Why a “Patients’ Bill of Rights” isn’t enough

Now convinced of their own propaganda, the Party of  No is seeking to assure older Americans that if there is a healthcare overhaul, seniors will not be placed before government “death panels.”  They are going to do this by installing yet another Patients’ Bill of Rights — as if there weren’t already at least 50 of those in place in states across the country, and in many corporate hospital systems and medical associations as well.

See how much good these feel-good documents are doing?  So much good that we’re talking about healthcare reform.  Wow.

You see, these documents lack any teeth because our healthcare system is so totally screwed up that no one really pays anything but public-relations lip service to a notion like a “bill of rights,” because no one needs to — kind of like the our banking system versus the Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights that went into effect earlier this year.  (Notice any difference?  I don’t.  You can bet the banks don’t, either.)  Fact is, all these bills of rights are about as useful to the public as the real Bill of Rights (the one in the U.S. Constitution), is to the Republican Party, which only likes parts of some rights (especially a piece of one sentence about guns) and kinda wishes the rest would go away (including freedom of speech and religion, unless it’s their own). 

And this particular proposed bill of rights doesn’t address any actual problem, anyway.  At least most of the rest do, for all that they don’t do anything about it.

Which brings me to the heart of the matter, which is that our healthcare system is screwed up precisely because it is strictly a for-profit system.  Your health, my health, and the health of seniors — but only to a certain extent in the case of seniors, as the majority of them have coverage through a government run system called Medicare — is treated as a commodity.  Because of this, we are as disposable as toilet paper, and so are all these healthcare bills of rights.

That’s why we need real reform, not another piece of paper with a few feel-good guidelines printed on it.

But as I said, this proposal is meaningless mostly because no one but Sarah Palin — meaning no one at all — has ever talked about installing death panels.  We are talking about getting rid of the death panels that are already in place like the one Sarah Palin presided over in Alaska and the ones insurance companies have been operating for years.

That is to say that once reform is in place, any abomination like a “death panel” will quickly come to light and be dealt with, instead of being hidden away in a far-off corner like a nursing home, a department in an insurance company whose job it is to find reasons to cancel coverage for individuals (and if they can do it retroactively, so much the better), or even Alaska itself.

Of course, asking a Republican to think is a bit like asking an elephant to forget.  On the other hand, getting implanted propaganda out of the Republicans’ noggins is like blowing up the Rocky Mountains.

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