The new "Obamneycare" health legislation does have "death panels." They are not called that, and they do not make formal decisions to terminate lives. But it comes to almost the same thing. Various panels, committees, or bureaucratic departments are empowered to make decisions about "effective care." It has long been known that most health care costs are associated with the last year of life. Cost and age will be elements in determining standards of care. The greater the weight assigned to cost, the more care will be withheld. In effect, the "effective care" panel is a "death panel."
Prior to the advent of the new "health care" system, Medicare and or hospitals are already shifting costs to Medicare patients. To avoid penalties and fraud allegations for "medically unnecessary hospitalizations," rather than formally admit Medicare patients as inpatients, hospital administrators classify them as outpatients "under observation."
According to a Brown University analysis of Medicare records in 2007, 2008, and 2009, the ratio of Medicare observation patients to those admitted as inpatients rose by 34 percent.
Being classified an outpatient under observation eliminates medicare coverages, especially for post-operative or post-accident rehabilitation care, leaving Medicare patients with bills in the tens of thousands of dollars (AARP Bulletin, October 2012).
Other costs are being shifted to doctors and to hospitals. Medicare pays fixed prices for each covered procedure or test, and these prices can be as low as half of the billed prices. During a period when costs incurred by providers of health care have been rising, Medicare has been cutting the amounts it pays providers.
As the payroll tax is commingled with general tax revenues, Social Security and Medicare payroll tax collections can be diverted to other purposes and, thus, are always subject to competing budgetary demands, such as the previous 11 years of gratuitous wars and the bailouts of "banks too big to fail," or to deficit reduction demands as the government consistently overspends all revenue sources.
A national health service is the only way to control health costs and provide the population with health care coverage. A national health system takes the many levels of profits out of the system and also reams of compliance and liability costs. A national health system can coexist with a private system for those who can afford it or whose employers are sufficiently profitable to provide it.
As Jarad Diamond reveals in his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, if not because of their moral bankruptcy, then because their rulers are only capable of short-term thinking. The future is beyond their interest. The US offshored its economy, because it worked short-term for corporate executives (rewarded with multi-million dollar performance bonuses), Wall Street (rewarded with profits), shareholders (rewarded with capital gains), and politicians (rewarded with corporate and Wall Street campaign contributions).
Incompetent free market economists confused jobs offshoring with free trade. They said the country would and was benefiting by giving its manufacturing, industrial, and tradable professional service jobs to China and India, that the US was ridding itself of "dirty fingernail jobs" and would soon be flush with highly paid high-tech jobs and highly paid financial service jobs.
None of these promises or predictions were true. Nowhere in the government's jobs statistics are there any of these promised replacement jobs. The economists who provided cover for the destruction of the US economy were rewarded by the corporations with speaking fees, grants for their university departments, and newspaper columns paid for by corporate advertisers. Those few who told the truth were expelled from the corporate media that Bill and Hillary Clinton allowed to be monopolized (for campaign contributions, of course).
The future of old age security in the United States has been lost, because the job base has been given away to foreigners in order to maximize incomes in the short-run for the few decision-makers.
The misrepresentation of jobs offshoring as free trade has destroyed the prospects of cities, counties, and states along with those of unions and millions of Americans who once had a secure future. It has destroyed the prospects of class after class of university graduates burdened with student loans who expected to step into the jobs that have been offshored or filled by H-1B visa holders from abroad.
The American work force has been forsaken by the corporations and by Washington, and this means that Social Security and Medicare have also been forsaken.
As I predicted in the early years of this new century, "the United States will be a third world country in 20 years." We might get there even sooner as Washington exhausts what little is left of American wealth in gratuitous wars in service to Israel and the US Military/Security Complex, in unaffordable military buildups in futile hopes of establishing hegemony over China and Russia, and in negative interest rates from the Federal Reserve's effort to drive up the book value of debt instruments on the balance sheets of financial institutions.
In 1817 Percy Bysshe Shelly forecast America's future:
"I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stampt on these lifeless things,
The hand that mockt them and the heart that fed:
On the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
Writing in the October 15 online CounterPunch, John V. Walsh, relying on charts prepared by economics professor Mark J. Perry at the University of Michigan and blogger John Hunter, concludes that it is a myth that US manufacturing is in decline.
Walsh says that the loss of US manufacturing jobs is due to automation, not to offshoring. Think about this for a moment. Perry's graph on which Walsh relies shows the sharp drop in US manufacturing employment to be a 21st century experience. However, automation has been around for a long time. The notion that its effect on employment only showed up recently needs an explanation that is not provided. The steep drop in US manufacturing employment that began in 2000 does correspond with the date at which jobs offshoring began to bite hard.