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In presser, Obama lowers the baseline on health care "reform" yet again

Is Obama interested in health care? Is he even paying attention? Or does it just bore him?

[OBAMA] You can expect us to work on health-care reform that will bring down costs while maintaining quality

You know, I was under the impression that maintaining quality wouldn't really be enough.

Even the nudge crowd and the Dartmouth Atlas mafia want to improve quality -- at least by their standards.

Heck, even the Electronic Medical Records crowd make a token nod to that.

And as for the 47 million uninsured, and the many millions who have insurance but are denied the care they need by health insurance parasites... I would have thought that increasing the quality of care for them -- like, with the uninsured, from fucking zero -- not merely "maintaining" it, would be the policy goal. Apparently not.

NOTE Of course, if Obama were really interested in bringing down costs, he'd be looking to the experience of other countries who've used single payer, instead of looking to lobbyists to create some sort of Rube Goldberg device to keep the insurance companies collecting fees for denying us care. Single payer has administrative costs of 3%, versus 30% for insurance companies, so that saves $350 billion dollars a year. You'd think that's the kind of saving that would get a pragmatist's attention.

UPDATE Oh, and do you see the words "public option" in there anywhere? Even in the 11th dimension? I don't. That's a big Fuck You to the Progressive Caucus from The Mostest Progressive President EVAH, isn't it?

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caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

One of the doctors I was seeing walked into the exam room wearing a nice, big "Support HR 676" button. It was the first time I've encountered a doctor so open about support for single-payer. I've had talks with other docs who support it, but not so obviously.

The doctor and I trashed Ron Wyden's whole approach to the issue and wondered why on earth Jeff Merkley, a long time single-payer supporter, signed on with Wyden's bill.

After reading the post here about doctors opting out of Medicare, it was nice to see an HR 676 supporter.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

nothing at all about how to improve access to health care. I hope we have a good turnout for the events May 30

scoutt's picture
Submitted by scoutt on

Obama was "brilliant" in BTD's opinion. I hear nothing real when the president speaks. He is so "brilliant" that he continues to take no firm position on anything when he holds court but keeps the masses enraptured. I can only judge his actions (which iclude the double talk and faux progressive framing) and he's still just a hustler to me. And he's going to hustle us on healthcare too...the writing seems to be on the teleprompter. The progs will gladly handover their "values" to stay high on the brilliant one. The media is the pusher and the high is just too damn good.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

we are going to win and Obama will claim credit for being for single payer all along, pointing to that old speech of his. He will be reelected by an even bigger landslide. Who cares? We are going to win on health care.

scoutt's picture
Submitted by scoutt on

When it's the powered vs the people, which side does his action benefit? The words are slippery enough to sometimes appear to be for the folks but the actions haven't fallen out that way. Who's going to be helped with whatever the heck single payer means today? The insurance companies? Big pharma? Or the people getting crushed by health costs? At best we'll get scraps. Nothing he's done so far, nothing REAL, has proven that it will be otherwise.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Now we're forced to beg for the "public option" that will surely be gamed to the advantage of Big Insurance. Boy, what a progressive morning in America it is!

Gee, you'd almost think he didn't want to move the Overton Window toward proper UHC!

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

the fight LBJ had to go through in order to get Medicare in its initial incarnation through.

In a Senate and House that were controlled by Democrats.

Amidst the fight over the war in Viet Nam.

He framed it this way: Our parents and grandparents, our veterans and workers. deserve some dignity and care, instead of anxiety and neglect. They've EARNED it.

That's the frame you want to set up around single-payer, if you want to sell it to the US public.

That's the bat you want to whack private insurance over the head with, if you want to win.

We don't want reform. We don't need "health care coverage." What we need isn't a universal insurance plan; we've seen how that can be twisted and altered and drilled full of exceptions (the donut in Medicare prescription coverage, anybody?) whenever enough lobbying dollars get thrown at a non-existent "issue."

