Another Doctor Mad As Hell

Congress has done it. They’ve thrown women’s reproductive
rights under the bus. They’ve catered to religious extremists rather than
protect the health of our mothers, daughters, and sisters. They’ve sacrificed
the health of the American people on the altar of health insurance industry
profits. They took an historic opportunity to improve the conditions in which
Americans live and die, and squandered it to protect the status quo.


This is not the change we believed in. President Obama’s
tiptoeing around our human rights is not the leadership we voted for.

House health care reform bill, the “Affordable Health Care for America Act,”
won’t actually create affordable health care for America. It will perpetuate
our existing inefficient, often inhumane health care system, one that spends
twice as much as any other nation on earth yet fails to meet the basic needs of
many individuals and communities. 
The convoluted logic of our existing health insurance-based system is
echoed in the cumbersome pages of HR 3962.

over 30% of each dollar of our insurance premiums goes not to cover actual
health care costs, but instead to pay for the overhead and profits of the
private health insurance industry. With the House version of health care reform
passed last night, we’ll throw more of our tax money into this inefficient,
for-profit system. (Medicare, a single payer, not-for-profit, government-run
health plan for seniors and some disabled people, spends 2-3% on overhead.)

health insurance industry, which exists not to care for sick people or keep us
healthy, but to reap profits, is the big winner so far in health care reform.
As of today, women are the biggest losers. With the addition of the Stupak
amendment, health care reform further chips away at women’s fundamental right
to abortion by eliminating coverage through health insurance plans associated
with Health Insurance Exchanges (what’s left of the ‘public option’). Ironically,
the agency overseeing the Exchanges is called the Health Choices Administration.  In fact, there will be no choice in the new health reform
plans—the bill restricts any system funds from going to abortion care, even the
premium monies women pay out of their own pockets.

amended bill allows for “non federal entities” including local and state
governments and individuals to “purchase supplemental coverage for abortion.”
This provision would be hilarious in its absurdity if it were not so tragic. The
point of health insurance—indeed, the point of all insurance—is to provide a
safety net when life throws unexpected, difficult events our way. Of course, no
one plans ahead for their abortion. When women and families are applying for
insurance, they don’t think to themselves, “Well, are we going to need an
abortion this year?”  Plus, most companies
and government entities will surely be unwilling to pay for supplemental coverage
of any kind, much less for supplemental coverage for one particular highly
marginalized and stigmatized (yet common) reproductive health service. 

The House
legislation is not all bad. It’s good that the law would prohibit insurance
companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, like
me with my cystic fibrosis and breast cancer. It’s good, and about time, that
preventive health services will be fully covered under Medicare and Medicaid.
It’s a relief that our government will finally be able to negotiate drug prices
directly with pharmaceutical companies for Medicare Part D plans.

HR 3962 is not good enough. It does not provide universal coverage and it will
not control health care costs. It does not eliminate or even reign in the
private insurance companies, who waste $400 billion each year—enough to cover
health care for all 46 million of the uninsured. The law, if passed, will
blindside a lot of women, from all walks of life, who won’t care much about the
abortion restrictions until life throws them a curveball. When they find themselves
in a situation they did not and could not have planned for, they will learn, as
do poor women in most states, Native American women, and our soldiers and
veterans, that their choices have already been made, by bishops, by
corporations, and by their Congress.

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  • donaldbrodermd

    Dr. Susie Baldwin is exactly right. The House passed a terrible bill and they included in the mess an assault on women’s rights. We all should be mad as hell, not only women.To begin an effort at "reform" on the foundation of a non-system that has manifestly failed is foolish. Never mind that our Democratic politicians, the president included, promised us that it could be done. It can’t and it won’t. This House plan will do nothing to control our escalating health costs, will do nothing to control the quality of care provided our patients and won’t even cover every American. What it does do, as Dr. Baldwin pointed out, is protect the profits and monopoly of the American health insurance industry, the same cheerful folks who gave us our current mess.The smart thing would be to begin over again and give us an American Health Plan that would cover every single one of us, that would control costs by eliminating unnecessary administrative costs and insurance company profits and that would put patients, i.e., the American people, first.  In other words, a single payer, Medicare for all health plan.

  • colleen

    We all should be mad as hell, not only women.

    I completely agree. this bill will serve to make the health care system worse. Besides women and, of course, the poor (which for a nominally ‘democratic’ congress seems to be anyone who makes under median wage) children will be adversely affected. The House bill erases the CHIP program by 2013 and replaces it with the ‘exchange’ scam which is far more expensive for the parents and has fewer assured benefits. Way to go, Democrats.
    The Children’s Defense Fund has a write-up on it here:
    Odd that the Catholic church and the rest of the moral authority crowd aren’t mentioning this.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD