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The Left after the Failure of Obamacare

By Shamus Cooke | Worker’s Compass | January 4, 2014

It’s satisfying to watch rats flee a sinking ship. This is because onlookers knew the ship was doomed long ago, and swimming rats signify that the drawn-out tragedy is nearing an end. A collective sense of relief is a natural response.

The rats who propped up the broken boat of Obamacare are a collection of liberal and labor groups who frittered away their group’s resources—and integrity— to sell a crappy product to the American people.

Those in the deepest denial went “all in” for Obamacare— such as some unions and groups like Moveon.org— while the more conniving groups and individuals—like Michael Moore— playacted “critical” of Obamacare, while nevertheless declaring it “progressive”, in effect adding crucial political support to a project that deserved none.

But of course Obamacare was always more barrier than progress: we’ve wasted the last several years planning, debating, and reconstructing the national health care system, all the while going in the wrong direction— into the pockets of the insurance mega corporations. A couple progressive patches on the sails won’t keep her afloat. It’s shipbuilding time.

It was painful to watch otherwise intelligent people lend support to something that’s such an obviously bad idea. So it’s with immense relief that liberals like Michael Moore, labor groups, and others are finally distancing themselves from Obamacare’s Titanic failure. Now these individuals and groups can stop living in denial and the rest of us can proceed towards a rational discussion about a real health care solution.

The inevitable failure of Obamacare is not due to a bad website, but deeper issues. The hammering of the nails in the coffin has begun:  millions of young people are suddenly realizing that Obamacare does not offer affordable health care. It’s a lie, and they aren’t buying it, literally.

The system depends on sufficient young people to opt in and purchase plans, in order to offset the costs of the older, higher-needs population. Poor young people with zero disposable income are being asked to pay monthly premiums of $150 and more, and they’re opting out, inevitably sinking Obamacare in the process.

Those young people who actually do buy Obamacare plans—to avoid the “mandate” fine— will be further enraged when they attempt to actually use their “insurance”. Many of the cheapest plans—the obvious choice for most young people— have $5,000 deductibles before the insurance will pay for anything. For poor young people this is no insurance at all, but a form of extortion.

At the same time millions of union members are being punished under Obamacare: those with decent insurance plans will suffer the “Cadillac” tax, which will push up the cost of their healthcare plans, and employers are already demanding concessions from union members in the form of higher health care premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc.

Lower paid union workers will suffer as well. Those who are part of the Taft Hartley insurance plans will be pressured to leave the plans and buy their own insurance, since they cannot keep their plans and get the subsidy that the lowest income workers get. This has the potential to bust the whole Taft Hartley health care system that millions of union members benefit from, which is one of the reasons that labor leaders suddenly became outraged at Obamacare, after having wasted millions of union member’s dollars propping it up.

Ultimately, the American working class will collectively cheer Obamacare’s demise. They just need labor and other lefties to cheer lead its destruction a little more fiercely.

Surprisingly, most of the rats are still clinging to Obama’s hopeless vessel, frantically bailing water. Sure they’ve put on their life preservers and are anxiously eyeing the lifeboats, but they’re also preaching about how to re-align the deckchairs.

For example, in his “critical” New York Times op-ed piece, Michael Moore called Obamacare “awful”, but also called it a “godsend”, singing his same tired tune. Part of Moore’s solution for Obamacare—which was cheered on in the Daily Kos— is equally ludicrous, and follows his consistently flawed logic that Obamacare is worth saving, since its “progress” that we can build on. Moore writes:

“Those who live in red [Republican dominated] states need the benefit of Medicaid expansion [a provision of Obamacare]…. In blue [Democrat dominated] states, let’s lobby for a public option on the insurance exchange — a health plan run by the state government, rather than a private insurer.”

This is Moore at his absolute worst. He’s neck deep in the flooded hull of the U.S.S Obamacare and giving us advice on how to tread water.

Of course Moore doesn’t criticize the heart of Obamacare, the individual mandate, the most hated component.

Moore also relies on the trump card argument of the pro-Obamacare liberals: there are progressive aspects to the scheme—such as the expansion of Medicaid— and therefore the whole system is worth saving.