What we the people of the United States (notice how I didn't delineate on sex or age or income or gender there? Yeah. That's how it ought to be in all matters of answering the concerns of the population: the people are, in this sense, not a fractal wave of opposable subgroups; they're a monolith!) NEED is to be able to see a doctor (be that doctor an ob/gyn, a surgeon, a trauma team, a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, an allergist, a urologist) as easily as we can take our pets to the vet. (Veterinarians are much more apt to be generalists -- you might hear it termed "family medicine" among docs who treat humans -- and who therefore are much more apt to be conversant, if not expert, in a larger range of conditions and therapies). Now, it's getting expensive enough to take pets to the vet that some insurance companies want you to pay them instead (they love the smell of money) of paying the practitioner directly. Pretty soon you'll hear about insurance companies denying care for pets too (getting hit by a car is not a covered illnessm or the policy, in order to maintain 'affordability', has a very high deductible and a specific clause refusing coverage in trauma cases), I wager.

The big reason you can usually get an animal in to see a practitioner in 24 hours or less, and unless the condition is catastrophic (broken legs in horses, say, or mangled animals post-automobile collision) you can work out an arrangement for payment that doesn't send you to the poorhouse is veterinarians largely don't rely on insurance for their remuneration, and their patients largely don't have such complex arrangements for their medical care as humans in the US do.

The single payer in that system is the pet's owner (or more likely, the person responsible for the care and feeding of the animal).

There are many animals whose people do not pay, do not take them to the vet, do not care for them, do not keep them fed, vaccinated, sheltered, protected against parasites and vandals (cf Michael Vick). Cruelty is, as much as we wish we could say different, a part of human nature.

But we need not stand aside and let it rule. We can be like FDR and LBJ.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

Here is an interesting history of how Medicare came to be.

The many efforts to enact something like Medicare, going back to President Truman's early ambitious proposals, foundered on a couple of familiar political rocks, and one surprising one.

The first obstacle was the opposition of the Republican Party to what were Democratic initiatives.


The second, and most powerful obstacle, was the organized opposition of special interest groups, especially the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA's campaign against the first Truman proposal actually marked the start of the AMA's role as a political lobby. Throughout all the various proposals, up to and including the final bill in 1965, the AMA was a major block to any change in the status quo. The AMA argued that any involvement by the government in the medical care profession was the equivalent of socialized medicine. This argument, especially during the height of the Cold War hysteria, had real force.

The AMA's campaign against Medicare also marked the beginning of the political career of another rising force in American politics-Ronald Reagan.


The final obstacle, somewhat surprisingly, was the Democratic Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Wilbur Mills of Arkansas.

Just read it: fascinating stuff and very relevant.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

from that history:

Probably the most revealing conversation regarding LBJ's political values and sentiments as they related to Social Security and Medicare was an extended conversation he had with his Press Secretary, Bill Moyers. In this conversation, recorded on March 10, 1965, Johnson permits himself to reflect almost philosophically on his support for a provision in a pending bill which would provide a retroactive increase in Social Security payments. Moyers is arguing that the President should support the retroactivity clause because it will provide a stimulus to the economy. Johnson supports the provision, but he makes clear to Moyers that he does not see programs like Social Security and Medicare as being about economics.

Johnson: My reason though is not because of the economy. . . . my reason would be the same as I agreed to go $400 million on health. I've never seen an anti-trust suit lie against an old-age pensioner for monopoly or concentration of power or closely-held wealth. I've never seen it apply it to the average worker. And I've never seen one have too much health benefits. So when they come in to me and say we've got to have $400 million more so we can take care of some doctors bills, I'm for it on health. I'm pretty much for it on education. I'm for it anywhere it's practicable. . . . My inclination would be . . . that it ought to retroactive as far back as you can get . . . because none of them ever get enough. That they are entitled to it. That's an obligation of ours. It's just like your mother writing you and saying she wants $20, and I'd always sent mine a $100 when she did. I never did it because I thought it was going to be good for the economy of Austin. I always did it because I thought she was entitled to it. And I think that's a much better reason and a much better cause and I think it can be defended on a hell of a better basis. . . . We do know that it affects the economy. . . . it helps us in that respect. But that's not the basis to go to the Hill, or the justification. We've just got to say that by God you can't treat grandma this way. She's entitled to it and we promised it to her."

Heaven help me, I'm starting to miss LBJ...