Rep. McDermott: “The Medical-Industrial Complex in this Country is Bigger than the Military-Industrial Complex” April 1, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tags: afghanistan civilians, Afghanistan escalation, al-Qaeda, amy goodman, bernie sanders, bin Laden, democracy, Democracy Now, g20 summit, health insurance industry, healthcare reform, hr676, jim mcdermott, John Conyers, medical-industrial compex, medicare, Obama, pakistan, roger hollander, single payer, war
add a comment
www.democracynow.org, April 1, 2009
We speak with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), a leading advocate for a single-payer healthcare system, about healthcare reform on Capitol Hill. McDermott also speaks about his recent trip to Afghanistan and his thoughts on President Obama’s escalation of the war
AMY GOODMAN: At today’s news conference at the G20 summit in London, President Obama also spoke about the situation in Afghanistan.
- PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We also discussed the progress that was made yesterday at the Hague, where more than seventy nations gathered to discuss our mutual responsibilities to partner with the Afghan people so that we can deny al-Qaeda a safe haven. And in the days ahead, we’ll consult further with our NATO allies about training Afghan security forces, increasing our civilian support, and a regional approach that recognizes the connection between the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
AMY GOODMAN: After the G20 meeting, Obama is heading to Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany, where he will take part in a major NATO summit commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the alliance. Afghanistan is expected to be at the top of the agenda, and Obama is expected to ask for NATO’s support for his escalation of the war. Obama has said he plans to send an extra 17,000 soldiers and 4,000 advisers to Afghanistan.
Congress member Jim McDermott recently traveled to Afghanistan as part of a congressional delegation. He’s a Democratic [representative] from Seattle, joining us now from Washington, D.C.
We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Congressman McDermott.
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Hi, Amy. How are you?
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Well, we hear that there was a secret meeting between the House Democrats and President Obama before he left, the topic being Afghanistan. Is this true?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: I was not in the meeting, so I don’t know if it occurred or not.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, you just came back from Afghanistan. What is your assessment of the Obama administration’s policy to expand the war there?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Well, I think it’s almost larger than the Obama policy, but I am very worried about any escalation that we do in Afghanistan. We went roaring into there nine years ago and dropped bombs all over [Tora Bora] and did all kinds of things and put on this big effort, and then it didn’t work. We didn’t get rid of Osama bin Laden, and we didn’t get rid of the terrorists. And so, we moved onto Iraq and just left it to fester.
Now we’re coming back, eight years later, having continued to kill civilians and create enormous animosity toward Americans. And the history of the Pashtun people—there are 40 million Pashtuns who live in an area that straddles the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan—they threw out the British on two occasions in the 1800s, and they threw out the Russians a few years ago. And my belief is that we are going into something that we really don’t understand.
AMY GOODMAN: What is that?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Well, we have some idea that we’re going to make it a peaceful, quiet place that it has never been. There has been fighting in that area for over a thousand years, and the tribal areas are so tumultuous that Pakistan has never tried to exercise any governmental control of those areas. They’ve just ceded it to the local tribes. And for us to think that we’re going to go in there and be more successful than the Pakistan government is, when we don’t speak Urdu and we don’t speak Pashto and we don’t speak Balti and we don’t speak all the languages, we don’t know the customs, is simply to get us enmeshed in another quagmire, similar to what we got into in Vietnam, when we didn’t understand what we were dealing with.
And I think that the issue here—if you read a book called Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, he talks about how you get to know the people, how you sit down, how you learn, and he winds up building schools. He’s built more than a hundred schools for girls in that area. But it requires listening to the natives, not coming in with a fixed idea that as an American you know what’s best for them. And I’m afraid that our leadership is barging in there again, thinking we know what’s best for them, and this is how we’re going to do it. And every time a drone bombs a wedding party, we make more enemies for ourselves.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressman McDermott, you took a trip to Iraq in 2002 before the invasion, which you were criticized for by those who supported the Bush administration. You were opposed to the war in Iraq. So was President Obama. He spoke out in 2002. Why do you think he has taken this different tack with Afghanistan?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Well, I think the President of the United States is always caught in the pressure between what might be good public policy, seen from a civilian side, and what the military says is a good policy. The President of the United States has the responsibility to protect the American people. That’s his first, first responsibility. And as happened to John Kennedy, they got him in office, and they said, “Hey, look, we’ve got this problem in Cuba. Let’s go down there, and, you know, in an afternoon, we can wipe out the Cuban resistance and get rid of this guy Fidel Castro.” That led to the Bay of Pigs debacle.
