Tag Archive: single payer


I generally am skeptical about the “name” pundits and media stars like Olbermann, Maddow and all the experts they have on their shows that they repeatedly call on to explain things. Even though I generally agree with them, their shows always end up balancing the political spectrum as if the true place where the world should exist is somewhere between the right wing nut tea baggers and the progressives who want universal health care and an end to all war.

Think about that for a minute. What kind of world is it where we agree to accept war just to balance the political spectrum? Why isn’t war horrifically wrong and something that should never ever be resorted to as long as people can talk things out. It’s not like the middle ages where in order to negotiate you have to travel thousands of miles to meet with your foes. Every nation in the modern world has an open dialog with every other one. The fact that we attack territories like Iraq or Afghanistan to rid ourselves of “terrorists” is absurd. No group of people or enemy lives within the borders of any single country. If you attack them, they simply pick up and move to another territory, just as Al Qaeda exists in countries all over the world.

Paul Krugman - Nobel Prize Winning Economic Scholar

But back to the media pundits. Paul Krugman is one that I find a little less “balanced.” That’s a good thing. He attacked Obama for the selection of the same assholes that brought down our economy as the people to run our treasury and economics. He was left out to dry by the media for that, which indicates to me that he was doing something right. The media is owned by conservatives, even MSNBC, the one thought of as progressive. Olbermann and Maddow take their stories from their higher ups at MSNBC based on what is marketable to the progressive leaning audience. The fact that MSNBC is bent as far as it is toward progressives, indicates that progressives are actually close to center and not on an extreme end of the political spectrum. But when Olbermann talks about Limbaugh or the Fox News dickheads, he’s just giving them free advertising. If he truly thought they were of as little importance as they really are, he’d ignore them completely. They are nonentities and don’t exist in my world.

Now the Senate just passed a healthcare bill and Krugman is applauding that as a great step forward. Is Krugman trying to get back into the media spotlight by going middle of the spectrum here?

Krugman writes in the New York Times article, Tidings of Comfort, about the split of people into three distinct areas of the political spectrum: the far right teabaggers, the fiscal conservatives and the progressives, as if this defines left, right and center.

First, there’s the crazy right, the tea party and death panel people — a lunatic fringe that is no longer a fringe but has moved into the heart of the Republican Party. In the past, there was a general understanding, a sort of implicit clause in the rules of American politics, that major parties would at least pretend to distance themselves from irrational extremists. But those rules are no longer operative. No, Virginia, at this point there is no sanity clause.

A second strand of opposition comes from what I think of as the Bah Humbug caucus: fiscal scolds who routinely issue sententious warnings about rising debt. By rights, this caucus should find much to like in the Senate health bill, which the Congressional Budget Office says would reduce the deficit, and which — in the judgment of leading health economists — does far more to control costs than anyone has attempted in the past.

But, with few exceptions, the fiscal scolds have had nothing good to say about the bill. And in the process they have revealed that their alleged concern about deficits is, well, humbug. As Slate’s Daniel Gross says, what really motivates them is “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is receiving social insurance.”

Finally, there has been opposition from some progressives who are unhappy with the bill’s limitations. Some would settle for nothing less than a full, Medicare-type, single-payer system. Others had their hearts set on the creation of a public option to compete with private insurers. And there are complaints that the subsidies are inadequate, that many families will still have trouble paying for medical care.

Unlike the tea partiers and the humbuggers, disappointed progressives have valid complaints. But those complaints don’t add up to a reason to reject the bill. Yes, it’s a hackneyed phrase, but politics is the art of the possible.

The truth is that there isn’t a Congressional majority in favor of anything like single-payer. There is a narrow majority in favor of a plan with a moderately strong public option. The House has passed such a plan. But given the way the Senate rules work, it takes 60 votes to do almost anything. And that fact, combined with total Republican opposition, has placed sharp limits on what can be enacted.

There may not be a Congressional majority in favor of single payer, but there is (I think) a popular majority among all Americans in favor of it, or would be if they understood what it really is and were not misinformed by conservative owned media.

And that’s at the heart of what’s wrong in the U.S. government. It doesn’t act on the will of the majority. It’s not representative. This is one fact that pretty much all of these three groups agree on. Taxation without representation is alive and well.

