How Do You Have Freedom If You Don’t Have Healthcare?

Unless it's replaced with something better - like single-payer - repealing Obamacare will make life miserable for millions of Americans.

If Republicans get their way and scrap the healthcare law that is now more popular than ever - these millions of Americans will once again be at the mercy of the insurance companies who see our bodies and our health as nothing more than profit-engines for their shareholders.

This apparently, is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's idea of freedom.

As Ryan put it in a recent tweet, "Freedom is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need. Obamacare is Washington telling you what to buy regardless of your needs." Which is really weird, because having the ability to buy anything you want isn't generally called "freedom" - it's usually referred to as "wealth".

In fact, when it comes to healthcare - the government is the ONLY thing that can make us free.


deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 years 14 weeks ago

When you are independently wealthy, you are free.

Everyone else, well...

Former Rep. Alan Grayson will be forever honored for adding this jewel to the Congressional record:

Here's the Republican two-part plan for those who can't afford expensive healthcare insurance:

1. Don't get sick.

2. If you get sick, die quickly.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 years 14 weeks ago

Obamacare as it was constructed was a disaster and destined to fail from the onset. The states that were smart enough to opt out understood that the Federal support to those states that set up exchanges was going to end after a period of time and the entire burden would be shifted to the taxpayers of that state. The insurance companies that were promised subscribers of all ages were quick to discover that this was another failed government promise and their internal cost increases were passed on to the customer or the insurance company just quit selling in that state altogether.

$12,000 deductibles before any insurance kicks in is becoming the norm. Get a life lefties, this thing stinks like a rotten fish and did nothing but increase paperwork, cause people to lose and be forced to replace their longtime doctor, closed clinics, and many doctors just quit their practice or went to concierge plans where they needed no paperwork and no insurance companies or government agencies need be involved.

This is totally a Democrat party problem and to use Thom's words "look what a mess President Trump inherited".

Bring on the Romneycare comments but be prepared to add the names of all the Republicans that voted for obamacare when the final vote was taken.

Legend 6 years 14 weeks ago

This hits home. My Brother-in-law recently died at 60 years old. He had a successful business for many years that was destroyed by the Bush 2007 depression. A divorce took a lot more based on previous income (alimony). He had to sell his house for a big loss in 2008. With his divorce was a loss of medical insurance covered by his ex-wife's job . In his 50's he could not find work. Tried a couple of business start ups and failed. His health started to fail probably from stress. Lived in Texas which is 1 of 19 Republican governed states that did not expand on Medicare in the ACA. Thus turning down money so that citizens would die. My Brother-in Law was one of the deaths.

Legend 6 years 14 weeks ago

This hits home. My Brother-in-law recently died at 60 years old. He had a successful business for many years that was destroyed by the Bush 2007 depression. A divorce took a lot more based on previous income (alimony). He had to sell his house for a big loss in 2008. With his divorce was a loss of medical insurance covered by his ex-wife's job . In his 50's he could not find work. Tried a couple of business start ups and failed. His health started to fail probably from stress. Lived in Texas which is 1 of 19 Republican governed states that did not expand on Medicare in the ACA. Thus turning down money so that citizens would die. My Brother-in Law was one of the deaths.

kayakersandcat 6 years 14 weeks ago

I was trying to watch tonight's show, but the "rumble" came on and I became so upset by the rightwing asshole that just kept repeating the Republican bullshit about "paid protestors", etc., etc., etc. that I turned it off. I get enough of this everywhere else! I watch Hartman to get the REAL information and discussion of how to address the nightmare we're facing. I'm in such despair over what Trump and his evil minions are doing the last thing I need to see is more of it. I'm afraid there are others like me who will turn away from watching The Big Picture because of this. PLEASE consider replacing this with some other type of segment with people who speak truth, critical thinkers, progressive leaders, etc. Don't waste your time and ours on these rightwing assholes.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 14 weeks ago

Legend: Brainwashed Righties armed with the notion that free market capitalism is the answer to affordable health insurance are indirectly responsible for your relative's death. It's what I call discreet conservative economic violence. Righties whine and cry about frustrated youth protesting Trump by breaking a couple windows and tipping over garbage cans, but conservative economic violence is real.....people die.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 14 weeks ago

Single Payer is the answer, always has been, and will continue to be....the rest of the world got it right.

