Dennis Kucinich Explains Why He Voted No On Affordable Health Care for America Act

Cleveland area Congressman Dennis Kucinich has long been one of the strongest voices for health care for all but was one of 36 Democrats who voted no on H.R. 3962 the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Kucinich explained his "no" vote on his website that read:

After voting against H.R. 3962 - Affordable Health Care for America Act, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:

“We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.

“Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.

“But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies — a bailout under a blue cross.

“By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress’ blog, Think Progress, states “since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise.” Similarly, healthcare stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that “money will start flowing in again” to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. Investors.com last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy.

“During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The “robust public option” which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.

“Recent rises in unemployment indicate a widening separation between the finance economy and the real economy. The finance economy considers the health of Wall Street, rising corporate profits, and banks’ hoarding of cash, much of it from taxpayers, as sign of an economic recovery. However in the real economy -- in which most Americans live -- the recession is not over. Rising unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures are still hammering Main Street.

“This health care bill continues the redistribution of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of America’s manufacturing and service economies which suffer from costs other countries do not have to bear, especially the cost of health care. America continues to stand out among all industrialized nations for its privatized health care system. As a result, we are less competitive in steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping while other countries subsidize their exports in these areas through socializing the cost of health care.

“Notwithstanding the fate of H.R. 3962, America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America’s businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals.”

Comments

I understand with your reasoning and with eliminating private health insurance altogether. But isn't this bill that passed better than nothing? Isn't it at least a beginning from which to build to single-payer? You knew single-payer was never going to pass - not this year, but why thumb your nose at anything else that may help others who need a public option?

Why stop at 'single payer'? Why not 'single provider' as well?

Single Provider has no competition. Single Payer allows the patient to shop around for the best Doctor, or Hospital, with the Best Price. This is actual competition.
The current system is only competitive for insurance companies and employers, as profit and cost goes. Patients only get in the way of insurance profit. Insurance companies make the most money when you die the first time you get sick. If the law allows them to drop you, they will.
As far as Job lose goes. Companies don't ship jobs over seas because of Taxes, they leave because health care costs don't exist anywhere but the US.

The bill definitely is not "better than nothing." First, it deludes much of the public into thinking that a positive reform has actually passed, when the real difference now is that everyone who didn't have a plan before is now forced to buy a plan. Second, this bill included massive cuts to Medicare, to the tune of half a trillion dollars in fact. Medicare may not be a perfect program, but it's a lifeline for the elderly, especially in difficult economic times. I thought liberals and progressives were supposed to oppose huge cuts to entitlement programs? Did I somehow not get the memo on a massive realignment that took place or something? (Of course the fact that the Republicans embraced this talking point was cynical of them, given that they had tried to make similar cuts in the past when they were in power. But it was wrong for them to have tried it then, and wrong for the Dems to have done it now!)

The reason why there were cuts to Medicare wasn't to punish it, but to take out waste. The GOP is just using this as a way to scare seniors. I've been at various townhalls, and those that are against the bill used to ask "why don't we just stop the government waste and make the Medicare cuts w/o this big bill?" The GOP can't have it both ways: either the bill cuts Medicare to cut the waste, or it cuts Medicare to make it suffer - not both.

You seem to just be repeating empty Democratic party talking points. It's not all just Democrats vs. Republicans, politics isn't just a football game. If Bush had tried to "cut waste" from Medicare in such an extreme way, most liberals would have been rightly mortified!! This was a drastic attack on entitlements for the purposes of debt reduction. This wasn't just Republicans using this to "scare seniors" -- socialists have made the exact same point!!!! But maybe you just get all of your ideas from MSNBC? Obviously some inefficiencies occur in any government program, but the cuts involved are huge, and are coming at a time when the total number of seniors in the country will skyrocket. If you think this won't affect care, maybe you're also the type that thinks war crimes and dead civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan were good reason for Obama to win the Peace Prize.

haha. your federal gov't is going to take out a half a trillion dollars in waste. ya, that sounds like something the government is capable of doing.

i am a robot. i believe everything obama says....

turn your brain on please.

