Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Who Supports Healthcare Insurance Reform

I think Wednesday is going to be a make it or break it day for President Obama's presidency ~ Thom Hartmann on his radio program (9/3/2009)

Obama will address a joint session of Congress on health care reform in prime time today (Wednesday, Sept. 9th). If the public option, which President Obama has previously described as a "must" is indeed dead (as proclaimed by Glenn Beck and other right wing news sites/pundits), we will probably find out then. An 8/17/2009 article on "The Daily Kos" by Jed Lewison says, "If the White House does end up letting the public option disappear without a major fight, many of President Obama's most ardent supporters, inspired by his Yes we can attitude, will withdraw from politics, their previous cynicism once again affirmed by a broken system".

In my previous post titled "Who Opposes Healthcare Insurance Reform", I addressed the right's assertion that it is average Americans who are opposing healthcare insurance reform. In said post I clearly illustrated that those against reform are "billionaires posing as grassroots groups to oppose anything that isn't in the billionaires' interests" - to reiterate the quote I concluded that post with.

Average Americans are, in fact, largely in favor of reform. According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, "72 percent [of Americans] support a government-sponsored health care plan to compete with private insurers ... [and] think the government would do a better job than private industry at keeping down costs".

I linked to this poll on a conservative website, and of course a Con chimed in disputing the figures. Because CBS News is "liberal". If "liberal" equates to "no conflict of interest", then I suppose CBS News is liberal. Actually, it is because CBS News - as reported by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) - is one of the few news organization without a conflict of interest, I believe their figures to be the most trustworthy.

So, what is the conflict of interest? FAIR explains that, "when a director from one company sits on the board of directors of another company, that's known as an interlocking directorate"; and, "save for CBS, every media corporation has board connections to either an insurance or pharmaceutical company".

Wow, every one? Yes, read the article. A Con faced with that fact would probably next attack FAIR, because they are "a progressive media criticism organization", but the facts, and the conflict of interest remain. The proprietor of a conservative blog I recently visited, and was quickly banned from posting on, argued that an organization having a conflict of interest does not preclude their information from being correct. So, billions of dollars are on the table, but polls produced by news organizations on whose boards health insurance executives sit - polls that tell us a majority of Americans are against a "government takeover" of healthcare - they might not be rigged.

I think common sense should indicate clearly which side in this debate is telling the truth - fake grassroots organizations backed by health insurance industry money and news organizations with health insurance industry executives on their board of directors - or polls from non-biased sources that tell us that a large majority of Americans want a public option?

Also supporting a single-payer system or a public option are a number of physician and medical professional organizations (see the list below). It is an impressive list, but there is one notable exception. The American Medical Association (representing approximately 20 percent of practicing physicians) has, historically, always opposed the public option.

Because they're worried about mandatory participation and reimbursement rates - they're whining that government run insurance programs aren't paying them enough. I'm in favor of paying doctors fairly, but I'm not convinced that this isn't about greed as opposed to fair pay. Otherwise you'd think that argument could stand on it's own.

In the past the AMA has referred to the public option as "socialized medicine" and made the Sarah Palin-ish claim that a government-sponsored system would be a gateway to totalitarianism. This go-round they're alleging a public option would lead to "an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers". If this were really about adequate compensation why trot out these obvious lies? Insulting my intelligence doesn't help your case, AMA.

As with my previous post, again we can follow the money and discover whom, in actuality, the AMA is concerned about. Is the AMA all about protecting taxpayers from "an explosion of costs" and totalitarianism, or their own bottom line? An article by Matthew Yglesias on "Think Progress" reveals that at least 20 percent of the AMA's budget comes from the pharmaceutical lobby.

The AMA was willing to whore itself out for money in the past when it accepted money from the tobacco industry (see the Think Progress article), and, in my opinion, the same thing is going on now. Which may be why a recent survey by Sermo (an online community for physicians) found that 91 percent of physicians feel that the AMA does not accurately reflect their opinion as physicians. Which could explain why membership in the AMA has been declining in recent years.

In any case, I didn't intend for this post to be about the AMA, but about who supports the public option (the American people), and speculation regarding whether President Obama will, or will not, stand up and fight for what the American people want. If he does not I fear for the future of his agenda and for the future of the Democratic Party. If President Obama is of the opinion - and from what I've heard he may very well be - that any bill is a win, I think he is mistaken.

No public option is a win for the Republicans, and could very well render the rest of Mr. Obama's presidency ineffectual. Does this leave a lot of Democrats wondering, as a blogger on Atlanta's put it, "is Obama's presidency about to self-destruct over health care?".

Physician and Medical Professional Organizations Supporting Healthcare Reform
[1] The National Physicians Alliance with a membership of approximately 20,000 physicians.
[2] Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) representing aproximately 14,000 American physicians, medical students, and health professionals.
[3] Mad as Hell Doctors representing Oregon physicians.

