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Health Care Reform Can’t Wait

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Posted on Feb 19, 2009
AP photo / M. Spencer Green

Those on the front lines of the health care mess, like neonatologist Dr. Dick David at Chicago’s John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, are forced to wait while politicians debate solutions.

By Bill Boyarsky

Who needs Tom Daschle? The national health care crisis, intensified by the recession, is so bad that nothing can be permitted to stop reform of the system, not even the implosion of the former Senate Democratic leader. Daschle, remember, was paid big speaking fees by the health business before President Barack Obama chose him to lead the health reform fight.

After losing his South Dakota seat in 2004, Daschle began a lucrative career based on his connections. He was an important early Obama supporter. He knew the Senate and understood the health care issue. But early this month he withdrew as Obama’s nominee for secretary of health and human services. He had failed to pay taxes on a car and driver provided him by the founder of a private equity firm where he worked as a high-priced consultant. The position had brought him, according to Politico, more than $2 million in fees. Politico also reported that Daschle received more than $200,000 for speeches to health care industry groups that will be affected by health care legislation.

Daschle paid more than $100,000 in back taxes for use of the car, but not soon enough to save his nomination.

That’s the way it works for financially ambitious officials who feel impoverished by the limitations of public service. After leaving the Clinton White House and before his election to Congress, Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made $16.2 million as an investment banker, according to The New York Times. And Richard Holbrooke, a former high-level diplomat, was vice chairman of an investment firm before becoming Obama’s special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Jodi Kantor of the Times reported Holbrooke had “what friends say was a relatively undemanding job and lavish compensation.” 

Daschle’s entrance into this privileged world would have passed hardly noticed if tax troubles of other Obama appointees had not made the news.

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And there was the opaque role of an old Daschle foe, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. His committee was screening Daschle’s nomination, and though Baucus eventually said something supportive about his old colleague, it took him a couple of days to do it. 

Baucus’ slow reaction wasn’t surprising, considering his relationship with Daschle, as described by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada in his book “The Good Fight.” Reid wrote that “Baucus was the only Westerner to vote against Daschle in his race for Democratic leader in 1994, which Daschle had only won by a single vote, and they had been driven farther apart on the issue of taxes. ... [T]hey really couldn’t stand each other. …”

The Finance Committee will shape the health reform legislation in the Senate. Now Baucus, along with Sen. Edward Kennedy, will determine its fate. Baucus has proposed a combination public-private health plan along the lines of Obama’s.

Baucus said he doesn’t think Daschle’s absence will hurt health care reform. “I don’t think it sets it back very much at all,” he told NPR. “Tom Daschle is a terrific fellow. He knows more about health care than anyone else. But there is such momentum now for health care reform. The stars seemed so aligned.” (In politics, it should be explained, everyone is “a fine fellow” or “my good friend,” no matter how much dislike might exist.)

But what kind of health plan will emerge? 

The best health reform would be something along the lines of Medicare, an excellent program for those over 65 in which doctors bill the government. We should have Medicare for everybody, administered by the government and without insurance companies involved. Anyone on Medicare will tell you how well it works.

It is, pure and simple, government health insurance. Advocates call it “single payer” in an effort to defang critics of government involvement. But the “single payer” is the government, supported by our tax dollars. It’s simple, it works—and we’re probably years away from it.

I talked about this with Dr. Len Nichols, health policy director for the New American Foundation, who has been involved in every recent effort to fix the health system, including the unsuccessful Clinton health initiative of 1993-94. “I want a bill passed,” he said. But he conceded the lobbying power of the insurance companies, which will fight any move to keep them out of the system. “We can’t get from here to there without the private insurers,” he said.

Nichols has been working with Sen. Ron Wyden, a liberal Democrat from Oregon who has a plan that would take employers out of the health insurance mix. You’d buy coverage from state and regional insurance pools. Insurance companies would compete for business in the pools. Insurers would have to cover everybody. Everybody would be required to be insured, with full and partial subsidies for the low-income and the unemployed.

This is just one proposal in the mix, but it seems to have more legs than most of the others because Wyden’s co-author is a conservative Republican, Bob Bennett of Utah. Seven other Republicans have joined Bennett as co-sponsors of the bill. Seven Democrats have signed up with Wyden.

Nobody knows what will come out of this. But with more people losing their jobs every day—and their health insurance—fear is spreading through the land. The many interests vested in the present system will fight to prevent change.

But logic leans toward the sentiments of Sen. Baucus and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., whose House Energy and Commerce Committee will also have a major role in drafting the legislation. “We need to get this job accomplished this year and get the bill to the president,” Waxman told Families USA, a liberal health reform group.

Health care reform is what Obama promised during the campaign. He made the pledge with increasing emotion as the recession worsened during the fall.

Despite the need, it won’t be easy. The ease with which Daschle moved from his position as a Senate health care reformer to a paid speechmaker for health business groups shows how deep this industry’s tentacles extend and how high they reach.


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By LPN Jobs, October 10, 2011 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

It’s a catch 22 - too much income on both sides of the
aisles are tied to health insurance.  It will take a
serious upheaval of society in the U.S. to change the
status quo.

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By mariap, September 2, 2011 at 2:17 am Link to this comment

I know what you mean about these meds that we do in fact take forever. (and I share your disgust with the amount of money tied up in drugs like Viagra, which just so happened to be the FASTEST drug ever approved by the FDA in its (FDA) history, which is yet another illustration of who holds sway/POWER in the overall socio-economic political structure based on Patriarchy;  Old and mostly white guys. It’s been that way since the beginning.

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By Certified Nursing Assistant, June 22, 2011 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment

The health care reform is pretty objective. If you ask yourself what you would prefer should you lose your job, a health insurance or no, and there you have your answer. Those who object and abhor Obama’s health care plan are the companies who have to shell out to cover the insurance and of course the insurance companies.

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By cyrena, February 26, 2009 at 1:57 am Link to this comment

•  “To be a blockbuster the patient never goes off it—they take it forever.  It doesn’t have to be life-sustaining—it just has to go on and on. I’ve taken Prevacid for years (can’t take Prilosec or Nexxium)—at $4/capsule!  My coverage has tried to weedle, finagle even coerce me into going on to the others—accountants rule over medical needs.”

Inherit,

I know what you mean about these meds that we do in fact take forever. (and I share your disgust with the amount of money tied up in drugs like Viagra, which just so happened to be the FASTEST drug ever approved by the FDA in its (FDA) history, which is yet another illustration of who holds sway/POWER in the overall socio-economic political structure based on Patriarchy;  Old and mostly white guys. It’s been that way since the beginning.

I have also needed to take a similar drug to Prevacid and for years. In fact, I started with Prevacid, since my brother-in-law, (the gastro-guy) recommended it, and so I checked with my own physician who prescribed it. That was when I was still employed and had access to health coverage. And for ME, it WAS ‘life-sustaining’ since I would have possibly shot myself from the pain otherwise.
When I lost my job however, I also lost my health care coverage, so it meant accessing state and county services. They switched me over to Protonix, (also incredibly expensive, so I’m not sure why) and that’s what I’ve been taking ever since.

After a couple of years (or better) my Social Security Disability became effective, and with it came Medicare. So, the same issue you’re addressing here, became an issue again, in terms of the Protonix. Medicare didn’t initially cover ANY drugs, so just having medicare alone didn’t help with the expense of the Protonix, which was running –at the time at least- anywhere from $4.43 to $5.87 a PILL, making it the most expensive (though not by much) medication in my relatively small collection of daily prescription meds, which at the time, was 5 and has since been reduced to 3 – all of which ARE life-sustaining, at least as far as I’m concerned. (If not MY life, then SOMEBODY’S)

So, even after Medicare added the Part D to it’s program to cover the expense of these drugs, (or at least part of it) it didn’t help me with the Protonix, because the Protonix was still under pharmaceutical copyright (or whatever it is that allows them to prevent generic forms from being manufactured and sold) and so Medicare did not cover that expense, despite the fact that participants in the program are forced to pay a premium for the coverage. In other words, it doesn’t cover any non-generic or what is also categorized as ‘non-formulary’ in government payment code.

Ergo, until very recently, I needed an additional health care policy in order to afford the Protonix as well as the Lipitor, neither of which is available in generic form. Lucky for me and other Protonix takers, it IS now available in generic form, and couldn’t have happened a moment too soon, since I can no longer afford that extra health care coverage that made them available at a slightly cheaper rate. (this is why old people (or those who can’t work and are on fixed incomes) have been having to choose between breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and their meds.)

Of course this simply should not be. These medications should be available at reasonable rates to anybody who needs them. I don’t expect them to be ‘free’, because it’s not ‘free’ to manufacture the stuff, and the research is certainly not ‘free’.  I just expect it to happen PROFIT FREE, especially if we’re footing the bill. in fact, I think the Pharmaceutical Industry should be nationalized.

