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Put Single-Payer on the Table

Posted on Mar 10, 2009

By Amy Goodman

  President Barack Obama promises health-care reform, but he has taken single-payer health care off the table. Single-payer is the system that removes private insurance companies from the picture; the government pays all the bills, but health-care delivery remains private. People still get their choice of what doctor to go to and what hospital to use. Single-payer reduces the administrative costs and removes the profit that insurance companies add to health-care delivery. Single-payer solutions, however, get almost no space in the debate.

  A study just released by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a media watchdog group, found that in the week before Obama’s health-care summit, of the hundreds of stories that appeared in major newspapers and on the networks, “only five included the views of advocates of single-payer—none of which appeared on television.” Most opinion columns that mentioned single-payer were written by opponents.

  Congress is considering H.R. 676, “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All,” sponsored by John Conyers, D-Mich., with 64 co-sponsors. Yet even when Rep. Conyers directly asked Obama at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting if he could attend the White House health-care summit, he was not immediately invited. Nor was any other advocate for single-payer health care.

  Conyers had asked to bring Dr. Marcia Angell, the first woman editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, the most prestigious medical journal in the country, and Dr. Quentin Young. Young is perhaps the most well-known single-payer advocate in America. He was Martin Luther King Jr.’s doctor when King lived in Chicago. “My 15-minute house calls would stretch into three hours,” he told me.

  But he came to know Barack Obama even better. Though his medical partner was Obama’s doctor, Young was his neighbor, friend and ally for decades. “Obama supported single-payer, gave speeches for it,” he said.


Square, Site wide
  This past weekend, hundreds turned out to honor the 85-year-old Young, including the Illinois governor and three members of Congress, but the White House’s response to Conyers’ request that Young be included in the summit? A resounding no. Perhaps because Obama personally knows how persuasive and committed Young is.

  After much outcry, Conyers was invited. Activist groups like Physicians for a National Health Program ( expressed outrage that no other single-payer advocate was to be among the 120 people at the summit. Finally, the White House relented and invited Dr. Oliver Fein, president of PNHP. Two people out of 120.

  Locked out of the debate, silenced by the media, single-payer advocates are taking action. Russell Mokhiber, who writes and edits the Corporate Crime Reporter, has decided that the time has come to directly confront the problem of our broken health-care system. He’s going to the national meeting of the American Health Insurance Plans and is joining others in burning their health-insurance bills outside in protest. Mokhiber told me, “The insurance companies have no place in the health care of American people. How are we going to beat these people? We have to start the direct confrontation.” Launching a new organization, Single Payer Action (, Mokhiber and others promise to take the issue to the insurance industry executives, the lobbyists and the members of Congress directly, in Washington, D.C., and their home district offices.

  Critical mass is building behind a single-payer system. From Nobel Laureate in Economics Joseph Stiglitz, who told me, “I’ve reluctantly come to the view that it’s the only alternative,” to health-care providers themselves, who witness and endure the system’s failure firsthand. Geri Jenkins of the newly formed, 150,000-nurses-strong United American Nurses-National Nurses Organizing Committee ( said: “It is the only health-care-reform proposal that can work. ... We are currently pushing to have a genuine, honest policy debate, because we’ll win ... the health insurers will collapse under the weight of their own irrelevance.”

  Dr. Young has now been invited to a Senate meeting along with the “usual suspects”: health-insurance providers, Big Pharma and health-care-reform advocates. I asked Young what he thought of the refrain coming from the White House, as well as from the leading senator on the issue, Max Baucus, that “single-payer is off the table.” “It’s repulsive,” sighed Young. “We are very angry.” But not discouraged. I asked him what he thought about Burn Your Health Insurance Bill Day. “Things are heating up.” he chuckled. “When things are happening that you have nothing to do with, you know it’s a movement.”
  Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
  Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

  © 2009 Amy Goodman

  Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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By Sandra Daniels, August 3, 2011 at 12:30 am Link to this comment

Without seeming to support one political stance over another, I must say Obama was close to achieving a miracle. But money still talks in circles that we no little about. Unfortunately, the rights of all America have not been heard in the boardrooms and private mansions of a lucky few.