Of course it’s untrue that we need Obamacare to expand Medicaid. In fact, the expansion of Medicaid acted more as a Trojan horse to introduce the pro-corporate heart of the system; a horse that Moore and other liberals nauseatingly continue to ride on.

But Moore’s sneakiest argument is his advice to blue states to  “…lobby for a public option on the insurance exchange…”

Again, Moore implies that it’s ok if we are “mandated” to buy health insurance, so long is there is a public option. But that aside, the deeper scheme here is that Moore wants us to further waste our energy “reforming” Obamacare, rather than driving it to the bottom of the sea.

Moore surely knows that very few people are going to march in the streets demanding a public option at this point; he therefore knows that even this tiny reform of the system is unachievable. He’s wasting our time. Real change only happens in politics when there is a surge of energy among large sections of the population, and it’s extremely unlikely that more than a handful of people are going to be active towards “fixing” Obamacare— they want to drown it.

Moore’s attempt to funnel people’s outrage at Obamacare towards a “public option” falls laughably short, and this is likely his intention, since his ongoing piecemeal “criticisms” of the system have only served to salvage a sunken ship.

Instead of wasting energy trying to pry Obamacare out of the grip of the corporations, Moore would be better served to focus exclusive energy towards expanding the movement for Medicare For All, which he claims that he also supports, while maintaining that somehow Obamacare will evolve into Single Payer system.

Most developed nations have achieved universal health care through a single payer system, which in the United States can be easily achieved by expanding Medicare to everybody. Once the realities of Obamacare directly affect the majority of the population and exacerbates the crisis of U.S. healthcare, people will inevitably choose to support the movement of Medicare for All, the only real option for a sane health care system.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Grand Theft Health Insurance

By RUSSELL MOKHIBER | CounterPunch | October 17, 2013

Here I sit, in West Virginia, staring down at January 1, 2014.

That’s when my health insurance policy expires and I have a decision to make — renew or not renew?

Right now, I’m paying about $7,000 a year in premiums for a monster deductible and yearly out of pocket of about $15,000 for myself and my family.

My health insurance company informed me yesterday that my premium will be doubled to $14,000 on January 1.

I’ve been trying to get onto the Obamacare web site now for ten days to search for an alternative.  No luck. I made it through four pages yesterday — then got a message saying I’d have to wait because there was too much traffic. When I clicked the continue button, it wiped out the information I had typed into the first three pages.

But even if I do get onto the exchanges, it’s probably not going to matter.

read in a newspaper that Highmark is the only health insurance company on the exchange in West Virginia. Yesterday, I called Highmark and spent an hour on the phone with a nice young man — but the results were not good. The skimpiest plan is going to cost me more than I’m paying now for a higher deductible and out of pocket result.

Thank you Obamacare.

My insurance agent told me yesterday I had only one alternative — wait for six years until Medicare kicks in and keep fighting for single payer.

Obviously, the Democrats and anyone who defends them are not going to be of any help in the next round. They are irrevocably tied to President Obama and Obamacare and even those Democrats nominally in favor of single payer refuse to criticize it for the industry written law that it is.

I agree with Dr. Quentin Young of Physicians for a National Health Program when he says that Obamacare should have been defeated because it enshrines and solidifies corporate domination of the health care system.

But what to do next? Well, first thing is to watch a movie called Healthcare — The Movie. It’s a short documentary — 62 minutes — but packs a big punch. The movie was produced by a husband wife team — the wife Canadian — Laurie Simons — and the husband American — Terry Sterrenberg.

The movie toggles back and forth between the USA and Canada — with Americans struggling with bankruptcy, death from lack of health insurance and the dark cloud of health insurance armageddon menacing their lives from cradle to an often early grave.

The Canadians, by contrast, are living in a relative health care nirvana, thanks in large part to Tommy Douglas, a boxer and Premier of Saskatchewan who stood up to the red baiting being dished out at the time by the Canadian medical establishment. Douglas emerged victorious and his efforts resulted in the creation of Canada’s single payer Medicare for all. The movie is narrated by actor Kiefer Sutherland — Tommy Douglas’ grandson.

The film features great historic clips — including a remarkable scene where a CBC television show host asks the question — who is the greatest Canadian? And then, in reality show format, puts it up to a vote.