THANKS for the tip on the Lipitor. I didn’t know this. I’ve just not bothered to replace it with anything else that might be in generic form. Are you aware of any other statins that don’t have this issue of jacking with the brain and the memory?

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By KDelphi, February 26, 2009 at 12:42 am Link to this comment

wildflower—I certainly see what you are saying about conservatives (if there are any true ones left—and I do not mean that Ron Paul is one, for Paulette lurkers).

It is just that I exzpect to have to argue the point with conservatives. I shouldnt have to with so-called liberals. The Blue Dogs are neo-liberals at best. They give liberal Dems (what few there are) more trouble than the neoc-ons , which no sane , intelligent person would pay much credence after these past 8 yrs. Aaahh, but, they will listen when neo-liberals say how good the economy was under Bill Clinton! ThAT may be because they were doing ok then. Well, the working classes were not. It was a dot.com bubble, this was a housing bubble, that is how the uS form of capitalism works, and, it is Social Darwinism. Blue Dog eat liberal—dog, or whatever! lol

Under a Socialist Democracy, there would be proportional representation, a parliamentary system, worker ownership of industy , basic human righs for all (at least, in the best kind of socialist democracy) Even an inch towards it would improve the lives of most USAns.

But, if the Dems keep giving in to the deficit hawks, and the “big govt is awful” crowd, (no—BAD govt is awful!),not to mention the “we are all responsible”—we will achieve nothing. The stars are all lined up.(the working classes havent done anything “wrong” that I see, and, kids dorp out of school because it sucks and now they are letting down the entire country? maybe it is the other way around..) Will the liberals take their chance of two decades? It doesnt look good so far.

(Remember the middle class liberal, we are all respnsible wellintentioned blues of National Lampoon fame? Neo-libs seem to have thought that it was a “suggestion”...))

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By wildflower, February 25, 2009 at 11:56 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi
Yes, it’s interesting to compare the conservative and liberal leadership on this issue.  The conservatives talk a good story on the “right to life” until the “right to life” issue comes up in the context of medical/healthcare for the citizenry of this country; then, the little hypocrites run for the bushes, and squawk about socialism - so much for their concern about the “right to life.”

And the conservative leadership is just as hypocritical about money matters. The past eight years is certainly proof of this. These idiots have created a real economic nightmare. As to the conservatives and the healthcare issue, it’s fairly obvious why they continue to support the for-profit medical heath insurance companies. It’s one of those “me first” kind of things, and, in this case, it’s the money they would lose in campaign contributions from this industry.

As for the “Blue Dog Democrats,” I’m not sure. Surely, they understand the goal of a for-profit health insurer is to make money, and, as such, serious ethical issues are always going to develop. If they have difficulty understanding the ethical issues involved, maybe the Blue Dogs should start talking to people who have victimized by some of these for-profit medical heath insurance companies. And to suggest everything is going to be OK as soon as we have “reform within the industry” is a very risky and arrogant mode of thinking.

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By KDelphi, February 25, 2009 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

wildflower—I was referring to a post , thebeerdr., I think , who said that , with the lobbyists, etc. we have no chance of getting single payer passed. I was agreeihg with that. I shouldve stated so.

I have been working on this so long that I am tired of it. It is not so bad to have to fight conservatives for it, but, when you have to fight so-called liberals (neo-liberals), it just becomes too daunting. If the Blue Dogs are going to sell out to the big insurance industry lobbyists,(and, most USAns are dumb enough to think that “reform within the industry” is enough) there is not going to be much change.

I called Sen. Baucus office yesterday and recieved a very curt response. (I usually dont get that—PNHP had asked us all to call, so that was probably it). Even many (like Waxman) who WERE for a single payer have caved to so-called mkt forces (in matters of life and death?? how barbaric!), thanks to neo-lliberal groups like Families USA. They sell out. Amd I dont forgive them for it.

20,000 will die this year. At least most kids have coverage now—-I hope! But, this should not be the huge debate that it is. There are programs all over the world that we could implement. Until we do, our economy will be on the skids and, people will die needlessly. Right now, someone just died of diabates because they couldnt afford their insulin. Right now, someone is going to a “chairty’ or Med HMO dentist , who will pull all of his teeth, because it is cheaper and makes them more money, when his teeth could be saved, and, he could have a better life, nutritionally and as far as pain. Someone is being needlessly exposed to radiation , for a CT Scan, because the hospital has to pay for it. The economics have to come out of life or death matters, or we will not be considered civilized by the civilized world.

I just cannot stand it anymore. I worked with
“spend-downs”, HMMOs (Satan come to life), “health care savings plans” there are all bullshit. People should be very angry. People should demand better.

But, they dont. And, if they dont, they wont get it.

I guess that Medicare is pretty good, even with Part D and Advantage. Maybe we who are not on it, should not fight against cuts to it, so that those on it will suffer also.(No one noticed the economy was in the shitter until the middle classes began to suffer—-others have been living it for decades) But, I cant bring myself to go along with that. Apparently, though, “
entitlement reform” is coming with Pres. Obama’s and the Blue Dogs’ blessings.Maybe ALL the Dems blessings, escept for a scattered few.

Does the middle class have to be in hell before they will notice that many of us already are? I hope not.But, for the poor, it is becoming and exercise in masochism to keep touting the “middle class”, when we are not in it anymore.I suppose we feel that there is no democracy without a middle class. Maybe there is no democracy until there is NO middle class.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 25, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

cyrena, February 22 at 9:52 pm #

Inherit,

You’ve done it again…

•  “And none of them are immune to criticism. Look how the drug companies have put most of their research $$$ into blockbuster drugs the patient must stay on THE REST OF HIS/HER LIFE!  Viagra, Cielis, Lipitor—you can SEE the very blockbusters being advertised on TV—even “restless leg syndrome” and excessive urination.” .. “Everyone of these is a drug, whether a rare condition or not, that the patient NEVER goes off of.”

With Viagra and Ciealis first on your list of drugs that a patient must stay on for the REST OF HIS/HER LIFE!!

OMG!! This is too funny. smile


ITW. Are you suggesting that the inability for a man to engage in sexual intercourse is a life threatening disorder that therefore REQUIRES that they take this medicine for the rest of their lives, just to sustain that life? What would happen to ‘em if they didn’t take the medicine, and therefore didn’t have sex? Would it affect the rest of their health? (Nevermind, don’t answer that, since there probably IS a case to be made for that.)

...........
But there are even far more ‘important’ drugs that remain inaccessible to people, like for treatment of diabetes or mental illness. Those are drugs that people DO have to take their entire lives, and it’s criminal that the Corps are able to profit so enormously from them. Any person who needs these kinds of drugs, (and there are others) should have access to them, or we can forget claiming to be a technologically advanced society, let alone a morally responsible one.

***************************************************

Cyrena, I didn’t really MEAN to be funny—sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Pharma companies aren’t really interested in developing shorter term drugs unless their price is astronomical (like in the thousands for a single chemotherapy dose).  This is why we have fallen behind in anti-biotic development—most you take for 10 days then stop.  The big pharmas have the CHUTZPAH to demand the US govt fund any anti-biotic devel for them…what are they, AIG or CitiGroup?

Virus vaccine development is rare too—only the human papaloma vaccine for women is new.  Again—one dose is all.

To be a blockbuster the patient never goes off it—they take it forever.  It doesn’t have to be life-sustaining—it just has to go on and on. I’ve taken Prevacid for years (can’t take Prilosec or Nexxium)—at $4/capsule!  My coverage has tried to weedle, finagle even coerce me into going on to the others—accountants rule over medical needs.

It’s not that I’m not sympathetic to older guys who need Cialis or Viagra—but I resent the billions that went to their research because of their blockbuster potential, when other conditions have been neglected.

BTW, Lipitor apparently is one of the few statins that passes the brain barrier and can break down the cholesterol sheath on the ganglia—it’s been associated with memory loss.

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By wildflower, February 24, 2009 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment

Re: KDelphi Feb 24 at 12:44

Clearly, we’re both in agreement about the “single payer” approach based on the current Medicare/Medicaid system would be the best and most economical for the U.S.  –  without the involvement of “for-profit” private insurers.

As to your question, I may have misunderstood something you said. In my original post to you, I commented on a quote attributed to Len Nichols:

“I want a bill passed,” he said. But he conceded the lobbying power of the insurance companies, which will fight any move to keep them out of the system. “We can’t get from here to there without the private insurers,” he said.

My response to Nichols statement - which was included in my post to you -  was something like “We don’t need the lobbyists and/or private insurers to go anywhere.  The American taxpayers are the U.S. government.  If we want a national health program, we should have it.” 

In your next post to me, you wrote, “He was right though.”  At the time, I assumed you were agreeing with Dr. Nichols that the American people can’t get from here to there without private insurers, but obviously not. You were probably agreeing that the “lobbyists” would be pushing for the private insurers. Anyway, this is why I questioned your thinking in my next post.

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By Liberal Democratic Party of the United States, February 24, 2009 at 4:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Send the following letter by US Mail or email or fax to your congressman
and your 2 Senators and Senate Republican minority leader Senator
Mitch McConnell. Tell 3 other people to visit this site and have these
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You can send a free fax at http://www.faxzero.com to Senator McConnell.

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Dear ( Senator / Congressman )

I want the following actions taken and legislation enacted into law.

Congress and the President must enact HR 676 single payer
universal health care and set up a new prescription drug benefit
in Medicare Part B covering 80% of the cost of all drugs with
no extra monthly premiums, no extra yearly deductible, no
means tests, no coverage gaps, and remove the means test for
Medicare Part B and until that happens, I won’t buy
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I will not buy any products from Republican contributor and
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EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT ENACTED INTO LAW
AND UNTIL THAT HAPPENS I WON’T BUY JACK DANIELS
WHISKEY OR SOUTHERN COMFORT OR ANY OTHER
OF THEIR PRODUCTS.

Thank you.

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By KDelphi, February 24, 2009 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

Here is what physicians for a Natl Health Plan say about it, as of today.
(Baucus is preventing single payer from being brought to the floor—please tell him to stop blocking action, as the Dems have been reminding GOP to do…))

“Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently unveiled his proposals for incremental health reform, which largely mirror the ideas of President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

However well-intentioned, the Obama/Baucus/Kennedy approaches share a fatal flaw: they preserve a central role for the private health insurance industry.

To varying degrees, they would mandate that everyone buy private health insurance - the private insurance that is failing us today. Some of these plans offer a Medicare-like, public option that people could buy into, but experience with Medicare shows that the private plans refuse to compete on a level playing field. They cherry-pick healthier patients and insist on more than their share of payment.

Experience with mandate-based plans in Washington state (1993), Oregon (1992) and Massachusetts (1988 and today) shows that they simply don’t work, achieving neither universal health care nor cost containment.

As long as we rely on private health insurers, universal coverage will be unaffordable. These companies generate immense overhead costs and force doctors and hospitals to spend heavily on billing and paperwork.

Administration consumes about one-third of every health care dollar in the U.S. By contrast, in countries with nonprofit national health insurance, administrative costs consume only half that amount.

There is a cure, however. Eliminating the private insurance industry would save $400 billion annually in administrative costs, enough to ensure that everyone is covered and to eliminate all co-pays and deductibles.

At this critical juncture, a single-payer plan is the only medically, morally and fiscally responsible path to take.”

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By KDelphi, February 24, 2009 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

wildflower—“Re: KDelphi

“So you think these fraudulent health insurance companies and their Congressional/Senatorial pimps, should be allowed to continue scamming and victimizing the American public forever? I don’t think so, KDelphi.  Enough is enough.  Human life is far too precious, and the American public is entitled to a legitimate affordable system of health care. “NO—they are entitled to FREE care if they cannot afford it!”


Where in HELL did I say that??(I’m on a Medicaid HMO that just dumped my family dr of 24 yrs , btw—I know ALL about it. Plus, I worked with people on Medicaid for “mental health problems”—I have all kinds of “experience” with the “system”—that is why I know we need to do away with it—not “reform it and make it affordable for consumers”)) I just think that the current proporsals, (by Baucus, et al) will make things worse. Trying to “fix the system”  incrementally may make it much worse for many on Medicaid and Medicare. We need universal coverage for all. I am most against doing something- But not just for doing ANYTHING. Which is what Congress seems to have settled for. They can make things worse , you know. Hard to believe, but, “reforms” theyve done in the past have done just that.


That is what Medicare Part D did to Medicare-just made it more complicated and expensive.(It blocks re-importation of Canadian drugs, as well as the use of some generics—the question should be, why do we pay so much more than Canada, anyway??) It was a giant gift to the prescription drug industry. Medicare Advantage is another gift to private corporations. I dont think that we can achieve universal coverage using private plans as a base.(Progressive Dems of Am , as well as physicians for a Natl Health Plan agree with me—so does Kucinich, Conyers, Scandanavia, Canada, etc. Also, the UN and various Human Rights Agencies) I have been ‘working on this” for more than two decades. I think settling for half measure will prolong the agony.

As soon as Daschle and Waxman said, we needed to make “health insurance more affordable and better quality” I knew that that meant “pooling the poor”. That is not acceptable to me. Why not just throw everyone who cant afford insurance onto Medicaid? Because the middle class would be in the streets if they had to put up with the crappy care.

We need doctors who perform medical arts, not prescription pushers and CT scan billers. We need to be citizens and patients, not “consumsers”. It is ridiculous. I have seen “reform” with HMOs (great!), “reforms” to medicare—it all made things worse, as, contributions to DC from the industry have gotten larger and larger.

IF the Democrats would back universal CARE
(vs coverage—what dose that mean? which surgeries, er rooms, etc, are not allowed , except for Congress?)for ALL (I think a rate of 6% is what most civilized countries accept as not being provided for), at this moment when they haev the aupport of the majority of the people, I might actually become a Democrat again—or consider it.

What happened to ‘everyone getting the same as Congress”?? The health “insurance industry” has been licking its lips over a partial mandate. Well Point is one of them (from physicians for a Natl Health Plan—notice they dont say “insurance”). But, it is not an exceptin—it is the rule, for low income peoples’ coverage.

We need to get rid of them, not supplement them.

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By wildflower, February 24, 2009 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

Good, grief! Thanks for your efforts, Cyrena. The question is why does WellCare continue to get government contracts? It can’t be very cost effective to contract with them. Special audits, Investigations, FBI raids can’t be cheap.

They have to be either a grossly incompetent corporation without any kind of internal controls or they’re corrupt. Personally, I think it’s the latter. Granted, human error is always out there and billing errors can occur in any business, but not at the tune of $49 million dollars:

“In a separate action, a fraud investigation began on Oct. 24, 2007, when FBI and Florida authorities raided WellCare’s corporate headquarters. Last July the company said previous executives overbilled government health programs by $49 million.”

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/politics/content/health/epaper/2009/02/20/0220wellcare_copy.html?cxntlid=inform_sr

The other serious concern about WellCare is that this corporation was denying medical and prescription benefits to some of their enrollees, which is totally unacceptable - in some cases it could have been life threatening. 

What is interesting about WellCare’s “mistakes” is that when it came to money the alleged mistakes involved “over billing,” but when it came to people their alleged “mistakes” involved “under serving.”  One can’t help but note while the “mistakes” were different both always led to more money for WellCare.

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By cyrena, February 24, 2009 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

Here’s some of the stuff that I remember from WellCare back in the late 90’s. There’s newer stuff as well. The connections to the GOP and Neocon Mafia’s is deep. Oh yeah…Bob Graham, the Florida Mob, same culprits for the past few decades…

•  “WellCare Health Plans Inc. said a shareholder derivative action was filed against the company Monday in federal court. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against all of the company’s directors, except for Bob Graham, a former Florida governor and United States senator who joined the WellCare board in April. WellCare (NYSE: WCG) dominates the Medicaid market in Jacksonville. With two Medicaid plans, WellCare has more than 43,000 members in Duval County, or about 55 percent of the market, according to figures from AHCA for the quarter ended June ... “
Business Wire; December 8, 1999 ;

Now why is it that these plaintiffs filed against ALL OF THE COMPANY’S DIRECTORS – EXCEPT BOB GRAHAM?
(The article doesn’t say – or I didn’t read it – so that’s just my own curiosity.)

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1S1-1202170005481701.html

This looks like the same as the above law suit, but I’m still looking for the others. (This from 1998-99)

http://securities.stanford.edu/1007/WELL96/19990929_f01s_96521.html

Meantime, Then here’s a piece from a raid that the FBI did on their headquarters back in 2007. Board of director Robert Grahm (and former US Senator AND Florida Gov) just happened to be conveniently out of the country.

FBI Agents Raid WellCare

By CAROL GENTRY The Tampa Tribune
Published: Oct 25, 2007

“TAMPA - About 200 agents from the FBI and other federal and state agencies descended on the headquarters of WellCare Health Plans on Wednesday morning in a raid, seizing laptop computers, files and boxes of documents.

The company declined to comment on the raid, other than to confirm that state and federal agents searched its four-building campus on Henderson Road and to assure clients that services would not be affected.

None of the agencies involved in the raid would comment on the reason for the search of the company, one of the nation’s largest health insurers for government programs.

Agents from the FBI, the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, and the Florida attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit participated in Wednesday’s search. They referred calls to the U.S. attorney’s office in Tampa, but that office said it could not discuss the purpose of the search. Steve Cole, spokesman for the office, said there were no arrests.”

The rest at the link.

http://www.tbo.com/news/nationworld/MGBRPJ6R68F.html

There’s lots more about these folks that I just didn’t have time to search yet. I’m sure they had a similar deal in Texas.

Well, here’s another one that connects them to some possible off shore account activity as well.

http://www.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUSN0420591220071104

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By wildflower, February 23, 2009 at 10:54 pm Link to this comment

Re: Geezer Pilot

Agree expanding Medicare for all would be the best and most logical plan, Geezer Pilot.  But I note the bill promoting this plan [Hr 676] says that it would be implemented over a 15-year period, which is a very long time frame.  In 1994, Switzerland passed a referendum in support of a universal health plan, and their plan was in force by 1996, which makes a lot more sense.

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By Old Gezzer Pilot, February 23, 2009 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is so so simple. We already have a single-payer national health plan. Well, at least I have one, because I am over 65.

So simply remove the words “65 and over” from the existing 1965 Medicare Act.

Sometimes we cannot see what is right in front of us.

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By wildflower, February 23, 2009 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Re: KDelphi

So you think these fraudulent health insurance companies and their Congressional/Senatorial pimps, should be allowed to continue scamming and victimizing the American public forever? I don’t think so, KDelphi.  Enough is enough.  Human life is far too precious, and the American public is entitled to a legitimate affordable system of health care.

The elected officials who continue to pimp and shuffle public dollars into the hands of the unscrupulous health insurance industry at the expense of a vulnerable American public should be held accountable. They’ve knowingly accommodated the fraudulent and life endangering practices of this industry far too long.

And the for-profit health agencies engaging in unscrupulous practices like denying prescriptions, denying health services to people in need, billing and collecting excessive Medicaid or Medicare payments through fraud or manipulation should be indicted, prosecuted and put in jail like any other criminal

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By cyrena, February 23, 2009 at 1:27 am Link to this comment

Outraged,

WellCare has been in the news before…back around 1998 or so is when I first remember hearing of them. It was a court action, and I wish I could remember the details, but I’ll have to look it up. They ‘operated’ in parts of Texas as well. There are multiple horror stories.

But, I’m gonna check for that one now, just because seeing this again has sparked my interest. (It’s just that there are so many of these HMO crack houses that I can’t keep track).

I’ll check.

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By KDelphi, February 23, 2009 at 1:16 am Link to this comment

wildflower—thanks. he is right , though. i am just not going to ask for it anymore, but, if/when things get too bad for some of us, dont dare come after someone who would help me…my HMO just dumped my family dr of 25 yrs. F*ck them, they keep calling wanting to know if I want the local heatlh care center—I’ve been there. Id go to a veterinarian first. NO one goes there. Thats why they want me to go—the for-profit medical HMOs pay them—no one else will. Drs are only permittted to do what is cheap.

I am moving to a state where i hear that the Medicaid is better.

G. anderson—what, do you think that people dont need health care? you obviously have never worked in the “health care” “system” in USA. It is shameful. If you dont want coverage, you dont have to go to a dr.

If citizens and patients let this chance go, they deserve whatever the duopoly gives them—well, not all of them. but we will all have to put up with it, until the health insurance industry breaks the budget of whatever “plan” cowardly Dems come up with, then the GOP wil say, “see, it is too expensive”

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By cyrena, February 22, 2009 at 10:52 pm Link to this comment

Inherit,

You’ve done it again…

•  “And none of them are immune to criticism. Look how the drug companies have put most of their research $$$ into blockbuster drugs the patient must stay on THE REST OF HIS/HER LIFE!  Viagra, Cielis, Lipitor—you can SEE the very blockbusters being advertised on TV—even “restless leg syndrome” and excessive urination.” .. “Everyone of these is a drug, whether a rare condition or not, that the patient NEVER goes off of.”

With Viagra and Ciealis first on your list of drugs that a patient must stay on for the REST OF HIS/HER LIFE!!

OMG!! This is too funny. smile


ITW. Are you suggesting that the inability for a man to engage in sexual intercourse is a life threatening disorder that therefore REQUIRES that they take this medicine for the rest of their lives, just to sustain that life? What would happen to ‘em if they didn’t take the medicine, and therefore didn’t have sex? Would it affect the rest of their health? (Nevermind, don’t answer that, since there probably IS a case to be made for that.)

As for the Lipitor, one CAN stop taking it if one is forced to, because I have. I took it for about 2 years, when I could afford health care coverage. I found it to be extremely helpful, and an overall improvement to at least the ‘whole’ of my system. (It probably doesn’t do much for a broken back). In other words, my doctor and I agree that it was helpful to my overall health.

However, as you’ve pointed out, it’s incredibly expensive, and so when my qualification for that health care plan ran out, (and I couldn’t afford to pay the full premiums out of pocket) I had to stop taking it.

That is DESPITE the fact that I do have access to medicare prescription drug coverage, because Medicare ONLY covers the generic versions of any of these drugs. Lipitor is therefore not covered. I discovered that the first time I filled the prescription under my medicare coverage, and they told me it would be $122.00, which included my Medicare ‘discount’.

I stopped taking the Lipitor, and I can ‘feel’ the difference. So maybe you’re right in that respect, in terms of having to take the stuff for the rest of one’s life.

But there are even far more ‘important’ drugs that remain inaccessible to people, like for treatment of diabetes or mental illness. Those are drugs that people DO have to take their entire lives, and it’s criminal that the Corps are able to profit so enormously from them. Any person who needs these kinds of drugs, (and there are others) should have access to them, or we can forget claiming to be a technologically advanced society, let alone a morally responsible one.

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By wildflower, February 22, 2009 at 9:59 pm Link to this comment

Re: Leefeller

No, you’re right, Leefeller.  Something more than a lack of humility is missing from these representatives. Outrage’s post about the scandalous relationship between our “representatives” and WellCare is a prime example.

What I don’t understand is why these insurance corporations are only receiving “sanctions,” and are not being prosecuted. No one seems to be addressing the fact that some of these insurance like this WellPoint and WellCare have endangered the lives of people in urgent need of medical care:

“. . . Medicare barred WellPoint Inc., the second-largest U.S. health insurer by revenue, from signing up new Medicare customers because it allegedly denied prescriptions to some and overcharged others. . .

. . . WellCare was one of the overall worst performers among all plans,” said Abby Block, Medicare’s chief of private plans, in the letter… More than 2,500 WellCare Medicare plan customers in January complained about their services, including many who said they had difficulty obtaining prescription drugs. . .”

The Tampa company was notified Thursday of its suspension in a letter sent by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, according to the agency. The sanction takes effect on March 7 and won’t be lifted until the company satisfies regulators that operations and marketing have improved, according to the letter.”

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/politics/content/health/epaper/2009/02/20/0220wellcare_copy.html?cxntlid=inform_sr

“WelCare Ordered to Halt Enrollment in Medicare Plans”
By Avram Goldstein And Aliza Marcus [Bloomberg News]

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By Inherit The Wind, February 22, 2009 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment

I recently has a minor procedure, one I routinely have.  But this year it was different—the doctor was in a different facility…but the bill for the anesthesia was insane, and we’ve been fighting it. In the past, the nurse started the drip and gave me the shot of anesthesia through it. 

But at this new facility they insist he use an anesthesia service to do the same damn thing.  Their bill?  Over 6 TIMES what the insurance will cover as the usual cost.  So the anesthesia group is coming after me for the money.

This little story is paradigmatic of what is wrong with our system.  The A-Group sees an opportunity to screw 6x the fee out, knowing damn well it’s got to come out of the patient’s pocket because the insurance won’t cover.  Besides, most insurance companies will say—“Take this as FULL payment or get nothing!” So now the A-Group has an excuse to come after me for the full amount—6 times what it should be and about 2 or 3 times what the doctor’s own fee is!

You see, it’s not about allowing hospitals, doctors, drug companies and insurance companies to make a profit.  It’s about allowing them to gouge people while they are at their most vulnerable. It’s about setting priorities so that they do NOT benefit the patients, but instead the companies.

And none of them are immune to criticism. Look how the drug companies have put most of their research $$$ into blockbuster drugs the patient must stay on THE REST OF HIS/HER LIFE!  Viagra, Cielis, Lipitor—you can SEE the very blockbusters being advertised on TV—even “restless leg syndrome” and excessive urination.

Everyone of these is a drug, whether a rare condition or not, that the patient NEVER goes off of.

Meanwhile, they have fought like wildcats to prevent medical marijuana from being legalized.  Not because it doesn’t work, but because it’s not patentable and will provide an eminently reasonably priced alternative to insanely expensive anti-nausea drugs for cancer patients—one of which contains, as its active ingredient—THC!

I’ve only hinted at the problems in the industry—but, of course, Republicans fight it tooth and nail shrieking “SOCIALISM” when, in fact, they have NO answer to fixing the health care system. They don’t even see it as problem that over 40 million Americans have no health care insurance—12% of the public.

That’s their answer—10’s of millions of uninsured Americans is not a problem.

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By wildflower, February 22, 2009 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

Re: Outraged at February 22 11:15 am

My fellow Republicans, from this day forth, you shall be called “medicaid queens.” [The Ghost of Ronald Reagan]

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By Leefeller, February 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Wildflower,

Something missing from our representatives, using the term loosely here. is Integrity, and accountability, but as you say humility would be nice also. You may be on to something?

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By Outraged, February 22, 2009 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

Regarding my earlier comment:  “In Wisconsin we use the “fund the insurance company” plan for what is called “Badgercare” (don’t ask).  Anyway, the insurance companies still try to deny benefits, pharmacies charge for drugs proscribed but not picked up, they simply find new and inventive ways to CHEAT THE SYSTEM.”

This just in, as it appeared in the Palm Beach Post:

“By TRAVIS REED

The Associated Press

Sunday, February 22, 2009

MIAMI — While Florida politicians were considering a vast overhaul of the state’s troubled Medicaid system, a Tampa company that administered care for half a million poor and needy residents was busy lining their pockets with campaign donations.

WellCare Health Plans Inc., its subsidiaries and executives spent $2.4 million on political contributions in the 2004 and 2006 elections, according to an analysis of campaign records by The Associated Press. More than 95 percent of it went to Republicans, who pushed forward a nationally watched plan that funnels more state and federal Medicaid spending than ever through private companies like WellCare, which profit most by providing the least care.

At the same time, WellCare acknowledges it was cheating Florida out of tens of millions in overpayments and is under investigation for suspected fraud and unfair business practices by a cadre of state and federal agencies.

WellCare manages care for nearly 2.4 million people on government-sponsored health plans in Florida, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, New York and Ohio. Florida’s Medicaid reforms are being closely monitored by other states seeking to alleviate their own health care costs.

WellCare gave $100,000 to the Republican Party of Florida on Dec. 6, 2005 - a day after the Legislature convened specifically to consider the Medicaid proposals, and days before they passed. The company spent seven times more on lobbying than its top two competitors combined, skirting state laws meant to cap candidate donations at $500 per person or company by writing checks under nearly 30 different business names.”

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/business/content/business/epaper/2009/02/22/sunbiz_wellcare_0222.html

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By wildflower, February 22, 2009 at 11:38 am Link to this comment

Re: Leefeller

Don’t forget the D.C. politicians, Leefeller.  Like the insurance lobbyists you mention, a lot of these people are dancing from puppet strings as well. I’ve never quite understood why this keeps happening, but after watching Robert Kaiser on Bill Moyers a few nights ago, I think I’ve finally figured out why – we are simply putting in too many slow learners in Congress:

ROBERT KAISER: It’s extraordinary. There have been so many embarrassments. So many careers ended over the years by people being caught in an embarrassing kind of situation, having accepted some favor or hospitality. And somehow, the lesson has to be relearned again and again, and is never learned somehow.

My biggest theory is, my most central theory, these people come to Washington, member of the House of Representatives, senator of the United States. They think they’re really big stuff. They think they’re entitled to be treated like potentates. And when somebody comes along and says, “Gee, I’d like to treat you like a potentate, how about it?” Too many of them say, “Okay, let’s try that. Let’s see how it feels.”

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/02202009/watch.html

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By Purple Girl, February 22, 2009 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

These corp alfing Buddies have been intentionally blocking healthcare reform for decades- a great excuse for their Treasonous business Decision.
‘Oh the cost of healthcare has driven Us Out’. Yet has made them Bank in profits, so god forbid should legislation be passed to screw that up.
when they want profits by price gouging they ‘sell’ to US, when they want to cut costs (ncrease profits) they move to poor 3rd world countries.
It doesn’t take an economic Guru or the Great Santini to figure that one out.
The Health insurance and Pharms are already gearing up to block healthcare reform…Funny no one other industry leader is stepping forward to finally oppose them. Any manufacturing corp, or any other one who whine about this problem has done a thing to rectify it. Nope Don’t want to break up the life Long foursome team- Insurers, Pharm, Docs and Industry have got a great thing going ah? Decrease coverage , inncrease costs and profit off the untapped out of pocket well.Four!!!

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By cyrena, February 21, 2009 at 11:12 pm Link to this comment

Well, here’s something….

Obama picks a winner this time.


http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Selects-Top-Rural-Health-Care-Advocate-to-Oversee-Key-HHS-Agency/

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By Leefeller, February 21, 2009 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

Except for the few lobbyists dancing on puppet strings from their insurance employers, and the moronic parrots who would have us believe medical care should be paid for by their hard earned cash, like our endearing representatives in Washington, who support Insurance companies for the payoffs. Then at the same time have medical care paid for by our taxes. Fine oiled cogs of capitalism must be keep running smoothly. Skimming by insurance companies is the American way.

In many countries medicine nationalized or not can be utterly lacking, as many things in other countries, using this as an argument, is nothing but insurance rhetorical fices.  If the USA is 37th in the world, who are the top 10 and are they Nationalized?  Some of them? None, all?

How can a person with any capacity to use reason,say with a straight face, they do not like Nationalized Insurance, because it is socialism, but on the other hand say it is all right for the Military Complex to have it’s hand in our collective pockets in order to feed insane wars?  Ignorance provides nice insulation from reason.

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By wildflower, February 21, 2009 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

re KDelphi

Attitudinally, the “Dear Consumer Email” that you received from “Families USA” is a good example that reflects what has gone wrong in America. It’s why we hear pathetic defeatist statements like the one attributed to Dr. Len Nichols, Health policy director for the New American Foundation in this article:

“I want a bill passed,” he said. But he conceded the lobbying power of the insurance companies, which will fight any move to keep them out of the system. “We can’t get from here to there without the private insurers,” he said.

Like so many of our politicians, Dr Nichols appears to have completely forgotten that we are more than just consumers. We are citizens and taxpayers, which means we play a vital role in this country –  we are the U.S. government.  We don’t need lobbyists or private insurers to go anywhere. If we want a national health program in this country, we should have it.

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By G.Anderson, February 21, 2009 at 8:06 am Link to this comment

And what will universal health care provide us of any worth?

It’s time people realize that they are sick, because of medical care, and that self care and avoiding medical care all together, is the only way to stay healthy.

Why because the medical care they are provided through those insurance companies is not really medical care at all, but a system of cost containment based on denying people what they need in order to get well, and only providing the most profitable kinds of treatments for the insurance companies benefit.

Do you really think that’s what medicine is about? Absolutely not, going to you HMO doctor is like playing Russian roulette.

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By cyrena, February 21, 2009 at 2:04 am Link to this comment

•  “I want a bill passed,” he said. But he conceded the lobbying power of the insurance companies, which will fight any move to keep them out of the system. “We can’t get from here to there without the private insurers,” he said.

~~~

I too concede the lobbying power of the insurance companies, (at least as they have been allowed to hold us hostage for some decades now) and it’s obvious that they won’t leave willingly or easily. But I don’t believe that we’ll ALWAYS need them to get from here to there.

We’ve talked about this stuff before in terms of simply extending (or making available) the option of purchasing health care coverage directly from the feds, the way we do as medicare recipients. We pay affordable premiums to the government, and they cover and or subsidize the cost of our health care. It works great, as long as the mechanical/bureaucratic portion of the structure can handle it.

Our guess is that if the government can offer a better deal to everyone, by ‘buying direct’ and…it’s available to everyone, and no one can be denied, then at some point, the insurance companies will lose their power based on standard capitalist concepts. If we can get the same service (or better) and at a far better rate from a co-op type arrangement (like we have now) that cuts out the middle man, that’s what will people will choose.  In fact, we already know that, because of how successful the Medicare program is.  97% of those who are currently qualified to purchase their health care coverage from the government vis-à-vis Part B of the Medicare program DO choose it, though it is not mandatory that they do so.

Over time, this should (theoretically at least) cut the private companies out, or largely decrease them, because even doctors prefer the government system.  Having to bill 25 or 30 different insurances providers, many of whom use their own systems and won’t process claims that aren’t submitted in their custom ‘format’ is a royal pain in the ass, and a drag on the doctor’s system as well. It’s a waste of manpower and inefficient to boot.

So the problem or ‘need’ for private insurers is really only a matter of providing the apparatus of the bureaucracy that does all of the processing. I suppose we could nationalize/centralize all of the independent processing systems, but that’s kind of drastic, and the libbers would be calling us communists. (Despite the fact that they’ve been centralized under the Corptocracy anyway, which is how the profits work.)

Still, it seems like it would make more sense to invest in increasing the capacity of the current system (like the Medicare bureaucratic and mechanical apparatus for filing claims, and processing payments, and all of the other stuff) and the Privates will simply die off for all but the ultra wealthy, who can surely fend for themselves anyway, but they’ll just do it in their own co-ops, at their own expense.

If the current Administration can find a way to provide the same Medicare system to all of our population, without it bankrupting us any more than it already is, then such a transition can be accomplished over a relatively short period. The mechanics of the apparatus move slowly, but I’m impressed with how the Social Security Admin has cleaned up their act somewhat in that regard. We just need citizens (trained in 21st Century technology) who will do the work. There are a whole bunch of them standing in unemployment lines right now. So, we should grab ‘em.

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By M.B.S.S., February 21, 2009 at 1:18 am Link to this comment

i believe there should be at least a modicum of coverage for all americans, natch.  letting people die for lack of coins is uncivilized.

the real question is:  what is the model that should be used to treat sick persons and keep people from getting sick in the first place?

the entire premise of allopathic medicine should be revisited, in the same way we are taking a good hard look at our macroeconomic infrastructure.

when we begin to dive to the root of the problem we can see that there is so much more wrong than just excessive litigation and predatory insurers;  big pharma and villianous hmo’s of course, and what about the bureaucracy. 

those are branches of the problem.  but when you pull it up by the root you see there is something deeper still.  how do americans want to live?  what are the good things in life?  how should we prioritize our lives?

then we see our fundamental sickness is the root of many of these problems.  lack of exercise, poor nutrition, fast foods, lack of basic health knowledge, absence of a spiritual component to life, bad habits, forgotten home remedies. all these things go hand in hand with our post-modern lifestyle.  we are too busy trying to keep up with the neighbors and keeping the GDP productivity number high to look after one of the truly important things in life. 

our priorities are simply inverted.  i work less and exercise more.  i have little money but i buy the best food i can afford.  i spend my time preparing my own food.  i eat many different foods and am knowledgeable of their nutritional values.  i spend time decompressing with some sort of moving meditation.

health is our birthright.  dis-ease is unnatural and our society is so upside down that we have absorbed the thought that people should get sick, often, and this is natural.  this is unnatural.  we have forgotten how to live.

only a fundamental realignment will effect a real change in the health of our citizens.

when we do get sick we should look at the asian model.  herbs, disrupted energy flows, and healthful foods.  the german homeopathic model is useful as well.  many people such as myself respond better to this model.

of course american allopathic medicine is unparalleled in doing what it does best.  need a bone reset or an exotic, highly technical procedure?  american medicine can help you there.  but with regards to preventative maintenance, and many other minor physical and mental ailments, the western model fails miserably.  “here take a pill.”  thats what you hear time after time.  i think everyone is beginning to understand that it is just not working.

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By wildflower, February 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

re ohiolibgal

Don’t know about you, but I’ve noted a rather conspicuous double standard being applied to the “mantra” that you reference.  The majority of our politicians in D.C. are mute when American corporations and businesses go to socialist or communist countries to establish a company, open an office, hire workers, outsource jobs, set up secret bank accounts to avoid their taxes etc.

Yet, when American citizens show an interest in importing a concept from these countries like a national health care program these same D.C. politicians squawk as if it were some kind of grievous mortal sin. Why is this? If corporations like Wal-Mart can buy and import goods from these countries to reduce their costs, why can’t the American people import a concept to improve the health/economic welfare of the American people?

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By thebeerdoctor, February 20, 2009 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

re: KDelphi

Very well put. The medical racket is enabled by spineless politicians, who know how, as Emma Goldman stated in 1934, “to befog every issue”.
Along similar lines, on a different issue, I was recently asked why I vehemently objected to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I replied: “Those are your fellow citizens being put into harm’s way unnecessarily, don’t you give a damn about them?”
That is where liberal dung and conservative dung hit the rubber of the road. Both sides are willing to shed precious blood, just as long as it is not their own.
The same can be said of “affordable health care” which is really a neoliberal con job. If you break your leg, you can lose your house, as a house painter told the late Studs Terkel in The Great Divide. Joe Bageant is correct in pointing out, that in the United States, even misery and suffering can be transformed into a profitable commodity. That is a national sickness.

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By KDelphi, February 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

I have been treated in Canada, Denmark and Italy. They were all as “good” as the US and, Denmark was much better.

They dont treat you like a “consumer”—you are a PATIENT. The “dr” is not a “prescription drug salesman” or “MRI provider”—he is a doctor of medical arts. They do not provide everything for everyone, nor should they. If people want electives, pay for it.(you already pay for pres., vp’s and Congress’ electives, dummies) But 20,000 do not DIE every year, and, people do not go bankrupt over health care bills…


I got an email from “Families USA” (which convinced Waxman that it was ok to cave to insurance lobby) saying, “Dear Consumer”—I am NOT a “health industry consumer”!! Gawd!!
USAns are just plain genetically stupid. It is all I can come up with.

BTW—you do remember that you are CITIZENS (and not “consumers”) dont you? Because corporate ‘Merka doesnt.

The govt wont even let people go ahead and die if they wish, like they do in other countries.

All the “groups” (except Physicians for Natl Health Plan and PDA—Prog. Dems of AM) have all “decided” that they dont need single payer, so they will settle for an insurance industry payoff plan, just like the Bill for Rx Drugs—it costs billions and it doesnt work.

So just leave it the hell alone. When GM’s and others COBRA starts running out—good f*cking luck!

Pres. Obama promised nothing but “reform”—you made it into what you wanted. “Reform” could be as general as “putting med. records online”.

Power gives up nothing—if you think it does , you are incredibly naive and have never had to go on public assistance. Hold out—you may get the experience yet! You dont have to lose a job, quit working or even be born poor! You just have to get sick or hit by some rich, Wall St drunk…

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By wildflower, February 20, 2009 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

re Gary

Since the life expectancy and infant mortality stats of most of these other capitalist countries is much better than our own stats, I can only assume these countries are doing a lot of things right. 

It also appears these countries are very into modern medical technology devices, especially in Japan. According to Frontline’s “Sick Around the World”, the Japanese love MRIs and have them a lot more frequently than Americans do. 

The Japanese also seem to be very innovative when it comes to medical technology. In an effort to reduce the costs of MRIs for the citizens of Japan, Toshiba developed a smaller more economical MRI device that is now being sold all over the world.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/countries/

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By ohiolibgal, February 20, 2009 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

Something workable has to be done and be done soon, but passing anything worthwhile is going to be incredibly difficult.

Like everything else in DC it’s all about money and lobbying. Too many legislators, many democrats included, are too beholden to their benefactors. That’s why nothing ever really moves concerning meaningful health care reform.

Of course this angle is hardly covered by major media because of who owns them.

One idiotic public consciousness problem is the “socialist medicine ” mantra. The US has been socialist to some degree since we’ve had income tax. People tend to confuse that with dictatorial communism, but socialism really has to do with an economic system - the Scandinavian countries would be hard pressed to be more socialistic, but they are almost certainly more democratic than we are, people vote and can come and go as they please.

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By Gary, February 20, 2009 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Have any of you jackals who are so intent on European- and Japanese-style health care ever been treated in those countries? I lived and worked in Japan and had the misfortune of getting sick. Visiting the health clinic, I was immediately thrust into the Middle Ages of medicine. I willed myself back to health rather than endure the quackery. Same with Portugal when I vacationed there, and my daughter got sick. I thought I’d catch something terminal just from being indside the ill-maintained and medieval clinic we visited. If you think single-payer is going to suddenly give you all the modern comforts and miracles of American medicine without any costs out of pocket, etc., think again. What you’ll get is rationing, long lines and denial of services. Can anyone say, “Welcome to Edo, folks”?

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By wildflower, February 20, 2009 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

re Hear Rate Watch

Moral bankruptcy doesn’t seem to be an issue in the other capitalist countries that provide national healthcare. Their health insurance companies are required to operate as non-profits. Unlike the U.S., their citizenry and leadership share the believe that the health and welfare of their citizenry is a priority and should always come before the profits of an insurance company.

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By dragonways, February 20, 2009 at 6:51 am Link to this comment

The healthcare industry of America is guilty of Crimes Against Humanity. It is disgraceful, shocking and unforgivable what has and continues to be done to the American people by the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies and the American Medical Association.

Sen. Grassely’s investigation into the payments pharmaceutical companies make to the medical industry should be televised. This might bring the American people the information they need to demand the end to this outrage and start taking care of all Americans, all of “our people”, the way it is done in France, England and all across Europe.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 20, 2009 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

Prole rightfully points out what was so damn special about Daschle in the first place. An AIPAC crony? hey there are dozens upon dozens of those. Because it is he who knows the health care issues? In what way? How to squeeze money from the health insurance racket? I wish those folks are so enamored of President Obama would actually take a look at some of these appointments: Geithner? Summers? General James Jones? Dennis Blair? Hillary Clinton?
I wish they would… oh never mind. Go back to sleep America, the second night of IDOL is about to come on.

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By Chip, February 20, 2009 at 1:01 am Link to this comment
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Actually, single payer will remove a lot of lawsuits from the system.

I personally know two people who were in two different car accidents and both had injuries (minor, fortunately) that required medical attention. In both cases it was absolutely clear and agreed by all parties, including all insurance companies, that the other drivers were at fault. Seems like a simple thing as far as medical payments, right? Wrong. Both people had to go through lawyers to get medical care payments from the other insurance companies. The lawyers told them that this was the way it always works. This process jacked up the costs involved, as the lawyers pushed up the reimbursement to get their fees up.

Now if we had a national single payer system instead, there would be no lawyers, no lawsuits, no court time, no legal costs at all. Because their injuries would have been covered regardless of who was at fault.

With everyone covered for injuries, no more lawsuits to get other people to pay for medical care.

If you want torte reform in medicine, you want single payer health care.

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By prole, February 20, 2009 at 12:56 am Link to this comment

“The national health care crisis, intensified by the recession, is so bad that nothing can be permitted to stop reform of the system, not even the implosion”... of Boyarsky’s memory. If, “After losing his South Dakota seat in 1994, Daschle began a lucrative career based on his connections” - then Boyarsky has just broken a semsational scoop. That would mean that a double was impersonating Daschle in the Senate for the next decade. Certainly there are a lot of two-faced pol’s in Washington, and a lot of shadowy senators but that would be a long time to keep a secret like that. Even if it were true, why didn’t Daschle fess up when he was formally defeated for re-election in 2004 (Two-Thousand-Four A.D.) Hopefully, any new health care plan will include full coverage for Boyarsky’s creeping Alzheimer’s. Oh well, Boyarsky is often prone to get the facts woefully wrong anyway, especially when it comes to the Middle East. So wasn’t Daschle for that matter. Which is why it’s a little surprising that Boyarsky doesn’t go a little easier on Daschle since he was one of Israel’s biggest boosters in the Senate. In fact, shortly before he lost his seat, Daschle was praised by another lobby to which he had very close ties. In a press release in July, 2004, AIPAC declaimed: “The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) applauds the Senate for its overwhelming bipartisan support for the Frist-Daschle Resolution on Mid-East Peace Principles. Passage of this landmark resolution makes clear that the principles President Bush laid out April 14th in a letter to Israel’s Prime Minister reflect fundamental U.S. policy on Middle East peace, laying the foundation for current and future American policy on resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians” You only need to look at Gaza today and Israel’s conduct - which Boyarsky has lustily endorsed - to see what that meant.  AIPAC boasts that it is “consistently ranked as the most influential foreign policy lobbying organization on Capitol Hill”  Further proof of that was ” The ease with which Daschle” was manipulated by AIPAC, which “shows how deep this” Lobby’s “tentacles extend and how high they reach.” But that never bothered zionist shil Boyarsky too much. Neither does he appear much bothered by the dire health situation in Gaza. At about the same time ‘my good friend’ Boyarsky was cheering on the IDF stormtroopers in their recent blitzkreig in Gaza last month (and ongoing), the head of the Red Cross in the area, Pierre Wettach accused Israel of deliberately ignoring besieged and dying victims, commenting at the time: “The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent to assist the wounded.” None of which troubled AIPAC stalwarts and fellow ‘liberals’ Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Henry Waxman any more than it did that ‘fine fellow’ Boyarsky. Both of these zionist congressmen who Boyarsky regularly plumps, blamed Hamas for everything. That creepy liberal Wyden asserted, “With funds and supplies from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah have rained missiles down on Israeli civilian targets again and again. ...Hamas is a terrorist organization. Israel has a right to defend itself from missiles fired by any terrorist organization… for peace that first, requires Hamas to implement an immediate, enforceable end to their missile attacks on Israeli soil”. “With more people losing their” lives and homes and “jobs every day—and their health insurance—fear is spreading through the” occupied lands. “The many interests vested in the present system will fight to prevent change” in unhealthy Middle East policy. Who needs AIPAC servant Tom Daschle, when you’ve gor Wyden and Waxman and Boyarsky?

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By KDelphi, February 20, 2009 at 12:33 am Link to this comment

Baucus’ plan is woefully inadequate. I am sorry to say it, but, i agree that we are years away from single payer—if it even happens at all.

Ths uS is headed into a longtime slump. I dont think that rich are giving up anything, without force. (and most are too cowardly to even ask them to pay for their own fricking messes!)And no one seems to be up for that(violence) except in Afghanistan or pakistan…and a few other ME countries…

Medicare for All (HR 676) would be alot cheaper IF we cancelled Med Part D (the Bush Rx Drug Company bill) and Med. ADVANTAGE. They are both for-profit.

But, I agree. And, it gets old begging for what civilized countries consider to be a human right.

Baucus et al can go straight to hell…

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By Outraged, February 19, 2009 at 11:48 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Boyarski

Quote: “That’s the way it works for financially ambitious officials who feel impoverished by the limitations of public service.

Strangely enough, those THOUSANDS of people who lined up for an open position in the government(was it Florida..?) didn’t seem to feel it would “impoverish” them.  Hmmm… sounds like some of us, just haven’t gotten the message yet. (By that, I don’t mean you)  It’s OBVIOUS the average joe/jane feels government work to be a sustainable ADVANTAGE.  Sure….it works for them.

I love your straightforward comment regarding single-payer, “It’s simple, it works”

I disagree with your supposition that “and we’re probably we’re years away from it”.  How so.  The insurance companies can bite the big one, and ANY CONGRESSPERSON who goes against the wishes of The People, should be impeached.  We have a serious crisis on our hands, if they proceed to throw EVEN MORE PEOPLE under the bus….well, then we won’t be crying when it’s their turn to get an up close and personal look at the underbelly of some indeterminent coach, should things take a down turn.

The People do not care if the insurance companies are “stuffin envelopes” meant for those faint of heart.  Single Payer SAVES tax dollars, provides care and that is the end of it.

In Wisconsin we use the “fund the insurance company” plan for what is called “Badgercare” (don’t ask).  Anyway, the insurance companies still try to deny benefits, pharmacies charge for drugs proscribed but not picked up, they simply find new and inventive ways to CHEAT THE SYSTEM.

Don’t fall for it folks.  It is a scam.  Perpetrated by none other than the folks who killed one of your loved ones….or maybe just allows them to suffer, endlessly….indiscriminately….or until they finally do transpire do to lack of care.  Because what is the bottom line for insurance companies, bail them out (your tax dollars), or pay “up front” (your tax dollars), then all they need do, is simply “deny”, “deny”, DENY.

DEMAND SINGLE PAYER.  HR 676.

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By wildflower, February 19, 2009 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment

re: thebeerdoctor

Yes, I very much agree your thoughts, beerdoctor.  America is in desperate need of more politicians who can think and have a little vision, especially when it comes to the health and welfare of our citizens.

Don’t know if you saw Frontline’s “Sick Around the World” program, but I found Japan’s system interesting. Every citizen is covered, the cost is low, no citizen goes bankrupt, and they have the best health stats in the world. 

As I understand it, a portion of their healthcare costs is paid through taxes and the rest is picked up through a social insurance program, which everyone is required to have. Employers and employees each pay a portion. The government pays for the unemployed and the poor. These health insurance companies operate like a non-profit. Families are able to see a doctor anytime they want, which apparently is about 3 times more often than American families do. 

Japan’s system utilizes private doctors and hospitals. They have a health ministry who negotiates a fixed price for every type of treatment every two years.  At the time of the Frontline program, the cost of an MRI in Japan was about $100, as compared to the U.S. where the cost seems to vary for 1,200 to 1,800. The cost of an overnight stay in a hospital in Japan was $10 per night for a shared room and $90 per night for a private room.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/countries/

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By Anita, February 19, 2009 at 10:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only people who fear universal health care are those too ignorant to know how it works.
Medicare is very efficient and costs much less to run, per person, than regular “pay to play” health care. Why people choose to remain ignorant and parrot another ill informed person (usually a pol with deep pockets thanks to the insurance industry) makes me nuts.
The World Health Organization reports - and this is cut/pasted from WHO’S website who.int
“The U.S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance, the report finds.”
Today C-Span broadcast a Canadian TV news show that was covering Obama’s visit. And like C-Span they took viewer calls. A large % of calls were from Americans asking about Canada’s health care system. The issue was TRADE but that wasn’t what American are most concerned about. Health care is.
Isn’t it time we caught up with the rest of the first world?

