8/17 'Healthcare' Costs & Benefits'? Insurance Industry Wins; 'Save' by Doubling Drug Costs; New 'Military Mental Healthcare'

"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." 
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda

digest note:
Taking 'Healthcare' Out of Capital Crisis Context : the class dialectics of cost & benefits
What can the ruling class do when an awakening, angry public opposes not just a predatory profit-making / care-cutting 'healthcare overhaul', but sever the 'reform' from U.S. bipartisan 'national security' agenda requiring the finance capital bailout being bled from working and oppressed peoples and nations worldwide ?

1. remove single payer system from the 'table'
2. redefine socialism without its actual class basis so that the dictatorship of capitalist dictatorship becomes 'socialist' when convenient - never
when 'socializing' debt to privatize profits
3. bury info. revealing actual capitalist promoters & beneficiaries, 'media-ate' propaganda to frame all opposition as pro -status quo, spearheaded by racist
anti-obama republican/far right fringe
4. toss a few Secret Service/DHS approved gun-toting guys into 'town forums' mix, reinforcing 'redneck' nature of opposition to the 'reform' while scoring
with 'NRA type' conservatives [as the disarming capitalist state classifies all who defend the right to own guns]

OXYMORON: PROFIT-DRIVEN 'HEALTHCARE'
...The fate of health care is inextricably linked to the economy. It is a test of the administration’s competence: if they can’t get a stimulus right, how do you expect them to overhaul 17 percent of the nation’s economy? It also forms the perception [SIC] of the financial climate for any other measures....
Although the Obama economic plan may be succeeding, there remain painful dislocations and [officially] 15 million jobless Americans. That makes the president’s decision to vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, later this month puzzling.... with the worst economic situation since the Great Depression and joblessness [officially] close to 10 percent, paying more than $25,000 in weekly rent to hobnob with the elite seems off key http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/17/us/17iht-letter.html?pagewanted=2&ref=...

no question asked about public debt 'socialization' for the trillions to 'bailout' finance capital
Poll: 57% stimulus not working
http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2009-08-16-stimulus-poll_N.htm
Six months after President Obama launched a $787 billion plan to right the nation's economy, a majority of Americans think the avalanche of new federal aid has cost too much and done too little to end the recession. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found 57% of adults say the stimulus package is having no impact on the economy or making it worse. Even more --60% --doubt that the stimulus plan will help the economy in the years ahead... almost half in the full sample say they are "very worried" that stimulus money is being wasted.... and only 18% say it has done anything to help improve their personal situation... Since the plan began.. an additional 2.2 million Americans without jobs, according to Labor Department surveys.
That skepticism underscores the challenge Obama faces in trying to convince the public that the stimulus has helped turn the economy around. It also could complicate the administration's plans to overhaul the nation's health care system.

Dem's NYT must begin to acknowledge the reality and larger context of the chief's slide ...in order to counter it
Is Obama Punking Us?
By FRANK RICH
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/opinion/09rich.html?th&emc=th
Thursday was the eighth anniversary of “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” the President’s Daily Brief that his boss ignored while on vacation in Crawford. Aug. 29 marks the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s strike on the Louisiana coast, which his boss also ignored while on vacation in Crawford. So do have a blast in Martha’s Vineyard, President Obama.
Even as we wait for some unexpected disaster to strike, Beltway omens for the current White House are grim. Obama’s poll numbers are approaching free fall, we are told. If he fails on health care, he’s toast. Indeed, many of the bloviators who spot a fatal swoon in the Obama presidency are the same doomsayers who in August 2008 were predicting his Election Day defeat because he couldn’t “close the deal” and clear the 50 percent mark in matchups with John McCain.
Here are two not very daring predictions: Obama will get some kind of health care reform done come fall. His poll numbers will not crater any time soon.

Yet there is real reason for longer-term worry in the form of a persistent, anecdotal drift toward disillusionment among some of the president’s supporters. And not merely those on the left. This concern was perhaps best articulated by an Obama voter, a real estate agent in Virginia, featured on the front page of The Washington Post last week. “Nothing’s changed for the common guy,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been punked.” She cited in particular the billions of dollars in bailouts given to banks that still “act like they’re broke.” But this mood isn’t just about the banks, Public Enemy No. 1. What the Great Recession has crystallized is a larger syndrome that Obama tapped into during the campaign. It’s the sinking sensation that the American game is rigged... What disturbs Americans of all ideological persuasions is the fear that almost everything, not just government, is fixed or manipulated by some powerful hidden hand, from commercial transactions as trivial as the sales of prime concert tickets to cultural forces as pervasive as the news media. It’s a cynicism confirmed almost daily by events.... legitimate suspicions on the right and left alike that even their loudest public voices can be silenced if the business interests of the real American elite decree it. You might wonder whether networks could some day cut out the middlemen — anchors — and just put covert lobbyists and publicists on the air to deliver the news. Actually, that has already happened....
Democratic members of Congress those hecklers assailed can hardly claim the moral high ground. Their ties to health care interests are merely more discreet and insidious. As Congressional Quarterly reported last week, industry groups contributed almost $1.8 million in the first six months of 2009 alone to the 18 House members of both parties supervising health care reform, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer among them.

Then there are the 52 conservative Blue Dog Democrats, who have balked at the public option for health insurance. Their cash intake from insurers and drug companies outpaces their Democratic peers by an average of 25 percent, according to The Post. And let’s not forget the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which has raked in nearly $500,000 from a single doctor-owned hospital in McAllen, Tex. — the very one that Obama has cited as a symbol of runaway medical costs ever since it was profiled in The New Yorker this spring.