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By Eye Laser Treatment, June 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment

To say the scheme is flawless is not entirely true.  It may still be tad early to judge on the decision now but the repercussions will follow soon, which will give everyone a clear perspective of things.

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By PaulGreen, May 13, 2009 at 9:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From what I understand the reform bill is generally asking all parties in the industry to all work together and make the system more efficient. This is a good thing.

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By VillageElder, March 24, 2009 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment


Your comments restate the repug neocon talking points.  While they are full of sound and fury they signify nothing.  Those of who are in favor of a single payer system know how the other systems work.  Everyone pays in - the premiums are paid in the form of taxes.  If one wants a supplemental policy such as folks on medicare buy, they pay for it themselves.  By the by Medicare is not broke, nor is Social Security.  If the neocon plundering of these programs had not taken place along with the tax cuts for the wealthier folks there would be no problems.  Repugs and neocons haved been actively working to destroy the socio-economic safety nets since Nixon.  Welfare and socialism for the corporations and nothing for the individuals.  Folks develop some class conscientiousness or the corporatists will win.

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By Dennis Michaud, March 23, 2009 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Brook, for your clarity and factual assessment of this issue.

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By Brook, March 23, 2009 at 11:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m rolling my eyes at this single-payer debate.  Please, folks—get these facts:

1.  Medicare is broke. Currently paying out more than it is taking in.  SS will be there by 2018.  WE ARE BROKE.  It’s going to take extra tax money to shore up these programs and keep them viable, which means UHC is a fiscal impossiblity. 

2.  MA universal coverage plan has been a disaster.  Taxes up, insurance premiums up, healthcare costs up!  The governor calls the program “unsustainable”.

3.  Doctors already RATION the # of Medicare patients they see.  If you don’t believe me, pick up the phone and call a few offices.  Single-payer will drive many of them out of practice at a time when we desperately need them.

4.  Demographics are going to force Germany and France to cut their generous programs.  As for the rest of Europe: Britain, Italy, Greece and many other countries have HORRIFIC health care systems.

Single-payer will create NEW PROBLEMS without completely solving the old ones.  Do your homework, get out a calculator, and please get real!

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By AWM, March 13, 2009 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

By Dennis Michaud, March 12 at 1:02 am #
(Unregistered commenter)

All of the contributors to this blog have one thing in common. They all want something for nothing. The most superficial comments about insurance and its substance and relevance in a modern society go unchallenged and everyone laments their voice and agenda being ignored. When slavery is reenacted we will have free for all health care , and the end of health care as we knew it.

Single payer health care is not free it is paid for through your taxes and in some jurisdictions premiums for those who can afford them This system is both cheaper and more effective and has been proved to lead to lower mortality rates A good portion of bankruptcies and foreclosures in the US are due to medical costs and have added to the housing crisis

Most civilized nations and even some uncivilized ones have realized this. It’s about time for the US to join the rest of the world in believing access to health care a basic human right

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By Sepharad, March 12, 2009 at 9:58 pm Link to this comment

MBSS—Excellent post, right on the money re Dennis.

Dr.A—Thanks for the info. I’ll put it to good use.

Doris—Good luck; our government should be shamed to put its citizens so far down on the priority ladder.

Actually, Paul Krugman during the primaries warned that only Edwards and Clinton had health plans that would deliver. But Obama got the nomination. We should write his people and press this: if our country is going to be in a deep depression soon all the more reason to deliver universal care for ALL.

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By Doris Martin, March 12, 2009 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am one of the 48+ million Americans that don’t have any Health care, my Husband and I live in a very low incone, and cannot afford annual check ups, or to see a Doctor, my Husband has medicare, but even that becomes to expensive to afford, he cannot afford a suppement, a single payer is the way to go, Medicare can be used for a single payer with no problem, but of course we need to have one price for all procedures, and it can be done, insurance has to move over, and let Obama listen to Rep. Conyers, and pass H.R. 676, we need to put preassure on Obama on a Single payer Health care.  Thanks Amy for writting, and been involved in making a difference.
Great Show always, keep up the good work. Love, Doris

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By Allan Krueger, March 12, 2009 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

The PUBLIC has fears about socialized medicine, because the Insurance Lobby spreads the, “Medical Decisions should be left to you and your doctor…” PLONK! These decisions are now left to your INSURANCE company (if you have insurance), while the rest of us loose everything from medical bankruptcy!

