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This Isn’t Reform, It’s Robbery

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Posted on Aug 24, 2009
AP / Bob Child

Protesters, in front of health insurer Aetna’s headquarters, hold signs with the company’s profit for 2007’s first quarter, $434 million. The company would report $27.6 billion in revenue for the year and $31 billion for the following year.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

“For someone my age who is making $40,000 a year you are required to lay out $5,000 for an insurance premium for coverage that covers nothing until you have spent $2,000 out of pocket,” Himmelstein said. “You are $7,000 out of pocket before you have any coverage at all. For most people that means you are already bankrupt before you have insurance. If anything, that has made them worse off.  Instead of having that $5,000 to cover some of their medical expenses they have laid it out in premiums.”

The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care—$7,129 per capita—although 45.7 million Americans remain without health coverage and millions more are inadequately covered. There are 14,000 Americans a day now losing their health coverage. A report in the journal Health Affairs estimates that, if the system is left unchanged, one of every five dollars spent by Americans in 2017 will go to health coverage. Private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third, 31 percent, of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment through a single nonprofit payer would save more than $400 billion per year, enough, Physicians for a National Health Plan points out, to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans. But the proposed America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200 in the House) will, rather than cut costs, add an estimated $239 billion over 10 years to the federal deficit. This is very good for the corporations. It is very bad for us.

The lobbyists have, as they did with the obscene bailouts for banks and investment firms, hijacked legislation in order to fleece the citizen. The five largest private health insurers and their trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, spent more than $6 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2009. Pfizer, the world’s biggest drug maker, spent more than $9 million during the last quarter of 2008 and the first three months of this year. The Washington Post reported that up to 30 members of Congress from both parties who hold key committee memberships have major investments in health care companies totaling between $11 million and $27 million. President Barack Obama’s director of health care policy, who will not discuss single-payer as an option, has served on the boards of several health care corporations.

Obama and the congressional leadership have shut out advocates of single-payer. The press, including papers such as The New York Times, treats single-payer as a fringe movement. The television networks rarely mention it. And yet between 45 and 60 percent of doctors favor single-payer. Between 40 and 62 percent of the American people, including 80 percent of registered Democrats, want universal, single-payer not-for-profit health care for all Americans. The ability of the corporations to discredit and silence voices that represent at least half of the population is another sad testament to the power of our corporate state.

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“We are considering a variety of striking efforts for early in the fall,” Dr. Himmelstein said, “including protests outside state capitals by doctors around the country, video links of conferences in 70 or 80 cities around the country, with protests and potential doctors chaining themselves to the fence of the White House.”

Make sure you join them.


New and Improved Comments

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By Chiropractic, August 22, 2011 at 11:47 pm Link to this comment

There needs to be more humanity in the world, and less capitalism. Profiteering is very aligned to the problem of greed, and there would be no end. Profiteering is also very misaligned with the basic principles of medical care/saving lives. One wonders whether avoiding ill health may be the only solution left for such a bleak healthcare situation, as highlighted.

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By ardee, January 29, 2010 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

If doggedness is an admirable trait then one must admire Marshall’s….Rant on oh paid hack, about the evils of Medicare but perhaps you might want to read this, having apparently missed it the first time through:

http://seniorliving.about.com/od/medicarebenefits/a/60-minutes-medicare-fraud-story.htm

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By garth, January 27, 2010 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

My brother had an interesting exampl of health insurance abuse.
He was bitten by a dog and had to go to the doctor for a rabies shot. His doctor was on vacation, so he got the shot or shots from one of his doctor’s associates.  The shots cost 500 dollars.
The Pilgrim Insurance company said that since he did not get the shots from his assigned physician, he was ineligible for coverage.

My brother asked them what in heaven’s name was he paying all those premiums for all those years for?  He refused to pay.

Pilgrim turned it over to a collection agency.  My brother told the collectors, “If you want the money, see Pilgrim.”

They, in turn, wrecked his credit.  he cannot get a credit card.  Fortunately, he doesn’t need one.  He’s retired.

But that heavy-handed, totalitarian approach does win over anyone.

In the spirit of an American, I say, “If they can’t take a joke, fuck ‘em.”

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By Marshall, December 27, 2009 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

By dgswilson, December 27 at 4:15 pm #

GAO has been officially estimating total medicare for a while.  For example, in
1995 it estimated $40B annually (and its gotten worse), or about 10% of all
expenditures as fraudulent.  Take just Medicaid oversight for example.  In fiscal
year 2003, Medicaid covered nearly 54 million people and the program’s
benefit payments totaled roughly $261 billion.  The entire federal fraud
prevention staff resources assigned to Medicaid in 2005 was eight.  That’s
right, eight full time people out of ten regional offices governing billions of
dollars.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05855t.pdf

Obama quoted the 10% overall GAO estimate during his campaign as well. 
Unfortunately, it’s an indictment of the public health system, not an argument
for expanding it.

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By dgswilson, December 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

“It hasn’t been established that Medicare is poorly run, however…”

Really? I’m convinced. What’s the National Debt? I usually don’t debate in comments, but. When I speak of government (here) I’m talking about our current Fed. Gov.. It ran a foul in the early 1900’s. If you go here: http://www.dgswilson.com/Society/Tyrants.html - there is a link to a pdf file below the list of significant events.

Once governments grow too big to control they cease to serve the interests of individuals. This is why we created a democratic republic. If state governments decide how to run their own affairs the public is better served. Because state governments are more easily reached and controlled - by the people.

There isn’t supposed to be (constitutionally) any individual income tax. No tax supported military complex. That complex would include the DOJ, CIA, FBI and so on. The formation of FDA, USDA, FEMA and all Federal Institutions is a bad idea from day one because they don’t lend themselves to public scrutiny and dismantling.

If you want to read about government run education go here: http://www.dgswilson.com/wpsite/2009/12/26/charlotte-iserbyt-no-american-left-alone/

Keynesian economics, as it has been used, started the whole, “It’s Okay to be in debt” idea. Even though it wasn’t originally meant to go on forever. The acceptance of the idea of “money as debt” is another paradigm that needs broken up. These “accepted as normal” ideas, are only accepted in the make believe world of “Enormous Centralized Government”.

And it is make believe - do what the government does and see what happens. This make believe world doesn’t extend to individuals. What the government, at it’s core, understands is that it won’t work, long term. Even if politicians don’t understand, even if people don’t understand - “The Thing”, that has shaped the U.S. Government into it’s current form understands perfectly. It knows it won’t work, it knows it’s not supposed to.

All that has happened to render this nation powerless has happened to enable the formation of a world government. As soon as a person looks at the actions of the government with this, one world government in mind, all is crystal clear. All the bewilderment over the actions of the government - ends.

By the way, I watched the 60 minutes episode after reading the comment. Saw nothing other than a report.

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By Liberal Democratic Party USA, December 27, 2009 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

Twas the day before Christmas

and all through the senate and the house

Liberals and Progressives were selling us out

You see the companies making contributions to conservatives really have the legislative clout

Unfortunately, most progressive and liberal outsiders haven’t figured this out

To leave these companies alone will just seal our fate

where we progressives and liberals do not carry much political weight

but if we join together and boycott conservative funders asses

We’ll get real progressive legislation that passes.

If you want to solve the problem of too much company influence over legislation go here http://www.democratz.org

To demand the California legislature and the Governor enact single payer http://bit.ly/single_payer_california

To demand congress enact a strong single payer public option go here http://publicoption.democratz.org

To demand congress fix the medicare prescription drug benefit go here http://drugbenefit.democratz.org

We need to boycott some major companies that give money to conservatives. Send this to many people by email.

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By Anarcissie, December 27, 2009 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

dgswilson, December 26 at 8:43 pm:
‘The reason the government isn’t good, or even qualified, to run things like medicare is because politicians aren’t elected on their merit as problem solvers. ...’

It hasn’t been established that Medicare is poorly run, however.

Politicians may not be problem-solvers, but they can hire problem-solvers.  They will do this if they think the electorate will vote for them if they get problems solved.  Unfortunately, the great preponderance of the electorate still vote for image, ethnicity, religion, and other specious qualities.  And they still seem to believe in the boss media, which, as we see again, in the article ardee posted, publish lies, fictions and distortions as a matter of course.

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By dgswilson, December 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

The reason the government isn’t good, or even qualified, to run things like medicare is because politicians aren’t elected on their merit as problem solvers. The only business experience most of them have is the business of politics. They’re just professional politicians. That’s what they do for a living, that’s how they work the system.

These dreams people hold onto about representation isn’t like the dreams we experience at night when we’re asleep. You don’t wake up and say, “Wow, that was weird”. People who dream these dreams don’t even know they’re dreaming, because it’s not a simple nightie night dream…

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By ardee, December 26, 2009 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

60 Minutes Medicare Fraud Report a Fiction


From Pierre Tristam

I haven’t watched CBS’ “60 Minutes” in years. But it was one of those stories that stops you in your tracks: Medicare fraud is “a $60 billion crime.” Medicare is the $456 billion government health insurance program serving 46 million elderly Americans. Its credibility as a government-run program is at the heart of the health-care reform debate. If Medicare isn’t doing the job, the government certainly can’t.

Except that the fraud claim is not true. “60 Minutes” amateurish journalism wouldn’t get past your average small-town copy editor’s fact-checking.

Medicare Fraud Numbers Unknown
The first thing I did after watching the show was get in a big funk: Maybe conservatives are right. Government can’t run anything. And this is “60 Minutes,” not some tabloid sap like “Dateline.” The second thing I did was apply the first lesson of the trade: verify the facts. It didn’t take long for the story to unravel. There are no facts. “60 Minutes” doesn’t know how much Medicare fraud there is. You don’t know. I don’t know. The federal government doesn’t know. Nobody knows, because Medicare fraud as a whole isn’t tracked. That’s why “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft said fraud is “estimated now to total about $60 billion a year.” Estimated. Fine. By whom? You’d think Ed Murrow’s ghost at the Columbia Broadcasting System might still compel his descendants to attribute colossal estimates to a reliable source. Not this time.

Trying to Confim the Medicare Fraud Story
I called “60 Minutes.” I asked to speak to one of the two producers of the segment. I was patched through to a spokesman instead, who said the $60 billion figure came from Kirk Ogrosky, a Justice Department prosecutor in charge of Medicare fraud. But it didn’t.


edited for absurd limit…...more necessary….


I did, asking if Ogrosky or anyone at the department had given “60 Minutes” that $60 billion figure, and if it stood by it. After cutting through the initial bureaucratic hurdle, Charles Miller, one of the Department of Justice’s spokesman, wrote me: “This sounds like a good question for HHS,” meaning the federal Department of Health and Human Services. I let Charles know the buck-passing was getting old.

more cutting….read the damn article in total please….

McCaleb and the attorney general were wrong, too. GAO has never estimated total Medicare fraud. It investigates targeted programs within Medicare, finding fraud in the millions, not billions. And it’s not total federal expenditure that those estimates McCaleb referred to are based on. It’s total public and private expenditure on health care. The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, a partnership between private insurers and the federal government, says that it “estimates conservatively that 3 percent of all health care spending—or $68 billion—is lost to health care fraud.” The association bases that figure on 2007 total health care spending of $2.27 trillion in the United States. It’s an unscientific, very dubious way of making estimates. But even if you go with it, well over half that spending is private sector. Medicare in 2007 was a $436 billion program. Applying the association’s 3 percent standard, that works out to an estimated $13 billion in Medicare fraud. For argument’s sake, throw in Medicaid’s $191 billion spending in 2007. You’re up to $19 billion in fraud.