And the military answer that Americans tend to favor, that is, if we have strong arms and we have bombers and we have all this kind of stuff, that somehow that will prevail, has proven wrong over and over and over again. And the only way we’re going to really solve these situations is with soft power, that is, with diplomacy and economic aid.
And I think that President Obama is right now listening to those military advisers in ways that I think are, in the long run, not going to be good for the country and not good for his presidency, frankly. I worry about him. I want him to succeed. I want him to be the best president we ever had. But I’m worried that he’s listening to the wrong people. He’s not listening to enough people who say, “Take a cup of tea and listen to these people and figure out what needs to be done.”
AMY GOODMAN: You’re not far from the Canadian border, when you’re back home in Seattle. President Obama’s first foreign trip was to Canada. Canada is pulling out their troops from Afghanistan. Then he met with Gordon Brown, the prime minister of Britain, in the White House. Many were surprised they didn’t hold a joint news conference. They sat there taking a photo op and ended up extending it to more than twenty minutes. It looked like it was sort of a sort of flub of the Obama administration, since the British leader had always been treated differently in the past. The Brits are very much—the population—opposed to war in Afghanistan. Why do you think it is Obama is taking this different tack? I mean, when it comes to the other countries in the world, it seems that the US is once again, as with Iraq, trying to pull other countries along, and they’re resisting, they’re pulling out.
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Well, I think the President, when he came into office, one of the charges that was constantly railed against him was he’s not going to be a good commander-in-chief, he’s not going to be strong, he’s not going to protect us, he’s going to be weak, he’s going to capitulate to our enemies. And again, as I said about John Kennedy, John Kennedy was under the same kind of criticism as he came into office. And I think the President is responding to that by trying to be a strong leader. And if you listen to his speeches, he keeps talking about protecting the American people, protecting the American people.
George Bush, in his attacks on Iraq and on Afghanistan, did not make us safer in the long run. We have two festering wars now in the Middle East and maybe a third one in Pakistan, if you want to look at it that way. And that kind of advice that your answer is to march out and bomb people and use guns and tanks and all this military hardware is hard for a president not to react to. Otherwise, we’ll call him weak, and we’ll say, “Well, he gave in, and he lost the first war,” all that kind of stuff. And a president doesn’t want that kind of image. So I think the President is caught in a very tough situation, and I think it’s important for him to know there are people like me and many of my friends in Congress who are interested in supporting him in adopting a much more diplomatic approach to what goes on in Afghanistan.
AMY GOODMAN: And how much access do you have to President Obama?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Well, at this point, they’re sailing in one direction. But I think as they go down the road and need votes, they’re going to have to listen to people who don’t agree with them on the idea of expanding the war. I mean, 17,000 troops and now 4,000 troops, that’s mission creep, in my view. We’ll have everybody that we take out of Iraq in Afghanistan if we’re not careful, and we will have not brought the troops home, which I think ought to be our main goal, and we will not have established peacefulness in that area.
So, I think as things develop—remember, the President has only been in office for sixty days. So let’s—I’m willing to give him some time. I’m worried, but I’m willing to give him some time to get his feet on the ground and figure out what’s going on and actually assess it for himself, because he’s very smart and very thoughtful and asks hard questions, and I don’t—I haven’t given up at all on him. I think he’s going to be a good president. But it’s—I just worry, from my own experience.
I mean, I was in the Vietnam thing. I was a physician in Long Beach who took care of casualties coming home. So I know what war is about. And war is never glorious. It’s never an exciting thing to get involved in. It seems exciting when you’re a long way away. And all those chicken hawks in the Bush White House looked at war in Iraq and in Afghanistan as somehow glorious and wonderful, and we’ll just go over there and whop ’em. And, of course, it didn’t work out that way. And that’s what always happens to people who have not had the experience of being in it. Now, President Obama has not been in the military, but he can learn from some of us who’ve been there and understand what the real costs of this are going to be. And I think there’s a better way to make the American people safe than to use weapons of destruction all over Afghanistan.