Single Payer is the ONLY REASONABLE ANSWER!!!!!!!

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By Dennis, March 12, 2009 at 12:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

MBSS: Ahh, drama before depth

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By M.B.S.S., March 11, 2009 at 11:55 pm Link to this comment

dennis:  “the end of health care as we know it.”  oh no, that would be terrible.  you mean no more 18,000 deaths a year due to lack of insurance?  the end of the “medical bill bankruptcy?”  you mean no more funneling obscene amounts of money to predatory insurers?  can we destroy big pharma too?  its been all downhill since penicillin.

DrA:  thank you for that explanation.

great thing about single payer is that it wipes away all these parasitic insurers with one fell swoop.  obama went to great lengths to show that he would be for single payer if he was “starting from scratch,” but since he has to work with the system that is in place he is worried about the insurance industry jobs.  sorry, that doesnt cut it.  it will be painful for those people that lose their jobs but we need to think of the nation as a whole and our future.  i dont think his change of heart on this issue washes.  your boy is hemmed in by powerful, entrenched, and wealthy entities.

tropicgirl:  i endorse alternative medicine and have been very successful using fasting, homeopathy, supplements and the like.  its a pity that we cant employ more eastern medicine and other alternative therapies to reduce costs and increase effectiveness, but i guess we will have to leave that to the future.

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By Dennis Michaud, March 11, 2009 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All of the contributors to this blog have one thing in common. They all want something for nothing. The most superficial comments about insurance and its substance and relevance in a modern society go unchallenged and everyone laments their voice and agenda being ignored. When slavery is reenacted we will have free for all health care , and the end of health care as we knew it.

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By Sepharad, March 11, 2009 at 9:37 pm Link to this comment

Earlier today I clicked on prosefight’s link and it tried to take over the computer. Took husband several hours and phonecall to get everything, including email, working again. (And he’s a computer wizard—back in ‘80s when we needed one but couldn’t afford it he got spare parts and built his own with the 0s and 1s, then did all the programming.) Not sure what happened—could be quirk of computer but just wanted to let you all know anyway.

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By rollzone, March 11, 2009 at 9:22 pm Link to this comment

hello. i enjoy all the commentary about this and that until time passes and the government just does whatever they have been told to do by the money in charge. drug companies financially rape us and lie about their costs of years of extensive intergalactic research and vast armies of technicians required to bring a single overinflated product to market. i used to call doctors sawbones because i thought they were overcharging; but recently i found it is not they, but the administrators and the institutions that are engaged in double and triple billing: for outlandish claims of services rendered. it is not the nursing labor cost that is so exorbitant; anymore than when you get your car repaired, and the mechanic makes a pittance; compared to the shop owner whom takes ten times the amount per hour. insurance is legalized protection. Al Capone, the originator in Chicago, stated he would have gone that way much sooner: had he only been smarter. getting government into legalized protectionism is one more step down a slippery slope- that will result in more for the government; and less for the citizenry. do not support a falacious system of crooks determined to empty your pockets and your minds. no more laws; less government: much lower taxes- open up the competition the free market works best at, and everyone will be able to afford the healthcare they need.

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By Syd, March 11, 2009 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some years ago I was on the board of a teaching hospital and was shocked in learning what huge share of the budget went for administering the very large number of insurance plans. 
Single payer would eliminate that and if I recall the savings would pick up a major piece of hospital costs.

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By DrA, March 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

Hey Tropicgirl:

My bill is friendly to alternative medicine by the way.

Once again:

Hey Sepharad:

The Prez and Congress have multipayer courtesy of the American Taxpayer.  The military is actually Socialized Medicine!!!  Unless you are retired in which case it is single payer.

Here is a primer:

Single Payer:  There is only one insurance agency and we are all in it.  That agency pays your doctor or your hospital or your pharmacy.  This is like Medicare or the Canadian system.

