Sunday, March 28, 2010

New "health care reform" legislation - boon for the insurance industry, bad medicine for the American working class...


New "health care reform" legislation - boon for the insurance industry, bad medicine for the American working class:

Tomorrow's episode of Labor Express Radio will focus on analysis of the health care insurance industry bailout, masquerading as health care reform that was signed into law by President Obama last week. Here on Pilsenprole I will provide links to further analysis and ways to get involved in the struggle for universal, single-payer, non-profit health care. La lucha continua!

The leading national organization of activists fighting for single-payer health care is Healthcare Now! (not to be confused with Health Care for America Now an organization which shills for Obamacare)..

http://www.healthcare-now.org/

The leading organization of Doctors pushing for single payer health care, and a leading source of research on the topic is Physicians for National Health Program (PNHP)…

http://www.pnhp.org/

No union has been more in the forefront of the struggle for single-payer health care than the California Nurses Association (CAN) and their national body, The National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), now called National Nurses United

http://www.calnurses.org/

RoseAnn DeMoro, Executive Director of CNA/NNOC National Nurses United, wrote an excellent critique of the new legislation which I quote from repeatedly and liberally on tomorrow’s Labor Express Radio program…

Diary of a Wimpy Health Care Bill

Passage of President Obama's healthcare bill proves that Congress can enact comprehensive social legislation in the face of virulent rightwing opposition. Now that we have an insurance bill, can we move on to healthcare reform?

As an organization of registered nurses, we have an obligation to provide an honest assessment, as nurses must do every hour of every day. The legislation fails to deliver on the promise of a single standard of excellence in care for all and instead makes piecemeal adjustments to the current privatized, for-profit healthcare behemoth…

You can read the rest of DeMoro’s article here… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rose-ann-demoro/diary-of-a-wimpy-healthca_b_510706.html

On tomorrow’s episode of Labor Express I air excerpts from a national conference call organized by Healthcare Now on March 23rd. The conference call included anaylsis from Michael Lighty, Policy Director for National Nurses United, Ajamu Sankofa, founder of Private Health Insurance Must Go! a single payer advocacy group in NY City, and Dr. Patricia Downs Berger, Co-chair of MassCare a single payer advocacy group in Massachusetts. You can listen to the entire conference call here…

http://www.healthcare-now.org/listen-discussing-the-health-bill-and-the-individual-mandate/

I also quote extensively on tomorrows program from the following statement issued by Healthcare Now on March 24th

http://www.healthcare-now.org/medicare-for-all-advocates-say-bill-fails-to-meet-needs-of-people/

Here are some other interesting articles analyzing the new legislation sent to me from a variety of sources. The first is from Bruce Dixon at the Black Agenda Report…

Obama Democrats VS Tea Party Republicans: A Fake Fight Over Fake Health Care Reform…

There are real fights and there are fake fights, engineered to distract attention away from the real deal. The shouting match between Obama's Dems and the Tea party Repubs is one of those fake fights. The health care legislation passed by the Obama Democrats is incomparably worse than anything they could have passed right after the presidential election, and significantly worse than anything Democrats could have passed at midyear 2009. The president and his minions have delayed as long as possible to guarantee the worst, not the best bill for patients, and the best deal possible for Big Insurance, Big Pharma and Big Medicine…

You can read the rest of the article here…

http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/obama-democrats-vs-tea-party-republicans-fake-fight-over-fake-reform

This one is from a guy (or women I guess) who calls him/herself “The Pen” at http://discomfit.blogspot.com/...

Once in a while, actually quite frequently lately, a politician will say something so idiotic on its face that it becomes a test of the national credulity.

Harry Reid made such a statement a couple days ago…OK, here is what Harry Reid said, in defense of the fact that NO vote on any kind of public option was being allowed in the reconciliation bill for health care reform.

"I will work to ensure that we are able to vote on the public option in the coming months."

And when exactly would that be, Harry, AFTER the Senate goes back to requiring 60 votes to pass anything? Let us be clear, 51 senators WERE on the record that they supported a public option, even if it were only as weak as the one passed by the House. All they had to do was take a vote on it NOW, and it would have been the law of the

land.

How stupid do they think we are?

You can read the rest here…

http://discomfit.blogspot.com/2010/03/great-american-stupid-test-and-why-we.html

There will be more to come on future posts. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The death of hope...


