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Top Ten Ways To Tell Your President & His Party Aren't Fighting For Health Care For Everybody

With the corporate media relentlessly distorting the public discussion around health care reform, it time for some clear, bright lines to help us tell who is doing what to whom, and whether any of it leads to health care for all of us. Here are ten of them.

Bruce Dixon

 by Black Agenda Report

Barack
Obama and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate were swept into
office on a promise they would deliver affordable and accessible health
care for all Americans. But the corporate media journalism limits the
national health care conversation to what insurance companies, drug
companies, for-profit health care professionals, their executives,
lobbyists and politicians of both parties and other hirelings have to
say. So it isn't as easy as it ought to be to tell what the politicians
are doing about accomplishing health care for everybody. Hence we offer
these ten points. This is how you can tell whether your president and
his party are fighting for the health care you deserve.

  1. Their plan doesn't cover the uninsured till at least 2013.

    2013
    isn't "day one." It's not even after the midterm election. It's clear
    after the president's second term, if he gets one. Congress passed
    Medicare in 1965 and president Lyndon Johnson rolled out coverage for
    millions of seniors in eleven months, back in the days before they even
    had computers.

    22,000
    Americans now perish each year because they can't get or can't afford
    medical care, and this year three quarter million personal bankruptcies
    will be triggered by unpayable medical bills. Why this president and
    these Democrats are in such a hurry to pass health care now that
    doesn't take effect till two elections down the road doesn't make sense
    in any kind of good way.

  2. Their "public option" isn't Medicare, won't bring costs down and will only cover about 10 million people.

    The
    "public option" was sold to the American people as Medicare-scale plan
    open to anybody who wants in that would compete with the private
    insurers and drive their costs downward. But in their haste not to bite
    the hands that feed them millions in campaign contributions each hear,
    the president and his party have scaled the public option back from a
    Medicare-sized 130 million to a maximum of 10 million, too small to put cost pressure in private insurers.
    Worse still, the president and his party are playing bait-and-witch,
    not telling the public they have reduced the public option, to nearly
    nothing.

    This
    remnant of a public option is not Medicare, as Howard Dean insists, and
    it will not lead to the sort of everybody-in-nobody-out health care
    system that most Americans, whenever they are surveyed say they want.

    Some Senate and House Democrats want to ditch even the pretense of a "public option" in favor of something they're calling a private insurance "co-op", which as near as anybody can tell has the same relationship to an actual cooperative that clean coal has to actual coal.

  3. The president and his party have already caved in to the drug companies on reimporting Canadian drugs, on negotiating drug prices downward and on generics.

    This
    explains why Big Pharma, the same people who ran the devastatin g
    series of anti-reform "Harry and Louise" ads to spike the Clinton-era
    drive to fix health care are spending $100 million to run Obama ads using the president's language about "bipartisan" solutions to health care reform.

  4. The
    president and his party have received more money from private insurers
    and the for-profit health care industry than even Republicans, with the
    president alone taking $19 million in the 2008 election cycle alone, more than all his Repubican, Democratic and independent rivals combined.

    Democratic
    senator Max Bacaus got $1.1 million in 2008. Democratic senators
    Harkin, Landreau and Rockerfeller each got over half a million, and
    Senator Durbin got just under half a million. Other Democratic senators
    got a little less. Four Democrats in the House, Rangel, Dinglell, Udall
    and Hoyer got over half a million apiece in 2008, with other Democrats
    not far behind.

    Is
    there any wonder that the insurance companies, like the drug companies
    are also running "bipartisan health care reform" commercials using the
    president's exact language?

  5. The
    president's plan, and those of Republicans and Democratic blue dogs
    too, will require families to purchase health insurance policies from
    private insurers.

    This is something the policy wonks call an 'individual mandate",
    under which Individuals will be "mandated" to purchase affordable
    insurance, though companies would not be required to offer it. In
    Massachusetts, the prototype state for the Obama plan, a family with an
    income of $33,000 can be required to spend $9,000 in deductibles and
    out-of-pocket expenses before the insurance company is obligated to pay
    a dime. As in Massachusetts, public money is used to purchase private
    insurance for the very poorest citizens. With the revenues of insurance
    companies on the decline, individual mandate programs are a welcome
    bailout for the private insurance industry.