Where Was Fact-Checking in Medicare Fraud Story?
.................edited for absurd length limit
Medicare fraud is a serious problem. But singling it out and exaggerating it beyond credibility won’t fix it, although it may help doom any government expansion of health care. In that regard, the “60 Minutes” segment did its death-panel best.

http://seniorliving.about.com/od/medicarebenefits/a/60-minutes-medicare-fraud-story.htm

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By Marshall, December 25, 2009 at 11:06 pm Link to this comment

By Outraged, August 25 at 9:05 pm #
Re: Marshall

“The government also pays for scientific research and development, then
allows the benefits to be reaped by private firms. This occurs commonly in
medical research…”

If our government funds medical R&D without profiting on the back end, then
that’s a failure of public policy, not private R&D (and would be another example
of the failure of the public apparatus).  The R&D costs are what they are and
you’d have to make the case that current patent laws overcompensate those
expenditures by protecting price structures.  In any case, taxpayers would
benefit from R&D through the availability of the fruits of that R&D.

As to the administrative cost differential between medicare and private
insurance, most of this is the result of anti-fraud spending that private
insurers undertake, as opposed to medicare which spends little (and suffers
great fraud as a result).

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By ardee, September 17, 2009 at 3:01 am Link to this comment

ceanf, September 16 at 12:21 pm #

You question the veracity of the author because he fails to add footnotes, yet you throw numbers around sans veriufication as well…who’s zoomin’ who?

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By Night-Gaunt, September 16, 2009 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

Remember Ceanf, their profits come from not paying out. The numbers are horrible with double digit dumps when people need them most and find out their insurance company lied. Yes they are evil when their profit is put before our very lives. That is no exaggeration.

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By ceanf, September 16, 2009 at 9:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

since 1996 the average profit margin for many health insurance companies listed on the S&P 500 have been below the S&P 500 average.  The obscene profits that the author insists the evil health care corporations ‘fleece’ from americans simply do not exist.  be wary when you read an article where the author throws out statistics with absolutely no mention of where they came from, and with no way to validate them.  it probably means the author made them up, or at the very least, skewed existing numbers from studies to fit their argument. i, for one, have trouble with a lot of the statistics this author throws out in his articles. because if they were legitimate figures, he would cite where he got those figures from.  the lack of citations indicates to me that the author wants us to accept those numbers without question because he can not support them.

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By Night-Gaunt, September 11, 2009 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

Don’t forget that one thing that you can be sure that the “public option” will do is to reimburse the insurance companies or pay outright the costs from tax money for those of us who can’t afford it in the first place.

Even though it is a win/win for those insurance companies they still don’t like change. Their deal is “sweet” right now so the status quo is better. We shall see how things shake out once we have one actual bill to look at.

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By ardee, September 10, 2009 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

M.B.S.S., September 9 at 12:28 pm

Speaking of missing, where is your conscience these days. You posted an agreement with Folktruthers assertion that NPR does not make use of the word “torture”, did you not?

Here it is again :
Elisa, I’m afraid truthdigger 3 is right about public radio.  They do not for example call what the US does to prisoners as ‘torture.’

Your response:

folktruther is quite right about NPR and torture.  check out the controversy over @ salon:

SO, the upshot is that you both are wrong, as two and a half minutes of research proved:

http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=torture

Showing 1 - 10 of about 6,770 results
Sort by date | Sorting by best match

In response you post some smarmy and childish comment, off topic as well.

“for someone so up to date on the internets you sure seem to miss alot.”

Firstly , its internet, no ‘s’ , only Bush used that phrase, interestingly enough…..Secondly, I seek adult discussion, if you are incapable of supplying such just ignore me…..or prepare for response in kind.

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By M.B.S.S., September 9, 2009 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

ardee:

Last week, NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard caused a minor uproar after responding to angry emails from listeners over NPR’s use of the phrase “enhanced interrogation techniques” to describe treatment of terrorism suspects under the Bush Administration. Shepard talks about NPR’s policy and her own opinion on the use of the word “torture.”

for someone so up to date on the internets you sure seem to miss alot.

http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2009/06/26/02

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By ardee, September 4, 2009 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

For Folktruther and M.B.S.S.

It is a simple thing to search the validity of ones opinion on this internet toy of ours.

Go to NPR.ORG, use their search function, type in torture and find this:

http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=torture

Showing 1 - 10 of about 6,770 results
Sort by date | Sorting by best match

  1.
    ACLU Lawyer Discusses Torture Documents
    ... ACLU Lawyer Discusses Torture Documents. September 1, 2009. Listen to the Story. All Things Considered. [4 min 54 sec ...
    (September 01, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112447191
  2.
    Harsh Interrogation Techniques or Torture? - NPR Ombudsman Blog ...
    ... Harsh Interrogation Techniques or Torture? 10:37. June 21, 2009. comments. byline goes here. ... “That’s what the debate is about—what constitutes torture? ...
    (June 21, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/ombudsman/2009/06/harsh_interrogation_techniques.html
  3.
    UK chief says spies not complicit in torture
    ... UK chief says spies not complicit in torture. ... When asked about torture, Scarlett said: “No torture, and there is no complicity with torture.”. ...
    (August 10, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111738732
  4.
    The Nation: Holder Locks Into The Torture Issue
    ... Back in Washington, however, Attorney General Eric Holder was poised to appoint a prosecutor to investigate alleged torture during the Bush administration. ...
    (August 25, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112197698
  5.
    CIA Director Leon Panetta Tells Agency Torture Revelations Are ’ ...
    ... CIA Director Leon Panetta Tells Agency Torture Revelations Are ‘Old Story’. 11:29. August 24, 2009. comments. byline goes here. CIA Director ...
    (August 24, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2009/08/cia_director_panetta_tells_age.html
  6.
    The Torture Debate Is Not Yet Over
    “We need a policy on torture,” Talk of the Nation news analyst Ted Koppel says. ... The Torture Debate Is Not Yet Over. by Ted Koppel. ...
    (May 11, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104023978
  7.
    Torture Issues Likely To Linger
    The release of so-called torture memos and the political aftermath suggest that the issue won’t go away anytime soon, says NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr ...
    (April 30, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103673545
  8.
    Torture Debate Ties Washington In Partisan Knots
    ... Torture Debate Ties Washington In Partisan Knots. by Liz Halloran. ... But it remains all about who controls the torture narrative, says NYU’s Greenberg. ...
    (May 20, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104340314
  9.
    Obama, Cheney Face Off On Torture
    ... Obama, Cheney Face Off On Torture. by Liz Halloran. Enlarge Charles Dharapak/ Saul Loeb/AP/AFP/Getty Images ... ON THE RELEASE OF TORTURE MEMOS. ...
    (May 21, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104391451
  10.
    In Torture Memo Furor, Rizzo’s Name Is At The Top
    All four of the recently released Justice Department torture memos were sent to one man: John Rizzo. ... In Torture Memo Furor, Rizzo’s Name Is At The Top. ...
    (April 29, 2009)
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103590884

Hmmm sixty seven hundred references to torture…where’s the beef,Clara?

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By KDelphi, September 4, 2009 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

elisalouisa and Night Guant—Yes, it is our obligation to speak out for people who cannot be heard and not allow a medical industrial complex bill to be passed so that the Dems can have a rose garden signing ceremony!

I saw some of that at the Town Hall mtgs on c-span—just disgusting.

The rationing is happening now , but it is just based on financial status. Middle class think that it wont happen to them, so , many dont care. But, it will.

If the industry continues , unabated, there will come a time when only the most elite can afford anything but untested swine flu vaccines!

To think that private death insurance will “go out of business” in a country so focused on “I am rich, I deserve it, you dont” is just ridiculous. You can pretty much BUY whatever you want in this country—anyplace , anytime, if you are rich and so inclined.

Let these drs who dont wish to fulfill their Hippocratic oath go treat people like Cheney for profit.

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By elisalouisa, September 4, 2009 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

Night-gaunt:They don’t like the infirm and want to save money by letting them
die. Terrible and it will come back to bite us if we aren’t careful.
**************************
That is happening now Night-Gaunt, thank you for caring. The more elderly on Medicare must now know medical procedure or proper diagnosis to receive care. Primary care physicians give minimal exams at best and expect the patient to know when a medical problem exists and insist for a specialist in that field. Physicians can read their patients and know how to handle them so they will not request more health care. Also know how to steer them home after a hospital stay rather than a Medicare provided nursing home for one or two weeks. Most of the more elderly do not know this is going on. This is a definite change from a few years back.Of course, this will be denied and it may not exist in all parts of the country at least for the time being. They are already “cost cutting” only it is being done coverly.
There were many advantages in Hilary becoming Secretary of State a big one being that she is not in the Senate to fight for Health Care. If you really look at the facts and not be swept away by Obama’s words, there was never any
intention to pass a Health Care Bill that provided just that.

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By Night-Gaunt, September 3, 2009 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

How about the woman in a wheel chair with two fatal autoimmune diseases and the few, vocal others could do was boo and shout at her to ask the question. No love, no care, no empathy. I have seen such or read bout such attitudes in many other countries & times. They don’t like the infirm and want to save money by letting them die. Terrible and it will come back to bite us if we aren’t careful.

Obama is doing that too if he lets pass a health bill that really doesn’t help the people but lines the pockets of the health care industry. That would be a crime against humanity, rather like our present death care system.

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By Alex, September 3, 2009 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is truly only one way to facilitate change in
the US and that is pure violence.  One important
thing that history has taught us, but everyone is too
politically correct to mention, is that every major
instance of humanitarian progress has been
accomplished through violence or the possibility of
violence.  The truth is that the only way the
powerful elite will relinquish their power is if it’s
taken from them by force.  I say enough with the
coffee shop meetings and acts of activism, it is time
for an American version of the French revolution, and
for the American citizens to take their country back. 
The problem is that most Americans are too busy with
their SUV’s and flat screen TV’s to care about their
children’s future. Americans are too indoctrinated by
their beliefs that violence is bad and there are
better ways to solve problems.  To this I say keep
writing your little blogs about what is wrong with
your country while the corporate elites continue to
kill off US citizens through their greed and
corruption.  Wake up American before its too late!!!

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By KDelphi, September 3, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

Al that being said, the fricking rednecks showing up screaming and shouting at pediatricians and old men at Town Hall’s today ought to be put out of their misery and made to stf up!!

Gawd!! How internationally humiliating is this!!

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By garth, September 3, 2009 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

I have to ask.  Why won’t you post:

NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK!

as Rule #1 that Congress abides by in light of the Astro turf battle against health insurance reform?

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, September 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

If the number I have is correct and an average 273 die every day from lack of health care (both not insured and those under insured) it approaches 99,000+ a year die and that was in 2006! With over 9.7 million now unemployed you can bet that all the numbers are too conservative on that. By-the-way suicides are up 28% this year. They won’t be counted as connected to any of this even though you can be it really is.

It is far worse that what is generally known and there are those out there who would try to hide it.

