No More Pretense for Health Reform

CBO Estimates 36 million will still be uninsured ten years from now under most robust Democratic Plan

The cloudy rhetoric of “universal health care” is being clarified with the first Congressional Budget Office initial scoring of a health care bill. The two key issues of cost and coverage are not going to be solved with the health care reform being considered.

The CBO scored the Kennedy-Dodd proposal, the most robust of the reform proposals actually being considered, and the bottom line is that it will leave 36 million without coverage a decade from now. That is not what the Democrats and Obama have been promising. It is nowhere near universal coverage.

According to the CBO, “Once the proposal was fully implemented, about 39 million individuals would obtain coverage through the new insurance exchanges. At the same time, the number of people who had coverage through an employer would decline by about 15 million (or roughly 10 percent), and coverage from other sources would fall by about 8 million, so the net decrease in the number of people uninsured would be about 16 million.”

And, the Obama administration has sent word to Democrats to stop using the phrase “universal coverage.” Lynn Sweet reports in the Chicago Sun-Times:

In discussing a ‘public option,’ Obama’s message team is telling Democrats on Capitol Hill to avoid using the phrase ‘universal coverage’ because that phrase is often associated with a single-payer system, which is often associated with ‘socialism,’ which the Obama administration does not support. The Obama team-approved language is instead to talk about ‘guaranteed health care,’ a phrase that is less polarizing.

Guaranteed health care is just another empty marketing phrase by the eloquent, teleprompter wordsmiths in the Obama administration. Despite the new rhetoric there is no guarantee of health care in any of the proposals being considered.

The “universal coverage” phrase was always used by Democrats who opposed single payer as a phrase to confuse the voters. Universal coverage sure sounds like it achieves the goal of single payer — providing health care for all. But, it was always merely a marketing tool. Now that the Democrats and Obama have kept single payer boxed up and removed from consideration they can abandon this PR phrase for fear of looking too “socialist.”

As to cost, the CBO reports $10 trillion in new expenses over ten years. Yes, some will get lower premiums, but that is just a shifting of costs from premiums to taxes. We will still be paying for wasteful and over-priced health care — still paying more per person than any country in the world — just out of a different pocket.

The failure to confront the waste of the multi-payer, profit-oriented insurance-based system ensures that costs will not be controlled. Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the New York Times that, “The entire discussion has to be centered on controlling or reducing costs.” In fact, if the real goal were to reduce costs, single payer would have been the model they used.

But, the goal is not to control costs; it is to preserve the profits of their donors. Health professionals gave Obama $11,532,962 and the insurance industry donors gave the Obama campaign $2,211,348. The Obama administration’s approach puts their interests ahead of the necessities of the American people and of the American economy.

In his speech to the AMA Obama made the point crisply, “If we do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of GM — paying more, getting less and going broke.” But, the Democratic proposals do not really try to fix the broken system; they just pour more tax dollars into it.

Obama’s concern is borne out by the CBO. In discussing the need to confront health care they point out: “The federal budget is on an unsustainable path, primarily because of the rising cost of health care.” Shifting these costs from premiums to taxes does nothing to change this reality. In fact it is likely to make federal budget deficits worse.

More than 80 members of the House of Representatives have co-sponsored a bill, HR 676, which would provide coverage to all Americans — a real guarantee of health care, not teleprompter rhetoric — and that would really control costs.

Will Obama ever have the political courage to actually fight for what he knows is the answer? State senator Obama, circa 2003, said, “I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program.” (applause) “And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”

Well, the public has given the Democrats all three but Obama and the Democratic leadership have refused to even consider single payer. Instead they fight for the interests of the insurance industry and falsely call it health care reform. Mr. President, please show some political leadership — stand up for what you know is right.

Kevin Zeese is a Senior Advisor to the Stein-Baraka campaign and is a long term political activist who co-directs Popular Resistance. Read other articles by Kevin, or visit Kevin's website.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rg the lg said on June 17th, 2009 at 2:28pm #

    The surprise is … what?

