Interview with Dennis Kucinich from Raw Story:
Following President Obama’s Wednesday night address on health care reform before a joint session of Congress, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) was interviewed by Jack Rice of Talk Radio/Talk Media News Service.
Kucinich, who has been a leading proponent of a single-payer system in which the government provides health insurance for all Americans, praised the president for giving a “great speech” but saw nothing to get excited about in the details of Obama’s proposals.
“Private insurance companies are going to get at least 30 million new customers mandated,” Kucinich told the interviewer. “We’re investing in the wrong people. … The insurance companies are being given a huge break. The pharmaceutical companies are getting a windfall. … We ought to be mindful of the concerns of the American people and not the concerns of the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies.”
Kucinich also worries that “the costs are not going to be sustainable” and that “a year or two after this program starts, we’ll be back at the problem where people are having trouble paying for their health insurance, having trouble with their copays and deductibles.”
“The system that we have now is wrong,” Kucinich concludes. “There’s an underlying fault with this for-profit system. … I’m not very optimistic at this point based on what I heard tonight.”
RICE: Obviously you had a chance to watch the president’s speech this evening. It seems that there are some people on the left who are happy with this. There are some people on the left who are not happy with this. It seems Republicans — none of them were happy with this. Tell me, where are you?
KUCINICH: Well, the president gave a great speech. No one gives a better speech that President Barack Obama. But when you look at the details of the speech, private insurance companies are going to get at least 30 million new customers mandated. People will have to buy private insurance — first time that’s happened in the history of America. And the government is going to subsidize those people who can’t afford it.
Now, what this means is inevitably the money’s going to go over to the insurance companies. We’re investing in the wrong people. We should be investing in a system where people have not just basic health care, but where they have vision care, dental care, mental health care, prescription drug, long term care covered. We could do that with the system we have right now.
Instead, the insurance companies are being given a huge break. The pharmaceutical companies are getting a windfall because we still haven’t dealt with the Medicare Part D problem, where the government doesn’t negotiate a price with the pharmaceutical companies for this program like Veterans does and knocks down the price of pharmaceuticals.
RICE: With all of that, then, is this reform that’s even reform, or is this sort of the socialization for the corporatization. You know what I mean?
KUCINICH: Well, here. Let’s look at what happened. Wall Street created a crash — the government came back and gave Wall Street trillions of dollars. We rewarded the bad actors. The insurance companies have driven up the cost of health care with the premiums, the copays and deductibles that have wrecked the family budgets. They’re being rewarded.
It’s just the way our system works, but it’s the wrong approach, and we’re rewarding the wrong people, we’re investing in the wrong people. We ought to be mindful of the concerns of the American people and not the concerns of the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies. They’re still in the game, and frankly with this bill, looks like they’re — they’re pretty much the game.
RICE: Now, we could have gone Medicare For All. We backed away from it. Matter of fact, we tossed it out the window. We could have gone with the public option, and it also seems President Obama’s backing away from that. And now we have co-ops, and he seems to be — well, who knows where he is with that issue. In the end, is there going to be any reform here that’s worth reform, or is it just reform in name only?
KUCINICH: What we know is that the insurance companies are going to get a windfall, because it’s mandated that people have to buy private insurance. It’s not like auto insurance, though, because people may have an accident once in a lifetime, but they could get sick several times. The costs are not going to be sustainable. Inevitably, you’ll be talking about cutting benefits to people. This system is another — it’s a bailout for insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.
And I don’t know how in the long term — there might be some short term benefit when it starts, but inevitably you’re looking at a decline here. And we’ll be here again, mark my words. You know, a year or two after this program starts, we’ll be back at the problem where people are having trouble paying for their health insurance, having trouble with their copays and deductibles.
The system that we have now is wrong. There’s an underlying fault with this for-profit system, and as long as we have this system that is now getting more money and profits will be further fueled, we’re looking at an inevitable demise of the public interest.
RICE: One last question, Congressman. Based upon what you’re saying so far, will you vote against this system, this new bill if it ever comes before you.
KUCINICH: Well, as we learned from a few months ago, there is no telling what is going to come to us. I’m not very optimistic at this point based on what I heard tonight. And I’m not saying it’s my way or the highway. Yes, I’m the co-author of a bill for single payer. And that’s going to take a national movement that could take years to bring about. And it would be good if we made progress in the direction of trying to find a way to help people to survive in this economy. I think a bill that gives broad subsidies to insurance and pharmaceutical interests is a problem.