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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, August 19, 2009, 9:00 AM ET

    Op-ed

    Healthcare Insurance Reform Plan Is In The Public Interest, But Manipulation Is Underway To Spike It
    By Boris Danik

    The town hall mob scenes recently shown on the evening news appeared to be like deliberate attempts to disrupt the meetings that were arranged by individual Congressman in their districts to explain to constituents President Barack Obama's proposed reform of healthcare insurance.

    LINKS
     ·  The Ukrainian Weekly
     ·  Is Universal Healthcare the Same as Socialized Medicine?
    Wiki logo
     ·  What is Universal Health Care?
     ·  What is Socialized Medicine?

    Myron Kuropas voiced his critique of the president's plan from his "dacha" in The Ukrainian Weekly (August 8, p.7). He trivialized the fact that 50 million Americans have no healthcare insurance ("Hospitals must treat all patients who come to the emergency room") and saw "the impending collapse of Medicare and Medicaid" as a problem. He then refocused attention on the shortcomings of the Canadian government-run healthcare insurance.

    The thrust of the Kuropas line is that the government is incompetent (he obviously did not mean the eight years of the Bush administration), despite the clear success of Medicare (tax-financed insurance for the aged over 65).

    Kuropas' clicking on the Canadian system seems to be a diversion, since it has no semblance to the American privately run health care insurance, which Obama's reform would merely supplement with government subsidies for those who don't get medical insurance via the workplace…and maybe, despite the threat of filibuster, offer a government-supervised option — to keep private providers honest. (Incidentally, the aunt of Myron Kuropas in Toronto apparently forgot to tell him that the Canadians are not being herded into the emergency room.)

    Opposition to the enactment of Social Security in the 1930s and Medicare in 1963 was coming from monied elite, seeking (then and now) to limit the power of government, which they see as threat to their dominance. None other than Ronald Reagan, who later became president, labeled the proposed Medicare in 1960 as "a Communist conspiracy." Ronald Reagan's role in the Medicare debate was to manipulate public opinion in favor of the American Medical Association (among others) — at the time one of the most reactionary, self-serving entities in the USA.

    Fast-forward to the year 2009, engage Rush Limbaugh to replace the word "Communist" by "Socialist" and "Nazi-like" for the excitement of anti-Obama zealots and stimulation of ordinary fools who feel comfortable and secure within their shell — this time orating on behalf of upper-income aristocracy that despises the probable tax hike to finance the reform — and you see the essence of today's hyper-agitation against healthcare reform.

    A marginal tax increase on incomes over $500,000 is envisioned in the reform plan. But a major part of financing presumably will materialize from elimination of the "inefficiencies" in the existing system.

    Unfortunately, the most obvious funding source — from a much needed cut in military spending — is not even openly considered. It is perceived as a taboo in a country where militarism and patriotism often appear to be one and the same. Most Americans have no idea that we spend on the military as much as the rest of the world combined. The major media relegate discussion of such thought-provoking nettle to the dustbin.

    No president wants a hassle with any one of the three pillars of political power in America: the military-industrial complex, the Wall Street financial citadel (even when the latter is rescued by the government from total collapse caused by its own greed and chicanery), and the media moguls. Consequently, Mr. Obama is pro-biz and pro-war (in Afghanistan), albeit not nearly as much as was President George W. Bush.

    But the net result seems to be that President Obama is short-changing his own healthcare plan. Without solid financial provisions its outlook is shaky in the coming Congressional maneuvering later this year.

    An even greater defect in the existing American healthcare insurance is that it is delivered by a myriad private insurance companies and financed mostly through workplace, rather than on the basis of the European, or Canadian, or the US Medicare single-payer models. National insurance can be administered by private vendors (as in Medicare), but paid for by the government from tax revenues. Mr. Obama's current plan does not even come close to intimating that the existing structure needs a real overhaul.

    The American status quo is remarkably impervious to change. Media manipulation by the monied elite too often makes Americans feel threatened by possible innovations that actually would serve public interest rather than private gain. Necessities that are taken for granted in all advanced Western countries, such as a national health care insurance paid by taxes, are not available to Americans.

    "Socialized medicine" is one of the scariest buzz-words in our television diet. It makes deliberate confusion. In the actual fact, a national healthcare insurance means nationalized (or socialized in word play) insurance, not socialized medicine. The distinction is key to the ability of a physician to practice his profession privately, as he does in Canada and Europe, and in the USA.

    Dr. Boris Danik
    North Caldwell, NJ

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