Monday, June 15, 2009

Oooh. Health Care and the Senate

Creeping Into Sensible Health Care

How to reform health care without lowering health industry corporate profits. Have we exaggerated how bad the Senate has actually become?

The fact is simple enough. HEALTH CARE CAN BE REFORMED WITHOUT HURTING CORPORATE PROFITS! IT CAN! IT CAN! IT REALLY CAN! This is the extremely, extremely difficult, complex and complicated policy our Senate must create as it charts its course into Obama’s future plans. Right.

My goodness. These altruistic souls have already promised to lower health care costs by two trillion dollars in the next ten years. Oh, wait a minute. “Promises” from the health care corporations? Did they figure we were stupid or just not watching?

The durable remnant of the Obama Campaign’s millions of supporters is what is now called “Organizing for America.” Although that name seems to clearly communicate the theme of such an organization, MeanMesa suspects that a tedious redundancy is probably still relevant. First, what is the alternative? “Not Organizing for America?” Or, perhaps, “Organizing for Something Else Besides America?”

The last title, “Organizing for Something Else Besides America” pretty much describes exactly Obama’s health care plan is up against in the U.S. Senate. To assist MeanMesa visitors in their efforts to understand all the seemingly incomprehensible arguments, now flying fast and loose through the “wholly owned” reactionary media, this posting of Short Current Essays will be divided into four delicious, nutritious and conveniently packaged parts.

That is, this MeanMesa Post is divided into four sections for your more convenient reading.

Part One: Adjustments: Hybridizing Corporate Private Health Insurance to Sustain Profits While Avoiding Better Outcomes
Part Two: Service Agreement: Congratulations on the Purchase of Your New Senator
Part Three: A Paragon of Senatorial Representation: The Fabulous Frist Family
Part Four: Solutions: Since We’re Creeping, How About Creeping Here?

The motivations for this “continuing to beat a dead horse,” approach are two fold. First, the engine at the “Organizing for America” e-mail factory has requested that all Obama campaign supporters “talk up” the health care plan in the hope of frightening enough Senators out of the pockets of the health and pharmaceutical industry’s lobbyists long enough to possibly pass something. Second, the media blitz of lies and deceptions has actually migrated beyond its irritatingly traditional role of regurgitating Limbaugh/Hannity wet dreams about President Obama being 1.) a child molester, 2.) a cannibal, 3.) a serial killer, 4.) a socialist, 5.) a Nazi, 6.) the Antichrist, 7.) weak on defense, or, 8.) a frustrated, under privileged, young black man who has always dreamed of bossing around Wall Street Bankers and automobile CEO’s to outrageous lies -- MeanMesa certainly tried to think of some other, less inflammatory term -- carefully crafted by the psychologists at the PHARMA headquarters on K Street.

The media frenzy plods along pretending ownership of the full range of credibility from the “dirty shirt” network pundit’s (these would be the likes of the slinking, genius Krauthammmmers, et al.) “hair on fire threats” of a bankrupt nation (already bankrupt, thank you very much...) to the entirely objective interview with the “woman on the street,” that is, the woman who is usually busy with her antiabortion shot gun in between her church sessions about homosexuals.

Heh, heh, heh. Remember: the best way to prevent the Fed’s from “getting between you and your Doctor” is simply to not have a Doctor! After all, doctors, although quite useful when needed, can get incredibly expensive when one faces their bills without health insurance to help pay them.

So, now that the tone of this posting has been set with such exquisite cordiality, let’s waste no more words on introduction.

Part One: Adjustments: Hybridizing Corporate Private Health Insurance to Sustain Profits While Avoiding Better Outcomes and Lowering Costs

The “nice lady” reporting the “news” emphasizes that a “public option” would bankrupt the private insurance corporations. Breathlessly, she adds that the “public option” would also bankrupt all the American hospitals.

Well, duh! Does anybody think they haven't been doing their damnedest to bankrupt us?

According to her “public opinion polls,” “most Americans” would almost instantly opt for a public program, leaving the “take” for the health care monopoly sketchier and sketchier by the minute. Such a development would literally starve the usual “rich and well earned rewards” of the corporate parasites into nothing more than table crumbs when compared to the annual trillions they are presently able to extort. Their rapacious franchise controlling every detail of medical care was not simply an unanticipated serendipity as was the case with, say, last year’s $4.50 gallon gasoline.

