Two Years since SiCKO: Have Americans seen any Progress?

(11:00PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

This is really long diary that was posted at DailyKos two days ago. It pays respect where respect is due and looks at the history of the elected officials we are expecting healthcare reform from at the same time. This is a tribute to some good Americans and tragic story of murder and corruption that ends with a question.

On this day two years ago Michael Moore’s SiCKO was released in American movie theaters. In the two years since SiCKO a majority of the American people now want what all Americans need. Somewhere between 59 and 65 percent of Americans want a single payer system that is financed by taxpayers.

For the first time since a now six year old bill called H.R. 676 that was never meant to pass in the first place, someone was working to raise awareness on the issue Americans face from the merchants of death. So this seems like a good time to remember one the few loud voices in this nation that is not influenced by free market of death and praise a few others who are taking it to the streets. Some people who believe our good health is a priority.

There is still the problem of the U.S. Government that will not represent the will of the people and can not look at the devastation that Americans must face each day. The falsehood of the present healthcare debate prevents anything but false reform. In the transition from Bush to Obama will honest hardworking Americans see justice or just campaign donation based propaganda?

Remember how the movie began with a little Bush stupidity? The movie started with “Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” While Bush was worried about gynecology and tort reform, Democrats were all about “Can’t do anything with Bush in office” but women from the U.S. were dying in more unnecessary deaths than most nations. “The rate was the highest of all 18 countries at 96.41 deaths per 100,000 that could have been amenable to health care treatment.”

There is a whole lot of blame to spread around but we didn’t elect insurance companies, lobbyist or even what passes for news media in this nation. The continuing influence of money in Washington is disruptive to the peace and dignity of the American people in so many ways but this is mass death. When one writer stated “That is shocking, lobbyist-induced genocide” even that, as strong as it sounds is misleading. The lobbyist are not the people making the decisions that are killing so many Americans and they never promised to serve the people. The reality of this mass negligent homicide is that it is shocking, elected official endorsed genocide.

As we attempt to blame people like Max “Anything but single payer is on the table” Baucus for the falsehoods being presented to the American people let us not forget the lesson learned from eight miserable years of George W. Bush. The man who failed in everything but getting reelected showed Americans the power of the presidency. The fact is that there is one man in charge of the healthcare debate. Only one man can pick up the phone and preempt network television to tell the story of the many people who need him. One man deserves all of the credit for what is passing as a healthcare debate and the reality being presented to Americans.

But there are good people in this nation. Credit must be given to Michael Moore. His movie has been one of the driving forces towards reality in America. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of SiCKO was to make the broader public aware of the evil that insurance will preform in the name of profit and how far our elected officials will go to mask those evils for a share of the profits. SiCKO is one of the reasons that when President Obama held a town hall meeting on credit cards the first question was “So many people go bankrupt using their credit cards to pay for health care, why have they taken single payer off the plate?” Now that so many Americans have become aware of the situation, public ignorance can longer be blamed. The elected officials who are working so hard to rebuild the reputation of the keepers of the American medical marketplace while claiming single payer is “not politically feasible” and excusing themselves with “we don’t have the votes,” they deserve all of the blame.  

Sadly now the Democratic leadership are claiming that it is too late in the game for the acknowledgment or proper examination of single payer health care. Those same Democrats who for years could only offer “Well you can never get anything done with Bush in office.” There was some small hope back then, a young up and coming Senator from Illinois who was “a proponent of single payer healthcare” and claimed that all we needed  for single payer universal healthcare was “the Democrats taking back the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.” Now that up and coming Democrat has become president and since being elected doesn’t want to know a thing about and went out of his way to mask the facts about Single Payer Healthcare. Through the withholding of the reality of what Americans are living through each day even the public option is in jeopardy.  

After Bush there was a quick visit with two of the nearly 50,000 uninsured in America that the movie SiCKO wasn’t about. Adam had a nasty cut that needed stitches and with a needle and thread he was sewing up his own leg. Adam seemed to be doing a pretty good job with the sewing needle but hypodermic needles and novocaine are not over the counter drugs yet.

Next up meet Rick who accidentally removed two of his fingers. He then explained how the hospital offered him a deal. He could get his index finger reattached for $60,000 or they would do the ring finger for the bargain price of $12,000.

Rick had the ring finger attached and now he can entertain children with a more realistic removable finger trick while his index finger enjoying its “new home in an Oregon landfill.”

There is one place where the Democrats deserve praise. It seems that finally under Democratic leadership healthcare may become a right instead of the privilege it has been for so many years. Well maybe not a right but an obligation that would make Adam and Rick lawbreakers for not having medical insurance. The up and coming Democrat that was once an advocate of single payer healthcare, then ran against mandatory insurance but even though he was elected president, the Democratic Party is a big tent. The American way, just place the responsibility on the people because they don’t have lobbyist. Hey “If Mandatory Insurance is Good Enough for Your Car…” Except American don’t really need a car, do they?

Past, present and probably in the future there is no fact that is less discussed or more pertinent than the fact that the $124.7 million in medical campaign contributions is your money working against you. Whether it is your tax dollars or your exorbitant premiums that is going into for-profit health insurance, they are handing some of it back to our so called representatives and saying “Here is some of my money. Now make sure you see things my way.” If you accept the fact that the root of the intellectual dishonesty coming from both parties is the $124.7 million in medical campaign contributions then mandatory health insurance being paid into a lobbyist based for-profit industry should be viewed as what it is, perpetual corruption.