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By KDelphi, September 2, 2009 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Alex-

“The Institute of Medicine estimates that about 20,000 people die each year in this country due to lack of health insurance” (although some est are as high as 80,000)

This is from the Physicians for a Natl Health Plan site.http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/may/most_mds_citizen.php

garth—good idea. I have to say one thing about Stan Brock, becaue it surprised me. I have a friend who wanted to go to the RAM that was held in Virginia, just as Obama was going to Chicago for a fundraiser. I had invited Obama and some Senators to attend.(umm, they declined, I guess). He wanted to bring a video camera. Brock sent me back a huge right wing rant about health care being a privilege, not a right, and, that we should stop trying to promote our political agenda using his charity ‘paid only with smiles and thanks of patients” (!!) He further stated that he refused to go back to countries where they considered it a right, because they were not “grateful enough”! I told him not to break his arm patting himself on the back about his ‘christian charity”...gawd. I guess even assholes do nice things if they think they wil get a reward in heaven..but then its not really “charity” at all, right? lol

But your idea is good. The Cuban people know that it is a human right! The medical industrial complex here makes sure that most people here do not—until they get sick, usually.

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By garth, September 1, 2009 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

I’d like to see someone advocate for the admission of a Cuban team of doctors to treat the populations in some of the metropolitan areas. Like the Remote Area Medical under the leadership of Stan Brock, this one would Metropolitan Medical under the leadership of Cuban doctor.  They’ve done it many times before in South America, and, God knows, we need it here.

They’d treat minorities in the major cities.

Wouldn’t that frost those self-righteous, greedy bastards?

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By Alex, August 31, 2009 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Does anyone know where the state that 20,000 people died last year from inadequate healthcare comes from?

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By kares, August 30, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I love your morality…...... so wonderful to hear your voice echo in my brain.  incisive, penetrating and human.  i don’t believe in the human version of God, but whatever force exists, you and ralph have to be close to any notion of greatness.

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By Night-Gaunt, August 28, 2009 at 10:20 am Link to this comment

Sorry Anarssissa that isn’t what I am talking about. The real and long term already in use “death panels” are from the health insurance boards who ration care and decide whether you get that surgery you need or not. If they will pay for that medicine your doctor wanted to give you for your cancer or delay you from getting it until you die. Something the likes of Limbaugh & Palin would not talk about. There are many stories but little publicized on corporate news networks.

The main thing about corporate death care is that they make there money from not treating you or giving you less than you need. You should understand that Anarssissa. I should not have to school you in this simple fact.  We have the best health care system money can buy. And if you don’t have it then you run the risk of an early and painful death. Do you even know this?

I wish you would have read what I had written more closely and you wouldn’t have made that elementary critical error.

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By Doug Wilson, August 28, 2009 at 8:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My first that this morning, that I found interesting, was that we all build walls - with words. I read the words “Great Nation” in one of the comments. That’s a really good wall, it defines a position which says, “I am great, you are something else…”. I am here, you are there - Wall. Build me a health care system so I can get inside of it - walled in, enclosed within. System of Democracy, Collectivism, Fascism - We are here inside, you are out there, outside. I guess the original wall was “this is mine”. My stuff is here, separated from your stuff by this imaginary, agreed upon wall we’ll build with words.

People are ignorant, stupid vs. Brilliant, wise - Separate us from them, define…. - Walls, barriers, boundaries.

I decided to not go inside this contraptions. I have to say my name is Doug Wilson so that I can talk with you. If you ask me where I live I’ll say North of Fort Worth, TX. but I never really live there. It’s my global position at the moment. If asked I say I’m a US Citizen, but I don’t really think of myself that way. I don’t belong to, or adhere to, or allow myself to be enclosed, entrapped or conditioned by any “Word Walls”. I don’t choose to live in there, to me, they are pens. I don’t want to let myself be placed in a pen. I don’t exist within any “Idea Boundaries”. This includes any Health Care idea tent or political ideology camp. As long as I don’t go inside - I’m free. Arguing is a type of mental energy snare, which could be seen as a pen…but that’s a whole other story.

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By Anarcissie, August 28, 2009 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt:
‘Jack Foster don’t you know that we already have rationed care through those health insurance companies you like so much? ...’

I am amazed by the persistence of this canard, worthy of Limbaugh or Palin but hardly to be considered by anyone over the moron level.  The “death panels” were no more than provision in the medical insurance plan to cover end-of-life counseling.  As for rationing, in any economy where desire exceeds capacity there is going to be some kind of rationing.  For 99.9% of the people, that rationing will be completely out of their control regardless of whether they are insured and cared for by private companies, the government, cooperatives, charity, the Saturnian ant men, or their own money, and the decisions will be made in largely the same way.  I understand why flacks for private insurance are pushing misconceptions about it, but I don’t understand why so many people are buying them.  At some point people are going to have to stop believing everything they’re told and do some elementary critical thinking.

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By glider, August 27, 2009 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

“I voted for Mr. Obama! He seemed like an embodiment of an all American MERIT (defined as high intelligence, wisdom & integrity)! Why isn’t he using these precious tools, to make decisions that are in the best interest of all Americans, not just the rich and powerful?”

Used to think the same thing.  Realizing the falsehood of merit #3 answers your question.

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By Night-Gaunt, August 27, 2009 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Jack Foster don’t you know that we already have rationed care through those health insurance companies you like so much?

So far Obama has done everything to make it look like he is for change but is keeping the main problem, the health insurance companies in the middle of it. So blame him for supporting the very ones who make our health care, death care.

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By Mason Wheeler, August 27, 2009 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Q: What’s wrong with the HMOs making an honest profit?

A: Nothing at all.  And if you know of one that actually does make its profits honestly, please let me know so I can switch to them.

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By M.B.S.S., August 27, 2009 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

folktruther is quite right about NPR and torture.  check out the controversy over @ salon:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/07/02/npr/

it is disillusioning and disenchanting to find that sources you once trusted implicitly, cannot be trusted.  one might find that the tie that binds leads to a corporate sponsor.  or an intrepid reported pulls back the veil on everyone, except for his or her parent company.  don’t you love that terminology:  “parent company?”  they set little playpens for us to run around in.  it seems like we have some freedom, just don’t cross that gate!!  that is out of bounds.

how about the left’s beloved olbermann and his truce with fox?  (since the story has broke he has gone back to criticizing fox, to his credit.)

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/08/01/ge/

so who can you trust?

chris hedges and glenn greenwald are in my “trust zone.”  i take a good look at my sources of information.  once again i echo folktruther who noted CIA operatives are situated in prime positions in the MSM and offer asymmetrical information, or more often, pure disinformation.  others such as kovie, who posts @ openleft and salon, have pointed this out as well. im afraid that when all the skeletons are out of the closet, what we find will shock the average joe, and even surprise even the most aware among us.

anarcissie and TAO made insightful posts as usual.  the D’s are treading on thin ice because this health care adventure has given the general public a very clear window into the real activities and motivations on The Hill, and how they are CONstructed.  we have realized the the R’s have failed completely, and now it is the turn for the D’s to fail in the same way, for the same reasons, due to the same masters.  after they fail is it time to give the R’s a chance again?  what a beautiful system…

maybe the general public has graduated from the 3rd to the 4th grade.  and we have finally learned that santa claus is not real.  will this slap to the face awaken us from the dream that is the duality illusion of this political system?  this system in some way is comparable to the duality illusion that is life.  good/bad, up/down, republican/democrat.  in spirituality the unity of all life is a beautiful thing.  the ALL ONE of divinity. in politics it is ALL ONE MONSTER.  we need to chop off all of it’s heads, and destroy it completely, in order to have a new day, and a new start.

i have said this before on truthdig:  many times this we feel small and weak, and the fight seems futile.  but we should remember that what we are doing, even though it appears to be just blowing hot air @ each other, (sometimes that is all it is) is actually an important part of the process.  before we can do anything about our situation we need to figure out exactly what is happening.  there are still more pieces of the puzzle for even the most well informed among us.  as we unveil the beast we can show others what we see.  part of this first step is acknowledging what we are up against.  as a country we are slowly figuring it out.  even the layman, as thick as he is, and as many times as his wallet has been raided, and as much as his head has been spun by the pundits, has begun to wise up.  it has become far too obvious for even the oblivious to miss.

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By Jack Foster, August 27, 2009 at 9:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

An article on health care reform in this morning’s (Aug. 26) Wall Street Journal entitled “Obama’s Health Rationer-in-Chief,” explores the prospect of presidential appointees rationing and otherwise making my medical decisions. Frightening prospect. Kudos to Betsy McCaughey for exploring the subject.

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By Mestizo Warrior, August 27, 2009 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

I attended a congressional Town Hall Meeting where about 1,000 people were told by the 20th Congressional District representative; “What’s wrong with the HMOs making an honest profit?” This neo-liberal jerk went on to praise American capitalism and staunchly opposed single payer, the only viable and humane approach to healthcare.
Why? For one thing he received over $130,000 dollars from the healthcare leeches in campaign contributions! Unlike his father who preceded him in Congress this guy has NO cojones!
President Obama and Congress continue to ignore the reality of our healthcare woes; the HMOs and Big Pharma are responsible! The HMOs reject applicants with “pre-existing” conditions or deny needed treatments. Thus 18,000-22,000 Americans die needlessly every year. While the HMOs profits continue to skyrocket upwards, the quality of our healthcare spirals downward! It isn’t rocket science! The Pharmaceuticals have a monopoly on the price of needed prescription drugs and we are not allowed to order our medications from Canada, yet Wal-Mart can purchase pharmaceuticals manufactured in India! Yet our government has no problem in permitting the healthcare capitalists to continue their control and domination of our healthcare system!
It has become very clear to me that our electoral system is as corrupt as our healthcare system(s)! When elected officials can receive bribes and defend the evil doers, it is time for a REAL CHANGE!

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By Folktruther, August 26, 2009 at 10:05 pm Link to this comment

Elisa, I’m afraid truthdigger 3 is right about public radio.  They do not for example call what the US does to prisoners as ‘torture.’

It is not surporising that the army censors and lies.  After all, their business is killing.  But the CIA also has assets in all the media, including the Progressive media.  The American worldview is systematically distorted by power.

KDelphi, how can a legislator promote the population’s interests agaisnt power if they are going to be attacked in all the media for it, and denied funds for reelection?  What is needed is the reality based truth to the people to mobilize them to take money away from the rich.  Both Dem and Gop reps will defend the rich.