Further Reading
[1] Health Care Reform vs. Single Payer Like HR676 (8/17/2009) Reason to read: Lays out how a public option would lead to tremendous savings and other benefits.
[2] The Pharmaceutical Payoffs? by Candice Lane, M.D. (blog post from Wellsphere's General Medical Community, 4/16/2008). Reason to read: Reveals how drug companies are paying off doctors to hawk their products.

SWTD #19


  1. Hell WD. I thought a real blogger banned you.

    You notice that the sane and informed are rallying towards health insurance reform. I wish it was toward single payer, but companies like Walmart, the AMA and other organizations see the benefit of a public option.

    I doubt this, but the campaign of tearing down and name calling by the right may end with a another Obama victory. This time health care reform. The idiots and bigots will always fall for the "he's a commie" argument. You can't talk rationally to the irrational. But the right is losing the George Will intellectuals. If Obama has to settle for something less than perfect and come back later to improve it, I'm willing to be patient if this adds another nail to the coffin of the radical right under the leadership of Beck and Limbaugh.

  2. Less than 5 minutes now until the speech begins. According to Keith Olberman, "This will be the night we find out if Barack Obama works for the people or the corporations".

    Whatever bill we end up with it is guaranteed to be less than perfect. The Democrats have already bargined away so much. I'm of the opinion that without a public option whatever bill results will be meaningless in terms of reform.

  3. [my notes taken while listening to the speech]
    [Select pre-speech commentary from MSNBC by Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Howard Fineman]

    This is a pivotal moment.

    He'll explain the public option but not demand it.

    The WH was caught flat-footed re the fake grassroots townhalls.

    [Select comments from President Barack Obama's speech]

    I'm not the first president to take up this cause, but I'm determined to be the last (sustained applause).

    Rep. John Dingell (MI-D) recgonized for introducing comp healthcare bill every session.

    Talks about the uninsured. In regards to health insurance denials -- no one should be treated that way in the United States of America.

    Rising costs. We spend twice as much as any other nation with a national healthcare system. Our businesses are at a disadvantage.

    There are those on the left who believe the only way we can reform the system is through single-payer (applause). I'm against disrupting the system we currently have. No to building an entirely new system from scratch.

    The plan I'm announcing tonight will... details everyone needs to know about this plan... won't change what you have if you currently have insurance. Pre-existing condition - against the law to deny coverage. Against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage if you get sick. No caps for coverage in a given year or lifetime. Out of pocket expenses limited. Insurance companies required to cover preventive care/checkups at no additional charge.

    That's what Americans who have insurance can expect. 2nd part of the plan is for uninsured. Accomplished by creating an insurance exchange (my commentary: booooo) (actual response: applause).

    If you still can't afford it: you get tax credits -- this change will take effect in 4 years. However we will immediately offer low cost insurance for people who can't get insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

    Mandates for people without insurance. Just like most states require you to cover auto insurance. Mandates for businesses, although 95 percent of small business will be exempt.

    "Death pannels" are a lie, plain and simple. Illegal immigrants not covered. Someone calls out "lie". No federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.

    I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business (my commentary: boooo). I just want to hold them accountable (applause).

    Make a not for profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Only an option for those who don't have insurance. We estimate that less than 5 percent of American's will sign up. The public insurance option would have to be self sufficient. Only one part of my plan. We should remain open to other ideas that accomplish that goal. Co-op constructive idea worth exploring (applause) (my commentary: boooo).

    Finally... how do we pay for it. I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits, either now or in the future (applause). REPEAT. Provision in plan requiring spending cuts if savings don't pan out. Not make same mistake i.e. Iraq war not paid for (standing applause).

  4. [continued]
    Current system full of waste and abuse. No money from Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan. Pannel created to identify and eliminate waste. More pandering to seniors. (standing applause) I will protect Medicare from (Republican) plans to turn it into a privatized voucher program.

    Charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive programs. Tort reform (Republicans stand and applaud) (my commentary: boooo). Put patient saftey first. Plan will cost 900 billion dollars over ten years. Less than bush tax cuts for the wealthy (Democrats stand and applaud while Republicans remain seated).

    Rhetoric re compromise. But I won't waste time with anyone who wants to kill the plan (Democrats stand and applaud while Republicans remain seated). We will call you out if you try to misrepresent what is in the plan (Democrats applaud).

    Comments re Ted Kennedy (my commentary: oh no!! just kidding - screw you Republicans). At stake: social justice and the character of our country. Republicans think Ted Kennedy represented a passion for big government. lists some accomplishments of Ted Kennedy and names Republicans who worked with him. (my commentary: this is going on for quite awhile...).