Socialized:  The government owns the hospital and pays the doctor, nurse etc.  They own the pharmacy and pay the pharmacist.  This is the US military system and the Public Health Service.  Also England and Sweden.  Having been a physician for the military, Medicare and private insurance, this system in America works the best and the worst.  It works the best for active duty military and it is the worst system if you are talking about the VA.  IHS is somewhere in the middle.

Multipayer French Style:  There are multiple insurance agencies but they are NOTHING like what is in the US.  You can choose who you want to insure you but they can not turn you away or charge you more than anyone else. There is a limit to what they can charge, and there is a bare minimum of services that they need to provide.  No more saying you don’t provide maternity care.  The companies compete on perks.  Providing extra services or faster services.  There is also a substantial government subsidy.  France by the way has the best health care system in the world according to the WHO.

Multipayer German Style:  Each area has an insurance company which is controlled by the local elected officials.  So if you live in LA you join LA’s insurance.  The insurances are again controlled nationally so that rich cities subsidize poor ones, there is a bare minimum of care that needs to be offered and no one can be turned away.

Hope this helps the confussion.

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By DrA, March 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

Hate to say I told ya so but….

We are very unlikely to achieve the health care system we want through representative government.  The insurance industry is just too strong and has campaign finance pockets that are too deep.

That does not mean all is lost!  It just means that we have to modify our tactics.  And no, burning your health insurance bill is not going to work either so keep your matches in your pocket.

Look, if single payer went to a vote by the people it would win without a struggle.  So bring single payer to a public vote.  Here is how:

On my website you will find a bill that can be downloaded as a Word Doc and instructions to fill in the blanks to make it your bill.  You can then submit it to an initiative vote in your county.  If you are very organized you can submit it for a vote by your entire state.  If you get enough signatures on your petition it will be on the ballot during the next election and go for a vote directly to the people.  If it passes the county or state you are in has single payer within its borders.  Counties or states with single payer can then be knitted together to form a large provider.  This is how Germany got universal health care prior to WWII.

Don’t like my bill.  Fine.  Download it and change it.  Its not like it is copyrighted.

Hope you find that more empowering than burning your mail.  If you choose to embark on this experiment in democracy, good luck and let me know how it goes through the website.

Dr. A

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By VillageElder, March 11, 2009 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

The polling indicates the American public prefers a single pay plan.  The empty charge or socialist medicine with the usual tales of horror are circulated by the repugs and other surrogates for the insurance companies.  Five repug Senators including Charles Grassley (Iowa), and Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) let the truth out in their letter to Obama stating that if there were government run insurance/health programs the for profit health insurance companies could not compete.

The opposition has nothing to do with principle and everything to do with the old rule, “You gotta dance with them that brought/bought you.” (With apologies to Molly Ivins.)

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By tropicgirl, March 11, 2009 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

Great, great story Amy.

And to Obama, the Neolib, what is so EFFEN hard about this? Take your pick from hundreds of other countries that have single payer that WORKS and supplemental insurance available by choice. THE WHOLE WORLD HAS GOTTEN THIS RIGHT JUST TAKE YOUR PICK AND STOP RE-INVENTING THE WHEEL.

And if you watched that smug budget guy testify yesterday, YOU WOULD HAVE HAD THE SAME SINKING FEELING I DID. THEY ARE WHIPPING UP A GIANT HMO FOR ALL OF US. There going to mandate vaccines, mandate diet restrictions and mandate health care policies (they love Romney’s Massachusetts plan) AND THEY ARE GOING TO DECIDE WHAT IS GOOD THERAPY AND WHAT IS BAD, NOT A DOCTOR.

And he basically admitted that home health care is out the window and, by the same token, I guess alternative medicine. I work in an acupuncture practice and many old people can not have surgery and are on too many drugs already. Its the only thing that works for them. Many conditions can be helped BEFORE they get to the critical stage, by acupuncture, such as MVP and kidney problems. The best Western doctors can say about conditions like these is, come back when its really, really bad and we’ll do surgery.

Think of the money that could be saved by getting rid of the health care profit-takers. Its SIMPLY ASTOUNDING AT HOW SICK THIS IS BECOMING.

Think of it. Its like an old person getting a pension, except that the pension goes to the landlord, and he gets a hefty fee for both getting the money and administering it to you. Its SICK SICK SICK. Obama put one over on us again.