    There is NO surprise. The new emperor has no more cloths than the previous guy … or the one before that … on back to the beginning.

    The last Congress that had a real impact on how people lived, and made it possible to organize territorial acquisitions as/if the country expanded was under the Articles of Confederation … The Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

    Since then every act of congress has been to assure that property and or wealth was protected.

    May I suggest that you read what we gave away by googling the Articles and comparing them to the acts under the Constitution. The founding fathers were a thermidorean reaction to the alleged revolution.

    That is why we have Presidents say one thing and do another.

    One more point, calling ourselves progressives? Teddy Roosevelt was the ultimate expression of Progressivism in this country … and he presided (along with a whole raft of other Presidents) over one of the bloodiest interventions in US history (The Philippine ‘Insurrection’).

    So, study your history before you make assertions that make you sound simple-minded. The progressives were, are, and will be aggressively nationalist. The regressives were, are, and will be aggressively nationalistic. Neither has ever seen a war they could not support. It has ONLY BEEN through the disobedience of the people that anything has ever made much of a change. Neither the talk on this site, nor the ballot box has ever amounted to anything.

    So, while I agree with the author of this article that Obama’s promises and Obama’s actions are light years apart … my question remains:

    Are you surprised? If so, you are certainly gullible … and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale ….

    In Compassion and sympathy,

    RG The LG

  2. Al said on June 17th, 2009 at 2:30pm #

    We replaced a white scumbag with a black scumbag.

    Change we can believe in!

  3. lichen said on June 17th, 2009 at 3:00pm #

    I see we have angry posts from people like rg who don’t support social benefits or single payer at all and therefore want to abuse any activists who would post about it here. And no, FDR was progressive, teddy was a right-wing loser, as is obama.

    The corporate/democrat sabotage of single payer, real equitable health coverage for all, is sickening and is a huge betrayal, worth mentioning.

  4. joed said on June 17th, 2009 at 4:32pm #

    someone should mention that the members of the house get the best socialised healthcare in the entire universe. if the masters don’t allow socialism to become the way all people are taken care of then there will be a lot of sick and poor people. but, i got mine so too bad about lg the rg or others of that type.
    the bad guys won and you guys lost–get over it and ignore the govt as much as possible. ’cause you sure aint gonna’ do nuthin’ ’bout it.
    i saw someone spell it O’Bama and it seemed most telling.

  5. Danny Ray said on June 17th, 2009 at 6:02pm #

    Teddy was as far left as anyone until his fucking cripple cousin he founded the national parks service. and set aside huge expanses of land. he also founded the Department of Commerce and Labor. In 1903, Roosevelt persuaded Congress to establish a new cabinet-level department to increase the federal government’s purview over the interstate commerce actions of business and to monitor labor relations. Big business interests lobbied heavily to halt this innovation — the first new executive department since the Civil War — but failed. (Commerce and Labor would be separated into independent department in 1913.)

    Bureau of Corporations. As an arm of the newly created department, a Bureau of Corporations was established to find violations under the existing antitrust legislation. The Bureau began investigations into the activities of the meatpacking, oil, steel and tobacco industries, among others.

    Antitrust Law Suits. Roosevelt instructed his attorney general, Philander C. Knox, to launch a series of lawsuits against what were deemed offensive business combinations. Such giants as J.P. Morgan’s Northern Securities Company, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust and James B. Duke’s tobacco trust were targets of the government’s attorneys. In all, forty-four suits were brought during Roosevelt’s administration.

    so why in the hell would you call him a right wing loser?

  6. joed said on June 17th, 2009 at 6:28pm #

    danny ray, every one of those “forty-four suits” were designed, written and produced by and for the corporations. ol’ teddy invented the “blue skys inititive” twist. it was fdr that tried to help the regular people not his ugly cousin. but, it doesn’t really matter now does it. O’Bama claims to be progressive and look at the murder, chaos and destruction he is responsible for. he is not a republican/conservative but he might as well be with all the death he is racking up.

