Just as they've done by delaying enactment of the laws controlling the financial/credit-card sector, and in yet another display of utter contempt for their constituents, Congress will head home without delivering substantive progress towards solving our staggering health care problems.
Republicans will return to their districts talking about the perils of socialized medicine...how the "gummint" wants to take over and let bureaucrats decide what medical care we'll receive and when. Republicans will tell older Americans that their care will be rationed because the government will decide they're no longer productive wage earners or tax-payers. They'll say the care will go to the young who will be doing the work and paying the taxes. They'll say the wait time for needed care will be unacceptable and people will die waiting for treatment. Out of the other side of their mouth Republicans will tell young people that old people will suck the healthcare system dry and that taxes to pay for all this will be astronomical. They'll tell everyone that most people who don't have healthcare insurance are either people who can afford it but choose otherwise, or that the uninsured are mostly illegal immigrants whose care we're already subsiding in emergency rooms at extraordinary costs to the taxpayer.
Spineless Democrats and Blue Dogs will talk about the crushing costs of enacting health care reform. They'll say we have to lower costs by taking the money from the health care professionals who actually deliver the care...talking about how much money physicians earn and so on. They'll say costs are too high and how hard they're working or that the lack of progress is all the Republican's fault.
Here's what our elected representatives won't say:
1. They won't say Congress, and other federal employees, have marvelous health care insurance that we taxpayers / little people mostly pay for. They won't say they themselves can pick and choose from 41 different FFS (Fee for Service) offerings that cost us as little as $75 monthly. They won't say that even the most comprehensive family policies with terrific prescription drug coverage costs less than $600 a month. They won't say that we taxpayers pay the rest...ranging from @$140 to over $750 monthly for their coverage. They won't admit they can't get all lathered about our little problems because they're immune. (When do you suppose a member of Congress had to stand in line for hours at a health fair for free dental care to extract an abscessed tooth causing excruciating pain?)
( Go here for Federal Health insurance plan info and rates . Play around a little and you'll find all you want to know. There are lots of HMO options too)
2. They won't mention that even if members of Congress didn't have such fantastic insurance, it wouldn't matter to most of them. We little people pay them @3X the median income for a family of four and they also get lots of money for other "expenses." They won't say they can afford good health care insurance even if millions of their fellow citizens can't. They also won't say the average net worth of Senators is @$14 Million and @$5 Million for House Members.
(2007 numbers from Opensecrets.org. Yes, averages can be deceiving, but for example 83 Senators have an estimated net worth exceeding $500,000. Many House members are not so wealthy, but most are far better off than most american families. Go here to see for yourself and check on your congressional representatives )
They also won't tell you they know that most health care insurance and other health care industry CEO's are compensated more in a few working days than the average US family earns in a year. They won't mention they know the CEO's are just the tip of an iceberg of outlandish and lavish executive compensation. They won't mention this because they're likely getting substantial campaign contributions from these same industry folks. Check the most recent Forbes lists here. For example the CEO of Medco Health (mail-order prescription fulfillment) received $9.45 Million. Using a nominal 250 working days in a year, Mr. Snow was compensated $37,800 per day. The Chairman of St. Jude Medical received $32.24 Million or a paltry $128,960 per working day. And we wonder why health care costs are so high. It must surely be all those lazy but highly paid nurses or wealthy physicians that went to school for 10+ years to learn their skills.
(According to Payscale.com the median pay for the highest paid physician specialty (oncology) is a little over $200,000 / year.)
If you want to know how much our congress-critters have sucked up from the health care industry here's just one example It's huge!
My father lives with us. He's almost 92 and is in hospice care in our home. Prior to entering hospice care he took a drug called Flomax (introduced in 1997). You've probably seen the frequent (and likely very expensive) TV commercials extolling the virtues of this drug for men with prostate/urinary problems. Those little daily pills cost $3+ each. Last week dad received a multi-page full color glossy brochure in a luxurious glassine envelope extolling the virtues of flomax. It had to be very expensive to create and mail....and it was totally unnecessary. This is not an over-the-counter drug. Another cost for users to bear. What about all the TV ads for Boniva? Consider that one monthly pill costs $90+, or an injection good for 3 months is $800+.
How much is enough? How much is enough for us to pay? How much is enough for fair and reasonable compensation to the insurance companies or drug companies or medical device/supply companies for the products and services we need? How much mealy-mouthed drivel is enough from our elected representatives? How much is enough when feckless politicians deny their constituents the ability to seek and obtain medical care that won't bankrupt us, allow us to protect our families and to save us from the pain and suffering that accompanies untreated health problems?
I've had enough. I hope you have too.
The question is: What can we do? I seriously doubt any member of Congress reads our letters. They may count phone calls for and against this or that...but it's all an abstraction to them. They're in no pain. Short of actually en masse dragging them put of their plush offices and tarring them, the best we can hope to do is try to humiliate them with the facts. Write letters to the editor about your own elected representatives. Explain what they have that they are denying us. Enlist vocal public support. Use the facts available (links above) to state how much they're being paid by the health-care industry to keep the status quo. Go to your Representative's local office and complain...using the facts...and ask to talk with him/her in person...and humiliate them with the facts.
Cross posted at Kos. A rec would help.