“After six weeks, ten finalists, and more than a million votes,” the CBC host says, “it ended tonight with one name. And I have the envelope here. The greatest Canadian as decided by you is — Tommy Douglas.”

Imagine that — the country says that Tommy Douglas, the father of single payer in Canada, is greater than its greatest hockey player — Wayne Gretzky.

Tommy Douglas’ courageous act — standing up for the people of Canada against the vicious attacks of the powers that be — has resulted in a system that delivers health care for all Canadians — no complex bills, no deductibles, no deaths from lack of health insurance, no medical bankruptcies — all funded by a progressive tax system.

The movie profiles Canadians with serious medical illness — who come out financially unscathed — no bills, no bankruptcy, no health related financial worries.

And then compares those Canadians to the suffering human beings south of the border.

The movie does a good job of making us Americans feel like crap compared to our cousins up north.

Check out this sequence, for example:

How many people in the United States die each year because they have no health insurance?

45,000

How many people in Canada die each year because they have no health insurance?

Zero.

How many people go bankrupt each year in the United States because of medical expenses?

922,819

How many people go bankrupt each year in Canada because of medical expenses?

Zero.

How many Americans do not have health insurance?

50 million.

How many Canadians do not have health insurance?

Zero.

How many Americans go without medical care because of costs?

115 million.

How many Canadians go without medical care because of costs?

Zero.

One of the stars of this film is a young American from Portland, Oregon named Lindsay Caron.

“I was a free-lance artist for a long time,” Caron says.  “I gave that up to go sit in an office and file papers so that I could have health care.  And it amazed me that other people in other countries never had to think about that. I kept hearing that Canada’s system was broken, and that Canadians were flocking over the border to get US care.  And so I wanted to go to Canada with a camera and ask a couple hundred people. I bought a ticket up to Vancouver, Canada. I rented camera equipment. And I took my bicycle. I thought maybe I would stay  in Vancouver for a couple of days and cycle on back to Portland. I ended staying there the whole week.  I got up in the morning, set up a camera on the street and just start asking people questions.”

Caron finds out what polls in Canada consistently confirm — that the vast majority of Canadians would never in a thousand years give up their Medicare coverage for the nightmare south of the border.

It all came about because Tommy Douglas had the guts to stand up to the political and medical establishment and do what is right for the Canadian people.

Canada did it.

There is no reason we can’t do it.

It’s simply a matter of reordering our priorities.

Let’s put aside, for a moment, our millions of copies of Grand Theft Auto 5 and start playing a new game — Grand Theft — Health Insurance.

The goal of the game is to become a boxer, like Tommy Douglas — and fight back against the insurance industry and its Frankenstein monster — Obamacare.

Repeal Obamacare.

Replace it with single payer.

Russell Mokhiber edits Single Payer Action.

October 17, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ObamaCare: Worse Than Doing Nothing?

By RUSSELL MOKHIBER | CounterPunch | October 10, 2013

That’s the conclusion of single payer advocate Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), in his just released autobiography – Everybody In, Nobody Out: Memoirs of a Rebel Without a Pause.

“Had I been in Congress, I would have unequivocally voted against Obamacare,” Young writes. “It’s a bad bill. Whether it’s worse than what we have now could be argued. We rather think because of its ability to enshrine and solidify the corporate domination of the health system, it’s worse than what we have now. But whether it is somewhat better or a lot worse is immaterial. The health system isn’t working in this country — fiscally, medically, socially, morally.”

Young rejects the idea that President Obama should have compromised on single payer in the face of industry opposition.

“I don’t have any sympathy for the idea that the president had to compromise because his opposition was strong,” Young writes. “Winning is not always winning the election. Winning is making a huge fight and then taking the fight to the people — re-electing people who are supporting your program and defeating those who aren’t.”

Young first met the young Barack Obama in the mid-1990s at social gatherings.

At the time, Obama was lecturing at the University of Chicago Law School and practicing law.

“We did not become bosom buddies after a few of these social gatherings — I just viewed him as a nice, bright guy living in the neighborhood,” Young says.

When Obama ran for the Illinois Senate, Young supported him.

“I was happy with his views on health care,” Young writes. “He recognized that major reform was necessary and indicated support for a single-payer approach. No blushing friend, I took every opportunity to solidify his position. While not an official adviser, I tried to influence him as much as I could. My colleagues and I sent him notes touting the advantages of single-payer and the form it might take and talked with him and his staff about it whenever I had the chance.”

