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Marion On March - 9 - 2010

So it’s come to this on the eve of a possible passage of healthcare reform, arguably the most important and far-reaching legislation to be passed by Congress since Civil Rights and Medicare came into being in the mid-1960s.

The passage of the Senate Bill in the House hangs by the thread of Denis Kucinich’s vote, whilst celebrity blogger, Jane Hamsher, weighs in with a clarion call for the resignation of Lynne Woolsey, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House and one of the most liberal members in that body.

Kucinich, who voted against the House bill, itself, siding with the Republicans, in early November, is holding out and tilting at windmills for nothing less than a single-payer program to be implemented. Hamsher’s demand for Woolsey’s resignation is a result of Woolsey, another Representative who voted with the Opposition in November, having held her nose and indicated that she would pass the Senate bill on the understanding that a possible public option might be considered on reconciliation.

She compromised, which is what a great deal of our politics – indeed, most politics in the civilised world – is all about: debate, discuss and compromise. She recognised the importance of not wimping out on the one-yard line. She accepted the fact that most pieces of important legislation begin life as a base on which better legislation can be built.

But that’s not enough for Hamsher, who’s not averse to crawling into political bed with the likes of Grover Norquist, spiritual father-confessor of the Teabagging Movement, in an attempt to kill the healthcare bill. In doing this, Hamsher naively thinks that the whole of the Congress, with the President dancing attendance, will sit down again and consider that single-payer is the only route to healthcare the country can afford to take.

Maybe it is. Maybe it’s not. I’ve lived with a single-payer system in the UK  for almost 29 years. I’ve seen it at its best, and I’ve seen it at its worst. Is the quality of care comparable to anything we have in the US? Quite honestly, I have to say no – considering the private health insurance that I carried when I taught school in the States, no. Sometimes, you luck out here and get good nurses, doctors who’ll spend time with you and answer your questions and efficient bureaucracy.  Sometimes shit happens.

At the moment, corporate influence is worming its way into the system in the shape and form of the genial figure of Richard Branson. Gordon Brown has allowed him to buy into however many medical practices that he can afford – and being Richard Branson, that will be a lot – becoming, effectively, a sleeping partner and investing in the running costs and salaries of officials associated with those medical practices. These will be renamed, collectively, Virgin Health (along with Virgin Travel, Virgin Money, Virgin Communications, Virgin Television and Virgin Broadband). I suspect this means that other tycoons will take over other medical practices and before you can sneeze, we’ll be paying handsomely (and privately) to see our GP, to have various and sundry tests run, which – under the old National Health – would have all been free at source.

It’s a sneaky way to cut services offered, whilst increasing the extra tax charged here to fund healthcare, the National Insurance. Everyone pays proportionate to their income. At least, Maggie Thatcher was honest enough to say outright that she was cutting dentistry and optical care out of the package.

I’m also still American enough to know that a single-payer system – indeed, any universal healthcare system – will, inevitably, mean an increase in taxes, overall – something that sticks in the craw of most Americans of any political persuasion.

Suffice it to say that single-payer is a non-starter; but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t happen, for better or for worse.

Hamsher made waves a few months ago, when the Senate was preparing to pass its healthcare bill when she infamously joined forces Norquist in an effort to kill the Healthcare bill. This was grandstanding at its worst and, also, incredibly naive; for Hamsher thought that, almost immediately, this would force Congress to sit down at a table and start again from scratch with healthcare reform, effectively hammering through a single-player plan.

As if.

The last time healthcare got bitch-slapped into submission (and by a Democratic Congress) was when Bill Clinton despatched Hillary to the Hill with a fully formulated healthcare plan to place before their hallowed portals.

She got pretty short shrift, and that was almost 17 years ago.

Within the political system, itself, we now hear that Nancy Pelosi is redoubling all efforts, with the help of the President, in trying to convince a recalcitrant Denis Kucinich to support passage of this bill.

I’m not the biggest fan of Kucinich, but I admire him as a man of principle. He seems to be one of the few serving politicos who’s remained true to his core beliefs. However, this is a seminal moment in United States political history.

We are about to be presented with an actual healthcare program, which would ensure coverage of an additional 30,000,000 people, making this almost universal in concept. Is it a great piece of legislation? No. It’s not perfect, but – as everyone’s said endlessly – neither was Social Security in its original form. But it gives us a platform, a foundation upon which to build – and legislation, in the form of an amendment tacked onto an existing law, is something that only requires 51 Senate votes in order to bring it into being.

That Kucinich has now become the Lieberman of the House, holding out on a hiding to nothing in a quixotic attempt to force single-payer into the equation – single-payer not the ubiquitous public option – ceases to be harmless windmill tilting and becomes, in its stead, the proverbial straw that’s going to break the camel’s back of healthcare reform in the United States.

This begs the question, cynic that I am, of when, exactly, one’s ego overrides one’s principles, at the expense of one’s constituents? Because politicos of all persuasion, to have even arrived at the door of the national legislative body, need an ego of considerable dimensions. A situation like this would put the most milquetoast of men in a position to wield enormous power with equally enormous demands, should he choose. We all remember Joe Lieberman’s and Ben Nelson’s antics.

It’s moments like these when I think that the US Congress – and, in particular, this fractured Democratic Party – would benefit from a stronger ‘whip’ system, which is used in the British House of Commons. The political whips actually do figuratively whip their party members into a situation where they are compelled to vote the party line. To refuse to do so, for whatever principle, results in what is known as a withdrawal of the whip. Put bluntly, the recalcitrant member is unceremoniously kicked out of his respective party. He can still serve as an elected member, but the next time there’s a general election, he has to find a new group of playmates or beg forgiveness of his party leaders. It happened to George Galloway. It happened to Clare Short. No one is too big for the party.