It is a very sad situation where people must start asking themselves if there is any representation in the representative government but under Democratic leadership perhaps Americans will no longer be forced to sew their own bodies back together and everyone will have the right to have their body parts reattached, that is, once Adam and Rick become lawbreakers. What about the rest of us who have been paying for (but not supporting) this system ?

This movie isn’t about Rick either. Yes there are nearly 50 million Americans with no health insurance. They pray they don’t get sick because 18,000 of them will die this year simply because they’re uninsured. But this movie isn’t about them, it’s about the 250 million of you who have health insurance. Those of you who are living the American dream.

Now after the public went to the polls in November and proved the irrelevance of the Republican Party we wound up with a president who “would rather have 70 votes in the Senate for a bill that gives him 85 percent of what he wants rather than a 100 percent satisfactory bill that passes 52 to 48.” Now in spite of the false debate, 76 percent of the public favor a public option but  we still have Republicans on National television and they are still creating false horror stories  about the genuine healthcare that is offered in the rest of the industrialized world while meek little Democrats really go out on the limb when they mutter something like “Americans who have insurance but lack access.” With a President willing to turn down the opportunity to go down in the history books enjoying the respect of a man like Tommy Douglas and almost the entire body of “Show Me The Money Representatives” telling Americans that the insurance companies are on our side, even Howard Dean can only go as far as “The private sector hasn’t treated people very well.” Sadly Dr. Dean, a hero of the people and the builder of the Democratic Party dominance is a man that President Obama had no place for in the government and the man seems all alone to the general public.

What if Americans were hearing the real story? Forget about the number 18,000 that was given in SiCKO. Make that 22,000 uninsured deaths or how about 30,000 deaths per year? You can’t even find a real number in this nation but with the US worst in preventable death ranking you can make that 101,000 Americans who die each year. That study, those devastating numbers, need to be addressed for any sort of reform.  Sadly in this false debate even the most left leaning pundits miss that fact and continue to focus on the deaths caused by this nation to the people who don’t have any insurance, the people that the movie SiCKO was not about.

The difference between the two numbers, those 79,000 Americans who die each year because of what passes for health care in America, those are the people who SiCKO was about, Americans who have insurance (private or public) but die anyway. Like so many misleading words in America, because of propaganda and the favoring of the special interest, coverage doesn’t mean what it means elsewhere. Or as own Jerome a Paris pointed out watching from abroad in Each year, 101,000 Americans die needlessly because they’re not French, the U.S. had “One million preventable deaths over the past decade!”

The first of these expendable victims that Michael Moore focused on was Donna Smith. A woman most Americans never heard of, another hero of the people whose name should be a household word by now.

SiCKO was at the worst time in Donna Smith’s life but she looked and sounded much better on Bill Moyers Journal one month ago explaining what we are up against. Where we stand now is begging and pleading with our corrupted government so that the sorry excuse for single payer healthcare known as the “public option” can be tweaked and someday grow into genuine healthcare.  

Today Donna Smith is a community organizer and represents some rare honesty in this nation with writings like Get Them Out: Rotten Apples in Congressional Witness Bushel on Health Reform where she tells of her own dealings with a Richard Scott corporation. A Democratic House Committee called upon that Richard Scott for testimony? The man who was the CEO of the largest hospital chain and was forced to resign after HCA pleaded guilty to a variety of fraud charges including bilking the government is now a professional witness for the same government? The Clintons had to deal with Harry and Louise and now while it is obvious that Harry and Louise are tickled pink with Congress on this go round, Democratic controlled committees are taking testimony from the founder of something far more foul than Harry and Louise, the propaganda group called Conservatives for Patients Rights.

Something else that Donna Smith said to Bill Moyers.

They envision mandates going into effect January 1st of 2013. But any insurance reforms or any tightening up of what happens to insurance companies would be allowed to phase in over a ten-year period.

When the news broke that 101,000 Americans were dying preventable deaths each year (that is 227 innocent Americans per day) what did our elected officials have to say about it?  

That’s a large jet liner full of 277 people going down each and every day. Can you imagine a jetliner full of 277 Americans crashing every day after day and us thinking that the problem could wait a year or two to be solved?

Are they addressing it now? Well they still haven’t even acknowledged these tragic numbers and they are even less likely to talk about the state budget cuts across the nation since the economic downturn began  that must be killing even more Americans. So by 2013 it will just be another half million or so dead American that they won’t want to talk about.

Fortunately Donna Smith did not become one of the 101,000 per year but she did join the countless millions devastated by the American health market and since her appearance in SiCKO she has testified before a heartless congress;

You left me broken and battered because you failed to act on health care reform. Just as I have come out of the shadows of economic ruin and shame, so, too, will others come forward to hold you accountable. Remember the hard-working people who elected you. Their bankruptcy shame, my bankruptcy shame due to medical crisis, really is your shame. You are the body that could have acted and has yet not done so.

Donna Smith also explained to Bill Moyers what a model citizen she was back when Michael Moore visited her, when it all got taken away.

