U.S. Healthcare Reform Devoured by Sharks
They smelled blood, in the form of a plump healthcare package nibbling at the fisherman’s line. Meanwhile, the fisherman had a bundle of crises to manage. Preoccupied by Afghanistan, Wall Street, the Great Recession, sinking ratings and a premature Nobel Peace Prize, Obama briefly looked away.
It was enough. The sharks moved in, circled around and began to feast. First the rapacious jaws ripped out the single payer model. Nothing fatal… healthcare reform could live without it. But the next strike was more devastating: the sharks seized the public option and the early Medicare buy-in plan, chewing them both to a ghastly pulp.
Nearly reduced to a skeleton, the doomed creature now looked grotesque enough to repel even those who had admired it. The gasping hulk drifted slowly downward, trailing a cloud of blood and dashed hopes. The sharks, bellies full, rejoiced as much as sharks can rejoice over anything.
Joe Lieberman and his friends in the insurance industry must be rejoicing, too. I still don’t pretend to understand how the wizened Connecticut senator and man-without-a-party suddenly gained so much power over the healthcare proceedings. It might have had something to do with his standing among the insurance giants who fund the campaigns of so many of our elected representatives. But I could be wrong.
I’ve also wondered why the president has submitted to the dismembering of Obamacare with scarcely a whimper of resistance or regret. Somebody even more powerful must be holding a knife to his throat. But again, I could be wrong.
Our venerable republic is the only industrialized nation on earth without a universal healthcare plan. Our citizens are still free to go bankrupt when they have the temerity to contract a serious disease. And naturally, they’re free to die.
Why are we Americans unique among the more enlightened nations in our freedom from universal health coverage? It might be that our fabled spirit of rugged individualism predisposes us to shun safety nets. But I also suspect that our corporatist climate is especially congenial to sharks and their allies. Even when those allies are moderates who should know better, like Lieberman and Obama. Of course, I could be wrong.