Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Barack Obama has released his healthcare plan--and it is a bitter disappointment to patient advocates around the country who hoped that he would `turn the page' on the broken healthcare system that is causing our nation so much anguish.

There are two basic options for healthcare reform: increase the role of health insurance companies or replace them.  Obama has chosen to give more customers and more public funds to the for-profit insurance corporations. It's an expensive gift and one that allows them to continue meddling in medical decision-making while raking in obscene blood-money profits.

Clearly Sen. Obama needs to see Michael Moore's new movie SiCKO, which lays out what the American people already know about health insurance corporations: they are a malevolent lot who make a buck by denying care to patients.  The National Nurses Organizing Committee will be co-hosting premiers of SiCKO around the country--and we hope that Sen. Obama will join some RNs to learn what's really happening on the front lines of America's healthcare tragedy.

Cross-posted at the National Nurses Organizing Committee's Breakroom Blog, as we organize to make 2007 the Year of GUARANTEED Healthcare.

Andrew O'Herir in his glowing Salon review of SiCKO lays out the context in which Barack Obama unveils his health plan

"Sicko" ...{focuses} on the horror stories of middle-class working folks who believed they were adequately covered. There are so many of these they begin to blur into each other: the woman in Los Angeles whose baby was denied treatment at an emergency room outside her HMO network, and died as it was being transferred hours later; the woman in Kansas City whose husband was repeatedly denied various drugs his physician prescribed for kidney cancer, and who in the last stage of life was denied a bone-marrow transplant that could have saved his life; the woman who was told her brain tumor was not a life-threatening illness, and died; the woman who was told her cancer must have been a preexisting condition, and died.

One might respond that anecdotes like these have tremendous emotional power but little analytical rigor, but in this case I think we all know (and fear) that these worst-case outcomes exemplify the system perfectly. Moore interviews two healthcare whistle-blowers, both now plagued with guilt, who explain what should be obvious: The point of the system is to treat as few people as possible as cheaply as possible, and those who get ahead in the healthcare industry are those who find ever more devious ways to deny coverage. (For example, you can now be denied for certain preexisting conditions you didn't know about, on the premise that you should have known about them.)  

And he asks:

But who do you know who will defend the current method of healthcare delivery, administered by insurance companies whose central task is to minimize cost and maximize shareholder return?

The answer to this question is: most politicians, including, apparently, Barack Obama.

Obama's plan does not contain an insurance "mandate," but:

Obama's plan retains the private insurance system but injects additional money to pay for expanding coverage. It would also create a National Health Insurance Exchange to monitor insurance companies in offering the coverage.

Obama also called for a series of steps to overhaul the current health care system. He would spend more money boosting technology in the health industry such as electronic record-keeping,...

This is the worst of all worlds.  On the one hand, we will continue to see patients abused by insurance industry execs--the very same abuse SiCKO documents.  On the other hand, insurance companies continue to run their plans--meaning we will continue to see astronomical medical inflation, bankruptcy, heartache, and repeated denials of care--BUT the federal government will find themselves on the hook for the sickest and most expensive patients.

This concept is contrary to basic economics.  Health insurance should function on a broad-based risk pool that throws the sickest patients in with the healthy ones and averages out the expenses for everyone.  INSTEAD, under Obamacare, private, for-profit insurers will cover healthy patients but the public will cover sick ones.  How does that work again?

Moreover, speaking of basic economics, let's look one more time to every other industrialized nation in the world.  Almost all guarantee healthcare on the single-payer model, which puts sick and healthy patients together in a national, non-profit risk pool which funds (usually) private doctors or patients.  All those countries provide better care than we do, at about half the cost.  Shouldn't we look there for inspiration?

Instead, Obama, like Romney, Schwarzenegger, and Hillary before him, builds on the current, private system that has proven itself to be a miserable failure.  He justifies his decision by saying that the average family saves $2500 a year in premiums.

Wait--how?  Does he expect insurance corporations to lower their premiums in the face of complicated new regulations?  Does the plan suppose that investments in technology are cheap, and will immediately save money?  Will the "average" American family be receiving public subsidies to pay for the care?  Where does this figure come from?  Nothing in the plan backs up this statement, or even the idea that medical inflation will be tamed with these tweaks.