AMY GOODMAN: Congress member Jim McDermott, I wanted to turn to another key issue of our day. It’s the issue of healthcare. You’re a doctor. I mean, in the lead-up to the March 5th healthcare summit at the White House, in the corporate media there was almost no mention of single payer, which in some polls is the number one approach that Americans support, except a mention by those who slammed it. You are one of the advocates of single-payer healthcare. So is Congress member John Conyers. You’ve both introduced bills. What are these bills? What is single payer? What are its chances?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Basically, a single-payer system, which is what every industrialized country in the world, except the United States, has adopted, is a system in which you guarantee a set of benefits for every citizen of the country. No matter how much money, where they live, what color they are, what ethnicity they are, whatever, everybody is entitled to the same generous benefit package. And that’s true in France, and it’s true in Germany, and it’s true all over the place. The French, for half the money that we spend, are getting, by the World Health Organization, the best healthcare in the world.
Now, the second thing that you have to have besides a generous benefit package is a single-payer system. And you can put the money together through the government, or there are a lot of different ways it’s done in all the countries of the world, but when a patient goes into a hospital in Canada, they hand a card in for the national plan, and that’s the end of it. And you are not threatened with bankruptcy in Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Italy, Spain. None of these countries can a citizen be bankrupted by their illness. But it is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, because we have put the emphasis on individuals doing it.
A single-payer system is a common good way of dealing with risk that none of us know when it’s going to hit us. And I think that it’s what this country needs, but unfortunately, we have a large health insurance industry that is fighting back, tooth and nail, to prevent that from coming into existence. It’s going to be a tough battle. This is not going to be something that’s easily put together.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to play what President Obama himself said about single payer before his presidential campaign. This is what he said back in June of 2003, before he was elected even to the US Senate.
- STATE SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I happen to be a proponent of single-payer universal healthcare coverage. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent—14 percent—of its gross national product on healthcare, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim’s talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out: a single-payer healthcare plan, universal healthcare plan.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, there you have it. That was the state legislator Barack Obama speaking in 2003. Congress member Jim McDermott, he has now said, at least those in his administration have said—Max Baucus, the leading senator on healthcare, along with Senator Kennedy, have said that it’s off the table. It took a lot of pressure to even get one single-payer advocate. And then, finally, it was two at the healthcare summit. Then it was John Conyers.
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Well, clearly, the economic forces, the medical-industrial complex in this country, is bigger than the military-industrial complex in this country. And people don’t recognize that, but it is a huge industry that is resisting change. The medical-industrial complex basically wants to keep the system the same, except for the fact they want to shift some of the cost off onto the government.
And I think that the fight is going to be around a central issue when we get to the debate in the Congress, and that is whether—because the President has said, “We’re going to keep the private insurance industry as it is. If you’re in it, fine, don’t worry about it. You can stay right where you are. You’re not going to be forced into anything. But we’re going to give you a public option, and you can move to that public option.” Now, the question will be, is that a good public option? Is it a less expensive public option? Because it should be less expensive than something provided by the insurance companies. And if it is, will people move into that ultimately, and we will wind up with a basic system that’s run through a public option?
AMY GOODMAN: Like Medicare for all?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: It could well be Medicare for all. That’s what—you know, Pete Stark and John Conyers have been talking about that for a long time, and that’s one way to do it. There are a number of ways. But a public option, some people say it should be the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, the program that I’m in as a federal employee. I put some money in, the government puts some money in, and that provides my healthcare benefits. And we ought to open that up to everybody in America. Let that work—
AMY GOODMAN: A new—a new development now is that Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced the American Health Security Act of 2009 in the Senate. Is this your bill from the House?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: It’s exactly the same. Bernie called me up and said, “Jim, do you mind if I put my bill—your bill in in the Senate?” And I said, “Of course not, Bernie.” It’s good have allies, because Bernie is a good advocate. And this issue has to be on the table. Right now, we spend—in our healthcare dollar, about sixty cents of every dollar is federal money in Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, military benefits, Indian health, public employees. All this is already paid for in the public. So it’s not as though we don’t have a public option. We have just kept people out of that public option and kept them out there either on their own or in their employment insurance. And we’ve got to open it up to let them into the federal system.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, you’re going to be a columnist for now the online Seattle P-I, Post-Intelligencer, which folded recently. Now, Seattle Times, the only major paper in Seattle. You have said that newspapers should be bailed out like AIG was bailed out. Your position now?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Well, here’s my feeling. The thing that we lose with newspapers are investigative reporters. We don’t need the editorial page, where they tell us what they think or what they, who they think we should vote for. What they need are investigative reporters who go out and probe and find out what’s going on.