I wish I could join in with all my co-workers and acquaintances that were celebrating yesterday’s vote on the health insurance industry bailout bill. Better yet, I wish I really could make them understand why I am instead very depressed. They all repeat the same mantras – “This is the first step”, “we can improve on this in the future”, “we are moving in the right direction”. What they don’t understand is, as Jon Walker argues below… “It‘s Not That the Health Care Bill Does Too Little Good, It’s That It Does Too Much Harm.” The fact is that this health care bill is about stamping our bankrupt private health insurance system with a seal of approval and ensuring that its replacement with an effective, universal, cost saving public system is off the table for the foreseeable future. This bill basically accepts as a permanent condition, what is at the root of the problem – a for profit health care system dominated by an industry whose reason to exist is to charge more for reduced care.

As I see it, there are only two possible outcomes from this. Scenario 1: The Democrats declare job done and we are stuck with this health care legislation as the only “reform” to the system we will see for at least the next decade. Think about it, the Democrats treated this fight as if it was life or death, the fight of a generation. We witnessed the absolute limit of their willingness to taken on the Republicans. Do people really think these weak kneed corporate lackey Democrats are going to mount an even bigger fight in the near future to improve this bill? They will be all too happy to declare victory and move back into their comfort spot of do nothing mode. That is the best case scenario. Scenario 2: As people become increasingly feed up with Democrats inability or unwillingness to deliver on almost anything – jobs, the economy, immigration, the environment, war policy, etc. – we will see a serious right wing resurgence and major Republican gains at the polls. As a result, the Republicans, bolstered by a public feed up with health care “reform” that does little to actually improve their access to health care, will chip away at these so called “reforms.” In the end, the whole movement for health care reform will be setback more than a decade. In any case, I just can’t see this weekend’s vote as anything more than the death of hope for any real health care reform (at least at the national level) for the next decade.

It really depresses me at a personal level, because for about a decade now, I have believed that a national health care program was the only major social advance I really thought achievable in my life time. As I get older, my hope that the radical transformation this nation and planet desperately needs will happen before I depart this planet is rapidly fading. But I had still believed up until this year, that a national universal non-profit health care system was possible. If every other advanced capitalist nation had been able to achieve this, wasn’t it reasonable to believe that United States could reach this minimum level of civilization. Apparently not.

The article below, sent to me by a friend late last week, sums up much of my thoughts on this issue…

It's Not That the Health Care Bill Does Too Little Good, It's That It Does Too Much Harm

By Jon Walker

March 17, 2010

The greatest problem with the Senate health care bill is not that it does "too little" to help people. The problem is that the bill does too many terrible things to help all the bad actors.

The Senate bill further entrenches the private health insurance system. It continues the terrible pattern of privatizing our social safety net in such a way that business skims 20% off the top. It makes sure the big, life saving medications of the future remain incredibly expensive, so as to enrich the drug industry. It takes a giant step towards eroding women's reproductive rights. It wastes hundreds of millions to fortify the same, broken health care system that is crushing our economy.

The worst part is I don't see anything in this bill that might serve as a path to real reform. There is no public option or Medicare buy-in. There is no proper state single payer waiver. There is no mechanism to move to an all-payer system and/or a clear path to force for-profit companies out of the health insurance market.

You can read the rest here…

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/03/17/it‘s-not-that-the-health-care-bill-does-too-little-good-it’s-that-it-does-too-much-harm/

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

UPDATE: Kucinich joins the dark side…



Well, in the end, the lone voice of truth could not hold out. Today Kucinich announced, principal be damned, he is caving into the pressure and voting yes on the health insurance industry bailout bill. What is particularly sad is that Kucinich got nothing, not the slightest concession, for his flip-flop. Things have actually gotten worse since March 8th as the public option now looks completely, finally, absolutely, thoroughly off the table. The man who roared like a lion two weeks ago turned out to be something even less than a paper tiger.

But really the ultimate bad guy here isn’t Kucinich, it is the Democratic Party which has once-and-for-all proved its utter bankruptcy. To all of you out there who were inclined to harbor illusions about the Democrats in 2008, welcome to reality. The Democratic Party is a whole owned subsidiary of Corporate America Inc. Can we all now agree please that there is zero hope for this country without the building of a serious left-wing third party alternative?

