By Stanley David Gold

Have you ever looked into the mirror and seen your body reflected with a KitchenAid toaster in place of your head? Have you ever looked at your right arm and seen an iPhone where you hand should be? How about your legs? Have you ever looked down and seen Charmin toilet paper rolls stacked one on top of the other instead of your lower legs? My guess is that, if you are not schizophrenic nor an avid LSD user, this has never happened.

You are not manufactured, nor, we hope, sold for profit. Commodities are simply defined as “something that is bought and sold, economic goods and services.” Do you see yourself as a commodity or a human being?

The fact is that many forms of human commodification exist today, yet go largely unnoticed. Today’s health insurance companies (HMOs) have mastered human commodification. But, before we delve into how and why HMOs have manipulated the human body and mind into raw materials as a means to profit, let us briefly examine another glaring example from U.S. history.

African slaves were humans that had become legally commoditized. They were identified and treated as property, chattel, or merchandise within the forthcoming U.S. They were bought and sold for profit. They were brutally forced into small crates aboard ships headed to the U.S., where they were vended as free laborers, as if they somehow lacked the worthiness to be considered human.

African Americans were not considered citizens of this country until they gained the right to vote under the Voting Rights Act in 1965, 189 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

And, how did African Americans gain their civil rights? They fought for them. It was people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. (assassinated on April 4, 1968 for his beliefs), and Malcolm X (assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965 for his beliefs), who were willing to die for the simple ideal that blacks ought to be granted the same rights as whites under the constitution.

We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.
Malcolm X 1964

The Civil Rights movement continues and will continue as long as necessary to achieve its goals.

Meanwhile, the U.S. health insurance industry has effectively created a subtle and devious form of slavery. We remain unconsciously dependent on a system that has drained individuals of our innate personhood, resulting in an artificial metamorphosis from human to property.

On March 16, 1999, Dr. Linda Peeno, a medical reviewer for an HMO, testified before the U.S. Congress…

“I wish to begin by making a public confession. In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I caused the death of a man…This man died because I denied him a necessary operation to save his heart…I saved [the HMO] half a million dollars… I have not been taken before any court of law or called to account for this in any professional or public forum. In fact, just the opposite occurred. I was rewarded for this. It brought me an improved reputation in my job and contributed to my advancement afterwards…Like a skilled soldier, I was trained for this moment. When any moral qualms arose I was to remember I am not denying care, I am only denying payment… Since that day I have lived with this act and many others eating into my heart and soul. For me a physician is a professional charged with the care or healing of his or her fellow human beings. The primary ethical norm is: Do no harm. I did worse; I caused death. One can only wonder how much pain, suffering and death we will have before we have the courage to change our course. Personally, I have decided even one death is too much for me.’’

When Linda Peeno denied an urgent and life-saving heart surgery in order to save her company half a million dollars, she was simply doing her job. The man who died was treated as a product that was no longer needed or no longer profitable, so the insurance company pulled the plug. Its difficult to digest that hiring physicians to find ways to deny patients the care they need is actually a full-time job. However, this is the foundation of health insurance in this country. This is how “payers” treat the sick. When they have to pay for health care, insurers call this “medical loss.” And when they deny care, they gain.

Buying and Selling of Patients by Insurance Companies

In the end, the HMO decided that mending their product, the patient, was far too financially burdensome because paying for its restoration would not lead to a net financial gain. Therefore, the product/patient was abandoned at the hospital/repair factory, which logically decided to throw away the product/patient because they would not be paid for performing a restoration. Consequently, the product/patient is no longer in existence.

So, why is their form of human trafficking legal? Do you think HMOs feel remorse for the lives they have destroyed and the poor families left behind in mourning? And, why has our government, claiming to be a government “by the people, for the people,” as stated by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, allowed this cruelty and raw human suffering? Fortunately, the people are fighting back!

The campaign to pass Amendment 69, ColoradoCare is the effort of everyday citizens and patients who are willing to fight for their rights. Just as Malcolm X declared that blacks were human and should be treated as such, ColoradoCare supporters feel that people should be treated as people. What we propose is nothing new or progressive: It’s actually quite simple and is already being done throughout the developed world. We believe that medicine should be about the patient. We believe that health care is a human need. When we see a patient, we see a human being in need of medical care. And, our foremost goal is to get that human the care that he/she needs. When an HMO sees a patient, they see calculations and profit margins impelling them to find ways in which to deny payment for medical services as to salvage as much of the premium dollars they have collected as they can. ColoradoCare will benefit patients as humans.

Vote Yes on Amendment 69

We are at a pivotal time here in Colorado. We, the residents of Colorado, have an important choice to make: are we humans or are we Apple TVs? What are you willing to do to preserve your humanity? To take it back? On Nov. 8 we, the people of Colorado, can vote YES on Amendment 69 to ensure health care coverage for all Coloradoans without any deductibles. We can vote our oppressors out of this state. We can reclaim our individuality. I urge you to respect your humanity and that of others; to assert as Malcolm X did “We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society.” Let’s flood the voting booths and together, take back what is rightfully ours: our humanity!

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