Thursday, January 9, 2014

Healthcare 2014 Is The Next Battleground For Power


      I head a very large family – 7 adult professional children and their spouses and 16 grandchildren most of them are almost of voting age, and still counting.  Like me they are registered Republicans in several States … from California to different States in Midwest.

    This year 2014, the political battle which will determine whether the next president is going to be a Republican or Democrat, is on healthcare.  I think we are wrong in this fight against Obamacare. In the polls, we simply close our eyes and refuse to see that Obamacare is closer to the heart of the majority of the American people than our Republican arguments against it are.

     Thus waging a dimwitted battle against Obamacare, the ultra-Rightists in our midst and those conservative extremists in Congress are disconnecting us from our powerbase.

     If this continues, I can see that in the next presidential election the political demise of the radical Right that controls Congress is almost certain.

     The solution is, there is no solution.  It is just a flawed mindset of Republican extremists about the objectionable practice of Capitalism in the United States that considers the Government antipodal to progress.

     Below is an editorial report I wrote and published concerning this inextricable mindset of Republicanism – a requiem for this winless struggle for power that I am looking at right now. – Edwin A. Sumcad

 Healthcare 2014 Is The Next
Battleground For Power 

 by Edwin A. Sumcad

       In the Chinese calendar, 2014 is the Year of the Horse, a very tenuous year for peaceful co-existence. Mystics or clairvoyants crystal-balled the alignment of the planetary stars as a year of intense competition for survival! 

    The truth is, at the start of the year 2014, what I am looking at is a vexing scenario which worries me, to say the least, that is if it is not already very disturbing to all divided Americans whose ankles are tied down to the chain of economic woes and intense rivalry for power. The worse part of it is that we are lost on what to believe when we listen to politicians lambasting each other in public, and we are confused in our attempt to identify which political protagonists are friends or foes.

     I do not believe in Chinese Zodiac signs when predicting the future, and I may advise neither should you, if not for the fact that the ominous events about to occur are too obvious they would occur nonetheless, regardless of what the oracles would say.

     For example, due to mounting health problems, the mortality rate of the elderly population is rising, and millions of Americans of all ages are dying every year for lack of health insurance coverage.

     In the corridors of power, the nation’s warlike leaders fighting from the opposite sides of the political realm are at each other’s throat. They demonize each other trying to convince the public that behind this morbid state of affairs are their opponents’ undoing -- the wickedness of those publicly accountable bad guys who should be the only despicable culprits to blame.

       With all the animosities unfolding before our eyes, we do not need a Tarot reading or any mystic interpretation of the astrological lining of the planets to know what is most likely to happen in this hostile environment. The planetary Zodiac signs that foretell what are likely to occur, and certain events about to take place independent of those astrological mumbo-jumbos, are occurrences that are obviously simultaneously concurrent, purely coincidental if not correspondingly incidental to each other.

      In short, what is about to occur if it has not already occurred, is the 2014 do-or-die battle for power between the Republicans and the Democrats and their millions of followers.  Their battlefield is healthcare, and the battle to win or lose is in the Obamacare debates raging across the country.

     To the Liberals or Democrats, Obamacare is what the American population needs which they never have had for a long, long time … but to the Conservatives or Republicans and the radical Tea Party, it is not Obamacare but ObamaScare! Because to the latter’s mind Obamacare is not only scary but bad to the people’s health, the struggle of the Conservatives and their allies against this particular legislation is not only focused on repealing the law but in “killing” the law with one swift blow if possible.  However, in Congress where the Republicans are in control of the Lower House, attempts of this kind have not succeeded so far.

    The outcome of this protracted battle for power that I am talking about which is now in the court of law and in the bar of public opinion is written in the sky, and therefore it can be easily foretold by pedestrian minds or can even be predicted by lay Americans in Watertown’s Public Square, New York.  And that is when the Liberals win, millions of mostly poor but healthier Americans who will live longer because of Obamacare, will celebrate nationwide; they will idolize President Obama as a national hero next to President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the New Deal Era whose legacy to the poor and the economically disadvantaged includes the creation of the United States’s Welfare System and the founding of this nation’s economic safety net for all Americans … the Social Security System.

     On the other hand, if the Conservatives win in this power-struggle, the Republicans and their followers in the corporate world of business will sing Roosevelt’s “bouncy song”— to the popular tune of “Happy Days Are Here Again” -- when the corporate powers of the healthcare industry celebrate their triumph. At the same time, they will crucify Obama as the nation’s vicious all-time villain; they will rule over millions of Americans who have no health insurance or with expensive insurance that the healthcare industry prices at will supposedly in a free market or free enterprise environment, with the rising cost of medicine and medical services imposed on consumers by their nationwide networks of healthcare providers.

     According to the Census Bureau, roughly 46 million people in the United States lacked health insurance. It was estimated “that currently 68 adults under age 65 die every day because they don’t have coverage … Absent a significant change in coverage, the figure will climb to 84 by 2019,” so the census study projects.