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By elisalouisa, August 26, 2009 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment

The news article below speaks for itself as to our “Truth system.”
**********************
Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, August 27, 2009
WASHINGTON — Contrary to the insistence of Pentagon officials this week that they are not rating the work of reporters covering U.S. forces in Afghanistan,
Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters’ coverage is being graded as “positive,” “neutral” or “negative.”
Moreover, the documents — recent confidential profiles of the work of individual reporters prepared by a Pentagon contractor — indicate that the ratings are
intended to help Pentagon image-makers manipulate the types of stories that reporters produce while they are embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The new revelations of the Pentagon’s attempts to shape war coverage come as senior Defense Department officials are acknowledging increasing concern over
recent opinion polls showing declining popular American support for the Afghan war.
“The purpose of this memo is to provide an assessment of [a reporter from a major U.S. newspaper] … in order to gauge the expected sentiment of his work
while on an embed mission in Afghanistan,” reads the preamble to one of the reporter profiles prepared for the Pentagon by The Rendon Group, a
controversial Washington-based public relations firm.
Stars and Stripes reported on Monday that the Pentagon was screening reporters embedding with U.S. forces to determine whether their past coverage had
portrayed the military in a positive light. The story included denials by U.S. military officials that they were using the reporters’ profiles to determine whether
to approve embed requests.
In the wake of that story, officials of both the Defense Department and Rendon went further, denying that the rating system exists.
In a statement e-mailed to Stars and Stripes, Rear Adm. Greg Smith, director of communications for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan,
wrote: “To imply journalists embedded with our forces only serve to highlight positive aspects of our mission slights the professional journalists who regularly
embed with our forces and report what they experience, both good and bad.”
The Rendon Group declared in a statement that “the information and analysis we generate is developed … not by ranking of reporters.”
But the Rendon profiles reviewed by Stars and Stripes prove otherwise. One of the profiles evaluates work published as recently as May, indicating that the
rating practice did not in fact cease last October as Whitman stated.
And the explicit suggestions contained in the Rendon profiles detailing how best to manipulate reporters’ coverage during their embeds directly contradict the
Pentagon’s stated policies governing the embed process.
“These ground rules recognize the inherent right of the media to cover combat operations and are in no way intended to prevent release of embarrassing,
negative or derogatory information,” reads the “News Media Ground Rules” issued by U.S. military officials for embedded reporters in Iraq.
Several professional journalists’ groups as well as media ethicists criticized the Pentagon’s attempts to rate and manipulate reporters. And at least one military
official with knowledge of the profiling system has also begun to raise objections.
“It’s troubling that the military is contracting a private PR firm, paid with U.S. taxpayer dollars, to profile individual reporters,” said one servicemember who
declined to be identified for fear of official retribution. “It shows utter contempt for the Constitution, which we in the service pledge our lives to defend.”
Stars and Stripes’ Charlie Reed, Kevin Baron and Leo Shane III contributed to this report.

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By truedigger3, August 26, 2009 at 4:24 pm Link to this comment

elisalouisa wrote:
“PBS is the only channel that treats the news as news rather than entertainment.”

That might be true, but that doesn’t mean you will get honest news without bullshitting and spinning or omitting some items and emphasizing others.
PBS does all the above. You will not gonna get unbiased honest eporting from PBS or NPR.

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By elisalouisa, August 26, 2009 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther:That’s the basic problem, Elisa, not the electoral system but the
truth system.  The electoral system will never change as long as the power
system of the ruling class controls the truth system.

The people must somehow gain control of the truth system, and this will
probably require an international media.
*******
I know a rose by any other name is still a rose but what you refer to as the
truth system is anything but the truth. For want of another name how about
the disinformation system?
You are absolutely right about the need for an international media. Rupert
Murdock might very well think of a way to gain control of that also. My
knowledge about communications is nil. I just wonder if it would be possible to
have an English version of the news media emanating from China or Russia or
other such place that would be transmitted by satellite to the US. As it is now,
it is very difficult to know what is going on without digging. Some people do
not have the inclination, temperament, energy or time to do so. A true choice
of media sources would be helpful. Also, PBS is the only channel that treats the
news as news rather than entertainment. That would be on my wish list also;
let’s make the news just news. Those who wish to be entertained can change
channels.

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By KDelphi, August 26, 2009 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

“Capitalism” is not a “form of govt” and it is the problem.

Capitalist “health insurance industries” are doing what capitalists do.

Are Democrats laboring under some sort of fallacy that corporations give a rat’s ass how they make money?

There is not point in trying to “stand up for this ‘plan’”—-what would one say, “I want the right to give more money to an industry which produces nothing but misery and death”.
Military industrial complex, medical industrial complex. You only get them if you are still stupid enough to think that the rewards outweight the suffering.

FOX News is not the problem, the DEMOCRATS have control of the House the Senate and the presidency (yawn). They can do whatever they like. This is what they want. The system IS the “problem”

Health care, food, shelter, education , etc are either human rights , or , they are up for the profit machines. You chose. Obama hasnt endorsed national heatlh care since 2003. He took millions from the for-profit “insurance” industry, dropped off his Blackberry at his Senate office and set out to woo soccer moms.It worked. He also played on peoples’ racism, knowing “how much better” rich people would feel if they could vote for an Af Am.
The original “issue” was the 50 million who go without health care—-remember?? Now, as always, with Capitalism, it is simply about MONEY.

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By bogi666, August 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

Republican clamoring that NO HEALTH CARE IS BETTER THAN ANY/ALL PUBLIC OPTIONS and millions paying insurance premiums only to have their claims denied for the sake of profits. The gullible, ignorant narcissistic-consumerist-glutton American public is simply pathetic. When Sadaam Hussein tell the truth and the American president lies and when Sadaam goes to the gallows spitting and cursing the hangman while Cheney whines and whimpers about the prospect of being held accountable for his criminal conduct and when the American public is duped by 10th rate psycho’s like Beck, Dobbs, O’reilly, Limbaugh and the like when they could access 1st rate psycho’s like Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels proves that the ability of Americans, to go 1st class in favor of 10th class psycho’s,to destroy themselves has taken a turn for the better. American will destroy the USA faster and nastier than any external imagined enemy.

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By Folktruther, August 26, 2009 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

That’s the basic problem, Elisa, not the electoral system but the truth system.  The electoral system will never change as long as the power system of the ruling class controls the truth system.

The people must somehow gain control of the truth system, and this will probably require an international media.

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By rolmike, August 26, 2009 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

i think the way to make a dent in the opposition to
health care reform is to point out that it took ten
u.s. soldiers to kill one german soldier because the
krauts were so much healthier, because bismarck had
institituted universal health care back around 1870.
and look at how healthy all those wetback are that
come to work at the most menial job: one aspect of
the mexican socialist revolution that worked was
healthcare, every little village has its clinica.

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By dgswilson, August 26, 2009 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

The cause is much older and much simpler than anything mentioned in the comments. It’s also much bigger and more devious. But one has to let go of the attachment to Political Parties, being right, trying to get solutions from the problem and so on to recognize it. The problem dwells in the human psyche. In our current mode, we can only move from one problem to another, endlessly arguing, endlessly suffering in one form or another. It’s tiring and unnecessary. I suppose at some point we might stop. But, there is no evidence to support this supposition. Visit my new forum…dgswilson.com/index.php

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By AS, August 26, 2009 at 6:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

THANK YOU Mr. Hedges! As evidenced by a copy of my below posted message that had recently been sent to Congress, I agree with you!

As a retired physician, who had practiced Academic Medicine for ~40 years, I am convinced that properly practiced MEDICINE (according to the guidlines of the Hippocrates Oath), has never been, and never will be compatible with the practice of any business. MEDICINE is not meant to be business!

As an insider, as well as a patient, and a relative of other patients, I know for a fact, that the quality of our Health Care, is far from being good, despite an outrageous amount of money that has been invested into it!

I am not alone. Physicians for a National Health Program-PNHP- (http://www.pnhp.org), has been ” a single issue organization advocating a universal SINGLE-PAYER national Health program.” It has more than 17,000 members.

In their most recent letter to The Nation Editors (08/17/24, 2009), five renown physicians-members of PNHP- wrote that, even if the so called “Public Option” were to survive, it “won’t fix the mainstream Democrats’ flawed healthcare reform proposal. Only a SINGLE-PAYER reform would make universal ... coverage affordable. It would save ~ 400 billion annually on bureaucracy…”

Why not discuss all of this? What do 17,000 physicians, myself included, know, that our Government does not want to know? If reasonable people cannot even offer an opinion, let alone prevail, what does that say about our so called democracy?

I voted for Mr. Obama! He seemed like an embodiment of an all American MERIT (defined as high intelligence, wisdom & integrity)! Why isn’t he using these precious tools, to make decisions that are in the best interest of all Americans, not just the rich and powerful?

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By elisalouisa, August 26, 2009 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

For a time I really believed that the outbursts at Town Hall Meetings were set up;
that such individuals could not exist. Now I know such people do exist and
much of their rage can be attributed to Fox news which seems to have a spirit of
its own as to meanness and ruthless spinning of how things are. One friend, a
lifelong Democrat who lives across the country and pays an obscene health
insurance premium some how puts the blame on the government. Excuse me?
The task of trying to set her straight has been a difficult one. Her husband listens
to Fox news and at times she cannot help but overhear the venom that spews
forth from Fox news personalities. If my friend, whom I have known for years, can be convinced, anyone can be convinced and turned into a raging maniac.

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By Mason Wheeler, August 26, 2009 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

CJ:
>Oh yeah, capitalists shouldn’t be allowed outside cages, but they’re everywhere busy extracting profits by ANY means.

Come on, be reasonable.  The profit motive is a very good incentive to innovate and improve your product or the quality of your service in a free-market system.  History’s proven that one many times over.

The problem is that free-market principles only actually apply when freedom exists in the marketplace.  This is not the case in health care, which, as Chris noted, is not a consumable good, and it’s not the case in any market in which freedom of choice does not exist due to monopolization.  But good luck getting the far-right nuts to understand such subtle distinctions…

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By ardee, August 26, 2009 at 3:42 am Link to this comment

5. Boycott American Express who gave Max Baucus $50,000 for his campaigns. Call Joanna Lambert at 212 640 9668 and politely tell her you will not use any American Express cards until the American Express CEO gets Max Baucus to get HR 676 enacted into law. Email me after you call.

I canceled my American Express card immediately after this news broke. I wrote a letter explaining my decision was based upon this action as well.

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By jmr, August 25, 2009 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

“What goes above or below the line is fungible.”

...And no different from any other industry in that regard - so perhaps you quibble with salaries being above the line, but that would apply to any industry so why single out health insurance?

And any industry would use fungibility to poormouth, if they were likewise questioned about their profiteering at the nation’s expense.

As for salaries, it’s quibbling if salaries are the only factor in the cost inflation, but I presented salaries as one of many.  I single out health insurance because 1) we’re talking about healthcare and 2) healthcare insurance has a captive market, which it egregiously exploits.  As Hedges’s essay begins, “Capitalists…should never be allowed near a health care system.”

Anyway, as you can see from my post, in the total picture I place insurance as one in the profit food chain.  Even so, insurance should be singled out because private insurance is not only a cost inflator itself but a catalyst for inflation up and down the food chain, like Saddam’s Iraq was for terrorism.  Furthermore, insurance is the stage in the healthcare food chain that could most easily be nationalized.  It could simply be co-opted by the extension of Medicare or bought out through eminent domain. In the latter case, no one in the industry need lose their job (though top executives would probably move on to greener pastures, as is their wont), they would just be working for a better employer.

I’m curious what data you have that supports the “inflated payments to fee-for-service doctors”, since I believe there’s little incentive to insurance companies for that as it would reduce profit margins.

Of course it doesn’t reduce profit margins; the cost, like other costs, are passed to the premium.  (Remember, it’s a captive market.)  As for fee-for-service, it’s one of the biggest scams in the healthcare racket.  It’s a huge inflator of costs.  I don’t have figures offhand, but you can get an authoritative take from Dr. Relman of Harvard, whom I often cite and who discusses fee-for-service in this NPR interview, which I highly recommend your listening to.

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By CJ, August 25, 2009 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

Oh yeah, capitalists shouldn’t be allowed outside cages, but they’re everywhere busy extracting profits by ANY means. United Healthcare a fine example of extractor par excellence. Does anyone reasonably expect yet one more outfit to give a crap for other than profits doled out to shareholders? No owners of which need ever purchase insurance, which is long-time capitalist racket thought up in a London pub called Lloyds.

Cuz we got no idea of “moral duty,” Eugene. Say’s Law of chiseling. Would there were Dante’s hell. No such luck, or if such luck, good luck observing torment so deserved. But who would be sent there?

