Last updated: February 16. 2013 4:21AM - 445 Views

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Progressives must abandon their rhetoric about the simple humanity of health care reform.


That "bleeding heart" stuff is falling on deaf ears. They're singing to the choir. The notion that a nation that dares to call itself "great" should consider health care as a "right" and not a "privilege," while it is music to my left ear, is lost in today's dog-eat-dog America.


So let's give them a Milk-bone dose of reality. Put the ball in the regressives' court and talk some hard core business, the stark balance sheet reality of our crazy employer-based system.


The conservative approach is to embrace the status quo, deride reform as "socialism" and protect a system under which a handful of people make millions, business is mugged by premiums, and wages remain stagnant.


In 2011 it cost an average of $15,073 a year for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Foundation. That's up 113 percent from 2001. And you wonder why you're not getting a raise?


Worker contribution is up 131 percent, from $1,787 in 2001 to $4,129 in 2011.


Ironically, the employer-pay system, born of the labor movement, is defended by the Republican party. Do you really think the GOP likes it because it is good for workers? Or is it good for the oligarchs who have taken it over?


My all-star oligarch, the Peyton Manning of "Team Oligopoly," is Stephen Hemsley, the CEO of UnitedHealth Group. Hemsley made $101.96 million in 2010. In 2011 he was named the highest paid CEO by Forbes. Hemsley's 2012 compensation was estimated by Forbes at $48.8 million. Whoa, gonna be a bad year, buddy.


You would think Hemsley was a health care wizard to get that gaudy compensation. Actually, he's new to the business. He is the former CEO of Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm that imploded when one of its clients, Enron, that Texas tea pot of thieves, was caught running the biggest scam in history.


Hemsley's reward for that stellar accounting job at Arthur Anderson was the most lucrative plum in corporate America. He must have done right by somebody.


But Hemsley isn't the only one doing well. Here are some other pay stubs from 2009.


Aetna - Ronald A. Williams: $18,058,162


Coventry - Allen Wise: $17,427,789


WellPoint - Angela Braly: $13,108,198


Cigna - H. Edward Hanway: $18,800,000


These "middle men" control the money, the costs and the insane bureaucracy in the medical field. On the other side of that coin, Medicare, the "socialist" counterpart to insurance companies, operates at a two percent overhead. That wouldn't cover the country club dues of the insurance executives.


Unfortunately, the insurance oligarchy spends so much on lobbying they own Congress.


To add insult to injury, thanks to the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision, the money will flow like a busted aorta into our politics to attack reform, and Obama, this year.


Health care in America is a failed product. The failure is not with our hospitals, universities, or health care professionals. The failure is in the way we pay for something we all need, by filtering all that cash through an insurance industry that takes a bigger cut than a loan shark.


Of course, hypocrisy is blooming like cherry blossoms in Washington DC as Republicans decry the "individual mandate" called for in Obama's healthcare reform. The mandate, in reality, is a Republican idea, spawned at the conservative Heritage Foundation in the 90s in response to Hillary Clinton's single payer plan as a way to keep that lucrative business for the insurance industry.


President Obama has faced all these obstacles, including the misuse of the Senate filibuster, without his prime supporter, Ted Kennedy, but I give him credit for loyalty, for keeping the dream alive by moving the ball forward. But now we are in danger of losing even minimal reforms and a long way from the only real solution, a single payer system, under which, as Bill Clinton said, a company "would no longer have a reason not to hire you."


Come on Progressives, let's take it to them on the court of business facts, common sense and fair play.


In order to move forward, to paraphrase John Lennon, we have to know which way we are facing.

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