What is most tragic about this plan is that Obama seems to understand the problems we're facing. While laying out his plan, he said: 

Since President Bush took office, the single fastest growing component of health care spending has been administrative costs and profits for insurance companies. Coming in a close second is the amount we spend on prescription drugs. In 2006, five of the biggest drug and insurance companies were among the fifty most profitable businesses in the nation. One insurance company CEO received a $125 million salary that same year, and has been given stock options worth over $1 billion. As an added perk, he and his wife get free private health care for as long as they live.

Now, making this kind of money costs money, which is why the drug and insurance industries have also spent more than $1 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions over the last ten years to block the kind of reform we need.


Unfortunately, his plan doesn't deal with the problem he lays out.  It is, instead, a safe, unworkable choice that will extend the heartache of America's healthcare crisis--and could have been ripped out of Mitt Romney's briefing book.

Senator: please go see SiCKO, I promise you'll be a lot less interested in protecting the for-profit insurance sector.

To join the fight for guaranteed healthcare (with a "Medicare for All" or SinglePayer financing), visit with, a project of the National Nurses Organizing Committee. You can help the fight by sharing your story about surviving the healthcare industry here.

Tags: Barack Obama, guaranteed health care, Health care, Michael Moore, nurses, sicko, single payer health insurance, single-payer (all tags)



Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Tragic, really.

by Matt Stoller 2007-05-29 12:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

So are you guys going to sit out this election then are will you endorse the plan that comes closest to your goals?

by adamterando 2007-05-29 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Well...remember that our members and board are registered nurses.  So we're going to fight for genuine healthcare reform in whatever avenues we can.  We exist to guarantee healthcare for all our patients.

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-29 02:26PM | 0 recs
Well, Obviously,,,

If you care about actual issues--people dying and stuff--you are not (a) a real progressive or (b) serious about politics.

Everyone inside the Beltway knows that!

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-30 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Well, Obviously,,,


by Trey Rentz 2007-05-30 01:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

I know you're for Single Payer Or Bust, and won't support either plan, but could you compare Obama's plan to Edwards' plan and Hillary's in 1993?

by philgoblue 2007-05-29 01:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Obama and Edwards' proposals strike me as very similar.  Each expands coverage for kids, each sets up a public insurer, each promises some new regulation of insurance corporations--and from our point of view each will lead to insurers having more customers and more revenue and more political and medical influence.  

Two of the big differences are that Edwards mandates every individual have insurance while Obama sets up the government to cover catastrophic cases.

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-29 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

I thought Obama's plan just injected more money into the private insurance indsutry to expand coverage? He creates a public entity to compete with the private industry like Edwards plan does?

by Sarah Lane 2007-05-30 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

No he does not.

by adamterando 2007-05-30 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

My understanding of his plan is that he, as he puts it, will "establish a new public insurance program available to Americans who neither qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP nor have access to insurance through their employers, as well as to small businesses..."

I believe that, unlike the Edwards plan, it wouldn't be public insurance--but will offer private plans to people through this public mechanism...

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-30 03:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Here's some other good stuff to understand the plan...there are some differences between the public entity Obama proposes and Edwards' d_archive?month=05&year=2007&bas e_name=post_3808#016711

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-29 02:40PM | 0 recs
Thanks for the link

Ignore my comment above, I just read the differences between Obama's and Edwards public entity. The reason I like Edwards plan better is because it creates competition between the public and private industry. My hopes are that more and more people will go with the public plan making it easier to jump to single payer in the future.

by Sarah Lane 2007-05-30 01:56PM | 0 recs
So the answer apparently...

is to completely wipe out the for-profit insurance industry and completely replace it with single payer.  Or do nothing.  Wonder which will happen?

by rashomon 2007-05-29 01:53PM | 0 recs
First do no harm

That's the answer.

If you're giving more customers to private, for-profit insurance, you're making the whole situation worse.Let's not let the terrible get in the way of the good.

There are a couple of answers--either for leaders in this country to get serious about solving the healthcare crisis, or for caregivers and other patient advocates to band together and fight for real reform.  

