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CA Events: Pacific Time: PDA Leadership Heads To California to Push "Healthcare Not Warfare"


PACIFIC TIME: PDA LEADERSHIP HEADS TO CALIFORNIA TO PUSH ‘HEALTHCARE NOT WARFARE’ | Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – The national leadership of Progressive Democrats of America will be in California next week for a series of events to support PDA-backed candidates and organize support for the Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign at the state Democratic convention.

“With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still open-ended tragedies, and a new health insurance law that will not solve the healthcare crisis in this country, the Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign is taking on added urgency every day,” said PDA National Director Tim Carpenter.

Carpenter and national PDA team members Laura Bonham, Conor Boylan, Kimberly Buchan and David Keeler will attend a series of meetings and events in California from April 13 to 18, with a focus on the Democratic convention that begins April 16.

The trip will start with a “Meet and Greet” with PDA-endorsed congressional candidate Tracy Emblem in San Diego at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13, at the home of Mike and Jill Copass, 4042 Mount Blackburn Ave. Carpenter will be joined by PDA board member Steve Cobble for this event.

On Wednesday, April 14, a reception to benefit the Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign will be in Newport Beach, beginning at 6 p.m. at the home of Carl and Barbara Mosen, 7 Current, Newport Coast. The event will also feature PDA national Chair Mimi Kennedy, Healthcare NOT Warfare co-chair Norman Solomon, and actor and activist David Clennon.

The California Democratic convention will be held April 16-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center and nearby JW Marriott Hotel. Dozens of PDA members from up and down the state will be in attendance as delegates; other members will attend convention meetings, and still others will help at the table PDA is sharing with the California Nurses Association.

To top off the week, PDA will sponsor a panel discussion, “The Fight for Journalism and Democracy in the 21st Century,” featuring John Nichols and Robert McChesney, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Venice United Methodist Church, 2210 Lincoln Blvd., in Venice. Featured guests will include Kennedy and PDA-endorsed congressional candidate Marcy Winograd.

“The week will be exciting and energizing, as we work within the California Democratic Party and with outside grassroots groups throughout the state on our shared progressive priorities,” said Carpenter.

Progressive Democrats of America is one of the nation’s fastest-growing grassroots political organizations; it recently celebrated its fifth anniversary and has active chapters in 45 states. PDA is dedicated to reviving the progressive tradition of the Democratic Party through grassroots organizing and working with elected Democrats to advance peace, justice and social, economic and environmental responsibility. More information is available at Progressive Democrats of America.

Vermont Senate Passes Health Care Bill That Includes Provision For A Single Payer Option


Vermont Senate passes health care bill that includes provision for a single payer option | Press Release | April 7, 2010

Healthy Vermont Bill Passes in Senate
Bill calls for custom-designed health care system
By Doug Racine, Candidate for VT Governor

MONTPELIER, VT — With an overwhelming 28-2 vote, the Senate today passed the Healthy Vermont bill (S.88). Senator Doug Racine (D-Chittenden) and the Health and Welfare Committee brought the bill to the Senate floor.

FDA, VA Approve Drug Despite Its Link To Soldiers’ Deaths

FDA, VA approve drug despite its link to soldiers’ deaths
By Martha Rosenberg | Nieman Watchdog

Seroquel is a widely-prescribed medication, with almost $5 billion in sales last year. But survivors of dead servicemen, torn and angry, question its use as part of a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sgt. Eric Layne's death was not pretty.

A few months after being prescribed a drug cocktail with the antidepressant Paxil, the mood stabilizer Klonopin and AstraZeneca's controversial antipsychotic drug Seroquel, the Iraq war veteran was "suffering from incontinence, severe depression [and] continuous headaches," according to his widow, Janette Layne, at FDA hearings for new Seroquel approvals last year.

Soon he had tremors. " … [H]is breathing was labored [and] he had developed sleep apnea," said Janette Layne, who served in the National Guard during Operation Iraqi Freedom along with her husband. On the last day of his life, she testified, Eric stayed in the bathroom nearly all night battling acute urinary retention. He died while his family slept.