No indeed.

In fact, far from the unanticipated serendipity of sudden monumental profits, their current wave of success and prosperity is actually a meticulously crafted structure of corruption and bribery. To get to this state required literally billions of dollars to be purloined from your health care premiums and transferred quietly as campaign contributions to U. S. Senators. And, of late, probably also to U. S. Presidents and their opportunistic staff of Viking wannabe’s. These skunks spent equal millions convincing us that these campaign contributions barely even existed at all and that our insurance premiums were almost entirely directed at improving care, a road weary tale which began to lose more and more credibility as we watched our health care outcomes descend every year while their profits exploded.

They even spent millions convincing us that all this success of theirs was well deserved, honest, free market capitalism. Buying and owning the protection of corrupt politicians has usually been considered "good for profits" but seldom "good business," hence, the insurance corporations' infatuation with the cheezey public relations side of their fraudulent business plan.

For example, during the recent autocracy, the “Secretary of Defense,” Mr. Rumsfeld, while he was defending the American public from the deadly anthrax threat just happened to be, at exactly the same time, a major stock holder in the very company which was producing the sole, over priced antibiotic which could treat it. By the way, for any MeanMesa visitors who might not already be familiar with the details of this dismal tale, the anthrax used in the assassination attempt on Senators Daschle and Leahy was refined to a military grade possible only in U.S. military production facilities. By sheer coincidence, these were the two Senators who could have blocked passage of the Constitution shredding Patriot Act, a legislative erectile fantasy of the unelected Vice President.

Read more about the anthrax terrorist attacks through this link:
Remembering the Anthrax Attacks

Oh well. This is about health care.

The “hybridizing” idea is presented as a pragmatic necessity. The chances of any bill which could even so much as “drop a bird’s tail feather” on the established corporate industry profits by instituting actual health coverage are nil to none. Bills like that simply can’t go through the Senate.

They could get through a Senate populated with Senators who were responsible to actual constituencies of informed voters, but this is not the case. An unpleasantly large number of Senators represent the exact sources of “campaign contributions,” and those “sources” just happen to be health care corporations. Their “contribution” checks are, generally, sandwiched between an equal number of “contribution checks” from oil companies and other public enemies. This explains not only why we have crappy health care, but also why we have the smallest alternative energy infrastructure in the industrial world. And so many gas guzzling dinosaurs that even the car companies finally went bankrupt.

Now, given this terrible dilemma, the PHARMA/Health Insurance lobbyists have generously settled for a “half-measure.” Half-measures to them are absolutely nothing else than the mythical “pot of gold” reputedly located at the end of a rainbow.

Any legislation with the, for them, ultra-stinky odor of being a “full-measure” must be immediately destroyed as “far too radical” and “way too damaging to the established corporate status quo.” After the “full measure” legislation has been properly destroyed by their fully owned media and when the “half-measure” legislation is all that is left on the table in our Senate -- ooop’s -- their Senate, they can appear as the horribly injured and disfigured victims of all rational proposals and go right to work looting the “half-measure.”

This is the case with health care reform in the Senate. The best we are allowed to promote at this time is a carefully crafted, hybridized prostitute of what already exists right now. The product of this line of reform is “pretty much the same” as the horrible monstrosity which got us all so interested in the first place.

The rancid Senators who are comforting this hybrid health care whore are not all Republicans. Senator Max Baucus, (see MeanMesa posting: "U.S. Senators Forced Into Frightening Health Risk,” -- follow the link to access within this blogspot --
a Democrat from Montana, who managed to place himself in charge of the Senate hearings on the subject, categorically denied anyone not strictly in favor of “nursing the whore back to health” any participation in his hearings. Actual health care reform -- the kind Americans want after being gang raped by the health corporations for so long -- was not even so much as a “topic for discussion.”

The owners of the Senators have issued their marching orders. Reform? No. Super minor “tweeks” which are so insignificant that we can still add everything we wish to the new bill? Yes! This “setting of the stage” leads us directly into Part Two.