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-29 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: First do no harm

How does getting more people insured, whether privatly or publicly, "do harm?" That doesn't make sense to me. The "harm" is the millions of uninsured Americans.

And Obama's (and Edwards for that matter) plan creates an alternative to private health insurance that can then be given a chance to grow, but without forcing an instant shift. This sort of approach seems to make a lot more sense to me than saying 'single-pay or nothing!' With that sort of approach we'll never get there.

by Mystylplx 2007-05-30 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: First do no harm

If single-payer is their goal, why don't Edwards and Obama stand up and say that?  It's a huge missed opportunity...the American  people are sick to death, literally, of insurance companies and would respond to a message of ending their medical interference.  

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-30 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: First do no harm

Edwards' plan has a built in route for transition to single-payer if the people choose it by allowing people to choose the government plan and forcing the private plans to compete with the government plans. That a transition to single-payer can happen isn't something he's been quite about either, he says it's a feature of the plan that a simple path to transition is built in from the get go depending on people's own choice and competition between the plans.

by Quinton 2007-05-30 03:06PM | 0 recs
Why Let Solutions Get In The Way Of Non-Solutions?

After all, the non-solutions are easily doable.

The solutions, you have to fight for.

Who needs that???

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-30 08:43AM | 0 recs
Why single out Obama

when Hillary and Edwards have basically the same plans?

by Populism2008 2007-05-29 04:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Why single out Obama

Do they?

by clarkent 2007-05-29 04:09PM | 0 recs
Yes. n/t

by Populism2008 2007-05-30 01:38PM | 0 recs
Not us

We're taking critical looks at all the candidates' healthcare plans.  Nurses are patient advocates...

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-30 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes. n/t

They do not.

by clarkent 2007-05-30 08:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Why single out Obama

When Edwards released his plan, we criticized it as well, and took a lot of flack from Edwards supporters as a result.  

I've seen some references to Hillary having unveiled her plan last week, but haven't tracked them down.  If she did unveil it, she's really downplaying the press....

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-29 04:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Why single out Obama

So what you are saying is if she downplays a policy proposal then you are not obliged to do anything?

It always seems odd to me when progressive people and/or organizations only target Obama.  Very odd behavior.

by aiko 2007-05-30 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Why single out Obama

I don't think Hillary has actually released a universal health care plan. See this article for more.

by clarkent 2007-05-30 06:54AM | 0 recs
Obama's Crybabies

It always seems to me that Obama supporters around here have nothing to say to defend his DLC-stylke tendencies.

Fair enough.  There's nothing they can say, IMHO. But then to complain about selective criticism, just because they only notice it when Obama gets criticized, that's just infantile.

And the one thing I was hoping Obama would do, for all his policy faults, was to inspire a greater maturity in people's attitudes.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-30 08:48AM | 0 recs

I should say that I don't support any candidate as of now.  I am leaning towards Edwards, but I agree 100% with the criticsm of his health care proposal.  I take issues very seriously.

Candidates, not so much.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-30 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: p.s.

Read the Walter Shapiro's piece in Salon.

by aiko 2007-05-30 09:00AM | 0 recs
off topic, Paul

Sometime back, you had contested something I had said (ask if you'd like me to remind you what it was, or the link to the discussion). Here is something to support my case on that (it is extensive but not exhaustive).

by NuevoLiberal 2007-05-30 09:38AM | 0 recs
You don't get it

If Obama's health care plan is DLC-lite (which is an outrageous statement, compared to DLC policies Obama's plan is on the verge of socialism) then so is Hillary's and Edward's.

We have no problems with criticism. It is the double standards that are annoying. Obama gets slammed for nothing, while Edwards escapes criticism no matter what he does.

by Populism2008 2007-05-30 01:41PM | 0 recs
This Is A Crybaby Attiude

I'm sorry you can't see it.  But if you can't see it, I sure as hell know there's no way I can make you see it.

The sad fact is that far too many people who should know better have jumped onto one candidate's bandwagon or anothers, rather than holding back and engaging in a discussion of what we ought to be concerned about and what sort of benchmarks we ought to be setting for giving our support.

From my POV, the most important thing, in a long-range historical perspective, is to win a presidential realigning election in 2008, leading to the establishment of a new party system.

