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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

There is still time to shame Congress into subjecting the healthcare industry to standard antitrust legislation to abolish their price-rigging and force them to outbid each other. Additionally, as a price to do business and as a service to the nation, they should be forced to compete in states where only one insurer is active.

Most important, a "reasonable profit" limit should be imposed on them (and on doctors, etc., who facture, say, more than $200k per year), a limit akin to those nominally imposed on weapons manufacturers when they sell anything to the government.

Healthcare is at least as important as national defense. The government needs only to imitate the few tricks that it uses on a daily basis to keep in check (somewhat) the greed of the military-industrial complex.

Even if "Medicare for all" and the "public option" are killed by bribed Congressmen, nobody will be able to defend the position that marketplace laws meant to foster competition should not apply to the cartelized healthcare sector, for which competition obviously means nothing at all.

Let's put the healthcare leeches and their co-bloodsucking bribed politicians on the spot using their own arguments about free markets !

And let's hear what they can invoke to justify that the weapons industry be more heavily regulated than, and not be allowed to be as "profitable" as, the healthcare leeches.

marc dunord

Chicago, IL

Dec 16 2009 - 8:17am

Web Letter

Sadly, The Nation has not been consistent in its opposition to the filibuster, and supported its use when Democrats were in the minority in the Senate. But that was a mistake.

The filibuster could be eliminated with presidential leadership. The president should make it the top proposal of the State of the Union speech, rather than basking in the glory of the underwhelming healthcare bill that will have passed by then. No other fundamental change will occur in his presidency unless he does this--no cap and trade, no significant progress on tax policy or the deficit, no further health care reform, no reduction in military spending.

The Senate Democrats should proceed to a rules change eliminating the filibuster, forthwith. Then they should give Joe Lieberman the public humiliation he has so richly earned, stripping him of his chairmanship and, if possible, of all committee assignments. Then they should pass a simple piece of legislation, decreasing the Medicare eligibility age to 55 and increasing the payroll tax to cover it.

No wonder Americans are cynical about politics. They voted clear Democratic majorities in House, Senate and presidency. The House is doing its job, having passed serious healthcare reform, "cap and trade" and financial regulatory reform. The Senate is not doing the job, and the president has been unable or unwilling to ride herd on it. Little has changed in the country in the year since his inauguration. We need more productivity out of our government.

Vince Slupski

Seattle, WA

Dec 15 2009 - 5:50pm

Web Letter

Overwhelming majorities? A little hyperbolic, wouldn't you say? That there exists significant majorities of one party in both houses, plus possession of the White House, does not mean they are there as a result of overwhelming votes in their favor from each district/state.

be reminded that Democrats won mostly because Wall Street melted and the economy tanked. And it was time to change regimes after eight years.

mike flynn

New York, NY

Dec 1 2009 - 12:42pm

Web Letter

The US Senate is now finally debating health insurance reform, after surviving a filibuster by Republican opponents of change. The filibuster is an outdated relic that perils our democracy. The term filibuster comes from a Spanish term for "pirate" and indeed, the filibuster is now being used to hijack the ability of the Senate to act..

The US Senate, to begin with, is not a representative legislative body. Each state, regardless of population, gets two Senate seats. Six states, mostly in the west, have only one representative in the House of Representatives, due to their small population. Yet they are entitled to two seats in the US Senate. That's in the Constitution, and is not likely to be changed anytime soon.

Yet today, we often hear that it will take sixty votes in the Senate to pass a particular bill. The cavalier use of the filibuster by Senate Republicans to block virtually anything from being passed takes the unrepresentative nature of the Senate and makes it an absurdity.

The forty Republicans Senators represent 97,030,080 US residents (giving each US Senator one half of the citizens in their state). That is only 35 percent of the total US population of 281 million people.

Can someone tell me how it is that US Senators representing only 35 percent of the population can dictate what does and doesn't become law? What part of "democracy" don't they understand?

Douglas Drake

Peoria, IL

Nov 30 2009 - 8:12pm

Web Letter

The legislation concerning healthcare as it now stands is not worth passing. It is a rank giveaway to the health insurance companies, with a public option so small you need a microscope to see it.

If Congress had been serious about creating a public option competitive with the private insurers, we might have had something worthwhile. Since this is not the case, the best thing to do is to put all the Senate and House bills out of their misery and start over with a real discussion of the merits of single-payer healthcare.

Alan Willis

Bolingbrook, IL

Nov 30 2009 - 1:48pm

Web Letter

In California, our population exceeds that of Canada, and it is very expensive to run for statewide office or to adequately represent the voters in the Senate. I would prefer to get rid of the Senate or, at least, shorten their terms to four years with one senator coming up for re-election every two years. I believe that our elected representatives should be kept on a short leash!

