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Profits trump health reform
by Jake Highton
Apr 14, 2012 | 756 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
America’s most urgent domestic problem is health care.

The cost is so enormous that many people cannot afford primary-care coverage. They go to hospital emergency rooms instead.

The solution is universal national health insurance, Medicare for all, funded by taxpayers.

Every major industrial nation has it except the United States. It is disgraceful that this rich nation does not.

Nor is it likely to have it soon without winning huge Democratic majorities such as FDR reaped in the 1930s. The drug and insurance companies will not allow it.

Big Pharma and insurers want to make vast profits. They don’t give a damn about the crying needs of the American people.

Because of these bandits, U. S. citizens pay twice as much per capita on health care as other industrial nations. A single-payer, non-profit system would avoid handing them $400 billion a year.

Congressional Republicans blocked a public option so President Obama tried to address health-care needs in the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2010.

The act is 2,700 pages long and awfully complicated. But its basic reform provisions are: guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, increasing funds for Medicaid and allowing 26-year-olds and under to use parental insurance.

Nevertheless, the fate of Obamacare is uncertain after three days of oral argument recently before the Supreme Court.

The five reactionaries could strike down the act in whole or in part since those embarrassing primitives just validated strip searches of the innocent and in 2010 gave huge campaign funding First Amendment protection.

The decision, expected in late June, hinges on swingman Justice Anthony Kennedy. If he goes with the liberal bloc of four, Obamacare could pass court scrutiny.

Indeed, Kennedy said during oral argument that the government could use its “tax power to raise revenue for a single-payer national health service.”

And Kennedy has from time to time revealed a sense of humanity. He agreed to strike down sodomy laws. He declared mandatory prison sentences unjust, too long, too severe and too racially biased.

The mandate to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act is a legitimate sticking point.

During oral argument attorney Paul Clement, speaking for Obamacare foes, remarked that it was a strange “conception of liberty that forces somebody to purchase an insurance policy.”

Countering that view, columnist Robert Scheer noted that  “constitutional purists” like Justice Antonin Scalia have no trouble approving orders “for the young to wage undeclared wars abroad, to gut due process and embrace torture, rendition and assassination.”

Certainly the reprehensible wise-guy Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts showed the hostility of the reactionaries during oral argument.

Scalia asked if Congress could mandate that people buy broccoli. Roberts complained that some people might pay for services they will never need like pediatric and maternity care.

Other retrograde justices asked if cellphones, cars and health club membership could be mandated.

Such frivolous questioning is not only outrageous but makes it ridiculous that such mossbacks decide the law of the land. As columnist Maureen Dowd observes: “They are hacks dressed up in black robes.”

Justice Stephen Breyer argued that some justices were debating “the merits of the bill,” a concern of Congress, not the courts. Columnist E.J. Dionne wondered if the oral argument “took place in a courtroom or a lobbyist’s office.”

The Reactionary Five are not lobbyists but they are sleazy politicians. Their conflicts of interest are odious, sullying the integrity of the court.

Yet they steadfastly refuse to recuse themselves while Roberts looks on benignly. Ethical restrictions of lower U.S. judges do not apply to the august Supreme Court.

The flagrant display of bias by the retrograde justices shows their gross insensitivity and the arrogance of their lifetime appointments.

Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas were guests of honor at a fundraising dinner for the right-wing Federalist Society. Next to their table sat Justice Samuel Alito.

Alito appeared twice at fundraisers for the rightist American Spectator magazine. At one Spectator dinner, Alito gave a speech denouncing Vice President Biden in virulent personal terms.

Thomas’ wife, Ginny, accepted huge sums from a Tea Party group devoted to repeal of heath care reform. Thomas failed to report this screaming conflict of interest in his disclosure reports.

Scalia went on a duck-hunting trip with Dick Cheney, former vice president, even though Cheney had a case before the court challenging his secretive Energy Task Force.

These so-called justices ought to be impeached. They are as steeped in politics as was Justice Samuel Chase who was impeached in 1804 for politicking on and off the court.

Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be contacted at jake@unr.edu.
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