President Obama: Hypocrite and Hater on Single Payer Health Care / Bruce Dixon

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obamaon_health_care2When it comes to health care, Barack Obama is a hater, and a dishonest one at that.  An honest and ethical hater tells you where she or he stands, and throws down the appropriate facts.  President Obama doesn’t do this.  He has claimed for years to be a proponent of single payer health care, the only practical and workable health care solution, but since his election to the senate in 2004 he has become accustomed to saying he would favor single payer “if we were starting from a clean slate” but of course we are not. Insurance companies are powerful interests, he seems to say, and for some reason, we have to let them keep the third of every health care dollar they currently take.

President Obama knows there is no blank slate and there never was.  That’s not even honest hating.  It’s hypocrisy.  And it’s not leadership, it’s caving to the parasitical private insurers.

“…the Obama Administration’s emerging health care plan is expected to be based upon a model that has failed multiple times, most recently in Massachusetts”

Obama likes to say that the insurance industry employs tens or hundreds of thousands, and we cannot just displace them. That’s hating.  But his advisors know perfectly well that single payer health care insurance would create 2.6 million new jobs, after allowing for the 440,000 insurance company jobs it would do away with, a fact detailed in the groundbreaking report issued earlier this year by the National Nurses Organizing Committee.  Instead, in the spirit of a dishonest hater, Obama has tried to ban from public forums any discussion of the single payer health care option, despite the fact that it has massive support among the people who voted for him.  That is hypocrisy.

When the Obama campaign asked for house meetings across the nation on health care, the option suggested most often was indeed single payer.  So you didn’t hear much of anything about the outcomes of those meetings.  If that’s not dishonest hating on single payer health care it’s hard to imagine what is.

Instead, the Obama Administration’s emerging health care plan is expected to be based upon a model that has failed multiple times, most recently in Massachusetts, which includes “individual mandates” requiring people above a certain income level to purchase private insurance or face a fine, and provides some kind of care at subsidized rates to those with the lowerst incomes.  A recent study by physicians at Harvard Medical School meticulously exposes the predictable failure of the  Massachusetts Plan live up to any of its promises, and explains succinctly why no “individual mandate” which subsidizes private insurance companies should be a model for any national health care plan. It’s called “Massachusetts’ Plan”  A Failed Model for Health Care Reform“, and you can find it online here.

In it, Drs. Rachel Narden, David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, all of Harvard Medical School deliver a withering assessment of the plan’s failure, and explain why it must not be a model for any national health care plan worthy of the name.

These are the key features of the Massachusetts Plan upon which Obama’s health care plan is modeled.

  1. Subsidized private insurance is made available for the poorest at reduced or no cost through a state agency.
  2. Unsubsidized private insurance at controlled costs was to be made available for those who made a little more.
  3. As with automobile insurance, those not qualifying for subsidized insurance would be fined ($912 a year in 2008, $1,068 in 2009, collected with your state income tax) for failing to purchase insurance.
  4. Employers were required to pay $295 a year for each employee they didn’t give health insurance to.
  5. To control costs, funds to pay for the program were taken from the existing pool that previously financed “safety net” care for the poor and uninsured, leaving many with fewer options and less care than was available befor the “reform.”

But the subsidized health insurance policies available to the poor in Massachusetts often covered fewer services than they were already receiving under previously existing conditions, and the greater the “income” of these poor people, the lower the subsidy and higher the deductibles.  Under the Massachusetts Plan, the subsidies vanish altogether when one makes 300% of the ridiculously low Federal Poverty Level — about $31,000 per year.

Despite the fines for persons who fail to buy health insurance under the so-called “individual mandate” plans, many remain uninsured because coverage is simply not affordable.

“…the reform law specifically exempts uninsured families from fines if no affordable private plan is available. About 79,000 Massachusetts uninsured residents received this exemption in 2007, which excused them from fines, but left them uninsured.  

“The private insurance plans available through the Commonwealth Choice program can be extremely expensive. According to the Connector website (accessed December 29, 2008 at the cheapest plan available to a middle-income 56-year-old now costs $4,872 annually in premiums alone. However, if the policy holder becomes sick, (s)he must pay an additional $2,000 deductible before insurance kicks in. Thereafter the policy holder pays 20% co-insurance (i.e. 20% of all medical bills) up to a maximum of $3,000 annually ($9,872 in total annual costs including premium, deductible and co-insurance). A need for uncovered services (e.g. physical therapy visits beyond the number covered) would drive out-of pocket costs even higher. It is not surprising that many of the state’s uninsured have declined such coverage.”

