Today, we welcome The Angry Squirrel to the staff of The Soap Boxers.  He will take a liberal stance as a writer for the Political Observers segment.

Christmas Eve is here and “Hooray!” the Republicans decided that they needed to beat the weather to get home to their families instead of continuing to stall the vote on a healthcare bill. Granted, the Senate version is now a whittled down piece of crap with other sweeteners added in to get the last few conserveadems on board for the “needed” 60 votes. The current bill passed by the Senate will now go into conference with the House when Congress resumes after the holiday break and will more than likely look similar to what the Senate is passing or look even worse than it does now.

I mean do we really need to cover costs in Nebraska, Louisiana, and so on just to get this piece of crap through? I think not, but that’s not what they decided to have done.

The only real piece of reform in the entire bill is not allowing insurance companies to deny or drop coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Granted they will be allowed to charge you a nice chunk of change more to be ale to have the privilege to be covered by them now, and guess what you’ll have to suck it up and pay whatever they want to charge you because you are required to.

That leads me to why this is really no reform at all, or more aptly put reform in name only. Mandating coverage without having a competitive mechanism in the system to keep costs down or in check is just asking for the situation to get worse, and it will. More people will go bankrupt because the costs of healthcare will go unchecked still under this bill. If you can’t afford to pay the premium which is required of you will be forced to pay a penalty right now of 2% of your income. Granted like everything else in the bill it won’t even go into effect until a year or two after the next presidential election, but still, just like everything else in the bill the only real benefactor of this is the health insurance industry. Because it is not the government that will pocket these fines it will be the health insurers that will get the penalty.

What really is needed is some sort of non-profit entity, privately owned but government regulated that provides coverage at cost to people. This would be an affordable option for those who would want it and would also keep the costs of premiums across the board in check if they wanted to keep people buying their own product as well. If such an entity would exist it would also be cheaper because it keeps things like profit, executive salaries, a large amount of overhead, advertising and lobbying costs out of your health insurance premium. Granted Washington is tied and likely will always will be to the almighty lobbying dollar of the insurance industry so this would never happen, heck they can;t even get a remotely salvageable “public option” together that passes by the in the insurance industry pocket congressman’s approval.

The health insurance industry makes out like a bandit in this bill, I really don’t see why they are so up in arms about it. Probably faux-outrage on “principle”, but still. They’ll be getting money from every single person in this country, whether you have the coverage you purchase on your own, the subsidy given to them by the government to help lower income families purchase coverage, or the fines you’ll have to pay if you still can’t afford to live and carry their product because the price is still too much and still rising with each passing breath. They also get to keep their antitrust exemptions, and also be allowed to sell policies wherever they want to from wherever they want to. So they could go to a state with extremely loose insurance regulations and sell that policy to a place that has more strict regulations. It’s no wonder why as soon as passage of the current leg of the reform bill in the Senate that health insurance stocks rose.

Then you have the side of the debate that goes into stuff not even in the health care reform bill in the first place. Abortion funding for one, was not a real issue in the bill in the first place, Republicans and Democrats from Republican leaning districts create a false outrage that abortion would be provided on demand on every street corner and the government would have to pay for it if we passed this healthcare bill. This is utterly false and had no place in this discussion.

Federal law already bars the federal funding for abortion, so the need to put wording in the bill for it was entirely unnecessary. However they didn’t feel this was so and went above and beyond their initial call to make wording was in there to not allow for federal dollars to go for abortion. This one of the places where the House and Senate have a difference and the conservatives actually like the House plan more. Under the House bill’s wording no insurer could provided coverage for abortion as part of any policy they offer to the public if they were to receive federal funds, and well since they will be getting a 2% penalty if you don’t purchase their product or receive the subsidy to provide insurance to lower incomes, then they are all going to be receiving federal funding. In the Senate however they have wording to allow for people to purchase entirely separate coverage for abortion, but on the other hand it also will allow states to block insurance companies from offering such plans.

Wholesalely denying something that is still a legal practice is just wrong. If people want to have that as a part of their coverage and insurers are offering it, then so be it. How are you going to say that such and such dollar of such and such premium went to pay for abortion coverage anyway. Hey I might be against people getting coverage for plastic surgery, maybe we should deny people from having that in the bill as well.

In the end tough the bill that looks to be passed in Congress whenever that may be will be a complete piece of crap that is a gift to the insurance companies and will actually lock out any chance of real reform for many years to come after that. I am all for healthcare but this bill is a piece of trash and should be scrapped until we have a group in Washington that actually will reform healthcare instead of making sure it continues to be a problem for generations to come.

On a lighter note, since this is Christmas Eve I would like to wish everyone celebrating it Merry Christmas and hope all is well with your family and friends. Safe travels and well wishes to everyone this holiday season.

Next month my column will be a little more structured than just a free-flowing rambling that it is here today, kind of ended up with less time to put things together than my “grand” plans I originally had thought. Well once again have a safe and happy holiday season.

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The Angry Squirrel is a member of The Political Observers, a sub-group of our writers who are devoted to topics that are political in nature. The Angry Squirrel provides a liberal viewpoint in his articles. You can follow him on Twitter @DaAngrySquirrel.

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