Category Archives: Health care | Insurance Issues

60 Members of Congressional Progressive Caucus Say “No Public Plan, No Conference”

August 17, 2009

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius,

We write to you concerning your recent comments about the public option in health insurance reform.

We stand in strong opposition to your statement that the public option is “not the essential element” of comprehensive reform. The opportunity to improve access to healthcare is a onetime opportunity. Americans deserve reform that is real-not smoke and mirrors. We cannot rely solely on the insurance companies’ good faith efforts to provide for our constituents. A robust public option is essential, if we are to ensure that all Americans can receive healthcare that is accessible, guaranteed and of high-quality.

To take the public option off the table would be a grave error; passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it.

We have attached, for your review, a letter from 60 Members of Congress who are firm in their Position that any legislation that moves forward through both chambers, and into a final proposal for the President’s signature, MUST contain a public option.


Raul Grijalva
Congressional Progressive Caucus
Lynn Woolsey
Congressional Progressive Caucus
Barbara Lee
Congressional Black Caucus

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Filed under American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Economics, Health care | Insurance Issues, Obama Administration, The Obama Administration

Ralph Nader | Obama’s Surrender to Insurance and Drug Companies


Ralph Nader (photo by John Murray)


Never much of a fighter against abusive corporate power, Barack Obama is making it increasingly clear that right from his start as President, he wanted health insurance reform that received the approval of the giant drug and health insurance industries.

Earlier this year he started inviting top bosses of these companies for intimate confabs in the White House. Business Week magazine, which proclaimed recently that “The Health Insurers Have Already Won” reported that the CEO of UnitedHealth, Stephen J. Hemsley, met with the President half a dozen times.

These are the vendors. They and their campaign slush funds cannot be ignored in the power struggle over the legislation percolating in the Congress. One public result of these meetings was that the drug industry promised $80 billion in savings over ten years and the health insurance moguls promised $150 billion over the same decade. Mr. Obama trumpeted these declarations without indicating how these savings would be guaranteed, how the drug companies could navigate the antitrust laws and what was given to the health care industry by the White House in return.

We have now learned that one Obama promise was to continue the prohibition on Uncle Sam from bargaining for volume discounts on drugs that you the taxpayer have been paying for in the drug benefit program enacted in 2003.

(Ralph Nader photo by John Murray)

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Filed under American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Economics, Federal Budget, Health care | Insurance Issues, Obama Administration, The Obama Administration

Obama’s Doctor and Single Payer Advocates | Defeat Obamacare!

Institute for Public Accuracy

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Institute for Public Accuracy
915 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
(202) 347-0020 * *

DAVID SCHEINER, MD, SIDNEY WOLFE, MD, via Barbara Holzer (202) 588-7716,,

MARGARET FLOWERS, MD, cell: (410) 591-0892,, (also via Mark Almberg, (312) 782-6006, cell: (312) 622-0996,,,

Dr. David L. Scheiner

Dr. David L. Scheiner

At a news conference at the National Press Club today, David Scheiner, who was Obama’s personal physician for 22 years, said he would not support a proposal currently working its way through Congress: “If we don’t go the route of single payer, we’re making a terrible mistake.”

 Asked if he has spoken to the president, Scheiner indicated he was disinvited from a recent forum that featured Obama. “I would give up my eyeteeth to speak to him. Perhaps he can invite his old doctor to the White House for a drink of water.”

Speaking on the anniversary of Medicare’s enactment 44 years ago, Scheiner stated that there is a great deal of disinformation about healthcare reform. He particularly focused on “this myth that the government would get between a doctor and patient. Medicare never gets between me and my patients. What does get in the way is the private insurance companies.” Read Scheiner’s full statement:
Sidney Wolfe, MD, acting president of Public Citizen

Sidney Wolfe, MD, acting president of Public Citizen

Joining Scheiner was Sidney Wolfe, MD, acting president of Public Citizen and director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. Wolfe indicated that Obama’s stated goals of universal coverage and budget neutrality can only be achieved with a single-payer model: “The private insurance industry can’t exist in a program that is universal and cost neutral.” Wolfe called the current proposal a “false promise” that “is no longer a bill for national health insurance,” adding that “we are against Obamacare because it is a disaster for the millions left out.”

Said Wolfe: “We should be celebrating the 44th anniversary of Medicare by finally passing legislation that would truly result in everybody in, nobody out, instead of seriously considering legislation that guarantees that millions still will be left out just so the private health insurance industry can stay in. A single-payer system, eliminating the private health insurance industry, with the resultant $400 billion annual savings — that’s $4 trillion over ten years — is the only realistic way for everybody to be in.”

Dr. Margaret Flowers | Physicians for a National Health Program

Dr. Margaret Flowers | Physicians for a National Health Program

Also speaking at the news conference was Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician who is congressional fellow with Physicians for a National Health Program, which just released a letter signed by over 3,500 doctors, including Scheiner. The letter states: “Mr. President, you once embraced a single-payer reform that would threaten private insurers, and foresaw its passage if Democrats regained control of the House, the Senate and the White House. These conditions have been met. Yet now Democrats propose diverting additional billions to private insurers by requiring middle class Americans to purchase defective policies from these firms — policies with so many gaps and loopholes that they currently leave millions of our insured patients vulnerable to financial ruin.

“Moreover, a ‘public plan option’ would do little to mitigate the damage of a reform that perpetuates private insurers’ dominant role. Even a robust public option would forego 90 percent of the bureaucratic savings achievable under single payer. And a kinder, gentler public option would quickly fail in a health care marketplace where competition involves a race to the bottom, not the top, where insurers compete by NOT paying for care. But HHS Secretary Sebelius has made clear that any public option will be far worse than that, specifically crafted to prevent it from evolving to a single payer. This kind of public option would amount to a government-run clone of private insurance, reproducing the worst features of private plans.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167


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Filed under American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Health care | Insurance Issues, Obama Administration, The Obama Administration