The Task-Force Recommendation on Heatlh Care: my thoughts

Adding one more voice to the Democrats' "best we can do" discourse on health care is the "Biden-Bernie Task Force," which came out with its recommendations Wednesday. As Natalie Shure of In These Times pointed out, what's missing from the health care portion of these recommendations is Medicare for All. This is a reading of Shure's piece in In These Times, with opinions which are solely my own.

We are told of the "improvement" that will occur, as a sort of "but" attached to Shure's thesis, which suggests that overall something was actually gained in the task force. Here it is:

If the healthcare platform as presented were to be fully implemented under a future President Biden, it would amount to a significant improvement on the status quo—albeit with persistent gaps that can’t be resolved without abolishing private health insurance as it’s currently constituted.

The recommendations front-load a temporary phase of coronavirus-related emergency measures, many of which have emerged as consensus demands from Democrats—including free coronavirus testing irrespective of immigration status, federally-bankrolled expansion of contract tracing, and a period of 100% premium subsidies for those eligible for COBRA coverage throughout the duration of the pandemic. The document also calls for a special enrollment period for ACA marketplaces, which will include a stopgap low-fee platinum option for people who run out of, or don’t qualify for, several months of full COBRA subsidies.

There's also a public option:

The task force also advances a blueprint for a public option, which includes critical details that gesture toward left-wing activist pressure, as well as ambiguities that could bolster the sort of profit-seeking gamesmanship that renders the current system so dysfunctional.

Sorry, but we've been down this road before. The problem is not that the proposals or the blueprint are "not enough," contrary to what Shure says, but rather that corporate profit-seeking, from the insurance companies, Big Pharma, and the hospitals, will prevent any of it from happening insofar as any of it interferes with their profit-seeking. In 2008 Barack Obama promised us a public option and no mandate penalty, only to deliver us a bill written by a WellPoint executive with a mandate penalty and no public option. It is fair to assume, then, that under Joe Biden (as under Barack Obama), none of the task-force "promises" will be kept. What will be important, in the jockeying for power and privilege that will accompany any shaping of a bill to modify the ACA in a Biden administration, will be the insurers' insistence that their profits come before any delivery of health care occurs. Health care before profits, you see, denies them a raison d'etre -- they are gatekeepers, and no gate leaves them powerless.

This means that Biden will be preserving the institution of medical bankruptcy as well as the continued insistence of most providers that those who cannot pay will be left to die.

Here's Natalie Shure's conclusion:

Ultimately, however beefy a public option turns out to be, there are things it can never do. By offering one more insurance product to a list of several others—even if it’s the best of the bunch—the public option does little to alleviate the misery of navigating the administrative quagmire endemic to our healthcare system. It still leaves gaps for patients to fall into, and forces them to beg claims assessors for coverage by phone. And it still casts us as healthcare consumers, shopping for the best-valued access to a foundational human need that shouldn’t be commodified to begin with.

Yes, this is fine, and well-meaning. But the reality of it isn't even that good. The commodification of health care means that the actual delivery of said health care can't just be made available to everyone, but only to those who can afford to pay. If, under a for-profit system, health care were to be made available to everyone, then everyone would choose the affordable option, which wouldn't cover the "expenses" of a system based on profit (which are in fact potentially infinite, since part of the "expenses" is corporate profit). This shortfall will be especially obvious in a world of Depression-level unemployment.

We can claim to improve the ACA all we want through nice proposals, but profit-seeking is going to destroy them all. And profit-seeking is explicitly displayed on Joe Biden's banner.

Hope to see you all at today's protests.

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Cassiodorus's picture

That's the song Bernie's singing.

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"Must be a clash -- there's no alternative" -- The Clash

As IF we haven't seen this movie before. I saw the clip of Bernie trying to defend it on Jimmy Dore last night, what a pathetic display. Even Bernie accentuated the IF IT happens part, so I think we know just where this is heading, a big fat nowhere. All the talk of Bernie's sheepdogging for the damned Democratic party resonates with me more today than it ever did - even as cynical as I am I wanted to believe he really was bucking the PTB. What a farce. And Joe Biden, what more need be said? As IF a man with his record would do one damned thing to help real people, while he sits up there "going after" Trump's idiocy ad nauseum.