Percentage increase in fraud since Rembrandt was painting portraits of Dutch Bourgeoisie: One million. At least, I’d guess. (Hals painted pictures of people in nursing homes, which haven’t improved a single percentage point since. Actually, I’m reasonably certain the quality of care at any has declined since then. Actually, I’m in a position to know they haven’t, but can’t prove it because I failed to grab proof just after being dismissed. Stupid, stupid, stupid!)

“The current health care debate in Congress has nothing to do with death panels or public options or socialized medicine. The real debate, the only one that counts, is how much money our blood-sucking insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit health services are going to be able to siphon off from new health care legislation. The proposed plans rattling around Congress all ensure that the profits for these corporations will increase and the misery for ordinary Americans will be compounded.”

Precisely, Chris. “[The corporate state] is yet again pushing Americans, especially the poor and the working class, into levels of despair and rage that will continue to fuel the violent, proto-fascist movements leaping up around the edges of American society. And the traditional watchdogs—those in public office, the press and citizens groups—are as useless as the perfumed fops of another era who busied their days with court intrigue at Versailles.” Perfectly said, Chris. Court of Louis (AND aristocracy too) reincarnated (if it ever left) just across the Atlantic.

I’d only dispute “proto-fascist,” since here already. Today, a WWII vet (who lost since he won) harangued McCain concerning what he wants, forgetting to mention how he’s enjoyed single-payer since he was drafted or enlisted. Got to love that good ole American selflessness. There was mucho applause—usual Skinnerian (fascist) approval. McCain then lied of this, that and the other thing, all to do with anything by government, of which he’s big-shot deal enjoying benefits in at least two ways. Three, actually. The last not related to his…(official) position, by now as court jester, in communion with a few hundred, or thousands, of court jesters. Right about government, but wrong (lying) on the details.

All that remains, or would remain, would be embarrassment over what we’ve devised. Franklin said to the lady, “…if you can keep it.” We couldn’t keep it, even had we got it. Which we never did. The “inventor” of electricity failed miserably in devising a Constitution that allotted even greater privilege to court than theretofore. Even the British one had to answer to a mad king. Here, arrangements were made (once rid of rule by mad king) for “freedom of extraction.” Cleverly, they also allotted for likely whining. So long as none interfered in the non-linguistic world. Then, “naturally,” corporations regarded as individuals. Not really surprisingly after “establishment.” Which was apt term when reducing all living and non-living to so much property, whether one or three-fifths of one, or none.

“’The way you make money is by abusing people.’” That’s right, though we hardly knew ye. And then, by now madder than ever was King George.

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By Outraged, August 25, 2009 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment

Re: Marshall

Your comment: “When drugs can be bought elsewhere for less, someone is subsidizing that cost differential because the R&D costs for medications that took billions to develop are what primarily drive their price under patent laws designed to protect those risks.”

This is not the case.  Their TONS of this type of example:

“Taxes are but one form of welfare. Subsidised use of public resources, such as with J R Simplot’s grazing and American Barrick’s mining, is also widespread. The US Forest Service undercharges timber companies for the logs they take from publicly-owned land. The Forest Service also builds roads and other infrastructure needed by the timber industry, investing $US140 million in 1994.

Many corporations also receive direct payments from the federal government. The Libertarian Cato Institute argues that every cabinet department ‘has become a conduit for government funding of private industry. Within some cabinet agencies, such as the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce, almost every spending programme underwrites private business.’

Agriculture subsidies typically flow in greater quantities, the larger the recipient firm. The Agriculture Department also spends $US110 million a year to help US companies advertise abroad. In 1992 Sunkist Growers got $10 million and McDonalds $466,000 to promote Chicken McNuggets.

The Progressive Policy Institute estimates that taxpayers could save $US114 billion over five years by eliminiating or restricting such direct subsidies. Farm subsidies, for example, could be limited to only small farmers.

The government also pays for scientific research and development, then allows the benefits to be reaped by private firms. This occurs commonly in medical research. One product, the anti-cancer drug Taxol, cost the US government $US32 million to develop as part of a joint venture with private industry. But in the end the government gave its share to Bristol-Meyers Squibb, which now charges cancer patients almost $US1000 for a three-week supply of the drug.

http://www.converge.org.nz/pirm/hugehand.htm

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By Marshall, August 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment

By jmr, August 25 at 2:24 pm #
By glider, August 25 at 2:56 pm #

“What goes above or below the line is fungible.”

...And no different from any other industry in that regard - so perhaps you quibble with salaries being above the line, but that would apply to any industry so why single out health insurance?

I’m curious what data you have that supports the “inflated payments to fee-for-service doctors”, since I believe there’s little incentive to insurance companies for that as it would reduce profit margins.

When drugs can be bought elsewhere for less, someone is subsidizing that cost differential because the R&D costs for medications that took billions to develop are what primarily drive their price under patent laws designed to protect those risks.  CBO health care report cites medical technology advances as the primary driver of growth in health care costs. (meds were 10% of all health care dollars in 2007 and rising about 10%/yr. since mid 90s).

I agree that private administrative costs are higher, though the studies i’ve read show only about 5% difference for private vs. public.  But medicare’s administrative costs are rising too and it’s also about to go bust - not a very good example to use i’d say.

Witness Switzerland which Obama cited recently at his town halls.  It’s health care costs have skyrocketed over the years (was already at 11.5% of GDP in 2003) - going up just as they have in every other country.  How do you explain that?

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8947/01-31-TechHealth.pdf

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By Liberal Democratic Party USA, August 25, 2009 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

I have these actions to stand for HR 676.

Print these out on index cards and bring them to library bulletin boards and other bulletin boards so others can take action.

Read and Sign these 3 petitions

1. http://bit.ly/HR676

2. http://bit.ly/single_payer_ross

3. http://bit.ly/drug_benefit

4. Boycott Tyson Foods of Arkansas who gave Mike Ross $37,000 for his campaigns. Call lobbyist for Tyson Foods Chuck Penry 202 393 3921 and tell him politely that you refuse to buy Tyson chicken until the Tyson Foods CEO gets Mike Ross D-Arkansas the leader of the Blue Dogs on health care gets the entire house and senate conservative Democrats to help get HR 676 enacted into law. Tell others to call. Send me email after you call to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

5. Boycott American Express who gave Max Baucus $50,000 for his campaigns. Call Joanna Lambert at 212 640 9668 and politely tell her you will not use any American Express cards until the American Express CEO gets Max Baucus to get HR 676 enacted into law. Email me after you call.


See our blog http://blog.democratz.org


Imagine 50 million democrats forming their own health insurance group?

The Democratic Party has their own credit card, so the party does have initiatives that involve their members. Why not have a Democratic Party
non profit insurance group? This does not appear a coop but a group
of millions of people getting non profit insurance through the Democratic Party.

Read and sign this petition


http://www.change.org/actions/view/we_the_undersigned_ask_the_democratic_
party_to_create_one_large_insurance_group

 


See our blog http://blog.democratz.org

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 25, 2009 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Outraged for the link to George Gallaway.  A
George Gallaway in Washington would make such a
difference in this country but it is almost
unthinkable.  The few progressives we have - I wouldn’t
call them leftists or radicals - always seem like
they’re afraid they’ll get beaten up if they speak
forcefully.

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By jmr, August 25, 2009 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment

From the same person:

“Anything to do with govt. state or federal is corrupt to the hilt….

“I am uninsurable according to the insurance companies because i have fibromyalgia real bad. You bet they don’t want to cover my medical bills because it might cost them THEIR PROFITS a bit.”

The government is corrupt to the hilt.  How do I know?  Because the private insurers are screwing us. 

Thus, the thought process of the healthcare reform opposition.  Wait, it’s not thinking at all!  How do you fight something like this?  It’s like one of those giant world-devouring maws they used to fight in Star Trek.

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By Outraged, August 25, 2009 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment

The arguments here at TD against healthcare reform, are not unlike the debate between this caller and George Galloway.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtw5Zy2M6rk

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By Outraged, August 25, 2009 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

Remember…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMdFGkTlLAo

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By Outraged, August 25, 2009 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

Another important point from The Washington Post article by, Simon Johnson and James Kwak.

“According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, in 1988, 73 percent of people covered by employer-based plans had conventional health insurance; in 2008, that figure was 2 percent. Why did this happen? Because private health insurers shifted toward managed-care plans, primarily preferred provider organizations and health maintenance organizations, that use either gatekeepers or differential payment schedules to contain costs. According to Feldstein’s definition, that is, private health insurers are rationing.”

So if you believe that physician and patient alone should decide what care to provide, then you should be trying to outlaw managed care, which is the foundation of the private health insurance industry.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/25/AR2009082501075.html

This is the crux of the debate, these unwary folks are being run roughshod with fear, while tightly gripping their Medicare Card…. just in case.  The propaganda being fed these folks is inexcusible, it’s despicable and it is not unlike what was fed to the nation after 9/11.  We went to war, “ON A PACK OF LIES” (George Galloway) and thousands died.  This time it is a huge portion of our country being fed, A PACK OF LIES.  If we do not… or cannot stop it, thousands will die.

Many of these older folks are completely unaware of the facts, and monied interests have whipped them into such a fury that they are not thinking straight…. fear has overtaken reality.

As a society, how do we view those snatch little ‘ol ladies purses…..?  Would utter disdain fit?  It’s hard to describe, isn’t it…?  Yet, that is exactly what is happening here.  The very same tactic, scare the shit out of them and steal their money.

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By ardee, August 25, 2009 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

Big M, August 25 at 12:46 pm #

So, what sort of gun were you displaying at that rally?

Carol, August 25 at 3:51 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

CORRUPT. Anything to do with govt. state or federal is corrupt to the hilt.

You state that the insurance industry has let you down, then blame a govt that is currently trying to reform that industry..I think you confused.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 25, 2009 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

thinkprogress.org had a story and video today about a
health care town meeting in Oklahoma organized by
Senator Tom Coburn, a republican.  A woman whose
husband is suffering from traumatic brain injury was
denied treatment by their insurance company and told
her story at the meeting.  She is trying to care for
him at home, but has no medical training.  Coburn’s
response was that we can’t look to government to
solve these problems but rather we must look to our
neighbors for help.  Neighbor helping neighbor is the
answer he said.

Need brain surgery?  Ask your neighbor.  Maybe she
could do it on her kitchen table.

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By elisalouisa, August 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Politico   8/29/09
By Kenneth P. Vogel

David Axelrod’s Ties Targeted In Health Fight

First 3 paragraphs of column
Critics of President Obama’s health-care overhaul are zeroing in on his senior
adviser David Axelrod, whose former partners at a Chicago-based firm are the
beneficiaries of huge ad buys — now at $24 million and counting — by White
House allies in the reform fight.

The unwelcome scrutiny, largely from Republicans, comes at an inopportune
time as Obama seeks to shore up support for health care reform. It revolves
around two separate $12 million ad campaigns advocating Obama’s health care
plan that were produced and placed partly by AKPD Message and Media, a firm
founded by Axelrod that employs his son and still owes Axelrod $2 million.

A separate firm, GMMB, is also handling the campaigns. Both AKPD and GMMB
did millions of dollars of work on Obama’s presidential campaign, continue to
tout their connections to the campaign and still maintain close ties to his inner
circle….........................
Last paragraph of column
“The big issue seems to me whether there is a quid pro quo with PhRMA,” said
Allison, adding “there’s no evidence that Axelrod steered the business to the
firm. But the fact that special interests like PhRMA and the American Medical
Association working hand in glove with the White House picked a firm that is
so close to the White House shows how incestuous Washington can be.
************************************************
From what I have seen, the PR on Health Care that Obama proposes has not
been that good. The results tell the story. The staged negative quality of Town
Hall Meetings are having too much influence. Basic facts that favor the Health
Care Plan are not getting out.