Sgt. Layne had just returned from a seven-week inpatient program at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati where he was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A video shot during that time, played by his wife at the FDA hearings, shows a dangerously sedated figure barely able to talk.

Sgt. Layne was not the first healthy veteran to die after being prescribed medical cocktails including Seroquel for PTSD.

In the last two years, Pfc. Derek Johnson, 22, of Hurricane, West Virginia; Cpl. Andrew White, 23, of Cross Lanes, West Virginia; Cpl. Chad Oligschlaeger, 21, of Roundrock, Texas; Cpl. Nicholas Endicott, 24, of Pecks Mill, West Virginia; and Spc. Ken Jacobs, 21, of Walworth, New York, have all died suddenly while taking Seroquel cocktails. Read more.

Big Business, GOP Complain That Health Reform Slashes Corporate Welfare

Big Business, GOP Complain That Health Reform Slashes Corporate Welfare
By Ryan Grim | Huffington Post

The Republican Party and major corporations have joined forces in the first major rearguard attack on health care reform, charging that the cost of complying with "Obamacare" is resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in added business expenses.

The crime that reform is guilty of: Slashing corporate welfare.

Under the previous system, major corporations were subsidized by the government to provide prescription drug coverage to their retired employees. At the same time, corporations could claim on their tax returns that it was they -- not the taxpayers -- who paid for the drug coverage, and could write the expense off as a tax deduction.

Health care reform cuts out that fat. The corporations still get taxpayer money to help pay for their drug coverage, but they can no longer continue the fiction that they're using their own money to do it. Read more.

Note: Although this topic was previously published, this article explains how corporations benefit while taxpayers pay much more clearly, especially toward the bottom of Ryan's article.

PENNSYLVANIA NEXT STOP FOR IMPROVED-MEDICARE-FOR-ALL ADVOCATES

The regional and national leadership of Progressive Democrats of America will be in Pennsylvania this week for a series of events to support a state improved-Medicare-for-all, single-payer healthcare system.

"The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which recently became law, will not solve the healthcare crisis in this country," said Tim Carpenter, PDA national director. "The Medicare system proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that government can do some things much better than the private sector," Carpenter explained. "Healthcare corporations exist only to deliver profits for their stockholders--they do not actually provide healthcare."

Bates To Propose Public Option For Oregon

Bates to propose public option for Oregon
By Kari Chisholm | Blue Oregon

The Medford Mail-Tribune reports this morning that Senator Alan Bates (D-Ashland) will propose a public option for Oregon - using a feature of the new health reform law created by Senator Ron Wyden.

From Damian Mann at the M-T:

A much debated public option that died amid the creation of a new national health care plan could be brought back to life in Oregon.

Oregon Sen. Alan Bates, D-Ashland, is spearheading an effort to create a state-run health care plan that would provide a public option, paving the way for universal coverage within three to four years.

An amendment to the federal health care plan by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., created a provision that allows states to enact their own health care program, including the creation of a public option. The provision allows states to apply for a waiver from the federal law as long as the state health plan has provisions for cost containment and improving delivery of services.

After studying Wyden's provision, Bates, a physician who practices in Medford, said he believed the amendment would allow Oregon to expand its progressive health care program, called the Oregon Health Plan. Read more.

Insurance Industry Already Finding Ways To Game New System

Insurance Industry Already Finding Ways To Game New System
By Dan Froomkin | Huffington Post

The insurance industry's attempt to weasel out of one of the few provisions of the new health care reform law that took effect immediately is a harbinger of what's to come.

In this case, the companies that were balking at covering sick children quickly relented under media, congressional and White House pressure.

But far from being satisfied with a windfall of new customers and massive government subsidies, the nation's insurance companies appear to already be busy devising ways to game the new system. Their goal, as ever: Maximizing profits by paying out as little on actual health care as possible.

And next time they start to weasel, Congress and the White House -- and the media -- may not be paying attention anymore.