The blogosphere helps some, but the fact is that you need people who will go and stick their finger in the chest of people like me and say, “Why are you doing that?” and make us say, so that the people can make an informed choice. Democracy is based on an informed electorate. And as you lose those investigative reporters in newspapers, the people will be more and more in the dark, and they’ll be subject to television news coverage, which is a minute and a half at the most on any subject, and you do not get any in-depth view of what’s going on. So we need newspapers from that standpoint, and I don’t know how we get them, but that’s—I think that we ought to be thinking very much about losing our democracy.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you support this approach to have them—this new nonprofit option that has been introduced into Congress?
REP. JIM McDERMOTT: Yeah, Ben Cardin from Maryland has put a bill in in the Senate. I looked at that. The Manchester Guardian is a nonprofit, and so is The Independent in Great Britain. So it is possible to run a newspaper as a nonprofit. They would have to give up their editorializing about which candidates you should vote for. That kind of stuff would have to go. But otherwise, I think it’s a good option, and I would like to see some of these newspapers take that role. Unfortunately, the corporations who own them have a viewpoint that they want to go through the editorial page, and it would be hard for them to give that up. So it’s going to be a real test of whether newspapers are for getting people information or influencing public opinion.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Jim McDermott, I want to thank you for being with us, Democratic congressman from Washington state, also a doctor and now a columnist for the online Seattle P-I.
Sanders Puts Single-Payer On the Agenda March 31, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: america health security act, bernie sanders, community health, community health centers, health, health care, health care reform, health insurance industry, healthcare reform, house judiciary, hr676, jim mcdermott, John Conyers, john nichols, national health care, national healthcare, obama administration, paul wellstone, private health insurance, quentin young, roger hollander, single payer
add a comment
Published on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 by The Nation
While the one reform that could cure what ails America’s health care system has attracted plenty of adherents in the House — 72 members have signed on as backers of House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers’ single-payer proposal and others back a plan introduced by Washington Democrat Jim McDermott’s legislation — there has not been a Senate proposal to rally around.
That’s what makes Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposed “American Health Security Act of 2009″ such an important piece of legislation. In addition to being the first single-payer bill introduced in the Senate since the mid-1990s — when the late Paul Wellstone, D-Minnesota, sponsored a bill similar to the plan now being advanced by Sanders — it raises the profile of the doctors, nurses, patients and other campaigners who are trying to tell the Obama administration and its congressional allies that the legislative compromises they entertain are doomed to fail.
Under the American Health Security Act of 2009:
· Patients could seek care from the doctor or hospital of their choice.
- The new national health care program would be paid for by combining current sources of government health spending into a single fund with modest new taxes amounting to less than what people now pay for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.
· Funding would come from the federal government, but the program would be administered by the states.
- The high overhead and profits of the private, investor-owned insurance industry would be eliminated, along with the burdensome paperwork imposed on physicians and other providers. As a result, the plan would save at least $400 billion annually – enough money to provide comprehensive, quality care to all.
- Community health centers would be fully funded, giving the 60 million Americans now living in rural and underserved areas access to care.
- To address the critical shortage of primary care physicians and dentists, resources for the National Health Service Corps to train an additional 24,000 health professionals would be provided.
The Sanders bill stands in stark contrast to the proposals being considered by the Obama administration and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, which would establish a new public-versus-private hybrid to try and address dysfunctions in the current public-versus-private hybrid that has left more than 45 million Americans uninsured and at least that many Americans underinsured.
“This is excellent news,” says Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program. “There is now a way for the Senate to help us exit the nightmare of a collapsing health care system. If this bill is enacted, we no longer have to put up with the outrageous costs that prevent millions of Americans from receiving medical care and medications. Nor will tens of thousands have to declare bankruptcy over medical bills. In the face of our present economic calamity, this is an urgent necessity.”
Recalling that “President Obama once acknowledged that single-payer national health insurance was the best way to go,” Young added, “We are confident that Senator Sanders’ bill will accelerate the national drive for the only reform that we know will work.”
Let’s hope the doctor’s diagnosis is right.