BTW: Why didn't Obama scream "fake news" about Fox News? That would have been telling the truth. Instead we have to listen to the orange numbnut screaming "fake news" about factual reporting....and then he has the nerve to pull a Kellyanne Conway and refer to a Swedish terrorist incident that never happened. And guess what... he got that info from Fox fake news..LMAO.

j.jonik 6 years 14 weeks ago

ObamaCare (the ACA), RomneyCare, Heritage Foundation Care (generally all the same thing) are really Insurance Industry Care...supported by sold-out "representatives" in both of the bizness-uber-alles parties.

It's not that we'd be thrown back into the clutches of Big Insurance without the ACA...the ACA is itself ABOUT compelling patronage of, or providing no option to, private health insurers. Repugs are just trying to concoct an Insurance Industry system that doesn't have a Democrat African American's name attached to it.

Apparently mainstream "heartland" populations don't know (yet) that "Single Payer" is insurance-industry-free, public-funded, public-administered health care for everyone in the country...even guys sleeping under the bridges...and enormously cheaper than any scheme that involves private, profiteering, utterly unnecessary, middle-man insurance corporations.

For-profit insurers, just incidentally, happen to be multi-Billion dollar investers in (part owners of) the likes of cigarette manufacturers and junk food...not to mention OTHER health-damaging industries like oil, coal, GMOs, chlorine, pesticides, pharms that make tobacco pesticides, military contractors, fracking, and the whole sorry rest. Who, if they knew, would choose such a health insurer?

j.jonik 6 years 14 weeks ago

PS: If public-funded/administered/no profiteering health insurance ever comes to the USA (as it has to so many countries), alternative jobs for insurance employees are readilly available (and sorely needed) in areas of infrastructue maintenance, public transit, rebuilding and staffing public schools, prosecuting industrial polluters, solar and other alternative energy areas, corporate-free public broadcasting, hemp and marijuana agriculture and products, VA and prison health care, and etc.

Palsimon's picture
Palsimon 6 years 14 weeks ago

And yet we still have problems until we get single payer. My article brings up only a few, but commenters bring up even more:

Why r veterans under Affordable Care Act? Article The Urgent Need for Medical Resources |Veterans too? OpEdNews

Comment: Thanks for writing this, Pal. My wife and I are 79 and have the same difficulties here in Fort Worth. I strongly suspect there is fraud in billing medical services too. When a surgeon billed $13,970.30, and Medicare approved $2,363.07, and the surgeon accepted this as payment in full, the surgeon got a tax deduction of $11,697.23. This fraud allows the surgeon to offset the profits he makes on investments this year. This is just one of the surgeon's overbilled surgeries. We are equally frustrated by the paperwork we have to deal with on insurance/tax issues. We feel your frustration and helplessness immensely.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 years 14 weeks ago

A resounding YES to all of the above!

A yea to even Diane (#2) -- that is, if she (unknowingly?) implied that single payer is the way to go, since most of the problems with "Obamacare" that she described are the predictable consequences of corporate-sponsored politicians cynically inserting greedy insurance companies between people and their healthcare providers.

It is so obvious to most everyone that a universal, single-payer system, which excludes the ravenous vultures who feast on sickness and death, is the cheapest and most moral. Only the right-wing fringe of flying monkeys, who get their marching orders from the howling banshees and warlocks inhabiting Lie Lie Land in Corporate World, think it's okay that millions of citizens should suffer ill health needlessly, while tens of thousands die each year, because they can't afford to pay ransom to rich-bastard CEO's and scumbag Wall Street investors for the right to life, health, and happiness.

When Republican politicos bitch and whine about "Obamacare" (a label spit out in vein-popping anger), notice how they always revise the history, misconstrue the facts, and flat out lie about the many positive aspects. Even more telling, notice how in their selfish narrow minds it is always about money, not human beings.