"This is what you're going to see as each element in this plan comes up for implementation," said Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine who now teaches at Harvard Medical School. "This insurance industry is going to give up nothing."

In the short run, companies are expected to keep doing what they've been doing, which means, among other things, jacking up their rates. "There's nothing to stop them from raising their premiums, and that's what they're going to do," said Angell, a supporter of "single-payer" health insurance.

The new law's ban on discriminating against adults with preexisting conditions doesn't kick in until 2014. Read more.

Where's the Movement?

Where's the Movement?
by George Lakoff | Common Dreams

In forming his administration, President Obama abandoned the movement that had begun during his campaign for deal-making and a pragmatism that hasn't worked. That movement is still possible and needed now. Here is look at what is required, and how a version of it is forming in California.

We begin with this week's triple whammy.

Freedom vs. The Public Option

Which would you prefer, consumer choice or freedom? Extended coverage or freedom? Bending the cost curve or freedom?

John Boehner, House Minority Leader, speaking of health care, said recently, "This bill is the greatest threat to freedom that I have seen in the 19 years I have been here in Washington. . . It's going to lead to a government takeover of our health care system, with tens of thousands of new bureaucrats right down the street, making these decisions [choose your doctor, buy your own health insurance] for you."

This is exactly what Frank Luntz advised conservatives to say. They have repeated it and repeated it. Why has it worked to rally conservative populists against their interests? The most effective framing is more than mere language, more than spin or salesmanship. It has worked because conservatives really believe that the issue is freedom. It fits the conservative moral system. It fits how conservatives see the world.

The Democrats have helped the conservatives. Their pathetic attempt to make any deal to get 60 votes convinced even Massachusetts voters that government under the Democrats was corrupt and oppressive, not just inept, but immoral.

All politics is moral Read more.

Senate Majority Leader Agrees to Senate Vote on Public Option


Senate Majority Leader Agrees to Senate Vote on Public Option | Press Release | March 19, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today told Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that he would work to ensure a Senate vote "in the coming months" on a health insurance public option.

In a letter to Sanders and Merkley the majority leader said: "I am a strong supporter of a public option, and I included the HELP Committee's public option in the bill I brought to the Senate floor last year. I was very disappointed when it became clear that we did not have the votes to keep it.

"Nevertheless, like you, I remain committed to pursuing the public option. . . As we have discussed, I will work to ensure that we are able to vote on the pubic option in the coming months."

Sanders said: "I very much appreciate Majority Leader Reid's continuing support for a public option and I am grateful for his commitment to bring legislation before the full Senate within the next several months. It's imperative that we have a vote on this issue and I'm glad that is going to happen.

"We need to add the public option to health care reform because the American people must have the right to choose a Medicare-type public option as opposed to just private insurance company plans. Further, a public option will provide much needed competition to the insurance industry and help us hold down skyrocketing premiums. It is my judgment that a majority of members in the House and Senate would support a public option when it comes up for a vote."

To read the letter from Sen. Reid, click here.

Discharged Soldiers Sue For Millions Over Anthrax Experiment

Discharged soldiers sue for millions over Anthrax experiment
By Vered Luvitch | Ynetnews

Dozens of soldiers who took part in experiment in early 1990s aimed at determining efficacy of Anthrax vaccine demand $80,000 each in damages. 'Physical harm was passed down to our children,' plaintiff says

Sixty-four former IDF soldiers are suing the Defense Ministry for NIS 18 million ($4.8 million) over what they claim is damage caused to them during Anthrax vaccine experiments in the early 1990s.

The experiments, which were meant to determine the efficacy of an Anthrax vaccine, were carried out in light of what was then defined at the time as the "strategic threat of a surprise biological attack facing Israel."

Nicknamed "Omer 2," the experiments included 716 IDF soldiers picked out of a pool of 4,000.

The lawsuit, filed with the Petah Tikva District Court, is based on the principle according to which anyone who decides to take part in an experiment must do so willingly and after considering the risks involved.