In this maze of powerful moneyed interests, it’s not clear who any American in either party should or could root for. The bipartisan nature of the beast can be encapsulated by the remarkable progress of Billy Tauzin, the former Louisiana congressman. Tauzin was a founding member of the Blue Dog Democrats in 1994. A year later, he bolted to the Republicans. Now he is chief of PhRMA, the biggest pharmaceutical trade group. In the 2008 campaign, Obama ran a television ad pillorying Tauzin for his role in preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices. Last week The Los Angeles Times reported — and The New York Times confirmed — that Tauzin, an active player in White House health care negotiations, had secured a behind-closed-doors flip-flop, enlisting the administration to push for continued protection of drug prices. Now we know why the president has ducked his campaign pledge to broadcast such negotiations on C-Span....

His first questionable post-victory step was to assemble an old boys’ club of Robert Rubin protégés and Goldman-Citi alumni as the White House economic team, including a Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, who failed in his watchdog role at the New York Fed as Wall Street’s latest bubble first inflated and then burst. The questions about Geithner’s role in adjudicating the subsequent bailouts aren’t going away, and neither is the angry public sense that the fix is still in...

It’s in this context that Obama can’t afford a defeat on health care. A bill will pass in a Democrat-controlled Congress. What matters is what’s in it. The final result will be a CAT scan of those powerful Washington interests he campaigned against ....

Dr David Scheiner, a Chicago physician was Barack Obama's personal doctor. He adamantly rejects the plan being advanced by Obama and the Democrats as grossly inadequate to solve the healthcare crisis. "Access to needed health care should not be regulated by profit" declared Scheiner. "Obama knows that."
http://www.bestcyrano.org/

Why We Need Health Care Reform
Barack Obama
...OUR nation is now engaged in a great debate about the future of health care in America. And over the past few weeks, much of the media attention has been focused on the loudest voices. What we haven’t heard are the voices of the millions upon millions of Americanswho quietly struggle every day with a system that often works better for the health-insurance companies than it does for them.... This is what reform is about. If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. You will not be waiting in any lines. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don’t believe anyone should be in charge of your health care decisions but you and your doctor — not government bureaucrats, not insurance companies.... In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain. But for all the scare tactics out there, what’s truly scary — truly risky — is the prospect of doing nothing. If we maintain the status quo, we will continue to see 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day. Premiums will continue to skyrocket. Our deficit will continue to grow. And insurance companies will continue to profit by discriminating against sick people. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/opinion/16obama.html?pagewanted=2&em

Health Insurers Have Already Won
How UnitedHealth and rival carriers, maneuvering behind the scenes in Washington, shaped health-care reform for their own benefit
By Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein
http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/09_33/b4143034820260....
As the health reform fight shifts this month from a vacationing Washington to congressional districts and local airwaves around the country, much more of the battle than most people realize is already over. The likely victors are insurance giants such as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Aetna (AET), and WellPoint (WLP). The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable. Health reform could come with a $1 trillion price tag over the next decade, and it may complicate matters for some large employers. But insurance CEOs ought to be smiling.... whatever overhaul Congress passes this year will help rather than hurt huge insurance companies....
The industry has already accomplished its main goal of at least curbing, and maybe blocking altogether, any new publicly administered insurance program that could grab market share from the corporations that dominate the business. UnitedHealth has distinguished itself by more deftly and aggressively feeding sophisticated pricing and actuarial data to information-starved congressional staff members. With its rivals, the carrier has also achieved a secondary aim of constraining the new benefits that will become available to tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured. That will make the new customers more lucrative to the industry....

Obama launched his Administration vowing to extend coverage to all Americans and help pay for it by reining in insurance costs. Seven months later, insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers that appeared vulnerable to a regulatory crackdown have been welcomed to the negotiating table by the President's own party....And that Democratic proposal to tax insurance companies? It seems to be fading after the industry said it would raise rates for workers and their families....

UnitedHealth brings a mixed record to its role helping to guide health reform. The company has repeatedly hit smaller employers and consumers with double-digit rate hikes in recent years, far greater than the overall rate of inflation. An investigation last year by New York's Attorney General will force the company to stop running two huge databases used widely within the insurance industry. By allegedly setting medical reimbursements too low—that is, skewing statistics in favor of insurers by understating "usual and customary" physician fees—the databases had resulted in the overcharging of consumers by billions of dollars nationwide. In January, UnitedHealth agreed to resolve the situation by paying $400 million in a pair of agreements with the New York Attorney General and the American Medical Assn., although it didn't admit any wrongdoing.

In a separate case last year, UnitedHealth was forced to stop selling "limited benefit" plans with capped payouts under the imprimatur of the senior citizen group AARP. It turned out that the policies provided very modest coverage, catching many customers off guard...

Despite such episodes, UnitedHealth is generally well received in legislative circles in Washington. In late May its in-house point man on reform, Simon Stevens, hand-delivered a report to key senators detailing ways to save an estimated $540 billion in federal spending over 10 years. A week later, on June 4, Stevens accompanied UnitedHealth's chief executive, Stephen J. Hemsley, to a meeting with Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)... Conrad has since led an effort to create nonprofit medical cooperatives that would operate much like utility co-ops as a substitute for a federally run plan.... state medical cooperatives would pose a far weaker competitive threat to private insurers....