The other point here is that progressives are painted as far left of center, when in fact they are more middle. With the extreme right moving into the spotlight in the Republican party it makes progressives perceived as being far right only because of a popular obtuse sentiment that these two groups have to be balanced.

Nothing could be farther from reality. Progressives don’t balance with right extremists any more than right balances with wrong. You might think that right does balance with wrong, and if so then you exemplify my point. If right balances with wrong then we should allow just enough crime to balance with the good that people do. If a hero saves a life then it should be OK to murder someone for balance.

And so for Obama and others to say we have to compromise and balance the political spectrum is completely absurd, irresponsible, and morally corrupt.

http://www.youtube.com/v/VA5GOSiZ9Q8&hl=en&fs=1&Over 50,000 die every year for lack of health care and more for denial of care despite having health insurance. That’s well over 100 deaths per day. 50 million (and growing) in the U.S. have no health care at all. This is why nine Lieberman constituents and members of Mobilization for Health Care Now were arrested today as they sat-in Lieberman’s DC office and demanded to see him.

Five of the Lieberman Nine have been released. The other four intend to stay in jail until Lieberman meets with them to discuss rejecting the money he accepts from insurance companies!

Meanwhile ABC News reports: “Later we will see much a larger protest from the other side of the political spectrum as potentially thousands of protesters gather with Republican lawmakers on the West side of the Capitol. Those protesters will lobby against Democrats’ health care bills in large part because they include a public option..”

Congress is getting it from all sides. Their compromises with the insurance industry infuriate progressives and as weak as what’s left of a public option is, the right are protesting it’s inclusion. You can’t please everyone so you may as well have a single payer system, medicare for all, problem solved, which is what is buzzing about as we hear that Pelosi is allowing a vote on the Weiner amendment for a single payer system!

Huff post reports the following:

Nine protesters were arrested Thursday in a demonstration at the office of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to demand that he pledge to stop accepting from the health insurance industry.

Lieberman, who last week said he would join a GOP filibuster of any health care bill with a government-run public option, has accepted about $1.5 million from health professionals and insurance agencies since 2003, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Twenty protesters, including four students from the University of Connecticut, marched into the senator’s office in the morning and demanded to speak with him. Aides denied their request, offering constituents a closed-door meeting with two legislative aides, which was rejected. Nine protesters then staged a sit-in, saying they would not leave the office until they could have a discussion with the senator in person.

“We’re waiting to see if the senator for Aetna is ready to be the senator for the people,” explained one protester, Kai, who wouldn’t give his last name. Aetna has spent over two million dollars on lobbying in 2009, and has donated $65,000 to Lieberman’s campaign committee.

Within 10 minutes of the protesters’ arrival, Capitol police were on the scene. They dragged away nine protesters, including two of Lieberman’s Connecticut constituents, as Senate staffers watched from the lobby and office hallways.

After the arrests, five of the remaining protesters continued on to Lieberman’s committee hearing, which was already underway. They stood in the back of the chamber and quietly held up signs reading “Patients Not Profits” and “Insurance $$$ Makes Me Sick.”

“It’s ironic Lieberman is chairing this meeting on corporate crimes,” said Medea Benjamin, who characterized the practice of accepting campaign donations from health insurance companies as criminal.

Mobilization for Health Care has a petition to sign urging Lieberman to “publicly pledge that he will no longer accept any money from any insurance companies.

Over 2000 signed this petition within just a few hours of this story breaking.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player.swf Doctors have been traveling across the U.S. in a road show they call “Doctors; Mad as Hell”. They want to see serious health care reform. Most support a single payer system. They met with Obama on October 5, 2008 and continue to hold rallies around the country.

http://current.com/e/91327427/en_US

Grigor Sarkisyan tells us of his daughter who was denied treatment and died because of it, as Dr. Matt Hendrickson MD and others get arrested and protesters chant “CIGNA profits, people die, arrest the real criminals.” This happened in Glendale CA as similar sit-ins at health insurance companies take place around the country. Over 900 people have signed up to risk arrest at these ongoing sit-ins including a number of doctors. They do not accept the public option as the answer to this problem. Only a single payer system that covers all Americans at affordable costs is acceptable and these rallies and sit-ins will continue until that happens.

In Louisville KY seven occupied the Humana lobby for over 24 hours. Humana allowed them to stay as long as they wanted and stated they too want health care reform.