As part of the lawsuit the soldiers are demanding that the state reveal the ingredients of the serum that was given to them, in addition to NIS 300,000 (about $80,000) in damages to each plaintiff for mental anguish and emotional distress resulting from the involuntary use of one's body and medical negligence.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs cited an Israel Medical Association (IMA) report according to which the experiments were unjustifiable. Read more.

Is America ‘Yearning for Fascism’?


Is America ‘Yearning for Fascism’?
By Chris Hedges | Truthdig

The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.

“We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the country away from those who have hijacked it. The only question now is whose revolution gets funded.”

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.

The unraveling of America mirrors the unraveling of Yugoslavia. The Balkan war was not caused by ancient ethnic hatreds. It was caused by the economic collapse of Yugoslavia. The petty criminals and goons who took power harnessed the anger and despair of the unemployed and the desperate. They singled out convenient scapegoats from ethnic Croats to Muslims to Albanians to Gypsies. They set in motion movements that unleashed a feeding frenzy leading to war and self-immolation. There is little difference between the ludicrous would-be poet Radovan Karadzic, who was a figure of ridicule in Sarajevo before the war, and the moronic Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. There is little difference between the Oath Keepers and the Serbian militias. We can laugh at these people, but they are not the fools. We are. Read more.

If it doesn't kill them first

Iraq War Stunts Children’s Growth, Researchers Find

ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2010) — Iraqi children born in areas affected by high levels of violence are shorter in height than children born in less violent areas, according to a study at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The level of violence has varied across the provinces and districts, with the south and centre of Iraq being most affected and it is in these areas that estimates show children are on average 0.8cm shorter than their peers growing up elsewhere in the country.

Zero Public Option + One Mandate = Disaster


Zero Public Option + One Mandate = Disaster
Progressive critics of the new healthcare law have been demonized
By Norman Solomon | Washington Free Press

Not long ago, the most prominent supporters of the public option were touting it as essential for healthcare reform. Now, suddenly, it’s incidental.

In fact, many who were lauding a public option as the key to a better healthcare future are now condemning just about anyone who insists that the absence of a public option makes the new law unworthy of support.

Consider this statement: “If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current healthcare bill. Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over healthcare and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real healthcare reform.”

That statement is as true today as it was when Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, made it three months ago in a Washington Post op-ed. But now, a concerted political blitz is depicting anyone who takes such a position as a menace to “real healthcare reform.”

After devoting vast amounts of time, money, energy and political capital to banging the drum for the public option as absolutely vital during 2009 and through this winter, countless liberal organizations and prominent Democrats in Congress have made a short-order shift.

You are now to understand that the public option isn’t essential—it’s expendable. And all of the sudden, people who assert that a public option is a minimal requirement for meaningful healthcare reform are no longer principled—they’re pernicious. Read more.

The State's Single-Payer Solution

The state’s single-payer solution
By Benjamin Day and Peter Hiam | Boston Globe

The United States spends almost twice as much per person on health care as any other country in the world, and yet has some of the worst health outcomes of all developed nations. This means we spend a lot on care that does not contribute to better care, and there is extraordinary room for cost control that does not reduce access to or quality of care. However, we often pursue cost control strategies that are not based on evidence, and are designed to limit political opposition from the health care industry, for which our high costs are its high income. These efforts either don’t work at all, or don’t work on a scale that will have a noticeable impact on a system with double-digit premium inflation.

To a large extent, our high spending is due to a fragmented system where providers deal with hundreds of different insurers, all with different rules. This drives up administrative costs in the system, and means we lack what other jurisdictions have to effectively control costs: the ability to budget the health care system and publicly plan the allocation of limited resources to the communities and areas of care that need them most. This is why only nations with uniform payment systems and an extraordinary level of public oversight have been able to “bend the cost curve’’ without hurting health outcomes. Read more.

Audio: Lila Garrett on KPFK With Charlotte Dennett and David Swanson and Dennis Kucinich

Here's the mp3 of the March 29, 2010, edition of "Connect the Dots".