How can someone making $31,000 a year pay $90 a week in premiums alone, plus $20% of all medical bills up to $3,000 if they get sick?  Is calling this “reform” even the least bit honest?  Or is it hypocrisy?

The study makes the point again and again that access to health insurance is not the same as access to health care.  A full third of every health care dollar is already diverted to private insurance companies.  The Massachusetts Plan, and the emerging Obama Plan seem intended to preserve this cut for private insurers, even at the expense of needed care.  “…(T)he new inssurance policies that replced the (previous) free care system require co-payments for office visits and prescriptions, which are difficult for many low income patients to pay…” says the study, hence patients suffering from HIV-AIDS and other chronic conditions have had to reduce doctor visits or skip their meds due to the high co-payments that the “reform” required.

The report outlines how the advocates of these private insurance industry endorsed versions of health care reform have lied in state after state where this has been tried — in Oregon, Maine, Vermont, Tennessee and elsewhere.  We encourage our readers to download and read it, at only 18 pages, as an antidote to whatever form of “individual mandate” health plan is finally proposed by the Obama Administration.   

Plans of this type have not lowered overall health care costs, either.  They provide no incentive to tone down the over-reliance on expensive techniques and specialists, and produce more primary care physicians, the doctors who provide day to day, person to person coverage.  Obama’s offer to “let’s computerize medical records” as a cost-saving procedure sounds nice, but falls flat.  Most of the unecessary paperwork is between care givers, hospitals and insurers with a vested interest in saying no to this or that treatment, test, or medicine.  

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama declared we should judge his first term by whether, under his leadership, the nation finally enacted national health care system that takes care of everybody and lowers the cost of health care.  Now we are in the middle of a completely foreseeable economic crisis caused in part by many of the people who are advising the president.  Single payer health care has come to the fore as a viable means to create 2.6 million new jobs, a proposal that Obama’s advisors neither address nor discuss.

Sixty days into his presidency, the clock is ticking.  Lofty rhetoric and lawyerly evasions are giving way to actual policies, many of them deeply disappointing to the people who campaigned and voted for this president.  It looks like national health care for everybody is a dream, that if left up to this president and his advisors, will be deferred again.  The question is, should we leave it up to them at all?

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report.  He is based in Atlanta GA and can be reached at

2 comments on “President Obama: Hypocrite and Hater on Single Payer Health Care / Bruce Dixon
  1. The Revolutions IS being Televised: Gil Scott meet Orwell
    Submitted by Lou on Sat, 03/28/2009 – 15:22.
    There will be no Single Payor nor any other social welfare legislation of import benefiting the working class of America. What you are watching on the Tee Vee is a Revolution of the oligarchs. We have the Centrist” Democrats, the Blue Dog “Conservative” Democrats pushing back on the “Liberal” (Right Wing Clinton II) Administration of Obama. And the GOP threatening “revolution.” Amerikka has turned into a f***king reality Tee Vee show.

    You’d never know from watching the Tee Vee American facism is blooming right before your eyes. The wealthy elites are consolidating their political and economic power. The media and the Amerikkan mythology makes the average self-interest first Amerikkan oblivious to all this. Your neighbors won’t complain when you’re arrested under the Patriot Act for organizing protests as long as the shelves at Wal-Mart remain full. (They didn’t like u anyway). The Oligarchs are stealing America blind right before our eyes and nary a whimper from the population. Mass outcry over “AIG Bonuses” obscures the $183 Billion of your tax dollars AIG funneled to B of A, Merrill, Deutsche, Barclays and other manufacturers of “toxic assets.” The media won’t even tell you this “funneling” was a second helping of your wonderful tax dollars at work.
No sooner has the phony and manipulative hew and cry over the bonuses subsided than Obama and Timothy roll our their grand scheme to make all US taxpayers hedge fund owners. Here’s the good part, us taxpayers get to put up over 90% of the risk, but the shysters and fraudsters and banksters get to reap all the rewards. But you might want to buy some of that bank stock because you can look for to even GREATER MONOPOLIES IN AMERICA once the dust has settled. Now here is the bad part: “What happens when the beanie babies you thought were worth $100 a piece are actually worthless? But the government paid $80 for them, but subsequently the “free market” decides the government f***ked up, and they are actually only worth $10?” Well guess what Tee Vee fans? In case you don’t get it, the Government intends to hit us up again! Uncle Sam will just say, “my bad,” the Banksters need more money so they CAN LEND IT TO YOU HA!. So as the Bankster/Oligarch Revolution continues to roll out along with the military escalations abroad, DON’T EXPECT JACK SHIT. Did you notice how after the press conference urging “Sacrifice” the next day the President unveiled the taxpayer “hedge fund” plan and sat down personally with the 5 or 6 of the largest bankster CEOs in Amerikka?
 I love it, “Virtual” town-halls for the masses, White House 5 Star Chefs, and face-time for the Banksters.
As long as Cramer and Erin Burnett can tell you that that housing starts went up 5%, unemployment stats “weren’t as bad as we thought,” as long as they can debate whether we are in the midst of a “bear” or “bull” market, or if bank stocks are getting stronger, some of you, most of you will continue to have “hope” that those worthless Beanie Babies are still worth $30 to $50 bucks, unfortunately for you, the Gov won’t bailout your shitty Beanie Babie Enterprise but will continue to tax your ass to bail out the banksters and derivatives holders, the OLIGARCHS. I know the topic is health care, but my point is don’t expect single payor or much anything else, expect more “sacrifice.”
Some of you don’t like Matt Taibbi, so what, read him anyway, the “Revolution is being Televised.”
The Big Takeover: …How Wall St. Insiders are using the Bailout to Stage a Revolution”