While none of the candidates is particularly promising in this direction, Edwards at least seems to realize that opposition is importance.  But I'm not willing to endorse him just because he's, say, 40% acceptable rather than 25%.  I think it's a whole lot more important--at this point, anyway--to try to improve the quality of the debate.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-30 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A Crybaby Attiude

With that attitude we end up with HRC as prez.

by aiko 2007-05-30 05:23PM | 0 recs

If she released her "healthcare plan," the nurses will take a look at it.  We haven't seen anything saying she has.  Nobody is singling out Obama for anything--we are trying to look critically at all the healthcare plans proposed.  

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-30 11:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Nope

What is this?

Clinton outlines health plan
Says plan would cut health spending by boosting preventive care ory.aspx?guid=%7BB6E9057B-93C8-4BFD-9AEF -A8C9995A4FE7%7D

by aiko 2007-05-30 05:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Why single out Obama

They aren't, the major difference is that Edwards' plan has a built in method of transition to a single-payer system from the get go.

by Quinton 2007-05-30 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

I am a Obama supporter but I also am all for single payer. I wish the candidates would wake up. But I think Obama's plan could evolve into single payer

"(6) FLEXIBILITY FOR STATE PLANS. Due to federal inaction, some states have taken the
lead in health care reform. These efforts are laudable and are helping to lead the way
toward meaningful health care reform. The Obama plan is a national one that builds on
these efforts, and it will not replace what states are doing. Indeed, states can continue to
experiment, provided they meet the minimum standards of the national plan."

That sure sounds like if a state passes single payer that would be fine. So if Schwarzenegger signed into law the single payer bill in Cali it could go into effect. Sounds like that part is kind of what Russ Feingold proposed.  

I'm hoping he'll see the light and go for a pure single-payer system, he has said if he was starting from all over that's what he'd advocate, so maybe if the movement for single payer gets strong enough he'll be converted. But I think this very well could lead to single payer in the long run. Once people see how well single payer works on the state level they'll demand it on the national level.

Keep up the good work CalNurses! Never stop fighting!

by Populista 2007-05-29 07:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

That sure sounds like if a state passes single payer that would be fine. So if Schwarzenegger signed into law the single payer bill in Cali it could go into effect. Sounds like that part is kind of what Russ Feingold proposed.  

That's true. But that's also not any different than the situation right now. Obama's plan does nothing to advance single payer.

by clarkent 2007-05-29 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Yeah if they couldn't even get Single payer passed in freaking Vermont, then I'm not very hopeful that we'll get it passed in any other state any time soon.

by adamterando 2007-05-29 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

The problem in introducing it state by state is that the insurance companies can attack it more readily than a national plan.  

by pioneer111 2007-05-29 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Single payer is at least 10 years off, regardless of who is in office.  The only way to get there in incrementally.  It would be the most massive undertaking in US government history.  There are genuine debates to be had on how to set it up, whether it should be regional, at state level, or federal, and how to include the country's network of providers in such a system.

People need to be patient.  The candidates' plans aren't going to turn our healthcare system into France's by 2010 (although that would be nice).  It will take small victories built on small victories to get there.  Edwards, Hillary, and now Obama are furthering the conversations while keeping the proposals based in reality.  Each one of their plans could be passed in Congress.  That is commendable.

by dmfox 2007-05-30 08:25AM | 0 recs

France has a multi-payer system.

by clarkent 2007-05-30 08:27AM | 0 recs
Sort of.

France has a system somethink like Medicare, where there's a public insurance baseline, with private supplemental insurance available if desired.

IMHO, just expanding Medicare isn't the answer, unless you first tackle the cost and spending problems with Medicare.  It's not exactly on a sustainable path...

by rashomon 2007-05-30 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Nurses can't be patient.  They're on the front lines of the health care crisis...

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-30 03:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Moreover, speaking of basic economics, let's look one more time to every other industrialized nation in the world.  Almost all guarantee healthcare on the single-payer model, which puts sick and healthy patients together in a national, non-profit risk pool which funds (usually) private doctors or patients.  All those countries provide better care than we do, at about half the cost.  Shouldn't we look there for inspiration?