Bill Moyers Journal: The Nation's John Nichols & National Organization for Women President Terry O'Neill

Bill Moyers takes a closer look at the newly signed health bill and explores the future of health care reform with THE NATION's John Nichols and National Organization for Women president Terry O'Neill.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the JOURNAL. There was justification for those high-fives and victory signs at the White House this week. Passage of the health care reform bill was a big political win for a president and party, who, with midterm elections eight months away, desperately needed a few points on the scoreboard.

But the road to success is littered with casualties, most of them Obama's progressive allies. Among them, the women who worked so hard for his election. After all the White House hoopla was over and the lights and cameras were gone, the president quietly signed an executive order continuing a ban on federal funding for abortions, part of the deal he made with pro-life Democrats to get their votes. Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, NOW, was outraged. She said "feminist, progressive principles are in direct conflict with many of the compromises built into and tacked onto this legislation."

Terry O'Neill is with me now. An attorney, law professor and social justice activist, she became president of NOW last June.

Joining us is John Nichols, author, political journalist and Washington correspondent of The Nation magazine. He wrote this article on The Nation's blog headlined, "Now That Obama's Signed It, Let's Reform the Reform."

Both of them are progressives who prescribed a much stronger dose of health care reform than we got. So my question to them is, "Where do we go from here?" John, Terry, welcome to the Journal....

TERRY O'NEILL: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: This is the most sweeping piece of legislation passed since Medicare in 1965. What do you think of it? Watch the program.

Medicare You Can Buy Into Act Gains Momentum

Medicare You Can Buy Into Act Gains Momentum | Press Release

Update: There are now 80 cosponsors of the Public Option Act. Here is the current list: Reps. Baldwin, Berkley, C. Brown, Capuano, Carson, Castor, Chu, Clarke, Wm. Lacy Clay, Cleaver, Cohen, Cummings, D. Davis, DeGette, Delahunt, Doyle, Edwards, Ellison, Engel, Farr, Filner, Frank, Fudge, Garamendi, Green, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hall, Hare, Hastings, Hinchey, Hinojosa, Hirono, Holt, Honda, Israel, Jackson-Lee, Jackson Jr., E.B. Johnson, H. Johnson, Kaptur, Kennedy, Kilpatrick, Kucinich, Lee, Lewis, Maloney, McDermott, McGovern, Meeks, James P. Moran, Nadler, Napolitano, Norton, Olver, Payne, Pierluisi, Pingree, Polis, Rangel, Richardson, Rush, Sablan, Sanchez, Robert “Bobby” Scott, Schakowsky, Shea-Porter, Speier, Sutton, B. Thompson, Tonko, Towns, Velazquez, Waters, Watson, Weiner, Welch, Woolsey, Wu.

Congressman Alan Grayson, D-Fla., today announced that 50 Members of Congress have signed on as cosponsors of his Medicare You Can Buy Into Act. The bill opens up Medicare for anyone who can pay for it.

Congressman Grayson said, “WOW! 50 cosponsors in less than 48 hours, including five Committee Chairs. I am thrilled, but not surprised, that so many of my colleagues support this bill. We all believe it deserves a vote.” Read more.

Health Reform and the Imaginary Conservative Majority


Health Reform and the Imaginary Conservative Majority
By Peter Hart | FAIR

One of the main assumptions of the final weeks of coverage of the congressional debate over healthcare reform was that the public was opposed to the White House plan. But some polling analysis shows that this wasn't the case. Barry Sussman noted this at the Nieman Watchdog on March 5. A McClatchy/Ipsos poll from late February told the usual tale: 41 percent supported the plan, 47 opposed. Sussman wrote:

But the pollsters went a step further, asking those opposed--509 people in all--if they were against the proposals because they "don't go far enough to reform healthcare" or because they go too far. Thirty-seven percent said it was because the proposals don't go far enough.