I’ve no doubt that Kucinich is devoted to the principle of seeing single-payer firmly ensconced as a Third Rail in the American healthcare system. Bernie Sanders is also, but Sanders, a real Independent, knows that sometimes it’s mete to swallow hard and be pragmatic – one of the rules of political life you’d think a seasoned campaigner like Kucinich would know. Yet I also can’t help wonder how much this incident is Kucinich’s big moment in the spotlight, his chance to be Napoleon for the day, and which might turn into his jump-the-shark moment.

On a Napoleonic scale, he’d do well to remember that Jim DeMint, NOPer extraordinaire, has sworn to make healthcare reform Obama’s Waterloo. The House bill which passed in November did so on the strength of 5 votes, and one of those didn’t belong to Kucinich. Since that time, the lone Republican who voted for the bill has been bullied into seeing sense by his political ‘betters.’ Jack Murtha has died. Another Congressman switched parties and a fourth resigned. If the one vote that’s the difference between healthcare and health hell is Denis Kucinich, imagine the irony of this Democratic Napoleon effecting his own party’s Waterloo.

From that moment onward, Obama would become a lame duck President, and the Democratic Party would be seen to be shallow, divided and incapable (as well as unworthy) of governing.

Jane Hamsher is a private citizen. As such, she – like any other private citizen – is entitled to call for the resignation of any public official. That’s her right, just as it’s the official’s right to ignore the demand. But the demand got her the attention (and her blogsite, the clicks) she sought. With that in mind, I’d like to call for the resignation of the 5 conservative members of the Supreme Court, who have played god to create corporate personhood, my Congressman, Frank Wolf, for spending most of his spare time on his knees in the C Street cathouse, and Eric Cantor, because I don’t like the smirk on his face, as well as his politics.

But it ain’t gonna happen, is it?

It’s unfortunate that the single-payer option was never in the running to be adopted as the universal healthcare system in the US, but if the entire healthcare reform process is derailed because of the stubborn pride masqueraded and paraded as an unbending principle of a United States Congressman, then that’s more than unfortunate. It’s a totally unmitigated tragedy.

The pride of a high-profiled Leftie like Hamsher and a Democratic Congressman of Kucinich’s ilk goeth mightily before a fall of a political party, which might find itself in the wilderness of opposition for the far and foreseeable future.

At the end of the day, I hope both Kucinich and Hamsher won’t miss the noses they’ve cut off their faces much. At least, they’ll be spared the stench that comes with a Republican administration – or the smell of mooseburgers roasting on the White House barbecue.

89 Responses so far.

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  1. KQuark says:

    Markos’s response to Kucinich’s purist ideology on HCR was similar to some folks here.

    I understand there are two groups of thought in the left leaning community where one says pass the friggin’ bill already because we’ve got to get this thing started. While the other side says kill it and wait for something more perfect.

    But in human terms the second line of thinking affects people who are suffering now much more harshly than passing the first step of HCR now by almost every measure.

  2. Marion says:

    Just to answer Khirad’s point about Europeans away back.

    Merkel’s government is coalition. When she was first elected, people were wary of her. She was the first Chancellor since unification to come from the old Eastern Germany, and she was known as rightwing. Her first coalition was with the Christian Democrats, who are socially liberal, so a certain percentage of her cabinet was made up of them, and certain of her policies had to come from their reps.

    This is her second term and second coalition, only this time, the biggest group, with which she had to join, was a very hard rightwing group (who’s leader, incidentally, is a gay man). These people are hardline purificationists who are anti-immigration. Honestly, they stop one step short of being fascists. Even if she wanted to be, Merkel’s government now is going to be further to the right than she probably wants to be.

    You have no idea how much the fascist Right is growing all over Europe, in answer to immigration problems and the perceived Islamification of Europe.

    As for Cameron, as I said, don’t be deceived by the ‘nice man’ mantra. His Chancellor, George Osborne is one of the biggest aristocratic pricks going. This asshole has never had a job in his life and he’ll be responsible for the economy. Already they are talking about closing grammar schools and cutting benefits. As far as alliances within the EU, he’s forged an alliance with the Polish PM, whose government is fundamentalist Catholic and homophobic.

    Cameron is NO Blue Dog and NO Lindsey Graham. Richard Shelby, maybe, with Osborne being David Vitter, penchant for prozzies and all.

  3. Marion says:

    Think about this re Kucinich.

    If he kills this bill, you can kiss good-bye to an Obama second term and to a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate. In fact, it will be a LONG time before we see the Dems in anything but opposition.

    Kucinich may even lose his seat.

    As someone on HP said yesterday, if Kucinich thinks insurance companies are so bad, he should give up his private cover. If he’s booted out of Congress, he’s got a contingency plan. He has a much, much younger British wife. If he gets the boot, they’ll just bugger back to Britain. He’ll be taken on as an academic, teaching American Studies at some Left-leaning provincial uni (like Sale) and the BBC will wheel him out every now and then to comment on any American political crisis or something. He will then glean a consultant’s fee for being their ‘pet American politico’ (Jamie Rubin was, for years during his Bush exile).

    Oh, and thanks to his wife, he’ll get a National Insurance number and benefit from single-payer health. Only he won’t. The first undue fart he lets, he’ll high-ass it to Harley Street.

