State

Big business behind recent big rate hikes

In cobbling together the broad-based coalition that rammed health reform though Congress earlier this year, President Barack Obama and his advisers ignored the sage of advice of an old Indian proverb.

"When you invite the tiger to dinner, always remember that the tiger gets to decide what's on the menu."

Big Insurance and Big Pharma -- the two greediest and most parasitical players in America's healthcare sector -- cynically spent millions on ad campaigns supporting Obamacare because they realized they would reap billions of dollars on the fuller coverage mandated by the omnibus package.

Gone with the wind are their protestations of undying trust in the free market system. In making cause with Big Insurance and Big Pharma, Obama betrayed the progressives who were his base constituency and destroyed the longstanding dream of a rational, single-payer, government-run medical system similar to those in Canada and most of Europe.

Already a number of major U.S. insurers -- Aetna and BlueCross BlueShield among them -- are announcing major increases of more than 9 percent and blaming it onObamacare.

Surely this is an act of clairvoyance that exceeds that of the Amazing Kreskin, since most of the act's mandates don't take effect for several years and federal bureaucrats are still puzzling over how to craft regulations for the ones that do.

By engaging with the private insurers against the advice of such past Democratic legends as FDR and Harry Truman, Obama has assured himself even more insurance price hikes in the near future.

In the meantime, Democratic congressional candidates -- seemingly masters of all they surveyed less than two years ago -- now are in full and panicked retreat like Napoleon's Grande Armée from the gates of Moscow.

Republicans -- like so many opportunistic Cossacks -- will fall on the laggards with a vengeance Nov. 2. Even with a few bizarre tea-partiers in its ranks, the GOP is a good bet to recapture the House of Representatives and come close enough in the Senate to derail spending appropriations for Obamacare's major provisions.

Had the Democrats pressed for single-payer while they had a staggering majority they likely could have avoided all of this.

From a Canadian perspective, they might be far happier if they had. Yes, the Canadian system has some major flaws, but most of the country's 34 million inhabitants seem relatively happy with it. It provides all the necessities, but few of the expensive frills of the American system.

Then again most Canadians are hardy enough souls that they have no desire to cling to a life that is not really living. What could be more horrendous than to be kept alive for a few more months by excruciatingly painful operations that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars? What could be more undignified at the end of the life than to have a nursing-care attendant wake you up to wipe dribble from your chin? And what could be more heartrending than have your family and loved ones see you in such a pathetic condition?

Suck it up, America! By the time the Obamacare disaster craps out, you're going to have to.

Kipling is a veteran Canadian journalist based in Washington, D.C. E-mail him at kipling.news@verizon.net.

McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE

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