So a good number of those who answered in the negative were actually saying that they thought the White House was too timid. A subsequent CNN poll asked the same type of follow-up question, and found a similar result--as noted by the blogger Digby (3/24/10), Wolf Blitzer explained it to his CNN colleague Rick Sanchez like this:

Well, you know, when people are asked, we did that poll, CNN Opinion Research Poll, that said, "You like this healthcare bill, or not like it"; we just assumed, a lot of us, that the people who said they didn't like it didn't like it because it was too much interference, or too much taxes or whatever.

But if you take a closer look at people who didn't like it, about 12 percent of those people who said they didn't like it they didn't like it because they didn't think it went far enough. They wanted a single-payer option, they wanted the so-called public option, they didn't like not from the right, they didn't like it because it wasn't left or liberal enough.

That's how you got 50 percent of the American people who said, "we don't like this plan." But only about 40 or 38 percent were the ones who said it was too much government interference.

If reporters had understood and/0r explained this earlier, we could have had a very different debate. Then again, a corporate media that dismissed single-payer and derided the public option as out of the mainstream would be unlikely to do much better.

Noam Chomsky on Healthcare and the Media


Noam Chomsky on Healthcare and the Media
By Peter Hart | FAIR

Via an interview with Raw Story (3/22/10):

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor added that it's a damning referendum on American democracy that one of the most highly supported components of the effort nationally, the public insurance option, was jettisoned. He partly blamed the media for refusing to stress how favorably it's viewed by the populace.

"It didn't have 'political support,' just the support of the majority of the population," Chomsky quipped, "which apparently is not political support in our dysfunctional democracy."

The provision has consistently polled well, garnering the support of 60 percent of Americans across the nation in a CBS/New York Times poll released in December, days after it was eliminated from the reform package. Democratic leaders deemed it politically untenable.

"There should be headlines explaining why, for decades, what's been called politically impossible is what most of the public has wanted," Chomsky said. "There should be headlines explaining what that means about the political system and the media."

The Unbearable Lightness of Reform

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, t r u t h o u t

That wickedly satirical Ambrose Bierce described politics as "the conduct of public affairs for private advantage."

Bierce vanished to Mexico nearly a hundred years ago - to the relief of the American political class of his day, one assumes - but in an eerie way he was forecasting America's political culture today. It seems like most efforts to reform a system that's gone awry - to clean house and make a fresh start - end up benefiting the very people who wrecked it in the first place.

Which is why Bierce, in his classic little book, "The Devil's Dictionary," defined reform as "a thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation." So we got health care reform this week - but it's a far cry from reformation. You can't blame President Obama for celebrating what he did get - he and the Democrats needed some political points on the scoreboard. And imagine the mood in the White House if the vote had gone the other way; they would have been cutting wrists instead of cake.

Give the victors their due: the bill Obama signed expands coverage to many more people, stops some very ugly and immoral practices by the health insurance industry that should have been stopped long ago, and offers a framework for more change down the road, if there's any heart or will left to fight for it.

But reformation? Hardly. For all their screaming and gnashing of teeth, the insurance companies still make out like bandits. Millions of new customers, under penalty of law, will be required to buy the companies' policies, feeding the insatiable greed of their CEO's and filling the campaign coffers of the politicians they wine and dine. Profits are secure; they don't have to worry about competition from a public alternative to their cartel, and they can continue to scam us without fear of antitrust action.

The big drug companies bought their protection before the fight even began, when the White House agreed that if they supported Obama's brand of health care reform - not reformation - they could hold onto their monopoly. No imports of cheaper drugs from abroad, no prescriptions filled at a lower price by our friendly Canadian neighbors to the north.

READ MOREM.

Doctor-Starved: America's Heartland In Crisis

Doctor-starved: America's heartland in crisis
By Parija Kavilanz | CNN

For one doctor practicing in America's heartland, the new health care law and its incentives to keep doctors on the farm is a start, not a solution, to the medical care crisis afflicting rural America.

"It's good that there will be an increase in Medicare and Medicaid payments to primary care doctors who work in underserved areas," said Dr. Downs Little. "But there is still a lot of work to be done."

For Little, 60, these new measures came too late.