UnitedHealth followed up on June 30 with another report for lawmakers pinpointing $332 billion in savings through better use of technology and administrative simplification. If enacted, those changes would potentially benefit UnitedHealth's Ingenix data-crunching unit. Ingenix, with annual revenue of $1.6 billion, is poised to establish a national digital clearinghouse to ensure the accuracy of medical payments and provide a centralized service for checking the credentials of physicians....

UnitedHealth has traveled an unlikely path to becoming a Washington powerhouse. Its last chairman and chief executive, William W. McGuire, cultivated a corporate profile as an industry insurgent little concerned with goings-on in the capital. From its Minnetonka (Minn.) headquarters, the company grew swiftly by acquisition. McGuire absorbed both rival carriers and companies that analyze data and write software. Diversification turned UnitedHealth into the largest U.S. health insurer in terms of revenue. In 2008 it reported operating profit of $5.3 billion on revenue of $81.2 billion. It employs more than 75,000 people....

What people in Washington tend not to discuss, at least on the record, is the open secret that insurers are minimizing their forecasts of the eventual windfall they will enjoy from expanded coverage for Americans. UnitedHealth has given certain key members of Congress details about its finances and tax liability—both historical numbers and figures projected under various cost-sharing scenarios. But some on Capitol Hill are skeptical. "The bottom line," says an aide to the Senate Finance Committee, "is that health reform would lead to increased revenues and profits [for the insurance industry]. ... There will be [added] costs [to the companies], but we're not sure the revenues and profits will be as low as they say."

A fundamental question about the health overhaul is what minimum standards will apply to the coverage all Americans will be required to have. UnitedHealth has been exchanging a high volume of information on the topic with members of the Senate Finance Committee and their staff. Stevens, the former British health aide, regularly scans PowerPoint presentations generated by the committee staff that attempt to calculate the actuarial value of proposed benefit packages. Senators stung by the projected $1 trillion price tag are winnowing down the required coverage levels to cut costs. This is good news for UnitedHealth, which benefits when patients pick up more of the tab. In late spring, the Finance Committee was assuming a 76% reimbursement rate on average, meaning consumers would be responsible for paying the remaining 24% of their medical bills, in addition to their insurance premiums. Stevens and his UnitedHealth colleagues urged a more industry-friendly ratio. Subsequently the committee reduced the reimbursement figure to 65%, suggesting a 35% contribution by consumers—more in line with what the big insurer wants. The final figures are still being debated.

Stevens says UnitedHealth and its corporate clients want to steer Congress toward benefit levels and cost sharing that can help control overall health spending: "We are providing another resource of actual modeling and advice on how proposals in the committees are structured and some potential unintended consequences of going down certain routes."
Perhaps more than any other insurer, UnitedHealth is poised to profit from health reform. Its decade-long series of acquisitions has made the company a coast-to-coast Leviathan enmeshed in the lives of 70 million Americans.

United's AmeriChoice unit is the largest government contractor administering state Medicaid programs for the poor and federally sponsored plans for children. AmeriChoice's revenue rose 34% last year, to $6 billion, and it has 2.7 million people enrolled. Those numbers should continue rising under reform since congressional Democrats are proposing an expansion of Medicaid to help achieve universal coverage. More of the working poor would qualify for Medicaid, and AmeriChoice can sell itself to states as the leading service provider.
\
Another of the big beneficiaries among UnitedHealth's stable of subsidiaries is OptumHealth. It's the company's one-stop shop for managing the chronically ill, offering wellness programs and guiding consumers on treatment options. Even before the reform debate, these services were growing in demand as big employers, state and local governments, and others tried to curb health-care spending by supervising patients more aggressively. OptumHealth provides a broad range of services, from a 24-hour hotline where nurses can suggest the best hospital for a transplant to "health coaches" who dole out meal plans, to-do lists, and motivational messages. Some OptumHealth clients bring coaches into the office or onto the factory floor to teach about diet and exercise. Many of the cost-containment strategies Democrats are pushing call for more of the preventive care that OptumHealth sells. "We are extremely well positioned for a much broader adoption," says Dawn Owens, OptumHealth's chief executive. Her division, based in Golden Valley, Minn., already boasts $5.2 billion in annual revenue [...].
Terhune is a senior writer for BusinessWeek based in Florida. Epstein is a correspondent in BusinessWeek's Washington bureau.

Health Debate Fails to Ignite Obama’s Grass Roots
"People came out of the woodwork for Obama during the campaign, but now they are hibernating. Now it is hard to find enough volunteers to fight the Republicans’ fire with more fire", Lynda Smith, a Democratic stalwart from Iowa, on the health care debate....As the health care debate intensifies, the president is turning to his grass-roots network — the 13 million members of Organizing for America — for support. Mr. Obama engendered such passion last year his allies believed they were on the verge of creating a movement that could be mobilized again. But if a week’s worth of events are any measure here in Iowa, it may not be easy to reignite the machine... Mitch Stewart, the executive director of Organizing for America...said the group had chosen not to flood into meetings of Republican members of Congress, but rather to combat what they described as misinformation about the president’s health care plans.... “It’s a waste of time,” said Gilbert P. Sierra of Davenport, a Democrat who attended an Organizing for America meeting, where about 100 people gathered to vent frustrations and discuss how they could stand up to conservative critics “Why spend money on this and only be talking to the choir?”....

Top Ten Ways To Tell President & His Party Aren't Fighting For Health Care For Everybody
by BAR managing editor Bruce Dixon
http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=print/content/top-ten-ways-tell-your...
With the corporate media relentlessly distorting the public discussion around health care reform, it time for some clear, bright lines to help us tell who is doing what to whom, and whether any of it leads to health care for all of us.  Here are ten of them [....]

