Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Why Does The Right Lie About Medicare For All? Ans.: To Make Medically Bankrupt 'Muricans Feel Better!

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Image accompanying latest WSJ propaganda piece ('The False Promise of Medicare for All')

First, let's grasp that the character who got us into the Great Depression was none other than President Herbert Hoover.  It stands to reason then that his latter day acolytes embedded in the Hoover Institution would be front and center in carrying out his regressive economics and continuing to make the lives of millions miserable today as well.  They, e.g.  Dr. Scott W. Atlas -  in his hit on Medicare for All in yesterday's WSJ ('The False Promise of Medicare for All', p. A17)-  keep at it because it serves their  "profit over people" purpose. It also keeps their rich donors (like the Koch brothers) at the center of continuing political power plays, dramas - and the infusion of their money pays for the PR attacks..

The lies reeled off  in Scott Atlas' piece are so prodigious that if I recited them all they'd consume most of this post - apart from giving them further currency-   so that I will not do. I will just present one of his damned lies, because it invokes our Canadian neighbors, i.e.

"In Canada last year the median wait time between seeing a general practitioner and following up with a specialist was 10.2 weeks, while the wait between seeing a doctor and beginning treatment was about five months. According to a Fraser Institute study, the average Canadian waits three months to see an ophthalmologist, four months for an orthopedist, and five months for a neurosurgeon."

All of which are bald faced lies.    Besides, do we trust the offerings of the "Fraser Institute" or any of its "studies"?  I think not, given they are a creature of the Koch brothers, e.g.


The Fraser Institute is a libertarian think tank based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Fraser Institute is an associate member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN), and was featured in SPN's Associate Member Updates in July/August 2017. [1] Additional reports, ranking and index information about the Fraser Institute are featured in SPN's Associate Member Updates.  The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN)

So are you really going to believe this bunch, OR anyone who cites them?  I think not, nor should you given THEY are the lot selling the real snake oil.    Indeed, the Canadians we spoke with in our last trip to Alberta (Sept. 25- Oct. 6) unanimously agreed they would not change their single payer  health care  for the world, and certainly not with Americans and their pathetic patchwork system with dozens of insurance companies, continually increasing premiums, and drug prices that are more like continuing extortion.

Our niece Inge, a naturalized Canadian (originally from Trinidad),  has lived in Toronto for over 3 decades. She has also had occasion to use the Canuck single payer system multiple times for back issues. Never has she experienced waiting times cited by this kook, Atlas.  (She did acknowledge in certain provinces, an ingrown toenail - which has lesser priority  - may have you waiting a bit longer to see a specialist than say, a broken big toe.)

While the Right and its Libertarian cohort (including the Kochs) likes to baffle with bullshit concerning Medicare for all, its basis is really quite simple and sensible.  It would basically take the existing successful Medicare system, strengthen it and extend it to all Americans. Thus, we would see:

- From birth everyone, every American citizen, will be insured and have access to any doctor or hospital in the country no matter the size of their bank account. (Unlike today when a private insurance corporations dictates which doctor you can see.)

- Unlike today when a high deductible or lack of coverage prevents it, people will be able to see a doctor when they first become ill. This will save on much larger costs down the road when conditions worsen.

- Prescription drug prices will be cut by as much as 40 percent simply by repealing a federal law that prevents Medicare from competitive bidding for lowest drug prices.

But make no mistake that 'Medicare for all'  would be the for profit  medical industry's biggest nightmare because they'd no longer be able to reap profits by invoking  pre-existing conditions or medical loss ratios - preventing sick people from getting care instead of delivering it. Hence, they and their  political lackeys and extremists will be prepared to fight like junkyard dogs to prevent it, including the perverse use of propaganda.

Some of the myths peddled by the Right and the likes of the denizens of the Hoover Institution as well as CATO Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Manhattan Institute etc. are the following - with their knockdowns:

Myth: Single payer is government run health care.

Fact: No, that would be the Veterans Administration system. Under single payer you get a health ID card and can see any doctor or go to any hospital in the U.S.  Doctors are NOT employees of the government and hospitals remain in private hands.

Myth: Single payer will lead to rationing like in Canada:

Fact: No, because right now in the U.S. it is PRIVATE health insurance which rations care by using medical loss ratio calculations to determine how much care must be disallowed to earn x % profit

Myth: Costs will skyrocket under single payer.

Fact: By eliminating the for profit system we can save $350 b a year or more in administrative costs.

Myth: Drugs will be more costly and difficult to get under single payer.

Fact:  Drugs will be cheaper because single payer will be able to bargain for lowest prices - like the VA does.

 All of these points show that too many Americans have been fed a bill of goods about single payer, and we call such tactics propaganda.  It is time to start rationally responding every time the term "single payer"  or "Medicare for all" surfaces in media attacks or PR hits.

We all need to begin to think rationally about how we can make our system much better by adopting it, and also rigorously arguing against the assorted spurious attacks by media know - nothings, their lackeys and the pro-capitalist exploiters.   As a relatively recent example, both Charles Blahous and  CNN's Jake Tapper were exposed as not completely truthful in a   pair of essays published in the journal Jacobin.

Also not surprising is that Tapper echoed the Neoliberal twaddle of The Washington Post which (Jacobin writer) Matt Bruenig points out has regurgitated the untruths in  a separate fact-check  of Ocasio -Cortex, as well as a video segment accompanying an editorial entitled  “The cosmically huge ‘if’ of Medicare for all."   Interestingly, the editors removed the video soon after the exposure.

This led Bruenig to write:

"In some ways, the undead nature of this falsehood is a perfect microcosm of the problems our society faces in dealing with fake news.  Once a false report is out there, it is devilishly difficult to undo the damage it has caused because, even if it is corrected, few people ever recognize the correction and so many people wind up repeating the false report.

Sometime later, a medical specialist (John Perryman) wrote in a response letter to the WSJ (Aug.  17th):  

"The U.S. pays more for health care, whether measured on a per capita basis or as a proportion of GDP than every other nation on Earth".

So no wonder so many Americans have to file for medical bankruptcy (i.e. file for bankruptcy because of crushing medical debt.)   Why then all these persistent attacks on single payer systems? Obviously to make overburdened Americans believe they don't have it so bad after all! They have access to the "greatest medical system" in the whole world"... for a price!

See also:

by Robert Reich | November 14, 2018 - 7:15am |


"Over 70% of Americans–and even 52% of Republicans–now support Medicare for All, a single-payer plan that builds on Medicare and would cover everyone at far lower cost than the current system."



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