I am willing to give Kucinich the benefit of the doubt that he was subjected to a political waterboarding over the course of the past two weeks. Maybe he had to endure one of those naked Rahm Emmanuel finger pointing sessions in the Congressional showers a la crazy man Massa (I must admit that is a awful frightening image – though I would love the opportunity squarely kick Rahm in the nutz). The reality is people like Kucinich who do actually seem at least resistant to the health insurance industry dollars that most in their party are happy to fill their bathtubs with, are in a real lose-lose situation. Bare with me here, but I am going to draw a really bizarre and geeky anology to the Star Wars saga (OK, embarrassedly I admit to being a rather reluctant and somewhat closeted fan of the Star Wars film series). Kucinich and many of the not completely prostituted Democrats find themselves in a situation much like the Jedi in Episode 2. If they refuse to use the clone army and engage in offensive warfare, they will be overwhelmed and destroyed by the droid army (i.e. the Republicans will use the defeat of Obama care as a political hammer to bash the Democrats for the rest of Obama’s first term). But if they do turn to the clones and engage the enemy, they are doomed to fall right into the trap skillful set for them by the dark sith lord. In the end the result of succumbing to the darkside will cost the Jedi more than they ever could have imagined.

Ok now that you put up with that truly lame analogy, let me express my deepest fear. For those of you who feel the Democrats have no choice but to vote for this absolutely piece of sh_t health care “reform” bill, because to do otherwise would hand the Republicans a victory, I offer my analysis that you have doomed any serious health care reform for the foreseeable future. In his concession speech on his website Kucinich talks about the idea that… “Each generation has had to take up the question of how to provide for the health of the people of our nation.” Well I truly believe the Democrats in pushing forward this non-reform bill have doomed another generation to the worst health care in the industrialized world (worse than even some systems in the developing world). I have zero faith in this notion that the system will be gradually improved in future legislation. The opposite is more likely. If the Democrats had fought for and rammed through, in a partisan manner, a universal, non-bureaucratic, Medicare like, single payer system, the short-term pain would have paid off in long-term gain. As people started to enjoy the benefits of real health care reform, they would have become increasingly more staunch in their resistance to having it taken away. Look at the experience of every other country with a single payer system. Or look at our own experiences with Social Security and Medicare. Indeed the Republicans somehow successful convinced brainless tea baggers that Obama care needed to be fought because it would somehow endanger Medicare. Instead, after all the blood and guts over this issue since the last election, we have “reform” that will leave millions uninsured, do little to control health care costs, barely impact the pre-existent condition problem, and only add to the bureaucracy of the U.S. health care system, while forcing people to give up their hard earned money to some of the greediest corporations every devised. It will be so easy in the future as the frustrations mount, for Republicans to chip away at any reforms and the whole health care reform movement will be setback for many years to come.

My only hope now is for those single-payer advocates that have focused on a state by state approach. But I am not sure how this health care industry bailout bill impacts those efforts. Do any of you know whether this bill in the end will make state level single-payer systems more difficult to achieve? If it does, its over, time to move to Canada – it’s just so damn cold there. Oh, wait, Rush had the right idea – Costa Rica – socialized medicine and great beaches, I am packing my bags now. But does that mean I now need to live next door to Rush?

Monday, March 8, 2010

One honest man in Congress...


As a member of the Green Party (albeit a lukewarm and increasingly disenchanted one) and a strong believer in the absolute necessity of a left-wing third party in the United States, I rarely find myself praising a Democrat, but Dennis Kucinich earned that praise today. At least there is one Representative in the Congress that is not bought and paid for by the health care insurance industry.

Check out the following video clip in which Kucinich vows to vote against the current "health care reform" legislation, perhaps the only Democrat on the left to do so...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfuFVm6QdPU

If Kucinich's vote is blamed for the failure of this insurance industry bailout bill masquerading as health care reform, he will need to hear from us thanking him for his vote. Lord knows the Democratic Party will demonize him as bad as they did Nader in 2000.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Info on the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference...

In celebration of International Women's Day, tomorrow's Labor Express Radio program will feature an interview with Labor Educator, Dr. Helena Worthen Associate Clinical Professor in the Labor Education Program at the University of Illinois’ School of Labor & Employment Relations. Helena will discuss this year's plans for the Regina Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference to be held in Chicago June 2-5. If you are interested in attending the conference you can sign up and apply for a scholarship at the following web address...

http://illinois.edu/calendar/Calendar?ACTION=VIEW_EVENT&calId=1753&skinId=1703&DATE=6/2/2010&eventId=150292

Helena will also discuss the The United Association for Labor Education Conference to be held in San Diego, March 24th - 27th. If you would like more info on that conference you can check out the following link...

http://uale.org/conference-2010