Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and the author, most recently, of “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!”
The health insurance legislation is a major political symbol wrapped around a shredded substance. It does not provide coverage that is universal, comprehensive or affordable. It is a remnant even of its own initially compromised self — bereft of any public option, any safeguard for states desiring a single payer approach, any adequate antitrust protections, any shift of power toward consumers to defend themselves, any regulation of insurance prices, any authority for Uncle Sam to bargain with drug companies, and any reimportation of lower-priced drugs.
Most of the health insurance coverage mandated by this legislation does not come into effect until 2014, by which time 180,000 Americans will die because they were unable to afford health insurance to cover treatment and diagnosis, according to Harvard Medical School researchers.
The bill’s 2,000 pages afford many opportunities for insurance companies to further their strategy of maximizing profits by denying claims, restricting the benefits of their present customers, and the benefits of the new customers who are mandated to buy their policies, all backed by hundreds of billions of dollars of federal subsidies.
Its main saving grace is that it is so inadequate and so delayed in implementation that the position supported by the majority of people, physicians and nurses –- full Medicare for all –- will have abundant opportunities to build around the country. The spiraling price hikes by the insurance industry are sure to spur the single payer movement to new popularity. (See singlepayeraction.org)