    Come ON, do you think he’d actuall queue to use a national health service, even HERE?

    • Khirad says:

      I’d take Mr. Amanpour over what passes for British analysis in Richard Quest any day.

      If he lost his seat, what’s the over/under that Elizabeth leaves him before he can hop across the pond?

  4. KQuark says:

    PatsyT just to substantiate that you were correct in what Wendell Potter said about the president’s plan on Bill Moyers March 5th.

    Ultimately, according to Potter, the health insurance companies will continue to be profitable whether or not the reform passes

  5. KQuark says:

    Let me tell people something about single payer. It’s not the best first step and it’s not perfect.

    The best link I found on single payer dispels the myths but also does not hide the problems in the Canadian system. Of course their system is much better than ours but a piece of info I read the other day really shook my opinion of instituting single payer at least at first. Most hospitals lose money now on Medicare patients because of the fixed provider rates, especially rural hospitals. Single payer is Medicare for all and it could end up in shortages of care, no I’m not saying rationed care but just create more shortages in certain parts of the HC system.


    The other myth perpetrated by single payer supporters is the single payer is the only system that works at having lower costs and better care. The fact is there are all kinds of systems that work much better than our from all private controlled systems, socialistic systems, single payer systems but most systems are hybrid systems with all components. The most important part for a HC system is to fit the countries culture and trying to institute full single payer now would literally be culture shock. We should proceed with single payer and hybrids as such like Canada did one province at a time.

    Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland all have private HC systems and they rank 6th, 17th 20th by the WHO, respectively. Ahead of Germany, Canada and of course the US ranked 25th, 30th and 37th, respectively. To show I’m not cherry picking I’m keenly aware the best HC system in the world is France and they have single payer but most Americans don’t know that most French have supplemental private insurance so they are even a de facto hybrid system.


    If you want to learn this blogger is already an MD and PhD in Psychology and is now a surgery resident. He studies many HC systems around the world and even though he leans left he’s honest about their strengths and weaknesses.


    The system that is being proposed by the president now is closest to the Swiss HC system. Here’s a good NYTs article about it.


    • Chernynkaya says:

      KQ,those are extremely good links!

      In one of those, the article linked to this:
      Health Reform Without a Public Plan: The German Model


      This section really caught my eye:

      Who should perform these functions is powerfully driven by the distributive social ethic that nations wish to impose upon their health systems.
      In Europe, as in Canada, that social ethic is based on the principle of social solidarity. It means that health care should be financed by individuals on the basis of their ability to pay, but should be available to all who need it on roughly equal terms. The regulations imposed on health care in these countries are rooted in this overarching principle.
      First, these countries all mandate the individual to be insured for a basic package of health care benefits.
      Many Americans oppose such a mandate as an infringement of their personal rights, all the while believing that they have a perfect right to highly expensive, critically needed health care, even when they cannot pay for it. This immature, asocial mentality is rare in the rest of the world. An insurance sector that must insure all comers at premiums that are not contingent on the insured

      • Marion says:

        I can answer that a little bit, having lived in Europe for most of my adult life. Succinctly put, Chris Rock nailed the American attitude two weeks ago on Bill Maher’s show, when he said that Americans DON’T like paying for anybody else. This has been a constant gripe I remember hearing back in the 70s when I was a student, and the welfare state in the US was a LOT bigger than it is now.

        When I was growing up, in the 60s, being on welfare (or ‘on relief’ as my parents put it) was something people were ashamed of. My best friend was a foster child on welfare, and she was mortified that she got free textbooks and lunched.

        Don’t think that it’s ingrained in Europeans to be so sociologically philanthropic. It’s not. They hate paying for people whom they perceive milk the system as much as anyone else, and the system is really easy to milk in Europe, especially the UK. In many instances here, a person who knows how to play the system, can make more money on welfare benefits than he can actually working.

        I think Obama was echoing Chris Rock’s sentiment regarding Americans’a attitudes; however, the model for healthcare reform that the President is pushing is very closely modelled on the system used in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Austria. There are no public options in those countries, but there ARE insurance exchanges, and the health insurance companies are heavily regulated by the governments. I really think THIS is the direction in which Obama is headed, trying to rein these companies in and regulate them -- he’s actually moving to remove their exemption from anti-trust status, and that’s a start.

        It’s good you mentioned the immigration situation too, because that is SERIOUSLY straining a lot of government health systems -- especially in the UK and France. Five years ago, there had been no cases of TB in Britain in 40 years. Now we have TB wards open again, due to the influx of legal immigration from the old Eastern bloc countries and illegal immigration from Africa.

      • Khirad says:

        You know Cher, I really do think there is something to that, the national psyche. The subject of different countries and cultures attitudes is an exercise in itself, but I really think there’s a lot of truth to that.

        We still have this romantic notion of the Pioneer spirit here. People who were outcasts in their own countries who came here as individuals to pursue their dream.

        We don’t really have a national ethic, a cohesive cognizance of our interdependence here, as in other countries. One might say, that that type of “groupthink” is Borgish or leads to fascism, but doesn’t our own military teach soldiers that the team is only as strong as its weakest link? Forget humanitarian arguments with these people, they don’t care. Like Kyl said, screw ’em, we got ours.

        Our nation, however much we like to extol the rugged individualist, you work hard and you’ll succeed myth, cannot survive as the nation we’re supposed to love, if we don’t care for eacher other. We are all America.

