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The Health Care Hydra

guest post by Ludlow

I've been a critical care nurse for 12 years. I rarely find out about the costs my patients incur as they get care in my unit, though occasionally I hear figures. One gentleman, who had open heart surgery to fix one of his heart valves had to come back 3 months later for a re-do. His wife told me that they had just received the bills that added up to almost $200,000. That was about 8 years ago.

Not long ago I learned that the charge per day in intensive care units like mine was now $11,000. Not unrelated to that fact, just the other day, one of our patients who was a 'self pay' (read 'no insurance') was quickly and quietly packed up and transferred to the county hospital for the remainder of her critical care stay which was going to be several days. Make the jump»

Trust yours but are 250000 other doctors lying to Congress? AMA Opposes Public Health Option.

The New York Times reports that the American Medical Association "will oppose creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan" because "a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans."

The opposition, which comes as Mr. Obama prepares to address the powerful doctors’ group on Monday in Chicago, could be a major hurdle for advocates of a public insurance plan. The A.M.A., with about 250,000 members, is America’s largest physician organization.

While committed to the goal of affordable health insurance for all, the association had said in a general statement of principles that health services should be “provided through private markets, as they are currently.” It is now reacting, for the first time, to specific legislative proposals being drafted by Congress.

[...]

If private insurers are pushed out of the market, the group said, “the corresponding surge in public plan participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers.”

While not the political behemoth it once was, the association probably has more influence than any other group in the health care industry.

[...]

The Association represents interests of 180 groups of physicians and the health care industry represents roughly a sixth of the US economy according to President Obama.  Combining that fact with the personal care and trust most Americans attribute to their doctors, one would normally consider the policy arguments of the AMA with high regard. 

Recent history supports that assumption, for example, with the 2005 Gallup report that showed two-thirds of Americans trusted physicians as having "high" or "very high" "honesty and ethical standards." 

Perhaps the NYT story presages a continuation of the downward trend showing they'd fallen to fifth place from second, among the twenty-one professions considered in 2003.

Perhaps it's the company kept by AMA members since "the group has historically had a strong lobbying operation, supplemented by generous campaign donations?"  But something must explain the divergence of the policy stance held by the organization as compared to that of single-payer advocates interviewed by Bill Moyers last week. 

The positions of these doctors reside at the opposite end of the policy spectrum where they can cite a real-world example where the cost-inflating private-sector was completely eliminated to cut the per-person bill for medical treatment to one-half of what Americans pay. 

And the other arguments are in keeping with an unavoidable conclusion, that either Doctors Wolfe and Hmmelstein blatantly lied through the teeth in grandest fashion to their PBS host, or the American Medical Association is advocating policy that designs to favor the best interests of someone besides the American public. 

I invite you to read the transcript-excerpt below the fold but strongly urge that you watch the Moyers interview that I linked a few days ago.

Then ask yourself, just who can you trust to provide the wisest advice to our Congresspeople? 

The AMA recorded its own slide down the slope of American trust (which, by the way, ranked nurses the highest in 2005!) while single-payer advocates have been locked out of all the roundtables, so far, because the big-money interests have ensured that their profit must be part of Congress's health-care 'reform' legislation.  

Or it won't pass!

Make the jump»

The Fight for Health Care Reform is heating up

While progressives are worrying about how much ground President Obama may have ceded in Tuesday's meeting with the health insurers, It seems that their insurers are already mobilized to ensure that public health insurance is dropped from the health care package. Here's a news analysis  by Christine Bowman, from Buzzflash,  I am cross posting her piece  (written yesterday) and then including a post by Robert Reich and a commentary from Politico that includes a link to the Senate Finance Committees healthcare folicy review. Make the jump»

The Profitable Deceptions of Dr. Luntz

Originally Posted Fri, 05/08/2009 - 15:31, bumped to keep attention to Luntz - standingup

Right now, the biggest money in the country is arrayed to prevent any sort of public or single-payer health option from even being considered, much less appearing on the slate of choices that will be worked over by the leaders we elect every ballot cycle for final passage into the law that governs every American.

Instead, the biggest money in the country is striving to assure that private gain wins over public good and they've poured massive amounts of money into lobbying our leadership.  

So, every single day, the lobbyists are telling the people we trust with our vote each cycle, exactly how we should be governed.  According to the big money.

