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The Federal Twist

by STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN

We’ve been witnessing a torrent of twisted logic, lately, in the jousting over the Obama Administration’s health care plans.

The Obama mantra seems to be that in order to get more health care we have to cut it.

This is scaring the pants off old people on Medicare and those in other government programs like Social Security, Medicaid for the poor, Veterans’ programs and Champus, also called Tricare, providing health care to military families.

If Obama really wanted to cut health costs in order to afford universal health insurance, he would be screaming for the single-payer option that has been forced off the table by the clout of the insurance industry.

When he was a candidate for president, seeking your vote, Obama was all for the single-payer plan.

When elected, you saw a federal twist in action when he was joining in, rather than fighting off, the cabal. Now he is a well indoctrinated member of the corporate oligarchy.

He has continued just about every one of the Bush policies, foreign and domestic; not only his health care stance, but equally outrageous the continuation and escalation of the war in Afghanistan while war in Iraq drags on. Obama has even added something new with Af-Pak, which includes Pakistan in the package, and the killing of civilians with pilotless drones.

The tease about closing Guantanamo was just that, a tease, and another promise broken.

Boiling over on the front burner, right now, is the public health care option while keeping the single payer plan under the radar screen.

The way the single-payer health plan works, the government collects all medical fees and then pays for all services through a single government (or government-related) agency.

In Congress, H.R. 676, if passed into law, would replace private insurance companies with just such a publically managed insurance plan. It would prove how superfluous health insurance companies are. They pocket one-third of the money you pay them in premiums which is why they make such whopping profits and why they’ll fight to the death to maintain the status-quo.

Why should there be people making money on your health?

Just about every civilized, industrial nation, and even some third-world countries, have government run health plans; Australia’s Medicare, Canada’s Medicare, and healthcare in Taiwan are examples of single-payer universal health care systems.

In contrast, socialized medicine would be a system in which all health personnel and health facilities, including doctors and hospitals, work for the government and draw salaries from the government, an example being the U.S. Veterans Administration, while U.S. Medicare is a single payer system which is not socialized medicine.

Under the British National Health Service, which also uses a universal single-payer fund, the public owns the health systems and facilities. The term single-payer thus only describes the funding mechanism—referring to health care being paid for by a single public body—and does not specify the type of delivery, or who doctors work for.

The term single payer does not imply a socialized medicine system.

Since Americans are so frightened by the word “socialism”, this is one distinction they’ve got to get under their belts.

The majority of physicians in the United States are in favor of a national health insurance system. A recent study published in 2008 in Annals of Internal Medicine, a leading medical journal, showed 59% of physicians “support government legislation to establish national health insurance,” while 32% oppose it and 9% are neutral.

This represented an increase of 10 percentage points as compared with a similar survey in 2002 in which support for such legislation stood at 49% of physicians.

Among the general U.S. public, recent polling ratings for single-payer are apparently dependent on how the question is asked, ranging from 49% to 65% in favor.

President Obama is taking a drubbing on the issue from those Blue Dog Democrats who should be stacked on the dead-wood pile along with the Republicans.

Blue Dog Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, working on a health care bill, made it clear that “the so-called ‘public option’ would not be part of any deal with his name on it.”

Obama, though, so far has not said he will demand a public option. He also has not said he will veto a package that omits a government-run health insurance program. This late in the game, he is keeping everyone guessing.

But since Obama, himself, was on the take from the insurance industry fat-cats, he may wind up, as well, on the dead-wood pile if that public option doesn’t get into the bill from Congress everybody is waiting for.

People are making book on whether it will or won’t. If not, it’s a no-win option for all Americans, another turn of the Federal Twist.

And I don’t mean that pretty place near Princeton, New Jersey.

STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir is now in print. See www.amahchewahwah.com, e-mail stevefl@ca.rr.com.

 

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STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir is now in print. See www.amahchewahwah.com, e-mail stevefl@ca.rr.com

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