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Obama’s Health Care Charade

Obama’s Health Care Charade
by Glen Ford | Black Agenda Report

“Since the first days of his administration, Obama has methodically erased single-payer advocates from the picture.”

The president feigns amazement at popular demands for a change in the industrial world’s most expensive and dysfunctional health care system. "We're doing some stuff on health care because I think the country is geared up, businesses are geared up, families are geared up to go ahead and start solving some our extraordinary health care system problems," Obama fairly gushed, as if his own corporate-friendly proposals accurately reflect the public will. In reality, the Administration is engaged in an elaborate charade designed to sidetrack, possibly for decades, the most broadly supported idea in American politics, today: single-payer health care.

Obama has gone to extraordinary lengths to suppress advocates of a single-payer or “Medicare for all” system, which polls have consistently shown to be favored by at least six in ten Americans, including majorities of doctors and other health care professionals. HMOs, insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations rank among the most despised institutions in the land – causing Obama to take on the mission of saving them from the public’s wrath. As the reigning impresario of theatrical faux-change, Obama choreographed last weekend’s parade of industry troglodytes (and one very wayward union) promising to “save” the homeland from their predatory selves to the tune of $2 trillion over the next ten years by reducing the growth of the percentage they gouge from the economy.

We’ve Lit a Fire, Now We Need to Fan It: A Populist Health Care Rebellion is Brewing

We’ve Lit a Fire, Now We Need to Fan It
A Populist Health Care Rebellion is Brewing
By Kevin Zeese | Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics

Last week when I was one of the Baucus Eight, so-named because eight of us were arrested before Sen. Baucus, I hopped others would join us. Yesterday, they did. And, the single payer movement grew stronger.

Before the hearing I joined nearly 50 people in a spirited protest outside the U.S. senate letting all who entered know we wanted a single payer national health care plan.

And, inside there were a series of protests.

As the hearing began, and Sen. Baucus was speaking a group of about 30 nurses, dressed in their red hospital uniforms, stood up and turned their backs on Baucus. They had pinned to their backs: “Nurses Say: Stop AHIP. Pass Single Payer.” (AHIP is America’s Health Insurance Plans – the health insurance industry lobby.)

MASH's Mike Farrell, Actress Mimi Kennedy & PDA Director Tim Carpenter Speak on Single-Payer Health Insurance

One of the speakers at a Capitol Hill rally, on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, advocating for a Single Payer Healthcare System was actor Mike Farrell. Mr. Farrell is a long time champion of progressive causes and a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: “Healthcare is a Civil Right!”

At a press conference, on Capitol Hill, on May 13, 2009, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) spoke out strongly for a single payer healthcare system. He said: “Healthcare is a Civil Right!”

Kucinich Denounces "Game Changing" Insurance "Savings" As Unconscionable Rip-Off

This actually made it onto NPR (and of course includes lengthy nonsensical opposition to single-payer): Listen here.

Baucus Arrests Five More Doctors, Nurses, Activists

By David Swanson

Dr. Margaret Flowers, who was arrested along with seven others at the first Senate Finance Committee hearing on healthcare, just phoned me from the second one. As Chairman Max Baucus called the hearing to order, about 20 members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) stood and turned their backs on the committee. Pasted on their backs were signs reading: "Nurses Say: Patients First," "Stop AHIP," (referring to health insurance lobbyists), "Pass Single Payer."

Healthcare Baucus Style

Tuesday morning, Max Baucus's Senate Finance Committee will again hear from healthcare "stake holders," among whom there will not be a single supporter of single-payer healthcare. Among the non-stakeholders, including the American people, things could be better:

Here are the US rankings out of the 30 OECD countries (1 is best; 30 is worst -- worst as in Somalia-like). The names of the countries even more Somalian than the US appear in parens.

Infant Deaths: 28 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey).

Life Expectancy: 24 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Czech & Slovak Republics).

Health Expenditures: 1 out of 30.

Poverty Rates: 28 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey).

Child Poverty: 27 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Poland).

Income Inequality: 27 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Portugal).

Obesity: 30 out of 30.

Incarceration: 30 out of 30.

Work Hours (ranked in ascending order): 30 out of 30.

Height (women): 25 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Korea, Portugal, Japan).

