Friday, June 19, 2009

Is Democracy Off the Table, Too?

Jim Goodman, an activist and dairy farmer from Wisconsin, is (rightly) puzzled that the most popular option for healthcare reform has been pushed off the table:

The Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska notes that rural residents are twice as likely to be uninsured as urban Americans while farmers and ranchers are four times as likely to be “underinsured”, covered by insurance with reduced benefits and a high deductibles.

Montana Senator Max Baucus says single payer health care “ is off the table”. Who made him king? What are we, chopped liver, doesn't our opinion count? A January CBS/New York Times poll showed 59% of respondents favored a national health care plan. A February CNN poll showed 72% favored a government controlled plan. Any issue with that much across the board support should be “on the table”.

It seems especially surprising that Baucus, from Montana, a rural state, one that would benefit most from a single payer plan, is opposed to any discussion. However if one looks at campaign contributions from the health insurance industry to Baucus, we see why he supports the status quo.

The insurance companies, in hopes of killing single payer, say they are willing to cover those with “pre-existing conditions” provided "everyone" buys their health insurance. The the insurance companies dream, every American with an insurance policy and private insurers collecting premiums on another 49 million people. Of course they can still deny payment of claims, they're good at that.

Put aside whether you're in the single-payer camp or not as a matter of policy, ask yourself this: why is the most popular option for reform pushed off the table? That doesn't seem to make any sense.

If we had a functioning democratic government what the majority of people in the country want might at least merit some debate, no?