for not providing health care, while Republicans say coverage is best denied by allowing private insurers to make it unaffordable for as many citizens as possible.

“We have over 40 million people without insurance in this country today, and that is unacceptable,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said. “If we would just quit squabbling so much, we could get that number up to 50 or even 100 million. Why, there's no reason we can't work together to deny health care to everyone but the richest 1 percent of the population.”

“That's what America is all about,” he added.

[An unfortunately accurate description of the Republican-supported status quo. Since 2001, premiums have risen roughly four times faster than wages, meaning that as premiums gobble up a rising share of workers’ pay, more Americans who currently have health insurance will lose it. The number of uninsured Americans is expected to rise to 54 million as soon as 2013. Without health care reform NOW, we’ll be well on our way to the Republicans’ (fake) goal of 100 million!]

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said on Meet The Press that Republicans would never agree to a plan that doesn't allow citizens the choice to be denied medical care in the private sector.

“Americans don't need some government official telling them they don't have the proper coverage to receive treatment,” Boehner said. “What they need is massive insurance companies to become even more rich and powerful by withholding from average citizens the care they so desperately require.
We're talking about people's health and the obscene profits associated with that, after all.”

[Actually, this is a real, standard industry practice, called “rescission.” You may think your insurance premiums guarantee you’ll be covered if you get catastrophically ill, but insurance companies regularly revoke their customers’ coverage once they get sick and actually need it—this has happened 20,000 times over the past 5 years (at least one company evaluates its employees on savings from rescinded policies). Here’s how it works. When you get a diagnosis that will require expensive treatment, it triggers a process by which your insurance company scours your medical records, using so- called “denial engine” software, to see if you forgot to report any illness on your initial health status questionnaire; if there’s been even one mistake, no matter how small, they revoke coverage from you and your entire family (of course, without refunding all those premiums you paid). You can have your coverage rescinded for something as simple as shortness of breath. Health care rationing indeed.]

Though there remain irreconcilable points, both parties have reached some common ground in recent weeks. Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell
(R-KY) point to Congress' failure to pass legislation before a July 31 deadline as proof of just how serious lawmakers are about stringing along the American people and never actually reforming the health care industry in any meaningful way.

“People should know that every day we are working without their best interests in mind,” Reid said. “But the goal here is not to push through some watered-down bill that only denies health care to a few Americans here and a few Americans there. The goal is to recognize that all Americans have a God-given right to proper medical attention and then make sure there's no chance in hell that ever happens.”

And I thought The Onion only printed fake news!

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