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By Carol, August 25, 2009 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

CORRUPT. Anything to do with govt. state or federal is corrupt to the hilt.

I have no health insurance but my husband does and it was raised to $500. a month. If something comes up and i have to go to the hospital well hell i might as well roll over and die. Lord knows i’m not afraid of death. My only hope is God. We have a 2500$ ded. My doctor and meds cost us nearly $1000. a month. I am uninsurable according to the insurance companies because i have fibromyalgia real bad. You bet they don’t want to cover my medical bills because it might cost them THEIR PROFITS a bit. I thank God that we have a roof above us, food on the table and bills are paid for now.
Smoke

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By glider, August 25, 2009 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

Marshall,
Your statement is disingenuous at best.

Look at the administrative expenses, the medical loss ratio and compare that to single payer based systems.  Even these numbers understate the problem.  The companies only need to produce enough profit to satisfy wall street relative to other investments (wall street will drive their capitalization up to that level).  The biggest incentive is for the management team to pocket big bucks themselves.  Same with AIG and Goldman Sachs.  All these institutions have made massive amounts of money for their insiders and have done so doing socially bankrupt deeds made acceptable by there obscene political lobbying.

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By jmr, August 25, 2009 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

“Profit as Percent of Revenues: 4.5%”

That’s a misleading number.

What goes above or below the line is fungible.  For example, the fat salaries of top executives—their profits—go above the line, as expenses, along with other “overhead,” such as house lawyers, the inflated prices the insurers pay for fee-for-service based doctor bills, for meds that cost $70 at Rite Aid and $16 in Denmark, and for 12% administrative costs compared to Medicare’s 2%.*

Aetna’s thin margin is only the tip of the iceberg.  You have to add the margins of Aetna’s partners-in-crime.  Expenses are the excuse the industry uses to justify what in reality is an enormous cartel of different companies—from the insurers to the suppliers to the cushy conference resorts and their vendors—scratching each other’s backs with a wink and a nod, as they inflate the cost of healthcare.

And no, these are not “fixable” factors.  These are the vital organs of a corrupt system.  Spiraling healthcare costs are not the result of R&D advances and technology (give me a break!) but of the law of diminishing returns which demands that the capitalist food chain take ever-increasing margins—whether creative accounting calls them profits or expenses—in order to survive.

This system doesn’t need fixing, it needs abolishing.

_____________

*From the New York Times:

The McKinsey Global Institute estimated that excess spending on “health administration and insurance” accounted for as much as 21 percent of the estimated total excess spending ($477 billion in 2003). Brought forward, that 21 percent of excess spending on administration would amount to about $120 billion in 2006 and about $150 billion in 2008. It would have been more than enough to finance universal health insurance this year.

Marshall’s thoughtful points notwithstanding, I don’t see why we are having this conversation.  I really do agree with Barney Frank:  What planet do reform opponents come from?

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By Big M, August 25, 2009 at 9:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It sure would be nice to see somebody with a brain make the observation that the criminal syndicate in DC has zero—THAT’S RIGHT, ZERO—authority to legislate concerning health care AT ALL!

Jesus, doesn’t anybody know what people in the District of Criminals have legal authority to do? What hope is there in the long run for a country where 99% of the population thinks that their feddle gummint has the legal authority to do whatever it wants? Didn’t some people write something called the Constitution for a reason? (Even if it isn’t actually legally binding on anybody; that’s a fact.)

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By Anarcissie, August 25, 2009 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

M.B.S.S.:
’... and as to what the “struggle” is, i would say that haggling over the way in which private insurance and pharma be given a handout, does not constitute my idea of a serious legislation.  the fulcrum of the debate is not about socialization at its peril.  i am aware of the realpolitik, process oriented aspects of this murder mystery.  but they fail to compare to a real change in the game.  so i will continue to talk about what i want. ‘

Certainly.  I just wanted to say that I don’t think there is any real market involved in the present set-up.  I myself would prefer communism, but I’m not going to get it; after that I would like to see medical care and insurance organized as a system of cooperatives owned and operated by the users, but I’m not going to get that either.  There remains the choice between a completely private oligopoly, which would still be part of the State and protected by it—this is what we have now, except for Medicare—or an oligopoly which is partly open to public review and influence (I dare not say control).  There just is no question of any market in the usual sense in any of this, and the opponents of Single Payer or the public option should not be allowed to get away with pretending that they’re defending free-market principles.  They are not.  For once, Hedges’s headline is exactly right.

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By Hulk2008, August 25, 2009 at 7:02 am Link to this comment

Au contraire !  The status quo is always an option - it’s always the preferred option - the one human nature chooses every time.  Ask any first-year student of biology what “homeostasis” means - all of nature is geared to remain as close to the current environment as possible - fear of change is almost insurmountable.
  I guess the only good news is that eventually the parasitic insurance companies will kill off their ignorant “hosts” - eventually companies and individuals will realize they just don’t have the cash to pay the premiums and co-pays anymore.  “Reform” will arrive when only those making over $250,000 can afford insurance. After all, that’s the “free market” right ?
  The Robber Barons in industry of the early 1900’s got away with all kinds of anti-labor practices ..... until the workers finally got fed up, banded together, and refused to work in hell-holes.  Too bad it took decades for workers to realize it.

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By liecatcher, August 25, 2009 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

To:M.B.S.S., August 25 at 9:05

When you said:

” i would submit that it is in our interest as a
society to uphold a basic level of dignity

and respect for every soul that walks this earth,
despite the costs.  this is due to the

innate value and worth of the human being.  and the
love and wisdom that those so

called “expendable persons” bring to our lives is
not quantifiable.  which is why it is

idiotic to try to look at life through the lens of a
spreadsheet.”

I would say amen !!!!!!!!!!

Now for the reality check.

THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, THE NEW WORLD ORDER :
ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT,

or whatever you want to call these evil miscreant
fascists controlling the world, they bankrupted the
U.S.,

and think of you & I as prey. Part of their world
domination plan is to eliminate billions of useless

feeders from the planet to preserve as many resources
as possible for themselves. Current estimates

are that 1 billion people around the world are
starving to death.

M.B.S.S., you can search the web to verify what I’m
saying, or consider this. The Bushes belong

to a cabal called THE BROTHERHOOD OF DEATH AKA SKULL
& BONES & Obama is Bush 3.

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By Rodger Lemonde, August 25, 2009 at 6:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With a bit of luck it will be reformed robbery.
It never ceases to amaze me that robbing the poor to
give to the rich is so profitable. We should really
reverse that just to see what happens.

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By M.B.S.S., August 25, 2009 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

i would like to bring my thoughts to their logical conclusions:

1.  since there is no way “the market” can ever solve the problem of caring for societies health and well being, due to the fact that their will always be casualties, even in a perfect, idealized free market, then there is no way to address this problem within the confines of that arena.  we must pull this “consumable good” from “the market” entirely, and treat our neighbor’s and fellow citizen’s health and well being as something that is an inherent right, and essential to upholding our human dignity, and as a marker of our level of civilization.  and why the fuck do we treat it as a consumable anyway. isn’t that ridiculous?  it just goes to show how commodified every aspect of our lives have become that we tend to think of everything in this way.  what this means is that every cure for this societal sickness which simply engages in making the market for health care more fair, is rooted in failure.  deregulation and opening insurance across state lines may help bring down the cost of health care. (because deregulation fixes everything right?) but ultimately, we can’t afford losers in this area of life.  we need everyone to win with at least a modicum of attention, care, and dignity.  all reforms rooted solely in “making things more competitive,” are not going to work to my satisfaction.

2.  even if i am wrong, and there is some advantage to culling the herd, and not caring for every last member of our society.  say we kill those below a certain i.q., or over a certain age, in order to increase productivity and efficacy.  i would submit that it is in our interest as a society to uphold a basic level of dignity and respect for every soul that walks this earth, despite the costs.  this is due to the innate value and worth of the human being.  and the love and wisdom that those so called “expendable persons” bring to our lives is not quantifiable.  which is why it is idiotic to try to look at life through the lens of a spreadsheet.

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By Outraged, August 25, 2009 at 1:56 am Link to this comment

Re: Marshall

Yes, I see I did mangle that as you say…and as you say, it did hurt… but I’ll live.  I apologize to “engineer”.

Your comment: “The problem is not private insurers - it’s a system whose incentives are wrong.  And the solution is not to entrust it all to the government - it’s to fix the system.  And there will be no perfect solution: the cost of health care is increasing EVERYWHERE; even in the countries that single-payer people like to point to as examples.  Because most of the cost increases are unavoidable, assuming you want a system that actually advances the cause of medicine through R&D and improved technology.”

I agree it’s the system and yes the incentives are wrong.  I agree there will be no perfect solution and that the cost of healthcare is increasing everywhere.  But that is where I draw the line.

I disagree that this will harm R&D, a sizeable amount of R&D is subsidized by the government already, but taxpayers who’ve footed the bill are not reaping its benefits, big pharma is.  Healthcare innovation shouldn’t be stunted by any means, who doesn’t want to sell to the government?  Look at insurance companies banging down the door to get at government money.

It’s plausible to see how it might increase more valid innovation, things we really need.  In other words, do we really need a drug for “restless leg syndrome”?  Was there a big call for this…?  Is this syndrome so serious or life altering that we need a drug for it?  I’ve never known anyone with this “dire” need, but many with this “condition”.  Personally, I think it is a made-up syndrome/disease to sell some dud-drug big pharma doesn’t know what to do with.  We could instead use the “natural” approach and take my mother’s advice, “Get up and walk around, It’ll go away.”

Is anyone claiming that as cost rise, costs for single-payer, Medicare for All will not also rise?  These costs, however should rise at a substantially lower rate than private healthcare costs and maintain an overall lower cost. 

With privatized healthcare every movement through the chain requires a profit (some, flagrantly unwarranted).  By the time services/products arrive to the patient…. charges have skyrocketed.  It has to be brought under control. It is obvious that capitalizing on healthcare leads to all types of malfeasance, by all involved, whether they agree with the dictates or not.  The undeniable eventual outcome is many suffer needlessly, or die.

That is the REAL bottomline, not balance sheets, not income statements and not profit margins.  We can do this, by reallocating funds already in the system and by a tax increase, well below current premiums.

This is America, the richest country in the world and our fellow citizens are suffering and dying.  How many Americans gave money, food or their time after Hurricane Katrina….?  Everyone cared, everyone did what they could.  Businesses donated employees for a few hours, money, and services.

Medicare for All is the only cost effective, universal, sane thing to do.  This can be done.  This has to be done.