“I felt I did influence him,” Young said.

When Obama ran for the Senate in 2003, Obama told the Illinois AFL-CIO:

“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”

But just a year later, Obama had flipped and came out against single payer in Illinois.

“I was very disappointed by his move to the right to keep the insurance companies in command,” Young told the Springfield State Journal Register in 2004. “I’m not accusing him of lying or misconduct. I’m accusing him of a lack of courage.”

But despite Obama’s “lack of courage,” Young supported Obama in his run for U.S. Senate and later for president. Young was just setting himself up for more disappointment.

At a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in August 2009, Obama was asked whether he supported a universal health care plan.

“First of all, I want to make a distinction between a universal plan versus a single-payer plan, because those are two different things,” Obama said.

“A single-payer plan would be a plan like Medicare for all, or the kind of plan that they have in Canada, where basically government is the only person — is the only entity that pays for all health care.  Everybody has a government-paid-for plan, even though in, depending on which country, the doctors are still private or the hospitals might still be private.  In some countries, the doctors work for the government and the hospitals are owned by the government.  But the point is, is that government pays for everything, like Medicare for all.  That is a single-payer plan.”

“I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter because, frankly, we historically have had a employer-based system in this country with private insurers, and for us to transition to a system like that I believe would be too disruptive.  So what would end up happening would be, a lot of people who currently have employer-based health care would suddenly find themselves dropped, and they would have to go into an entirely new system that had not been fully set up yet.  And I would be concerned about the potential destructiveness of that kind of transition.”

“All right?  So I’m not promoting a single-payer plan,” Obama said.

In March 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — by a narrow margin.

“PNHP’s policy experts did a line-by-line examination of the bill and, while acknowledging that it contains some modest benefits that make changes around the edges of our existing system, basically gave it two thumbs down,” Young writes. “To this day, much to the chagrin of many of our friends who wanted reform, I remain adamant in my rejection of Obamacare.”

“Why? We want a system that excludes the private insurance companies,” Young writes. “ We demand such exclusion not because these companies are good or evil (although we think they’re pretty evil). Rather, the reason to exclude them is that they don’t address the needs of the American people.”

Young also rejects the idea of a “public option,” pushed by Democrats such as Howard Dean. A public option “would not have made any significant difference on the overall impact” of Obamacare “contrary to the view of many progressive who believed that it would,” Young says.

“Since WWII, we have learned a lot about disease and certainly have had dramatic improvements in what we can do,” Young writes. “I’m talking about surgery of the heart, vaccination, nutrition issues. All these things have been largely defined in the last half-century. We’ve had something approaching a 12-year life expectancy rise just from scientific intervention.”

“We have all this knowledge, all these options, but we have a very backward financing and delivery system and the result is a great deal of human suffering,” Young says. “And that’s why we remain opposed to the Affordable Care Act. We think we have a winning proposition despite the reality in Congress. Polls repeatedly vindicate our position. A solid majority of the public and 59 percent of doctors support the single payer approach.”

“President Obama could have made it happen,” Young says. “He could have stuck to all the virtues of single payer. And I won’t deny he may have been defeated in the first round. There’s no question that this fight has been dirty and it’s going to get dirtier.”

October 10, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Partisan Confusion

By Kevin Zeese | Dissident Voice | March 28th, 2012

I was standing outside the U.S. Supreme Court holding a sign that said: “Single Payer Now, Strike Down the Obama Mandate.” It was the second day of argument on the Affordable Care Act. As I watched the crowds it was evident this was an organized partisan event.

As the Washington Post reports, the mandate was a Republican idea that originated with conservatives: “The tale begins in the late 1980s, when conservative economists such as Mark Pauly, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of business, were searching for ways to counter liberal calls for government-sponsored universal health coverage. Pauly then proposed a mandate requiring everyone to obtain this minimum coverage, thus guarding against free-riders…Health policy analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation, led by Stuart Butler, picked up the idea and began developing it for lawmakers in Congress. The Heritage Foundation worked with then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) to pass Massachusetts’ 2006 health reform law, which required all Bay State citizens to purchase coverage.”