Although the Affordable Care Act has saved millions of lives, it was hugely flawed because Senate Democrats in committee, when negotiating the bill with Republicans, abandoned the public option, which could have easily evolved into universal single-payer once people realized it was cheaper and better than whatever crap private-sector companies were hawking. This major strategic error of omission was at the behest of the insurance industry -- one of the most powerful lobbies of all -- and was also a nod to Republicans who were, and still are, fiercely opposed to "guvmunt-run" insurance.

We'll soon find out what kind of "corporate-run" abortion the lying pricks slap together. If it's anything like the profitized nightmare designed to deny benefits that existed before the Affordable Care Act, it will be too expensive for millions of people, unless it is massively subsidized by taxpayers -- public money that will end up in the private pockets of the investor and donor class of the privileged few, as usual.

When Congress Cons finally scrape up enough votes to "repeal and replace," and their bloodthirsty rampage inevitably leads to millions of sick and unhealthy fellow Americans and almost fifty thousand unnecessary deaths every year, as was the case before the ACA, then they will have solidified their reputation as a gang of goddamn mass murderers -- literally! Voters who lose loved ones will never forget, and neither should anyone else!

On the other hand, if Republicans could ever catch a ray of enlightenment somewhere in their dark hearts to help little people instead of Big Insurance, they might replace "Obamacare" with "Medicare-for-all," from birth to death -- no strings attached to criminal cartels, no holes to plug with spendy supplementals, no mountains of paperwork stamped "CLAIM DENIED!"

Don't hold your breath ... and don't get sick.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 14 weeks ago

You are so wrong with single payer. Canada is the only country in the world that has a true single payer and it is poor at best. Sorry it is good if you have a very minor or very major health issue but if you a serious none life threatening problem you are in for a long wait and a lot of pain. The reason is the same as the US. Healthcare is very expensive world wide. Most healthcare systems worldwide are a combination of private and for profit systems. There has to be some responsibility put on individuals or the systems get abused. I think the best system is you pay for your own insurance but if something catastrophic happens like cancer then the government pool kicks in. this should also be done state by state not nationally. Nationally would be a disaster.

wmleidy's picture
wmleidy 6 years 14 weeks ago

voucherize and privatize, along with tax cuts for the rich are the new republican mantras to shift all risk to working americans.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 6 years 14 weeks ago

kend -- When you say the system will be abused, does that mean people will try to hard to stay healthy?

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 6 years 14 weeks ago

Kend -- That should have been too, not to

GulfTrout's picture
GulfTrout 6 years 14 weeks ago

Trumpty Dumpty built a border wall.

Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall.

Trumpty Dumpty has decided that people don't have to have health insurance if they do not want to. Those suckers who do buy it should be paying for those who don't, according to the Trumpeter.

Its a new story in the news, that's about to have repercussions with the IRS. The Form 1040 line 61 Shared Responsibility Payment is the part of the ACA that peanlizes those without health insurance (for those who opt not to buy Obamacare & consequently risk creating massive amounts of unpaid health care costs). Trumpty Dumpty doesn't think the IRS should still assess it on those who did not claim and pay it. Why should people who claimed the penalty on their tax returns still have to pay it? If not, why not get a refund if you did pay it? How much is this going to cost the IRS, the American taxpayers? Hundreds of millions, onsidering the refunds, the check production, the postage, the employee time, the systems redesigns for auditing, collecting, adjustments,..? What is the ultimate cost? Just one more thing Trumpty Dumpty is doing without considering the repercussions.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 years 14 weeks ago

Kend, quit blowing smoke, eh. Those are all Canuck canards, spoken like a true warrior for the private insurance industry ...or someone who watches too much Fox Faux News.

Evidently, you are the outlier. I happen to live in a popular tourist area on the border and have had the opportunity to speak with many wonderful Canadians from the different provinces over the years. While some have griped about the flaws anecdotally (No system is perfect, and improvements are always works in progress.), not one of them, when asked directly, wanted to replace their coverage with our privatized hell. And that is exactly what all the polls clearly demonstrate.