      • KQuark says:

        I fully admit our culture is in denial. But it does not change the perception most Americans would have if single payer was thrust upon them.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Yes KQ, that’s my point too. We as a country, at least the majority, do not seem to accept the notion of a distributive social ethic. We are not a cohesive group. Also, we have been systematically schooled to abhor collectivism in favor of self-sufficiency and individualism, as if group cooperation would strip us of our freedom. The only “freedom” it would strip us of is the “freedom” to be individual slaves of corporate overlords.

          • KQuark says:

            Our diversity is our strength as a nation in so many ways except for having a sense of social responsibility in my opinion. European countries and even Asian countries like Japan have centuries of cultural advancement based on one dominant culture and I think that’s why they accept their social responsibility so readily. In fact the latest immigration trends in Europe are reversing some of the ways some Europeans in some counties are viewing their social systems. I think that’s why Europe is jogging a little to the right even though even their major conservative parties are much more left center than right based on American politics.

            • Marion says:

              You are right about European governments veering to the Right at the moment, but you are wrong about Rightwing European political parties being the equivalent of left-centrist American politics. That’s another myth that well-known experts on Europe, such as Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann, have propagated.

              The following governments in Europe can be classified as Rightwing: Sarkozy’s France, Merkel’s Germany, Berlusconi’s Italy, plus Holland and even Switzerland.

              But Rightwing politics in Europe would be RIGHT at home with the governing GOP. Even nice, cuddly David Cameron (who’s got caught sending money to the RNC)would quite happily have ripped the NHS to shreds if the Right hadn’t propagated those commercials showing some of the fuck-ups the NHS has done here and started Americans outcrying over such poor conditions. He was forced to defend a system he abhors. You can’t turn on commercial television here at night, if you don’t see an advert for private health insurance, and people are buying it!

              Sarkozy’s government would be well at home with the Republicans. They are virulently jingoistic and protectionist, hate immigrants and force them to assimilate. Sarkozy is a Jew, and the French are amongst the most anti-Semitic people in Europe, so he’s turned himself into a Jew-hating Jew to retain power. Merkel is a recogniseable conservative, and you’d find Berlusconi happily cavorting with the teabaggers. That’s simply a fallacy to say that the European conservative mentality is Blue Doggish. Truth is, it’s not.

            • Khirad says:

              I agree with you on Italy and France and some of that real ugly stuff in Holland; but I do believe Cameron would straddle somewhere between a moderate Republican and conservative Dem -- if only for getting votes. That NHS bit explains a whole lot about him dropping it as an issue, though. I also think Merkel would be a moderate to liberal Republican. I have no love for her, but I really don’t think she would fit that comfortably in today’s GOP (or she would fit with the leadership of Boehner, Cantor types, I mean). She is markedly socially and fiscally conservative, but she’s not a moonbat.

              I feel humble taking you on on this, as you know better, and I’m viewing from afar, but I really don’t get the same sense from Tories in the UK and Canada that I get from the GOP. I know it’s become a hyperbolic meme, but I still think a good chunk of the GOP is more analogous to the BNP, NPD and Front national.

    • Marion says:

      K, sorry, but I have to correct you. France has a hybrid system, which, I think, would fit the US very nicely. They used to have a hybrid government/private system, in which the government covered 80% of a person’s healthcare bill and the remaining 20% would be covered by a private insurer tied to the person’s employer and heavily regulated by the government.

      But France’s system is tanking too and now the split is 65/35. However 1/3 of a person’s income is deducted to cover healthcare administrative costs, as tax.

      • KQuark says:

        I thought I said that but I probably did not say it explicitly enough. If you read the link you will see France is unique in many ways because med students are fully funded by the government so they don’t have mounds of debt like they do in the US. Eventuality I would like to see us model our system after France but many steps like fixing the student loan system needs to happen first.

        • Marion says:

          Again, in most continental countries university education is ‘free’ at source, and funded by taxpayers’ money. The downside of that is, those governments allow university students to retain their student status until they are into their thirties. (In Italy, the cut-off is 32, even later in Germany). The result is people stay on at university for years. Their system is different from ours -- you can string out exams and coursework forever.

          In England (not Scotland or Wales), there are tuition fees, and kids often end their courses with upwards of the US equivalent of $60,000 debts with a certain amount of time to repay this through their career paths. If English kids go to Scotland or Wales, they have to pay tuition too, but if Welsh or Scots kids attend university in England, they don’t pay anything. The reason tuition fees were introduced is because so many people were paying for kids to go to university and they felt that was unjust.

    • kesmarn says:

      Thanks for these great sources, KQ.

      The Denialism blog really caught my attention. Especially this:

      “Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one’s viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.

      Examples of common topics in which denialists employ their
      5 general tactics are used by denialists to sow confusion. They are conspiracy, selectivity (cherry-picking),fake experts, impossible expectations (also known as moving goalposts), and general fallacies of logic.”

      Excellent analysis of some of the faux-logic we’ve seen--especially at HP.

      The fact that the writer takes this approach lends a lot of credibility to his analyses of other countries’ health care systems.

      • KQuark says:

        I’m drawn to Denialism for the exact same reason because of my scientific background. Time and time again I read unsubstantiated claims, hyperbole and guilt by association flawed logic in the left leaning blog world.

        I worked in corporate America for over 20 years and totally dislike the way more corporations operate and totally hate the no skin in the game shareholder system. But according to progressive blog logic I’m just another sell out.

        Many people I know who work for corporations hate their practices and are trying to change them from the inside. The worst part is the hypocrisy of some people. For example HP is a corporation. All the left leaning pundits on MSNBC ultimately work for GE, enough said. So by their standards they are guilty by their associations and in principle should quite MSNBC because GE owns them. Yet time and time again they have the unmitigated hypocrisy of using this guilt by association logic as a weapon.

