In the fall of 2020, President Trump announced that all Americans would be able to get a COVID vaccine by April of 2021. The media promptly trounced his assertion as being unsupported by evidence and reported that nobody knew when sufficient data would be available from clinical trials to make such a prediction. Well, Trump was right. The Biden administration inherited Trump’s Operation Warp Speed and, thankfully, hasn’t botched it up. And now all Americans are able to get vaccinated just like Trump said. We can’t take all the credit for this observation. We saw this in Steve Krakauer’s Fourth Watch Newsletter of April 25, 2021. Krakauer also suggested that a good way to reduce vaccine hesitancy on the right would be to hire Trump – bring him to the White House and put him to work. Frankly, we would support such a move. Does anyone besides Bandolero note the irony in all this? COVID-19 cost Trump the re-election he so richly deserved and now Biden owes his high marks to the success of Trump’s efforts to beat the virus. Biden could also use help from Trump in dealing with the immigration crisis at our southern border. Frankly, if Biden really wants to have a successful administration, he should adopt quite a few more of Trump’s policies. We don’t hold much hope for this, sound as it would be. The Biden administration has found a better way of garnering public approval than actually addressing our problems with real solutions. The Biden way? Give away free money, of course! We just got a letter from Biden. It came in an envelope from the IRS, for some reason, telling us we’ll soon see another $2400 magically appear in our checking account! Oh boy!
Bandolero has long had his sights on the Unholy Trinity of Big Pharma, Big Insurance and Big Med. Until they are made transparent, there is no hope for reformation of the health industry into something that is available and affordable to all. Congress struggles over legislation and gives us junk like Obama Care, or promises of other legislation that they tout depending on who is funding their campaign chests. All the while, legislators are either unwilling or too dumb (or, most likely, both) to pierce the veil behind which the Unholy Trinity conspires, in violation of anti-trust laws, to get richer and richer at the expense of the population. A recent article, Big Pharma Has The Flu, in Wired Magazine caught our attention by actually referring to “Big Pharma”. At least Bandolero is not alone in his recognition of the nature of the beast. It spotlights the enormous profits reaped by Big Pharma from sales of flu vaccines that have only limited effectiveness, and the reason why Big Pharma has no incentive to do better. In the end, however, the author seems to mostly blame the inherent nature of capitalism for Big Pharma’s failure to produce an effective vaccine, and to suggest that it will take funding on the level of the Gates Foundation to make an effective vaccine possible. What the author overlooked is that Big Pharma itself could fund the research and development necessary to create an effective vaccine, especially if Big Insurance and Big Med were to throw in some of their money. It ain’t gonna happen. Too many CEO’s, directors and shareholders are not in the game for the purpose of improving or protecting the health and well being of the common man (er, common person). They’re in it for the purpose of improving and protecting their own wealth and lifestyle. It’s not in their financial interest to spend money to create an effective flu vaccine. It is in their financial interest to spend money to buy Congress, the biggest cuckoo’s nest in history. It’s a lot cheaper.
El Bandolero, as you all know, is a conservative among conservatives. But, we watched Ted Cruz on Face the Nation this morning, and could only stand up and shout, “You goddam sleazy fuckwad!” He was trying to defend the Senate health care bill, and made a big deal of saying that it’s unfair to saddle young people with the cost of other people’s pre-existing conditions. This simply, and most clearly, shows that the politicians in D.C. are still lying to us and still not doing anything constructive to actually fix the problems that permeate the health care industry.
Insurance, Mr. Cruz, is the means by which the risk and cost of something are spread over a big pool of participants, so that everybody can be covered when risk becomes reality for a few. When you allow insurers to segregate groups based on what each group’s anticipated medical cost is going to be, and then set each group’s premiums based on its anticipated cost, then the people who need insurance the most will be the people who can’t afford to have it. You aren’t fooling Bandolero with vague assertions that you’ll have some sort of credits or allowances so people with pre-existing conditions can still get the treatment they need.