Just a couple days ago, one of us wrote about the group of SINGLE PAYER HEROES who, in civil disobedience, dared to call into question the fact that a Democratic-majority was hosting a 'roundtable' to discuss 'health care reform' options without including ONE advocate of single-payer options.  

As they were hauled off, the lobbyists laughed when Senator Baucus joked with friends, "we need more police."

And now, apparently, the big money has bought the services of the big guns message-monger, Dr. Frank Luntz, to scientifically achieve the deception his ilk has grown rich in providing to corporate non-citizens of these United States so as to best achieve private gain's victory over the public interest.

Well-known for the effectiveness of his profitable deceptions and much sought-after by the biggest money, I only became aware of Luntz's involvement on behalf of health-care industry interests in a diary posted by Senator Jeff Merkley, "Words Designed to Kill Health Care Reform"

But I was shocked when I read a memo from Republican strategist Dr. Frank Luntz laying out plans to dismantle any effort to give all Americans access to quality health care. Dr. Luntz, the man who developed language designed to promote pre-emptive war in Iraq and distract from the severity of global warming, is at it again – this time with a messaging strategy designed to sink our historic opportunity for health care reform.

I thought it'd be instructive that the public knows just how Dr. Luntz has made so much money message-mongering for the dirtiest of the biggest money, helping George W. Bush's then-largest contributor, Enron, sustain its terror attack against the people of the State of California some eight-odd years ago. Make the jump»

Open Thread: Things Often Are Not What They Seem

 In a recent blog entry. Robert Reich provides an interesting take on Obama's new campaign against tax havens. He suggests that the tax bill may be a way that Obama means to outflank corporate resistance to healthcare reform. Printed with his permission. See comments below for a link to a more straightforward (if less nuanced commentary by David Sirota. Make the jump»

Greed Based Health Care Has To Go

crossposted at DKos.

by JDWolverton 

 We have socialized the losses and privatized the profits in health care.

Reality Check Make the jump»

Obama Confronts Republicans

Ryan Grimm in a  Huffington Post headline story indicates that not only is President Obama putting his weight behind the reconciliation-option for passage of a health-care reform bill (ie eliminating the filibuster option in the Senate) but he has expressed anger at Republican obstructionism. Obama Repeatedly Reminds House GOP Of Their Zero Stimulus Votes.

In a meeting with House Republicans at the White House Thursday, President Obama reminded the minority that the last time he reached out to them, they reacted with zero votes -- twice -- for his stimulus package. And then he reminded them again. And again. And again.

... snip ...

Obama also offered payback for that goose egg. A major overhaul of the health care system, he told the Republican leadership, would be done using a legislative process known as reconciliation, meaning that the GOP won't be able to filibuster it.

Congress has until October 15 to pass health care or student lending reform under the normal process. If it doesn't, reconciliation can be used to eliminate the 60-vote requirement. Make the jump»

Feds Ask, "Did you Have Butt Sex 100 Times"?

 I run jail-based drug treatment programs for a rural Hispanic County. One day in 1998, John, a staff member, came charging into my office waving a GPRA  manual in my face.

At that time, GPRA was the new set of assessment tools required by the feds to measure the impact of all programs. The GPRA tool we used measured improvement in substance-abuse related behaviors.

"I was doing an assessment on a big guy named Jesus!" John shouted. "He had a crucifix tattooed on his bicep. He was in for aggravated battery. I was supposed to ask him, 'Have you had unprotected anal intercourse more than one hundred times this month?'"

"Are you trying to get me killed?!"

If you want to know why the feds demanded that John ask inmates about their sexual habits, and why the OMB's failure to report the results is endangering health care reform today, read on.

 

Congressmen and Reform Groups Protest Put-On at the Ritz

 Video and story courtesy of Alex Lawson, Campaign for America's future.

 Best Protector of Profits at the Expense of Our Health

 by Jason Rosenbaum in Take Action!

DC often feels left out of politics. We don't have a vote in Congress, and so we can't give our Congressional delegation a call when we want reform. But today, DC got to make its voice heard.

As noted earlier, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is having a conference on "health care reform" at the Ritz in DC today and tomorrow. This is a continuation of their sham listening tour, which Health Care for America Now has been calling out around the country for months. It's all part of their blurring strategy to try and convince the country they are for real health care reform this time around, even though the public health insurance option, the heart of President Obama's health care plan, is a dealbreaker for them.

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