I keep getting texts from the Bernie crew asking for one thing or another, I just might have to answer one back with my thoughts very soon but I have a feeling they don't bother to read those responses and IF they do, they shit can them and just go on to the next ask, telling themselves it's just bitterness that makes people angry, not the continued fucking over. I really should mail back all the stupid t-shirts I bought but that would change nothing and simply cost me the postage to do it, hardly worth it for an empty feel good measure, but then again, there's the lovely irony of Bernie's whole "campaign" being nothing but another empty feel good measure...

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Only a fool lets someone else tell him who his enemy is. Assata Shakur

snoopydawg's picture

@lizzyh7

must do next. They sure sound great and it'd be swell if they did it, but until it snows in hell there is no chance they will. Any leverage democrats pretended they had went out the window after the 1st CARES bill was passed and that especially goes for Bernie. Yes he stood up for unemployment benefits, but failed to stand against the massive transfer of wealth to the elite class. And it went against every damn thing he has been campaigning on since 2016.

In Jimmy's video I just posted Jayapal didn't even bring to the table MFA. As Jimmy shouted, WTF? And of course IF Biden does what little was agreed upon there is no way he will be the Next FDR. You can see how many things weren't even addressed in either the primary and in this 'task force' in the article I posted: When Bernie endorses Biden. How Bernie can say that let alone believe it is stunning. Thanks for waking people up Bernie.

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“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams

@snoopydawg get on the shaming bandwagon, telling us all how Trump is the "most dangerous President" in our history, never mind just HOW we got here, one sellout dangerous POTUS after another. And it will be ALL OUR FAULT if Trump "wins" again, which I imagine he will, although empty head Biden would suit most of the purposes for POTUS, he can still manage to hold on to a pen and sign his name, right?

Bernie gave up any power he had the second he dropped out and endorsed his good buddy Biden. As for his "progressive" minions, they too serve their purpose in the great game of divide and conquer. All those empty "demands" they make almost every day, while voting FOR whatever regressive measure is put in front of them, but people cheer them on thinking they're really going to change things while those of us who see them for what they are get told to stand down, step up, DO YOUR PART, and "support" them because they're really, really trying doncha know. How anyone can still believe they'll do one damned thing simply blows my mind. But people are desperate now and desperation makes people do things they ordinarily might not do. Desperation is how we got Trump.

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Only a fool lets someone else tell him who his enemy is. Assata Shakur

snoopydawg's picture

@lizzyh7

Bernie: Trump is the "most dangerous President" in our history.

Others have already stated who they think was more dangerous than Trump so I won't. But if he really is then why are democrats helping him be that way? I ask people to name just one bill that democrats have not helped get passed and no one can. The tax bill doesn't count cuz republicans didn't need their vote. One democrat said that they wish they had been asked to help because he could have gotten at least 20 democrats to sign on to it. But as I have stated the republicans during their rush to get it passed screwed their donors in many ways and so they needed democrat's help to right the wrongdoings. And boy have they. Democrats that live in CA and NY were ticked that their property tax deductions stopped at $10,000 and have been trying to get that overturned. Came Nancy to do just that in the latest CARES bill sitting on Mitch's desk.

Obama passed the 2012 NDAA that gave Trump the power to arrest anyone for any reason and hold them indefinitely without trial or access to a lawyer. Until he deems fit to have them released. If Trump was so dangerous then why did O do that? Why did dems give Trump more power to spy on us? Or the many other things they keep granting them? I have asked Bernie these questions, but so far I haven't heard from him. BTW has Bernie ever gone after the democrats that want us to stay in our genocidal war against Yemen? Or the ones who joined with the Cheney spawn to keep us in Afghanistan even after we saw how we had been lied to by 3 administrations about how the war was going?

