After the Health Care Summit : The Shark in the Water

“The health insurance industry is the shark that swims just below the water, and you don’t see that shark until you feel the teeth of that shark.” – Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

Despite the bipartisan health care summit, the shark is still circling. During the great airing of grievances, it became immediately clear that both Democrats and Republicans are confident in their interpretation of what the American people want and need.

A minor exchange between John McCain and President Obama provided a flashback to campaign days, and the stack of papers representing the Senate bill was referred to as a “prop” by the President.

A recurring theme on the Republican side was the admonition to start over with a “clean sheet of paper,” and “incremental changes.” The terms “government takeover” and “best health care system in the world” were sprinkled liberally throughout. Republican John Boehner:

“I think this right here (indicating the Senate bill) is a dangerous experiment. We may have problems in our health care system, but we do have the best health care system in the world by far, and having the government taking over health care, and I believe that’s what this is, is a dangerous experiment with the best health care system in the world, which I don’t think we should do.”

Democrats included an abundance of stories from constituents denied coverage, including some who died, calling the practice “cruel.” Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) hit a sensitive nerve, verbalizing to his colleagues what many Americans have said:

“Step back for a second and look at who we are in this room… the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, administered by the federal government, setting minimum standards for the health insurance that we enjoy as individuals and want for our families, is all we’re asking for in this bill for families across America. If you think it’s a socialist plot and it’s wrong — for goodness sakes — drop out of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, but if you think it’s good enough for your family, shouldn’t our health insurance be good enough for the rest of America? That’s what it gets down to. Why have this double standard… why do we continue to discriminate against people when we know that each one of us is only one accident or one diagnosis away from being one of those unfortunate few who can’t find or can’t afford insurance?”

Sounds like a challenge to me… any member of Congress who believes that this type of health insurance is part of a socialist agenda should give up their coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. It will never happen, I know, but it is a fair challenge, to ask members of Congress to live what they preach so fervently.

There was a familiarity to the statements on both sides, and little in the way of negotiations or seeking of common ground.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in addition concisely clearing up misconceptions about federal funding for abortions and benefit cuts for seniors, said this about about employment:

“Imagine an economy where people could change jobs, become self-employed, pursue their artistic aspirations, or be entrepreneurial and start new businesses if they were not job-locked because they have a child who is bipolar or a family member who is diabetic or other pre-existing condition, and all of the other constraints that having health care — or not having health care — places on an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s about jobs.”

The President closed the summit by insisting that he is not advocating a government takeover of health care and calling on Republicans to “do a little soul-searching and find out — are there some things that you’d be willing to embrace that get to this core problem of 30 million people without health insurance and dealing seriously with the pre-existing condition issue.”

“Politically speaking, there may not be any reason for Republicans to want to do anything,” he said. “But I thought it was worthwhile for us to make this effort.”

To viewers who already have a strong opinion regarding health care reform, the summit was simply an opportunity to solidify those opinions rather than a look into bi-partisan efforts to improve health care in America.

Progress? Perhaps at least as far as civility goes, but the shark is still in the water.

Related reading on Care2:

Care2 Petition:

Photo: whitehouse.gov

42 comments

Lisa E.
Lisa E.5 years ago

Oh boy! What a mix of opinions. From a 'birds eye viewpoint' Canada, asking where is the justice in providing accessibility to only those who can afford it and leaving others 'to lay on the curb to die.' Actually if Americans could actually see those denied they may have an altered opinion on Health Care accessibility -- Universal Health Care as in Canada. Mostly personal taxes pay for it and not Corps. taxation. but seems in USA the Corps. want an accessible public trough for their usage. Perhaps reduce the military budget just a bit and your America could also have Universal Health Care -- but Corporations like Haliberton, other Texas Oil Corps., the Monsantos & pharmaceutical industries and a plethora of others would have less public funds to plunder & less taxation to sidestep. In fact every Lobby effort to get Congress to vote pro-corporations is tax deductible. Imagine that. A system that can spend any amount of money to influence Congress to vote for or against legislation and that expenditure is fully tax deductible against profits. My my. And so many think it is solely Obama's hand that rules the roost. To each -- one vote!
Dictionary Definitions:
Republican Party - one of the two main U.S. political parties favoring a conservative stance, limited central government, and a strong national defense.
Democratic Party one of the two main U.S. political parties which follows a liberal program, tending to promote a strong central government and expansive socia