Part Two: Service Agreement: Congratulations on the Purchase of Your New Senator

Gee whiz. Why, oh why is it so difficult to get health care legislation through the Senate? A short story almost always helps understanding on such matters.

"Look, Honey. ‘K Street New and Used.’ Let’s go in and look at what they have. Park over there.” A young couple peers at the sign from their sedan.

“Yes, dear.” The husband answers dutifully.

“Howdy! The name’s Jack ‘the snake’ Quick. What can I show you two today? We’ve got some great units and, of course, they are all at the ‘K Street New and Used’ guaranteed best prices!” Obviously the lot salesman, a slick middle aged man approaches them from the office.

“Well, we’re shopping for a good used Health Insurance Senator. We need something dependable and not too stylish. What have you got?” The couple responds in eerie unison.

“Oh. Those would be in the next lot. All the units for sale here are pharmaceutical Senators. The Health Insurance models are all on the lot just on the other side of the office.” Salesman Quick motions to an adjacent lot.

“Wow. There are some pretty impressive Senators over here. Do you have any with previous Health Insurance experience? We were kinda’ looking for something fairly new.” The young couple is impressed with what they see.

“You bet! Although, I’ll have to tell you, sometimes the ones with lots of mileage are the best. They already know all the legislative tricks, and if they’ve been in the Senate for a while, they can really deliver the goods.” Jack “the snake” Quick courteously advises them.

“You mean that they’re better than the newer ones?” The young husband asked.

“Well, yes. The maintenance on the newer ones can really get up there -- especially if you need to get them reelected. Since none of them are particularly popular, it can take some real cash to get them into the Senate where they can really do a good job for you. What exactly did you two need? Something special, or just a basic package for defeating health care reform?” Now, knowing that they had taken the bait, Jack Quick politely began his questions.

“Jack, we’re just plain old insurance lobbyists. If we can get a good model at a decent price who can sabotage Health Insurance reform, we’ll be satisfied.” The young couple answered, again, both almost at one time.

“Well, at the very top of the line, I’ve got a ‘McCain’ over here for around a quarter million. On the other hand, I can offer you the Democrat in charge of Senate hearings on Health Care for a lot less, say plus or minus $180,000. That would the ‘The Baucus,” a sturdy, yet comfortable Montana Democrat.” Jack was at his best. He motioned expansively across the lot.

“Wow! A Democrat! And, that price is really in our ball park! Let’s take a look at ‘The Baucus.’ The young wife exclaimed. Jack smiled.

Top 10 Health Insurance Industry Contributions to Senators
McCain, John (R-AZ) $251,834
Cantor, Eric (R-VA) $113,850
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) $200,200
Baucus, Max (D-MT) $183,750
Lieberman, Joe (I-CT) $101,400
Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA) $98,600
Collins, Susan (R-ME) $96,500
Kyl, John (R-AZ) $90,450
Warner, Mark (D-VA) $89,700
Hatch, Orrin (R-UT) $85,903
Nelson, Ben (D-NE) $83,300

Top 10 Health Insurance Industry Contributions to Congress
Camp, Dave (R-MI) $112,923
Pomeroy, Earl (D-ND) $104,500
Boehner, John (R-OH) $101,200
Deal, Nathan (R-GA) $100,000
Towns, Edolphus (D-NY) $87,750
Rogers, Mike (R-AL) $74,000
Blunt, Roy (R-MO) $72,800
Ryan, Paul (R-WI) $69,000
Tanner, John (D-TN) $68,500

(source: Consumer Watchdog: Health Insurers & Drug Companies Contributed $5.5 Million to Top 10 Senate and House Recipients Since 2005

There is another, similar table of top Senators and Representatives who have taken money from the pharmaceutical industry available at this same link.

Part Three: A Paragon of Senatorial Representation: The Fabulous Frist Family

No, no. Not the First Family. That would be the Obamas. We’re talking The Frist Family. We're not talking "The Hills Are Alive!"