RNs from Six States Rally for Single Payer Outside White House Healthcare Forum in Vermont March 18, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: California Nurses Association, donna smith, health, health care, health care reform, health care system, health insurance, healthcare, healthcare reform, healthcare system, hr676, national health care act, National Health Program, nurses, president obama, private health insurance, progressive democrats, roger hollander, single payer
add a comment
Published on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
BURLINGTON, VT - The White House may have hoped for a carefully structured discussion with a predictable and prescribed outcome that would fit smoothly into its desired agenda, but during the second regional forum on healthcare reform, the White House heard once again that other options are not only available but are also strongly supported by many Americans. Nurses from Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire joined doctors, patients, faith and community-based leaders, healthcare reform activists and students to rally in support of single payer health reform outside the White House regional healthcare forum held in Burlington, VT, yesterday.
As the invited speakers and guests entered the Davis Student Center of the University of Vermont, more than 400 people gathered on the lawn outside to call on President Obama and other national leaders to include single payer reform in the plans seriously considered as the options to rebuild the nation’s broken healthcare system.
The Maine State Nurses Association, the Massachusetts Nurses Association and the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association all had RN leaders and members speaking to rally attendees and members of the press about what they see every day as they fight to advocate for patients struggling to get needed care while many either have no health coverage at all or are not adequately covered.
“We don’t need more insurance, we need healthcare for all,” said RN Tammy Farwell of Maine as protestors chanted, “Everybody in, nobody out,” over and over again to send a resounding message to the forum participants inside the building. Some of the nurses were able to go inside and listen to the forum as in began, but others were only able to sit in an overflow ballroom where the forum discussion was being shown on a large movie screen.
But outside the energy in support of a publicly funded, privately delivered healthcare system was punctuated with cheers and chants. Every time one of the speakers said, “healthcare is a basic human right,” the crowd erupted in support of the statement that also was made by then candidate Barack Obama during the fall Presidential debates. Many of the protestors expressed their anger that President Obama has not given as much attention to the single payer plan, as crafted in HR676, “The National Health Care Act,” as they believe he has done with the hybrid plans that allow for-profit, private insurance plans to stay prominently in the picture.
Unless and until the Obama administration gives serious attention and consideration to single payer reform, many of the protestors said they expect similar or even larger actions as forums convene in Iowa, North Carolina and California. Many of the member groups of the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care had a presence at the rally, including Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Democrats of America, and HealthCare-Now.
Competing Views of Government: Universal Medicare or Government-Protected Insurance Companies March 9, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
Tags: conyers, dean baker, health, health care, health care reform, health insurance industry, healthcare, healthcare reform, hr676, private health insurance, private insurance, roger hollander, single payer, universal health care, universal healthcare, universal medicare
add a comment
Monday 09 March 2009
by: Dean Baker, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
We all know that people have different ideologies about the proper role of government. Some people, who tend to be left of center, think that the government’s role is to try to promote the general good, by providing basic services, protecting the poor and the sick, and ensuring a well-working economy. On the other hand, there are others, who usually place themselves right of center, who believe that the proper role of government is to redistribute as much income as possible to the wealthy.
These competing views of government are coming to a head in the debate over national health care reform. Those who think that the role of government is to serve the public good are likely to favor some form of universal Medicare. Such a system would almost certainly save a huge amount in administrative costs at the level of insurers, providers and government oversight.
Private insurers spend more than 15 percent of the money they collect in premiums on administrative costs. By contrast, Medicare spends about 2 percent. Part of the insurers’ administrative expenses go toward marketing – an expense that would be unnecessary in a universal Medicare system.
The other major factor driving administrative costs with private insurers is associated with their efforts to game the system. Gaming is the best way to make profits in the current system. If insurers can find effective mechanisms for either keeping sick people from being insured, or finding ways to deny coverage for expensive care, then they stand to make large profits. Naturally, profit-maximizing insurers will therefore devote substantial resources to trying to avoid ways to provide health care to people who need it.
At the level of providers, the wide range of divergent forms and policies employs hundreds of thousands of people in administrative positions in hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes and other providers. These people are often quite adept at dealing with various insurers, which is an important skill in our current system, but a task that would disappear if we had a universal Medicare system.
Finally, the state and federal governments must devote substantial resources for oversight to police the practice of insurers. Oversight agencies are essential for limiting abuse. This task would be much simpler if there were not corporations that stood to profit by keeping people from getting needed care.
