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Health & Wellness  (tags: Obama, Democrats, health care, Medicare, economy, jobs, bank failures, mortgage crisis, credit crisis, doctor bills, prescription drug prices )

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The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe -- in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and .....

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Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday January 31, 2009, 9:17 pm

The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.

Which raises a question: Why has the Obama administration been silent, at least so far, about one of President Obama’s key promises during last year’s campaign — the promise of guaranteed health care for all Americans?

Let’s talk about the magnitude of the looming health care disaster.

Just about all economic forecasts, including those of the Obama administration’s own economists, say that we’re in for a prolonged period of very high unemployment. And high unemployment means a sharp rise in the number of Americans without health insurance.

After the economy slumped at the beginning of this decade, five million people joined the ranks of the uninsured — and that was with the unemployment rate peaking at only 6.3 percent. This time the Obama administration says that even with its stimulus plan, unemployment will reach 8 percent, and that it will stay above 6 percent until 2012. Many independent forecasts are even more pessimistic.

Why, then, aren’t we hearing more about ensuring health care access?

Now, it’s possible that those of us who care about this issue are reading too much into the administration’s silence. But let me address three arguments that I suspect Mr. Obama is hearing against moving on health care, and explain why they’re wrong.

First, some people are arguing that a major expansion of health care access would just be too expensive right now, given the vast sums we’re about to spend trying to rescue the economy.

But research sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund shows that achieving universal coverage with a plan similar to Mr. Obama’s campaign proposals would add “only” about $104 billion to federal spending in 2010 — not a small sum, of course, but not large compared with, say, the tax cuts in the Obama stimulus plan.

It’s true that the cost of universal health care will be a continuing expense, reaching far into the future. But that has always been true, and Mr. Obama has always claimed that his health care plan was affordable. The temporary expenses of his stimulus plan shouldn’t change that calculation.

Second, some people in Mr. Obama’s circle may be arguing that health care reform isn’t a priority right now, in the face of economic crisis.

But helping families purchase health insurance as part of a universal coverage plan would be at least as effective a way of boosting the economy as the tax breaks that make up roughly a third of the stimulus plan — and it would have the added benefit of directly helping families get through the crisis, ending one of the major sources of Americans’ current anxiety.

Finally — and this is, I suspect, the real reason for the administration’s health care silence — there’s the political argument that this is a bad time to be pushing fundamental health care reform, because the nation’s attention is focused on the economic crisis. But if history is any guide, this argument is precisely wrong.

Don’t take my word for it. Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, has declared that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Indeed. F.D.R. was able to enact Social Security in part because the Great Depression highlighted the need for a stronger social safety net. And the current crisis presents a real opportunity to fix the gaping holes that remain in that safety net, especially with regard to health care.

And Mr. Obama really, really doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes of Bill Clinton, whose health care push failed politically partly because he moved too slowly: by the time his administration was ready to submit legislation, the economy was recovering from recession and the sense of urgency was fading.

One more thing. There’s a populist rage building in this country, as Americans see bankers getting huge bailouts while ordinary citizens suffer.

I agree with administration officials who argue that these financial bailouts are necessary (though I have problems with the specifics). But I also agree with Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who argues that — as a matter of political necessity as well as social justice — aid to bankers has to be linked to a strengthening of the social safety net, so that Americans can see that the government is ready to help everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

The bottom line, then, is that this is no time to let campaign promises of guaranteed health care be quietly forgotten. It is, instead, a time to put the push for universal care front and center. Health care now!

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday January 31, 2009, 9:21 pm
"An Economically Created Health Care Disaster"
- Everyone knows that getting the insurance industry out of healthcare
would give you better healthcare delivery and cost you less, but
conservatives oppose the plan will save you money.

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday January 31, 2009, 11:08 pm

Expanding Health Coverage for Children Bridges Way to Health Care for AllWhen
Congress places the CHIP expansion bill on Obama's desk next week, it will be completing the unfinished business of the last Congress. But we must then move forward with real health care reform.

Blue Bunting (855)
Sunday February 1, 2009, 11:59 am

Medicare for All (Single-Payer) Reform Would Be Major Stimulus for Economy 2.6 Million New Jobs,$317 Billion in Business Revenue

First-of-Its Kind Study: Medicare for All (Single-Payer) Reform Would Be Major Stimulus for Economy 2.6 Million New Jobs,$317 Billion in Business Revenue, $100 Billion in Wages

Kit B (276)
Sunday February 1, 2009, 7:32 pm
As one has come to expect Paul Krugman, cuts through the politics and the BS to get to the heart of things. If it does not happen soon it will not happen and that is something this country can not afford.

Thanks Blue - very good article.

Laura Hovland (129)
Tuesday February 3, 2009, 9:59 pm
As many of you have probably heard, Daschle withdrew as HHS Secretary today, over tax issues. I think we should bombard the White House with our unified suggestion for HHS Secretrary: Marcia Angell MD.

Quentin Young, PNHP, is suggesting Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, who wrote a book on the pharmaceutical industry and is pro-Single Payer. Marcia Angell, M.D. (born 1939) is an American physician, author, and the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). She currently is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Contact page
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Blue Bunting (855)
Tuesday February 24, 2009, 5:55 pm
Obama Flips: Now Calls For Universal Healthcare Coverage Mandate

Blue Bunting (855)
Wednesday February 25, 2009, 8:47 pm
The Health Care Fight Begins: Obama Budget Creates $634B Health Fund

Blue Bunting (855)
Monday March 9, 2009, 3:50 pm
Tell Max Baucus he must put single-payer reform back on the table:


Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday June 27, 2009, 12:12 pm
RepubliCON Eric Cantor Fails to Explain GOP Health Care Plan on Morning Joe

Blue Bunting (855)
Monday June 29, 2009, 8:22 pm
Consumer Reports Debunks Right-Wing Health Care Myths

Blue Bunting (855)
Sunday July 12, 2009, 9:23 pm
Here is a link to the transcript from the most recent episode of "Bill Moyer's Journal" where he interviews Wendell Potter, a former executive at CIGNA who tells all about how lobbyists are spending millions of dollars each day to convince Congress to water-down health care, and who talks about how the goal of insurance companies is to deny coverage as much as possible so that their Wall Street shareholders can see increased profits. Is it any wonder that Congress wants to stall?

You can watch the program if you go here and click on "Watch: Profits Over People"

President Obama and every member of Congress should be forced to watch this!

Blue Bunting (855)
Friday August 7, 2009, 3:45 am

Right-Wing Turncoat Gives the Inside Scoop on How the GOP Is Screwing Its Healthcare Baby

The GOP is willing to disrupt the health care debate if they can't win it. Yesterday in Tampa, a mob of Glenn Beck supporters nearly caused a riot. The Republican is an uncaring idiot who cares for no one but itself? To hell with the guy in the street!
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