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By Sepharad, March 11, 2009 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

If “single payer” means what the President and Congress and military has, I’m all for it.

If “single payer” means what Oregon has, forget it. Oregon leaves a lot of holes in what their single payer plan covers. Expensive high-tech drugs for chronic diseases? No way. Coverage for treatment of rare cancers? No. Expensive regular drugs? Not really. My longtime friend in Portland is an accomplished editor and writer. She has had MS for 25 years and now it’s affecting her eyes. There is a drug that costs $800 per month that would retain her vision. Oregon’s plan won’t pay and she can’t afford it. Already legally blind, she will soon, in her mid 50s, be unable to work and become a liability instead of an asset to the state of Oregon. Ultimate irony is that she, left-of-progressive politically, campaigned hard for the single payer plan.

So. What kind of single payer plan are we talking about here? Specifically. And how much input would Tom Daschle have, who said that the elderly should get used to the illnesses of aging and not expect to treat them? (This makes me wonder, as many senators are senior citizens, if “single payer” is great if you can afford to pay for anything that is not covered.)

Maybe Obama is dodging the issue because he knows it isn’t as good as people are trying to make it sound.

Another question: does the single payer plan have some mechanism to subsidize medical and drug company research? My understanding is that the reason many drugs are so expensive is that drug companies might spend years and billions on a promising drug only to have it fail in second or third stage clinical trials. The drug executives obviously don’t eat that expense themselves but mark up all the drugs that do make the cut to cover cost of past and future research.

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By OAE Chief, March 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

After reading this article I sent the following to Senator Sherrod Brown:

I understand that President Obama has taken “Single-Payer” health care off the table. 

I am a member of two single-payer insurance groups. First is Medicare.  The second is Tricare for Life as a Retired Navy man.  both systems work great.  No hassle and no insurance companies to argue with or ration the care I receive.

I would like to see insurance companies removed from the health care equation as I feel the U.S. Government can deliver health care at a lower cost.

I ask you to please consider single payer as a solution to the health care crisis in America.

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By Hulk2008, March 11, 2009 at 11:32 am Link to this comment

By the way, opponents of single payer all claim it means health care “rationing”.  As if insurance companies don’t ALREADY ration our health care.  Medicare Part D requires you to select drugs pre-defined by the insurers.  If you need surgery you must have it pre-approved by your HMO (a clerk or nurse-practitioner or medical board decides if you get it or not).  The hospitals and doctors are required to be “in network” (aka “in bed”) with specific insurers.  That means the prices and the services and the specific treatments have been re-rationed for you before you ever head to the office/clinic/hospital.  If you dare go to a specialist or “out of network” then you pay whatever that provider demands.  If that is not rationing, I’ll give you a souvenier ration ticket from WWII.

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By Hulk2008, March 11, 2009 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

Anyone who has served in the military has already experienced single payer health care.  Any senator or representative or federal worker or postal worker has experienced it.  That’s a whole lot of folks who have used the scheme.  Even John McCain has used it HIS WHOLE LIFE - as the child of a navy veteran, as a pilot and then a representative and then as a senator .... and even as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese.  I can see why he’d complain about his care in Hanoi; but he sure can’t gripe about the rest.  And what is so cracked up about “choosing your provider” anyway - the choices are based on exactly what?  Give me a provider selected by the single payer as the guy/gal who produces the best health outcomes for the lowest price; sounds fair to me.  I could care less what that provider looks like or if he/she can tell me interesting stories about childhood (that so-called “bedside manner”).

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By Michael, March 11, 2009 at 11:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is nonsense to say that the public is not ready for it. The public is ready, by a substantial majority. Same with doctors and nurses, all these major groups support the single-payer solution with easy majorities.

I’ll tell you who isn’t ready for it, though: the health insurance and drug industries. They’re willing to sell everyone’s health and well being down the river for their own selfish financial gain. Isn’t that nice? And because they have these vast ill-gained profits, they are able to buy off many of our craven politicians. Sad state of affairs in this country, people. We have to rise up and insist on some major changes around here. We have to remove money from politics.