PhRMA, condemned by Obama as major source of healthcare problems, now a major care reform' partner.
White House Affirms Deal on Drug Cost
The new attention to the agreement could prove embarrassing to the White House, which has sought to keep lobbyists at a distance, including by refusing to hire them to work in the administration. The White House commitment to the deal with the drug industry may also irk some of the administration’s Congressional allies who have an eye on drug companies’ profits as they search for ways to pay for the $1 trillion cost of the health legislation. But failing to publicly confirm Mr. Tauzin’s descriptions of the deal risked alienating a powerful industry ally currently helping to bankroll millions in television commercials in favor of Mr. Obama’s reforms. The pressure from Mr. Tauzin to affirm the deal offers a window on the secretive and potentially risky game the Obama administration has played as it tries to line up support from industry groups typically hostile to government health care initiatives, even as their lobbyists pushed to influence the health measure for their benefit.... The Obama administration has hailed its agreements with health care groups as evidence of broad support for the overhaul among industry “stakeholders,” including doctors, hospitals and insurers as well as drug companies.... As for the administration’s recent break with the insurance industry, Mr. Tauzin said, “The insurers never made any deal.”...
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/06/health/policy/06insure.html?_r=1

Obama Says Insurers Are Trying to Block Change
...Mr. Obama is walking in taking on the insurers.... many Democrats have accused insurers — who oppose Mr. Obama’s call for a government-sponsored plan — of sending protesters to the events. The industry has denied engaging in such tactics. A spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, said his organization was “putting our resources behind advancing comprehensive health reform.”... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/15/health/policy/15obama.html?th&emc=th

'PUBLIC OPTION' MORPHING INTO GOVT. BACKED PRIVATE 'COOP'
The Obama administration sent signals on Sunday that it has backed away from its once-firm vision of a government organization to provide for the nation’s 50 million uninsured and is now open to using nonprofit cooperatives instead....“What I am saying is the bottom line for this for the president is, what we have to have is choice and competition in the insurance market,” Robert Gibbs, the president’s press secretary said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/17/health/policy/17talkshows.html?em

Obama gives powerful drug lobby a seat at healthcare table
By Tom Hamburger..
atimes.com/features/health/la-na-healthcare-pharma4-2009aug04,0,3660985.story

"I think the pharmaceutical industry has been quite constructive in this debate," Obama told a smalhRMAl group of regional reporters last week. "And the savings that they've put on the table are real and significant and are appreciated."... a popular president who six months ago criticized drug companies for greed now praises their work on behalf of the public good.
As a candidate for president, Barack Obama lambasted drug companies and the influence they wielded in Washington. He even ran a television ad targeting the industry's chief lobbyist, former Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin, and the role Tauzin played in preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices. Since the election, Tauzin has morphed into the president's partner. He has been invited to the White House half a dozen times in recent months. There, he says, he eventually secured an agreement that the administration wouldn't try to overturn the very Medicare drug policy that Obama had criticized on the campaign trail. "The White House blessed it," Tauzin said.... Tauzin said the industry he represents was offering political and financial support for the president's healthcare initiative, a remarkable shift considering that drug companies vigorously opposed a national overhaul the last time it was proposed, when Bill Clinton was president.

If a package passes Congress, the pharmaceutical industry has pledged $80 billion in cost savings over 10 years to help pay for it. Tauzin said he had not only received the White House pledge to forswear Medicare drug price bargaining, but also a separate promise not to pursue another proposal Obama supported during the campaign: importing cheaper drugs from Canada or Europe. Both proposals could cost the industry billions, undermine its ability to develop new cures and, in the case of imports, possibly compromise safety, industry officials contend.

Much of the bargaining took place in July at a meeting in the Roosevelt Room, just off the Oval Office, a person familiar with the discussions said. In attendance were Tauzin, several industry chief executives -- including those from Abbott Laboratories, Merck and Pfizer -- White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and White House aides.

The pharmaceutical industry's political transformation provides an example of Obama's approach to achieving his healthcare goals, which includes negotiation and compromise, eve with those he and his allies have painted as a source of the problem. The benefits to the White House go beyond budget savings. Tauzin's trade association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, is helping to underwrite a multimillion-dollar TV advertising campaign touting comprehensive healthcare legislation....
In an interview, Tauzin said he carefully negotiated his agreements with the White House, offering the $80-billion discount program in return for assurances that there would be no government price-setting in Medicare Part D, the drug program for seniors...to block the threat of Medicare price negotiations, which he called tantamount to price-setting and a threat to the industry. In addition, Tauzin said the industry asked the administration not to allow the import of cheaper drugs...

"Since Obama came into office, the drug industry has received everything it wants, domestic and foreign," said James Love, who leads an international nonprofit promoting low-cost distribution of drugs to fight the world's most devastating diseases. "Yes, the drug companies are getting tremendous sweetheart deals" from Obama, said Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist who studies the history of health reform and other major social and economic changes...

Tauzin, a Democrat who helped found the conservative Blue Dog coalition in the House before switching to the Republican Party in 1995, was chairman of the House committee that helped shepherd Medicare drug legislation through Congress, including the provision that the government not interfere with price negotiations. Tauzin said PhRMA's support for Obama's initiative represented no shift in the industry's basic philosophy...In just the last four months, the industry has spent $68 million on lobbying in Washington, assuring its continued standing atop the nation's lobbyist spending list. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a champion of importing drugs from Canada and reducing the cost of pharmaceuticals, professes continued suspicion of the industry, including its deals with the White House. "The drug companies form the most powerful lobby in Washington," he said. "They never lose."

