Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 12 (12 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats   57 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

Barack Obama Spins the Facts, Takes Single-Payer Health Care Off the Table

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 16   Valuable 13   Well Said 11  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H1 5/18/09

Become a Fan
  (15 fans)


Tom Cramer's Duet, cropped

Last Thursday at a town hall meeting in Rio Rancho New Mexico President Barack Obama was asked why, when "so many people go bankrupt using their credit cards to pay for healthcare. Why have they taken single-payer off the plate (audience applause), and why is Senator Baucus on the Finance Committee discussing health care when he has received so much money from the pharmaceutical companies? Isn't it a conflict of interest?" (more audience applause)

The President seemed uncomfortable with the question, and his entire response lasted longer than seven minutes. He did not get around to actually responding to the question until about four minutes in:

"Healthcare is one-sixth of our economy, so it is a complicated and difficult task. Congress is going to have to work hard, and everybody is going to have to come at this with a practical perspective as opposed to being ideologically pure in getting it done... Why not do a single-payer system? ... A single-payer system is like, Medicare is sort of a single-payer system, but it's only for people over 65, and the way it works is, uh, the idea is you don't have insurance companies as middle men. The government goes directly and pays doctors or nurses.

"If I were starting a system from scratch then I think that the idea of moving toward a single-payer system could very well make sense. That's the kind of system that you have in most industrialized countries around the world. The only problem is that we're not starting from scratch. We have historically a tradition of employer-based healthcare. And, although there are a lot of people who are not satisfied with their health care, the truth is that the vast majority of people currently get health care from their employers, and you've got this system that's already in place.

"We don't want a huge disruption as we go into healthcare reform where suddenly we're trying to completely re-invent one-sixth of the economy. So what I've said is, let's set up a system where, uh, if you already have healthcare through your employer and you're happy with it, you don't have to change doctors. You don't have to change plans. Nothing changes. If you don't have healthcare, or you're highly unsatisfied with your healthcare, then let's give you choices. Let's give you options, including a public plan that you can enroll in and sign up for. That's been my proposal.

"Now, obviously as president I've got to work with Congress to get this done. And, ha ha ha. There are folks in Congress who are doing terrific work. They're working hard. They've been having a series of hearings. Uh, I'm confident that both the House and the Senate are going to produce a bill before the August recess. And, it may not have everything I want in there or everything you want in there, but it will be a vast improvement over what we currently have. We'll then have to reconcile the two bills, but I'm confident that we are going to get healthcare reform this year, and start putting us on a path that's sustainable over the long term. That's a commitment I made during the campaign, and I intend to keep it."

The President's response left no doubt that he has taken single-payer healthcare off the table, but his answer lacked the logic and candor we have often come to expect of him. In fact his response seems more than a little disingenuous, and it cannot be permitted to stand unchallenged.

First of all, it is clear that President Obama understands what single-payer is, and given his assertion that it would be the way to go if we were starting from scratch, clearly he realizes that it is the superior system, one that "most industrialized countries around the world" have embraced, and yet he offers what are clearly rationalizations for why we cannot go that route in the United States.

The president suggests that it would be too disruptive to dismantle the "employer-based healthcare" system, yet this system is a total failure. The fact that employers bear much of the cost of healthcare in this country puts us at a distinct disadvantage in international trade because employers in other countries do not bear this substantial cost. The cost of healthcare to U.S. business is responsible for much of the out-sourcing that has cost our economy millions of jobs, and has resulted in much of our car manufacturing fleeing across the border to factories in Canada. More and more businesses are cutting back healthcare benefits, passing a greater percentage of the cost on to employees, or dropping health benefits entirely simply because the cost is overwhelming their eroding bottom line to the point where their very survival is often threatened.

The Business Roundtable reported recently that "Health care costs are one of the top cost pressures facing American businesses today, inhibiting job creation and hurting America's ability to compete in global markets." An ever-growing percentage of the American workforce is finding the cost of employer-based health insurance too costly to bear. In the past decade the number of uninsured working Americans has swelled by more than 6 million and now represents 18% of our workforce, or nearly 27 million people. And that's just the working Americans.