I had Aflac disability insurance and a health care savings account on top of that. So we were like the prime example of responsible people who try and keep ourselves covered. And yet when we got sick, there was no way the deductibles and out-of-pocket maximum exposure added up so quickly that we were buried very quickly financially.

When Michael Moore visited Larry and Donna Smith it was moving day. Because of her cancer and his multiple heart attacks all that coverage didn’t do them much good. Larry and Donna Smith, a newspaper editor and a Union machinist were bankrupted by American health care. They had lost their home and they moving in with one of their children. Going from the American dream to their daughter’s storage room has become an all too common American story. Hew apology to her son was gut wrenching.

I’m sorry it not what we wanted to have happen in life and we’re doing what we can to make the change. You don’t know what that feels like inside. At fifty something years old, to have to reach out to my twenty something year old for help.

Her children may not understand but many of middle aged who survive this free market of death understand. Since lack of insurance is the third leading cause of death for people between 55 and 64 years many who reach that very dangerous era before Medicare kicks don’t get a chance to share her pain. Actually lack of health care is the number three cause of death but by including mortality amenable to health care it is probably the number one killer of the near elderly. Unless the housing bubble has moved up in the ranks recently medical bills are definitely the number one cause of bankruptcy for middle aged Americans and what did the previous president and a not very different congress do to address that?

That idea of the near elderly buying into Medicare was something that Bill Clinton tried and failed after congress stomped out Hillery Clinton’s attempt at medical sanity. Now while the half measure that is called the public option is sounding more and more in jeopardy by the Democrats inability to defend it, Medicare buy ins stand a better chance for Americans between the age of 55 and 64. The people our elected officials serve have promised to slow down the inflation of insurance and by dumping the most expensive Americans to insure on the federal government, younger healthier Americans can make up a larger percentage of people with private insurance. Insurance companies would be able to keep the rates from going up while increasing profits. This silver lining in the American health market will probably bankrupt Medicare even faster but whose problem is that?

Michael Moore moved from the near elderly to our senior citizens. The next person visited in SiCKO was a 79 year-old American named Frank Cardeal, this supermarket porter was swabbing the toilets because drugs were costing him too much to retire. You have to wonder if any other nation, civilized or otherwise has a health care policy that forces a 79 year-old man to mop floors and take out the trash.

It’s a sad situation. If there are golden years I can’t find them.

Recently I marched in a labor rally and had a conversation with the senior citizen in the photo.

As we walked for solidarity she explained to me that her Medicare supplemental is close to three hundred bucks a month. Now this figure varies because her husband said he was only paying eighty bucks per month but I had thought that an American who is lucky enough to make it to sixty-five finally sees some relief form the for-profit industry.

Apparently that is not the case. The average American’s only exit strategy from the death industry is death.    

Another senior citizen, very fearful about one of the things that are on the table in the healthcare debate, raising the medical cost for affluent senior citizens was worried about his Social Security. He pointed out that there would be no cost of living adjustment in his checks for the next two years. This was the first time in thirty years without a COLA increase to Social Security and the media justified this move but a worried old man said to me “We don’t live on gasoline and heating oil alone.”    

With the recent adjustment to almost every American’s 401k there are already far too many slated to join Frank Cardeal as senior citizen grocery store employees. That is a symptom of the same problem. The bankers paid congress to be stupid. Just like our medical coverage they had other excuses besides greed but they knew what they were doing and when they undid the banking regulations that gave this nation fifty years of banking stability, well the covered the bankers. The rest of us didn’t do so good.

Now as a legislative advocate for single payer health care and a representative of the California Nurses Association Donna Smith sat across from Bill Moyers and explained how Congress still doesn’t want to hear. Sounding upbeat she discussed the fact that the majority of the health care givers and the general public want single payer. The fact that we have no choice anymore but to take it to the streets and create disturbances because the elected officials have already made a choice “to stay with the moneyed interest.”

While sounding hopeful about working against the Washington D.C. definition of “not politically feasible” she ended up admitting that single payer will probably need to start in a big state like California once Schwarzenegger is gone and that example would then make it undeniable to the servants of the moneyed interest. How many more Americans must die before reality trickles up to the beltway?

Michael Moore then focused on those insurance companies and unmasked probably the most important point to change public opinion, the fact that we only think we are insured and can easily become one of those 101,000. Those insurance companies that recently made an empty promise to the president and Barack Obama called that “very short on specifics” promise from an industry that has caused so much pain suffering and death “a watershed event in the long and elusive quest for healthcare reform.” Now it is very sickening to hear Republicans talking about how the public option would be unfair to medical insurance industry but Barack Obama calling a promise from that industry “a watershed” makes him a rare individual since one out of fourteen Americas trust the insurance industry.

Michael Moore began his investigation of the people that are seated at the health care debate table today, those people who are determined to not let a single crumb fall from the table of the privileged. He starts off light with the little tricks they have been playing. Like Laura Burnum getting turned down for ambulance coverage because she did not get it pre-approved while she was unconscious after a 45 m.p.h head on collision. Then Mr. Moore jumps right into two of the many reasons American under the age of 65 who lack the good luck of being in a group plan or the bad luck of being on Medicare can’t get approval for medical insurance, being overweight or underweight?