STAGING OPPOSITION
secret service apparently thinks it's a good plan...
Gunning for Health Care
... Interestingly, we do not have any agreement at all on the question of whether it is a good plan to bring a gun to a gathering of angry and overwrought people.... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/opinion/13collins.html

A Dozen carrying guns including an assault rifle at Obama protest
http://ktar.com/?nid=6&sid=1200460 1
7 Aug 2009 About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with an AR-15 assault rifle, milled among protesters outside event where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday in Phoenix....the latest incident of gun-rights advocates visibly displaying firearms near the president. Phoenix police say the people with guns, including a man carrying the assault rifle, didn't need permits.

Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney?
by Greg Palast
http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/08/obama-on-drugs-98-cheney/
...June 22, President Obama said he’d reached agreement with big drug companies to cut the price of medicine by $80 billion. He extended his gratitude to Big Pharma for the deal that would, “reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs.” ... Big Pharma kingpins did not actually agree to cut their prices. Their promise with Obama is something a little oilier: they apparently promised that, over ten years, they will reduce the amount at which they would otherwise raise drug prices. Got that? In other words, the Obama deal locks in a doubling of drug costs, projected to rise over the period of “savings” from a quarter trillion dollars a year to half a trillion dollars a year.... what did Obama give up in return for $80 billion? Chief drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin crowed that Obama agreed to dump his campaign pledge to bargain down prices for Medicare purchases. Furthermore, Obama’s promise that we could buy cheap drugs from Canada simply went pffft What did that cost us? The New England Journal of Medicine notes that 13 European nations successfully regulate the price of drugs, reducing the average cost of name-brand prescription medicines by 35% to 55%....

The Veterans Administration is able to push down the price it pays for patent medicine by 40% through bargaining power. George Bush stopped Medicare from bargaining for similar discounts, an insane ban that Obama said he’d overturn. But... Obama agreed to lock in Bush’s crazy and costly no-bargaining ban for the next decade.[digest: he also agreed to extend Big Pharma's monopoly on brand drugs, outlawing generics, for several more years]
What else went down in Obama’s drug deal? To find out, I called C-SPAN to get a copy of the videotape of the meeting with the drug companies. I was surprised to find they didn’t have such a tape despite the President’s campaign promise, right there on CNN in January 2008, “These negotiations will be on C-SPAN.”
This puzzled me. When Dick Cheney was caught having secret meetings with oil companies to discuss Bush’s Energy Bill, we denounced the hugger-muggers as a case of foxes in the henhouse. Cheney’s secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were creepy and nasty and evil.
But the Obama crew’s secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were, the President assures us, in the public interest. We know Cheney’s secret confabs were shady and corrupt because Cheney scowled out the side of his mouth. Obama grins in your face. See the difference?

Behind the Opposition to the Obama Healthcare Plan?
By Patrick Martin
http://informationclearinghouse.info/article23256.htm
....The popular disaffection with the Obama healthcare plan goes much further, however, than the fanatical right-to-life constituency. The Obama administration has based its program for healthcare restructuring entirely on the argument that healthcare costs are bankrupting the US economy and that controlling and reducing these costs is essential.
The logical conclusion of this policy—even if officially denied by the White House—is that somebody’s healthcare is too expensive and must be cut back or eliminated. Millions of people fear that that somebody is likely to be them and their families. One opinion poll published last week showed that 53 percent believed they would be worse off or no better than before under the Obama plan.
Obama and the congressional Democrats have sought to use the frenzied outpourings of his right-wing critics to discredit all opposition to the measures that the administration is pursuing to cut social benefit programs like Medicare and impose even greater burdens on American working people.
The crudest effort along these lines came in a column published in USAToday Monday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, which branded the opposition to Obama’s healthcare plan “un-American attacks.” They criticized the right-wing disruptions as an effort to suppress discussion, then pledged that the healthcare “reform” would mean higher-quality care, an end to insurance company abuses and “stability and peace of mind for the middle class.” In his radio speech Saturday and at a carefully controlled town hall meeting in New Hampshire Tuesday, Obama sought to soothe popular concerns over the implication of the healthcare cost-cutting and put a “progressive” gloss on a fundamentally reactionary corporate policy....

The real relationship of Obama and the Democrats to the insurance industry was far more accurately described by BusinessWeek magazine in its current cover story on healthcare “reform,” headlined, “The Health Insurers Have Already Won.” The magazine details how UnitedHealthGroup, the largest US health insurer, has used its influence in Washington, particularly with conservative congressional Democrats in the “Blue Dog” caucus and Obama advisers like former senator Tom Daschle, to effectively dictate the parameters of the healthcare legislation moving through Congress. “The industry has already accomplished its main goal of at least curbing, and maybe blocking altogether, any new publicly administered insurance program that could grab market share from the corporations that dominate the business,” BusinessWeek wrote approvingly. UnitedHealthCare, Aetna and Wellpoint have “also achieved a secondary aim of constraining the new benefits that will become available to tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured. That will make the new customers more lucrative to the industry.”...
Obama has repeatedly avowed his support for capitalist medicine, and the “right” of drug companies, the insurance companies, the medical equipment manufacturers, and a host of other parasites to profit from the sick. His differences with his Republican opponents are purely tactical, and largely concern which sections of corporate America will benefit the most from the current legislative undertaking. Nothing that emerges from the machinations of big business politicians and corporate lobbyists in Washington can serve the needs of working people. Medical care must be made available to every American citizen and resident, provided for at state expense as a basic human right.