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By M.B.S.S., August 24, 2009 at 11:45 pm Link to this comment

@ anarcissie
partially this is my own fault for posting this out of the context of the dialogue from which it was taken.

i’m fully aware of the current state of market distortion with regards to health care or medical care and insurance.  i usually just say health care since the point of language is to convey concepts, and “health care” includes both medical care and insurance in the minds of most americans.

state regulations can keep the quality and price of health care quite disparate from state to state, not to speak of locally.  there are concentrations which for all intent and purposes are monopolies.

http://www.openleft.com/diary/14744/death-panels-vs-the-herfindahlhirschman-index

my point is this:  say we create a perfect free market in a vacuum.  there will still be casualties.  there are going to be winners and losers in any market, free, or one with collusion between government and corporate.  there will be people that can’t afford the consumable product of medical care and medical insurance.  this will not do.  it is in our best interests to provide a modicum of health care to all citizens as a fundamental right.  it’s not only the right choice morally but it is the right choice economically.  how can a workforce that provides for the least of it’s members, providing basic life supporting functions, in the face of a dire emergency, fail to have high morale and the basic mathematical advantage of more healthy, productie citizens, which would spill over into productivity, which ultimately will increase the bottom line.  excuse my technical mathematical formulae.  this is what i believe.

and as to what the “struggle” is, i would say that haggling over the way in which private insurance and pharma be given a handout, does not constitute my idea of a serious legislation.  the fulcrum of the debate is not about socialization at its peril.  i am aware of the realpolitik, process oriented aspects of this murder mystery.  but they fail to compare to a real change in the game.  so i will continue to talk about what i want.

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By Marshall, August 24, 2009 at 11:13 pm Link to this comment

By Outraged, August 24 at 7:56 pm #

Ooh - ouch… Outraged you mangled the numbers completely and i refer you to the source so you can update yourself.  Then you wrongly took Engineer to task.  But hey, even this article tries to portray the AETNA numbers in a misleading light so here are the facts for 2008:

AETNA - FY 2008
Revenues: $30 Billion
Profits: $1.3 Billion
Profit as Percent of Revenues: 4.5%

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2009/snapshots/10886.html

That’s right: 4.5%  My lemonade stand did better than that.  And
get this: AETNA’s profit margin went DOWN 18.4% from 2007!!  Yes - DOWN.

You’d never know that from the blurb in this article because all they mention is that gross revenue went up which by itself means nothing.  But it helps get the anti-capitalist faithful all whipped up.

The problem is not private insurers - it’s a system whose incentives are wrong.  And the solution is not to entrust it all to the government - it’s to fix the system.  And there will be no perfect solution: the cost of health care is increasing EVERYWHERE; even in the countries that single-payer people like to point to as examples.  Because most of the cost increases are unavoidable, assuming you want a system that actually advances the cause of medicine through R&D and improved technology.

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By liecatcher, August 24, 2009 at 9:51 pm Link to this comment

What Chris Hedges has left out in his excellent
article:“This Isn’t Reform, It’s Robbery”,is the
difference between health care & health. Here is my
take.
MIPIC: MEDICAL INSURANCE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIAL
COMPLEX has already written the hoax called a
healthcare bill,

just as Exxon wrote the energy bill & Philip Morris
wrote the tobacco law. That’s the way FASCISM & or an
OLIGARCHY works, &

WALL STREET wins & MAIN STREET loses always. We know
energy prices are manipulated & resulted in
impoverishing we the

people. We also know that tobacco products continue
to kill we the people. So far no surprises. Now comes
the great shocker &, for

most people, a real surprise, no it’s not that Obama
is Bush 3, that’s a given. The shocker is that MIPIC
is the leading cause of death &

injury in the U.S. & is responsible for almost
800,000 iatrogenic deaths per year. That’s more than the 20,000 people who die because they didn’t
have health insurance or
deaths resulting from life styles

which cause unhealthy changes in the heart & blood
vessels. More deaths than gluttony induced diabetes
resulting from a pancreas

unable to keep up with the extra burden imposed on
it.

For the specifics on how MIPIC does this, Google:
“Medical system is leading cause of death and injury
in US” .

The reality & farce is that the new so called
healthcare bill has nothing to do with health, but is
just a ploy to continue the existing

system which is nothing more than leading we the
people to an early grave by treating symptoms or
conditions caused by self

induced life styles. For example: heart attack  

” Sudden interruption or insufficiency of the supply
of blood to the heart, typically resulting from
occlusion or obstruction of a coronary artery and
often characterized by severe chest pain. Also called
myocardial infarction.”

Or consider cancer, which is : the rapid uncontrolled
growth of abnormal cells. Here’s how it works. If a
person inhales toxic

substances, such as asbestos ,coal dust,or tobacco
smoke, into his or her lungs, cells die & the body
replaces those cells in order to

repair itself. The more these irritants are inhaled
over time, the body can’t keep up producing normal
cells & malignant cells form

instead. Like trying to clean chickens on a conveyor
belt that’s moving too fast. The same principles
apply to the skin, whether over

exposed to the sun or tanning beds.

So then, what is health, and how can we care for it ? 
Health is : (I’m going to leave mental alone for
someone else to cover) meeting

the needs of the body by eating nutritious foods in
moderate amounts, avoiding known poisons, getting
adequate rest, & exercise,

drinking water instead of alcoholic,caffeinated, or
sugar drinks. Not drinking with your meals (washing
the food down interferes with

digestion & stretches the stomach), & wearing
comfortable shoes.

The congressional whores & the predator in the White
House playing good cop bad cop couldn’t care less
whether we live or die.

If you don’t take care of yourself & your family,
don’t expect a “program” from a corrupt government to
do it for you.

Remember, these FASCISTS send us off to die in fake
perpetual wars, feed us & our pets toxic food from
China, & sell us

deadly toys for our kids to play with.

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By Anarcissie, August 24, 2009 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

Medical (not health) care and medical insurance are not libertarian and are not generally subject to market forces.  They are a highly-regulated, government-protected and -enforced oligopoly.  The present struggle is not over “socializing” private enterprises, it’s over how a complex State institution is going to be regulated.

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By M.B.S.S., August 24, 2009 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

cross posted @ glenn greenwald:

to me this is one of those areas where the libertarian ideology falls apart entirely. you can’t fit a square peg into a round whole. we can’t treat health care like a consumable good, and to the extent that we already do, we have failed. buying health insurance is different than buying twinkies, and it is even quite different than buying car insurance. not only are the implications different, but since we are human beings, and not robots, the more etheral considerations, the emotional factors, the philosophical consequences touch something deep inside us that should cause us to stop and reflect on what it means to be a human being. libertarians seem so cold to me to couch everything in economic terms. as if we are something other than human, and the point of life is something other than enjoying ourselves, and loving each other.

at some point don’t you have to say to yourself: “not all of life should be subjected to market forces.” these are our brothers, sisters, mothers, daughters and sons. this is something other than supply and demand.

and to the extent that i am ridiculed for approaching life in this manner i would say: not only is a more compassionate approach to health care more empathetic and just, it is also the most economically feasible. if we were to emulate the countries that cover all of their citizens, we would drive down costs, increase productivity, increase morale, and all the rest. which ultimately is a boon to business.

it is not debatable that other countries have better health outcomes, while spending less, and covering more.

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By 911truthdotorg, August 24, 2009 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

This pretty much sums it ALL up….way too many of the American sheeple are too damned stupid to realize that they cut their own throats every chance they get.

The people in this video are too stupid to realize that they’re being ridiculed by these “billionaires”:

http://www.billionairesforwealthcare.com/HOME.html

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By G.Anderson, August 24, 2009 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

Without a public option there won’t be any health care, it’s just that simple.

But then again, what we’re witnessing is a falling standard of living as this country enters the domain of the third world.

A falling standard of living, to third world status, it’s going to take some getting used to. Most third world countries only have money for the military, to keep the paranoid right, and their riches safe.

With 32 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilites looming, and 2 trillion dollars a year in collected taxes…there won’t be any health care, except, you and your stethascope, your merck, and tests from your local pharmacy… that’s all your going to get…I’m sure the right will find a way to argue about that too..

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By mike112769, August 24, 2009 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment

You’ve all heard the expression about those who ignore history being doomed to repeat it. That is what’s happening now. The insurance companies are the new Robber Barons. Unfortunately, our politicians at this time are bought and paid for by these (among other) companies. As long as any business can give money to a politician, WE THE PEOPLE are irrelevant. As Tao said, we are cattle to these people. William Cooper was the first person I heard use the word “sheople” to describe us. He preached constantly about a lot of things, but his biggest was a fear of our own government. Turns out, he was shot to death on his own property by “law enforcement” officers. My point is, as long as WE THE PEOPLE let these things continue; be it corporate robbery passed as law, denial of habeus corpus, illegal search and seizure, IMMORAL WARS, the “war on drugs” (which is really a suppression of liberties), rampant unchecked greed by our “elected” representatives, etc., etc. (list is too long for print here), then NOTHING will change. Our system is broken. Can we pull ourselves off of our collective couches to enact some REAL change? Do WE THE PEOPLE have the courage to fix it, or will we allow our children to be sold into corporate slavery?

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By Mason Wheeler, August 24, 2009 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment

I’m surprised that nobody on the pro-universal care side has picked up on the essential difference yet.

The right-wingers try to scare people with the concept of “socialized medicine,” where everyone has to pay for other people’s health care.  That’s no different from the current system, where we pay for insurance that gets used to pay for other people’s care.

The only real, significant difference between health care run by the government and health care run by a private corporation is that if the government’s system doesn’t work well, ordinary people without extensive stock portfolios can replace the decision makers.  By contrast, the people getting killed by the current system can’t vote the corporate bigwigs out of office.

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By apk1, August 24, 2009 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Us US Americans are smart. We know our health kare system be the best. I even ask my doggy yesterday. I make two fists (from two hands silly) and ask him (or is it her?) to pick fist with ‘yep’ written in it, and by God, he did. This prove our system be the best. So there. Is true now.

But on serious note: My small business with five employees paid premiums of more than $18,000 for a husband/wife and $8,000 for a single person last year, which was 2.5 times greater than what it was 7 years ago. While I would love to cover all employees as much as possible, it has become atrocious and unfair. A single payer system, or at least a Public Option, that small businesses can also purchase insurance from, is a must. Without reducing this very heavy burden from the backs of innovative people and businesses of the country, there is no chance that we will be able to compete with the rest of the world in 10 years, and then the same conservative strata of the society that is vehemently against a reform today will suffer the most! What short-sightedness!

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By Gordy, August 24, 2009 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

TAO, I agree with you in large part but surely the
imaginary chains are transformed by consensus and
enforcement into real ones whether you like it or
not?  Everyone has to pay taxes and obey the laws or
go to jail. 

It is depressing and confusing to live in this
captive world - I would like to ride off into the
sunset but I do not know how.  And would I be able to
take anyone with me?  I try in my own way but I do
not think I am very brave about it. 

There’s a fundamental crucial point about what it is
to be alive and human, and every debate I see on the
news just tramples it under a lot of peripheral
bullshit.

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By civil behavior, August 24, 2009 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

http://www.madashelldoctors.com/

Do what you can to support this group of doctors who are going to caravan (care-a-van)to DC in September for single payer.

Get people to come to their rallies in different cities on their route.

Send them a few bucks for gas.

Forget public option.  That was a scam from the get go.

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By ray, August 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Everyone interested in this issue would do well to read and understand the following article:

  http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2009/08/good-read-on-health-policy.html

It is long. But in 35 years of activism I have never read anything that changed my understanding of an issue the way this article did.

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By annakarenina, August 24, 2009 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is NOT paranoid to think that Medicare will be tampered with. My
Representative Anna Eshoo sent me a letter stating the Obama’s Health Care Plan
will be partially funded by “making Medicare more efficient”. I’ve been around long
enough to know exactly what that means. The R’s have always hated Medicare and
wanted to privatize it. They succeeded in some respects with the
“doughnut hole” legislation of the Bush years. Obama will help them finish the
job.

