Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
No More Pretense for Health Care Reform
By Kevin Zeese
ccun.org, June 20, 2009
CBO Estimates 36 million will still be uninsured ten years
from now under most robust Democratic Plan
Well, 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 budget office “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 not
considered they can abandon this PR phrase for fear of looking to
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.
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 was to reduce costs, single payer would have been the model they
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
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 executive director of