Those same sentiments are consistent across the board in every Western democracy, except ours, that enjoys whatever universal version has evolved to suit their unique population. It's true there are different combinations of single-payer and private insurance in the various countries, but when it comes to primary healthcare, as opposed to elective secondary healthcare, everyone is guaranteed coverage, the cost is spread out across the whole population, making it much cheaper per individual, and the government heavily regulates the insurance industry and monopolized providers so they can't rip off citizens, which they are wont to do. Unfortunately, these greedy bastards are busily trying to corrupt every nation on Earth; it's a never-ending battle against the forces of evil.

In our country, Medicare -- also a true single-payer program, albeit requiring private supplements to plug the giant holes created by (mostly) Republican puppets to satisfy their masters -- is wildly popular with those actually in the program, both Democrats and Republicans, as opposed to those on the outside who merely philosophize in the abstract. Less hassle, less paperwork, better coverage, and easily affordable, it's a system that runs quite smoothly with only about a three percent overhead. Before the ACA restricted them to twenty percent, which is still ridiculous, the private sector was skimming thirty to forty percent off the top to meet the obscene profit targets that their blood-stained investors demanded.

Furthermore, contrary to right-wing lies, most doctors and other providers readily accept Medicare with no compunction whatsoever. That is the experience of the vast majority of recipients and providers who have been polled about their level of satisfaction, despite the usual grumbling and grousing attributable to human nature over comparatively minor issues.

No matter what logical fallacies industry hacks throw out, there is simply no good reason to place extraneous profit-takers between a sick person and a provider. These vampire greed-mongers, who themselves provide not even one bandage, are nothing but low-life money changers who suck blood out of the system by overcharging for premiums and denying claims, which has led to the needless deaths of millions over the decades.

My own mother died too young because she didn't have adequate coverage for regular checkups and follow-ups that might have caught her cancer at a curable stage and the family couldn't afford the astronomic cost of belated treatments. So please restrain your arrogance, and don't preach to us -- given that U.S. citizens have long suffered a sad history under an unworkable, profitized healthcare jungle!

By contrast, in your own nation's history, as you should well know, Tommy Douglas, a social democrat like Bernie, was the first politician in our hemisphere who fought for and won a single-payer system, which covered everybody in Saskatchewan. It soon spread like a prairie fire to the other provinces and became the model for your national system. Largely because of this very important issue and his tenacity to do what was right for the people, this great man is one of Canada's most beloved heroes.

Whereas, we have Junkfood Pussgut, Paul Puppydog, and Mitch McTurtle to light our way ...backwards.'s picture
randolphgarriso... 6 years 14 weeks ago

Your comments show your lack of knowledge of the history of this ACA.

First it was originally a republican party plan, mostly just to get votes, but was set aside. The democrats picked it up and started pushing it. The republicans insisted on making a few needed changes. The things that would make it start be costly slowly, they are good at that.

So now that millions of people are dependent on the ACA to stay alive and the total commitment of the corrupt republicans to try 52 times to kill it, will take themselves with it.'s picture
randolphgarriso... 6 years 14 weeks ago

To ensure the republicans understanding we need to take burning torches and pitchforks to the town hall meetings. Give them a real reason for running away.'s picture
randolphgarriso... 6 years 14 weeks ago

The republicans have been working since before Ronald Reagan to ensure the middle class is kept poor and obedient. If things had gone as they should have everyone would be living more like the jetsons than the flintstones.

They self proclaimed task masters have decided the AI's will replace the common worker, as they can work 24/7 365 days and not complain. I wonder if they know about the ghost in the machine?

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 years 14 weeks ago

Hi Randolph. Haha, I'm not sure if you were addressing Kend or me. Either way, you made good points.

The history of the ACA, of course, has many subtleties, which are too involved to expound upon in a blog post. Suffice it to say that my limited understanding of the subject is derived only from memory and an acute interest in witnessing this pivotal event as it happened, since Max Baucus was my Senator at the time and the committee chairman.

In spite of being a corporate Democrat, he accomplished many good things for the people in his long career; however, in this particular battle, he sold us out with a nod from Obama. To keep the insurance companies (Baucus' principle donors) on board, and in the naive hope to garner more support from the Republicans on the committee for the final vote, Baucus and Obama compromised too much by opposing the public option, which was the principal issue for progressive Democrats, who protested mightily.