Senator Bill Frist became the Senate Majority Leader during the autocracy. The old Majority Leader, Trent Lott (R-MS) had made a horrendous racist gaff at Strom Thurmond’s going away party. All of Washington was packed brim to brim with corrupt, reactionary Republicans in the House, Senate, the White House and the Supreme Court, but Lott’s crack was too dangerously racist even for them. In about 2002, the autocrat’s White House counsel had finally noticed that not all Americans were Southern bigots, and wisely replaced the old bigot, Senator Lott, with the new bigot, Senator Bill Frist. Once that was a fait de accompli, the meat handed sabotage of health care and the incredible financial dynasty of the Frist Family was set to move ahead without hindrance.

A laborious recounting of the precise details of the fraud will simply be too much. Instead, MeanMesa offers direct quotations (shown in sienna colored text) from two very well written articles. Both were originally published during the early years of the Bush autocracy, and, consistent with the general policy of deceit and deception prevailing at that time, we are supposed to have completely forgotten all about them by now.

All of this is presented here in hopes of setting the tone for a better understanding of how unimaginably corrupt the main players in the Senate really are. Yes, you have glanced at the “pay bill” lists in Part Two, but the dismal history of The Frist Family can add yet another dimension to the corruption which was encouraged to completely saturate every opportunity to fleece U. S. taxpayers.

All of this is quite relevant to the topic of this post. If there were only a few outrageous skunks sucking health insurance lobbyists’ cash under the door jam, solving our health insurance nightmare might be no more than a good, quick housecleaning. However, when we stare blankly at the following two stories, we can begin to understand why:

1. single payer is off the table
2. Obama has been reduced to trying to get even the most modest health care scraps through Congress, and,
3. the future of health care reform seems to encounter one obstacle after another.

The first of the two articles was published by John Nichols in November of 2006. The part reproduced here deals with Senator Frist’s role in sabotaging all possible reforms to the health care insurance industry long enough for his family to make billions of dollars profit from their private hospital company. The article, in its entirety, is available through the link provided. The remainder of it deals primarily with the Senator’s ugly self-embarrassment while diagnosing Terri Schaivo from the floor of the Senate and his gaseous, ineffective attempts to lie the unelected President out of the mess on 911.

In any event, take a moment, read the article and meet Senator Frist!

(source: The Nation magazine --
Farewell to Senator Bill Frist, R-Frist Family
posted by John Nichols on 11/29/2006 @ 7:30pm

It is too bad that outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, had decided not to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2OO6.

It would have been entertaining to watch this sorry excuse for a senator try and explain a political journey that dead ended when the physician-turned-legislator diagnosed brain-damaged Terry Schaivo via videotape -- producing an assessment of her condition that completely contradicted that of doctors who had actually examined her.

The storm that followed his intervention in the Schaivo case represented the only instance in which most Americans actually noticed that Frist was one of the nation's most powerful political leaders.

After a number of earlier missteps, Frist had tended to avoid the limelight because he never did very well when he was in it --as the Schaivo fiasco so potently illustrated -- and because his primary purpose in the Senate, that of enriching his already wealthy family, was not exactly the sort of thing that politicians brag about.

The wealthy doctor ran for the Senate in 1994 with a simple mission: to prevent health care reforms that might pose a threat to his family's stake in Columbia/HCA, the nation's leading owner of hospitals. There was never going to be anything honorable about his service, but nothing all that embarrassing in a Washington that welcomes self-serving senators with open arms.

For almost a decade, Frist was a comfortably forgettable legislator -- a good hair, good suit, bad politics man of the Senate. Then, former Senate Majority Leader and soon-to-be Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, went all segregationist at States Rights Party presidential candidate Strom Thurmond's going-away party in 2002. The Bush administration needed another prissy southerner to ride herd on the Senate. Frist fit the bill, moved into the nice office and became a comfortably forgettable Senate Majority Leader.

With the Republican-controlled Congress rendered irrelevant by its complete subservience to the Bush administration's political agenda, Frist quietly went back to the business of protecting the family business.

Things got seriously dicey for Frist only in the presidential election year of 2OO4, when the Bush administration found itself short on defenders. Everyone seemed to be turning state's evidence on the president. The ex-Secretary of the Treasury, the former Senior Director for Combating Terrorism on the National Security Council Staff and, now, the former counter terrorism chief in the Bush and Clinton White Houses had all come forward to suggest that Bush and Vice President Cheney really had missed the point of the war of terrorism -- badly. Suddenly, Americans were waking up to the fact that the rest of the world already knew: Iraq was not tied to al-Qaeda, had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no serious threat to the United States or its neighbors at the time that the administration committed this country to the course of quagmire.