        • Marion says:

          Add Maher to that equation. HBO is owned by Time Warner, and as much as he rails against corporations, he is very much the corporate man.

          I am so amazed that otherwise intelligent people can’t see this. I posted my blog about his Progressivism on his discussion page, and had this girl graduate student trying to refute me, but refusing to answer my question about how she could reconcile him being the voice of Progressives when he espoused so many political views that were the antithesis of Progressivism. She kept repeating a mantra of ‘Bill tells the truth, Bill tells the truth.’

          When I pointed out his fallacies, she shot back, asking why I was contributing to his page if I hated him so. I asked her if she honestly thought Bill Maher hated America, and if he did, why did he stay here? I told her, as he said, when you like something, there’s a thing such as constructive criticism in order to better that thing or person.

          You can like a person more if you see their human qualities -- in this instance, that Bill’s a hypocrite, just like everyone else. He’s certainly admitted that he’s greedy like everyone.

          When did people today in the US become so flaming stupid? Because she kept parrotting that she gets her ‘news’ from Bill. I just said, ‘Sunshine, Bill’s infotainment. Even he says he’s just a comedian and you shouldn’t be taking what he says verbatim. If you listen to him, really listen, he’s always telling people to watch the evening news broadcasts, listen to the FACTS and THINK.’

          Jeesh, I despair of America with the next generation coming on.

          • LABC63 says:

            Amen…I find Bill Mahr to a be a smirky douche at times and think that people who consider themselves progressives could do better than join in the “I’m so clever that I am going to stand at the sidelines smirking while the world implodes” mentality that has taken over some of the so called spokesmen and women (Hamisher)of the progressive movement. Easy to do as they got what they need to survive…

        • kesmarn says:

          Was Logic a required course when you were in college, KQ?

          Believe it or not, it was, at our university. No matter what your major was, you HAD to take a semester of Logic (not a quarter). At the time I was totally baffled. Now I realize what the game plan was.

          Logic should be required. Especially the ability to recognize logical fallacies.

          P.S. I suppose that, because I work in health care, I could also be considered a sell-out, KQ. But, like you, I’m working for change from within as well. I’d love to see HCR passed--the sooner the better. Even if it means big changes for all of us. It’s worth it.

          • KQuark says:

            No it wasn’t required for my major but I took it anyway and I’m totally glad I did. I remember what I learned in that class almost every day. I hate to brag, well maybe not but I only got three questions wrong all year in that class on four exams. Of course I took it my senior year after Calc III and DiffyQ so it was sort of a cake walk elective for me.

            It was require for communication majors to take it and I remember this poor communications student who failed it three times. I helped her the last time she took it and she at least passed it with a “C”.

            About working in healthcare, exactly like I said the other day even in insurance companies there are many people that are focused on the care side of healthcare. My wife worked with allot of Medical Directors who were all practicing doctors at some time and most of them were relentlessly fighting their own management. It was mostly the bean counters that came up with ungodly “quotas” some MDs had to deal with. Many MDs would just quit after a while and go back into practice. Yes some MDs did sell out and take lavish bonuses to give the bean counters what they wanted but they were like Axis Power sympathizers to most MDs.

  6. KQuark says:

    The kill the bill people amaze me. This is the best deal we will get with the people in office now. People say just wait until Congress gets more progressive which is deeply flawed logic because if this group of Dems does not deliver now Dems rightly won’t be trusted again.

    So three things will happen. First nothing changes and HC costs go through the roof and bankrupts the country. Second Republicans do HCR with no subsidies, restrictions on private industry and mandates and people end up paying much more. Third Democrats move more to the center like they did after 1994 to get back into power and do a more conservative version of HCR.

    Both sides are mischaracterizing the latest reconciliation plan. The right is saying it’s a “government takeover” and the left is saying it’s a “corporate giveaway”. Neither side is correct because looking at the plan as a whole it’s in the center. Some parts are very little and some are conservative. No way can you say providing generous subsidies to working families, have government approve rate increases and making private insurance cover people they don’t want to cover as a corporate giveaway. Now way can you keep the employee plan you have and setting up a market exchange is a government takeover. It’s all hyperbole from both sides for political purposes.

    I have ZERO trust that either end of the political spectrum is even interested in telling the truth anymore. It’s all a political game for them.

  7. TheRarestPatriot says:

    Couldn’t they still write in the ‘trigger’ option for single payer while they’re ‘tweaking’? Why not agree to begin the construction of a single payer system (that can’t be touched should the Right regain power) and proceed from there? Maybe put a ten year horizon on total conversion. That way all of the mechanisms can be in place and the deals can start to be made, etc. As far as taxes go, I’m still certain that by altering the tax exempt status on religious institutions to include a percentage to cover single payer, the majority of us wouldn’t see too much of a tax increase. Not to mention a small tax on businesses that then wouldn’t have to provide costly coverage to employees. Naive, right?