Establishment Democrats were fools for their misplaced trust and the Republicans were back-stabbers for reneging on their already meager support. The Cons abused the process by holding out a carrot while suckering the Dems into accepting every poison pill and time bomb they could possibly sneak into the final bill. They were committed from the very beginning to make Obama fail at absolutely every initiative he would ever attempt, especially "Obamacare." (Read, "When the Tea Party Came to Town" by Robert Draper.)

Since the ACA has many bastardized parts adopted from the conflicted ideas of both parties, the history is very complicated. Some of the key components, for sure, were primarily Republican, hatched in the Heritage Foundation, such as the individual mandate and ensuring profits for the private sector through a combination of employer and individual premiums, along with vouchers and certain other indirect government subsidies. Nixon tried his own version but was stymied by Ed Kennedy who was holding out for his version of single-player, which never succeeded either.

Republican efforts at so-called "reform" eventually petered out for lack of support from their own members. Romney, however, succeeded in Massachusetts by incorporating certain Heritage Foundation concepts. Single-payer efforts by Democrats go all the way back to the Truman Administration and are equally complex.

Legend 6 years 14 weeks ago

You will never get reasonable cost health insurance as long as the health costs are as high as they are and increasing at a rapid rate. Simple procedures can cost thousands of dollars. I suggest medical Tourism. Leave this country and get reasonably priced healthcare. Airfare and hotel becomes a minor part of the cost.*

I would like to see countries like Panama start advertising on TV. That would wake up the AMA. Our Senate recently upheld a law preventing the import of pharmacuticals. If you have expensive drugs go to another country and get them. Make it a vacation. The same is true for dental costs.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 years 14 weeks ago

As Thom has so often suggested, there is always the option of becoming an expat.

k. allen's picture
k. allen 6 years 14 weeks ago

That's a neat site, Diane, for those who can do it - even for those who simply want to travel and see the world - even so, you need a source of income and some stability to move about that freely.

A lot of people can't afford to move to a different neighborhood ((until forced to move on, by economic development.)) I figure, if I'm lucky and blessed enough to have a home, my priority would be to take care of it.

I live close to where I was born - a place so beautiful, everyone wants to live here ... where the sun rises ((and sets)) over snow capped mountains with forested hills and mist shrouded valleys with orchards and fields, rivers and streams ... once owned by Japanese farmers, seized during WWII ...

And now, the natural wonder and glory of this place is laced and bedecked with highways chock full of cars. Parking lots, shopping malls, gas stations, convenience stores, housing developments - and lots of folks with no home to go to, too - and so many people racing every which way ... an industrial hub, it is a cornucopia of change.

Oh, and don't forget the fast food chains, and coffee shops, too.

I love this place. I feel, if I have that kind of choice in the first place, I would rather stay home and keep working for health and peace in this world of quantum change ... where I know my way around, and have a legal right to be ((which, as it turns out, does make a difference.))

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 14 weeks ago

Deepspace, of course as a Canadian I would prefer our system over the US one. The US system appears to be broken. If you have wealth it is the best system in the world if you don't it is the worst. You should take Tommy's advice and create a state by state system it is much easier to implement. To me all of our problems implementing healthcare are because no one will talk about the true cost of healthcare. To have the single payer system you want be prepared to see your personal taxes increase at least 20 %. Be prepared to see your standard of living to drop drastically. Be prepared to have a massive "sin" tax, alcohol, cigs, hotels, flights, etc costs will triple. My same CC whiskey is $68 in Canada and $16 in AZ. Of course I would rather pay more for whiskey to give everyone good healthcare. But be honest to everyone who is going to pick up the tab. That is your average everyday middle class worker. That Ia why Obamacare is failing. The middle class person struggling to get by wasn't prepared for their massive increases to subsidize those who are less fortunate. If conservatives and liberals could just quit attacking each other for a second and find a solution in the middle that everyone could agree on we all win. This all or nothing approach will never work. Sorry about your loss. I lost my mom to cancer as well. Wonder if they are up there arguing like us.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 years 14 weeks ago

Hey Kend. Sorry for your loss too. Cancer is a tough one.

Ha, yeah, my mom had a strong spirit and was always ready to speak her mind and argue with anyone, but in a friendly and humorous way (unlike me). They're probably both keeping up the good fight, looking down at us and laughing.