This is how BusinessWeek describes Helmsley and UnitedHealthcare:
No. 14: UnitedHealth Group
Industry: Managed Health Care
Sales: $75.4 billion
Net Income: $4.7 billion
Stephen Hemsley, who became chief executive in 2006 after a stock options scandal forced out his predecessor, has kept UnitedHealth Group (UNH ) growing. As health-care costs soar, many of the nation’s largest companies count on the $75 billion-a-year behemoth to keep a lid on costs. UnitedHealth is the No. 2 health insurer in the U.S., behind WellPoint, and reaches some 71 million customers. The 2008 elections could be a boon for the Minne tonka (Minn.) company—if plans to cover the uninsured take off, and include a bigger role for private companies.

Obama Administration Revives Bush-Era Quarantine Regulations for H1N1 Flu Virus
http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/08/obama-administration-revives-bush-era-...
by Tom Burghardt / August 17th, 2009
While the American far-right rants against alleged “Obama death panels” and other Freddy Krueger-like scarecrows to frighten–and divert–the kiddies, our capitalist masters, as they are wont to do, gaze at the spectacle, laugh, and then tighten the screws. Health care for all derailed? Mission accomplished! Meanwhile, despite alarm amongst civil liberties groups, public health researchers and other “reality-based” evil-doers who haven’t slaked their thirst with “birther” kool-aid, the Obama administration “is quietly dusting off an effort to impose new federal quarantine regulations” to “contain” the flu virus .“While any discussion of quarantine may stoke public fears of barbed wire[ …] http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/08/obama-administration-revives-bush-era-...

new 911 - type global emergency brewing
International Swine Flu Conference
http://www.new-fields.com/ISFC/brochure.pdf
August 19-20, 2009 Workshop: August 21, 2009 - Washington, DC
http://www.new-fields.com/ISFC/
Concurrent Breakout Session #1 Mass Fatality Management Planning Develop and implement training and exercise programs; Direct fatality management tactical operations; Activate fatality management operations; Conduct morgue operations; Manage ante-mortem data; Conduct final disposition --Session #7 First Responders: Fire Department Protect fire department first responders from falling ill and from being hurt in civil disturbances; Effectively transition into All-Hazards Incident Management Responders; Effectively undertake mass vaccinations; Enforce quarantines --Session #8

Pentagon Wants Authority to Post Almost 400,000 Military Personnel in U.S.
Matthew Rothschild
The Pentagon has approached Congress to grant the Secretary of Defense the authority to post almost 400,000 military personnel throughout the United States in times of emergency or a major disaster. This request has already occasioned a dispute with the nation’s governors. And it raises the prospect of U.S. military personnel patrolling the streets of the United States, in conflict with the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
In June, the U.S. Northern Command distributed a "Congressional Fact Sheet" entitled "Legislative Proposal for Activation of Federal Reserve Forces for Disasters." That proposal would amend current law, thereby "authorizing the Secretary of Defense to order any unit or member of the Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve, and the Marine Corps Reserve, to active duty for a major disaster or emergency." Taken together, these reserve units would amount to "more than 379,000 military personnel in thousands of communities across the United States," explained Paul Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and America’s Security Affairs, in a letter to the National Governors Association, dated July 20. The governors were not happy about this proposal, since they want to maintain control of their own National Guard forces, as well as military personnel acting in a domestic capacity in their states.
NorthCom’s Congressional fact sheet refers not just to a "major disaster" but also to "emergencies." And it says, "Those terms are defined in section 5122 of title 42, U.S. Code." That section gives the President the sole discretion to designate an event as an "emergency" or a "major disaster." Both are "in the determination of the President" alone. That section also defines "major disaster" by citing plenty of specifics: "hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought," as well as "fire, flood, or explosion." But the definition of "emergency" is vague: "Emergency means any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, Federal assistance is needed to supplement State and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States." Currently, the President can call up the Reserves only in an emergency involving "a use or threatened use of a weapon of mass destruction" or "a terrorist attack or threatened terrorist attack in the United States that results, or could result, in significant loss of life or property," according to Title 10, Chapter 1209, Section 12304, of the U.S. Code. In fact, Section 12304 explicitly prohibits the President from calling up the Reserves for any other "natural or manmade disaster, accident, or catastrophe."
So the new proposed legislation would greatly expand the President’s power to call up the Reserves in a disaster or an emergency and would extend that power to the Secretary of Defense. (There are other circumstances, such as repelling invasions or rebellions or enforcing federal authority, where the President already has the authority to call up the Reserves.) .... http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=57008&s2=17

"Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy"
Henry Kissinger
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Military

"... psychological operations are going to be absolutely a critical, critical part of any campaign that we must get involved in."
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