Little, a primary care internist, closed his Lottsburg Va.-based practice on Dec. 31. Lottsburg, located in Northumberland County, is in one of the nation's designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA).

The decision to shutter his practice after 10 years left 1,200 patients scrambling to find a new doctor and his wife Mary, a former banker who became his office administrator, three part-time clinicians and a full-time receptionist out of a job. Read more.

The Unbearable Lightness of Reform

The Unbearable Lightness of Reform
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship | Truthout

That wickedly satirical Ambrose Bierce described politics as "the conduct of public affairs for private advantage."

Bierce vanished to Mexico nearly a hundred years ago - to the relief of the American political class of his day, one assumes - but in an eerie way he was forecasting America's political culture today. It seems like most efforts to reform a system that's gone awry - to clean house and make a fresh start - end up benefiting the very people who wrecked it in the first place.

Which is why Bierce, in his classic little book, "The Devil's Dictionary," defined reform as "a thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation." So we got health care reform this week - but it's a far cry from reformation. You can't blame President Obama for celebrating what he did get - he and the Democrats needed some political points on the scoreboard. And imagine the mood in the White House if the vote had gone the other way; they would have been cutting wrists instead of cake.

Give the victors their due: the bill Obama signed expands coverage to many more people, stops some very ugly and immoral practices by the health insurance industry that should have been stopped long ago, and offers a framework for more change down the road, if there's any heart or will left to fight for it.

But reformation? Hardly. For all their screaming and gnashing of teeth, the insurance companies still make out like bandits. Millions of new customers, under penalty of law, will be required to buy the companies' policies, feeding the insatiable greed of their CEO's and filling the campaign coffers of the politicians they wine and dine. Profits are secure; they don't have to worry about competition from a public alternative to their cartel, and they can continue to scam us without fear of antitrust action. Read more.

Clunker Healthcare Bill Protects Private Insurers Damages Democracy

Clunker Healthcare Bill Protects Private Insurers Damages Democracy
By Billy Wharton | Counter Currents

Americans desperately need healthcare. The need is so desperate that many are buying into a “something is better than nothing” philosophy to support a healthcare bill that actively works against their own interests. The bill that Barack Obama plans to sign into law is being dubbed a “reform,” but actually amounts to a corporate restructuring that will solidify the reliance on the same private insurance companies that have caused the crisis in the nation’s healthcare system. As single-payer activist, Dr. Margaret Flowers stated, “The Democratic Party has now moved so far to the right that they have just passed a Republican health bill.” This is no surprise, private insurers and pharmaceutical companies have flooded the electoral system with money in order to guarantee their continued ability to accumulate profits.

Junk Healthcare Plans and the Race to the Bottom
At nearly 2,500 pages, the bill contains a myriad of loopholes that will allow private insurers to continue nearly all of the immoral practices that have, according to a Harvard University study, resulted in more than 40,000 deaths per year due to treatable conditions. In fact, private insurers will now receive taxpayer funds to subsidize the sale of junk healthcare plans that the group Physicians for a National Health Program estimates will only cover 70% of people’s medical needs. This will likely spark a race-to-the-bottom as employers look to provide the minimum amount of coverage possible, insurer’s grab ever-increasing chunks of public money and people continue to face the prospect of soaring out-of-pocket costs, deep medical debts and death from treatable illnesses.

However, Americans have adjusted to profit driven healthcare by avoiding it. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 6 out of 10 Americans had deferred or delayed what they understood as necessary medical treatment. To close this option, the Healthcare Bill lends the coercive power of government to private health insurers. For the first time in American history, citizens will be forced to purchase health insurance or face stiff annual fines. Such a mandate guarantees that millions of people will be herded into the new “health insurance exchanges,” an idea created by the Heritage Foundation, in order to fork over their money to private insurers. Estimates are that this will produce more than 20 million new customers for abusive insurers such as Humana, Oxford and Aetna. Read more.