When this bill passes it's over, as an issue, for decades, anyone who tries to bring up single payer will be met with (sigh) "but we done healthcare reform thats done"

I am so happy you voted against it and am sorry that you don't represent my district of OH. Obviously my rep don't listen to us just does what he wants.
I find it hard to believe that this bill passed and we are now going to spend even more money.
So in answer to the question; no it is not better than nothing. Letting the government run one more area of our life and putting us further in debt is not the answer. Obama is writing checks as if it is limitless, we would be put in jail for writing checks w/o the benefit of having the funds. Too bad it doesn't apply to government.

I too am happy to see a Nay vote. I think, however you need to be careful what you wish for! Remember, the man you are thanking would have all your options removed, not just some of them! He voted Nay not because he didn't want you to lose your freedom, but because you would not lose them all. His party is still on track to make you pay for something that it should be your choice to do without if you choose. If healthcare goes the way they want, there is no end to how deeply they will be able to govern your life in it's name!

Do you really think it's an option to do without healthcare? Or do you mean "Do without health insurance"? Either way it is totally foolish.... I know someone who was only UNDER-insured; when she got cancer which would have meant several surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy she committed suicide because it would have drained all her savings and put her out in the street. She was 60 years old. Think about that before you say that health insurance is an "option".

I am a newborn, or I am 100 years old, don't we both deserve the best care, To decide, is this your newborn child or your dying parent or grandparent? Love is involved, dignity is involved, & physical pain is involved. We shouldn't have to decide. Equality is the only factor.

wow. i can't believe people actually think this way. so you really believe the solution is to have the federal government FORCE you to have health insurance.

i don't want it buddy. your story about your friend is very sad, but i don't care. i have spent like $1000 in my life on health care. i do not need a $1200 a month health insurance plan, and i certainly do not need government thugs fining me, beating me, and imprisoning me if i do not have health insurance.

this whole bill is a scam perpetrated by the insurance companies to make the uninsured get insurance. period. anyone who does not see that is a blind fool.

You guys who chose not to be covered should be barred from the ER when you get sick unless you have the upfront cash to pay. You always claim it's your free choice, but when your sick or injured, you come in expecting care. Then when your better you declair bankruptcy, and leave the bill to the Docs, and Hospitals(ie those of us who do pay). The law should include an insurance waiver, you have to sign if you don't want insurance, then it would be illegle to declair Bankruptcy for health costs. That would be your the choice.

Fascist economic policy includes a "third way" corporate/government partnership much like the current policy being proposed. The government is sticking their hands way too deep into people's wallets by saying "Thou shalt purchase health insurance or else".

From where I'm standing, forcing people to pay for insurance just to be alive is unimaginably evil. I can't think of any other circumstance where the government can tax you for the act of existing. Forcing people to pay a corporation for an existential permit doesn't fall under "better than nothing", it falls under "unimaginably evil and likely to be turned over by the supreme court because the federal government doesn't have that sort of power, thank god"

I'm thankful for all they do & I don't think they are paid enough to risk their lives for for total strangers. Should we be sent a bill when our lives or homes have been
rescued?

To have a man of principle, of guts, and of insight as their congressman.
Thanks, Dennis.

A fan from California

The Fan from California speaks for many; we need more people of Kucinich's conscience and quality.

Actually, I think there ARE more people like Dennis out there. By claiming to be 'standing up for the little guy' he drove Cleveland into bankrupcy in 1978. Over the next decade, it cost that city dearly. We certainly have a number of other leaders taking the same approach with Federal, state and local governments.

Dennis is a grandstanding, egomaniac. He voted against the bill not on principle are you kidding me? He did it for attention. He probably followed up with an email fund raising plea. KUCINICH DOES NOT PROVIDE HEALTH CARE TO HIS POLITICAL/CAMPAIGN WORKERS- NOR DOES HE PAY PAY ROLL TAX OR PAY INTO THEIR SS OR UNEMPLOYMENT! Kucinich kept many folks on for years as independent contractors-- political tax evasion. He's a perv and a hypocrite!