      The same studies revealed that about 8.0 million die every day because they don’t have health insurance coverage.

       If the battle for power is won by the Liberals, approximately 40.0 million older populations will join the victory celebration. Elders 65 or older die of senescence or aging-related diseases and non-insured patients dropped dead like flies so to speak not only due to inadequate coverage but also because of hardly affordable insurance benefits needed to save life. 

      In healthcare, it appears that at this point in time the Republicans are losing the support    of the American public.  My neutral assessment of this situation points to the profit-oriented mindset of the capitalist-Conservatives versus that of the Liberals which is people-oriented, as to why the Republicans are rapidly losing their wider base support.

     For instance, published reports of political ideological studies show that the Republican legislative policy is “to enable ambitious, successful people to become as wealthy as they can, without government ‘interference,’ reasoning that their great wealth will benefit the whole country and all the people.”  To my knowledge, and for my understanding of Development Economics in the academe, there is no doubt that this is clearly a capitalist mindset – the empowerment of the rich in whose hands lies the fate of the poor and the economically disadvantaged; a small enclave of the rich and powerful also decide the future of the country as if no government exists.  In this mindset, the Government is unnecessary … it is negatively viewed as “interference”.

    Contrast this Republican mindset supposedly for the good of the public with that of the Liberal-Democrats in Congress which “legislate to make the vast majority prosperous, because widespread prosperity will benefit the whole country in many ways.”  Opposed to that of the Republicans, this mass-based mentality is classless, which contradicts the objectionable features of Capitalism; at least populist or anti-elitist if not philosophically socialist in nature and metaphysically egalitarian in theory, it reflects the tenets of a communal ideology – for the good of the commonweal.

    It is also no doubt clear in the people’s mind which of these two differing mindsets is closest to the fundamental objectives of Obamacare that attract a wider public interest from almost all sectors of society. Bear in mind that in this country, the successful business corporate rich are indubitably outnumbered by millions of the poor and struggling middle-class that consider the intervening regulatory government their ally [to the Republicans -- the enemy], to check the dominant and controlling power of the powerfully advantaged class of American society.

     By the way, for those who still do not know what Obamacare is all about, here is what it stands for in law:  Obamacare is Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) -- Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short.  President Barack Obama signed this legislation into law on March 23, 2010 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as constitutional on June 28, 2012 in the landmark case of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.

     This healthcare reform law targets the excesses of the giant healthcare industry that takes advantage of consumers who are in dire need of medical services … actually consumers under the mercy of profiteering enterprises or victims of greed in our modern corporate world.

     For instance, under the law, health insurance cannot drop policyholders if they become sick; insurance price discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions or sex is prohibited.

     Insurance-covered children and dependents cannot be cut off from coverage until their 26th birthday, in addition to many more legally introduced inhibitions that before this reform law was passed had saved a lot of money for the healthcare industry and their service providers, at the expense of patients, particularly those gravely ill and/or dying patients who simply passed away with hardly any relief or recourse under the industry-controlled free market environment.

     Futhermore, under Obamacare, Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius is mandated to define what are the “essential health benefits” that insurance plans should include. These standard benefits are "ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and facilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care."[196][197].

      To the Republican opponents of ACA, of which the lobbying healthcare industry is one of GOP’s major campaign fund providers, these legal impositions are too much that they crossed the lines of amicable tolerance. The National Federation of Independent Business has to sue the Federal Government naming Health Secretary Sebelius defendant in an effort to declare ACA unconstitutional.  This attempt also failed.

      The much publicized Cyber Crash followed. The website that allows people to apply for insurance under Obamacare crashed mysteriously. Investigations could not pinpoint who or what caused it.

      But the public knows that the Republicans and their corporate allies in the healthcare industry are desperate.  There is no doubt in the public mind that they will do everything to neutralize if not “kill” Obamacare.

     They even resorted to government shutdown in October last year just to get a concession from President Obama to water down Obamacare and to strike a compromise on other related political issues.  But  again there is no doubt in the people’s mind that the GOP had become so desperate and destructive they no longer care if as a result of their ruthless action the people will suffer in hell and/or the system goes kaput or destroyed, so long as they can strike back at Obamacare.  This is evidenced by the Republican-initiated government closedown that benefited no one, even themselves. 

      Many unfavorable comments were heard that what the mean-spirited GOP and their accomplices did was “childish” if not “foolish”.  In fact it backfired.  Instead, ACA became more popular.

     Surveys say Obama’s approval rating moved up to 47 percent, which means that while the government shutdown wounded the Republican Party, “Obama’s overall political standing remains stable in the poll.”

     With healthcare as the battleground in this continuing battle for power, Obamacare will pave the way for the election of the next Democrat president after Obama.  This is almost as sure as when the sun rises in the East.

     It is sad to say that powerless, the publicly-disconnected opponents of Obamacare will just in time wither in the vine.

     No alignment of the planetary stars can change the course of this event.   #

 © Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad.  Access PAR January 20, 2013.