  8. Blues Tiger says:

    Please understand I am asking this legitimately because at the moment I fail to understand the importance of passing a Bill that seems to be agreed upon as basically Bad with a few good points, but hopefully can be changed later…

    What is wrong with desiring to tweak on the Bill and get more of it right before getting it passed? From what I have been to ascertain, Kucinich’s objections are reasonable and sound…

    There appears to be an air of desperation connected to all this and that worries me, because there really are no guarantee’s the changes that should be made will occur or occur in a reasonable future time frame…

    • PatsyT says:

      I definitely want to see the final bill and hope the Dennis K’s issues can be addressed
      He did express some glimmers yesterday on the KO show with Lawrence O
      He wants to see more progress
      Anyone notice Wendell Potter and his position?
      Wendell Potter says YES ! Go for the Bill
      even without the public option
      (I was one for single payer and then the public option)
      Of course the final version is still in flux
      I hope we can all use this time to express ourselves
      to have the BEST Bill pass

    • nellie says:

      Actually, the only people saying the bill is bad are Republicans and people who will settle for nothing less than single payer. The vast swath of people in the middle will be very happy with these reforms.

      These are not tweaks. These are major reforms that will permit people to change jobs without losing health care, save people from bankruptcy, guarantee coverage and treatment. These are not small changes for people who need health services and who want to keep their homes.

      • Marion says:

        You know, a lot of people look to Alan Grayson as a sort of saviour in all this, based on his stirring speech in the House that day, and he DOES want a single-payer system. But I do know, for a fact,that he’s firmly behind this bill and says it’s a very good bill. He was extremely annoyed with Howard Dean for the mockers he put on the legislation at the end of the year. Dean, quite frankly, should have known better and should have exercised tact.

        There was always more than just a little bit of thwarted ego throughout all this -- first Lieberman, then Dean … now Kucinich. Three rejected Presidential candidates. Go figure.

        • escribacat says:

          Shrewd point about the rejected Presidential candidates.

        • bitohistory says:

          Oh, I see, Marion. I’ll change my letter and thank Mr. Kucinich and tell him that we will all wait until he is President, has 218 progressives in the House and 60 progressives in the Senate--then we gt the perfect bill!!!
          Wonder what year that will be?

      • Blues Tiger says:

        Hi nellie nice to see you!!! 😀 I agree that there are some major reforms I was just wondering about mandates with no strong public option and Premium cost containment’s… For me it isn’t all about a single payer system or no system at all…

        • nellie says:

          I think we’ll get the public option.

          You know, that might be the difference between those who support this bill and those who don’t — the belief that reconciliation will happen and that the public option will show up soon.

          • escribacat says:

            Sherrod Brown was on TV recently describing how he’d been working on a separate public option bill for many months now. I think he said 7 or 8 months.

            • nellie says:

              I’ve heard him talk about that. He sounds determined to get it through, and I believe he’ll do it.

            • bitohistory says:

              I think he has 38 signatures now and I have seen/read that others want o see the final bill.

    • bitohistory says:

      The Senate bill has to be passed (in the house) first. The tweaks are done in reconciliation. If Kucinich votes to kill, there will be nothing there to “tweak”!

      • Blues Tiger says:

        If he voted against the Bill before and it passed how come his nea vote kills it this time? Why is Kucinich being singled out?

        • Marion says:

          The House bill passed the last time by 5 votes, with all of the Progressive Caucus voting against it. Of the five votes, one was actually a Republican -- Joseph Cao. Since then, the GOP have whipped him onside. Jack Murtha died. Parker switched parties, so he’ll be whipped to a ‘no’ too. And the fourth resigned to concentrate on a gubernatorial campaign. The House, collectively, was bucking against having to pass the Senate’s bill -- if there’d been more time and no Scott Brown, they would have been able to demand that some of their ideas be included in the thing as well and then cobbled the two together.

          Pelosi’s got to get ALL the party onside, so Kucinich becomes the lychpin now. Most of the Progressive caucus are onside, but some are wavering. He’s got the highest profile so he’s the target of Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn. As Nellie says, if he votes with the NOs and kills the bill, there’s nothing to tweak.

  9. Chernynkaya says:

    Good work, Marion! Here’s an interesting petition!

    Today we’re taking it to the streets.

    The insurance companies are having a conference in Washington, DC to plot how to kill health reform. Thousands are gathering as we speak to perform a citizens’ arrest. Even though you can’t be there in person, you can help us hold the insurance companies accountable for their crimes.

    We’ve obtained the fax numbers for the offices of the insurance companies. With your help, we can shut them down!

    Chris Shiflett, guitarist in the Foo Fighters, has recorded a video to deputize you into the citizens’ posse so you can help us arrest the insurance companies:

    Click here to watch the video. We’ll automatically send a free fax of a wanted poster with an insurance CEO’s face on it to the insurance company offices.


    Wanted -- Karen Ignagni, AHIP CEO

    Even if you can’t be with us in person you can help us arrest their fax machines and shut them down! Imagine -- thousands upon thousands of wanted posters showing up at the offices of the insurance companies.

    The insurance companies have committed awful crimes against the American people:

    * They violate contracts by selling you insurance and then denying you care1
    * They launder money through other front groups -- including tens of millions through the ultra right-wing Chamber of Commerce2
    * They pervert our democracy by bribing public officials by spending millions per day on corporate lobbyists3
    * And 45,000 people die every year because they don’t have insurance4

    It’s time to arrest them, and you can help. Click here to deputize yourself and we’ll automatically send a fax to the insurance companies to let them know we’re coming after them!

    Today we’re arresting the insurance companies. Tomorrow we’re taking our message to Congress with a citizens’ lobbying day on Capitol Hill. We’ll tell Congress that they need to listen to the people, not insurance company criminals, and pass health reform that works for us -- now!

    President Obama has called for an up-or-down vote on health reform by Easter. Congress is already gearing up to meet the deadline.5

    It’s time to stand up together and stop the insurance companies.

