Nudging Obama

Formerly "Obama Watch" Keeping the promise of change

Obama’s Pretense of Health Reform

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No More Pretense for Health Reform

CBO Estimates 36 million will still be uninsured ten years from now under most robust Democratic Plan

The cloudy rhetoric of “universal health care” is being clarified with the first Congressional Budget Office initial scoring of a health care bill. The two key issues of cost and coverage are not going to be solved with the health care reform being considered.

The CBO scored the Kennedy-Dodd proposal, the most robust of the reform proposals actually being considered, and the bottom line is that it will leave 36 million without coverage a decade from now. That is not what the Democrats and Obama have been promising. It is nowhere near universal coverage.

According to the CBO, “Once the proposal was fully implemented, about 39 million individuals would obtain coverage through the new insurance exchanges. At the same time, the number of people who had coverage through an employer would decline by about 15 million (or roughly 10 percent), and coverage from other sources would fall by about 8 million, so the net decrease in the number of people uninsured would be about 16 million.”

And, the Obama administration has sent word to Democrats to stop using the phrase “universal coverage.” Lynn Sweet reports in the Chicago Sun-Times:

In discussing a ‘public option,’ Obama’s message team is telling Democrats on Capitol Hill to avoid using the phrase ‘universal coverage’ because that phrase is often associated with a single-payer system, which is often associated with ‘socialism,’ which the Obama administration does not support. The Obama team-approved language is instead to talk about ‘guaranteed health care,’ a phrase that is less polarizing.

Guaranteed health care is just another empty marketing phrase by the eloquent, teleprompter wordsmiths in the Obama administration. Despite the new rhetoric there is no guarantee of health care in any of the proposals being considered.

The “universal coverage” phrase was always used by Democrats who opposed single payer as a phrase to confuse the voters. Universal coverage sure sounds like it achieves the goal of single payer — providing health care for all. But, it was always merely a marketing tool. Now that the Democrats and Obama have kept single payer boxed up and removed from consideration they can abandon this PR phrase for fear of looking too “socialist.”

As to cost, the CBO reports $10 trillion in new expenses over ten years. Yes, some will get lower premiums, but that is just a shifting of costs from premiums to taxes. We will still be paying for wasteful and over-priced health care — still paying more per person than any country in the world — just out of a different pocket.

The failure to confront the waste of the multi-payer, profit-oriented insurance-based system ensures that costs will not be controlled. Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the New York Times that, “The entire discussion has to be centered on controlling or reducing costs.” In fact, if the real goal were to reduce costs, single payer would have been the model they used.

But, the goal is not to control costs; it is to preserve the profits of their donors. Health professionals gave Obama $11,532,962 and the insurance industry donors gave the Obama campaign $2,211,348. The Obama administration’s approach puts their interests ahead of the necessities of the American people and of the American economy.

In his speech to the AMA Obama made the point crisply, “If we do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of GM — paying more, getting less and going broke.” But, the Democratic proposals do not really try to fix the broken system; they just pour more tax dollars into it.

Obama’s concern is borne out by the CBO. In discussing the need to confront health care they point out: “The federal budget is on an unsustainable path, primarily because of the rising cost of health care.” Shifting these costs from premiums to taxes does nothing to change this reality. In fact it is likely to make federal budget deficits worse.

More than 80 members of the House of Representatives have co-sponsored a bill, HR 676, which would provide coverage to all Americans — a real guarantee of health care, not teleprompter rhetoric — and that would really control costs.

Will Obama ever have the political courage to actually fight for what he knows is the answer? State senator Obama, circa 2003, said, “I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program.” (applause) “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.”

Well, the public has given the Democrats all three but Obama and the Democratic leadership have refused to even consider single payer. Instead they fight for the interests of the insurance industry and falsely call it health care reform. Mr. President, please show some political leadership — stand up for what you know is right.

Kevin Zeese is the executive director of the Campaign for Fresh Air & Clean Politics whose projects include VotersForPeace.US, ProsperityAgenda.US, GlobalClimateSecurity.org and TrueVote.US. He is also a member of the board of Velvet Revolution. Read other articles by Kevin, or visit Kevin’s website.

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Written by bearmarketnews

June 17, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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