    Some times goverment has to step in to ensure people who work hard aren't punished by misfortune (my commentary: I guess he's done talking about Ted Kennedy). Too little government as great a peril as too much. Calls for civility. Debate has been difficult. We came here to shape the future (standing ovation). Thank you, and God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

  5. [post speech Republican response and MSNBC commentary]
    Keith Olberman: There seems to have been a touch of greatness.

    Rachel Maddow: Mention of Ted Kennedy = Defense of Liberalism

    Howard Fineman: Did a good job of making the case.

    [Rep. Charles Boustany Response]

    Concern about debt and jobless recovery. It is clear, the American people want healthcare reform. Most Americans want to start over (my commentary: BS)

    Government run healthcare not the answer (dumbass).

    President should have taken the government run healthcare option off the table.

    Call for tort reform (Republicans so gung-ho over this because trial lawyers contribute to Democrats).

    Explode the deficit. Rationing.

    Keith Olberman: It should be noted that Charles Boustany has been sued for malpractice 3 times. He is a birther.

    Rachel Maddow: Process oriented grab bag.

    KO: Rep Eric Cantor (VI-R) texting during the speech.

    HF: Republicans stage props.

    KO: Rep Joe Wilson (SC-R) was the one who shouted out "you lie".

  6. ALREADY on Wikipedia!
    Joe Wilson: shouted 'Liar' during Obama's Healthcare Speech to Congress
    During a September 9th 2009 speech to Congress by President Obama, Wilson called out "Lie!" as Obama said there was no coverage for illegal immigrants in his healthcare plan. However, section 246 of the bill HR3200 is entitled "NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS" and states that no funds will be spend to cover illegal immigrants.

  7. [Countdown with Keith Olbermann Begins]

    Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH-D): Strong public option.

    KO: Idea of the public option kicking in in 4 years.

    SB: I think we can do it faster than 4 years.

    SB: Insurance companies have Republican congressmen on a short leash. Republicans are a conservative southern white party.

    Sherrod Brown segment ends. Next guest: Valarie Jarrett

    KO: on the subject of the public option -- insurance exchange which would contain the essence of the public option wouldn't be available for 4 years.

    VJ: yes. Saftey net in the meantime. It is new, and shows the president has been listening. Alternative until we can get the exchange up and running.

    KO: Biapartisan attempt sincere and admirable. But given Rep Wilson's shouting of "lie" is bipartisan ship feasible? (my commentary: NO)

    VJ: yes.

    KO: When the president said he'd call people out who lie. Did he mean that literally?

    VJ: (not clear from what she said).

    Valarie Jarrett segment ends. Jonathan Cohn and Elizabeth Edwards next on countdown (first commercial break)

    KO: why do so many Americans go without healthcare? Why do so many Americans with healthcare go Bankrupt?

    Elizabeth Edwards: Pretty pleased with the speech. President meet and exceeded people's expectations. Number one issue is being denied for a pre-existing condition.

    KO: Rescission would also be illegal.

    EE: National guidelines for what insurance companies can and cannot do... don't exist. People think they do.

    Elizabeth Edwards segment ends. Author of "Sick" Jonathan Cohn up next. McCain: Wilson should apologize immediately. (second commercial break).

  8. [Countdown with Keith Olbermann Continues]

    KO: Joe Wilson - appologize, leave the country, resign. It's your choice goober. Worst persons coming up.

    KO: What about the specifics. Where does the public option stand. The president pitched it, but it is contained within an exchange that won't be up and running for 4 years. Lets turn now to the senior editor of the New Republic Jonathan Cohn. Why is the public option burried within the insurance exchange?

    JC: Compromise to keep the costs down. Congress doesn't have the guts to raise the money to do it right away.

    KO: What about the short term option he talked about until the insurance exchange is up and running.

    JC: John McCain talked about a special pool for people with pre-existing conditions. It will be expensive but better than nothing. My ideal bill would look more like a single payer system, but I'm a realist. Plans not perfect. I wish the plan were better. This will make a dramatic difference in people's lives.

    (Jonathan Cohn segment ends)

    KO: Progressives told President Obama no public option is not the kind of change they could believe in. Did he change their minds back tonight? (referring to the "change we can still believe in" petition I linked to at the bottom of my post).

    Steve Hildebrand: I'm very pleased. I never had any doubt that this president is squarely on the side of the American people. (my commentary: the public option is not yet a sure thing. I'm not convinced it will end up being a REAL public option. Keith Olberman said before the speech "this will be the night we find out if Barack Obama works for the people or the corporations". I'm not convinced that happened.)

    KO: Tonight's worst people in the world. Worse = Rep Jean Schmidt (OH-R). In july she says BHO is a natural born citizen. She reverses herself. Worser: Mark Whitker of the OCregister. Worst: Joe Wilson interrupting the president to call him a liar. Karl Rove laughed. Wrote Op-ed about death pannels. Said Sarah Palin was correct.