Once again all talk and no action from Bernie. And he thanks his good friend Chuck for signing on to cutting the pentagon budget by 10%. This will never pass so why not go higher? Why are we subsidizing the defense industry's CEOs with massive amounts of money and even bailing them out like we just did. Oh.... rant coming on. I will stop and take my sweet dawg for a walk on our hottest day of the year so far.

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“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams

snoopydawg's picture

@lizzyh7

Trump is the "most dangerous President" in our history.

Funny though how Biden is going to continue doing many of the things that Trump is doing with both domestic and foreign policy. You'd think that Biden would at least.......... you can see where I am going with this. Yemen. Syria. Venezuela. Ukraine........

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“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams

@snoopydawg That's what I read on twitter one day more than a year ago. Not that it matters because he is responsible for knowing what is said in his name and unless he corrects anything it means he supports the tweet.

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snoopydawg's picture

@aliasalias

replying to anyone who criticizes him. It makes sense though that he doesn’t write each one, but he should have some say in what is written in his name. I’m pretty sure that Biden doesn’t write his either. But they are just as tone deaf as Bernie’s.

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“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams

@lizzyh7 @lizzyh7 I've unsubscribed to all political entities that ask me for money. Which sooner or later is every text, email and call.

Bernie's disappearing act hit me hard but it is a lesson I've finally learned.

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NYCVG

M4A polls at 70% for all Americans and 84% of Dems, even a majority of Republicans support it. So why can't the Democrat party candidate support this? The answer is really simple, the Democrats are totally owned by big business. Our government is a partnership between the politicians in power and the corporations.

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

If you take a close look at the Political Compass you will find that Joe Biden is philosophical closest to Benito Mussolini.

The purpose of the modern Democrat party is to keep the people from interfering with the interests of corporations while letting them think that they are on your side. Clinton raised this to a high level, and Obama was the true master of this art. How did we Progressives do under Obama? Do we even realize how badly we got screwed?
Biden is the next act, the ultimate act, in that the Executive will be controlled by mindless, faceless neocons and neoliberals, and the Democrat party is totally co opted. Where's the resistance? That will be the next challenge, and we need to begin now. Without Trump in office it will be crystal clear that Biden is the problem. It's time to start the opposition now. The election at this point is all about removing Trump from office. You can be assured that if Biden gets a big win it will be reinterpreted as a mandate for Corporate Joe. That just makes our problems bigger.

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Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

Pluto's Republic's picture

...hit the mark. Health care discussions in the US always devolve into grinding over and over again that which is already powder. This task force meeting is virtue signaling and providing additional cover while capitalism is devouring the Public Good.

Sorry, but we've been down this road before. The problem is not that the proposals or the blueprint are "not enough," contrary to what Shure says, but rather that corporate profit-seeking, from the insurance companies, Big Pharma, the hospitals, will prevent any of it from happening insofar as any of it interferes with their profit-seeking.

.

Sincere people of vision should get up and remove themselves from the sabotage of these discussions rather than lending their credibility to the latest bid for incrementalism. It is not helping the people. It is keeping them in chains while giving aid and comfort (and cover) to the predators.

During this long isolation I have consumed enormous technical information about the stressed biome we live in. The nation's physical and psychological environment has passed beyond all the old tipping points. The door has clanged shut behind us. We are settling into a new normal, and while we may not realize it yet, we have been dealt a new hand. The risks and rewards are different now and People know much more than they let on.

Curiously, pandemics have often been vector points for profound transitions in life, much like random collisions with asteroids tend to be. It presents a unique opportunity to analyze how the different cultural systems of the world are adapting to the emergent realities they must live with. What they do now, and how their populations weather this storm physically, psychologically, and politically is a good predictor of their fitness moving forward.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has exposed a stark picture of this nation. The pandemic has brought the US unexpectedly to its knees against a backdrop of wild accusations and blame blasting forth from every quarter of the leadership. This cowardly distraction — and all the lies that go with it — has raised suspicions and skepticism and hampered efforts toward containing the virus.

