May 14, 2009
AP is reporting: "President Barack Obama says if he were building the health care system from scratch, a single-payer system would be the best approach. But he says his goal is to improve the current system." The comments were made in response to the first question at the "town hall" type event in Rio Rancho, N.M. by Linda Allison, a local resident. Video of her question and Obama's reply is here. Reached by the Institute for Public Accuracy, Allison said: "I asked why they were excluding single payer from healthcare reform. We have this convoluted system where veterans get one system, Indians get another, there's Medicare, Medicaid and of course many employees get coverage from their companies. Why not just cover everyone under one plan?"I see people without healthcare, like my son. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a reservist. He's in college now and he's doesn't have health insurance. There are people who work who don't have coverage, or their children don't have coverage. Why should having healthcare be tied to your employment?"It's pretty unclear to me, but Obama seems to be for a plan that would leave the insurance companies in a dominant position and we really need to get them out."Obama said that single payer would be good if we were starting from scratch. Well, I think things are pretty bad, so we should start from scratch. But actually, a single-payer system is basically like expanding Medicare to include everyone, so we have a model just waiting for us to use. I recently learned that in Taiwan, they looked around the world for a system and they decided they would copy our Medicare and use it to cover all the people there. Why don't we do that?"The other part of my question, which Obama didn't respond to, was about Max Baucus [chairman of the Senate Finance Committee] and about how he's chairing the hearings while he's taken all this money from the insurance companies. I asked if that wasn't a conflict of interest." According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Baucus's top funders include PACs associated with American International Group, Goldman Sachs, New York Life Insurance and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
Thus spake Speaker Pelosi, the Representative from Aetna? Never mind that 75 members of her party have signed onto H.R. 676-the Conyers single payer legislation. Never mind that in her San Francisco district, probably three out of four people want single payer. And never mind that over 20,000 people die every year, according to the Institute of Medicine, because they cannot afford health insurance.
What is more remarkable is that many more than the 75 members of the House privately believe single payer is the best option. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, and Nancy Pelosi are among them. But they all say, single payer "is not practical" so it's off the table.
What gives here? The Democrats have the procedures to pass any kind of health reform this year, including single payer. President Obama could sign it into law.
But "it's not practical" because these politicians fear the insurance and pharmaceutical industries-and seek their campaign contributions-more than they fear the American people. It comes down to the corporations, who have no votes, are organized to the teeth and the people are not.