The current world financial crisis is also causing millions of Americans to lose their health insurance when they lose their jobs. This is a uniquely American phenomenon because the rest of the industrialized world has universal healthcare, and the loss of a job in those countries does not carry with it the additional burden of the loss of healthcare (recent studies suggest that the stress that accompanies the loss of a job can often in itself bring on additional health problems).

Barack Obama surely knows all of this, so when he suggests that it would be disruptive to dismantle our employer-based system, he realizes that the reality is that most employers would gladly be relieved of this burden. It doesn't take much of a stretch to also recognize that there are millions of Americans trapped in jobs they hate but dare not give up for fear of losing their employer-based health insurance.

President Obama points out that healthcare costs represent one-sixth of our economy. The President is correct. It is estimated that healthcare expenditures in the United States in 2008 were just under $2.7 TRILLION representing 17% of the gross domestic product (GDP). That number is expected to reach $4.3 TRILLION by 2017, or 20% of GDP. What the President leaves out is that the United States spends more than twice as much per capita on health care than the other developed countries in the world and that as a percentage of GDP healthcare costs in the United States exceed those in the other developed countries by more than 70 percent. What distinguishes those other developed countries from the United States is that they all have universal, not-for-profit healthcare.

The president suggests that we dare not tamper with the essential nature of our healthcare system because it represents one-sixth of our economy but he fails to point out that transitioning to a single-payer model would almost certainly radically reduce the currently bloated cost of healthcare in the United States both in absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP.

What possible justification could there be to preserve a system that costs so much and leaves tens of millions of people without health coverage and tens of millions more underinsured?

Next Page  1  |  2

 

I am a retired advertising sales executive/manager and am now Executive Director of the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC). I am also a member of the Senior Editor Team at Op Ed News. I also serve as Research Director and Board (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Obama Admin Seeks Permission To Lie In Response To Freedom Of Information Requests - Even To The Courts

Barack Obama Spins the Facts, Takes Single-Payer Health Care Off the Table

PA Dem State Committee Takes Single-Payer Healthcare Mainstream, Unanimously Endorses It

Poll Excludes Single-Payer Healthcare; Respondents Implicitly Endorse It Anyway

Health Insurance Monopolies Are Illegal. There Is No Insurance Antitrust Exemption

Chris Christie's Many Tales From the Dark Side

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
26 people are discussing this page, with 57 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

