How Much Money is Worth Killing 212,000 Americans in a Single Year?
If saving trillions of dollars and millions of lives isn’t enough to end political bribery in America, what will it take?
Monday, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Lindsey Graham had a debate on Fox Nation. Sanders asked:
“In the United States, Lindsey, we spend twice as much per capita on health care compared to the people of any other country, while major countries like Canada, the U.K., Germany manage to supply health care to all their people. Why is that?”
The simple answer is the same reason we have an ongoing climate crisis and a student loan crisis that Republicans refuse to let Congress address: the legal bribery of politicians like Lindsey Graham.
How much money would it take to bribe you to help kill 212,000 Americans in a single year?
What size incentive would cause you to assist in the theft of $543.6 billion?
It’s a serious question. These are real numbers. The bribery is real, the deaths are real, the thefts from the American people — most extracted from individual families — are real.
There are real people — American lobbyists — offering the bribes, and real people — American legislators — taking the bribes to make choices that killed 212,000 Americans in 2020 while picking over $543 billion from our pockets.
According to Open Secrets, the amount spent just last year bribing Congress to keep our healthcare system in place was $689,466,798.00. Almost three-quarters of a billion dollars.
In exchange, the health insurance industry took home $19 billion in profits last year, hospitals took home over $70 billion in profits, and the pharmaceutical industry made similarly huge profits last year: at least $100 billion.
And that was after each of these three industries — that have a stake in keeping our healthcare system as broken and dysfunctional as possible — had handed out billions in compensation to their senior executives and board members. Not to mention stockholder dividends.
So the healthcare industry made out well. Its executives are buying third and fourth mansions in the Swiss alps. It’s lobbyists are enjoying $3000 bottles of wine with dinner. And the politicians it owns are becoming multimillionaires.
In every other developed country in the world, a national healthcare system helps keep costs in line, be they hospital or pharmaceutical.
Health insurance in other nations is a marginal business around the edges used almost exclusively by the very wealthy to get private air ambulances and luxury suites in hospitals.
Drugs cost as little as a tenth of what they do here, and everybody in the other developed nations has health coverage.
Last year over 500,000 families were destroyed by bankruptcies caused by a family member getting sick: every single one was in the USA. This is an unknown “problem” in every other developed nation on planet Earth.
But how are Americans doing?
A new peer-reviewed study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences lays out a damning picture of the damage caused by the roughly $700 million a year the healthcare industry uses to bribe American legislators.
“[W]e estimated,” the study’s authors say in the study’s abstract, “that a single-payer universal healthcare system would have saved about 212,000 lives in 2020 alone.
“We also calculated that US$105.6 billion of medical expenses associated with COVID-19 hospitalization could have been averted by a single-payer universal healthcare system over the course of the pandemic.
“These economic benefits are in addition to US$438 billion expected to be saved by single-payer universal healthcare during a non-pandemic year.”
Since five corrupt Republicans on the Supreme Court legalized bribery of politicians in a shocking series of decisions with no parallel anywhere else in the developed world, Democrats have tried repeatedly to end this deadly rip-off.
In April of 1976 — the year of the Supreme Court’s first decision legalizing bribery of politicians (and only of politicians) — Presidential front-runner Jimmy Carter proposed a national health insurance system. As president, he faced fierce resistance from paid-off politicians — most but not all Republicans — and ended up settling for small changes around the edges.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton tried again to extend health coverage to all Americans and rein in costs with a national system. He, too, failed to overcome opposition from the industry and their bribed politicians.
President Barack Obama campaigned on a single-payer universal system like Canada has but had to settle for the Affordable Care Act because of the $1,182,070 the health insurance industry had given Senator Joe Lieberman (in addition to millions to virtually all the Republicans). Obamacare, particularly after 5 Republicans on the Supreme Court gutted its Medicaid expansion provision, turned out to be a trillion-dollar gift to the insurance and drug industries.
The bribes are so extensive, so widespread, so lavish that President Biden hasn’t yet even seriously brought up the topic of Medicare For All or something like it.
Our healthcare system let over 200,000 Americans die in 2020 just to preserve its profits. It handed part of those profits to politicians to keep the system in place. And, somehow, those politicians sleep at night and can look themselves in the mirror.
A national single-payer healthcare system would save us trillions of dollars and millions of lives every decade. It’s opposed by every single elected Republican and a handful of Democrats: every one of them on the take to keep things the way they are.
If saving trillions of dollars and millions of lives lives isn’t enough to end political bribery in America, what will it take?
Great headline to a great column, Mr. Hartmann. I was "fortunate" to get SSDI (disability benefits) in 2007 when I was hit by a genetic liver disease (nope, not an alcoholic) in 2005. Yes, I got the benefits - mostly! - but the Medicare part didn't begin till TWO YEARS LATER. Why in the world would I not receive what I needed most - help paying my already growing medical costs? To apply for the benefits, I had to have a diagnosis already - I did, and that took 8 months to figure out. Why is the United States the stingiest country on the planet with healthcare. I have a good friend in Germany who gets visits from his DOCTOR at home when he gets sick, because he is disabled. Mean mean mean.
Do we really just revolve around MONEY AND BRIBES? That is sick sick sick. Thank you for this column today!!!!
More evidence that the US is a plutocracy, run by corporations and billionaires!