The view of the US from the perspective of the virus is what interests me. SARS-CoV-2 sees exactly what is different about the US, and why it is so easy to flatten. The reality it sees is a large number of people dwelling in persistent, life-long sickness and medical neglect. They are chronically unhealthy, deficient in nutrients, often mentally defeated and medically uneducated. This reflects current American values, and that makes them very easy to kill. The alphabet soup of Public Health agencies in the US do not protect and serve the People, they serve the predatory medical corporations that scalp trillions of dollars of profits from sick Americans.

The sole nation in the world that denies that health care is a Human Right is on the fast-track to widespread catastrophe in the 21st century. The US can readily be destroyed from within by simply planting a slowly developing contagious infection in those who cannot afford access to health care. Every global citizen who gazes at the US now see where the greed and corruption of its leaders have made the nation completely vulnerable to attack.

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Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

snoopydawg's picture

@Pluto's Republic

The nation's physical and psychological environment has passed beyond all the old tipping points. The door has clanged shut behind us.

The USA is being abandoned by the elite and the government who takes orders from them and we are going to be left to deal with what’s left on our own. This was planned long ago and COVID is just the excuse to put it in effect. I can’t think of any other reason for why congress is refusing financial help for us. This is just like other color revolutions we have witnessed time and time again. They regime changed us in 1963 when Kennedy was threatening to upset their plans with not only the CIA, but the planned wars for resources.

The US can readily be destroyed from within by simply planting a slowly developing contagious infection in those who cannot afford access to health care.

The PTB are culling the herd of people who are no longer beneficial to their needs and it started with the people in nursing homes. What Cuomo did in NYC was a crime against humanity and it is now happening in other states. Not all of them, but enough. And look at how many people in prisons are getting sick and will start dying in higher numbers soon. I was ridiculed when I first suggested this, but I’m seeing more people thinking this same way now.

While this is getting more beyond control congress is on vacation. How more blatantly obvious does it need to get before others see this too?

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“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams

@snoopydawg It took me a while but I'm there now.

How else to explain the Congress merrily on vacation while millions are facing eviction and joblessness?

The "news" focuses on gossip and trivialities. We are in serious trouble.

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7 users have voted.

NYCVG

snoopydawg's picture

@NYCVG

This is really hard to wrap your mind around isn’t it that our government ghouls have no problem sentencing people for death. But they do it all the time when they vote for war on countries that have resources their donors want. 500,000 Iraqis kids got sentenced for death during Clinton’s tenure and during every president’s when they put sanctions on countries. They say it’s to get people to rise up and overthrow their government, but how can they when they have no means to do it?

Democrats are having a field day bitching about what Trump is doing and yet they deny us MFA knowing damn well that hundreds of thousands of people will die each decade they refuse. Republicans are just as guilty though.

This is what the person wrote in the article I posted in my essay. They are sociopaths who have no regard for people’s lives who are not in their class. But boy won’t they save a lot of money if grannies don’t need social security? Evil!

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10 users have voted.

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams

@snoopydawg when they let citizens....people.... die of lack of shelter, of food, of medical care, of despair and general neglect. Die of unsafe working conditions, unsafe food, unsafe drugs, of mental health provided by law enforcement, of corporate greed destroying the planet.

Why do we put up with this abuse?

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snoopydawg's picture

@Snode

I really don’t know why we have let this be done to us. I know lots of people did try to stop it through the decades only to be either met with ridicule or just been ignored. But now that things are getting very dire more people will see what’s been in front of them and decide to join with others. A general strike and boycotts might be our best chance to change things because we do have more power now than since the Great Depression. Shutting down air travel got the last government shutdown ended. What other industries have the power to do that?

We have been under government propaganda for so long and that will be the most important issue for people to wake up from. I just saw this tweet and it’s just one of many that have shown that Russia Gate is bunk. People often put the truth in their articles, but people overlook it because it goes against their beliefs.

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“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams

Cassiodorus's picture

@Pluto's Republic the pseudo-opposition to the rising American death toll due to COVID-19 sits on its hands and waits to acquire power as President Trump casts his own career into ruin. Once the pseudo-opposition attains power, the situation will from then on be deemed their fault.

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"Must be a clash -- there's no alternative" -- The Clash