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Health Last Updated: Mar 26th, 2010 - 12:01:34

Thanks for nothing, Mr. �Health Care Reform� President
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Mar 26, 2010, 00:28

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If the Bobblehead Democratic president and his pals have stopped bowing for a minute after signing the new �Healthcare Reform Bill,� let me just read him an email I received from writer William Carlotti.

�The following is a statement issued by an association of 17,000 physicians (from 43 states) who are critical of the current health care legislation and who support single-payer national health insurance. Read their statement and call 312 782-6006 for accurate information about health care legislation or go to their website,�

Let me fill you in on the most egregious misrepresentations in the current bill.

What�s more, even though I�m already on record as a diehard advocate of single-payer healthcare, Physicians for a National Plan gave me even more reasons to follow my convictions. According to the good doctors, �Instead of eliminating the root of the problem -- the profit-driven, private health insurance industry -- this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers� defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.� Well, isn�t that special? And their claim is supported by facts, not empty rhetoric.

If you can grasp this, �about 23 million Americans will stay uninsured for the next nine years. That figure will translate into an estimated 23,000 deaths each year and an incalculable amount of suffering.� Could that be the first time the president has heard that?

The doctors tell us, �Millions of middle-income Americans will be pressured to buy commercial health insurance policies costing up to 9.5 percent of their income but covering an average of just 70 percent of their medical expenses.� How about that? Nearly 10 percent higher premiums for less coverage: �that will leave them [us] at risk to financial ruin if they [we] become seriously ill. What�s more, many will find these policies just too expensive to afford. If they do buy them, they�ll be too expensive to use thanks to the high co-pays and deductible.� So you�re snookered two ways.

And Big Insurance �firms will be handed at least $447 billion in taxpayer money to subsidize the purchase of their shoddy products. This money will increase their financial and political power and their ability to block future reform.� There�s a winning trifecta for you for the corruption not reform of healthcare.

And for my fellow retirees, �The bill will suck about $40 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the tens of millions of people who will remain uninsured.� As Bernanke quoted bank robber Willie Sutton, �The money is in the bank.� And the bank is Medicare, so that�s where they�ll steal it from, as well as from Social Security, the other bank that hasn�t failed in more than 70 years.

To boot, �people with employer-based coverage will be locked into their plan�s limited network of providers and face ever-rising costs and erosion of their health benefits. Many, actually most, will eventually face steep taxes on their benefits as the cost of insurance continues to grow.� So Big Insurance will have two new ways to pick employers� pockets: higher premiums, taxes on benefits, just as with Social Security.

Of course, �health care costs will continue to skyrocket, as the experience with the Massachusetts plan (after which this bill is patterned) amply demonstrates.� I suppose the thinking is if it worked terribly one time, why not try it again. Or perhaps it�s too big to fail now.

And if you were looking for reform, �the much-vaulted insurance regulations, for example -- ending denials on the basis of pre-existing conditions -- are riddled with loopholes, thanks to the major role that insurers played in �crafting the legislation.�� In fact, �older people can be charged up to three times more than their younger counterparts, and large companies with a predominantly female workforce can be charged higher, gender-based rates at least unto 2017.� There�s nothing like a little age and gender discrimination, except some more.

�Women�s reproductive rights will be further eroded, thanks to the burdensome segregation of insurance funds for abortion and for all other medical services.�

Now isn�t that better? Not. Not now. Not in 2017. Not ever. That�s not reform, that�s dissimulation, retrogression, sliding into nowhere.

But then, as the good doctors point out, �It really didn�t have to be like this. Whatever salutary measures are in this bill, e.g., additional funding for community health centers could have been enacted on a stand-alone basis.�

For instance, �the expansion of Medicaid -- a sadly underfunded program that offers substandard care for the poor -- could have handled separately, along with an increase in federal appropriations to upgrade its quality. The notion should have been to make health-care better not worse for the poor." This was not �the change� for which we were looking.

Instead, �the Congress and the Obama administration [eager to get �something� on their resumes] have burdened Americans with an expensive package of onerous individual mandates, plus new takes on workers� health plans, and countless sweetheart deals with the insurance companies and Big Pharma. These will perpetuate the fragmentation, dysfunctional and unsustainable system that is taking such a heavy toll on our health and economy today.� Don�t hold back guys. Tell us how you really feel.

�This bill�s passage reflects political considerations, not sound health policy. As physicians, we cannot accept this inversion of priorities. We seek evidence-based remedies that will truly help our patients, not placebos.� That makes sense.

�A genuine remedy is in plain sight. Sooner rather than later, our nation will have to adopt a single-payers nation health insurance program, an improved Medicare for all. Only a single-payer plan can assure truly universal, comprehensive and affordable care to all.� Here, here. Now we�re talking. But what about funding?

�By replacing the private insurers with a streamlined system of public financing, our nation could save $400 billion annually in unnecessary, wasteful administrative costs. That�s enough to cover all the uninsured and to upgrade everyone else�s coverage without having to increase overall U.S. health spending by one penny.� I�ll take it.

�What�s more, only a single-payer system offers effective tools for cost control like bulk purchasing, negotiated fees, global hospital budgeting and capital planning.� And it certainly won�t lead America down the road to socialism. If anything, it will lead America down the road to better health for all our citizens at a substantially lower cost.

�Polls show nearly two-thirds of the public supports such an approach, and a recent survey shows 59 percent of U.S. physicians support government action to establish national health insurance. All that is required to achieve it is the political will.� Perhaps the power of the people�s voice can supply that to the president.

�The major provisions of the present bill do not go into effect until 2014. Although we will be counseled to �wait and see� how this reform pays out, we cannot wait, nor can our patients. The stakes are too high. We pledge to continue our work for the only equitable, financially responsible and humane remedy for our health care mess: single-payer national health insurance, an expanded and improved Medicare for All.� Amen is all I can say.

Again, the facts quoted in this document were gathered by some 17,000 doctors from around the US whose sole purpose is to improve America�s health care and temper its costs via a universal, single-payer healthcare system. I fully support their efforts, commend their courage in speaking out, and offer their information to my readership. Below are the names of the board of Physicians for a National Health Plan, bless each and every one of them . . .

Oliver Fein, M.D.

Garrett Adams, M.D.

Claudia Fegan, M.D.
Past President

Margaret Flowers, M.D.
Congressional Fellow

David Himmelstein, M.D.

Steffie Woolhandler, M.D.

Quentin Young, M.D.
National Coordinator

Don McCanne, M.D.
Senior Health Policy Fellow

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of 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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