  7. lichen said on June 17th, 2009 at 6:51pm #

    Yeah, mccain said he was modeling himself after old teddy during his election campaign; so of course the fool is also attractive to other people on the right, like danny; this fact is however uninteresting, and I do not and will not share their esteem for someone who clearly did not do enough, in any case, to reign in the rich and big buisness and thereby prevent the roaring 20’s and the great depression. FDR created social security, helped massive amounts of poor people, and in fact part of his new deal was going to include single payer healthcare, but it was attacked by the ama, big buisness, and teddy’s party.

    “ is of incalculable importance that America, Australia, and Siberia should pass out of the hands of their red, black, and yellow aboriginal owners, and become the heritage of the dominant world races.” – teddy rossevelt.

  8. rg the lg said on June 17th, 2009 at 7:38pm #

    Oh lichen …

    I am simply saying, as best I can, that posting to this site is fine and dandy … but that is all it is. Just fine.

    Until the masses rise up in righteous anger, nothing will change. The consensus types who argue that we operate consensually do so only insofar as we have very little choice politically. The progressives talk about how we continually make progress … and wiping out the Arawaks in a quest for gold was progressive if you mean that they were removed from the scene so plantations could be created … and then slaves imported from Africa. I suppose that is progress of a sort. Obliteration of the native americans, setting poor people against poor people (ever read Howard Fast, ‘Freedom Road’ … sure it isn’t history … but it is historical and much more descriptive of the post-civil war south than the crap you learned in school. Progress to get minerals out of the ground to support your progressive lifestyle means strip mining and environmental degradation … all in the name of progressives and jobs for poor people to fight over thus keeping salaries down … ) The left rants about what needs to be done … and then simply sits back and watches (apologies to Howard Zinn, et al) as the system adjusts to buy off the leaders … and thus quell the rebellion.

    So, until you actually get off of your duff and man the barricades, the status quo is the way it is as we sit by, complicit, and let it happen.

    Actually, for what it is worth, as a pharmacy co-owner RG the LG is VERY active in desiring and working toward a system of universal health care. NOT some watered down single payer crap … but REAL health care for all! My problem with social benefits is that every time someone gets a little, then the fight goes out of us … compromise sets in and we end up getting screwed. You may enjoy it, but I don’t. My problem with the Senate Bill … is that it will mean that small independent pharmacies will fall to the Wal-Marts and the Costcos and the other big box outfits because we can not afford to do all of the paperwork that the Senate Bill brings with it. $50,000 fees and massive amounts of paperwork are peanuts to a multi-million dollar operation … but a huge bite out of a small operators budget. (About 25% to be exact.) And yes, we could do it … but we’ll be freezing wages for our people, forced into putting them into the universal system … assuming they qualify … and eroding our personal income from about $50k per year to around 435k. What would you do? Here is another point … when you go into Wal-Mart, count the people behind the counter … usually three, maybe four if they are pretty busy. It takes us eight to twelve people because of all of the paperwork that the big boxes do collectively … and those clerical people with their state of the art machines can handle multiple times the volume we do … since they have economies of scale. Also, we carry about 100 customers (families) on credit and don’t collect a dime of interest on it. Let’s see Wally World do the same? What about Walgreen’s … or any of the others. You can get the meds by usurious credit card rates with them, but we take a different view.

    So, while I rant against the stupidity I see on a site like this, I also walk the walk as I talk the talk.

    If you have read FREEDOM ROAD, I see you as a Senator Holms …

    Nuff said?

    RG the LG

  9. rg the lg said on June 17th, 2009 at 7:41pm #

    The 4 should have been a $ … as in ‘$50k per year to around 435k’

    RG the LG

  10. lichen said on June 17th, 2009 at 8:06pm #

    Your claims are spacious and, again, off-topic. Single-payer is the most equitable, least expensive, tried and true option. It is real universal healthcare, in that it will cover everyone. What ‘senate bill’ you are referring to or how it supposedly effects your business is also not the subject; but it reminds me of much of the rants that the right are putting out instead of backing single-payer which does away with paperwork, but yes, does force the pharmaceutical industry to put up with better prices. In places like Sweden, where guaranteed social benefits are immutable, people still have more than enough fight in them; so your right wing anti-poor stance has no basis.

