Obama in Health Insurance Industry Hip Pocket

by Mike O'Brien

If I were to discontinue my TV cable, one show that I would miss would be Bill Moyers. He consistently hosts a program with thought provoking guests on a wide variety of current topics and often their voices are drowned out by the corporate media. This past week was one such time.

"....It's a Harris poll last fall. One out of 14 people think that the health insurance industry is honest and trustworthy. On the other hand, in Washington, they're in bed with the health insurance industry. Just as Wall Street and the banks have bought the Congress to get what they want in terms of the bailout, the health insurance industry has bought and influenced members of Congress and the President so much that they don't even consider the possibility of a plan that doesn't have a health insurance industry..."

The topic was concerning a single payer healthcare system and hosted the following guests:

Dr. David Himmelstein

Dr. David Himmelstein is associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and serves as the chief of the Division of Social and Community Medicine at Cambridge Hospital where he practices primary care internal medicine. He received his M.D. from Columbia University and completed internal medicine training at Highland Hospital/University of California San Francisco, and a fellowship in general internal medicine at Harvard.

Dr. Himmelstein was a founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and serves as co-director of the Center for National Health Program Studies at the Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He co-edits PNHP's newsletter and is a principal author of PNHP articles published in the JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine in conjunction with Dr. Steffie Woolhandler.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe

Sidney Wolfe, MD is acting President of Public Citizen and director of it's Health Research Group. In 1966 he began working at the National Institutes of Health where he did research on aspects of blood-clotting and on alcoholism. Dr. Wolfe met Ralph Nader in Washington, D.C. at a meeting of the American Patients Association, began advising Mr. Nader on health problems in America and helped in the recruitment of medical student volunteers who worked for Mr. Nader.

Since 1995 he has been an adjunct professor of Internal Medicine at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. His medical degree is from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio and his internship and residency were in internal medicine. He is currently a member of the Society for General Internal Medicine. His awards include receiving the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1990.

There appears nothing more diagnostic about the problems American's face in regards to the downside of our capitalist system. Clearly, corporate insurance companies have the power to dominate the political structure of America, insuring that dollars are funneled into the insurance industry coffers and not into providing healthcare to the American people.

The program can be streamed from here...


Unknown said…
I love the photo at the top of the post - several doctors (presumably, judging by their white coats) carrying a banner that says "Most Doctors Want a Single-Payer National Health System." I wonder if that's true?

Most of the doctors and other health professionals I know as a patient are pretty careful not to bring their political views into the examining room. My friends who are docs, on the other hand, mostly agree that we should be working towards a nationalized single-payer system. And most would also agree that they spend altogether too much time dealing with (or paying their staff to deal with) insurance companies.

So, if doctors are for it, and patients are for it, then it's the insurance companies who need to get on board. And how to get them on board? They need to see it as being in their own financial interest.

I'm interested in how we get for where we are now to where we want to be. I'm a fellow Vermonter, and a student at UVM in the post-bac pre-med program. I took a healthcare policy course a couple of years ago (http://learn.uvm.edu/hm/?Page=courses.html) which was a great introduction to this topic.
I think quite frankly it is not in the interest of the health insurance industry. According to the speakers on the Moyers program, they should be put out of business. They describe this scenario happening exactly in Canada when they instituted their single payers system. I guess the point is that private insurance is extremely wasteful. We cannot afford it and get everyone insured. We would still have a private provider system of health care, just the system of payment would be different, just like we fund the firemen, police, libraries etc. A health care provider would get one check a month for their services. Very efficient and it would put doctors back in the business of concentrating on patient care.

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