    KO: Mr. Wilson, you lie. That's countdown. (countdown ends, Keith tosses to Rachel Maddow)

  9. [Rachel Maddow Show Begins]

    RM: Guests tonight include Barbara Boxer and Barney Frank.

    (plays President Obama public option clip)

    RM: (talking about the history of the public option) 1948 - president Harry Truman, 1962 - president JFK, 1993 - president Clinton. All unsuccessful. Only LBJ was successful with Medicare in 1965. We haven't been this close to healthcare reform in decades. The question is, what happens next?

    (plays Joe Wilson "liar" clip)

    RM: Never let the truth get in the way of a good scream. What President Obama does next will determine if we are going to have to wait another 40 years. David Axelrod joins us now. What about the "liar" comment.

    DA: I'll let him speak for himself.

    RM: Criticized his progressive friends with investing too much importance in the public option.

    DA: President believes in the public option and will fight for it. We ought not make one individual element of the program so important that it dwarfs this greater goal.

    RM: Progressives fear there will be a mandate without serious reform (payday for insurance companies)?

    DA: No individual will be forced to buy coverage. There will be a hardship exemption.

    RM: earlier today you said that the public option should be expected to pass in some form. How many different forms does it come in? What exactly do you mean. Will this public option really embody the reform that is needed.

    DA: May be a trigger. We'll see. (my commentary: booooo. no "trigger" BS).

    RM: we're just about out of time. Is President Obama going to be more involved now.

    DA: yes. Genuine and substantial health insurance reform.

    (Axelrod segment ends. Barbara Boxer up next)

  10. (first commercial break)
    [Rachel Maddow Show Continues]

    RM: Following senator Kennedy's death, who will be his sucessor. Sen. Tom Harkin (IA-D). Joining us now is Barbara Boxer (CA-D). What was your reaction to the speech.

    BB: I was touched. I was moved.

    RM: republicans said it's back to the drawing board. We need to start over.

    BB: I don't see where they're coming from. There's no reason to start over. We know what's going on. We need to finish the job.

    RM: Does the job, when it's finished, include a public option. Does it end up in the bill?

    BB: That's my goal.

    RM: Do you vote "no" if it isn't in the final bill.

    BB: I don't negotiate on TV. Republicans who vote against this should drop their own government provided insurance.

    RM: Thanks BB. Barney Frank will join us next. (second commercial break)

    RM: The official Republican response by little know congressman Charles Boustany. Real response tommorow via webcast by the Family Resource Center. Republicans looking forward for the chance to break President Obama. Mandated abortions and sex change surgeries, so says the FRC. Veganism is murder says one of the participants.

    RM: Joining us now is Rep. Barney Frank (MA-D) (live in the studio). Asks BF about the "you lie" comment. Is it a big deal.

    BF: I think it is unusual. The president was effective. They just couldn't handle it. Joe Wison screamed out in frustration. It was a mark of Republican frustration.

    RM: Republicans say go back to square one.

    BF: Let's be clear. The insistance of bipartisanship goes against the notion of Democracy. We had an election and the Democrats won. Republicans are an extremely conservative faction. Why should we compromise 50-50?

    RM: President spoke about liberalism....

    BF: Lack of regulation lead us to the situation we're in now. Pres Obama said he was going to be post-partisan, I got post-partisan depression. I think his mention of liberalism is something he handled very well. People (like FRC loons mentioned earlier)... they need mental health services. Some of them know better. Some of them are just dumb.

    (Barney Frank Segment Ends)

    RM: David Vitter: Death pannels. The Nation's Chris Hayes joins us next to discuss. (second commercial break)

  11. [Rachel Maddow Show Continues]

    RM: Mark Sanford faces calls for his resignation. He won't resign. Lt. Governor, 60 of 71 cons in state senate, and state speaker of the house all call for his resignation. Next up it looks like impeachment.

    RM: Our Nation is on the verge of taking the largest step towards socialism ever. Illegal aliens covered. Death pannels. Survey included asking if you support these lies. David Vitter asks for donations. (from a letter sent to David Vitter constituents).

    RM: Joining us now is Chris Hayes. What do you think of this secret plan for free health insurance for illegal aliens and mandated sex changes?

    RM: Was real damage done in August?

    CH: Public opinion is largely unchanged. People aren't paying that much attention.

    RM: Breaking news on Joe Wilson "liar" comment (implication is he apologized). (3rd commercial break)

    [Rachel Maddow Show Continues]

    RM: A brief update. Congressman Wilson was wrong. He has reportedly apologized. He said "I let my emotions get the best of me". Although he doesn't admit he was wrong. Goodnight. A special edition of the Ed Show starts next.


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