thanks for putting this out there.  everyone ... by Joan Brunwasser on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 9:05:57 AM
Or any other one. So, don't dispair, Joan...there... by Sister Begonia on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 6:59:44 PM
So I will make this comment.Al Franken, Michael Mo... by Michael Cavlan on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 9:09:01 AM
We nneed to publish the amounts of money that thes... by Paul Roden on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 10:57:30 AM
Sometimes the perfect is the enemy of reform. In d... by John Lorenz on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 11:56:59 AM
There is a very good chance that the "public ... by Jerry Policoff on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 12:12:10 PM
What of the Belgian model? You have a hybrid syst... by Mike Costello on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 5:23:33 PM
Just about all of the "single-payer" sys... by Jerry Policoff on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 6:18:01 PM
this is the only one that makes any sense. You ... by Doc "Old Codger" McCoy on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:43:39 AM
I am embarrassed to be on the same website with yo... by John Lorenz on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 11:46:28 AM
Mr Lorenz. However, you may want to use spell chec... by Michael Cavlan on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 1:15:48 PM
I just don't see how this kind of confrontational ... by Jerry Policoff on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 2:05:58 PM
Michael Moore brought the Single Payer Issue to th... by kate loving shenk on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 1:21:40 PM
I also really object to the stridency that accompa... by Jerry Policoff on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 1:42:34 PM
He is also opposed to Impeachment, he publicly sup... by Michael Cavlan on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 2:15:17 PM
Jerry Policoff nails it on the the head -- how the... by Chuck Pennacchio on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 9:43:36 AM
Want single-payer healthcare? Get active with the ... by David Schwab on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 12:18:32 PM
Jerry--A really wonderful article--I intend to Twi... by kate loving shenk on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 12:37:11 PM
The real problem is the people believing that it i... by arlen custer on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 4:00:56 PM
Your condescending tone is unnecessary. I vot... by Jerry Policoff on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 4:32:07 PM
I do, for one. I agree with Custer, anyone livi... by William Whitten on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 6:50:14 PM
but why wait--we all think we have to let obama ru... by TRADESMAN on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 7:42:15 PM
for all of us, Obama never was a proponent of sing... by jersey girl on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 5:54:22 PM
When he was in Chicago - before he ran for the Pre... by August Adams on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 6:26:58 PM
Lost his way? I think not. He always knows exactly... by jersey girl on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 6:59:04 PM
We need to stand together on single payer. No mor... by August Adams on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 8:24:10 PM
August, I'm with you. If we can't get single paye... by Bryan Emmel on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:34:05 AM
... IS the problem, really. Many kudos to Jerry a... by Milton Takkei on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:44:20 AM
We need to stand together on single payer. No mor... by August Adams on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 8:24:10 PM
he is working on his new wall street movie----why ... by TRADESMAN on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 8:02:11 PM
gotta agree with your analysis of the craven cowar... by Michael Cavlan on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 8:19:41 PM
Without a doubt Mr M is the fearless founder of CO... by jersey girl on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 5:49:18 AM
Saying that Obama "takes Single-Payer Health ... by Sister Begonia on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 6:58:15 PM
Thanks for the article - we need to stand together... by August Adams on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 8:05:51 PM
      Jerry, after writin... by mary sunshine on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 8:15:06 PM
There are a lot of people I know and some who have... by Jerry Policoff on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 9:00:09 PM
I don't want to be mean, or uncivil with you, but ... by William Whitten on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 10:07:31 AM
Our representatives, and little doubt the White Ho... by Philip Dennany on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 8:46:27 PM
What has happend to the man we elected president? ... by Harvey Solomon on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 8:55:38 PM
A good article..... 
 and I agreed with yo... by richard on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 10:21:50 PM
That would be the same David Icke who thinks that ... by J. Edward Tremlett on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 10:37:26 PM
you can play the ad hominem game if you wish, Trem... by richard on Monday, May 18, 2009 at 10:57:26 PM
David Icke was, is, and will probably forever be a... by J. Edward Tremlett on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 9:31:45 AM
"David Icke was, is, and will probably forever be ... by William Whitten on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 10:16:19 AM
I've seen many of his presentations and heard him ... by jersey girl on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 6:15:24 AM
wish to hell AJ and Icke were wrong. I wish you we... by richard on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 7:12:23 AM
" I wish Icke and AJ were the tin foil hatters so ... by J. Edward Tremlett on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 9:33:24 AM
keep telling yourself that the bankster's didn... by jersey girl on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:54:17 AM
The reason why David gets the tin foil hat is not ... by J. Edward Tremlett on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 7:49:11 AM
I don't care. The man has been right on target. ... by jersey girl on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 8:35:20 AM
I suppose the Catholic Church and all its subsidia... by William Whitten on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 12:11:08 PM
The folks who have run the US into the ground have... by Jason Paz on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 1:01:00 AM
but not forgotten Mr. M. may have written about th... by shadow dancer on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 1:09:48 AM
He's just another smooth orator like bill clinton.... by Cinderfella on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:49:38 AM
change can only happen when it is done as a collec... by arlen custer on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 9:12:19 AM
and the ensuing discussion sure did disappear from... by Michael Cavlan on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 10:18:42 AM
My article on gloom and doom for the dumb and the ... by J. Edward Tremlett on Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 8:08:53 PM