And the place to begin this great battle for democracy is the single-payer health insurance issue. Get your representative to cosponsor HR 676 (expanded and improved Medicare for all). We all have to do this in large enough numbers to overcome the money that Washingtoon has already received from the industry. That is why they keep telling us single payer is “off the table”—they were paid to say that. They have no legitimate argument against single-payer, because it makes sense in every conceivable way. So they’ve reverted to rejecting it out of hand, telling us that “we’re” not ready for it. How crazy is that?

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By Tim Sindt, March 11, 2009 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How sad. We were really fooled.  Mr O is merely the softer side of the new world Order. Washington has changed him a lot faster than he will change Washington! Now is the time. If not, when? We supposedly have all the power.  Obama would go down in History if he just let a real discussion on health care happen, because it would be blindingly clear we desperately need Not for profit Health care.  We are already paying for it, those of you who fear taxes, but we don’t get it, which is criminal. 18,000 americans die every year for lack of health care.  If not now, when? If not now, WHY NOT!!!

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By Jon, March 11, 2009 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

On the campaign trail, near the end of the campaign in fact, Obama drew huge positive response from those in the crowds when he said (paraphrasing) that he would give us the same health care that Congress gets. 

So, I ask: what’s so hard about getting that done?  And isn’t he a liar for not doing this?

So far, Obama has been Mr. Climbdown—FISA and health care, to name a few.  I think he lacks the FDR guts to do what needs to be done, and is just a front man for the banks and health care corporations.

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By NYCartist, March 11, 2009 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Single payer, Conyers HR676, yes. Also, ADAPT’s Community Choice Act, which gives seniors and disabled the choice of living (cheaper) at home with attendant care than the more expensive nursing home imprisonment for all the many folks who don’t need medical care 24/7 around the clock and could live at home.  We never get to discuss, “what if you don’t have family member(s) to take care of you?”.  See  The CCA Community Choice Act is going to be introduced, once again, on March 24th.  It had 100 co-sponsors in the last Congress.

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By kajsa, March 11, 2009 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

Vision and dental care should also be included in healthcare reform.  Dental care is as important to your health as the rest of your body.  Who can afford it today?

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By prosefights, March 11, 2009 at 6:22 am Link to this comment

——- Forwarded Message——-
From: Senior citizen holding rattlesnake

To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 4:35:52 PM GMT -08:00 Tijuana / Baja California
Subject: [Fwd: Fwd: Elder Health Care]

Subject: Elder Health Care

?Everybody that is on this mailing list is either a senior citizen, is getting close or knows somebody that is.

Most of you know by now that the Senate version (at least) of the “stimulus” bill includes provisions for extensive rationing of health care for senior citizens.  The author of this part of the bill, former senator and tax evader, Tom Daschle was credited today by Bloomberg with the following statement.

According to Bloomberg: “Daschle says health-care reform will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.”

If this does not sufficiently raise your ire, just remember that Senators and Congressmen have their own healthcare plan that is first dollar or very low co-pay which they are guaranteed the remainder of their lives and are not subject to this new law if it passes.

Please use the power of the internet to get this message out.  Talk it up at the grassroots level.  We have an election coming up in one year and nine months.  We have the ability to address and reverse the dangerous direction the Obama administration and its allies have begun and in the interim, we can make their lives miserable.  Let’s do it!

If you disagree, don’t do anything.

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By SteveK9, March 11, 2009 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

I think the time is right to take on the ‘deeply ingrained fears of socialized medicine’.  That has certainly been the past, but I’m not sure that the tide hasn’t turned.  It’s too bad there is nothing like a direct vote on a ‘single payer’ system.  If Obama were actually behind this and used his considerable persuasive powers, I really think we could finally get it done.

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By Shift, March 10, 2009 at 10:17 pm Link to this comment

Obama is two faced.  He says one thing and does another.  This is not leadership it’s a hustle.

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By wildflower, March 10, 2009 at 10:15 pm Link to this comment

Don’t know about you, Amy, but I believe Senator Baucus is less than straightforward about his so called “healthcare” plan.

I just read an NYT’s article, “Obama’s Budget Faces Test Among Party” that reports that Senator Baucus objects to Obama’s proposal to limit tax deductions for the wealthiest 1.2 percent of Taxpayers to help overhaul healthcare.

