Presidents and Healthcare

All eyes are focused this week on the Supreme Court. After today’s decision on immigration, we await a decision on Obamacare. I must admit that I have strong, mixed feelings about Obamacare because of my low opinion of health insurance companies. By definition, insurance companies (of any kind) make every effort to discourage you from using your insurance. Their goal is to collect premiums and limit payouts. After all, they are “for profit” businesses with CEOs who make millions. Obamacare forces me to buy insurance from them and I don’t like it. Despite being a strong proponent of national healthcare, I did not and do not support this way of going about it. And I would even go so far as to agree with those who say that it exceeds the federal government’s power on regulating interstate commerce. I was one of those folks who supported HR 676, Medicare For All. However, I admit that the problem with that proposal is that big medicine owns a piece of our legislators just the same as Wall Street does. And we’re not going to get national healthcare unless we pay the gangsters their “protection” money. So maybe Obamacare is the only way we can get to national health. But I still don’t like it.

I do get some amusement out of the conservatives throwing the socialist label at Obama over health care. I am reminded of the story of Izzy Stone on Meet the Press. It appears in the biography, “American Radical: the Life and Times of I.F. Stone”. The following is an excerpt from an interview with the book’s author, D. D. Guttenplan.

“I start on a morning in December 1949, when I. F. Stone is on Meet the Press. Now, people may not remember that Meet the Press was originally a radio program before it became a TV program. And when Meet the Press started in the mid-’40s, I.F. Stone was one of the regular panelists on the radio program. He was also one of the regular panelists on the TV program.
At that time, Stone was a columnist. He had been a columnist for PM, the left-wing New York daily tabloid that didn’t accept any advertising and changed the way newspapers looked. He was also Washington correspondent for The Nation. So he was a very well-known journalist, the sort of person you would expect to see on one of today’s Sunday chat shows.
And they liked him on Meet the Press, the original producer of Meet the Press told me, because he was a good needler. He was very good at getting under the skin of sort of pompous guests.
And on this particular morning, the person he was battling with was a guy called Dr. Morris Fishbein. Now, in the ’40s, Morris Fishbein was the most famous doctor in America. He was the editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association, and he was the person that the medical and pharmaceutical industries put up to oppose socialized medicine, or national health or a national health insurance. He was the person who coined the phrase “socialized medicine” as a means of discrediting national health insurance.
Fishbein had described the proposals for national health insurance as a step on the road to communism. And so, Stone said to him, “Dr. Fishbein, given that President Truman has already spoken out in favor of national health insurance, do you think that that makes him a dangerous communist or just a deluded fellow traveler?”

For his jabbing question, Stone was sentenced to TV exile. Yep, that was his last appearance on TV for 18 years. It’s not good to be on the wrong side of big medicine.

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