From the July 2009 Idaho Observer:
If passed, healthcare plan will be enforced at gunpoint 111th Congress pushing for mandatory participation in government medical model; recommending home intrusions, fines and imprisonment for non-compliers
If passed, healthcare plan will be enforced at gunpoint
111th Congress pushing for mandatory participation in government medical model; recommending home intrusions, fines and imprisonment for non-compliers
Since it convened last January, there has been a definite, omnipartisan agenda in the 111th Congress. Though there have been some Democrat v. Republican theatrics, every major bill introduced, rushed through committee and put to a floor vote is essentially the same bill. Be it water, land, air, banking, commerce, thoughts, guns, counting, surveillance or medicine that the bill is purported to be addressing, the only difference is the text and the name and number by which it is identified. The intent is unerringly the same and all this congressional activity could be gathered under one umbrella and renamed, "The Federal Control of Everything and Non-Compliance Enforcement Act of 2009." We chose to elaborate on healthcare "reform" because federal policy becomes so personal when federal agents are authorized to enter homes and administer whatever pill or procedure they decide is best for you (or your children)—at gunpoint.
"If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free."
by Anne Wilder Chamberlain
On the my.barackobama.com website, the alleged president Obama has called for health care reform in 2009 that upholds these core principles: It must reduce costs, guarantee choice, include a public option and ensure quality care for all. But like every "change" Obama has asked us to support, nowhere on the website is there any concrete information as to what the man intends.
The Obama plan, according to the Washington Post on Inauguration Day, 2009, would require medium and large employers that don’t offer employee health benefits to pay a tax to help fund healthcare coverage—a so-called "play-or-pay" mandate. Obama pledged to expand eligibility under Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and to create a plan much like the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program to help individuals who don’t have job-based coverage or don’t qualify for other public programs.
"Other health reform measures Obama has proposed are aimed at reducing wasteful spending and improving health-care quality. Some of these are tucked into the $825 billion economic stimulus package unveiled by House Democrats earlier this [year]. The measure sets aside $20 billion to help the nation’s doctors and hospitals computerize patient medical records, for example, and $3 billion for preventive care," the Post reported.
And now in Congress…
According to pbs.org, on June 19, 2009, House Democrats unveiled a draft health care reform bill, HR 3200, "America’s Affordable Health Choices Act," that would include a public health insurance option and would require all individuals to get health coverage. The bill was released at a news conference with the chairs of the three committees that drafted it—House Education and Labor committee Chair Rep. George Miller (D-CA), House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), .
On June 18, 2009, CNN reported that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) insisted the House bill will include a government-run health care option to compete with private insurers, and that the government run insurance plan is a central piece of the bill.
PBS reported that the House Democrats’ plan would include sliding-scale subsidies for families making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level to purchase health care through a government-run exchange that would offer both private and public options.
This "public option" has emerged as one of the most contentious issues in the health care reform debate, with most Republican lawmakers and other stakeholders, such as the American Medical Association, opposed to it. According to the AARP Bulletin (July/Aug 09), the insurance industry contends that government insurance would use its market power to pay doctors less—as it has done with Medicare—to keep prices low and drive companies out of business, leaving the nation with nationalized health care.
But even though Speaker Pelosi has said she hopes the legislation will clear the House before lawmakers leave for their annual August vacation on July 31, the 1,000-page bill was not presented to Congress until July 14, 2009.
According to CNS.com, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) admitted that, if members of Congress were required to read it, it would never pass.
The high cost of "health" care
Cost is the other barrier to health care reform; the Senate Finance Committee postponed a markup session on its proposed bill after the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost at $1.6 trillion.
Waxman stated the House bill would be paid for by cutting Medicare and Medicaid spending and reducing other health care costs, but according to AARP that would only account for $300 million. The plan would also require employers to provide health insurance for their employees, or pay a tax equal to eight percent of their payroll. Other suggestions include charging wealthy taxpayers higher premiums, imposing higher taxes on alcohol, sugary beverages and tobacco and eliminating the tax break that individuals get now on their co-pay for employer-provided insurance.
According to thecloakroomblog.com July 15, 2009, House Democrats are insisting that the legislation would cost less than $1 trillion over 10 years and hope to pay for it by a combination of "spending reductions" in the health care system (which they say will net around $500 billion) and a surtax on "wealthy" taxpayers (which they say will net around $540 billion).
Pharmaceutical companies get involved
Meanwhile, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), has been negotiating in secret meetings with numerous industry groups as he tries to draft legislation that meets Obama’s goal of vastly expanding health coverage with bipartisan support that does not add to the deficit, wrote David Espo of news.yahoo.com last June 20. in his article "Baucus, White House in Deal with Drug Industry."
"Billy Tauzin, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), said, ‘Millions of uninsured and financially struggling Americans are depending on us to accomplish comprehensive health care reform this year. Today, America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies are signaling their strong support for these critically important efforts.’"