    Click here to help us arrest the insurance companies right now! We’ll automatically send them a fax!

    To your health,

    Levana Layendecker
    Health Care for America Now

    Take Action

  10. PatsyT says:

    Excellent Article Marion
    I grew up in Cleveland and remember Dennis from way back.
    Come on Dennis,
    What would Teddy Kennedy do?
    I am writing to him and suggest that everyone may want to also
    email contact


    or try a call
    Lakewood Office

    14400 Detroit Avenue
    Lakewood, Ohio 44107

    Phone (216)228-8850
    Fax (216)228-6465

    Parma Office

    Parmatown Mall
    7904 Day Drive
    Parma, Ohio 44129

    Phone (440)845-2707
    Fax (440)845-2743

    Washington Office

    2445 Rayburn HOB
    Washington, DC 20515

    Phone (202)225-5871
    Fax (202)225-5745

    • Blues Tiger says:

      Patsy, Kennedy effictivly “killed” health Care reform twice in the 70’s and when the heat was on in Hillary he ran for the Hills.. I fail to understand why people consider him some sort of champion for Health Care for all… He had 3 chances and blew it 3 times…

      • KQuark says:

        He said it was his biggest mistake in office. When Kennedy stopped being such an ideologue he pass great legislation like S-CHIP and expanded Medicare to cover SS disability recipients.

        So the point is Kuchinic could regret the mistake he’s making now by not supporting HCR for ideological reasons.

      • bitohistory says:

        Because he learned from his mistakes!

        • Blues Tiger says:

          There really is no proof of that is there…

          • Marion says:

            Yes, there is. Because he went on record in his autobiography as saying the two BIGGEST political mistakes he’d made in his life were not working with Nixon on a universal healthcare package in the early 70s and mounting a primary challenge to Jimmy Carter in 1980.

            He learned from his mistakes.

            • Blues Tiger says:

              We really will never know will we… Politicians say a lot of things they don’t mean…

            • Blues Tiger says:

              Bito,the question was posed in the post… I didn’t invoke his name, I said I fail to understand based on his history why people consider him some big champion for health care for all… My personal view is that he was not…

            • bitohistory says:

              Help me here BT, what is your point? What does the history of Teddy have to do with the bill before us now? Are saying we should excuse everyone voting against it now because the may have a conversion later? 5years later? 10 years later? Help me on this?

          • bitohistory says:

            COBRA, CHIP, Medicaid,Mental illness inequality….I look up some more that came out of his committee.

            • Blues Tiger says:

              I never said he didn’t support some good health care causes I plainly said and stand by the statement that Ted Kennedy was the person who Killed Health Care for All every chance he had and there is no proof it would have been any different this time…

            • KQuark says:

              You were last arguing whether Kennedy said those were mistakes and proven wrong. Obviously he would support HCR reform this time since he learned his lesson about being too much of an ideologue.

              Your “run for the hills” comment is the only unsubstantiated claim I find on this thread.

    • PatsyT says:

      Here is a bit of what I am writing to Dennis

      This Bill can be worked on and improved over time --
      But we can not go back and replace the lives
      that will be lost due to the current system.
      We will not be able to work on improving the lives of the dead.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Thank you, Patsy!!

  11. FrankenPC says:

    The Kaiser Permanente system in California has turned into an inspiring form of a complete and functional single payer system. They are full digital. You can request meds over email. Office visits are fast but most of the time not necessary. Their emergency centers are state of the art.

    To do this? They are non profit and efficient and they control everything from the tests to the pharmacies.

    One example: Last week, I did a comprehensive blood test. I walked in with no appointment to the lab center. Took a number, waited 5 minutes, signed in, waited 5 minutes and gave blood.

    two hours later I was notified that my first batch of tests were done and the web link in the email took me to an online account where I viewed my results along with normal levels and links to explain the results.

    All without involving my Dr. Then, the system emailed my Dr with the same results. By the time the day was done, all results were complete and emailed. The Dr called me and discussed what I needed to do to address the issues I was having.

    That’s it. End to end digital rapid processing of everything. Single payer.

    Oh, and Kaiser asked me to survey how well my Dr. performed. The Dr’s are monitored. Wow…

    • Marion says:

      I can tell you, that the system in the UK doesn’t even have that. You wait two weeks for ANY kind of test you have for the results -- biopsy, mammogram, blood tests. Nothing so efficient as that.

    • kesmarn says:

      Franken, that is wonderful to hear! One of the things I like best about the process you described is the confidence (at long last!) that it places in the patient to be able to get his/her own lab results!! Most patients do NOT need the Doctor Great-and-All-Powerful Oz to explain these things to them! They’re perfectly capable of understanding themselves, and if they have questions, as you mentioned, there’s always that new Alexander Graham Bell invention known as the telephone!

      Cleveland Clinic is a lot like this model, as well. Extremely fast, efficient labs. Doctors are paid a flat salary, not on a per patient basis, so they don’t have to whirl the revolving door on their offices at warp speed to get patients in/out fast enough to make a big profit. If they take five minutes with a patient or 45 minutes--doesn’t matter.

      Our hospital system has the same type of survey process, too--to evaluate doctors, nurses, ancillary staff. The only flaw with that in our case is that a complaint from a prescription drug addict that his pain “was not managed” (translation: there were a few moments when I was conscious during my hospital stay) is taken as seriously as a standard post-op patient’s would be. Of course, letting a post-op patient suffer in pain is really NOT on, but if we administered drugs to street addicts at the levels they request we would actually over dose them! I’ve had addicts who could barely open their eyes, and whose BP was 86/40 ask me, in slurry speech, to give them more Dilaudid. No can do.