After that Michael Moore mentioned that when he asked Americans for “healthcare horror stories” he received over 25,000 emails in the first week.  Now that Youtube has become so popular Real People DENIED Real Healthcare are articulating their own video horror stories but to whom?

This brings up the question of how many letters did our elected officials receive since and before SiCKO and what have they been doing with these letters? There are many working toward real healthcare reform that feel the answer today is writing letters to congress. Is writing letters to elected officials the answer? Would enough begging for justice lead to our voice being heard? Now at 101,000 deaths per year, a million per decade, they must have received plenty of letters from mourning husbands, wives, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, neighbors and coworkers. Not just “do the right thing” letters but gutwrenching stories of premature death. Then there’s the survivors. There’s a whole lot of people who have lived to tell the tale of medical mistreatment, bankrupted with their lives destroyed some waited until everything was gone and eligibility for Medicaid got them the operation that put them back to work. Considering the amount of tragedy elected officials have already been contacted about and their inability to acknowledge how much pain and suffering they have ignored for so many years it is very hard to see how a letter will impress them now.

Is it really the fault of the media? Many saw the 60 Minutes segment on Health Care that was about those people. Surly they are not the only Americans sentenced to death but the story of Nevada’s only charity outpatient oncology unit closing the doors because of $20 million in cuts statewide to Medicaid reimbursements was another grim reminder of what we have in this nation. Outraged I thought at the time the media exposure would save these people and wrote “This should be addressed by the Federal government immediately and our Democratic leaders better be willing to acknowledge these Americans just like hurricane or flood victims in what sounds like another case of government sponsored negligent homicide.”  

But as many Americans watched people being sentenced to death because they no longer had any money it turned out that Barack Obama and his shiny new Democratic Congress were not watching 60 Minuets that Sunday. Like so many tragic stories those people just faded away with Nevada searching for answers. The government could do nothing and that clinic is still closed. The people who are sick now must die but next year someone found an answer, just not the people we elected.

Even the 101,000 that all of them pretend they never heard anything about was in at least the print media in the United States. The numbers appeared in Reuters. The Washington Post covered it, there was a CBS story and even FOX News told the truth. The information blackout comes from the people we elected to represent us. Hosting a false debate elected officials, no matter which party is in charge, refuse to admit the outrageous numbers of Americans being killed.

Through unregulated mergers and acquisitions our elected officials have transformed the Fourth Estate into the definition of antitrust. As a corporate empires, the truth is very hard to squeeze in between health insurance and pharmaceutical commercials. If the media tells the truth they are failing in their obligation to shareholders. After all the budget cuts to PBS they need to fulfill their obligation to raise money for programing and now public broadcasting is becoming a haven for private enterprise. What obligations are elected representatives fulfilling by suppressing the truth?

After the story of one of the lucky letter writers, the typical American who realized he was on his own, Doug Noe’s victory against CIGNA from a letter that asked “Has your CEO ever been in a movie?” proves that Michale Moore has done more for Americans in need of health care that all of our elected officials combined. It is very hard to tell if Doug Noe’s fight is being addressed presently but if the “that’s experimental scam” ends and Americans start receiving proper healthcare, keeping the cost of medical insurance from running away under a for-profit system would be impossible.

Then many of the letters from inside the corrupt corporate medical industry are mentioned. There is an interview with an undisclosed insurance company sales person named Becky Malke. She was there to explain one of the issues that actually are being addressed in Congress. While Barack Obama ran against mandatory health insurance, that seems to be what we will be getting and if Americans are forced to purchase coverage someone will have to provide it, right? Perhaps, if we even get it, this watered down public option will become a dumping ground for the health insurance industry but at least there will be coverage as the nation continued to be drained.

But there is another issue here. As Becky explains how long the list of pre-existing conditions that are still preventing Americans from getting health insurance as a list that “could wrap around this house” and the camera goes to a table of contents where pre-existing conditions is from “pages 1-37!” the woman broke down crying. Crying for the many people she dealt with knowing that they would be turned down by the insurance provider. Why did our leadership witness these events for so many years while saying so little and doing nothing? There was never any truth in the Republican fantasy of trickle down economics that was designed to screw the middle class but trickle down morality is a reality and as Becky cries in anguish describes her coping mechanism you can hear the moral bankruptcy the has been passed down to the people.

Oh God you know one time I had this couple and they were so happy to get–Oh I’m gonna start crying now. That were so happy that, and I took them through this application, and the husband was late for work, and the wife said “Oh don’t worry baby, it’s going to be okay because we have health insurance now.” And when I looked at the end of the application I could tell that they were both going to get declined because of their health conditions, and they were so happy, and I thought Oh God they’re going to get that phone call in a couple of weeks telling them that they are not eligible for insurance.  

And I just felt so bad because I just really thought and I knew and I couldn’t say anything to them. I just felt like crap. And that’s why I’m such a bitch on the phone to people, because I don’t wanna get to know them, I don’t wanna…I don’t wanna know about their lives, I just…wanna get in, and get out, and get done with it because I can’t…I can’t take the stress of it.

Besides the unfortunate people who get turned down the many people who earned their living rejecting their fellow Americans have been leading very stressful lives. On that Bill Moyers Journal, Dr. Sidney Wolf claimed that the United States wastes $400 billion a year in excessive administrative cost. That is a lot of human resources being wasted too.