Obamacare's Passage: A Full-Scale Retreat


Obamacare's Passage: A Full-Scale Retreat
By Stephen Lendman

After eight years under George Bush, people demanded change. Obama and congressional Democrats promised it, then disappointed by accomplishing the impossible - governing worse than skeptics feared, worse than Republicans across the board on both domestic and foreign policies.

They looted the nation's wealth, wrecked the economy, consigned millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures while expanding global militarism through imperial wars, occupations, and stepped up aggression on new fronts with the largest ever "war" budget in history - way over $1 trillion dollars annually plus supplementals and secret add-ons, greater than the rest of the world combined when America has no enemies.

Now the latest. March 21 will be remembered as a day of infamy, the day House Democrat leaders bullied, bribed, cajoled, muscled, and jerry-rigged Obamacare to pass, despite most Americans opposing it with good reason.

K Street Reaps Major Rewards Lobbying On Healthcare Legislation

K Street reaps major rewards lobbying on healthcare legislation
By Jim Snyder | The Hill

K Street appears to have cashed in on the lengthy battle over healthcare reform.

About 1,750 businesses and organizations spent at least $1.2 billion in 2009 to lobby on health reform and other issues, according to a study from the Center for Public Integrity released Friday. A precise figure isn’t available because lobbying disclosure forms don’t require companies or other groups to itemize how much they spend to lobby on a particular issue.

See the Center’s study here. Read more of the Hill's article.

Health Costs For Companies

Companies using "squishy numbers" for "double" tax deduction, now taken away under new health insurance reform. Does the IRS allow you to "estimate" your figures?

What President Obama Didn't Say

What President Obama Didn't Say
By Dennis Kucinich | Esquire

The gentleman from Ohio — the last man standing on health care, as he put it in this conversation with Esquire.com just before Sunday's vote — reveals the personal moments behind his decision, and how the fate of a nation, if not a presidency, could have turned out a lot differently had he said "no"

The meeting that took place on Air Force One was the fourth in a series of meetings that I had attended with the president in the last few months. There was a meeting on March 4 where the president called nine members to the Roosevelt Room at the White House, and eight of the members had voted for the bill when it passed the House last fall. I was the only one who voted against the bill. I thanked the president for inviting me even though I was a "no" vote. And in the more than hour-long meeting, the president covered a lot of territory about what he thought was important to consider. I sat quietly and listened carefully and took some notes. And at the end of the meeting, you know, we thanked each other, and I left.

When I arrived home that evening — March 4 — I still had this deep sense of compassion for the president for what he was struggling with in trying to pass the bill. And it was very clear to me that there was a lot on the line here — that he didn't say. I was just thinking about the scope of American history, and here's a president who's trying to do something, even if I don't agree with him. I told my wife, "You know I kinda feel bad about the situation he's in here. This is really a tough situation — his presidency is on the line." And I had a sense of sadness about what I saw him grappling with. I still maintained my position, still went forward in debates, arguing in meetings, arguing against the bill because it didn't have a public option, didn't have an opening for the states to pursue single-payer in a free manner. But at the same time I kinda remember the feeling that I had about watching him as he was dealing with this and, you know, trying to do what he felt was best for the nation.

Now keep something in mind about my relationship with President Obama: He and I campaigned together. A meeting with the president is always important — he and I have met dozens of times, during the campaign and since he became president — but we've met on many occasions. Four or five times about health care. So the relationship I have with him is a little bit different than other members who weren't on the campaign trail with him and who hadn't developed a relationship with him apart from the relationship that members of Congress ordinarily have with the president.

So I was really looking at Barack Obama the man, and thinking about his presidency. I've had differences of opinion with him on a number of issues. But I understand how this is a pivotal moment in America, and in his presidency. It's also a pivotal moment in American history. Of course, I carried that awareness with me into the next meeting, which took place on Air Force One on the fifteenth of March. Last Monday. So much has happened in just one week, but during that time, there had been a lot of speculation. I had done many interviews attacking the bill for its well-publicized shortcomings and I was not relenting. After we met on Air Force One, I didn't tell the president that "Look, I'm changing my position — you got me." We didn't have that discussion. Read more.

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