Thank you for listening to your constituents. There is no possibly way that anyone that voted yes, really knows what they voted for; the bill was too lengthy. The bill passed, God help us, but we called, you listened.... THANK YOU.

way to go kucinich! this bill is not better than nothing. it is empowering the particular insurance beauracracy that nixon started with managed care, hmo's etc.

You overlook two points. First, the health care bill will extend coverage to millions who presently have no insurance, including some very good friends of mine, and no doubt, some friends of yours. Second, there will be another session of Congress next year, and another after that. As the public comes to understand and accept universal coverage, they will call on Congress to defend and improve it.

You overlook the important point that the bill in question could, if it actually worsens the quality of health care for many Americans (particularly the elderly), for years this could turn off the public to the very notion of "universal health care." We had a once in a lifetime chance to actually push something positive, and instead the Democratic leadership took the easy route and did what their campaign contributors wanted from them. No bravery at all. You're also overlooking the massive cuts to Medicare included in this bill. The Baby Boomer generation is set to retire in huge numbers, just as the total Medicare budget is now set to be drastically cut.

richard, i will bet you $500 if this bill can just be stalled until the mid term election, when the dems are going to get TROUNCED by the republicans, then we won't hear about this nonsense for another 10 years.

i don't use the word trounced out of some joy in the republicans winning a BUNCH of their seats back, but i am appalled at how the democratic majority has mishandled this country, including trying to ram this monstrosity of a payout to the insurance companies down our throats.

no one, but a handful of blind believers wants this bill to pass.

Never before have words rung so true. Congressman Kucinich I understand your position and support it wholeheartedly. I applaud your courage to speak out on this issue and I hope that one day the rest of the American people will likewise support your position.

I did however support passage of this bill because I believe that it is the lesser of two evils. On one hand, nothing would get done if no bill is passed, which is simply not an option any longer. On the other hand, we can try to bandage the horrible system that we have in place now even if it means transferring public funds to the private sector as this bill provides. Once this is done, we can begin working towards a better system. The true harm occurred during the past 40 years when our Government permitted these insurance companies to get so large and powerful. Now there is no controlling them.

With the exception of the one Republican from a Democratic district, the House Republican members' votes were not cast after much debate and negotiation. No, they were cast when they were running for office and received huge contributions from special interest groups associated with the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. That is when their decision was made. Then they have the audacity to stand on that floor and pretend that their party somehow supports seniors and Medicare and Social Security. If they support Medicare so much then why not this. Why not drastically strengthen Medicare and eliminate the age restrictions. Problem solved!

I'm trying to follow your line of thought here and to assume good faith but I don't quite understand how you think transferring public money to the insurance companies, in effect enshrining the monopolistic power they presently have into a more permanent form through a corporatist arrangement with the federal government, will help anyone work towards a better system. How will making deep cuts to Medicare help us work toward fair health care for everyone? I'm just wondering?

The reasonable Health Care for America Act [H.R. 3962], which blend and update the three version of before bills approved by the House committee of authority in July, embody President Obama’s key goals for health reform. It will slow the increase in out-of-control expenses, launch rivalry into the health care market to keep coverage reasonable and insurers honest, protect people’s choices of doctors and health plans, and assure all Americans access to quality, stable, affordable health care.

I may not always agree with you, and I thought you were for this bill so I'm quite happy this morning to see you voted NO. Why is it that so many others in office can't see this?

We do have real problems with health insurance, and that's what we should spend taxpayer money on.

Thank you again. Take care, and God bless.

The Ralph Nader/Munchkin offspring, Mr. Kucinich, is awaiting the heavenly city. Perfect bill? No. Possible to institute health care for people without it under this imperfect bill? Yes. Do I love insurance companies? No. I think they are unnecessary. But since politics is the at of the possible, Mr Kucinich is the antithesis of the elected official seeking to do what can be done. He is an ideologue first and foremost. I would be happy to send a check to the first liberal democrat to challenge this silly man.

So in your world the word silly is synonomous with integrity? Mr. Kucinich is right on. This bill will NOT provide health care to people. It is nothing but a giant giveaway to the very blood sucking parasite industry that is the problem to begin with.