The answer is no. The majority of Americans as is can get a surgery without having to wait for an indefinite period of time on a list. In Canada, that is not the case. In England, 13% of the population opt to pay for private medical insurance on top of the health insurance they already have provided to by the government at their expense. The answer to the medical insurance problem (not the health care problem) is very difficult.

Speaking of basic economics, if we nationalized or mandated insurance for everyone we must pay more than just the cost of providing the average cost to everyone. That is, if the medical insurance costs an average of $2000 a year to cover every person, it will not cost 2000 * 300,000,000 to cover America. It will cost much, much more. We can't assume that we can extrapolate the average cost of the managed risk the private sector is willing to take on to every single American. It's fundamentally flawed. And then there is also the problem of paying doctors and research firms. If in any way we cut back on what we pay doctors and drug research firms, we run the risk of lowering the quality of health care in America.

No one doubts that health care is a right. But medical insurance is indeed insurance: it's a bet that we can pay enough forward to cover any future illnesses and still stay solvent. Is everyone willing to do that? Is it possible that some people actually choose not to have medical insurance coverage? Of the people who say they can't afford medical insurance, how many actually can but are spending their budget on other things? How about the Los Angeles Times article that estimated that of the 45 million uninsured, perhaps only 8 million are actually the working poor. If that's the case maybe we should only cover them.  

Canada has a lot of problems. Even Sweden, as of 10 years ago was borrowing enormous sums of money to make up for the 15% of GDP shortfall they experience because they spend half their budget on transfer payments.

So here's the deal. The other industrialized countries don't have a solution to inspire us: waiting lists (people actually come here to get surgeries), enormous debt, inefficiency due to large government bureaucracy, and possibly even moral hazard cause their nationalized medical insurance plans to have costs way beyond their control (not just money costs; also time costs and quality costs).

If we're going to do this, we have to be really smart and figure out a way to cut costs in the long run. That means preventive care. That means making restrictions on the food industry that people might not like. That means a lot of things a bunch of us haven't even begun to think about.

I think there's a reason Hillary Clinton has stressed cutting long term costs so far. It's really the key to this problem. Maybe we could cover everyone for a few years but if you think our national debt is bad now, just wait until we rush into nationalized medical insurance without figuring out how we're really going to control costs.

by bowiegeek 2007-05-30 01:03AM | 0 recs
by bowiegeek 2007-05-30 01:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Are there more documents released by the Clinton campaign re. her proposed healthcare initiatives and plans?

I also would like the diarist to respond to this with any useful links to understand what specific approaches Hillary is putting forward.

I'd like to read all the plans out there, along with Kucinich/Conyers single payer bill and try to reach clear understanging of the proposed approaches by our field of candidates.

by NuevoLiberal 2007-05-30 07:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Frankly I find your request unjustified. You didn't find her 15 page document on just cutting costs alone specific enough? Is she also supposed to explain what color the carbon paper for disclosure sheets will look like? :P If you read the PDF, I can't understand why you would even ask about specificity.

But if you'd like to read her speech at George Washington U introducing her specific plan to reduce long term health care costs, by all means have a look. (And maybe even read the specifics before asking for specifics.)

by bowiegeek 2007-05-30 08:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

You are right in that the pdf has quite a few details for something titled with cost cutting as the focus. What I have not found upon quick perusal (perhaps I missed) is how she intends to expand coverage beyond cutting costs and thus making healthcare more affordable.

Rememer that her campaign came back throwing slings at Obama's plan with this line: "Senator Clinton believes that in addition to making healthcare more accessible, we have to achieve true universal healthcare so that every American has health care coverage."

Therefore, I want them to spell out how she plans to achieve the projected claim of "so that every American has health care coverage" in clear stated and specific ways.

Frankly I find your request unjustified.

Frankly, you response in unduly rude and pompous. That's not how you can make friends for Hillary.

by NuevoLiberal 2007-05-30 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

What I have not found upon quick perusal (perhaps I missed) is how she intends to expand coverage beyond cutting costs and thus making healthcare more affordable.