'MENTAL HEALTH' BRAINWASHING REQUIRED
General Casey said the mental effects of repeated deployments — rising suicide rates in the Army, mild [SIC] traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress — convinced commanders “we need a program that gives soldiers and their families better ways to cope.” The general agreed to the interview after The New York Times learned of the program from Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, chairman of the University of Pennsylvania'S Positive Psychology Center, who has been consulting with the Pentagon....“Psychology has given us this whole language of pathology, so that a soldier in tears after seeing someone killed thinks, ‘Something’s wrong with me; I have post-traumatic stress,’ ” or P.T.S.D., Dr. Seligman said. “The idea here is to give people a new vocabulary, to speak in terms of resilience. Most people who experience trauma don’t end up with P.T.S.D.; many experience post-traumatic growth.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/health/18psych.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

profit-driven capitalist 'healthcare' industry is a ruling class 'death panel'
"Death panels" are a cruel lie
Sarah Palin and the other people talking about "death panels" ought to be ashamed
By Robert Reich
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/08/13/reich_euthanasia/print.h...
...we've come to expect this sort of thing from Governor Palin. But listen to other Republicans these days... and you'll hear more of the same.Health care is already rationed, of course. Those who can't afford health insurance don't get much of it, except in emergency rooms. For those who have insurance, the rationing is done by prepaid medical groups, the legacies of HMOs, that decide what drugs and procedures their members will get. Or it's done by insurance company personnel who decide what will be covered.
But for the scaremongers to say that under the healthcare reform proposals now being considered, government will do the rationing -- and that government bureaucrats will decide whether people live or die -- is odious. It's a deliberate lie that preys upon the fears of many people who already scared as hell about loss of their jobs, healthcare, homes, and savings.
The "town meetings" that are now spewing such anger reflect deep-seated fears that are welling up across America during this economic crisis. Healthcare reform may ease some of these fears. But the demagogues that are manipulating those fears for political gain don't give a hoot. Have they no shame?

New Screening Could Lead to More Potent Cancer Drugs
The Broad Institute researchers hope that pharmaceutical companies will use their screening method to begin the long road to develop drugs against cancer stem cells.... the theory is not without critics.... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/14/health/research/14cancer.html?hp

California board votes to drop healthcare coverage for 60,000 children:
As a result of state budget cuts, the Healthy Families program will begin terminating coverage for over 60,000 children Oct. 1. Nearly 670,000 children could be dropped by June 30.
http://snipurl.com/qe83s

Researchers Quietly Chuckling At Placebo Group
http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/researchers_quietly?utm_sour...
Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine were hardly able to stifle their laughter Tuesday while administering a placebo to 25 patients participating in a single-blind trial of an experimental new emphysema drug. "Did you see Participant No. 425? He was like, 'I think it's really working, Doc,'" Dr. Lewis Rodriguez said to a team of snickering pulmonary specialists. "How gullible can you get? I can't believe those guys think they're actually getting CDDO-Im." Although the trial is expected to run for two more months, Rodriguez told reporters that he almost could not wait to analyze the data, compile the results, publish the findings, and see the looks on their stupid faces.
Related Article * Wonder Drug Inspires Deep, Unwavering Love Of Pharmaceutical Companies 03.06.06

Thousands Line Up for Promise of Free Health Care
Los Angeles --- Remote Area Medical has provided services in mid-sized American cities, including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but never tried an operation in such a large metropolitan area. Set up for eight days of care, the group was already overwhelmed the first day after allowing 1,500 people through the door, nearly 500 of whom...had to return in the wee hours Wednesday morning....[note: many hundreds must be turned away daily and many thousands more would be even if it lasted months]
The enormous response to the free care was a stark corollary to the hundreds of Americans who have filled town-hall-style meetings throughout the country, angrily expressing their fear of the Obama administration’s proposed changes to the nation’s health care system. The bleachers of patients also reflected the state’s high unemployment, recent reduction in its Medicaid services for the poor and high deductibles and co-payments that have come to define many employer-sponsored insurance programs. Many here said they lacked insurance, many others said they had coverage but not enough to meet their needs that they could afford....“Regardless if you are employed or not,” Ms. Garcia said, “everything in California is expensive, and so I can empathize with everyone here. Looking at this crowd, I think this is what people fear health care is going to be with reform. But to me it also shows the need.”
Last month, the state dropped its dental and vision coverage for MediCal enrollees, and has since capped enrollment in the state’s health insurance program for children of the working poor. Thousands of people across the state lost their coverage in the middle of complex, multimonth procedures and have found themselves at a loss....
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/health/13clinic.html?em

Pharma’s Stimulus Plan: Treatment Resistant Conditions
by Martha Rosenberg / May 13th, 2009
http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/05/pharmas-stimulus-plan-treatment-resist...
The recession has hit pharma too. While it cites patent expirations of blockbusters like Lipitor, Effexor and Plavix for falling earnings — “patient” expirations from Vioxx, Bextra, Premarin/Prempro, Vytorin, Avandia, Chantix, Ketek, Baycol and fenphen have helped. Forty years of marketing the “diseases” of menopause and aging — Over 35? You Might Be At Risk for Menopause! — ended when hormone replacement therapy was found to cause not prevent the symptoms women feared. A decade and a half of osteoporosis profits collapsed when bone drugs Fosamax, Boniva and Actonel were found to cause not prevent fractures and jaw bone death in some cases. Nor did it help that Boniva czar Sally Field allegedly broke a bone. Oops.
And speaking of causing not preventing, SSRI/SSNI antidepressants are linked to so many suicides — 660 in newspaper reports alone — the pharma founded and operated American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is staging massive anti-suicide walks in June against an epidemic it largely created.Even asthma inhalers are causing deaths they were supposed to prevent — nor are people rushing to inoculate their 11-year-old daughters with Gardisil. And let’s face it: the depression-with-pain and pain-with-depression fibromyaglia financial eddy can only last so long.
What’s a pharmaceutical industry in the middle of a recession with nothing in the pipeline but me-too drugs to do? Say hello to monotherapy and treatment resistant conditions!
Expensive and dangerous drugs that don’t work are now said to not work as monotherapy. You need to add a second or third drug. Conditions that don’t respond to expensive and dangerous drugs (that don’t work) are now said to be treatment resistant — not conditions treated with the wrong drugs or assigned the wrong diagnoses.
“Monotherapy” and “treatment resistance” keep patients on their meds — including ones that fail as “monotherapy”–and insurers paying for them in the absence of any evidence they are working! (see: little light going out in the refrigerator.) They upsell patients who were on one med into increasingly common and perverse drug cocktails with several meds that require more drugs to treat the side effects. Best of all, they shift the emphasis from pharma’s failures to a patient’s “failures”: It’s not our drug that’s not working, it’s your treatment resistant condition! In other words, they’re a stimulus plan.

KNOWING IT KILLED...
Lilly Sold Drug for Dementia Knowing It Didn't Help [SIC]
Eli Lilly & Co. urged doctors to prescribe Zyprexa for elderly patients with dementia, an unapproved use for the antipsychotic, even though the drugmaker had evidence the medicine didn’t work for such patients, according to unsealed internal company documents.
Lilly recognized this earlier, according to a 2002 document entitled “Zyprexa in serious mental illness (65 plus years) -- A Strategy Review.”
“The treatment of serious mental illness for people over the age of 65 has been identified as a growing opportunity for Zyprexa,” the authors wrote. “Unfortunately, attempts to gain the data to support an application for an indication in the treatment of dementia have to date been unsuccessful.” Lilly, which first marketed Zyprexa to psychiatrists, sought to expand its customer base in 1999 by focusing on long term-care facilities, particularly nursing homes, according to the unsealed documents.
Primary Care Physicians
It later began targeting primary care physicians, known as PCPs, as another potentially lucrative Zyprexa market. Such physicians frequently deal with dementia patients, according to the unsealed files. [...] http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aTLcF3zT1Pdo

Swine flu link to killer nerve disease: Leaked letter reveals concern of neurologists
August 15, 2009, Daily Mail (One of the U.K.'s most popular newspapers)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1206807/Swine-flu-jab-link-kille......
A warning that the new swine flu jab is linked to a deadly nerve disease has been sent by the Government to senior neurologists in a confidential letter. The letter from the Health Protection Agency, the official body that oversees public health, has been leaked to The Mail on Sunday, leading to demands to know why the information has not been given to the public before the vaccination of millions of people, including children, begins. [The letter] tells the neurologists that they must be alert for an increase in a brain disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which could be triggered by the vaccine. GBS attacks the lining of the nerves, causing paralysis and inability to breathe, and can be fatal. The letter, sent to about 600 neurologists on July 29, is the first sign that there is concern at the highest levels that the vaccine itself could cause serious complications. It refers to the use of a similar swine flu vaccine in the United States in 1976 when: * More people died from the vaccination than from swine flu. * 500 cases of GBS were detected. * The vaccine may have increased the risk of contracting GBS by eight times. * The vaccine was withdrawn after just ten weeks when the link with GBS became clear. * The US Government was forced to pay out millions of dollars to those affected. Concerns have already been raised that the new vaccine has not been sufficiently tested and that the effects, especially on children, are unknown. The British Neurological Surveillance Unit (BNSU), part of the British Association of Neurologists, has been asked to monitor closely any cases of GBS as the vaccine is rolled out. One senior neurologist said last night: ‘I would not have the swine flu jab because of the GBS risk.’

Glaxo Starts Testing Swine Flu Vaccine With Experimental Adjuvant Additive
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=a5dGXc.OML_k
14 Aug 2009 GlaxoSmithKline Plc has started clinical tests on its experimental swine flu vaccine, completing enrollment for the first of 16 studies planned. Glaxo, of London, said the first trial of adults ages 18 to 60 in Germany is part of a program to test the vaccine in 9,000 infants, children and adults in Europe, Canada and the U.S., the drugmaker said in an e-mailed statement today. www.legitgov.org

Vaccine spreading polio in Nigeria, health officials warn
http://www.star-telegram.com/279/story/1539265.html
Polio, the dreaded paralyzing disease stamped out in the industrialized world, is spreading in Nigeria. And health officials say that in some cases, it’s caused by the vaccine used to fight it. In July, the World Health Organization issued a warning that this vaccine-spread virus might extend beyond Africa.

Miracle Cure?*
by Kemet Mawakana, a.k.a. The Seven Foot Poet

Eureka! We’ve finally found a miracle cure!

A miracle cure for the
I have more in common with my Harvard faculty colleagues than Black America - Disease.

A miracle cure for the
Endless tracing of DNA to prove you have Caucasian ancestry and shared genetic material - Disease.

A miracle cure for the
Desire to please white people by producing the white financed propaganda called the wonders of the African world - Disease.

A miracle cure for the
Bending over backwards to falsely blame Africans for the trans-atlantic slave trade and African-Americans for the racism, segregation, jim crow, and discrimination they encounter in the U.S. - Disease.

us.A miracle cure for the
Until it happens to me I ignore and discount Police Abuses, Black August, and the entire Prison Industrial Complex - Disease.

Yes we finally found a cure . . . it’s the Police Department.
Now let’s only hope President Barack Obama misplaces his keys and locks himself out of the white house.

(* The miracle cure has neither been approved by the FDA nor tested for long term effects. It is likely that Skip’s long-term and deeply entrenched Yurugu infections of the aforementioned diseases may merely be in temporary remission. Thus, it is wise to proceed with your efforts in support of Black August and ending Policing, Judicial and Prison abuses without expecting any support from Skippy Gates, President Obama or Colin Powell.)

By Kemit Mawakana (aka The Seven-Foot Poet)
Peace (when appropriate) War (when necessary)
http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=print/content/miracle-cure