Sunday, June 28, 2009

Health Care Deform

Health Care Deformed

Just how powerful are the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance special interests that oppose health care reform? More powerful than ever, and their power grows daily.
During the Clinton administration these special interests were able to squash attempts at health care reform as if the President and First Lady were as insignificant and powerless as gnats. Their power grew.
Under the corrupt leadership of George Bush, the special interests crafted health care reform legislation that expressly prohibited Medicare from negotiating drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies. This, according to the US House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform, caused pharmaceutical industry profits to soar by over $8 billion in the six months after January 1, 2006, when the Medicare drug program went into effect.
Recently, President Obama called “health care reform the single most important thing we can do for America's long-term fiscal health. That is a fact.
And now, in spite of that fact, he is backing away from the single payer option, the ONLY possible solution to this fiscal meltdown.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill) recently said of the banks…"these are still the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill. And frankly, they own the place.” The same can be said of the lobbies for the medical-pharmaceutical-industrial complex. That is how powerful these special interests are.
Is it becoming clear to me that the only thing, I repeat: THE ONLY THING, that will get Americans the health care reform we need to prevent, not only individuals and families, but small and large businesses, municipalities, cities, states and the US government from going bust is the kind of mass public demonstrations of the Anti-war and Civil Rights Movements and those that are happening in Iran as we speak.
Nothing short of that will get our corporate-owned politicians to do the work of the people over the interests of the medical-insurance-pharmaceutical industrial complex.
To believe anything else flies in the face of the 100 year history of health care reform and is to live in a fantasy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Political InAction

Political InAction
Whether or not you are paying attention to, and engage in, the health care reform debate the outcome will be determined by the most vocal and influential voices in Washington.
Take heed, the vested interests of the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance industrial complex are geared up and out in full force.
The big guns are out and they're firing. All major lobbying firms in Washington - many of them brimming with ex-members of Congress - are now crawling all over the Hill. Lots of money is on the table. The AMA's political action committee has contributed $9.8 million to congressional candidates since 2000, and its lobbying arm is one of the most formidable on the Hill. Meanwhile, Big Insurance and Big Pharma are increasing their firepower. The five largest private insurers and their trade group America's Health Insurance Plans spent a total of $6.4 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year, up more than $1 million from the first quarter last year, and are spending even more now. United Health Group spent $1.5 million in the first quarter, up 34 percent from the $1.1 million it spent in the first quarter last year. Aetna spent $809,793 between January and the end of March, up 41 percent from last year. Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, spent more than $6.1 million on
lobbying between January and March,more than double what it spent last year. It also spent nearly $3.3 million lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2008. Every one of them is upping their spending.”
Theirs’ is a no-holds barred attack to secure their profits. They straight-out buy politicians, former ones like Dole and Daschle, to lobby the current ones, their former colleagues. They buy air-time and endlessly broadcast self-serving public media, news/propaganda, and advertising campaigns based on distortions and outright lies to propagate fear. They fear-monger with buzzwords like socialized medicine, rationing of care, long waits, and compromised quality of care, as if they cared about any of that, or your health. As if we don’t already have rationing of care, long waits and compromised care. As if the current unfettered corporatocracy/plutocracy is better for the American people than socialized medicine, if it came to that.
President Obama is holding town-hall type meetings on the subject to drum up public support for the public option. He knows that as rich and powerful as the special interests are, in shear numbers, there are more of us than them. And, because we can vote we can speak with a unified voice to force the hands of our corporate-owned politicians. We can have our say, and we can win, but only if we participate en masse.
Everything in life is political, especially politics!
What have you done today to make your voice heard so that your interests are protected, over those of the corporate giants?
This issue is too critical for you to sit by and do nothing. It demands your attention and political action. You must call your Senators, Congressmen and the White House repeatedly to voice your support of a public option. If they are not hearing from YOU, they are most certainly hearing, and feeling the pressure, from special interest lobbyists and major corporate campaign contributors.
Ultimately, the future landscape of health care will be whatever we let happen during this debate.
Political inaction is an action. It is to allow the special interests to prevail.
Get involved.
Act as if your health, and the health of your loved ones, depends on it!
Call your Senators, Congressmen and The White House today, and get everyone you know to call as frequently as possible.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Is Health Care Too Big To Fix?

Is Health Care Too Big To Fix?