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By Outraged, August 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

Re: engineer (unregistered commenter)

“Hmmmm.  An outlandish 434 million in profits for Aetna.  Certainly unconscionable.  UNCONSCIONABLY LOW!  Do the math.  2.7 billion in revenue, with 434 million in profits.  That is a 1.57 % profit on revenue.  One and a half pennies per dollar.  This is no basis at all for an intelligent argument that there is price gouging.are   And no, I neither work for nor own Aetna.”

Hmmmmm…..is correct!  $2.7 billion in revenue for the YEAR, 434 million in profit for the QUARTER.  Me thinks for one who calls themself “engineer” you have incredibly bad math skills.  In fact, in your computation you did not move the decimal point over two places, only one.  It would be 16% not 1.57% but that was not your only “error”.

If you take those quarterly profits ($434,000,000.00) and multiply them by FOUR which would be an approx. YEARLY profit of, $1,736,000,000.00 dollars.

Then simply by dividing that $1,736,000,000.00(the approx. YEARLY profit) by the $2,700,000,000.00 dollars (the yearly revenue) you will arrive at “profit as a percent of revenue”.

To put this in simplier terms if I want to know the what percent “25” is of 100.  I cannot divide 100 by 25…... I would get “4” or 400%. no, no, no.  I have to divide 25 by 100 to get the correct percent…..25/100=.25, then simply move the decimal two places to the right to arrive at percent.  In other words, 25%.

Therefore not only did you not use the correct amounts in the first place, it appears you forgot to MOVE THE DECIMAL POINT to put the percent in its rightful place.

So then….. back to the correct computation. By dividing that $1,736,000,000.00(the approx. YEARLY profit) by the $2,700,000,000.00 dollars (the yearly revenue) you will arrive at “profit as a percent of revenue”.

$1,736,000,000.00 divided by $2,700,000,000.00 equals .64296296296, move the decimal two places to arrive at 64%.

Of course profit is computed AFTER bonuses and salaries are paid….. this is where the obscenity really becomes stark as this article shows:

(2007 figures)
“Aetna Ronald A. Williams: $23,045,834
Cigna H. Edward Hanway: $25,839,777
Coventry Dale B. Wolf : $14,869,823
Health Net Jay M. Gellert: $3,686,230
Humana Michael McCallister: $10,312,557
U.Health Grp Stephen J. Hemsley: $13,164,529
WellPoint Angela Braly (2007): $9,094,271
L. Glasscock (2006): $23,886,169

http://www.healthreformwatch.com/2009/05/20/health-insurance-
ceos-total-compensation-in-2008/

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By plainsman, August 24, 2009 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment

Being that I am from Canada, I must add my agreement to Chris Hedges call for universal non-profit health care in the United States. However, I don’t understand the following:

“The corporate state, enabled by both Democrats and Republicans ... is yet again pushing Americans, ... into levels of despair and rage that will continue to fuel the violent, proto-fascist movements leaping up around the edges of American society.”

A CORPORATE STATE IS A FASCIST STATE. I’d be surprised if Mr. Hedges has not read John Ralston Saul, among others, to know this.

Seems to me that citizens of the US need to wise up to the whole of what is going on in their/your country. The pseudo health care debate is just a tip of the proverbial iceberg of the malaise that has infected your entire society.

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By Desertdude, August 24, 2009 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Everyone, tell your Senator and Representative that
you want to be in the same Government Plan that they
have. That is you only pay 1/3 of the Premiums and the Taxpayers pay the rest. It is called the FEHBP.
Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan.  When your
Senator says the Gov’t dosen’t do a good job on health care don’t believe him. Why do you think he
says"America has the best Health care in the World.” Write you Congressman and Senator and demand you get in on the best health plan in America.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 24, 2009 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The supreme irony is that the so-called Blue Dogs
represent the southern states which have the lowest
quality of life stats in the US.  Southerners have the
poorest health in the nation and the lowest life
expectancy rates, but they would turn out of office any
congresspersons who vote to better their lot by
reforming health care.  “Keep your hands off my
miserable existence.”

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By M Currey, August 24, 2009 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The insurance corporations are killing the goose that lays the golden egg because some people will go and live in another country.

I am talking about the people who have parents that were born in another country. They can have citizenship in another country.

When will the compaign money stop.  When Lincoln ran for president he did not compaign because our country then was less consumed by greed.  And doctors did not do much for pre-existing health problem because the doctors then did not know anything about it.

The best person who wins against the insurance companies are the healthy and I am glad that I am among the lucky few.

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By I am Reeks of firewater, August 24, 2009 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(..or sleeps with pigeons, depends on what time of day)
Listen my people, the sun is setting on the American Buffalo and only squaw
men cluth their medicine bags and lament “who will save our soft, dependent
hides if not great fork-tongue uncle Sam?” Smart braves know new chief only
‘change’ parsley on same dead stink Buffalo then say Yum! to tribe before
crawling like snake to secret eating place of politicians.
Put on war paint, go to looking glass only here is savior for you.

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By Angel Gabriel, August 24, 2009 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The current concept of change in the American Healthcare System is futile. The only change possible is the upward change in profit’s for theInsurance Industry Corporations and Medical Industry Practioner’s - so that’s your change folks - you are going to make a whole bunch of Fabulously-Rich people incredibly richer, and you are going to find yourselves in a much worse predicament than you have ever dreamed possible!

How can a population of over 300 million people be so collectively stupid as to not see the writing on the wall? I now completely see what Tao Walker is referring to when he speaks of Domesticated 2 legged farm animals. I have yet to see a better description of American’s than this one!

The change that is being sold to you by the Carpetbagger Politicians who claim to be fighting for your interests will merely create a new class of poor and Bancrupt American’s. It will, from it’s inception, begin a new era of Uber-Greed that will allow the Government, on behalf of the Insurance Companies, to reach into your bank account and extract your payment to them - all Americans will ‘afford’ insurance coverage or they will be fined into submission and be ‘legally’ UN-ENTITLED to treatment or coverage. The Robbers will then be able to sleep well at night knowing that they gave you a choice and if you didn’t give in to their extortion it is not their fault any longer for not having a Social conscience or human compassion!

Until you Sea-Change the Health Industry and wrest it out of the “For Profit” hands that is is locked in, and run it entirely as a Not-for-profit tax payer funded program - and set up a Public Administration Entity that will fund all healthcare for all American’s - you will do nothing but create grief and promote a further separation within American Society.

As long as you allow Greed and Profit to rein over human life no change is ever going to be possible for you -

You might pay close attention to the submission by Tao Walker. Then again only the ones among you that have yet to learn to bleat will gain any knowledge from his gift. Most of you won’t “get” what he’s saying. That’s ok, just get in line for your daily milking, it will all be over soon enough for you!

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By Self Wise, August 24, 2009 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

@ Matti

It seems that votes are not the problem.  The money flow and leverage that the lobbyists have has to be mitigated in order to have any real effect.  Campaign Finance reform, and the current way businesses are represented has to be changed.  Otherwise the system will work the same way it does now.

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By Night-Gaunt, August 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

Read Matt Taibbi‘s article in Rolling Stone is a killer concerning just what is going on with the surrender if not down right traitorous acts to kill reform and give us a worse system and contribute to our early deaths. All the while continuing to empower and enrich those same Death Care System that is out of control and killing hundreds every day, thousands a week, tens of thousands an month and 100,000’s a year?

“Government don’t mess with my Medicare.” One of the signs at anti-healthcare reform Town Halls. It is a succinct and cogent rendering of what propaganda has done to the minds of at least 54% of Americans at the latest polling. The enemy is winning and people will continue to suffer and die slowly without death camps or direct laws to accomplish it. Nice if you are a genius psychopath who likes to kill. The fruits of free markets at their highest glory. Police and fire fighting next?

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By tp, August 24, 2009 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By ardee, August 24 at 5:54 am #
How?
If the ‘we’ you refer is democrats, I wonder how you can reach them in ways different or more affective than Ralph Nader tried. Dennis Kucinich is still trying while running under the SOS democratic convention. How, in this ruthless capitalist(more murcantilist) system do you get a social idea like universal health-care un-swiftboated to the average voter? It is like swimming against the rapids.
But, I agree with you. I just wish it was possible.
The problem is that the powers that be have laid their foundation too well for us to crack it. They’ve been at it in our country since 1913 and early 1700’s in East Europe. The Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Morgans, Vanderbilts and like aristocrats have three agendas: privatize, deregulate and stop social programs like this single payer health care of which we are so upset. The only way to change this is with a nasty revolution. The powers that be will not give up their thrones without a fight. And the way they fight is by using us to fight against each other. How do we do it Ardee. I’m out of ideas

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By matti, August 24, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

I’m with those here who argue that this “health care reform” debacle should be the final push that is needed to stimulate people into abandoning the Dem Party.

I’d also agree that it is the system, not a lack of “third parties” that gives the Dems and Repubs their stranglehold on political power. And that we could therefore to just as well -if not better- to back an existing party instead of organizing a new one.

But I also have an thought of my own to contribute:

If what we need has come down to “the two-party duopoly must be broken”, would we be willing to attempt to work within the system that empowers them, but in our own way?

What I mean is: Are we willing to make the main object of our efforts generating enough money to try and buy the TV time (and all the packaging and other crap that goes with it) that has become necessary to win elections nowadays?

Because IF we are so willing, and IF the TV people and corporate press are more greedy then they are anything else, I think we could just do it.

Let’s say that 1,000,000 people (round number for ease of calculation) could be organized by January 1st 2010 into a committed fundraising corps. They would be ready and able to put aside MERELY $1-a-day for the purpose of donating it to the campaign coffers and structural party-growth efforts of, say, the Green Party. If so, this relatively small number of people would raise the following amounts by the following dates:

-$151,000,000 by June 1st 2010 (for the Congressional Capaign season).

-$304,000,000, or an additional $153,000,000, by October 31st 2010 (for the Campaigns themselves)

If these same 1,000,000 re-commit to begin to do this again starting the day after Election Day 2010 -and are not augmented by any more people- then they would raise:

-$576,000,000 by June 1st 2012 (for the Congressional and Prez campaigns).

-$729,000,000, or an additional $153,000,000, by October 31st 2012.

Those numbers would seem to me capable of buying airtime and column space for at least 100 serious Congressional Campaigns and 1 serious Prez Campaign -at least in anything but the most openly biased media. It would also seem capable of organizing an effective party structure that would last beyond the campaigns. And, since 1,000,000 is less than the number of people who voted “third party” in even the 2008 Prez Election, it would seem to be a modest and achievable goal.

The only question I see is whether a (currently) small party such as the Greens would be willing to organize such a thing and if 1,000,000 (or more) people would be willing to commit to it.

Food for thought, and maybe for ACTION,

-matti.

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By Folktruther, August 24, 2009 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

I agree, TAO, that the historical problem is essentially spiritual and communal, not political in the commen meaning of the term.  That is why forming another political party is useless.  What must be done is to change the truth consensus of the American, and earth, people.  But this is a historical task, to be accomplisted with the US and Western civlization sinks historically down the toilet.

It never occurred to me before that our political reps have simply given up.  You’re probably right.

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By Night-Gaunt, August 24, 2009 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php&person=44

I worked to see if I could get the entire URL to activate. By connecting it worked.

Our system has taken some time to reach this state and I don’t want the entire system to come down in order to rebuild it. That would be the worse thing to happen. But unless we make major corrections in it we could be finding ourselves in a false caricature of a democratic-republic run by the crooks who gamed the system to win within.

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