    No middleman necessary
    Submitted by debinbrooklyn on Fri, 03/27/2009 – 10:27.
    Any healthcare plan that keeps the insurance companies between people and actual care is nonsense. It’s not cost effective and the time,paperwork, co-pays, premiums, and worry exacerbate illness. I was never a fan of Obama but I still resent the stupor that he has willingly fed our people into. Not only can the insurance companies be eliminated, the costs of medical procedures do not HAVE TO be what they are. The cost of sickness maintainance drugs do not have to be what they are. I’m also concerned with the myriad of illness being brought back by soldiers. Conditions that are effecting the soldiers as well as members of their family including newborns. How can the “healthcare” system be repaired on one end while exacerbated on the other? And why in the hell is “organic” food so freakin’ costly!? If something is “natural” why does it cost more? Why should healthy eating cost so much. How much is the health”care” system being stressed simply because of poisonous foods? I don’t mean to rant but I so resent that maintaining a high level of sickness has become big business and that we have a president who has not even been effective in feigning concern – and a populace too desperate for “hope” to call him on it.

    all good points
    Submitted by NYCartist on Fri, 03/27/2009 – 13:18.
    The majority of the public wants single-payer. How do we get it?
I think your points were excellent.

    Obama =
    Submitted by Spike on Thu, 03/26/2009 – 14:59.
    the 21st-century spelling of C-L-I-N-T-O-N.
Dude’s a social climber and nothing more.
Leaders come from movements, not marketing strategies.
What a disaster this guy is…

    Obama repeated same nonsense at online town hall
    Submitted by ZiaTroyano on Thu, 03/26/2009 – 12:51.
    I just heard him say that we have to keep our current system, because that’s what everyone is used to.

    More Phony Outrage at Black Agenda Report RE: Obama!
    Submitted by Casey on Thu, 03/26/2009 – 11:09.
    Okay, more phony outrage is again being shown by the writers here at BAR regarding Obama’s “plans for America” from healthcare to boycotting Durban II. Pin all the blame on white racism while you are it too, why don’t you, as if the African-American Obama Gatekeepers have nothing to do with why this Obama Fraud gets away with literal murder in places like Iraq and Pakistan and Afghanistan and that Obama is as much of a war president as any white man has been!!!! Get over the white man b.s. for now because Obama now represents this “post-racial” America that many in the Black Community have bought into, while, of course, others have not. Yes, America is a racist nation as are many other nations on the planet. It is not my Fukkin fault that Obama refused to attend the UN Conference on Racism known as Durban II. If I was the president, I’d be there. And I am a white man willing and ready to go there to tackle the issues of Racism! As a white man, I also support Reparations!!! How about that-a white guy for human and civil rights!!! Yes, and I supported what Rev Wright said too, and that he was correct in just about everything he said. I saw the Black Community throw Rev Wright under the bus…..yet that white guy, Tim Wise supported Rev Wright and at a Press Conference no less. Have the writers at BAR ever openly embraced Rev Wright? That white guy Paul Street stood up for Rev Wright too. Geez, we white people are so awful–all of us! Thanks to Mr. Ford and Mr. Dixon who lump all white people together without being precise and specific against generalizations, you would think I am a mean person, when I am hardly at all. I am offended by some of the generalizations hurled at “all white folks” when you need to clarify white folks whom make power decisions or the elite white ruling/political class which I am not a part of any more than any other person trying to make it. Yes, I get the generalization that as a white man, somehow, by the color of ,my skin I automatically benefited from the structural racism here in the United States. So far none of my family members have been appointed to USSC or been in Congress or owned a station like BET or taken the oath of office. There are no preachers in my family either to speak of.