  6. The president's plan, and those of Republicans and Democratic blue dogs too, could force you to buy junk insurance.

    Think
    about an insurance policy that costs a lot, but is full of loopholes,
    exceptions and steep deductibles and co-payments. That's junk
    insurance, and for many it's the only insurance companies offer. Even
    more pernicious is the widespread practice among insurance companies of
    "recission" in which claimants are routinely investigated and
    disqualified in the event that they finally make a claim. Insurance
    companies admit they do this to half of one percent of policies per
    year. That means if you hold a health insurance policy twenty years,
    you don;t have insurance - you have a ninety percent chance of having
    insurance.

  7. The
    president's plan, as well as those of Democratic "blue dogs" and
    Republicans, are to be funded in part with cuts in Medicare and
    Medicaid.

    Private
    insurance companies have always hated Medicare because it is far more
    efficient than they are. Medicare's administrative expenses are under
    five percent, as compared with the one third of every health care
    dollar taken by the for-profit insurance companies for their
    advertising, bad investments, billing and denial machinery, executive
    salaries and bonuses. Private insurers have, over the years, purchased
    enough influence in Congress and previous White Houses to restrict
    Medicare's payment rates and partially privatize it. But president
    Obama's plan, perhaps the most friendly to Medicare and Medicaid, calls
    for over $300 billion in cuts
    to the programs that now provide medical care to those with the fewest
    options, while failing to guarantee that care will come from elsewhere.
    In Massachusetts right now, hospitals are turning away poor people they
    used to be able to provide care for because funding that used to go to
    those institutions is now plowed into the state's "individual mandate"
    system.

  8. The
    president, with the cooperation of corporate media and the Republicans
    is trying to make the argument about himself instead of a discussion on
    the merits of his policy.

    The president and his critics are happy to talk about whether this will be "his Waterloo",
    or his Dien Bien Phu, as if that matters more than the 22,000 Americans
    who die each year from lack of medical care, or the three quarter
    million who will go bankrupt because of unpayable medical bills. The
    concentration on whether the president looks good or bad takes up air,
    ink, and coverage time that might otherwise be spent explaining what is
    and isn't in the various proposals, and why.

    If
    the president were not afraid of his own supporters publicly examining
    the merits and demerits of his proposals, he would mobilize those 13
    million emails and phone numbers collected during the campaign. The
    reason he has not sone so already is that most of his own supporters
    favor a Medicare-For-All single payer health care system, HR 676.

  9. The president and his party, and the corporate media have spent more time and energy silencing
    and excluded the advocates of single payer health care, mostly the
    president's own supporters, than they have fighting blue dogs and
    Republicans.

    But no matter how diligently the spokespeople for single payer are excluded from media coverage and invitations to Obama's policy forums and round tables, no matter how many times the White House cuts their questions
    from transcripts and video of public events, the calls, emails and
    letters keep pouring into Congress and the White House demanding the
    creation of a publicly funded, everybody-in-nobody-out system, a
    Medicare-for-All kind of single payer health care plan.

  10. Despite
    the president's own admission that only a single payer health care
    system will deliver what Americans want, he and the leaders of his
    party insist that Medicare For All, HR 676, us utterly off the table.

    Before
    he became a presidential candidate, Barack Obama identified himself as
    a proponent of a single payer health care system. All we had to do, he
    told us, was elect a Democratic congress and senate, and a different
    president. Now that this has been done, he insists that "change" is
    just not possible, and we have to settle for less. The president
    continues to admit that only a single payer health care system will
    cover everybody, but insists that America just can't handle that much
    change.

    The
    truth is that Barack Obama campaigned as the candidate of change, and a
    health care system that covers everybody from day one with no
    exceptions is what people imagined they voted for when they swept him
    and an overwhelming number of Democrats into office.

    A
    single payer Medicare-For-All system will eliminate 500,000 insurance
    company jobs and replace them with 3.2 million new jobs in health care
    for a net gain of 2.6 million new jobs
    according to a study by the National Nurses Organization. That's as
    many jobs as the US economy lost in all of 2007. Single payer will
    create hundreds of billions in annual wages and local and state tax
    revenues for cash strapped cities and towns. It will lift the shadow of
    bankruptcy for medical reasons from two thirds of a million American
    families yearly. It's what we deserve.

    It's what we voted for, and we won't stop demanding it.


Bruce Dixon

Bruce Dixon

Bruce Dixon is based in Atlanta GA and is managing editor at Black Agenda Report.  He can be reached at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

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