Someone from the Heritage Foundation came up to us, wanting to take a photo of our sign. I asked him – does the Heritage Foundation oppose the mandate? He said “yes.” I told him that the idea came out of the Heritage Foundation. He looked confused, mumbled an unclear answer “not since 2006” and walked away.

Of course, Democrats opposed this Republican idea. They saw it for what it is: a massive giveaway to the insurance industry that will lead to their entrenchment and continued domination of heath care. The idea was used by Republicans to oppose the Clinton health plan. Of course, the Clinton’s opposed it. But, by the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton supported the mandate (by then the insurance industry was a big financial backer of hers), but candidate Barack Obama opposed it. One of his campaign advertisements said: “What’s she not telling you about her health-care plan? It forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it, and you pay a penalty if you don’t.”

So, while I was out there watching groups like the National Organization for Women, who supports single payer favoring this pro-insurance law, as part of a coalition of Democratic Party aligned groups, I thought, what if President McCain had passed this law. My conclusion, we’d have the same people out here protesting, they’d just reverse sides. This was really not about healthcare, it was about Obama vs. the Republicans in this 2012 election year.

The people protesting followed their leader’s orders, said the chants they were told to say, and held the signs they were given to hold, but they were confused. When we talked to people on both sides the partisan confusion was evident.

My colleague, Margaret Flowers, asked two women carrying an Americans for Prosperity sign (a group opposed to Obama’s law) whether they were on Medicare. They said “yes.” “Do you like it?” Again, “yes.” “Do you know Medicare is a government program?” A confused look. “Do you know the Republicans want to end Medicare, make it into private insurance?” “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You probably support Obama”; and they started to walk away. “No, we oppose ObamaCare,” the women stopped and listened again, “We think everyone should have Medicare. Don’t you think it would be a good idea if every American could have the Medicare you have and like?” “Hmm, yes” then, more confusion in their faces.

Then, talking to the Democrats showed equal partisan confusion. I explained: “We oppose the Obama mandate because we want to end insurance control of health care. We support single payer, Medicare for all?” Response: “So do I.” I asked: “Single payer ends insurance, and Obama’s law entrenches insurance more deeply in control of health care, aren’t those opposites?” Response, obviously not understanding what ‘opposite’ means: “It’s a step in the right direction.” I ask: “How can it be a step in the right direction when it is going in the opposite direction?” No longer able to say it is the right direction, spouts another talking point: “This is the best we can get, we can build on this.” Me, trying to figure out what the Democrat thinks there is to build on, asks: “But, if we want to end insurance domination, how do we build on a law that is based on insurance?” Unable to explain it, the Democrat answers: “We can’t get what we want.” I say: “Of course, not, if people like you and organizations like yours who support single payer, spend their time advocating for the insurance industry, we can’t get what we want. But, if people who support single payer work for it we could.” Answer: “But, we have to re-elect President Obama.”

Partisan confusion reigned.

And, sadly partisan confusion dominates our airwaves as well. Of course, the right wing radio continues to attack Obama and confusingly calls a market-based, insurance-dominated health law socialism. But, sadly the “liberal” media sends out equal partisan confusion. We were able to go into Radio Row, where all the liberal radio outlets were interviewing “experts” on health care. The talking points, like in the conversation, were repeated and repeated. When one radio host wanted to interview me, really debate me since he was a Democratic apologist, I sat down. An organizer in the room asked the host to speak with her. She came back and told me I had to leave. This was private property and only people allowed to be here were allowed to be here. I explained I was invited by a station to be interviewed. She explained: “I tell them who to interview. The stations have slots and we fill them.” I asked: “Do you mean only people who support Obama can be interviewed.” She explained “The Republicans do it to.”

So, partisan confusion reigns and it permeates the airwaves leaving many people confused. We need to clear the FOG (Forces Of Greed) and get the truth on the air.

Despite all this supermajorities of Americans have consistently supported single payer, whether inaccurately called socialism or correctly described as “Medicare for all” 60% or more support it. Why? For the same reason that the great salesman President Obama and his superb marketing team have been unable to sell forced purchase of health insurance: Every family, business whether large or small; and every doctor or other health care provider have suffered insurance abuse. Two thirds of those who go bankrupt from a health problem have health insurance. The American experience is that health insurance is expensive, provides inadequate coverage and tries to avoid paying for health care. We all know this. So, no matter what the politicians say – Americans do not trust the health insurance industry.