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Nov 29 2009 - 6:26pm

Web Letter

Unfortunately, the men and women who become power lords and soon forget who elected them, don't remember that they represent people and not corporations and those lobby for their votes. They forget that they are there because our constitution calls for government is one of the people, by the people and for the people. All of us cannot be there, so they are there to represent the people's best interests and not their own. It is so unfortunate that the very men and women who get the best healthcare in the world at no cost would want to keep it from others even though they will have to pay to obtain it. What hypocrisy!

Nimrod E. Daley

New York, NY

Nov 27 2009 - 7:08pm

Web Letter

With opinion polls running against the healthcare plan, the democratic thing to do is to send it to history's trash pile.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Nov 27 2009 - 2:39pm

Web Letter

About four weeks ago I noticed a swelling in my right groin area and did not know if it was some temporary thing or not. When I pressed my left side nothing hurt, but when I pressed the right side I was doubled over in pain. With my annual physical scheduled in two-and-a-half weeks, I waited until I saw my family doctor, and on November 14 he told me I had a right inguinal hernia and and contacted a surgeon, whom I saw on November 17. Surgery was scheduled for November 23 and the surgeon proceeded with a checklist of questions. He asked me if I was a smoker, and I said no, as I have never in my fifty-nine years on this earth smoked a cigarette. He told me that sometimes there can be more complications in surgery with smokers. When the surgical center called me to confirm the surgery, they also asked me if I smoked, and when I arrived for my surgery yesterday, the nurse asked me the same question, as did the anesthesiologist. This year the American Cancer Society estimates that 160,000 Americans will die from Lung cancer. An astounding fact is that in the twentieth century, approximately 100 million people died worldwide from tobacco-associated diseases. We as a country are rightly concerned about the 4,300 soldiers we lost since 2001 in Iraq, but over 1 million Americans have died during that same period from lung cancer, and our government does not seem to want to be very proactive about that nor does the average American seem to be getting up in arms protesting these preventable deaths. Our "prevention" of these needless deaths is taxing a pack of cigarettes but not removing them from the market.

When you turn on your television or radio or read the newspapers and magazines or hundreds of sites on the Internet, the main topic of discussion today is healthcare reform. More emphasis, apparently, is being place on covering the uninsured rather than on preventive care. More emphasis is placed on cutting medical costs by forcing doctors and hospitals to go to digital records (good) and cutting Medicare by $800 billion over ten years (bad). Other than the recent report recommending mammograms be delayed until women reach 50, little has been said about preventive medicine, which can save millions of lives and over a trillion dollars in healthcare costs, lost wages and productivity.

Thirty years ago when you went to the supermarket or shopping mall, overweight people stood out. Today at the supermarket or shopping mall it's the slender people who appear in the minority. The average weight of Americans is way beyond what it should be. In our schools teenagers weighing over 200 lbs. is no longer seen as rare. Diabetes is becoming an epidemic, and with diabetes and being overweight there will be more deaths from heart attacks and strokes. More than 200,000 Americans die every year from diabetes or diabetes related illnesses. Last year more than 500,000 Americans died of heart attacks. Each year more than 800,000 Americans have strokes. Many of these will become incapacitated or die. A majority of these can be prevented!

Simply put, more than 5 million Americans have died from heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and diabetes since we went to war with Iraq, yet we seem to be more focused on losing 4,300 people in a war than 5 million also needless deaths, the majority of which could have been prevented. Where in the healthcare reform bills in Congress does our government make an aggressive effort in preventive care that can drastically reduce the deaths from smoking, heart disease, strokes and diabetes? Nowhere!

Wouldn't some of the near $1 trillion in stimulus money be better spent on a blitzgrieg of advertising on the Internet, newspapers, magazines, radio and television on preventing the deaths these diseases cause? One billion dollars over the course of the year could saturate America with helpful ads about preventing illness. Is $1 billion too much when we just spent a trillion on bailing out the financial industry? What is more important--Goldman Sachs or the health and lives of our citizens? Wouldn't town hall meetings all across America with Congressman and senators accompanied by physicians be helpful in a full court press to end the millions of needless deaths that are occuring because we are not doing enough as a nation to substantially decrease smoking, overeating and obesity? Colonoscopies, mammograms, pap smears and prostate screenings have saved the lives of millions of Americans and should be free for every American, but if we as nation don't make an effort like none we ever made before to stop cigarette smoking and obesity, then we never will have true healthcare reform and all we will be doing is making sure the funeral industry continues to be the one industry that doesn't experience a downturn when our economy goes south again.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill, NJ

Nov 27 2009 - 5:37am