You are correct. The cost-cutting pdf is the first of three parts -- the next two are to be released over "the next few weeks." From the NYT link provided above:

Mrs. Clinton's plan has three parts: lowering costs, improving quality and insuring everyone. Her speech yesterday focused on lowering costs as a way to help pay for health insurance for the 45 million Americans who have none.

by dblhelix 2007-05-30 11:23AM | 0 recs
Hi, am I missing something?

you've said: "From the NYT link provided above"

But upon cursory look, I couldn't locate the link in this diary. Could you please point more specifically of link to it yourself? Thanks in advance.

by NuevoLiberal 2007-05-30 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Hi, am I missing something?

Sorry, found it in clarkent's comment. Here it is.

Also, directly from her speech (5/24):

There are three parts to my approach. First, lowering costs for everyone. Second, improving quality for everyone. Third, insuring everyone.

Today, I will focus on the challenge of lowering costs.

It confused me as well initially.

by dblhelix 2007-05-30 02:10PM | 0 recs
thanks. n/t

by NuevoLiberal 2007-05-30 02:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Well, it looks like you've already gotten your answer. But it was never my intention to be rude. Nor is it my intention to win friends for Hillary. It's unfortunate that you took offense.

by bowiegeek 2007-05-30 11:44AM | 0 recs
no problems. Have a good one. n/t

by NuevoLiberal 2007-05-30 02:26PM | 0 recs
Missing Key Component
What about a key component of the Obama Health care plan?
From Page 3:

Guaranteed eligibility.  No American will be turned away because of illness or pre-existing conditions.

If the insurance companies cannot turn away even sick customers, does this not eliminate part of the problem with the "for profits"?
by maddogg 2007-05-30 04:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Missing Key Component

Theoretically yes...but my reading of Sen. Obama's plan is that the federal government would be on the hook for many of the sick patients, streamlining the cherry-picking process of the insurers.  Moreover, we believe that most regulations targeted at the insurers are bound to be full of loopholes; their $1.5 billion in lobbying money is no doubt well-spent.

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-30 11:46AM | 0 recs
Obama is different - he will work across the aisle


Well it looks like to get some Republican support he is caving to the the GOP allies in the insurance industry.

by dpANDREWS 2007-05-30 04:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama is different - he will work across the a

The was very critical of Obama's plan.  Barack Obama: Hypocrisy on Health Care

Since his days in the Illinois state legislature Barack Obama's position on health care has consistently devolved.  Once a bold champion of medical care as a human right, Senator and presidential candidate Obama has become a timid advocate of failed "market-based" health care solutions, taking his lead from the private health insurance industry, and unwilling or unable to expose even the most transparently fraudulent policies and claims perpetrated on behalf of his campaign contributors.

It is a long article that thoroughly examines Obama's approach to being an advocate for health care.  A comment about a key aspect of Obama's plan - that of computerization of records:

What neither Barack Obama nor the mainstream media will tell us is that most of the "paperwork" burden in U.S. medical care is generated by the for-profit insurance industry. By comparison, single payer health care systems in the developed industrial economies of Canada and Europe, as well as Medicare in the U.S. generate only 1% to 3% administrative overhead, according to many authoritative sources. healthy profits inc

"One of the reasons we don't have national health insurance here," offers Dr. Woolhandler, "is because the opponents of national health insurance keep it off the agenda with piles of misinformation, by suppressing debate... the foes really are the private insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industries and they use their immense political and monetary power to try to prevent debate."

The feeling is tha Obama is avoiding talking about the real issues that impact on health care and is not proposing real change that will serve people.

by pioneer111 2007-05-30 05:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Great diary.

This is why we must be careful with the whole health care debate. Throwing more money at the massive insurance industry is NOT the solution.

We already spend close to 15% of our GDP on health care and don't even come close to covering everyone.

Throwing more money at this industry to "cover" the rest of the people will only drive up health care as a percentage of our GDP.

I quote cover because it is a term that is used loosely. Another issue with the health care debate is that the focus is usually on the uninsured, but fact is many of those that are insured get such inadequate coverage that they are barely better off than the uninsured.

I know it is taboo in the US where free markets and greed rule, but I think the debate needs to shift to the benefits of a government run single-payer system.