Height (men): 24 out of 30 (Italy, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Korea, Japan).

Max Baucus Should Not Be Deciding Health Care for America

Max Baucus Should Not Be Deciding Health Care for America
The “Senator for K Street” is Putting Campaign Donor Profits Ahead of the Basic Needs of the People
By Kevin Zeese | ProsperityAgenda.US

Senator Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee are too corrupted by corporate health industry profiteers donations to give America the health care policy it needs.

Health care is 15% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Health care costs have been rising rapidly for several years. U.S. health care expenditures surpassed $2.4 trillion in 2007, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990. The cost of health care is projected to reach $4.4 trillion by 2018. There is a lot of room for corporate profiteering in the increasing cost of health care. So, the millions the health care industry has invested in Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee could turn out to be a very profitable one.

All Out Effort: Put Single-payer Healthcare “On the Table”

All Out Effort: Put Single-payer Healthcare “On the Table”

It's National Nurses Week, and we’re joining the California Nurses Association in Washington, D.C. to promote single-payer healthcare. We need your help!

Please make 2 calls TODAY to get single-payer experts into the Senate Finance Committee Roundtable discussion!

This Tuesday, May 12, the Senate Finance Subcommittee is holding its final roundtable on healthcare reform. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee has issued a request to include Roseann Demoro, Executive Director of CNA/NNOC and longtime leader in the single-payer movement. PNHP has formally submitted the names of two outstanding physicians, Drs. Marcia Angell and Steffie Woolhandler, to testify as expert witnesses.

Please call Sen. Baucus' office in Washington at 202-224-2651, or fax him at (202) 224-9412, and urge him to extend the invitations.

Stop the Single Payer Shut-out!

Stop the Single Payer Shut-out!
by Ralph Nader | Common

Among the giant taboos afflicting Congress these days is the proposal to create a single payer health insurance system (often called full Medicare for everyone).

How can this be? Don't the elected politicians represent the people? Don't they always have their finger to the wind?

Well, single payer is only supported by a majority of the American people, physicians and nurses. They like the idea of public funding and private delivery. They like the free choice of doctors and hospitals that many are now denied by the HMOs.

Statement from the Baucus 8

Why we risked arrest for single-payer health care
By Margaret Flowers, M.D.

On May 5, eight health care advocates, including myself and two other physicians, stood up to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the Senate Finance Committee during a “public roundtable discussion” with a simple question: Will you allow an advocate for a single-payer national health plan to have a seat at the table?

The answer was a loud, “Get more police!” And we were arrested and hauled off to jail.

The fact that a national health insurance program is supported by the majority of the public, doctors and nurses apparently means nothing to Sen. Baucus. The fact that thousands of people in America are dying every year because they can’t get health care means nothing. The fact that over 1 million Americans go into bankruptcy every year due to medical debt – even though most of them had insurance when they got sick – means nothing.

Bernie Sanders on Ed Show: "Dems Have Super-Majority To Demand Single-Payer Universal Health Care"

Broadcast 04/29/09, as posted at Health Care Now!

National Lobby Day and Rally for Single-Payer in DC, Wednesday, May 13, noon-2 PM, Upper Senate Park, Washington, DC

Sebelius Aims To Settle Concerns About Single-Payer Health System

Michael Munk details Obama's political odyssey on his single-payer health care positions:

According to Quentin Young, MD, whose partner in his practice has been Barack Obama's personal physician since the Senator moved into Hyde Park, in Obama's early years in politics, he used to say he was all for single-payer. Then in 2006, the Senator started to say he was still for it, but that it would never happen without a solid Democrat majority in Congress. Then during the presidential campaign, he said that that option would be included in the mix of plans he supported.

Today, he finally made it clear that now he is committed to protecting the profits of health insurance companies and was opposed to single payer! Read on...

Sebelius Aims To Settle Concerns About Single-Payer Health System | | Submitted by Michael Munk |

At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the Obama administration does not support taking over the health care system entirely, but hopes to create a public insurance option that would compete with private insurers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

She said, "Dismantling the private market and having an entirely public option, a single-payer system, I think is not something that the president supports."

