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Analysis Last Updated: Jul 24th, 2009 - 00:36:57

Healthcare double-talk from Obama
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Jul 24, 2009, 00:20

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To listen to Obama double-talk and stumble his way through his proposed no-plan for healthcare reform, including a boast that Big Pharma was putting $80 billion on the table to reduce the donut hole by half in Medicare Part D for drugs, was the icing on the no-cake.

He didn�t even know the Part-D RX numbers. Here they are. If you should be so unlucky as to reach $2,700 spent on prescriptions during a yearly coverage period, the next $4,350 comes out of your pocket. That�s the donut hole, like the rabbit hole. Any costs beyond that, if you�re still alive in that period, are all taken care of. Bully, bully for Big Pharma. How about no donut hole, boys, especially since Medicare was not allowed by Bush to bargain with you on drug prices, unlike Medicaid or the Veterans� Administration? Your feeding frenzy should be over, period.

Then we had Obama boasting about the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPac) to determine cuts and changes to Medicare. This was the very rich Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller�s proposal, as Lyndon LaRouche pointed out in Nero Obama Personally Pushes Fascist T-4 Policy. He writes, �What Obama is proposing, as now included in the House legislation, is a five-member council, which would make two annual reports dictating updated rates for Medicare providers. Congress could block the recommendations only if lawmakers agreed within 30 days on a resolution. As envisioned under the White House draft, the new council would be appointed by the president, personally, with the consent of the Senate; those confirmed would serve terms of five years.

�The council would be authorized to make broad recommendations for reform in Medicare, but its chief role would be to help set payment rates for Part A and Part B services for the elderly. By Dec. 31 each year, it would submit a package for Part B, covering physicians, home health, and durable medical equipment. By Oct. 1, a package would be due for Part A, covering hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

�The recommendations would go to the White House, and within 30 days, the president would be required to send a message to Congress reflecting his approval or disapproval. The president�s discretion would be limited, in that he would have to give an up-or-down on the entire package, not pieces of it. But he would have an effective veto and more leeway than Congress, which would have 30 days to obtain majorities in both houses and overcome a potential Senate filibuster.

�But of course, since the president is appointing the council to carry out his agenda, there is little chance that he would disapprove of the recommendations from people serving at his discretion. In reality, the proposal would make Obama fascist dictator over what categories of elderly American citizens would be allowed to live and which to die . . .

�The Obama plan is modeled on the order personally written and signed by Hitler in 1939, which set up the Tiergarten 4 board which Hitler mandated to cut health costs by denying health care to those whose lives Hitler and the board determined were not worth living.� Love that Lyndon. He calls it like it is.

Apart from the undemocratic nature of this notion, who are the five appointees going to be? Insurance folks, HMO consultants, doctors, lobbyists, left- and right-wing elites who have no great affection for the poor, the average man, the down-on-their-luck?

Beyond that, Obama was still toying with his Mandated Plan for Insurance (like car insurance), which would cover 97 percent of our citizens (with the government paying for the rest). The hitch is if you can afford a car, generally (but not always) people can afford insurance. If you can barely afford to make ends meet, where is the money going to come for to pay for ever-rising insurance fees, if not from the government, via emergency rooms and the like? It is also going to keep the burden on middle-class families to pay the big insurance companies their rising fees for lowering services.

Of course, the saving grace he offers up is the Public Option, that is, a government-sponsored healthcare plan. In fact, this is a watered down version of single-payer healthcare, which he originally dabbled with, and that he lost the will to fight for. Single-payer healthcare is really the way to go. See my Online Journal article, The enemies of America�s real healthcare reform. I believe the article argues fairly, cogently and factually for single-payer healthcare. Perhaps, that is its fault. It�s reasonable and real, unfit for the surreal halls of DC power.

The advantage that single-payer healthcare has over The Public Option is that it would oblige all working people and their employers to pay into it as well as employers, like Social Security does, which subsequently provides Medicare. By definition, single-payer healthcare widens the net of participants, thereby affording efficiencies of buying-power, service, cost and administration. It functions like Medicare and/or the Veterans Administration, and Medicaid, that is, it has a single payer that serves large numbers of Americans effectively.