Health care being a for-profit business is the most immoral thing I can imagine. Making money off of others illness and mis-fortune does not seem like a very good American value to me.

by Jon Niola 2007-05-30 06:25AM | 0 recs
This MD has switched from Obama to Edwards

I am  52-year-old physician, not a radical at all, but it is clear to me that the health insurance industry is a useless, parasitic money-sucker that is thriving on its own inefficiency.  A single-payer system is the most desirable alternative, because it socializes HEALTH INSURANCE (the sick part of our current system) but preserves private health care providers.  

Edwards plan differs from Obama's in that it lays the groundwork for an orderly transition to single payer on a NATIONAL level--which is the only way, IMO, that it will be done successfully.  By levelling the playing field to eliminate the cherry-picking of healthy insured, and creating a governmental entity to compete with the private companies, consumers will have the option to choose their insurance plan.  It is presumed that a governmental entity will grow and eventually become the de facto single payer that we desire.  Obama's plan does not do this, as I see it.

I am terribly disappointed in Obama's plan, which preserves the financial inefficiencies of the current system with no visible way out.  I think it was calculated not to scare off the big money he is getting.  As of now I support John Edwards--unless of course either Clark (who has already endorsed movement toward a single-payer plan) or Gore (who has the proven guts to do the right thing, period) gets into the race.

by paul minot 2007-05-30 07:41AM | 0 recs
Re: This MD has switched from Obama to Edwards

Changing health care is not a radical position.  It is pragmatic and important to how our country functions.  Catering to the insurance business has made us less competitive in a business sense and less responsive to our citizens needs.  There are somethings that private industry cannot do as well as governments.  One of the challenges of democracy is sorting that out.

As an Edwards supporter I am glad that you can see the merits of his plan.  As a Democrat I am sorry that Obama hasn't come up with something that is at least as good so that we can choose enthusiastically for either candidate.  However I suppose that is the purpose of primary runs, to differentiate the candidates.

You may be interested in this interview by an American with a Canadian doctor Dr. Barootes on The 1962 battle over Canadian health care.  The interview was thirty years after Dr.  Barootes had fought a vicious battle against the implementation of the national health care plan.  His views changed and he explains why.  

This will not be an easy change and anyone who want to address the problem will be attacked viciously.  The question is who is willing to do that.  I don't think Obama has the nature to fight for universal health care and take on the insurance industry.

by pioneer111 2007-05-30 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: This MD has switched from Obama to Edwards

great article you cite...

by California Nurses Shum 2007-05-30 11:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Obama recognizes the lay of the land for what it is: Single-payer is dead on arrival at this time.  In an interview earlier this year, he expounded on this, stating how implausible it is to just get rid of an entire industry with a sweeping piece of legislation.  Both he and Edwards are taking important steps to get there, but there just isn't the support right now for a single payer plan.    It  would stand zero chance of passing.  Ignoring insurance companies is ignoring a reality that is existed here since the early 20th Century.  Such institution don't get replaced overnight.  The transition would be too jarring to do short term.  What Obama's plan does is move us into that direction.

It's frustrating, but genuine change comes slowly.  Obama and Edwards are taking things in the right direction.  Neither deserves to be lambasted for it.

by dmfox 2007-05-30 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

Single payer or universal health care will never happen if people give up before they fight for it.  Saying it is dead on arrival is defeatist.  That is why I was disappointed in his plan.  He starts by appeasing the insurance companies when they are the problem.

by pioneer111 2007-05-30 06:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

My main problem with Obama's plan is that it keeps health insurance tied to employment.  Improving American healthcare, as well as American economic performance, requires separating health insurance from employers.  That would allow our companies to compete better in both the national and international marketplace.

The end goal should be the establishment of state health care (whether it be state or federal based) to compete with private plans.  That would guarantee coverage for all, while allowing those would like to opt out of government coverage to purchase their own plans.

by dmfox 2007-05-30 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama needs to see SiCKO

It's frustrating, but genuine change comes slowly.

No kidding.  However, I truly hope that Sicko will be an impetus for genuine change.  Call me naive or optimistic, but who knows what we can get on the table (single payer???) if their is a sustained dialog about healthcare reform.

For anyone who hasn't had a chance to see a clip from the movie here's a good one showing a NHS hospital in the UK, vI

I can't wait to see it.    

by Pat Healy 2007-05-30 10:04AM | 0 recs


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