We have a democratic president, elected by a landslide vote, and a democratic majority in the House and Senate, proposing a single payer solution for health care reform that is widely supported by a vast majority of Americans, Democrats and Republicans. Yet that reform legislation faces an uphill battle and is unlikely to pass in any significant, game-changing, way.

What’s wrong with that picture? Power and influence as exercised by vested interests (the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance industrial complex), their money, and their lobbyists.
These vested interesting have successfully blocked all attempts at health care reform for over 70 years, and are working hard to do so now. But, in today’s world, there are additional, complicating factors that make me wonder if health care is too big to fix.
Health care represents the largest sector of the American economy. That is, that it generates more money and employs more people than manufacturing, or any other sector of the economy. “Health care accounts for $1 in every $6 spent in the United States -- and costs are climbing at twice the rate of inflation.” Our biggest business is taking care of our sick and, for obvious reasons, is one of the only business sectors with projected growth.
To that extent, what city or town would shun new jobs created by any of the players in the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance industrial complex? Or, perhaps even harder to imagine, what city or town would be willing to lose jobs, in our current economy, due to potential down-sizing of any aspect of the health care sector? And, hardest to imagine at all, what politician would ever make that pitch in his/her district?
The driving force of health care is how sick so many of us are. Our disease-focused culture and lifestyles have resulted in misguided and erroneous beliefs about, and expectations of, the capabilities of our health care to both provide for all of us and miraculously cure us at a cost we can all afford. We created a for profit health care delivery system that feeds on sickness to produce profits, pay dividends and project constant growth.
We are addicted to both our unhealthy lifestyles and the disease care, yet we are surprised by our diseases and the costs of care.
It is really a pretty straightforward and simple equation: increasing numbers of sick people with increased access to a for-profit, growth driven health care delivery system will continue to drive up costs, no matter who pays.
Any effective reform will have to be both dramatic and quick; not unlike the introduction of Medicare, which was efficiently instituted nationwide in less than a year, before there were computers.
In order to succeed, reform will have to include drastic changes in both the delivery systems and the way we pay for it, in addition to, drastic changes in our lifestyles and culture to promote health and wellness.
It is a complex and dangerous web we have woven. Ultimately, we are lead to believe that the Banks and Wall Street and are too big to fail and health care is too big to fix.

Friday, June 5, 2009


The Trigger

At the end of the day, when you strip away all the distractions, the battle for health care reform is a battle of powerful special interests protecting obscene and expanding profits at the expense of the health and welfare of Americans.

At the end of the day, our government will have to choose to side with the special interests or with the American people.
There will be no successful middle-ground reform as there is no middle ground. Any attempt at such is nothing but smoke and mirrors that will serve only to delay the reform that President Obama said, “is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait”
The special interests of the health sector are unyielding. Their power is great, and their track record knows nothing of defeat.  Historically, for decades, they have successfully staved off any, and all, attempts at reform. They are again prepared to win.
After three months of 2009, the health sector has reported $127 million in lobbying expenditures. That is on pace to break the record $487 million spent by the sector on lobbying in 2008 and the congressional debate has yet to be fully engaged.” 
It is early on and already the battle for reform favors the health sector. The public option is losing ground and substance.
The public health insurance option was devised to compete with private insurance on cost, efficiency, quality, and making its customers healthier, where now the industry only competes on who can attract patients who are healthiest, or who can deny costly medical claims the best to create the biggest profit.  With a new player focused on lower costs, better quality and more transparency, the HMOs will need to either adapt or die.”
The latest watered down plan floating around Washington comes from Senator Olympia Snow (R)-Maine. It would rely on the health sector to reform itself. NYTimes columnist Robert Pear described it this way: ”the public plan would be created only if private insurance companies had not made meaningful, affordable coverage available to all Americans within several years.” Ie: If, at some unspecified time in the future, insurance companies failed to meet vague, unspecified criteria or benchmarks, it would ‘trigger’ the implementation of the public option; implying, that the future threat of a public option would drive reform.
Does anyone take this seriously?
What criteria that we don’t already have could possibly pull the trigger? Unaffordable insurance rates? Skyrocketing health care costs? Skyrocketing rates of medical bankruptcies? Skyrocketing rates of uninsured and underinsured Americans? Increasing rates of denial of care or coverage?
Are they saying that things have to get even worse before they get better?