People shouldn’t have to live like that. Have you ever been to a doctor and heard him massage the diagnosis so you could get the proper test? I have. My doctor once told me “I think we will need an MRI but I’ll have to add a few things so you don’t get denied. You will still be denied but with a few more symptoms we can appeal.” Why should doctors need to lie to treat their patients?

In spite of Becky being a bit of a pain on the phone, a quarter of billion Americans are still able to get health insurance.

Let’s meet some of these happy insured customers, like Maria, who has Blue Shield, and Diane, who has Horizon Blue Cross. Laura has insurance through BCS, and Amy is fully insured by Megalife. And it’s good thing that they’re all fully covered.

Obviously none of these women had good stories to tell and because of the cancer that her insurance company claimed she didn’t have Diana didn’t even live to see SiCKO but they were just four unfortunate victims in a documentary with time restraints. Just one of the 101,000 per year and three more of the uncounted healthcare horror stories.

Michael Moore then got to one of the insurance company victims that really pulled at our heartstrings but first there was a visit with some more people that the Democrats will put a stop to. You remember Tarsha Harris right? She was the woman that had a covered operation but Blue Cross of California when back to investigate a pre-existing condition. Because of a yeast infection in her navel Tarsha Harris has had her financial life destroyed.

Then there was the colorful insurance company hit man. Lee Einer who explained “with an insurance company, it’s their frigging money!” got that money back for years.

We’re gonna go after this like it’s a murder case. And I mean my whole unit dedicated to going through your health history for the last five years, looking for anything that would indicated that you concealed something, you misrepresented something, so that they can cancel the policy, or raise the rate so high you can’t pay them. And if we didn’t find anything you didn’t disclose on the application, you can still get hit with a preexisting denial. Because you don’t even have to have sought medical treatment for it.

In some states, it’s legal to have what’s called “Prudent Person Preexisting Condition” and that’s a mouthful I know but what that says is if prior to your insurance kicking in you had any symptom, which would incline a normally prudent person to have sought medical care then, the condition of which that symptom was a symptom is excluded.

I know! It’s labyrinthine, isn’t it? But that’s how it works.

Lee found a new life and Tarsha is trying to put her’s back together but they can’t bring back Tracy Pierce. One story amongst many in this capitalism trumps justice nation of a man’s life taken away in the name of greed, a child without a father and a mother without a husband.

Tracy Pierce had insurance and could have received bone marrow treatment for his kidney cancer. It has worked for many but the insurance company just claimed over and over that the treatment was experimental until Mr. Pierce was dead. The words of his wife Julie point out that her husband was murdered by an insurance company at age 37. His family calls this “Death By Denial.” Once again while blaming these insurance companies allows us a chance to feel a false belief in the people we have running our nation, those companies that are dedicated to serving their shareholders were working a system laid out by the people who are charged with insuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Did you ever notice how often bloggers accuse insurance companies of criminal activity? Do you think that they are missing the point? We have lawmakers and we have laws but criminal would imply that somebody is going to jail. Well when insurance companies get caught bilking the government, since the government doesn’t like anyone messing with their money, a company might have to fork over a stiff fine that they will pass along to their customers. If you were one of those four ladies that Michael Moore visited, that Maria in SiCKO and you have enough money to sue you may see some justice. Even if you don’t have money, if you live in a state that doesn’t place a cap on punitive damages you may find a lawyer on contingency but nobody is going to jail here. Jail is reserved for we the people. Now if a person commits a crime to afford an operation for their child, that person can kiss his or her ass goodbye. Here’s one utterance of a Democratic representative that I will never forget.

“Our nation has more people in jail than anywhere else in the world in its effort to combat crime. Yet, we allow 47 million people to go without health insurance-which translates into going without needed medical care-each year. It’s time to take action and combat the real killer in our country-the lack of universal health care.”

While the war being waged by the government against the middle class could not be more obvious the poor are also victimized and nobody seems to be noticing.

There is a story that Michael Moore didn’t get a chance to tell because Abagail ‘Nikki’ White was still alive when SiCKO premiered. Her tragic story was different from most of the Americans abused and murdered in the movie SiCKO because it was not the insurance companies that killed her for profit. Nikki White had no income and was dependent on the state for medical care. Nikki White’s death was due to state budget cuts. When I wrote Health Care: Looking back at the Death of Nikki White there was a quote from her doctor.

Nikki didn’t die from lupus. Nikki died secondary to the complications of a failing health care system.

The very painful and miserable death of Nikki White is one example of direct death from government but there are many more.

What about the newly poor? How about the 14 thousand of us losing employer-based health care benefits every single day? Those forgotten Americans in the 60 Minutes segment on those left to die in Nevada point to an increase in Americans being treated like Nikki White.

During the Reagan era or even earlier, the federal government that can operate at a deficit began shrugging off Medicare responsibilities to the states that are forced to operate within a budget. Tennessee just could not. Now as a result of the downturn in the economy states across the nation are slashing medical budgets and as states claim that they that can no longer the squeeze Nikki White’s of America into their budgets that very frightening number of 101,000 deaths per year that are amenable to health care treatment must be going up but who is taking notice?