The Public Option, as Obama explained it, would co-exist in free-market competition with all the bells, whistles and gimmickry of traditional insurance company health plans, including their HMOs, PPOs, and general money-sucking greed. The Public Option will get lost in the field, given the advertising, PR, and lobbying clout of the big insurance companies. They�ll make it look like a sad third cousin to �real insurance.�

Again, single-payer, universal healthcare would spread a wider net, as it does in Canada, Australia, and France, to mention a few countries in which single-payer healthcare works like gangbusters. It�s not socialism, it�s just good sense. So don�t let people scare you with those boogeyman words. In fact, let me borrow some simple healthcare statistics from my earlier piece. . . .

As Wikepedia tells us, �In 2005, Americans spent an estimated US$6,401 per capita on health care, while Canadians spent US$3,326. This amounted to 15.3 percent of U.S GDP in that year, while Canada spent 9.8 percent of GDP on health care.�

You might ask yourself �where did nearly half of the US per capita dollars go?� Was it in superior health care? I think not.

�A 2007 review of all studies comparing health outcomes in Canada and the U.S. found that health outcomes may be superior in patients cared for in Canada versus the United States, but differences are not consistent.� Even with that questionable caveat, if the Canadian medical outcomes tend to be superior, why are they paying half the per capita dollars we are while we�re paying double for inferior healthcare?

In fact Wiki says, �The U.S. ranks 42nd in the world for low infant mortality, 46th in life expectancy, between Cyprus and Denmark, and 37th in health system performance, between Costa Rica and Slovenia.� Abominable, isn�t it? But how could this be? Read on . . .

�Advocates say that a U.S. single-payer health care system would provide universal coverage, give patients free choice of providers and hospitals, and guarantee comprehensive coverage and equal access for all medically necessary procedures, without increasing overall spending. Shifting to a single-payer system would eliminate oversight by managed care reviewers, restoring the traditional doctor-patient relationship.� Alas, at last a breath of fresh air and hope.�

Okay, so what are we waiting for? The politics to go away, the Blue Dog Democrats to slink under their seats, the lobbyists for Big Insurance, Big Pharma, the AMA, to back off? If Obama was the man we elected thinking him to be; if he exercised the will and intelligence we thought he had; if he had the guts we thought he had to put his political cash where his mouth was, he would go for what his first instincts led him to: Single-payer healthcare.

As to the economics of it, take another look at those above statistics. The Canadians are spending half the per capita healthcare dollars we do and are getting considerably better healthcare. For those Canadian elitists, who must have the nose-job they want when they want it, there are some private health plans, hospitals and doctors available. Nevertheless, the majority of Canadians are very happy with their single-payer, universal health coverage. And that�s a fact, not opinion.

Also, with single-payer healthcare, doctors can be paid through fee-schedules, or they can be salaried, as they are in many countries.

So if economics were really the focus here, this decision would be a no-brainer. In fact, Obama would not have pulled back on a healthcare tax surcharge on families that earned $350,000 or more, certainly a tidy sum for most families to live on. He wouldn�t have succumbed to Nancy Pelosi�s request to change that surcharge figure only to families earning $1 million or more. I mean, Madame Speaker, why not push it back to families like you and the hubby, who have seven or eight figure incomes, or like Warren Buffet�s, with a string of zeros like a strand of pearls.

So, get wise folks. What you saw last night (and should be congratulated for watching) was the Wizard of Oz performing at what passed for a press conference on a healthcare plan. Not that his Republican friends are any better; they�re still ranting about cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and benefits for the soldiers who get busted up bravely fighting our dirty wars; the same Repugs who are so eager to wave the flag, send troops hither and thither, and pillage, along with many Dems like Senator Baucus, the donations from health care lobbyists, insurance companies, Big Pharma, et al.

If you take one thing from this review, and only one thing, it�s that we have to take the profit-makers out of healthcare. Healthcare is a calling. It provides good to excellent incomes for doctors, nurses, hospital personnel. It doesn�t have to fatten the bottom lines of already over-bloated insurance companies, so they can make their Wall Street buddies richer than rich. That�s blood money, our blood. Just remember that. Single-payer health care is a nation working together to keep costs down and quality healthcare up! Go for it. Your deserve it. You�re beautiful people.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at His new book, State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 on� is available at, Amazon or

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