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01.17 New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

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01.16 Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic [charts]

01.15 Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies [Wonderful!]

01.15 Australia could hit 100% renewables sooner than most people think

01.15 Ion age: why the future will be battery powered

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01.15 'One fish at a time': Indonesia lands remarkable victory

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01.14 V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care [The most public and efficient healthcare in America has been demonized and will be destroyed rather than improved, raising total  per-capita costs]

01.14 Saudi Arabia Increases Solar Targets To 20 Gigawatts By 2023 & 40 Gigawatts By 2030

01.14 Solar + Storage Half The Cost Of Gas Peaker Plants — 8MinuteEnergy

01.14 Why thousands of Los Angeles teachers are going on strike [Well at least we got a big tax-cut for the super-rich, that was the most important thing.]

01.14 Air pollution 'as bad as smoking in increasing risk of miscarriage'

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01.19 The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?

01.19 Donald Trump Has Never Cared About Workers, and Never Will

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01.18 “Are We Really Where We Are?”: Trump, Putin, and Washington’s Unbelievable New Normal

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01.18 The Right’s Case Against Soaking the Rich Is Dirt Poor

01.18 Trump Worsens the Border Crisis

01.18 Impeach Donald Trump

01.18 President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project [An impeachable offense]

01.18 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020 [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

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01.19 Ahead of Third Annual Women's March, Group Releases Far-Reaching 'Intersectional Feminist Policy Platform'

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01.16 Global tensions holding back climate change fight, says WEF [Consistently stupid and harmful policies... Seeing a pattern?]

01.16 How Governments React to Climate Change: An Interview with the Political Theorists Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann

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  A Few More Thoughts About Single-Payer and Medicare
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OPINION:

A Few More Thoughts About Single-Payer and Medicare

by Dave Lindorff
Originally published in This Can't Be Happening on Thursday, 13 August 2009

This is not a case where the right thing to do is push for any bill, and then try to move on. This is a case where Democrats have whored themselves out to the greedy industry that is causing all the problems, and are pushing a plan that is worse than nothing.

Some critics have written, in response to my article calling for extension of the single-payer plan called Medicare to all Americans, that actually Medicare is a badly flawed program that leaves America's elderly without coverage for many important health services, and which requires them to pay for supplemental insurance, or to go on Medicaid, too.

These critics are correct. Medicare is great as far as it goes. It is simple for people to use, allows them to go to the doctors of their choice, covers 80 percent of their care, and is liked by nearly all who use it. But it doesn't pay for needed tests, only lets seniors buy mediocre medical devices like hearing aids, and most importantly, it has been requiring more and more contributions by the elderly year after year. Today, Americans over 65 and the permanently disabled pay a greater percentage of their income for medical care than they did in 1964 before Medicare was established!

But having said that, I have to say that it has nothing to do with whether or not it makes sense to expand Medicare to all Americans as a way to solve our health care crisis--as Rep. John Conyers' bill, HR 676, would do.

The reason Medicare is inadequate is because the Republicans and the conservative Democrats--the very "Blue Dog" vermin who, engorged on health insurance, hospital and pharmacy bribes and campaign donations, are undermining and destroying the already lousy health care "reform" plan of President Barack Obama--have been underfunding it, and performing a slow "privatization" of the program, chipping away at its benefits, adding increased self-pay requirements, and raising the Medicare tax on all workers.

They get away with this treachery because their actions only affect the minority of Americans served by Medicare.

If Medicare were expanded to include all Americans, suddenly this kind of political backsliding would be opposed by everyone who was in the program. It simply couldn't happen. Rather, the public would, as one, demand better coverage, fewer self-pay requirements, and an end to supplemental insurance.

The right knows this, and the health care industry knows this, and that is why they are all bitterly opposing the expansion of Medicare--and yet it is so obvious that Medicare is the answer to America's health crisis--and it's staring us all in the face. It works, it's cheap, and it could be implemented immediately.

We are being betrayed by President Obama and by the Democratic leadership in Congress, who will not talk about single-payer.

Not one of the committees working on the health reform bill in Congress allowed any discussion of Rep. Conyers' HR 676. Under pressure from the public, and groups like Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP.org) and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has agreed to allow a floor vote next month on Conyers' bill, but that is a sop. Floor votes are heavily manipulated by the leadership and never go anywhere unless a committee has already held hearings and voted to approve a bill, which was not allowed to happen in the case of HR 676.

The so-called "reform" bill that is going to emerge from the current process is going to be the legislative equivalent of road kill, barely recognizeable either as health care or as a "reform." It will be a Christmas present for the insurance industry, the hospital industry and the phramaceutical industry, all three of which struck secret deals behind closed doors with the White House.

It will set back health reform in America a generation, will require everyone to buy inadequate and overpriced insurance, overpriced drugs and to go to overpriced hospitals. And the cost of healthcare to individuals, businesses, and the nation as a whole (already the highest in the modern industrial world), will continue to soar.

This is not a case where the right thing to do is push for any bill, and then try to move on. This is a case where Obama and the Democrats have whored themselves out to the greedy industry that is causing all the problems, and are pushing a plan that is worse than nothing.

We should all be working to kill this whole thing and start over, with HR 676.

If Congress won't do it, we need to start working for a new Congress in 2010 that will.

No Democrat running for House or Senate in 2010 who isn't solidly for expanding Medicare to all should get a single vote.


Dave Lindorff in Washington

About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.



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This story was published on August 13, 2009.
 

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