Everyone admires Kucinich for this very reason: he backs what he says with his vote.
Personally, I'm about as liberal as one can get, but I adamantly oppose US taxpayer money being shoveled into insurance FAT CATS pockets. This shit has got to stop before America can ever have a sane approach to fixing health care.
I'm still pissed that stupid democrats took on the health care issue when the economic situation called for immediate action on fixing the economy and clotting profuse job loss. Our time would have been much better spent focusing on pumping up renewable energy, creating shovel ready jobs updating the grid, and fixing our broke ass public infrastructure.

This healthcare bill has done nothing to help democrats, in fact it's been the best thing to happen for repubilcans since Clinton got a BJ.

Kudos for Kucinich standing up for what's right. Shame on lame ass democrats who want to waste tax payers money on overpriced healthcare bullshit!

Dennis Kucinich, you give me hope, as a man that doesn't seem to be able to be bought and sold. If it weren't for people like you and Bernie Sanders and Anthony Weiner, etc, I would think our beloved democracy was doomed. Keep fighting the good fight. Thank you.

As a Registered Nurse for over 30 years, I have seen many changes in the Healthcare industry, and not for the better. We desparately need a Healthcare Reform bill. I agree with most of what you are saying. I remember when the CEO of the hospital was actually a DOCTOR! I remember when the doctor was the one who decided when a patient was healthy enough to be discharged, instead of bouncing back through the ER a few days later. My pay scale hasn't increased at anywhere near the rate of the administrator's. In fact, my raises do not keep up with the increases in my share of my health benefits. I believe this new bill is a step in the right direction. It's going to take several more steps before we have a system in place that is truly looking out for the best interests of the patient.

I applaud Mr. Kucich! This bill in no way improved the healcare issue in this country. The root problem is exactly why Mr. Kucinich voted no. The pussy paid off politicians should have made laws to break up the monopoly pharma and health insurance companies where the root problem lies. After that the same thing for the financial industry, energy, oil, tobacco, Walmart, ad infinite. Our nation NEEDS a period of Deflation. The smug Republicans need to support the workers and the Dumb Democrats and Repukicans need to stop supporting monopolized industries. Our nation is on the brink of losing its Democratic Republic charter. Votes are baught and paid for not reflected by the people for the people. VIVA LA REVOLUTION! I am all for Capitolism if it is not allowed to become monopolized. Unfortuanetly it may be too late unless we get more brave politicians like Mr. Kucinich and Ron Paul

Thank you Dennis Kucinich. Although almost everyone agrees that the present system we live under is tragic and unjust, something bad can always be replaced with something worse. The bill that passed last night is clearly worse. It's shameful that Democrats have rallied around a bill that makes deep austerity cuts to Medicare (half a trillion dollars over ten years) at a time when the Baby Boomer generation are set to retire in large numbers, diverting these crucial public funds toward an industry that is already hopelessly broken. How could anyone with a conscience support cuts to Medicare at a time that our military budgets are expanding, at a time that the Obama administration wages brutal wars across at least three countries, and seeing just last year the handover of public funds to Wall Street criminals? Anyone who supported this bill's passage obviously has no conscience at all. Truly a shameful day for America and for progressive values. :*(

Thank you for your courage and for standing up for what is truely the best for the people. You are an inspiration. i would be glad to volunteer or work for your re-election campaign.

Kucinich tells the truth, but we never have that choice in this country.

Same with president: we get one bad option and another worse option from the two parties. The Republicans speak of free markets and high morality to attract conservatives and religious people, but the Republicans control markets with their own personal monopolies and the Republicans have no morality, none. The Democrats speak of helping all people and being fair, but the Democrats help only the most powerful industries (the ones who financed their campaigns) and they follow the Republicans to sufficient degree in order not to offend too much the independents and mildly religious, so that they can get their votes occassionally.

The people continue to follow the themes of what the two parties say instead of recognizing that both parties have NOTHING to do with assisting the population of the United States.

99 % of the people would be far better off, noticably better off, if Dennis Kucinich was King. And after people realized how decent life could be, then we could go back to elections.

