Liar, Liar … Well, Healthcare Pants on Fire

By Donna Smith –

So, we’ve been told over and over again that under the healthcare reform plans currently defended and pushed by the President and Congress that we can keep what we’ve got if we like it. No one will take your health insurance bennies away. Not under our employer-based, for-profit system.

Well, tell that to the latest batch of employees in Chicago to have their insurance benefits cut right out from under them – they sure didn’t get to keep what they had.

The workers at SK Tools had no choice. Their health insurance benefits were cancelled. Sick family member? Too damn bad. Need a doctor. Tough luck. The company representatives say the recession has hurt them, and they have no choice. The company is also asking for 20 percent cuts in hourly wages. Wow.

Now, the workers have voted to strike. And there will perhaps be some resolution for this bunch of employees. Folks will cry out, perhaps even President Obama will step in, and this situation will probably get resolved – though folks will suffer in the interim.

But the larger issue remains. Just how gullible are we when we trust that any private company will be forced to keep any benefit plan it chooses not to keep?

Employers will still be able to change up healthcare plans to meet the company’s needs – and if that means you have to see another doctor or pay a higher co-pay or drive to a more distant in-network provider, that will not be your decision. And health insurance companies will still be able to change their provider lists and covered services and all sorts of other things without any input from policyholders.

So, America, it just isn’t true that you can keep what you have if you like it when it comes to private, employer-based healthcare benefits. It’s a big, fat lie. And the company noted in the article above provides but one example. There will be many more.

The House bill on healthcare reform, the Senate plan for healthcare reform and the President’s plan for healthcare reform – none of these actually guarantee that you can keep what you have if you like it, because tomorrow your employer or your insurance company may change what you like to suit their bottom line. That’s the truth.

If this big lie about healthcare reform rolls off their messaging engines like melting butter on a warm slice of bread, what else do you suppose they are lying about? Come on. Get real. We won’t have what we want in terms of truly having the freedom to choose and keep or change our doctors, our providers and our own treatments until we break free from the lies and produce reform that guarantees a progressively financed, single high-quality standard of care for everybody. Everybody in, nobody out.

Then you can keep what you like. Your choices. Your decisions. Your health. Your healthcare. Your money. Period.

It’s not just the right-wing selling myths in this discussion. We need to admit that and work to be as honest as we can. Too many lives depend on this. There will be no death panels to order Grandma’s demise, but there are also no guarantees that you can keep what you have if you like it under this system. Both things are lies.

We can provide one another the healthcare security that we’re being misled to believe is in the current reform plans. But we will have to help our fellow Americans to understand that a publicly financed, privately delivered healthcare system – like Medicare – for all of us is the most reasoned, most economical and most freedom-protecting choice.

And that’s the truth.

Donna Smith is a community organizer for the California Nurses Association and National Co-Chair for the Progressive Democrats of America Healthcare Not Warfare campaign.


  1. Curtis Jackson on August 29, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Hopefully the discussion lasts not much longer and will reach areult everyone is content with.

  2. Dave R. on August 31, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Your article “sounds nice”, but you’re ignoring the obvious.
    For one, you fail to mention the problems with “socialized and nationalized” medicine programs in other countries. This type of “single payer” system has not only led to long waiting lines (i.e. rationed care), but also provided dis-incentives for newer medical technologies and research in those countries (after all, why would a doctor who’s going to get a fixed payment from the government want to improve medical technologies?) If you care to study US History a bit, you will find that CAPITALISM (not SOCIALIST POLICIES) is what has fueled the growth in this country. And finally, I’m tired of these “progressive financed” programs ….we can’t be a “welfare-state” forever…it just won’t work in the long-term !

  3. Nightwish1 on August 31, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Dave R.

    You have been seriously mislead. Universal healthcare is this country’s only hope now. As for Capitalism, this presents not only choice, but competition. Isn’t that what Capitalism is about? If the healthcare insurance industry fails because everyone GOES TO (not forced) the universal plan, then it obviously couldn’t compete, because profit overshadowed the single reason they exist in the first place, to help the people. They are not doing that now. How can you support this?

    Remove the politics, and you will see the truth.

  4. Doug Gerash on August 31, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Republicans need healthcare, too.