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By Sepharad, February 19, 2009 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Crystal—The only problem with extending Medicare to everyone (apart from the larcenous middle-men insurance companies) is that it’s expensive and we’ve just discovered that our financial collapse is imminent. Also, high-tech medicine that is very effective is also very expensive and some of the single-pay plans (such as Oregon’s) don’t include it in their coverage ... nor does it include anything but the most common cancers, and most of the longterm chronic illnesses. When we in California were trying to get a single-pay plan going, I was actually collecting signatures before it occurred to me that nowhere was there anything set aside for research and development of drugs. R&D costs are huge, and the good fairy doesn’t deliver their products free. (I stopped collecting signatures then, also because an editor friend in Portland’s eyes are being affected by her MS and the single-pay plan will not help with the expensive drug that would keep her functional.)

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By thebeerdoctor, February 19, 2009 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

re: wildflower

Please excuse my despair. A national health care service is of course the solution, but the greed from all the skimming off the top and bottom makes the possibility extremely remote, when all the snake oil keeps being passed around, even from the new administration, who seem intent on harping on that old saw about making it “affordable”. That is not even part of the equation. If they are such true believers in capitalism that they think it is alright to make a commodity out of human suffering… well we need to get people in charge who are not so bloody brainwashed. As Jim Hightower asks: “Where is the populist policy?”
It will take persons with real backbones to stand up to this money sucking crowd, not intimidated when they snap their leveraged fingertips.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 19, 2009 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

re: wildflower

Please excuse my despair. A national health care service is of course the solution, but the greed from all the skimming off the top and bottom makes the possibility extremely remote, when all the snake oil keeps being passed around, even from the new administration, who seem intent on harping on that old saw about making it “affordable”. That is not even part of the equation. If they are such true believers in capitalism that they think it is alright to make a commodity out of human suffering… well we need to get people in charge who are not so bloody brainwashed. As Jim Hightower asks: “Where is the populist policy?”
It will take persons with real backbones to stand up this money sucking crowd, not intimidated when they snap their leveraged fingertips.

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By Crystal Clear, February 19, 2009 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is so difficult about healthcare reform—extend Medicare to the entire population, the system is in place—remove the lecherous insurance company executives, and let the existing workers process governmental health claims.

Oh, I just remembered why it will never happen—lobbyists who serve the insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations, for-profit hospitals, and all the other lecherous scum, that secure profits by maintaining a population of obese Americans who are suffering from an epidemic of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and various forms of mental illness all associated with our diet, lifestyle and lack of preventive healthcare.

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By Shift, February 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

Start practicing your death songs.  Soon you will lose your job, your medical insurance, your medication insurance, and the specter of mass death will enfold America.  Have a nice day.

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By Big B, February 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

The biggest impediment to business and jobs development in our nation today is our healthcare system. It has become too expensive for employees, and a heavy financial burden to employers as well.

If you were starting a business tomorrow would you go to a nation with socialized medicine, where you would pay one entity your medical tax and all other services are then handled by a centralized medical administrative infrastructure? Or would you come to the US, where you will pay twice as much and handle your own administrative costs, and deal with the plethora of healthplans, all with different rules and coverages? A nation where people are forced to come to work sick or injured. Where one major illness can mean bankruptcy for an entire family. Where the costs of the un and underinsured, as well as free market conditions that cause double digit inflation in costs every year.

What will it take for change to come? Perhaps the sight of a large suburban hospital in flames, surrounded by the angry poor who became just pissed off enough after waiting in the emergency room for 12 hours to get treated for the flu because no family practice will touch them without insurance coverage, to set the place ablaze.

We americans are a stubborn and dim lot. It usually takes a civil war, a world war, an economic collapse, the threat of nuclear annihilation, or a 911 for us to change. Do you suppose the sight of doctors and insurance agents on a spit played over and over again on CNN might be the catalist for change?

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By Sepharad, February 19, 2009 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

During the primary, economist Paul Krugman fought hard to get people to realize that there was a huge gulf between Obama’s voluntary universal coverage and Clinton’s mandatory universal coverage. We made a bad choice where health care is concerned. Medicare for all Americans is where it’s at, though like all other programs the financial collapse is going to hurt whatever cobbled-together medical coverage plan emerges. Problemn with single payer plans such as that in Oregon’s in contrast to problems with traditional insurers is that Oregon’s single payer plans do NOT cover everything (such as drugs for MS deemed too expensive) while traditional insurers cover nearly everything but if you have a longterm or chronic condition (eg rheumatoid arthritis, system lupus, cancer current or past) they put you into a smaller group that gets smaller and more expensive every year, and limit coverage for expensive drugs that actually work to those who are willing and able to pay “catastrophic” rates. Medicare does better overall, though even its policies re expensive but proven-results drugs leave the patient holding a hefty portion of the cost.

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By Hear Rate Watch, February 19, 2009 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Any serious health care reform in this country is going to need to start with tort reform and reform of the insurance industry. It is the moral bankruptcy pof these two industries that got the healthcare industry where it is today.
Just reforming the healthcare industry won’t do - it is the equivalent of putting a bandaid over a fire hose; it’s not going to hold.

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By wildflower, February 19, 2009 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

Re Getreal’s Comment:  “fyi the systems in these countries are bankrupt.”

Since a variety of systems have been implemented by other capitalistic countries, specifically which type are you referencing – Japan’s, Germany’s, United Kingdom’s, Switzerland’s, Taiwan’s? The majority appeared to be doing pretty well to me. Every citizen was getting the healthcare they needed and no citizen was going bankrupt to get it.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/countries/

Re Getreal’s Other Coment:  “Our problem with health care is the laws surrounding it, if the hospitals were allowed to turn away all the people that are in the country illegally and do not have insurance and can not pay for the services, they would not have the burden of recouping.”

What about these lawsuits being filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act? Surely, you’re not suggesting illegal immigrants made them do it?

“The state’s largest health care payment plan has settled a class action lawsuit filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

http://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=5796

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By Mayponce, February 19, 2009 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

You see, Get Real would rather continue to have an insurance company bureaucrat to tell him what he can and can’t do-

Now let’s really get real-

A single payer system would allow you to visit whatever doctor you desired-period.

You free-market knuckle draggers need to come up with some new scare tactics-because the old ones just don’t fly anymore.

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By GW=MCHammered, February 19, 2009 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The World Health Organization’s ranking of the world’s health systems. USA = 37th
http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html


PHYSICIANS FOR A NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM
Single-Payer National Health Insurance

“Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private.

Currently, the U.S. health care system is outrageously expensive, yet inadequate. Despite spending more than twice as much as the rest of the industrialized nations ($7,129 per capita), the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates. Moreover, the other advanced nations provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, while the U.S. leaves 47 million completely uninsured and millions more inadequately covered.”

http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single_payer_resources.php
http://www.pnhp.org/facts/singlepayer_faq.php

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By Ivan Hentschel, February 19, 2009 at 11:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Decent health care should be an undeniable right for all Americans of any age. It should not be a commodity, a political football or a profit center. Next to the health care systems of almost any other civilized, western and 21rst century country, our system is a joke.

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By wildflower, February 19, 2009 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

Re Beerdoctor’s Post: “Why bother? . . . There is too much money to be made by keeping the health insurance/drug company racket going.”

Since we all know that our approach to healthcare stinks, why should we continue putting our nation’s healthcare needs in the hands of racketeers? It makes no sense at all?

It’s sort of like putting the responsibility of our national security in the hands of the Taliban . . . no, beerdoctor, we need to do something about it – the sooner the better.

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By Get real, February 19, 2009 at 8:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Come on would people get a clue, these people are trying to scare you into a universal health care system because it gives them more power, I do not want some bureaucrat deciding who gets care and who doesn’t because it costs too much. And fyi the systems in these countries are bankrupt, the care being distributed is being rationed out based on expenses. Our problem with health care is the laws surrounding it, if the hospitals were allowed to turn away all the people that are in the country illegally and do not have insurance and can not pay for the services, they would not have the burden of recouping those costs by charging those that can pay more.

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By coloradokarl, February 19, 2009 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

I am giving the government until the end of the year to get me Affordable Health Care. If nothing happens I will have to change My tax structure. Blindly supporting the Government And getting NOTHING in return gets very old.

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By wildflower, February 19, 2009 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

The healthcare situation in the U.S. has become obscene. What I don’t understand is if the leadership in capitalistic countries like Japan, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Taiwan can provide affordable bankruptcy free healthcare systems for their citizens, why can’t the leadership in the U.S. do it? Do they think the health and welfare of American citizens is somehow less important than those in other countries? 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/countries/

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By thebeerdoctor, February 19, 2009 at 5:19 am Link to this comment

Why bother? Everybody knows what needs to be done. But they will not do it. There is too much money to be made by keeping the health insurance/drug company racket going.

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