The administration had few credible spokespeople left. The White House couldn't send Bush out in his "Mission Accomplished" flight suit. Vice President Dick Cheney was still trying to explain that Halliburton really hadn't set new standards for war profiteering. And then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was having a very hard time explaining that she really, really, really did know what al-Qaeda was before counter terrorism czar Richard Clarke explained it to her.

The administration needed a Spiro Agnew to go out and start calling people names. And Bill Frist became, for a brief but not exactly shining moment in the spring of 2OO4, the White House's defender-in-chief.

The majority leader took to the floor of the Senate to denounce Clarke. "Mr. Clarke makes the outrageous charge that the Bush Administration, in its first seven months in office, failed to adequately address the threat posed by Osama bin Laden," Frist began. "I am troubled by these charges. I am equally troubled that someone would sell a book, trading on their former service as a government insider with access to our nation's most valuable intelligence, in order to profit from the suffering that this nation endured on September 11, 2001."

That was rich, considering the fact that Frist's Senate service had been about nothing so much as profiting from the suffering of the nation. By blocking needed health care reforms, pushing for tort reforms that would limit malpractice pay outs and supporting moves to privatize Medicare, Frist pumped up his family's fortunes at the expense of Americans who lacked access to health care. As Mother Jones explained, "Some companies hire lobbyists to work Congress. Some have their executives lobby directly. But Tennessee's Frist family, the founders of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., the nation's largest hospital conglomerate, has taken it a step further: They sent an heir to the Senate. And there, with disturbingly little controversy, Republican Sen. Bill Frist has cosponsored bills that may allow his family's company to profit from the ongoing privatization of Medicare."

The Frists fared well during the senator's two terms. An $800-million stake in HCA that his father and brother had at the time Frist was elected in 1994 shot up in value over the decade that followed. Frist's brother, Thomas, rose steadily on the Forbes magazine list of the world's richest people in recent years. In 2003, Forbes estimated that Thomas Frist Jr. was worth $1.5 billion. According to Forbes: "source: health care."

So Bill Frist certainly knew a thing or two about profiteering from human misery.

Of course, when he attacked Clarke, Frist wasn't really concerned about September 11 suffering. He was simply looking for any way to discredit one of the few members of the Bush administration who had tried to take terrorist threats seriously. The problem with Frist's attack was that Clarke had already made a commitment to donate substantial portions of the earnings from his book, "Against All Enemies," to the families of the 9/11 dead and to the widows and orphans of Special Forces troops who died in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Frist didn't just come off as a hypocrite, he looked like a fool. But he looked like an even bigger fool when, in an attempt to claim Clarke had lied to Congress, Frist demanded that transcripts of Clarke' 2002 congressional testimony to be declassified. Clarke's response? "I would welcome it being declassified But not just a little line here and there -- let's declassify all six hours of my testimony." Then, Clarke added, "Let's declassify that memo I sent on January 25. And let's declassify the national security directive that Dr. Rice's committee approved nine months later, on September 4. And let's see if there's any difference between those two, because there isn't. Let's go further. The White House is now selectively finding my e-mails, which I would have assumed are covered by some privacy regulations, and selectively leaking them to the press. Let's take all of my e-mails and memos that I sent to the national security adviser and her deputy from January 20 to September 11, and let's declassify all of it."

Suitably shot down, Frist then took to defending Condoleezza Rice's refusal to testify in public and under oath before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United State -- only to have the administration decide to have her testify.

It was at that point that Frist began to recognize that he was not exactly ready for the political prime-time.

Before the Clarke catastrophe, there had been talk that Frist might replace Dick Cheney if the Bush political team decided to force the vice president off the 2004 ticket -- an admittedly dubious prospect, as Cheney remained firmly in charge both of the policy and political operations at the White House. After Frist's flip out, however, even Republican loyalists started asking whether the senator was good for anything other than taking care of the family's health care investments.