Roger R.
Past Member 6 years ago

PROMOTE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
ANTI TRUST LAWS for the INSURANCE COMPANIES !!

Laura K.
Laura K.6 years ago

Well done to Senator Richard Durbin.Sounds like someone needed to bring these politians into touch with the real state of things over there.

Erin R.
Erin R.6 years ago

Thanks for the post.

Mary L.
Mary L.6 years ago

Ricardo, there are not too many insurers in the "market" but too few! Five companies have a hold on most of our policies! The problem is that there is no cap on their profits and their CEO salaries and benefits! There is little regulation of their products and premiums.

Most people get their insurance through employers and never see the negotiations. As more people are forced into the individual market, premiums will sky-rocket along with public despair and anger.

The govt. already insures the sickest and poorest people at about 40% of the Health care dollar. Add the taxes foregone on employers' health care benefits and costs to taxpayers rise to about 60% of the nation's health spending. This absurd and completely inefficient!

Follow the money! Who is benefiting? No patients; not governments; but guess who?

Mervi R.
Mervi R.6 years ago

Thanks for the info!

Linda J.
Linda J.6 years ago

It`s SHOWTIME !

Jellila K.
Jellila K.6 years ago

The problem is not the bill is SHARKS, a great name for an HMO, as they fear losing power and control the healthcare systems. SICKO is something to WATCH

Beverly C.
Beverly C.6 years ago

The Summit allowed President Obama, V.P. Biden, Nancy Pelosi & others to be heard not only by those present in the meeting but also by the American people. It, also, allowed the American people to hear many Republicans give arguments against the welfare of those Americans who are not wealthy --to where they can afford quality medical care. To state that the U.S. has the best healthcare in the world is a very empty claim when most of the people in our country are unable to pay the extravagant charges to receive this care. Even with emergency rooms, Medicaid, Medicare, & the poor insurance policies which some pay for, much in American healthcare is not offered. Many treatments, chemotherapy, etc. are priced beyond what is allowed by many insurance carriers, & the patient's insurance co-pay is many times more than folks can afford. Therefore, people die from not getting the care they need, folks go bankrupt & lose their homes because of medical bills, etc. (Even President Nixon tried to reform healthcare to help the American people. Hiliary Clinton, Franklin D. Roosevelt, etc. --There have been many people in power who have tried to bring quality healthcare to ALL the American people. The shameful problem in getting legislation passed always appears to be that not everyone believes that we are our brothers' keepers. --After the American people heard the negativity spewed by the Republicans,I believe President Obama won't have a problem getting the bill passed w

TERRANCE N.
TERRANCE N.6 years ago

This summit was a big show; A big charade. Obama is trying to win an academy award and the rest of the poliicians at the summit are trying to win best supporting actors and actresses.

The ability of the free market to exploit America's health needs will remain the religion of our system. No matter how much it hurts the American people. Profit is king and here to stay. Mandates are in. Public option was never really in no matter how much democrats made it appear.

Only Politicians, those disabled, and over 65 will be entitled to public health. The rest will remain subject to be exploited. For a whole year, the goal was to wear us down, stress us out, psyche us out, and show us who is in control.

Fight them by dropping your health insurance provider. Eat a plant based diet. Exercise regularly. Stay away from stressful people and situations. Stop taking unnessessary drugs. Stay out of hospitals. Stop smoking and drinking. Love each other. If you don't get sick; they can't exploit you.