Consider the logical end point of Mr. Cruz’s argument. Logically, why stop with creating subgroups (such as people with pre-existing conditions) of the big group? Why don’t you just say that each person’s premium should be based on his/her personal risk? Set their premium for this year based on what their medical expenses were the previous year. Now, that’s fair! You stay healthy, your premiums will be next to nothing. You get sick and become a burden on the system, you pay for it! Of course, that’s not “insurance”. The idea behind insurance would be, for example, to spread a person’s $10k of medical bills over a million people. When you start creating “high risk” groups to make them pay more so the larger population can pay less, you’re perverting the concept of insurance.
Of course, if what you’re really after are the voters in that very large group of young healthy people, well, you’re obviously going to be working on ways to show them how you reduced their premiums. Not enough sick people are going to suffer and die to affect the election. You goddam sleazebag!
Bandolero now finds it necessary to support the concept of single payer coverage. The fairest approach for EVERYBODY is to have EVERYBODY covered by ONE policy that covers EVERYTHING. That way, the cost of paying for EVERYONE’S health care is spread over the LARGEST possible number of people. Why is this fair to young people, you might ask? They may very well be paying more in premiums than what their own health care would cost if they had no insurance. Well, dumb-ass, it’s fair because down the road, when they turn 50 or 60 or 70 and suddenly find themselves diagnosed with leukemia or dementia or whatever, they will have the coverage to pay for it.
The challenge with single payer is the administration of it. Bandolero cannot imagine entrusting it to a government agency, whether at federal or state or even municipal level. Frankly, Bandolero often finds himself looking back fondly at what was, once upon a time, AT&T’s monopoly of the phone system. Bandolero suspects that a similar capitalistic health care insurance monopoly subject to appropriate government regulation may be the way to go. It may have been a monopoly, it may have had power to squelch competition, but everybody had a phone, we took them for granted, and we had the best phone system in the world. Aside: Remember TPC (The Phone Company) in that terrific movie, The President’s Analyst?
If you want to penalize certain groups of people and make them pay more because they are a higher risk, then penalize the people who create their own higher risk. For example, make smokers pay more. Make sky-divers pay more. Make people who consume alcohol pay more. Bandolero has no problem helping to pay for medical care for people who have cancer. Bandolero has a problem helping to pay for people who have cancer because they preferred cigarettes over health; or paying to set broken bones for people who get drunk and crash their cars. (Although, statistically, it’s the drunk person who’s more likely to walk away uninjured, leaving sober victims mangled or dead)
What Mr. Cruz hasn’t done is ANYTHING that addresses the ANTI-TRUST and PRICE-FIXING practices of the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry, and the medical provider industry. These are the NEW BIG 3 who conspire to make the big decisions that screw the health care consumer. Fifty years ago the BIG 3 consumer-screwers were Ford, General Motors and, um, who was #3, anyway? Chrysler? It wasn’t American Motors. We know what happened to American Motors. If Cruz, et al., are unwilling to go single payer, they’ll never get a handle on insurance premiums until they get a handle on the NEW BIG 3. This failure is primarily why Obamacare didn’t work. And it’s why your plan won’t work; aside from the fact that the needs of the citizens are not the focus of the politicians; their focus is on getting votes in next year’s elections.
No, Cruz and his ilk (by “his ilk” I mean virtually every elected politician in Washington, D.C.) are not making any good faith effort to fix health care. They are making every sleazy effort to create sound bites that appeal to the people whose votes they are focused on for the next election. YOU ARE A SLEAZEBAG, MR. CRUZ! You have an opportunity to convince us otherwise. We can only hope you will take advantage of that opportunity. But we’re not holding our breath.
Sen. McCain was also on the same show this morning. Good lord, he needs to retire, soon. We supported him back in his presidential bid, although we were already starting to see the signs then. The signs now are quite clear. He is far more dangerous than Donald Trump. But that’s a topic for another post.