A year later, with his Schaivo diagnosis, whatever credibility his medical degree might have given Frist was gone.

When he decided not to seek reelection in 2OO6, no one was surprised, or particularly upset.

When he decided not to seek the party's presidential nomination in 2OO8, Republicans breathed a sigh of relief.

After 12 years of political malpractice, Dr. Frist is retiring to the obscurity he so richly deserves -- unless, of course, ethics investigators take an interest in how his family's fortunes rose during an otherwise undistinguished Senate tenure.

The second article (also posted in sienna text color) was originally published by Doug Ireland in the Los Angeles News, early in 2003. Although a stirring account of Senator Frist’s Senatorial Business Practices, it “fleshes out” just how outrageous things had become under the protective Bush autocracy.

Of course, we taxpayers were supposed to have also forgotten this nasty little piece of history long ago.

The Bad Doctor
Bill Frist’s long record of corporate vices
Doug Ireland
Published on January 16, 2003

While TV gushed last week over the Republicans’ new Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, intervening in a traffic accident, portraying the former heart surgeon as a “Good Samaritan,” in truth the GOP has simply replaced a racist with a corporate crook.

Frist was born rich, and got richer -- thanks to massive criminal fraud by the family business. The basis of the Frist family fortune is HCA Inc. (Hospital Corporation of America), the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, which was founded by Frist‘s father and brother. And, just as Karl Rove was engineering the scuttling of Trent Lott and the elevation of Frist, the Bush Justice Department suddenly ended a near-decade long federal investigation into how HCA for years had defrauded Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare (the federal program that covers the military and their families), giving the greedy healthcare behemoth’s executives a sweetheart settlement that kept them out of the can.

The government‘s case was that HCA kept two sets of books and fraudulently over billed the government. The deal meant that HCA agreed to pay the government $631 million for its lucrative scams -- which, on top of previous fines, brought the total government penalties against the healthcare conglomerate to a whopping $1.7 billion, the largest fraud settlement in history, breaking the old record set by Drexel Burnham.

The deal also meant that HCA can continue to participate in Medicare. And, as part of the Bushies’ deal shutting down what Deputy Assistant FBI Director Thomas Kubic called “one of the FBI‘s highest-priority white-collar crime investigations,” no criminal charges were brought against the top HCA execs who presided over the illegal bilking of federal programs designed to aid the poor -- and that includes Senator Frist’s brother, Thomas, HCA‘s former CEO (and current director), who’s been described by Forbes magazine as “one of the richest men in America,” with a personal fortune estimated at close to $2 billion.

What did HCA do? It inflated its expenses and billed the government for the overrun; it billed the government for services ineligible for reimbursement (like advertising and marketing costs). HCA violated both law and medical ethics when, as Forbes put it, “the company increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in a company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors‘ referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors ’loans‘ that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture -- and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.”

This is the ethical climate that reigned in the Frist family’s money machine. In an unguarded moment, Senator Frist told the Boston Globe that conversations with his doctor father about the family calling were like “benign versions of the Godfather and Michael Corleone.” Apparently the senator considers defrauding the government “benign.” So too does the Bush White House, which dictated the Justice Department deal with HCA that let the crooks escape jail just as Frist was being anointed the Senate‘s majority leader. A pure coincidence in timing, of course.

The senator has always claimed no current connection to HCA because the $26 million he and his wife hold in the company’s stock is in a so-called “blind trust.” But it was the family‘s dirty money that bought Frist a place in the Senate. In 1994, Frist -- who’d never bothered to vote before first running for the Senate that year -- spent some $3.4 million of his personal fortune to buy the seat from Tennessee (HCA‘s headquarters) that he now occupies. Moreover, “In the Senate, Frist has used his influence to further HCA’s cause by stopping a strong patients‘ bill of rights, gridlocking a mandatory Medicare prescription-drug benefit, and promoting caps on damages for victims who sue negligent hospitals like HCA’s,” points out Jamie Court, executive director of the Santa Monica--based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, who adds, “The Senate should not replace a racist with a principal backer of one of the largest corporate swindles ever perpetrated against the American public. If Frist was a patriot first, he would have sold his HCA stock long ago.”