And how does Senator Baucus propose to help pay for it? Well, according to the NYT, “Mr. Baucus has suggested that one way to raise money would be to tax as income the value of the health insurance some employees get on the job. . .”

Anyone notice something wrong with this picture? I sure do. Everyone but the wealthiest 1.2 percent gets shafted.

Senator Baucus cites “a potential drop in tax-deductible gifts to charities” as the reason for his objections, but this seems very improbable. The 1.2 percent can still “take deductions at the same level as in the Reagan years: a 28 percent rate, nearly twice what most taxpayers can claim.”

I also believe most charities would not object if the money were being used to create universal healthcare, especially those working to help the poor. They usually have a line item in their budget for heath care advocacy. If there were universal healthcare in the U.S., their budgets would be greatly reduced because their clients would no longer need their assistance in the area of health care.

[Quotes from: NYT “Obama’s Budget Faces Test Among Party” Jackie Calmes & Carl Hulse, March 11, 2009]

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By jerrypl, March 10, 2009 at 9:39 pm Link to this comment

Single payer, I don’t believe has ever been on the table. Only the “health insurance that everyone can afford” discussion has been on the table. As Dean Baker, Ph.D. has written, if President Obama offers a national plan for anyone who cannot find a private insurance policy plan that meets their needs, private insurance will never be able to compete. They spend around 17% on administrative costs, while Medicare’s cost are only ~4%. Private insurance buys billions for marketing. Medicare does not. The costs from the States and the Feds to regulate, monitor, and scrutinize all the different hospitals and doctors rules and regulations in each and every state will not need to be needed, since the government would be centralizing all of it. Manufacturers and other employers would no longer need to have health insurance costs on their balance sheets, and could then use those dollars for better use, would make them more competitive around the globe. It is time.

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By Kevin, March 10, 2009 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is so obvious. If insurance company’s are a for-profit business, it’s in their best interest as a company (answerable to shareholders) to deny insurance claims to the sick. They get richer if you die instead of getting the treatments you need. If your in government and don’t realize this, your amazingly dumb. If you realize it and do nothing about it, well than you’re just immoral.

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By bg1, March 10, 2009 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment
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“If he was a really innovative leader who believed in a sensible health care system” .. he would have never even been nominated.  His campaign would have been kept out of the media spotlight.

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By William W. Wexler, March 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

Since when is Single Payer off the table?  I thought the discussion had just begun.

If anyone is trying to take it off the table, there will be a shitstorm of backlash of unimaginable proportions.  This one will get people in the streets, you can count on it, faster than you can say “godddam socialist welfare cheats are eatin’ all our gubbermint cheese”.

There is an anger seething in America over the last 30 years of reverse-Robin-hood Reaganism just looking for a target to focus on.  Promising single payer and then taking it away is that target.  You can put that in the bank.


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By MeHere, March 10, 2009 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment

Yes, Robert, “how unfortunate for us.”

Let’s face it, Obama may be the first black president and an impressive speaker, but his leadership is very much within the confines of the Republican-Democratic political mentality.  And that’s how he got elected.  If he was a really innovative leader who believed in a sensible health care system, he would at least try to educate people about it—and the public needs lots of education on the subject. A leader with a true vision must be able to educate.

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By AWM, March 10, 2009 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

Government provides many services to the public like Police and fire protection services,food safety and education to name a few why not health care?

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By yours truly, March 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Any attempt at health care for all that is in any way privatized is doomed to fail on account of inefficiency (overhead of at least 30%) and the inevitable cherry-picking that insurance companies use in denying coverage to the sick or predisposed to get sick.  Then what’ll happen is that the insurance companies will say, “told you so, government is the problem, not the solution”, and that’ll be it for universal health care, end of quest, simple as that.

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By Robert, March 10, 2009 at 6:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I believe Obama believs in Single Payer, but has concluded that it is not saleable to the public, who have deeply ingrained fears of ‘socialized medicine.’ 

He is a great salesman.  I believe if he made some speeches about it and pointed to the successes of other nations, it could be a topic for the national debate.  That is, one taken seriously by the establishment. 

He apparently feels it isn’t a wise use of his political capital. 

How unfortunate for us.

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