    You have not given any proof of political action on your part that is somehow superior to journalism; running a pharmacy and formulating a reactionary response to the idea of guaranteed healthcare is supposed to be better? I think not, and I’m glad there are articles here, because unlike you, I agree with their political stance.

  11. Deadbeat said on June 18th, 2009 at 1:06am #

    Rg the Lg writes…

    Actually, for what it is worth, as a pharmacy co-owner RG the LG is VERY active in desiring and working toward a system of universal health care. NOT some watered down single payer crap … but REAL health care for all! My problem with social benefits is that every time someone gets a little, then the fight goes out of us … compromise sets in and we end up getting screwed.

    This is a very keen observation and why there are aspects of the “single payer” health care “movement” that really needs to be questioned. My concerned with the “movement” is that it smells more like Liberal reformism rather than something that could go further. Why stop only at single payer and not demand universal welfare.

    For example if you are homeless what good is having “health care”? Why not include a demand for housing. And what about all the stress in life like debt? Why not demand debt relief for all? Relieving monetary stress will go a long way to improving health.

    My concern is that the demand for “single payer” is really about “middle class” folks who fear going bankrupt. Well the poor really don’t have a stake in that since they are effectively “bankrupt”. It doesn’t seem to be that there is any really solidarity among the “single payer” advocates with the needs of the poor and dispossessed and deadbeats. It seems like the “single payer movement” is really bankruptcy protection for the middle class.

    It that is the case, I can tell you that the politicians knows that the “single payer movement” has no real strength of numbers and therefore are fairly safe is coming up with half-assed solutions. It seems to me that had the advocate of single-payer did more outreach outside of their class interest perhaps they would get some aspects of single payer.

    What I see is exactly what RG describes. And that is if single payer was achieved this movement would fizzle into nothingness and the ruling class would find ways to degrade they single payer system anyway. This is why a real movement much reach out and find solidarity with the whole of the working class — the poor, the dispossessed and the deadbeats.

  12. Max Shields said on June 18th, 2009 at 5:06am #

    lichen and Danny Ray are proof positive that left and right is meaningless.

    The habit of using these terms confuses and keeps us from any sort of meaningful discourse. Granted it’s a tough habit to break, but wherever and whenever possible refrain. We might find we actually discover first principle solutions to real problems instead of old ideologues farting around.

  13. Kevin Zeese said on June 18th, 2009 at 9:41am #

    If you look at ProsperityAgenda.US you will see that health care is one of many issues we are pushing on. One issue we include is a guaranteed national income – something that will particularly help the poor. But, the basic thrust of our program is to democratize the economy and give people more control over their economic life.


  14. Martha said on June 18th, 2009 at 11:11am #

    Kevin Zeese: “If you look at ProsperityAgenda.US you will see that health care is one of many issues we are pushing on. One issue we include is a guaranteed national income – something that will particularly help the poor. But, the basic thrust of our program is to democratize the economy and give people more control over their economic life.”
    Does anyone really need to hear from Kevin Zeese? Wasn’t the time for Kevin to have held feet to the fire during the campaign? Back then Kevin Zeese was in love with Barack Obama. It appears Barack’s wandered on him and now Kevin’s love is shaken.
    No one forced him to embarrass himself.
    And Kat of Kat’s Korner was telling Kevin he was making a fool out of himself as far back as July 2008. Kevin ignored it. Now I ignore writers like Kevin.
    And Kat?
    Last night, she asked Kevin to stop lying and claiming Barack should do what’s right.
    As Kat pointed out, Barack doesn’t support single-payer universal. And she told Zeese he could listen to NPR where Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Secretary, explains, “This is not single-payer. That’s not what anyone is talking about — mostly because the president feels strongly, as I do, that dismantling private health coverage for the 180 million Americans that have it, discouraging more employers from coming into the marketplace, is really the bad, you know, is a bad direction to go.”

