Friday, August 28, 2009

Dr. Bill Roy: "Democrat Leader, Tom Daschle ... Leading Reactionaries Against Health Care Reform"

We learned two things about health care legislation this month. One, Americans love a single-payer system; and, two, former South Dakota senator and Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle, imbued with the longtime Washingtonian’s love of money and power, is leading reactionaries against true health care reform.

Seniors are showing up in droves at their congressperson’s town halls. They are frightened, sometimes about fictitious death panels, but nearly always about plans by their former friends, the Democrats, to divert dedicated Medicare money to commercial health interests.

Amazingly, many seniors do not know Medicare is a federal government program--or, as former speaker Newt Gingrich succinctly put it, “a private system with government funding,’’ prototypical of the system vigorously supported by Physicians for a National Health Program.

If many fellow Americans don’t identify Medicare as a government program, we can hardly expect them to identify Medicare as a single-payer program, with patient choice of doctor and hospital. This is not surprising considering the millions of dollars commercial health interests and the Republican party have spent to demonize single-payer systems, which is to say nearly every other health system in the world, but especially Canada and the United Kingdom.

This misinformation campaign prompted a20Canadian senator to call out Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the Senate, and ask him to quit lying about Canada’s Medicare program. The Conservative party leader in England made a similar request.

Bottom line: Intimidated Democrats refused to hold hearings on a single payer system, probably best called Medicare for all. As a result, their so-called reforms are probably going to do more harm than good.

For now they intend to “build on’’ our failing system of for-profit health insurance companies and voluntary employer-provided health insurance.--a system that leaves out 47 million Americans and is unknown to the rest of the world.

How can this happen? Well, not by accident, as explained in the August 23 New York Times.

It has been Daschle to Obama to Daschle to Obama. The talented Daschle was retired by South Dakota voters in 2004, the year Obama was elected to the Senate.

Daschle placed several temporarily unemployed staff members with Obama, including Pete Rouse, today one of Obama’s three senior White House advisers. Daschle then went about picking up his rewards for work well-done in Congress. Health care industries provided about half of his $5 million take.

Daschle became an early supporter of Barack Obama for president. Bingo, Obama won.

The busy young president literally turned the entire health franchise over to Daschle, naming him to dual positions, secretary of health and human services, and a new, undefined White House position from whence he would run health care legislation. The fox was in the chicken house.

Daschle withdrew from Senate confirmation in February, 2008, because he had forgot to pay $130,000 in federal income taxes. But, by then he had in place his team that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unfortunately inherited.

The most prominent is Lou-Anne DeParle, who inherited the White House half of Daschle’s health reform franchise. Ms. DeParle was a little late. She first had to extricate herself from a half dozen board positions of health care industries that had in common disputes with the federal government, and which, it is written, enriched her in the (nice) neighborhood of $6 million.

And so it goes. Sebelius brags health industry interests are at the table helping write new legislation, when in fact they are just arranging another tax-payer payoff. Meanwhile, they are paying millions to Daschle who identifies himself as a ’’resource,” or adviser, to such firms--and to his former colleagues, which some see as a conflict of interest.

The Times tells us “Friends and associates of Mr. Daschle say the interests of…clients have no influence on his views. They say he sees no conflict in advising private clients on one hand and advising the White House on the other, because he offers the same assessment to everyone.“

Guess what? Daschle “recommends and predicts an incremental approach” and tells his clients if the legislation can “ramp up” coverage for all, health information technology and some cost controls,‘’ we will have succeeded.” And how.

Dr. Roy may be reached at

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