Who are these people that would transfer the responsibility to the states and when the states run out of funds pretend that they don’t see? Surrounded by shining examples in many nations of what can and should be done they talk about Uniquely American schemes while people die. How black their hearts must be, these cruel and inhuman politicians who sit around referring to themselves as “The Gentleman from” wherever. These people who keep cashing those checks from the health care industry and during years of passing further legislation to protect that blood money, not only pretended these deaths weren’t happening, they also worked to suppress the facts.

Michael Moore attempted to explain this government but first a focus on somebody who did show a little compassion for her fellow Americans. Linda Peeno deserves a place right next to people like Daniel Ellsberg and Jeffrey Wigand. Now there’s two Americans who have received only the utmost in respect from the federal government. In the case of Jeffrey Wigand, it brings up another issue that is so relevant here. What about those tobacco executives?

Linda Peeno sat before congress on On May 30, 1996 and testified that her salary was based on the number of Americans she killed.  

My name is Linda Pino, I am here primarily today to make a public confession. In spring of 1997 as a physician I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this because in fact what I did was I saved the company a half a million dollars for this. And, furthermore this particular act secured my reputation as a good medical director and it insured my continued advancement in the healthcare field.

I went from making a few hundred dollars a week as a medical reviewer to an escalating six figure income as a position executive. In all my work, I had one primary duty and that was to use my medical expertise for the financial benefit of the organization for which I worked. And I was told repeatedly that I was not denying care, I was simply denying payment.

I know how manage care maims and kills patients. So, I’m here to tell you about the dirty work of manage care. And I’m haunted by the thousands of pieces of paper on which I have written that deadly word: denied.

1996! That’s more than thirteen years ago. It was before Bush and well before the insurance companies killed Tracy Pierce but what has congress and three presidents dona about that. Why are these words from Linda Peeno not being repeated in the healthcare debate?

I contend that “managed care,” as we currently know it, is inherently unethical in its organization and operation. Furthermore, I maintain that we have an industry which can exist only through flagrant ethical violations against individuals and the public.

Michael Moore asked;

How did we get to the point doctors and health insurance companies actually being responsible for the death of patients?

Then came the video of Richard M. Nixon plotting against the people. “The plan hatched between Nixon and Edgar Kaiser worked.” It almost seems shocking that a president would plot willingly murder innocent but the next day Nixon gave the typical presidential speech.

I want America to have the finest health care in the world, and I want every American to be able to have that care when he needs it.

There again, Nixon is long dead and he has been out of office even longer. Why has this continued. Perhaps the question shouldn’t be progress since SiCKO. As Michael Moore went over Hillery Clinton’s failed attempt to restore sanity to the nation’s health care market it is pretty obvious with all the laws passed since then the protect the health denial system in this nation that we have gone backwards with even more people being denied basic care. What progress have we seen since congress shut down Harry S. Truman?

“The time has arrived to help millions of Americans living without a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health…and [to have] protection…against the economic effects of sickness.”

                  -Harry S. Truman, September 19, 1945

After that all of the Republicans screaming about the horrors of nationalized medicine were reviewed. The same thing they are doing today and with even less challenge from the Democratic Party.

Then the “I love my mom” Republicans with their Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. Recent history, more money for the people giving to back to them.

What they didn’t tell us was that the elderly could end up paying more for that prescriptions than they did before. Over two thirds of senior citizens would still pay over 2000 dollars a year. And when it was all over 14 congressional aids who worked on the bill quit their jobs on the Hill and went to work for the healthcare industry.

As did one congressman. Billy Tauzin left Congress to become the CEO of Phrma a drug industry lobby for the salary of 2 millions dollars a year.

Oh, it was a happy day in Washington. Many Americans knew they were never going to see universal healthcare and that’s why some of them decided to look elsewhere for help.

Now there’s a new up and coming industry in America, medical tourism. Do you remember the reason that 22 year old Adrian Campbell was driving to Canada so she would not die. Her policy was dropped because;

I got cervical cancer and I was denied through the insurance company. They say “We’re not paying for because you’re 22 and you don’t have…You shouldn’t be having cervical cancer. You’re too young.”

And as Adrian Campbell was seeking the help she needed on foreign soil Michael Moore said;

Yes, what Adrian was doing was illegal. But we’re Americans. We go into other countries when we need to. It’s tricky, but it’s allowed.

Then there was a long involved tour of medical care in other nations. Did Michael Moore exaggerate? Absolutely not. He could have never gotten away with any sort of exaggeration in this nation. The media and the Republicans would have cremated him on national television if they had a leg to stand on. But if you watched how the British are treated both when they are healthy and sick, if you watched what Americans who moved to France had to say about French healthcare, if you listened to the stress free life in Canada, Britain and France and you are sill blaming anyone but our government, then you are not paying attention.

When there was a sit down with Tony Benn everything about America was explained as he went over how it happened in his nation.

When did this whole idea that every British citizen should have a right to health care? Well, if you go back, it all began with democracy. Before we had the vote, all the power was in the hands of rich people. If you had money, you could get health care, education, look after yourself when you’re old and what democracy did was to give the poor the vote.

And it moved power from the market-place to the polling station. From the…wallet to the ballot. And what people said was very simple. They said, “In the 1930’s, we had mass unemployment. “But we don’t have any unemployment during the war. If we could have full employment by killing Germans why can’t we have it building hospitals, building schools, recruiting nurses, recruiting teachers?”

If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people.

Right.

That’s the difference between Great Britain and America. Our rich and powerful came back form that war and worked very hard to end the democracy found in FDR. They are still working very to undo what good we’ve achieved with very little resistance, less and less each year from the Party of Roosevelt. We are no longer a democracy, not even close.  

He went on to comment that European politicians, for the most part, “are afraid of the people” and quickly respond when constituents get angry and demand some action, while in the United States “the people are afraid of those in power” – afraid of losing their jobs or being cut off from healthcare or other services if they don’t toe the institutional line.

Benn suggested that the U.S. populace is controlled “through fear and debt,” pointing out that this country has an overabundance of both. As the old Appalachian adage advises, a good number of Americans are being kept, metaphorically speaking, barefoot and pregnant. “An educated, healthy, and confident nation is harder to govern,” Benn noted. “And I think there’s an element in the thinking of some people: ‘We don’t want people to be healthy, educated, and confident because they would get out of control.’ The top one percent of the world’s population owns 80 percent of the world’s wealth. It’s incredible that people put up with it, but they’re poor, they’re demoralized, they’re frightened. And therefore they think perhaps the safest thing to do is take orders and hope for the best.”

Suddenly, the source of my dismay became crystal clear. The very concept of America (or any political entity, for that matter) is an illusion. Countries are merely aggregates of people pretending to belong to the same geographical tribe. When we allow our true identities to be alloyed with any institution or belief system, we disengage from our soul essence and merge with the mob. In the process, we are disenfranchised.

How did this happen? In this nation with a two party system that the people are invited to neither we are disenfranchised. Of course there is low voter turnout because most Americans understand that there is little to no difference.

Some argue that it is the system, that our elected officials need that money to get elected. This is false. While the Democrats are presently getting a larger share of the medical industry kickbacks, it goes back and forth from one party to the next and if H.R. 676 was enacted it would be a clean sweep. There are still plenty of industries that will give them money to kill Americans, but on a much smaller scale. Our elected officials don’t need that money. They want that blood money to feel even more important in the next election.

Right now the Democrats seem to be going like gangbusters with health care reform but what sort of reform? You can’t really be sure because so much of the talk has gone on behind closed doors. One thing that we can be sure about is that the replacement for real healthcare reform called a public option is still a well kept secret. A Public Option that they are working out in private!

Could Republicans and Blue Dogs argue against a public option, could they even argue against single payer healthcare if anyone inside the beltway was saying the truth? What could they say? “Those 101,000 people don’t matter.” As this fake debate goes on in Washington, with so many obviously shilling for the insurance companies, the very soft fight being put up by the representatives who are suppose to represent progress ,the intellectually dishonest debate in Washington points to the fact that everyone is shilling for those insurance companies. With all the years that have passed with elected officials ignoring what Americans are being put through do we expect answers now?

How about an obligation to national security? We have a Democratic President and a majority in both houses but we are still being fed false financial data while the sick and suffering are ignored.  The undeniable savings of single payer healthcare are so enormous that America cannot afford anything but nationalized medicine. In February when we started getting a preview of what was being planned, DrSteveB examined the situation with Health Reform and Costs – They Are Lying To You (Obama too) The elected officials are still lying to you!

As Congress and the White House ignore the cost savings of single payer healthcare they debate over plans that will cost the government more and try to decide on methods of making this new pump into private for-profit corporations “deficit neutral.” Not lowering the cost, just cost shifting, like there is some other place to get the money. Obama claims the possibility of a one and a half percent annual increase under the protect the industry legislation being presented.   Every elected official knows this nation needs single payer health care to survive and with the health care market we have we are spending more but dying sooner. Still they just want to keep building on the present House of Cards.

U.S. government economists predict that public and private health spending will hit $2.5 trillion this year, taking up a 17.6 percent share of gross domestic product.

Americans spend more per capita on healthcare than any other country at $7,421 per person, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports. Yet studies suggest Americans get poorer care than people in other industrialized countries that have national healthcare plans.

Private insurance pays 35 percent of this; Medicare, the federal health plan for the elderly and disabled, pays 19 percent; Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program pays 15 percent; 12 percent comes from other public funds; 7 percent from other private sources, and 12 percent is paid out-of-pocket by patients.

First they were talking about forcing Americans to pay into a for-profit health care market to justify some watered down public option. Then they were talking about still forcing Americans to buy insurance but creating an insurance company co-op and giving those insurance companies some federal money to get their regulated death by spreadsheet off the ground. How can any intelligent person think that this fractured and very broken system needs to be built on unless somebody is paying them to think that way? We have disabled Americans hiring lawyers to sue Social Security for Medicare. We have destitute Americans jumping through hoops to prove to Medicaid that they don’t have money to hire lawyers. There are under insured Americans and workers who do have enough insurance need patient advocates to figure out what they do have. The list of insanities in they way Americans receive health care goes on and on but it somehow makes sense to elected officials. Once again, just like they way they are fixing the banking crisis that they themselves designed, the healthcare debate is about insuring “perpetual corruption.”