But, one thing the two parties in Washington agree on – they will protect health insurance at all costs. After-all, they are a great source of campaign contributions – as the two politicians responsible for forcing Americans to buy insurance, President Obama and Mitt Romney, well know.

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Voters for Peace.

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Partisan Confusion

Left Takes ObamaCare To Court – Supreme Court

By John V. Walsh | Dissident Voice | March 27th, 2012

The struggle over the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare) is facilely cast as a battle between Left and Right. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A tussle between the dominant factions of the Democratic and Republican Parties it certainly is in a superficial and temporary way, until the kabuki politics of the presidential campaign is over. But a battle between Left and Right, it most assuredly is not. Obamacare is opposed by the Left, which has long sought Single-Payer (Medicare for All) as a proven way to universal and egalitarian coverage. But many Leftists have been too cowed by Democratic operatives or by Obama loyalists in their midst to speak their convictions. Now that silence has been shattered.

Recently 50 physicians, all strong supporters of Single-Payer, along with the Left wing non-profits, Single Payer Action and It’s Our Economy, have joined conservative and libertarian opposition to Obamacare. They have submitted to the Supreme Court an amicus brief which is a dagger aimed at the noxious heart of Obamacare, the individual mandate which codifies in law the domination of the health care system by the insurance companies. The brief states:

Amici thus submit this brief for the purpose of disputing the primary tenet of the Government’s position, that Congress cannot regulate the national healthcare market effectively unless it has power to require that citizens purchase insurance from private insurance companies. On the contrary, as set forth herein, Congress has already demonstrated that it can regulate healthcare markets effectively by implementing a single payer system such as Medicare or the VHA (Veterans Health Administration).

And in case the dagger failed to pierce its mark with that, the brief plunges deeper:

Government contends that the provision is not only “reasonable” but also “necessary” to its broader regulation of the national healthcare market. In particular, the Government contends that the individual mandate is “key to the viability of the Act’s guaranteed-issue and community-rating provisions.” But while it might be true that these provisions will adversely impact private insurers’ profits, and that the individual mandate offsets this adverse impact by guaranteeing the private insurers a large stream of new customers who are required by law to purchase insurance, that is not sufficient to render the individual mandate constitutional. If it were, Congress could “reform” any private industry – whether it be automobiles, coal, pharmaceuticals or any other – by enacting legislation requiring that every American purchase the industry’s goods or services in exchange for some perceived public good the industry provides. Yet Congress has never before enacted such a mandate.

The amicus brief makes no argument against other features of Obamacare, for example, regulation of insurance companies and coverage of those with pre-existing conditions. Such “severability” has been advocated by many, most recently by Columbia law professors, Abbe Gluck and Michael Graetz in a New York Times Op-ed on March 23. But the Obama administration has resisted this separation and many Left groups have been pushed into silence for fear that they will be seen as opposing the “good” features of Obamacare. Severability, never mentioned by Obama loyalists, provides a simple way to oppose the nefarious features of Obamacare and yet allow the other features to go forward.

Much of the rest of the brief is devoted to describing the superiority of single-payer systems, most notably affordability and equality of care. The simplest argument for Single-Payer is that it works as advertised, as can be seen readily in Canada or France, for example.

It is a grave misperception to regard Obamacare as a stepping stone to Single-Payer, as promoted by Obama loyalists. It is not. In fact, it is a massive obstacle. Once in place it will create the impression that universal coverage with cost controls has been achieved, postponing genuine change to another day. And until that day there will be much needless suffering, even as we spend ever more on health care.

Quite simply, Obamacare is the preferred option for both the Republican and Democratic establishments and their backers in the financial sector. Romneycare, its older, Republican twin, has failed to deliver on the promise of cost control and decent care for all. Instead it has delivered a captive population up to the tender mercies of the insurers. Obamacare is more of the same. The coinage Obomneycare says it all.

The real struggle is not between Left and Right but between the top, which favors Obomneycare, and the bottom, the 99% in the parlance of the moment. Hence it is no surprise to see groups of diverse political philosophies, even divergent ones at first sight, rise from among the vast majority to oppose this latest scheme to make money from human illness in the guise of health care reform.

