Journal: Rolling Stone on Sick and Wrong (Washington Corruption, Health Care Example)

Ethics, Legislation, Media Reports, Reform

Full Story Online
Full Story Online

SICK and WRONG: How Washington is Screwing Up Health Care Reform – and Why It May Take a Revolt to Fix It

Matt Taibbi

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Let’s start with the obvious: America has not only the worst but the dumbest health care system in the developed world. It’s become a black leprosy eating away at the American experiment – a bureaucracy so insipid and mean and illogical that even our darkest criminal minds wouldn’t be equal to dreaming it up on purpose.

The system doesn’t work for anyone. It cheats patients and leaves them to die, denies insurance to 47 million Americans, forces hospitals to spend billions haggling over claims, and systematically bleeds and harasses doctors with the specter of catastrophic litigation. Even as a mechanism for delivering bonuses to insurance-company fat cats, it’s a miserable failure: Greedy insurance bosses who spent a generation denying preventive care to patients now see their profits sapped by millions of customers who enter the system only when they’re sick with incurably expensive illnesses.

The cost of all of this to society, in illness and death and lost productivity and a soaring federal deficit and plain old anxiety and anger, is incalculable – and that’s the good news. The bad news is our failed health care system won’t get fixed, because it exists entirely within the confines of yet another failed system: the political entity known as the United States of America.

Just as we have a medical system that is not really designed to care for the sick, we have a government that is not equipped to fix actual crises. What our government is good at is something else entirely: effecting the appearance of action, while leaving the actual reform behind in a diabolical labyrinth of ingenious legislative maneuvers.  [Emphasis added.]

STEP ONE: AIM LOW

STEP TWO: GUT THE PUBLIC OPTION

STEP THREE: PACK IT WITH LOOPHOLES

STEP FOUR: PROVIDE NO LEADERSHIP

STEP FIVE: BLOW THE MATH

As Rolling Stone’s chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi’s predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O’Rourke. Taibbi’s 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His latest collection is Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire