Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 19, 2009


World Socialist - President Barack Obama called for cuts in funding for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal health insurance programs for the elderly and the poor, including the elimination of subsidies for hospitals that treat uninsured patients. . .

Administration spokesmen have also indicated that Obama is receptive to the idea of taxing workers for the health benefits they receive from their employers-something for which he denounced his opponent, Senator John McCain, during last year's presidential election campaign.

In a speech before the American Medical Association in Chicago, President Obama made it clear that his health care reform would in no way impinge on the profit interests of insurance companies, hospital chains and drug companies. . . .

As he has done before, Obama framed the health care issue entirely from the standpoint of containing rising costs that are fueling federal budget deficits and undermining the competitiveness of US corporations. The fact that nearly 50 million Americans are uninsured and tens of millions more cannot afford adequate health care was chiefly raised to point to the added costs of unpaid emergency room visits.

Rising health care costs, particularly for the government-run Medicare and Medicaid programs for the elderly and the poor, the president said, were a "ticking time-bomb for the federal budget" and "unsustainable." If the health care system was not fixed, he warned, "America may go the way of GM," referring to the bankrupt automaker.

The cost of his plan-estimated to be a trillion dollars over the next ten years-would be "budget neutral," he said, and would be funded through cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, along with "modestly limiting the tax deductions the wealthiest Americans can take to the same level it was at the end of the Reagan years."

The president plans to cut $313 billion over the next decade from the two federal health programs by limiting the growth of Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and health care providers. He also said he was open to expanding the role of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission-a body set up by the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Congress in 1997-to save another $200 billion.

As the Wall Street Journal noted Monday, "New York City offers a window into what could happen when payments to safety-net hospitals are cut. Already running at a deficit, the city's public hospital system is looking at $150 million in state Medicaid cuts for next year. Next month, it will close some outpatient services, such as community-based primary and preventive-care offices.

"'We are in a position already where we are making painful decisions that require us to reduce access and services,' said Alan D. Aviles, president and chief executive of the system, known as the Health and Hospitals Corp."

Under the terms of Obama's plan, the wealthy would still have access to the best medical care while tens of millions of working people would have a choice of lower standard plans available in a so-called Health Insurance Exchange, where coverage was limited to what one could afford. This would include a government-subsidized "public option," he said, which "would inject competition into the health care market to force waste out of the system."

Far from guaranteeing decent health care for the population, the program would create a system, dominated by private companies seeking to maximize their profits, where health care for working and poor people was rationed according to its "cost-effectiveness." Doctors would be under intense pressure from government "advisory boards" not to order tests, use drugs or carry out medical treatments that were deemed too expensive.

Obama recently told the New York Times that prolonging the lives of terminally ill and very old people presently accounts for 80 percent of the total health care bill. He suggested that such outlays might not be cost-effective.

In his speech before the AMA-a body that opposed the establishment of Medicare in the 1960s-Obama gave assurances that his proposal for a public insurance option as part of his reform did not threaten private markets. He said, "The public option is not your enemy; it is your friend." . . .

Obama brought the AMA delegates to their feet by declaring that he was willing to provide relief to doctors facing the high cost of malpractice lawsuits-long a plank of the Republican Party. "I recognize," he said, that "some doctors may feel the need to order more tests and treatments to avoid being legally vulnerable," he said, assuring them that "evidence-based" guidelines established by the government would allow physicians to "scale back the excessive defensive medicine," which supposedly plagued the health care system.

The socially destructive implications of Obama's health care plan are spelled out in a recent book by Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and a medical advisor to the administration. In a review of the book, Health Care Guaranteed: A Simple, Secure Solution for America, the New York Review of Books wrote that under Emanuel's proposal, "Employee-based insurance would disappear," and "Medicaid would also end and Medicare would be gradually phased out."


Anonymous Although he may be poor not a man shall be a slave. said...

Anybody who's ever raised and financed kids clothes out of his own pocket knows how stupid and wasteful custom garments for growing children are. Bad enough to pay for those hundred dollar Stride-rite saddle oxfords the Catholic schools demand. The parent paying for that knows those accoutrements are going to be outgrown before the end of the school year. But you want to do the best you can for your kids. Every fucking dime I've ever made in my whole life came directly subtracted from my life expectancy: that's called working for a living. i never paid for my kid's clothes by betraying and using my fellow citizens then sticking my nose in the air because I'm the fucking President which these days means being the biggest chickenshit sellout whore in the country.

June 20, 2009 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fucking hate Obama. He is the biggest phony ever. For all his talk of change, he didn't change jack shit. The rich get to do whatever they want. The people have no health-care and never will. Fucking Obama, he is a fucking sellout bitch mother fucker. I hate him more than I ever hated Bush, or McCain at least they were honest about being right-wing mother fuckers but Obama is the biggest fucking hypocrit ever.

I want to laugh at all those suckers who chanted "Yes We Can" when he was elected as if he was the fucking messiah. What a bunch of fucking worthless idiots you all are. You disgust me you fucking sheep.

Nothing will ever change. Enjoy the mire because the rich will get richer and the rest of us will eat shit until we become a crime-infested, culture-less, violent, hellish 3rd world piss hole.

June 21, 2009 11:52 PM  

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