...keep dreaming

AMEN! Working the health care field, the NECESSITY of a public option is embarassingly simple. What good is a health care plan that leaves that health care in the hands of greedy insurance companies? In all honesy, the ONLY cure for what ails this country is a true REVOLUTION! This statement will probably put me on every government watch list in the country, but what other choice is there? It will be a revolution between the "haves" and the "have nots". Since there a WAY more "have nots" being added to the list everyday, I'm thinking the "haves" better watch their a***s.

aren't statistics amazing ... 200% increase in doctors and a 3000% increase in administrators ... why doesn't he mention the huge increase in the amount of money spent for congressional staff, committees, expense accounts, etc ... the money they don't want you to know about and they block all efforts to disclosure it. You know ... that whole transparency thing that people like to crow about during elections but then cover up once they're re-elected. Talk about the "haves" ... it congressmen including kucinich!

Crazy as an outhouse rat.

one word...SOLUTION???

Proud to be in Cleveland, where we have such a fantastic Representative

Congressman Kucinich:

I agree with you when you stated that "Is this the best we can do?" My answer was no and sent the whole statement to my representative, Ron Klein. I understand that you have to compromise here and there, but in this case the Democratic leadership strategy for a decent health care bill was weak: a strong public option was supposed to be the compromise ... I am afraid we need to have election reform so we can remove all the corporate money out of Washington.

I agree with Dave Zirin: "But patiently waiting for the Democrats to figure out how to both appease their big money backers and the popular desire for change is a recipe for failure."
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-zirin/last-nights-result-it-ain_b_345194.html&cp

For me it means that we need to keep the pressure on, email the White House, Speaker of the House, Harry Reid (he really needs to go), our representatives on a regular basis and remind them that we want real health care reform, Wall Street regulation, etc.

In addition to his belief that the current House bill will hurt ordinary Americans (which it undoubtedly will by forcing them to buy shitty insurance, in essence a forced subsidy) this horseshit bill is about to get completely fucked in the Senate, with the Bayh's and Lieberman's who will work to weaken the provisions in order to personally profit from the new bill (via their health exec. wives' incomes) and the conservadems like Lincoln who won't vote for anything unless it funnels wealth upwards.

Thankfully some representatives still don't have their heads firmly shoved into the many orifices of corporate America.

Originally, I was of the belief that anything is better than the status quo, but not at the expense of women's healthcare and not if it perpetuates the source of the problem. I don't have health insurance because I can't afford it foremost. Secondly, it doesn't feel right, nor seem wise, to shell out thousands of dollars a year to the industry, with the very good possibility that healthcare coverage will be denied when needed most. I don't want government mandating under this new legislation that people like me must now support the health insurance companies. Combined with the added worry that my parents' Medicare coverage will be diluted, this is a hard pill to swallow! I do want government to invest in progressive legislation that directly benefits the majority--that does provide health coverage for all while not lining the pockets of the industry. Ensuring real, equal, healthcare for all means a healthier nation, and that to me translates into a more peaceful, productive, smarter, stronger nation. Thank you Mr. Kucinich, for keeping it real.

Great insights. Thanks for the rationale behind the vote. This is why we need a very robust public option. With it, it will work. It already has in Ohio. http://cli.gs/23yYaM

this bill will cost the American people another 500,000 jobs. Who needs health care when nobody has a job? In my industry, medical sales, we have already lost 20,000 medical evice sales jobs this year along in preparation for reform.

I am wondering why, you are the maverick of Northeast Ohio politics? You are too good for the people; too wise. You opposed restructuring County Government (Issue 6 which passed)...and you oppose health care (which passed). I think you are in a category all your own. The world is divided into three classes of people. A very small group that makes things happen, a somewhat larger group that watches things happen, and the great multitude which never knows what happened. Thanks for enlightening the great multitude, and thank you for falling into group two, the watcher who will be vindicated when the egg is laid. But, maybe once you could be the representative that falls into category one-----before your term is up.

you are a bunch of ignorant fear mongering kooks, get the hell off your ass and read whats going on. stupid stupid stupid to folllow these kookie snobs and insurance lovers.