    People who shamed themselves need to grasp that they can’t keep gas bagging. Maybe it works that way on TV but this isn’t Meet The Press and I don’t take people Kevin Zeese seriously anymore.

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 19th, 2009 at 1:35am #

    I suspect Danny Boy loves Teddy Rossevelt because he made no pretence of not being a racist who believed in an hierarchy of race, as I am certain from his contributions that Danny boy does too, with you-know-who right up there at the top. As for healthcare reform, ho hum. This the reality of Americanism in action, a vicious Social Darwinism where the top dogs despise the rest (including one another) with the true psychopath’s insane intensity. Market capitalism promotes the psychopath, who in turn solidifies the system, often through murder and violence. This process of unnatural selection, the real descent of Man, morally and spiritually, is reaching its apotheosis in global collapse caused by insatiable parasite class greed, resource depletion and ecosystem destruction. In this country, I can think of only a handful of ‘leaders’ in politics, business and the media, who are in any manner admirable, and the vast majority are, to my thinking at least, evil to greater or lesser degree.

  16. Danny Ray said on June 19th, 2009 at 4:36am #

    Sorry mulga, I love TR due to the fact that he was an AMERICAN first ,Last,and Always. He ,like me, believed in the exceptionality of America and of our place as a leader of the world and our obligation to bring light to the darkness.

  17. Kevin Zeese said on June 19th, 2009 at 7:06am #

    Martha — I never understood what Kat was talking about during the campaign. I spoke out consistently against Obama’s electoral speeches, highlighted his false plans to remove troops from Iraq, criticized his speech to AIPAC, opposed his plans to expand the military and to escalate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    I have not voted for a Democrat (or Republican) since the early 90s. I worked for Nader in 2004 and volunteered in my free time for Nader in 2008. If you go to VotersForPeace.US and look in the archives of article I wrote and we published you will see I told the truth about Obama and everything I predicted is now coming true.

    I tried to engage Kat in discussing this but that led to a dead end and she just kept putting out inaccurate nonsense.


  18. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 19th, 2009 at 4:12pm #

    Thanks Danny Boy for confirming my assertion that you support Teddy Roosevelt because he was a brutish racist who believed Americans were a higher type than all the ‘niggers’ they had to discipline in the rest of the world. This psychotic mentality has caused literally tens of millions of deaths since 1776. In fact, praise for Roosevelt , on these grounds,is, in my opinion, exactly equivalent to praise for Adolph Hitler, only Hitlerism, thankfully, merely survived thirteen years, whereas the waking nightmare of ‘Americanism’ just goes on and on, grinding the innocent into the dust.

  19. Danny Ray said on June 19th, 2009 at 7:01pm #

    You, are as always, most welcome. :-)

  20. Danny Ray said on June 19th, 2009 at 7:36pm #

    Gee I am just not feeling the love.

  21. Hue Longer said on June 20th, 2009 at 12:11am #

    I’m glad you responded to that, Kevin…Martha had me convinced you were a Progressive for Nader!

    Nice article

    Regarding FDR being a man of the people:
    The people were going to burn the system down and he chose the best course he thought was available to keep revolt at bay.

    Sometimes you crush people to make an example and when that doesn’t work you give back to them a portion of the bread they made and act like it was your generous idea. Huey Long was more valuable to the people than Lord Roosevelt, but he caught a bullet while some of his crazy ideas were being reluctantly co-opted.

  22. Hue Longer said on June 20th, 2009 at 12:13am #

    sorry for my double post–if they go through. I know I’m not on the watchlist….am I?

  23. Hue Longer said on June 20th, 2009 at 11:09pm #

    lol…that should read, “Progressive for OBAMA”– not Nader