Baucus v. Democracy

By David Swanson

I can't recall a better corporate news video segment in at least the past decade than the story that Ed Schultz just aired on MSNBC in which he interviews Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and Senator Debbie Stabenow on the topic of healthcare reform.

Here's video.

Sure, Ed slaps a gratuitous insult on the heroines of Code Pink, says he's against protesting and "getting arrested" as a rule but thinks it's OK if doctors in suits and "educated professional people" do it, and pretends to believe (or actually believes) that President Obama favors considering the possibility of creating single-payer healthcare. But the heart of this story is the gaping chasm between majority opinion and the corporate agenda of the United States Senate. And Ed Schultz hits it out of the park.

Taxpayers Funding the 'Good Life' for Criminals

Taxpayers Funding the 'Good Life' for Criminals
Medicare Fraudster Said He Could Rip Off Government Millions in Just Months
By Pierre Thomas, Jack Date and Theresa Cook |

"It's faster and easier than selling drugs."

Those are the words of a convict, once a Miami drug dealer, who left the street life to participate in a scheme to make even bigger money: Medicare fraud.

And it worked. In seven years, he estimates he made about $8 million....

Single-Payer Health Care Advocates Excluded, Arrested at Capitol Hill Hearing

On May 5, 2009, eight activists were arrested at a health care hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, in the Dirksen Office Building, Room 106. As soon as the Committee Chair, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), opened the proceedings, the activists began in turns to stand and to make comments, like: "Why isnt a single payer at the table?" They were immediately "escorted" out of the room by the Capitol Hill police and placed under arrest.

Click "Read more."

Pay to Play Politics is Unacceptable for Health Care Reform

By Kevin Zeese

Yesterday morning, eight doctors, lawyers and other activists stood up for single payer health care. We stood up during a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. The hearing was only to hear from the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, HMO’s and business interests. They did not want to hear about a real national health care plan.

I was one of the eight.

We stood up to the private health insurance industry, to the corporate power in Congress and demanded a single payer national health care plan where everybody is in and nobody is out. We want a plan that ensures the peoples right to choose their own doctor, hospital and health care treatment. We want a plan that will control costs – something that cannot be done unless the insurance industry, HMO’s and pharmaceutical companies are challenged.

Single Payer Heros

By Clark Newhall Dr. Margaret Flowers and other single payer advocates took direct action this morning and got carted off to jail. Fifteen of our allies demanded to know why single payer ws not even allowed a seat at the table yesterday during 'Mad Max" Baucus's Senate Finance Committee sham hearing on insurance-company-friendly fake 'reform."

Notably, Baucus made mouth noises about the 'respect' he has for single payer advocates. Apparently , his respect does not extend to allowing our ideas to be heard in Congress. Meantime, his Senatorial colleagues were joking and laughing about the protest, paying it no attention. Yet, the clowns at the testimony table, including Karen Ignoble Ignani, were accorded the greatest respect by the clowns at the hearing table. Margaret and those who were with you -- you are HEROES.

You make us proud. Each of us can take a lesson from you and each of us must do what we feel is the most we can do. Without all of us acting together, more millions will die through the mis-managed and neglectful health insurance driven non-system. Baucus, your hypocrisy makes me ill. Obama, you are complicit in this crap.Journalists, your silence on single payer shows where your real professional allegiance lies -- in your pockets with the big business money that lines them.

Here are the folks who were arrested this morning: Katie Robbins, Russell Mokhiber, Kevin Zeese, Carol Paris, Margaret Flowers, Mark Dudzic, Jean Fox (?), Adam Schneider.

Get Them Out: Rotten Apples in Congressional Witness Bushel on Health Reform

Get Them Out: Rotten Apples in Congressional Witness Bushel on Health Reform
By Donna Smith | Common Dreams

One example of the terribly biased testimonies being taken is that of the testimony submitted by Richard Scott to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, subcommittee on health, on March 24, 2009. Mr. Scott reports that he was asked to submit his testimony to the committee. On his website, Conservatives for Patient Rights, Scott touts his own experience in the delivery of healthcare in this nation as reason enough to consider him an expert....$1.7 billion with a great big "B" was paid by HCA to resolve the Medicare and Medicaid fraud mess orchestrated under Mr. Scott's watch who walked away with his own sweet deal. The largest Medicare and Medicaid fraud case in U.S. history, an investigation of over 10 years and he walks away with hundreds of millions of dollars only to return as one of our current expert witnesses on health reform? Whew. That's an epic award and an epic injustice.