What could motivate so called representatives to ignore so much pain and suffering? What transformed an up and coming Illinois senator who was “a proponent of single payer healthcare” that claimed all we needed was the Democrats taking back the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives to a president that doesn’t want to hear a thing about single payer healthcare? In spite of the fact that the U.S ranks last in preventing deaths from treatable conditions and spends the most on medical care, becoming the leader of the free world  had transformed our president from single payer advocate to “probably go ahead with a single-payer system” if he were designing a system from scratch. Obama said it again this month;

“If I were starting a system from scratch, then I think that the idea of moving towards a single-payer system could very well make sense,” the president replied. “That’s the kind of system that you have in most industrialized countries around the world. The only problem is that we’re not starting from scratch. We have historically a tradition of employer-based health care. And although there are a lot of people who are not satisfied with their health care, the truth is, is that the vast majority of people currently get health care from their employers and you’ve got this system that’s already in place. We don’t want a huge disruption as we go into health care reform where suddenly we’re trying to completely reinvent one-sixth of the economy.”

Having gone from an open minded single payer advocate to a president who had banned single payer advocates from the national health care debate Barack Obama addressed the nation and those 101,000 victims were still not worth mentioning.

This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, 1 million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it’s one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.

What Americans are facing is far more devastating than financial loss. In the effort to spread the blame around the fact remains that the man on top, the president of the United States is actively pursuing this intellectually dishonest debate. Either to protect the extremely wasteful jobs of a deadly for profit industry or to insure that he will have close to $19 million when he runs again in 2012, Americans are still being lied to.

What happened to the president who “will listen,” where did he go? The president’s original intention was to invite 120 people who mostly sound like lobbyist to a medical summit. And Barack Obama was planning this summit with no input from Single Payer advocates?

“If anyone should be excluded from this summit,” said Ray Stever, New Jersey State Industrial Union Council President, “it should be the representatives of the health insurance industry. These are the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. They will move heaven and earth to continue to deny Americans the healthcare justice that citizens of all other industrialized countries enjoy.”

But we worked real hard to get someone a seat and John Conyers, the father of H.R.676 sat at that table without saying a word. How was that arranged? Then the “Change We Can Believe In” president passes it of to the corporate Democrats who have ignored the facts for decades. Is the fact that a realistic debate about the situation in this nation has been suppressed the reason that all the politicians seem to be able to come up with is throwing more money at the problem or is it the money that the senators and the members of the house collected from health care for profit that can be blamed for bogus answers?

The claim that single payer can’t have a seat at the table because it won’t get passed is an insult to every Americans intelligence. In a nation where twelve year olds die from toothaches and women are ignored in waiting rooms until they after they have died, Nationalized medicine doesn’t have a seat because more Americans would hear the truth. The claim by  Karen Ignagni, the leader of AHIP “I think, on behalf of our entire membership, they would want to be able to say to you this afternoon and everyone here that we understand we have to earn a seat at the table” is an even greater insult to the intelligence of the American public. The insurance companies purchased those seats at the table with your money and they also paid enough money to the morally bankrupt elected officials to make sure that the people who do have answers will not be heard from.

You do remember how SiCKO ended. A little old lady being shown the door and pushed into a taxi because she didn’t have insurance and 9-11 heroes being treated in Cuba. Some people are working hard so Americans will forget that. This is our nation? This is what we have for representation? So where is the progress and how do we force progressive reality on these murderers?  

1 comment

    • Eddie C on June 24, 2009 at 5:52 pm
      Author

    We are just not seeing it. All we can find is ersatz solutions that are dedicated to maintaining that money flow into elected official’s pockets.  It is just not easy to accept how heartless and cruel our elected officials really are.  

    As it is optimistically pointed out that Obama is on the health reform offensive and tying health care reform to cost savings, once you figure in those 101,000 Americans dying each year there are many numbers that just don’t add up, unless they continue dying or see just a modest reduction.

    As the administration presents a plan that limits medical expense increases to one and a half percent per year much of what is being presented actually cost more. More government spending going into the pockets of private healthcare that will come back to them in the form of campaign contributions is repulsive. Comparing the calculations on real healthcare reform that this president and congress don’t want Americans to see and what they are offering, we are seeing a healthcare debate where the players bring nothing to the table. We have been lied to about single payer to too damn long!

    Streamlining medical forms and educating Americans to be more health conscious are big ticket items. Going forward with a for-profit health market how would this nation cut down cost if “maxim exposure” was removed from health insurance lingo? What if “experimental denials” were banned for proven therapies?

    All of the Americans who only have emergency rooms to turn to, once you upgrade them to finding help and improve the clinics that serve the indigent to the levels of other industrial nations cost will skyrocket under profit based healthcare. But who is talking about that?

    For our most creative minds in congress, the best they can do is mandatory health insurance that will add money from healthy Americans and add support to a for-profit system.  If the cost paid by all of those Americans victims who declare bankruptcy each year is transferred from the people to either the added income of for-profit health insurance companies or a taxpayer financed public option, that’s a whole lot more money being pumped into a broken system.

    Under a for-profit system if answers were found for those 101,000 Americans who die an unnecessary death each year the nation would be bankrupt in no time. That’s why they won’t talk about those people.

    But really it is a democracy question. With a wide majority of Americans in favor of both single payer and a strong public option, who are theses elected officials representing?

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