While we could in principle shift to a universal Medicare system immediately, this would be an extremely difficult task politically and would present some serious practical problems as well. During his campaign, President Obama proposed something far more modest: give employers and individuals the choice to buy into a public Medicare-type program. Under this system, if people are happy with their current health care insurance, they would have the option to keep it. However, if they decided that the plan offered by the government was better, they could buy into it.
In this situation, insurers would compete with the government plan in the market. If private insurers could offer health insurance that provided better coverage or charged less, then people would have the option to buy into a private plan. Of course, the government would also regulate the market so that private insurers could not cherry-pick their way to profitability by insuring only healthy people and dumping them when they became sick.
The insurance industry already recognizes that it will lose out in this sort of competition. A government-run plan will be more efficient. We already know this based on the experience with Medicare. When private insurers have competed side by side with the traditional government Medicare plan, in the absence of government subsidies, the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries opted to go with the traditional Medicare plan.
This is why the insurers are yelling that they don’t want to face “unfair” competition from a government plan. But, their complaint should be all the endorsement that the public needs to support a public Medicare-type plan. The public plan will be cheaper and better than what the private insurers have to offer. Why shouldn’t the public then have this option?
We all know that the insurance industry executives and the company shareholders want to make lots of money, but maybe they should try to find an industry where they can compete. If the government can provide health insurance better and cheaper, then why do we need private insurers?
Obama to Single Payer Advocates: Drop Dead March 4, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Health.
Tags: congress, for-profit healt, health care, health care crisis, health care reform, health insurance, health insurance industry, health reform, health reform leadership, healthcare, healthcare reform, hr676, John Conyers, karen igangni, kathleen sebelius, medicare-for-all, nancy-ann deparle, National Health Program, president obama, private health insurance, roger hollander, single payer
add a comment
23 Corporate Crime Reporter 10, March 3, 2009
President Obama’s White House made crystal clear this week: a Canadian-style, Medicare-for-all, single payer health insurance system is off the table.
Obama doesn’t even want to discuss it.
Take the case of Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan).
Conyers is the leading advocate for single payer health insurance in Congress.
Last week, Conyers attended a Congressional Black Caucus meeting with President Obama at the White House.
During the meeting, Congressman Conyers, sponsor of the single payer bill in the House (HR 676), asked President Obama for an invite to the President’s Marchy 5 health care summit at the White House.
Conyers said he would bring along with him two doctors – Dr. Marcia Angell and Dr. Quentin Young – to represent the majority of physicians in the United States who favor single payer.
Obama would have none of it.
This week, by e-mail, Conyers heard back from the White House – no invite.
Well, believe it or not, the Obama White House is under the thumb of the health insurance industry.
Obama has become the industry’s chief enforcer of its key demand: single payer health insurance is off the table.
Earlier this week, Obama named his health reform leadership team – Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Nancy-Ann DeParle.
Single payer advocates were not happy.
Since leaving Medicare, DeParle cashed in as a director at major for profit health care corporations, including Medco Health Solutions, Cerner, Boston Scientific, DaVita, and Triad Hospitals.
Now, what does the health insurance industry make of the Sebelius/DeParle team?
Here is Karen Ignagni, president of the lead health insurance lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plans:
“Today the President is putting in place a team that is ready on day one to provide the leadership necessary to achieve health care reform. Governor Sebelius is the right person to move the President’s health care agenda forward. She is a proven leader with extensive knowledge of health care issues and a long history of working effectively across the political aisle. As a former CMS administrator, Nancy-Ann DeParle brings considerable experience and a strong track record working on all of the health care issues facing the nation.”
Karen sounds really upset, right?
Dr. David Himmelstein is a founder and spokesperson for Physicians for a National Health Program.
Himmelstein’s take – Obama is caving to the insurance industry.
“The President once acknowledged that single payer reform was the best option, but now he’s caving in to corporate healthcare interests and completely shutting out advocates of single payer reform,” Himmelstein said. “The majority of Americans favor single payer, and it’s the most popular reform option among doctors and health economists, but no single payer supporter has been invited to participate in the administration’s health care summit. Meanwhile, he’s appointed as his health reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, a woman who has made her living advising health care investors and sits on the board of many for-profit firms that have made billions from Medicare. Her appointment – and the invitation list to the healthcare summit – is a clear signal that the administration plans to propose a corporate-friendly health reform that has no chance of actually solving our health care crisis.”
Obama to single payer advocates: drop dead.
Corporate Crime Reporter
1209 National Press Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20045