March 27, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Comments Off on Left Takes ObamaCare To Court – Supreme Court

Real Health Care Advocates Should Support Repeal of the Insurance Mandate

By Kevin Zeese | Dissident Voice | March 26th, 2012

It’s Our Economy, the organization I co-direct with Margaret Flowers, MD, Single Payer Action and 50 doctors filed an amicus brief in HHS v. Florida, the challenge to the Affordable Care Act being heard in the Supreme Court this week.

We support health care reform but oppose the insurance mandate.  Merely removing two words from existing law will achieve the President’s stated goals of universal, affordable and guaranteed health care.  By removing the words “over 65” from the Medicare law, every American will have health care based on a proven public health care model that has been in existence since 1965.  This will control costs and immediately provide health care to everyone in the United States.

Forcing Americans to buy insurance is both unconstitutional and bad policy.  Even the most favorable estimates of the Affordable Care Act predict that tens of millions of Americans will not have health insurance when it is fully implemented in 2019. The number of employers offering health benefits will decline under the ACA pushing employees into the individual insurance market where coverage is skimpier and more expensive.  The cost of premiums continues to rise and insurance coverage continues to shrink, putting patients at risk of personal bankruptcy when they suffer a serious accident or illness.

The United States already spends enough to provide health care to all.  As the amicus brief states:

Studies conducted by the nonpartisan General Accounting Office and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office have consistently concluded that if a national single payer system were implemented in the United States, administrative cost-savings alone would be enough to guarantee universal coverage without increasing overall healthcare spending.

In addition, improved Medicare for all will slow the growth in the cost of health care. The cost of health care under Medicare is growing more slowly than private insurance-based health care, despite the fact that it deals with America’s elderly and disabled populations, groups that generally need more health care services.  Unlike private insurance, under Medicare the increased cost is not due to administrative costs and bureaucracy. Medicare’s administrative costs have been consistently about 2% while private insurance is 16% administrative costs.

Instead, the ACA builds and expands the system of private insurance. This system is among the least efficient of any healthcare system currently operating in developed nations.  The brief states:  “In 2009, 28 healthcare expenditures accounted for 17.4 percent of GDP in the United States, compared with only 9.6 percent in the average OECD [The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] nation” and “measured per capita, healthcare expenditures in the United States ‘are by far the highest among OECD countries.’”

Medicare provides health services that people like, as the brief points out:  “In addition to achieving universal coverage for Americans aged 65 and older and maintaining consistently low administrative costs, Medicare is also highly rated by senior citizens who are its primary beneficiaries – 51 percent of whom give their health insurance an ‘excellent” rating.’”

If the US Congress had considered an evidence-based approach to health reform instead of writing a bill that funnels more wealth to insurance companies that deny and restrict care, it would have been a no brainer to adopt improved Medicare for all. All the data points to a single payer system as the only way to accomplish universal health care and control health care costs.

It is also bad precedent to allow the federal government to mandate all Americans buy a corporate product.  This takes corporate welfare to new levels of extreme.  If this is upheld, will a future president facing an economic crisis require Americans to buy cars made in the USA – of course, with a government subsidy?  Or, will the pension crisis in the United States be ‘solved’ by setting up a pension exchange of JP Morgan, Bank of America, Well Fargo, Chase and Citibank and require Americans to buy a federally subsidized pension from Wall Street?

Finally, an improved Medicare for all system will give everyone in the United States the greatest control of their own healthcare.  The insurance industry will be removed from between doctors and patients.  Doctors will not have to convince an insurance, profit-minded, bureaucrat to pay for a treatment.  And, people will no longer be threatened with increased premiums, decreased coverage and financial ruin caused by an insurance industry that puts profits before people.

We filed the amicus brief because forcing people to purchase a flawed product, private health insurance, is not necessary and will not achieve the goals of universal, guaranteed and affordable health care. There is a health care model in the US already that will achieve these goals – that’s improved Medicare for all. Medicare for all is constitutional and simple to attain – just drop a few words from existing law and we will be on the path to joining the rest of the civilized world when it comes to health care.

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Voters for Peace.

March 26, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Real Health Care Advocates Should Support Repeal of the Insurance Mandate