But Frist‘s pandering to the lobbyists of the voracious healthcare industry knows no bounds. “Frist isn’t the senator from Tennessee -- he‘s the senator from the state of Health Care Industry Influence -- he’s gotten more than $2 million from the healthcare sector, giving him the dubious distinction of raising more cash from healthcare interests than 98 percent of his colleagues,” says Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign.

Consider the special servicing he gave to pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. In another example of his “patriotism,” Frist engineered the insertion into the Homeland Security bill of a provision that would protect Eli Lilly from lawsuits over Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in its vaccines. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Lilly by parents who believe Thimerosal caused autism and other neurological maladies in their kids. The Frist-authored rider shields Lilly by forcing those lawsuits into a special “vaccine court,” where they can be easily scuttled, potentially saving Lilly hundreds of millions. The pharmaceutical industry was the largest single contributor to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee that Frist chaired, ladling out some $4 million -- and Lilly was the single biggest contributor to the GOP from that industry, having given $1.6 million in the last election cycle, 79 percent of it to Republicans.

Now, we are getting somewhere. The voices in the Senate which repeat and repeat that effective health care insurance reform is “not on the table” have their own history. Please don’t be caught presuming that most of them are honorable, well intentioned elected public servants. They aren’t. They have every intention of ushering another decade of their parasitic masters’ uncontrollable avarice, a savage, unchecked greed that will drain your check books, leave you with expensive insurance policies which won’t cover whatever kills you and just steams on ahead, endlessly and relentlessly converting your misery into corporate profits.

Part Four: Solutions: Since We’re Creeping, How About Creeping Here?

Patient MeanMesa visitor! Even after all this negativity (“Not my fault! They did it!"), there remains the traditional MeanMesa optimism to always try to include some sort of solution to the dreary problems we face. In keeping with that positive ambition, consider the following possible solution to, at least, some of the health care insurance problem.

Instead of the faltering, unending, neurotic placebos being bandied about by the Senate as they “divvy up” our health care money this way and that, always trying to conjure up some split which will divide all the trillions we spend into palatable chunks of “profit,” let’s dare to focus on dividing the care rather than the money for a moment. There may actually be a solution, so, here we go!

Start with a list of all the things that the insurers (allegedly) presently reimburse. The list would include all sorts of medical maladies from appendicitis to ingrown toe nails. Once the list was completed, and, by the way, the things on the list have to be medical expenses that our contemporary private insurance companies actually pay for -- not pretend things that they say they will pay for and then don’t -- divide the sicknesses.

On one side of the list will be the sicknesses that the new Single Payer/Public Option system will pay for, and on the other side will be the sicknesses that the private insurance companies agree to continue to cover. Let the government program “scoop up” the least profitable among all the medical problems Americans have. Reserve the remainder for the private insurance companies.

A vast amount of our current bills would be transferred to a “non-Vampire” public program, enjoying all the not-for-profit cost savings currently limited only to Medicare (although the VA has a few, too) Prices should drop immediately. Medicare spends around 6% of its total reimbursement on administration. Private insurance companies extract around 30% for their wretched, forest gobbling administration and, of course, their sacred profits.

After the Great Divide has been accomplished, we can still continue to move toward a rational health care insurance plan, administered by our government (note the word “our”) and paid for by tax money. However, instead of scrapping with these “greed monkeys” for every nut and bolt, we can commence to debate about the list! We can avoid all their crooked little “crumb” schemes and negotiate the transfer of more and more illnesses from their list to ours (note the word “ours”)!

As the matter became more and more of a question of who will cover what, the purchase price of a friendly Senator would get lower and lower, maybe even disappearing entirely with federally funded campaigns. Monumental insults such as Senator Frist would become a thing of the past.

Best of all, the “split ticket” approach might mollify the Senators we have right now long enough to a.) get the health care reform started in a big way, and b.) set the stage for finally getting rid of all these crooks who have already long ago sold their souls.

Good riddance, and GOOD HEALTH!

Last election, we spoke to the Republicans. In the next election, we must speak to the incumbents. We will be amazed when we see some of our taxes begin producing improvements in our lives.

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