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Obama Learned Next to Nothing From the Clintons On Health Care Reform

By       Message Ralph Nader       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 7/26/09

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About the only lesson Barack Obama has learned from the Hillary and
Bill health insurance debacle of 1993-1994 is to leave Michelle Obama
out of his current drive to get something-anything-through the Congress
labeled "reform".

Otherwise, he is making the same mistakes of blurring his proposal,
catering to right-wing Democrats and corporatist Republicans, who want
an even mushier "reform" scam, and cutting deals with the drug,
hospital, and health insurance industries.

His political opponents become bolder with each day as they see his
party base in Congress weakening, his polls dropping, and a confused
public being saturated with unrebutted propaganda by the insatiable
profiteering, subsidized health care giants.

Their campaign-money-greased minions on Capitol Hill and the
corporatist Think Tanks and columnists are seizing on President Obama's
aversion to conflict and repeated willingness to water down what he
will fight for.

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The loud and cruel baying pack comes in the form of William Kristol
("This is not time to pull punches. Go for the kill."), Senator Jim
DeMint (R-SC) ("If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his
Waterloo. It will break him."), and Charles Krauthammer yammering
wildly about medical malpractice and tort law. Krauthammer does not
substantiate his claims or mention the many victims of malpractice as
he gleefully predicts "Obamacare sinking."

All these critics have gold-plated health insurance, of course.

Hillary tried to appease the drug and hospital companies. Obama invites
them to the White House, where they presumably pledged to give up
nearly $300 billion dollars over ten years without any specifics about
how this complex assurance can be policed.

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No matter, in return Obama and his aides agreed not to press Congress
to authorize the federal government to negotiate drug prices with the
drug industry. Don't worry: the taxpayers will pay the bill.

At a meeting on July 7 at the White House between drug company
executives, Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and Senate Finance
Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), the industry, according to The New York
Times, was promised that the final legislative package would not allow
the reimportation of cheaper medicines from Canada or other countries
even if they meet our drug safety standards.

Since these industry meetings at the White House are private, no one
knows how many other concessions were made. What is known is that
Barack Obama knows better. A former supporter of single payer health
insurance (often described as full Medicare for all with free choice of
physician and hospital and the elimination of hundreds of billions of
dollars of corporate administrative costs and billing fraud),
then-Illinois state senator Barack Obama predicted, in 2003, that it
would be enacted once Congress and the White House were controlled by
Democrats. Well, that is now the situation, but, as President, he
believes single payer is not "practical".

Single payer health insurance is supported by a majority of the
American people, majority of physicians and nurses, and nearly ninety
members of the House of Representatives. (See H.R. 676 and singlepayeraction.org.)

A clear replacement of the private health insurance companies with
federal insurance, as Medicare for the elderly did in 1965, allows for
clear language. Twenty thousand people die in America each year because
they cannot afford health insurance, according to the Institute of
Medicine. Hundreds of thousands more suffer because they have no
insurance to treat their diseases or injuries.

Single payer means everyone is covered from birth, as is the case now
in every western nation. Imagine no lives lost or suffering due to no
health insurance.

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Fuzzy proposals, regularly altered and over-complicated due to the
hordes of avaricious corporate lobbyists, make politicians like Obama
very susceptible to lurid descriptions and lies by his vocal,
well-insured opponents. Finally, the Obama people are using "health
insurance reform", rather than the misnomer "health care reform" which
opened them up to charges that government would take over health care.
All proposals, including single payer, are based on private delivery of
health care.

Now enters the well-insured libertarian Cato Institute with full-page
ads in the Washington Post and The New York Times charging Obama with
pursuing government-run health care. A picture of Uncle Sam pointing
under the headline "Your New Doctor." Nonsense. The well-insured people
at Cato should know better than to declare that this "government
takeover" would "reduce health care quality."

About 100,000 lives are lost from medical-hospital negligence per year,
according to the Harvard School of Public Health. This vast tragedy is
hardly going to get worse under universal government health insurance
that assembles data patterns to reduce waste, enhances quality, and
transparency. By contrast, the secretive big health insurers who make
more money the more they deny claims, ignore their loss prevention

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Ralph Nader is one of America's most effective social critics. Named by The Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history, and by Time and Life magazines as one (more...)

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