According to Sharon Davis and Mary Palmer of the U.S. Department of Commerce, in an article published last July 3 entitled, "The True Cost of Your Prescription Drugs," the mark-up on name brand prescription drugs runs anywhere from 2,809 percent for "Zestril" to almost 225,000 percent for "Prozac." It seems the pharmaceutical companies could show their support by reducing prices for some of their prescription drugs.
"The agreement by pharmaceutical companies to contribute to the health reform effort comes on the heels of the landmark pledge many health industry leaders made to me last month, when they offered to do their part to reduce health spending $2 trillion over the next decade," Obama stated in the article.
But if one reads the fine print, these companies are actually agreeing to "spend $80 billion over the next decade improving drug benefits for seniors on Medicare" and offer "affordable prices on prescription drugs when Medicare benefits don’t cover the cost of prescriptions," according to Baucus and Obama.
Not included in the figures mentioned above is the $1.6 trillion price tag to provide medical insurance to the 46 million uninsured Americans in our country today.
The public doesn’t want to pay for it
The Washington Post published a Kaiser/Harvard survey last January 20 in which it was stated, "...the public is concerned about paying for health care and health insurance during a deep recession."
The survey revealed wide divisions in public opinion, with roughly half (49 percent) saying they are not willing to pay more to expand access to health insurance and 47 percent saying they are.
Robert Moffit, PhD, of Heritage.org, in an article titled "The Obama Health Care Plan, More Power to Washington from October 15, 2008, stated, "Similar to the Clinton health plan of 1994, the Kerry health plan of 2004, and the Commonwealth Fund’s ‘The Building Blocks of Health Reform,’ the Obama plan proposes a comprehensive, standardized federal health benefits structure; a massive expansion of federal regulatory authority over health insurance; and an enlargement of federal regulatory power over health care delivery, including defining and determining what constitutes ‘quality’ health care.
"Instead of using the federal government to change the health care system from the top down, policymakers should transfer direct control of health care dollars back to individuals and families—the people with a personal interest in obtaining the best care at lower cost. Such a system of personal ownership would allow Americans to exercise real personal choice of health plans and benefits in choosing those plans that best meet their needs. This would also make health plans and providers compete directly for their dollars by providing value to consumers and patients. Personal ownership of health care would help to control costs and guarantee better quality, eliminating the need to depend on the government or third-party payers."
According to AARP, Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) proposed the creation of non-profit health co-operatives owned by groups of patients with no government involvement. The cooperatives would negotiate directly with insurers for low cost rates.
In a letter dated June 26, 2009, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) stated that a proposal had been suggested for public-private partnerships that would utilize the efficiency of private insurers to expand health insurance to the uninsured. He recommended the use of untaxed health savings accounts (HSAs), which allow individuals to establish and fund a medical savings account in addition to their high-deductible insurance policy, to cover unexpected out-of pocket expenses.
The High Cost of lobbying
Another idea would include eliminating the pharmaceutical lobbying of Congress and corporate financing of elections, something that Public Citizen.org has been pushing for years with its Fair Elections Now Act. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in the 2004 election cycle, health care professionals, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and health organizations contributed $116.6 million to presidential and congressional candidates. In the 2006 cycle, they contributed $94.5 million to congressional candidates. In 2006, the health sector spent $351.1 million to lobby the federal government — an amount that accounted for 13.8 percent of all spending on lobbying and nearly equaled similar spending by the financial sector, which ranked first. The manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and other health care products spent the most, with PhRMA alone spending $18.1 million, Robert Steinbrook, MD, posted to the New England Journal of Medicine website at nejm.org August 23, 2007.
According to wikipedia.org, the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics reported that pharmaceutical companies spent $89 million on election contributions and $900 million on lobbying between 1998 and 2005—more than any other industry—and, Center for Public Integrity reported, from January, 2005, through June, 2006, the pharmaceutical industry spent approximately $182 million on federal lobbying.
The industry boasts 1,274 registered lobbyists in Washington D.C.—three lobbyists for every legislator on Capitol Hill and one salesman for every five doctors in the country (Moynihan and Cassels, Selling Sickness).
In addition, according to Public Citizen in Nov./Dec., 2007, pharmaceutical companies paid $392.8 million for fiscal year 2008 to the FDA in user fees for approval of their drugs. None of these totals even consider the $billions spent in advertising each year on national radio, TV and in print, or the money they invest in medical schools and college education every year.
The high cost of insurance
In an email dated July 15, 2009, Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) sent out this report: "In mid-May, in an effort to reach consensus, President Obama secured a deal with the health insurance companies to trim 1.5 percent of their costs each year for 10 years saving a total of $2 trillion, which would be reprogrammed into healthcare. Just two days after the announcement at the White House the insurance companies reneged on the deal, which was designed to protect and increase their revenue at least 35 percent [by forcing everyone to obtain insurance or pay a $500 fine]. Of $2.4 trillion spent annually for health care in America, fully $800 billion goes for the activities of the for-profit insurer-based system. This means one of every three health care dollars is siphoned off for corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing and the cost of paper work (which can be anywhere between 15-35 percent)."
What is Congress doing?
With the 1,000-page bill hidden in committee until Pelosi was ready to spring it on the House for immediate passage at the 11th hour, the rest of Congress has been working on options:
The House of Representatives introduced HR 193, the AmeriCare Health Care Act of 2009 in January, sponsored by Fortney Stark (D-CA) and three fellow Democrats, to amend the Social Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for an AmeriCare that assures the provision of health insurance coverage to all residents with automatic enrollment at birth and the issuance of AmeriCare cards for identification and claims processing purposes. The only "opt out" mechanism in HR 193 is proof of being covered by an equivalent or better private plan.
Several other healthcare reform bills have been introduced, including HR 1495 sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul R-TX) and HR 621 sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA). Rep. Paul wants to amend the Internal Revenue Code to revise tax credits for healthcare spending; Rep. McMorris-Rodgers wants to provide refundable tax credits for the purchase of health insurance along with tax credits for small businesses, enact medical liability reform and implement conception-to-grave health information technology (HIT).
Rep. Donna Christensen (D-VI) along with 42 co-sponsors introduced HR 3148 to provide "scoring" for "preventive health savings," that would be monitored by elaborate federal health surveillace schemes facilitated by HIT including clinical trials and observational studies in humans."
Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) introduced HR 615, along with 33 co-sponsors, expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Members who vote in favor of the establishment of a public, federal government run health insurance option are urged to forgo their right to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and agree to enroll under that public option. In a move that drew considerable laughter, said cloakroomblog last July 15, the Senate panel adopted, 12-11, an amendment by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would require members of Congress to enroll in the government-run public plan.
Rep. Kucinich, originally sponsored HR 676,which was reintroduced on January 6, 2009 by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and now has 85 cosponsors. HR 676 is the only bill in which there an opt-out for those who did not want their personal health information logged into HIT, the national electronic health information database.
Each of the previously mentioned bills take for granted the existing system that continues to grow and thrive on the allopathic medical model—vaccines, drugs and surgeries—and only suggest variations on how an increasingly sick population is going to continue paying for their allopathically/government-induced acute and chronic illnesses and how the federal government is going to oversee/regulate/administrate/participate in this $multi-trillion industry. Only one bill is truly different.
On July 9, 2009, Rep. Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA) introduced HR 3144, the Healthy Communities Act of 2009, to amend the Public Health Service Act to promote obesity prevention, including proper nutrition and exercise. HR 3144 authorizes $10,000,000 for FY2010 in grants for obesity prevention including grants to providers of nutrition-dense food, farmers markets, exercise, and education.
On July 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) committee, chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) voted to approve the Senate’s version of HR 3200. This bill establishes "Gateways" managed by the states but run by the Health and Human Services Secretary. According to a press release issued by the Senate July 15, 2009, HELP would create a "shared responsibility framework. Individuals will be required to have health coverage that meets the minimum standards and report such coverage annually." Tax records will be utilized to determine what one’s health insurance rate would be. "The minimum penalty of accomplishing the goal of enhancing participation….will be no more than $750 per year."
The bill, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost $615 billion over the next 10 years, seeks to monitor "health quality" and reduce "geographical….health disparities" through HIT and "Community Health Teams," funded by "grants," which will be conditional on "incorporating such standards." The number of bureaucracies created by this monstrosity cannot be listed in this article, but according to CNSnews.com, one of its departments, the Community Preventive Services Task Force "[a]uthorizes a demonstration program to improve immunization coverage. Under this program, CDC will provide grants to states to improve immunization coverage of children, adolescents, and adults through the use of evidence-based interventions. States may use funds to implement interventions….such as reminders or recalls for patients or providers, or home visits."
Campaign for Liberty
Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty stated June 8 that if passed, HR 3200 would not only be the federal takeover of healthcare and the last straw to bankrupt our country, but it would also hand control of our healthcare to an unelected federal board; end medical privacy through HIT which would allow virtually anyone in the medical-industrial complex to access personal medical records without consent; end private health insurance; raise taxes by counting health benefits as "income;" and pave the way for bureaucrats to increasingly tell us what we can and can’t eat, drink and smoke, like New York City’s ban on "unapproved" fats in foods.
DownsizeDC.org reported July 15, "The opposition to increased government meddling in health care has grown faster than the politicians expected. They’ve also had problems crafting a bill that makes any kind of sense, even to them."
Though HR 3200 was introduced July 14 and was intended to be rushed through and passed before Congress takes its summer break, it appears there will be no health care bill sent to the Senate before the August recess.
This is our opportunity to insist that during their break, congressmen start looking for an answer to the real problem of why our country is so sick, instead of continuing to find new ways for organized medicine to be paid for poisoning and maiming Americans’ minds and bodies.