You, Legend, and many others are right, no matter what healthcare system a country ends up with, the cost of the care is the number one problem for everyone involved -- patient, provider, insurance, taxpayer, consumer, government. As you know, in the U.S. the price of almost everything in the health industry is rising something like three times as fast as the average inflation rate of the economy in general.

A lot of tough choices and no easy answers.

I agree that given our political climate it's probably a bridge too far to expect a workable national plan that can cover everyone without being outrageously expensive. California is getting serious about it and may come up with something that could be a model for other states to adopt -- a universal, single-payer system that spreads the cost of premiums over the whole population in the form of payroll deductions that would go into a not-for-profit state program rather than into the coffers of for-profit private insurance companies. People could still purchase private insurance for extra goodies and non-essential secondary care, etc. Oregon and Washington may soon follow, possibly others when they see how it works.

Still, whether it's state by state or national, somehow politicians and industry leaders will have to figure out how to rein in the costs, which means someone besides the little people must bite the bullet and learn the virtues of austerity. Eliminating, or at least capping off, the banksters and greed-heads on Wall Sreet, in the insurance industry, big pharma, medical equipment and supply chains, and the out-of-control, for-profit monopoly hospitals and physician associations would be a good place to start. As you said, people on both sides of the aisle need to come together to find a viable solution, perhaps rediscover the right balance between free enterprise and the commons, just as the founders of our countries tried to do.

Coming to grips with the larger picture in the United States means that concerned citizens must ask fundamental questions. What is the purpose of government, to help the many or just the few? Does the economy work for us, or do we work for it -- is it nothing but a mindless machine that only benefits the operators pulling the levers at the top? What are our spending priorities, to squander blood and treasure in the endless wars of a world-wide military empire -- neoliberalism bordering on fascism -- that is stealing power and wealth from the People and building a modern feudal realm of kings and queens, landlords and serfs?

Good sparring with you, Kend. Trump isn't ready to invade Canada and topple Trudeau just yet. But keep an eye on his tweets...

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 14 weeks ago

Deepspace don't forget what separates Americans from the rest of the world, your stupid lawsuits. It cost the end user a fortune. There needs to be a lot more talk about it.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 years 14 weeks ago

Well, it depends on who is suing who for what and why.

The knife cuts both ways.

For instance, Mike Papantonio sued the tobacco industry in the infamous landmark case that forced them to quit lying, acknowledge the science, place warnings on their products, and cease advertising to children, etc. That action has saved thousands if not millions of lives and greatly reduced the burden on the healthcare system.

He, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and other ethical lawyers have also sued medical equipment providers and pharmaceutical firms for deliberately selling products that top management knew were lethal to large percentages of patients or caused life-long illnesses. These murderous bastards put profits over people and increased the patient load by leaps and bounds.

Exxon Mobile knowingly lied for decades even after their own scientists proved beyond a doubt that burning fossil fuels causes global warning, terrible cancers, and poisons the air, land, and water everywhere. Think how all those negative effects ring up the cash registers in the doctors' offices and hospitals. That company screams out to be sued, and its den of thieves and killers need to have their asses dragged into court, found guilty, and thrown into the deepest, darkest dungeons.

Instead, their former CEO was crowned Secretary of State.

The biggest abusers of our judicial system are not little people at the bottom initiating frivolous lawsuits -- those idiots are usually weeded out pretty fast; it's the millionaires and billionaires milking their mega-corporate cash cows, assholes who sue anyone at the drop of a hat and clog up the courts with mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and restructuring -- all on the taxpayers' dime!

For instance, His Majesty, Trump the Faker, declared bankruptcy six times, screwing over lenders, investors, city governments, the IRS (He never paid any personal income taxes for almost a decade and called it "genius."), contractors, and workers, all the while living the life of a spoiled playboy and grabbing pussy. To date, he has been involved in at least 4,000 lawsuits, and counting, either as a defendant or as a plaintiff -- mostly because he was cheating people out of money.

And yet, on January 20, 2017 -- a day that will live in infamy -- he was crowned as the king ...of the swamp.

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