Many know by now that a single payer healthcare system is the type of reform most widely supported by the American people and a majority of nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals. Many also know that Congress has so far deftly and purposely shunned most expert witnesses who would offer evidence in favor of that publicly funded, privately delivered system. The media has also done its part to keep the message targeted away from single payer as recent independent studies showed how the mainstream media did its level best to keep big insurance and pharmaceutical advertisers happy by not reporting fairly on the topic.

Give Everyone Healthcare By Shutting Down Insurance Companies

By David Swanson

Our nation has more money than any other, more weapons than all the others combined, and a majority of its citizens believing it is, in some undefined sense, superior. But the people who live in the United States trail many other nations in basic measures of health and well-being. Almost uniquely among wealthy nations, we leave tens of millions of our citizens without health coverage, and many times that number with insufficient -- albeit expensive -- health insurance. We pay more per capita than anybody else for healthcare, and we get dramatically less for it. What gives?

Group Mobilizes for Single Payer Health Care With Faxes, Farrell, Cyber March on DC, & More

1Payer.Net reports:

We are well on our way to another Washington Wipeout Weekend!! Since last night, we have sent over 2000 faxes to senators on the Finance Committee, asking for real hearings instead of sham and real reform instead of fake. This time, our LCGHC friends at Progressive Democrats, HealthCare Now and PNHP are joining in too. If you haven't sent your fax yet, send a FREE FAX NOW. If you have sent your fax, SEND ANOTHER FREE FAX NOW.

More Great News. The Mike Farrell ad "Don't Sell Us Short" opened on national TV last night. The ad is competing for spots on Chris Matthews Hardball, Larry King Live and Meet The Press. Every time it runs there is a big spike in calls to our "Call the White House" 800 number (800-578-4171; you can call too.)

Join us in a 'CyberMarch' on Washington on May 30, 2009. We want Medicare for All -- health care for every American! Sign Up today and choose your avatar who will go to Washington for you on May 30. Your avatar will join others to demand that insurance companies be removed from health care.

The Virtual March on Washington is an important and fun way to show your support for universal single payer health care. Click here to be a part of it!

Obama is Cutting Sen. Specter Too Much Slack

By Dave Lindorff

President Barack Obama was so obviously pleased to have five-term Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announce that he was switching party affiliation and joining the Democratic Party that the president missed an opportunity to make sure that his new BFF in the Senate was also a backer of the issues that Obama ran on in the presidential campaign.

Indeed, while President Obama was quick to offer Sen. Specter his backing and even to offer to help him with fund-raising in his quest for re-election in 2010, he said nothing at all about any quid-pro-quo.

This is not only unfortunate. It is irresponsible.

Sen. Specter, for all his claims to be an independent thinker, has over the years voted at lease 65% of the time with his Republican colleagues in the Senate—a support level for Republican positions that exceeds that of two of his Republican colleagues from Maine, Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins.

Progressive Caucus Meets With President Obama on Health Care Reform and Supplemental Funding for Iraq & Afghanistan Operations

Progressive Caucus Meets With President Obama on Health Care Reform and Supplemental Funding for Iraq & Afghanistan Operations | Press Release

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) this afternoon met with President Obama in a wide ranging discussion at the White House. The meeting was largely focused on discussions regarding healthcare reform and the upcoming supplemental appropriations request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Earlier this month the CPC Co-Chairs wrote to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid to urge inclusion of a robust public health insurance plan like Medicare, at a minimum, in any final health care reform bill.

Caucuses Unite Behind Public Health Insurance Plan Option

Caucuses Unite Behind Public Health Insurance Plan Option | Press Release

(Washington DC) – In an unprecedented initiative, the leaders of four prominent groups in the 111th Congress – the Progressive Caucus (CPC), the Black Caucus (CBC), the Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and the Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) – have sent a joint letters to President Obama (ATTACHED) and the Democratic Leadership of the House and Senate stressing that ‘our support for enacting legislation this year to guarantee affordable health care for all firmly hinges on the inclusion of a robust public health insurance plan like Medicare.’

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