      But that is a management issue, not a problem with surveys!

      It’s great to hear about places that work.

    • SueInCa says:

      I agree. We recently went back to Kaiser when we relocated back to California. Their system is so easy and effortless. If you are a participant in your own wellness, it is the perfect compliment.

      I manage all of my health care needs, mostly by internet and phone with my doctor.

  12. bitohistory says:

    Dear Representative Kucinich,
    I am going to the Cancer Center tomorrow and I will be thinking of you (and others) and wonder which of the people there you have condemned due to your “purity.” Perhaps you will not take their lives, but how many will lose their insurance coverage? How many will be unable to afford coverage (if they can find it) now that they have a “preexisting condition”? Just because you want single payer. Would they trade their remission for your purity?
    I would suggest you take a trip to the Cleveland Clinic and visit their cancer center, especially the children’s ward. Ask some bald child, sick from chemo with sunken eyes, “will you wait for single payer?” Ask the childs parents if they can hold off on their bankruptcy until we have single payer.

    Mr. Kuncinch and the R’s: Go to fucking hell!

    • Khirad says:

      Exactly bito, you should send that to him, even if you aren’t a constituent, Kucinich’s purity could effect us all.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Bito-- your moving and excellent letter really highlights the effects to Representatives of living inside the Bubble--or perhaps the Ivory Tower. It must be such an interesting intellectual exercise for them. After all, they don’t have to deal with real people suffering real consequences of their ideological purity.

      We can now fairly call Dennis a Health Bagger.

    • kesmarn says:

      I hope that wakes him up, b’ito.

      There are a number of things I like about Kucinich, but this unrealistic rigidity is not one of them! He and his cronies need a reality check. And you just delivered it.

    • SueInCa says:

      You tell him Bito, great op ed.

    • escribacat says:

      Bito, this is the best comment I’ve read in a long time. Thank you for giving me goosebumps.

      • bitohistory says:

        Thanks Sue, e’cat. I had tears of anger and sadness typing that thing. What is this selfish with theses Congress people? “It’s not perfect, it’s not what I want, if you don’t do this….” While people are suffering-dying?

        • nellie says:

          bito, did you send it?

          • bitohistory says:

            Not yet, But it will be sent to him and another one similar to my rep., Gabby Giffords. She has started to waver.

            • nellie says:

              I especially like the invitation to visit the children’s ward.

              Kucinich is one of those people who sometimes can’t see the trees for the forest. I think they have as hard a time getting things accomplished as those who can’t see the forest for the trees.

            • bitohistory says:

              Lucky for me, the children are not treated in the same building as me. If they were, I don’t know if I could go. Tears my heart out when i do happen to see them.

  13. SueInCa says:

    Great post Marion. The Branson deal going on in the UK is most assuredly quite similar to the Investors here in the states buying up blocks of homes on a dime. The collapse of the housing market put them in to a position to scurry around like cockraches and buy up blocks of homes. In turn, they will do a little work where necessary then turn the properties over to Property Mangement groups and become the newest version of the Slumlord. Who knows, the same person who once owned that home my be the new renter of that home. In any case, it shows that the haves are waging war on the have nots.

    People who lost their homes are so concentrated on finding new digs and just keeping their heads above water that they don’t even have time to see what really happened to them.

    If I was a believer in conspiracy theories, I would say this great con is probably one of the best ever perpetrated. Oh wait, I don’t have to be a conspiracy theoritst to believe that, because I do. This is what really got Elliot Spitzer in trouble:

    Predatory Lenders’ Partner in Crime
    How the Bush Administration Stopped the States From Stepping In to Help Consumers

    By Eliot Spitzer
    Thursday, February 14, 2008; Page A25

    Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers.

    Predatory lending was widely understood to present a looming national crisis. This threat was so clear that as New York attorney general, I joined with colleagues in the other 49 states in attempting to fill the void left by the federal government. Individually, and together, state attorneys general of both parties brought litigation or entered into settlements with many subprime lenders that were engaged in predatory lending practices. Several state legislatures, including New York’s, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices.

    What did the Bush administration do in response? Did it reverse course and decide to take action to halt this burgeoning scourge? As Americans are now painfully aware, with hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure and our markets reeling, the answer is a resounding no.

    Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eyegot Elliot Spitzer in trouble.

    • Marion says:

      Branson’s as phoney as Whoreanna Fuckington. Everybody thinks he’s a nice, cuddly guy because he’s so informal and he started Virgin records in a phonebooth. Bullshit! He’s a trust fund baby whose airline executive daddy invested heavily in the record venture. He’s well into everything else. If you get his satellite/cable package here, you have to get the works -- cable, broadband, telephone, cellphone. Miss the subscription due date by one day and without warning, you lose the lot. You’re fucked.

      This is just a sly way for Gordon Brown to cut the 15% of health services he has to without ‘alarming’ people. He shuts his mouth, allows tycoons like Branson to buy up doctors’ practices, they become the bosses and ‘free at source’ becomes a thing of the past. So all the NHS will now cover is straight hospitalisation.

      Bitch that she was, Thatcher at least announced directly that she was taking dentistry and eye care off the Health.

      Oh, and the contributions we pay out of our salaries go up as per normal.

  14. escribacat says:

    Moveon.org is asking folks to vote yes or no whether they should support the president’s bill. Please go there and vote YES! (If you don’t agree, then ignore this message thank you!!)

    Go to Moveon.ORG and vote YES:


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