Bill Maher's New Rules: Profits and Healthcare

Bill Maher has another outstanding show on HBO last night and his New Rules segment commentary was especially noteworthy (Steven Greenhut..this should be required reading for you!).

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download There Will Be Blood Excerpts from the commentary:

How about this for a New Rule: Not everything in America has to make a profit. It used to be that there were some services and institutions so vital to our nation that they were exempt from market pressures. Some things we just didn’t do for money. The United States always defined capitalism, but it didn’t used to define us. But now it’s becoming all that we are.

Did you know, for example, that there was a time when being called a “war profiteer” was a bad thing? But now our war zones are dominated by private contractors and mercenaries who work for corporations. There are more private contractors in Iraq than American troops, and we pay them generous salaries to do jobs the troops used to do for themselves ­– like laundry. War is not supposed to turn a profit, but our wars have become boondoggles for weapons manufacturers and connected civilian contractors.

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And finally, there’s health care. It wasn’t that long ago that when a kid broke his leg playing stickball, his parents took him to the local Catholic hospital, the nun put a thermometer in his mouth, the doctor slapped some plaster on his ankle and you were done. The bill was $1.50, plus you got to keep the thermometer.

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But like everything else that’s good and noble in life, some Wall Street wizard decided that hospitals could be big business, so now they’re run by some bean counters in a corporate plaza in Charlotte. In the U.S. today, three giant for-profit conglomerates own close to 600 hospitals and other health care facilities. They’re not hospitals anymore; they’re Jiffy Lubes with bedpans. America’s largest hospital chain, HCA, was founded by the family of Bill Frist, who perfectly represents the Republican attitude toward health care: it’s not a right, it’s a racket. The more people who get sick and need medicine, the higher their profit margins. Which is why they’re always pushing the Jell-O.

Because medicine is now for-profit we have things like “recision,” where insurance companies hire people to figure out ways to deny you coverage when you get sick, even though you’ve been paying into your plan for years.

When did the profit motive become the only reason to do anything? When did that become the new patriotism? Ask not what you could do for your country, ask what’s in it for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

If conservatives get to call universal health care “socialized medicine,” I get to call private health care “soulless vampires making money off human pain.” The problem with President Obama’s health care plan isn’t socialism, it’s capitalism.

  5 comments for “Bill Maher's New Rules: Profits and Healthcare

  1. July 25, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Great post Dan.

  2. Mrs. Robles
    July 28, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    If I could have put my frustration into words … the words in this article would be them!

  3. Jason
    July 29, 2009 at 8:34 am


    Here’s an idea. You should lead the charge on this and volunteer to work at your job for free.

    What’s that? Ah didn’t think so…

    • July 29, 2009 at 9:05 am

      Jason —
      I actually do a considerable amount of pro bono work and volunteer in community organizations. You’ll have to do better than that.

  4. alex lyrics
    August 10, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    These Republicans are using the same scare tactic, to promote fear in Americans the same way they duped American people into going to war with a country that had nothing to do with 911 terror attacks.

    When are American people going to stop listening to these people? These republicans feed and grow off of these doctors and pharmaceutical companies, and insurance groups who are clearly fighting for their lives.
    American people need to pay attention, a man once told me follow the money trail, and you will see the answer and motivation for stopping this national healthcare.

    Last night I heard some one say, why would people want to stop poor Americans from having basic healthcare?

    The plain fact of the matter is that we have been at war for almost 10 years, and the nation is mad as hell. It shows we have been on a witch-hunt on everyone from congressmen, to corporations, to bankers, to car manufacturers. Perhaps our anger has helped expose our nations corruption, and perhaps this was a good thing, but when we turn to our nations elderly, and poor without healthcare something’s terribly wrong.

    When we say screw those people and only think of ourselves, we are abandoning the great American hope for equality and freedom, and prosperity for all. Every citizen has the right to a dream in this country, and we are leaving our nations low income and poor without healthcare. Who are we? Barbarians?

    This plan could save $170 billion per year and we need that to come out of this recession, or more like depression. It makes me sick to hear just how bias, and self centered we are and have become on this issue. This has all come out of fear, the same republican fear the republican party used to get us into two wars, wars which no doubt caused this entire financial mess. The republicans are responsible for this healthcare mess, the gas hikes, and the electric Enron madness, the Wall Street crumble, and wounded soldiers, and veteran mess we have now to clean up.

    I ask Americans to follow the money trail, and don’t listen to these republicans who created this entire mess over fear. “You have nothing to fear but fear itself. ”

    We have a system of government where we can legally vote; if this healthcare doesn’t work or needs to be modified trust in ourselves as decent Americans to change it.

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