So, Okay, Now that it’s Passed…

Picture of Obama Signing Health Care billDon’t get me wrong. I’m glad the health care reform bill was passed, and I’m glad that President Obama finally “got his mojo back” (as they say) and started acting like the person we thought we had elected. But while the Champagne was being popped, I couldn’t help but think about how scaled down, cut down, and minimalized this bill actually is. (Here’s a balanced description of what is in it.)
As many have pointed out, it is a little further to the right of the bill that the Republicans, under that radical Marxist, socialist Senate leader Bob Dole, were pushing back in 1993. So there.

For example,
1.      Not only is there nothing like the universal care that most of the developed world already has,
2.      there is also not even the mini-me version we called the “public option.”
(Ironically, while the public doesn’t support universal health care or the “public option” they do support, by 65 percent, the expansion of Medicare to all people…which is, um, different somehow?).
3.      There’s no federal rate commission on insurance industry pay hikes.
4.      There’s no removal of the anti-trust exemption for health insurers.
5.      There is a reversal of decades of support for abortion rights.
6.      And a scary number of the real benefits don’t begin until 2014. For example:
a.       Coverage for adults with preexisting conditions (though, their children will be covered next year).
b.      The expansion of Medicaid coverage to single poor adults.
c.       The state-based health insurance exchanges, which help people find the cheapest coverage and force insurance companies to compete.
d.      Penalties on employers who don’t offer coverage (even if government subsidized)

      7.     And while it may be nitpicking, the House bill placed a ceiling for coverage at 150% of the poverty line, and this bill scaled it down to 133%.

I’m also not terribly happy with the ways we bought the silence of the drug companies and the insurance companies to keep their “Harry and Louise” ads off the air.
1.      The insurance companies were guaranteed a whopping explosion of around thirty million new clients now that everybody and their aunt Sadie will be required to buy insurance. It is estimated that that could bring in as much as a trillion dollars in new income for them. And if you are too poor to pay for their coverage, the Federal government will pay them for you at about $447 billion. What a deal. I know it’s cynical to point this out, but it also means that now insurance companies will have a boatload of new cash to lobby with on the off chance we ever elect some officials who want to push for real reform.

2.      “Big PhRMA,” the drug lobby gets a similar boost because all of those newly insured people will go toDrugs pills doctors and get drug prescriptions. And if they can’t afford the prescriptions, the government will subsidize them. Plus, in a deal cut in early 2009, the industry agreed to cap drug cost increases at $80 billion over ten years, and in return the government agrees to  
a.       Not bargain for lower drug prices and
b.      Not allow the import drugs from Canada, and
c.       Not pursue Medicare rebates and
d.      Not shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D.

A nice trade off, all things considered. (Here’s a copy of the drug deal.) And did you notice that in anticipation of the signing of the bill, stock in Walgreens, the world’s largest drugstore chain, rose by 4.5 percent? (Click here.)

On the other hand, even this tiny version of health care is a major step forward considering how overwhelming the opposition has been from Roosevelt to now. But I just wonder what kind of bill we might have had if Obama and the leaders of the House and Senate had acted like leaders and pushed for what the polls said the people wanted a year ago (like an expansion of Medicare which is supported by 65 percent) instead of allowing opponents of health care reform to waste our time talking about death panels and killing off granny. 


Wahu Kaara,
Speaking/preaching at Hope Central Church, Jamaica PlainWahu Kaara
Leading debt relief activist from KenyaSunday, April 11, 4:00 pm., reception, discussion, and worship following. Ms. Kaara has spent thirty years working for justice throughout Kenya and Africa.  From Jubilee USA, which explores the economic and political systems that impoverish developing nations.
Hope Central Church is located at 87 Seaverns Ave., just up the hill from the Green Street T station and a few blocks from Centre Street. This event is free to the public. Child care will be available. For more information call
(617) 522-0600 (617) 522-0600 or email at: For directions to the church,click here:

Uncle JubileeJustice Wants You
  • Have your church become a Jubilee Congregation. (Click here, or send a note here)
  • Join the Mass Conference JubileeJustice Task Force (Click Here.)
  • Have your justice organization affiliate with the newly-forming faith and conscience Jubilee Chapter. (Click here.)
  • Play "Whack a Banker" and think about this later. (Click here.)

Help For Chile
From Beverly Prestwood-Taylor for the Chile Mission Partnership CommitteeChile Disaster Picture

You have been asking how you can help for several days and we can finally give you an answer! Two needs are most pressing. The first is providing housing before the winter sets in and the second is trauma healing.

A rough estimate is that 200 houses are needed and each house will cost about $2,000. If you would like to donate to housing, please send your donation to the Massachusetts Conference (MACUCC) designated "Pentecostal Church of Chile-housing; earthquake relief." These funds will be sent to UCC Global Ministries.

The second need is for Trauma healing. If you would like to help, you may send your donation to The Brookfield Institute P.O Box 388 Brookfield, MA. 01506 and mark it "Trauma Healing-Chile earthquake."

For more information on the institute and it's work, click here.

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