    Let’s get back to this phony outrage about Barack Obama here at Black Agenda Report. As a born skeptic, I am starting to have my doubts on the sincerity of Dixon and Ford’s criticisms of Obama here week after week. At the same time Dixon and Ford criticize Obama, they will in the end equivocate and say they support Obama, even with all the doubts that they have about him. Thus, I am beginning to distrust the “honest critiques” that are supposedly levied at Obama here at BAR. Until Ford and Dixon prove otherwise, I will argue that their criticisms of Obama are nothing but hollow screams which reeks of phony-ass outrage. Running a sham article about Obama’s healthcare plan is just more recycled hackery. It is a well known fact that, in regard to healthcare, and during his run for the president, the “precious one,” Obama said that he would:
1. Require large and midsize companies to provide health-care coverage or pay a fee into special fund that would help create a public health plan patterned after what federal employees enjoy. Workers could continue to get their coverage through their employers or choose the new federal plan.
2. Subsidize the purchase of health insurance by the uninsured, buying coverage through the new federal health plan or the private sector. [Key word—private sector here]
3. Require parents or caretakers to purchase health insurance for all children, stopping short of a mandate for universal coverage but seeking universal access to health care.

Q: How many Americans get their health insurance through an employer?
A: Since World War II, employer-sponsored health insurance has been the norm. In a September report, the Employee Benefit Research Institute said 62.2 percent of non-elderly Americans had employment-based insurance in 2007, or about 162 million people under 65.
Q: Is this number rising or falling?
A: The percentage has fallen from a high of 68.4 percent in 2000, but last year’s numbers are about where they were in 1994. In other words, the percentage of people with employer-based coverage is mostly unchanged over the past 14 years.
Q: How about those without insurance?
A: The latest estimate of the uninsured U.S. population by health-care experts is about 45.7 million. That’s up sharply from 39.6 million in 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The number is down from 47 million in 2006. This is thought to be due to increased enrollment in government programs.
Q: There are about 300 million Americans — what about the rest of them?
A: Most Americans over 65, about 41 million of them, get their health insurance through Medicare. Another 40 million of so Americans, mostly poor or ill, get coverage through the state-based Medicaid system. Another roughly 12 million fall into overlapping coverage of one sort or another and fall off the official count.
Go to:

    Obama is a Fraud!!! Barack “Fraud” Obama!!!
    Submitted by Casey on Thu, 03/26/2009 – 13:19.
    Barack Obama is a fraud, plain and simple. Enough said already about him, early here in the p.m. on the east coast.
Obama always had the most inferior healthcare plan compared to Kucinich, Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Chris Dodd. That did not matter too much to the Obama Kool-Aid drinkers who bought into his phony-ass antiwar stances. Obama is the biggest fraud ever!!!
All I can say is stop drinking the Obama Kool-Aid from the empty suit sitting in the Oval Office.
Bottom Line–Obama’s Healthcare Plan Always Sucked!!!!

    Submitted by LL on Thu, 03/26/2009 – 11:47.
    If the cult members truly wanted to prevent premature death, there’s no way in hell they would support the fraud known as “universal access.” “Universal access” is just a continuation of our current system of winners and LOSERS. 
Employer-based, private insurance kills. Sicko

    Submitted by beverly on Wed, 03/25/2009 – 18:14.

    If only Fauxbama was as “concerned” about displacing the millions of workers who’ve been and continue to be outsourced for the last 30 years as he is about those toiling in the insurance industry.
This joker is a piece of work beyond belief. And its vexing beyond all get out to watch him get away with it via the steno pool that passes for media and the slackards and groupies who pass for black leadership. 
A BBC (aka Bloody Brainless Co-opted) reporter today was disturbed to report a Czech politician slammed Obama’s bailout plan as a path to hell and couldn’t fathom someone criticizing the world’s favorite politician. Of course, the flack she had on for comment tried to downplay the Czech politician’s words, saying some of his words were misconstrued in translation – and, that other EU officials certainly didn’t share his viewpoint. Jesus. Will anyone in mainstream media EVER awake from the Obama kool-aid hangover?


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