In Warwick, CT, sit-protesters, including Robert Darling, a cancer patient being denied care, occupied the United Health Care office, demanding that the insurer cover Robert’s bone marrow transplant immediately. The CEO was unavailable but the PR manager talked with them and promised to meet with Mr. Darling within a week to answer him.

San Francisco 40

40 risked arrest at a San Francisco sit-in while 200 rallied in support and 30 others blocked entrances to Blue Shield offices. Protesters advocated a “single-payer” system in which the state or federal government would create one system of health insurance to cover everyone, as would be created by Rep. John Conyers’ H.R. 676, which would improve Medicare and expand it to cover everyone. The California legislature has twice passed bills creating a similar single-payer system on the state level, but Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed both these bills.

In New York nine were arrested at a Welpoint sit-in.

New York Nine

New York Nine

Simone Morse, a 19-year old student at Hunter College, was the first to be handcuffed and pulled up from the floor this morning at 1 Liberty Plaza in lower Manhattan, the corporate offices of WellPoint, one of the largest health insurers in the United States.

Cameron Gibson, a 23-year-old medical student at SUNY Downstate, was one of the next to go, followed by Frank Broadhead, a 67-year-old senior on Medicare, who was carried out on his back and deposited into a nearby police van by two members of the New York Police Department. In total, nine protesters were arrested on Wednesday morning on charges of disorderly conduct and/or trespassing, according to an NYPD officer on site who spoke off the record.

Matt Hendrickson, MD, arrested at the Glendale Ca CIGNA sit-in.

Matt Hendrickson, MD, arrested at the Glendale Ca CIGNA sit-in.

Matt Hendrickson, MD explains why he was willing to risk arrest at the CIGNA sit-in in Glendale.

“My name is Matt Hendrickson, I am an Emergency Physician and a member of Physicians For A National Health Program.

I am sitting in at Cigna tomorrow to ask Cigna why the health insurance industry is denying health care.

Why are they charging America a 25% tax on all healthcare transactions to support a system that avoids the sick? Why has the number of physicians grown by 200% in the last 40 years while the number of insurance administrators has grown by 3,000%? Why does their industry have 1 million administrators, while there are half as many physicians and Medicare only has 15,000 employees?

Why does Medicare pay their chief executive $150,000 while Cigna pays Ed Hanway $12 million? Why is their industry raising premiums for small businesses by 15% a year? And then diverting 15 cents off every dollar to deny care to their paying customers.

I’m going inside Cigna today to ask these questions. I’m going to bring some pictures with me. Some of the faces will be familiar to Cigna.

Like Nataline Sarkisyan who lived in Glendale until she was 17 when she died because Cigna denied her transplant.

But they may not know Jenny Fritts who was 24 when this picture was taken with her two-and-a-half year old daughter Kylee. She was also seven and a half months pregnant with her second child- a beautiful baby girl. Jenny is dead. Jenny’s unborn baby is dead. They died because she was turned away for appropriate care from a for-profit hospital due to lack of insurance.

I want Cigna to know about this young woman, seen here at her two-year-old son’s birthday. She came to my ER with a mole behind her ear and a swollen lymph node. Her husband had recently lost his job when their tech firm downsized.

We recommended she get a biopsy. The family used part of their savings to get the biopsy done promptly by paying cash. The biopsy revealed metastatic melanoma. Now the Thomas family has no income, depleted savings and the mother of their three young children has an invasive cancer with no health insurance.

If Cigna won’t let me inside their offices, I’ll sit down outside and wait to speak to them. If police won’t let me wait, I will be arrested. It is my duty as a physician and my honor as a citizen to be speak out for My patients who are losing their savings, losing their homes and losing their lives because of the existence of the private insurance industry.

America cannot wait any longer. Our uninsured cannot wait. Our small businesses cannot wait. Our middle class cannot wait.

This is just the beginning Cigna. Other physicians are risking arrest today. And there will be more next month, and the month after that. We will not stop speaking out for our patients and stating unconditionally that private health insurance must go.”

Matt Hendrickson, MD MPH
Vice Chair, PNHP/CaPA LA
Chair, LA Single Payer Coalition

http://current.com/e/91088270/en_US
President Obama recently mentioned at a town hall on health care reform that he didn’t support a single payer system because it would be too disruptive. He didn’t explain what he meant by disruptive but industry professionals assume he refers to health insurance industry management and employees who would become jobless in short order under a single payer system. It’s not clear if management outnumbers other employees. 

Obama is keeping these insurance industry jobs on as part of the government public option plan to persist health insurance industry control over people’s health care. Even without a public option, insurance companies stand to have an even better stake in the health care market. The future looks bright for health care insurance employees who will be able to continue their never ending thankless job of denying health claims to people in need of medical care. 

The 45,000 people who die every year due to lack of health care and from denial of insurance as well as the 14,000 daily who lose their health insurance are apparently forsaken for the few hundred thousand jobs in the health insurance industry. What’s a few hundred thousand lives and disrupted families every few years to as many well fed well paid industry office workers’ jobs? We need to have at least one or two industries that continue to make record profits while the rest of us face financial ruin. 

The move by Obama is in line with America’s ongoing shift toward corporate welfare socialism. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not have a single payer type system to ensure all it’s citizens have health care and have healthy productive lives. It’s not certain if this fact is the symptom or the result of America slipping into the list of third world countries where 5% or less of the population control 95% or more of the country’s wealth and power. America is no longer considered a democracy by most people who understand the meaning of the term. We are at best an oligarchy, with our government under corporate control by the wealthy few.

In light of America’s failure to deliver health care, despite our advanced technology (only available to the very rich here) we now rank 37th in the world in health care. France is number one.

My suggestion is that Americans stop buying health insurance if they can avoid it. Vote with your wallet. That’s the only thing these people understand.

http://current.com/e/91210625/en_US
Los Angeles 10/15/09 – 12 arrested for a sit-in at Anthem Blue Cross offices as Maureen Cruise, Public Health Nurse, explains why single payer is not off the table. Along with a contingent of doctors, Cruise believes universal health care (a.k.a. single payer or medicare for all) is the only option. As Dr. Jo Olson recently told me, single payer is the only fiscal and moral solution. She has been working for a single payer system for the past five years. Nurse Cruise was an L.A. public health care nurse at numerous clinics until they all closed with the recent economic downturn. As she explains, over 100 people die every day for lack of health care in the U.S. More die every day because they are denied health care from insurance companies despite paying their high premiums. Yet we see public free clinics closing. People are forced into medical debt and foreclosure to pay for health care, unlike every other country. “What kind of country does this to it’s people?” she asks.

Nurse Cruise goes on to say that Pelosi’s announcement to the world that single payer is off the table was a ploy to make everyone forget about it and go for a public option instead, a public option written by and for the insurance industry, which spends over a million dollars per day lobbying Congress. The public option, as she says, is an insurance industry bailout, because with our economic downturn and the insurance industry’s annal retentive (my words) policy of raising rates to make up for losses, they are losing customers and so they look to the deep pockets of our government in the corporate welfare state we call America. But as long as we don’t have a viable health care system without the for profit insurance factor, and as long as we don’t have universal health care, people will continue to rally.

It’s interesting that the right tea baggers agree with the left in this area. Both sides agree that government bailout spending is wrong. But the right has been deluded by the right wing bumper sticker mentality media propaganda into believing that it is an Obama socialism agenda at fault. in fact it is a Wall Street corporate socialist agenda, since as cruise and many others agree, Wall Street owns Congress, and seemingly the Presidency as well.

But the bottom line is that, by law and on paper, this is still a democracy for and by we the people, not the corporations; and so the people have taken to the streets, lead by doctors and health care professionals like nurse Cruise, Dr. Olson and many others. They hold rallies and sit-ins around the country and get arrested in protest. Dr. Susie Baldwin calls the public option a government insurance industry jobs program, which leads me to wonder, why can’t the insurance industry make an honest living selling a service that people need? Why must they resort to living off the government, pushing Congress to make laws forcing people to buy their worthless product which amounts to a mafioso payoff to keep their useless thug industry alive. Why must the insurance industry live on government corporate welfare? Are they too lazy to get a real job and pay their way like the rest of us?

As Dr. Paul Papenek told me, people don’t need actuaries or claims adjusters. People need doctors and nurses. Shouldn’t we forsake the misguided careers of insurance professionals, not only for the 45,000 lost lives every year for lack of health care, but also for the high cost and fiscal deterioration of our country due to the exorbitant waste, fraud and spending on health care due to a corrupt monopolistic health insurance industry.