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Freedom Rider: Nixoncare Finally Wins

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by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

The euphoria in the Obama camp over their health care victory at the U.S. Supreme Court shows “the Democrats of the 21st century are akin to the Republicans of forty years ago.” Back then, Richard Nixon proposed a health care plan very much resembling – and, in some ways, superior to – Obamacare. When the Obama plan goes into effect in 2014, “there will still be nothing to prevent health insurance companies from manipulating the market place and giving Americans access to inferior coverage with high deductibles.”

 

Freedom Rider: Nixoncare Finally Wins

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

"The time is at hand this year to bring comprehensive, high-quality health care within the reach of every American. I shall propose a sweeping new program that will assure comprehensive health insurance protection to millions of Americans who cannot now obtain it or afford it." – Richard Nixon

Nixon’s plan was in some ways superior to Obama’s because it called for strict federal oversight of the insurance companies.”

The Supreme Court decision to uphold the constitutionality of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act has caused a rejoicing among liberals not seen since the 2008 presidential election. The threat of repeal of the legislation now known by friend and foe alike as Obamacare, has united Democrats and Republicans too. The inability of any president to successfully provide universal health care to Americans made the passage and survival of Obamacare seem like a greater victory than it actually was. Republicans are united in thwarting the initiatives of any Democratic president, especially a black one whose very presence causes them to react like one of Pavlov’s dogs.

Barack Obama’s health care plan is very much like a health care plan first presented by another president in 1971. Then president Richard Nixon presented a plan that was very similar to the over-hyped Obamacare. Nixon proposed forcing private insurance companies to cover everyone regardless of prior health condition, with the government subsidizing those unable to pay.

The elation created by the Obama court victory is symptomatic of many things that are very wrong in the American body politic. Once again we see proof that the Democrats of the 21st century are akin to the Republicans of forty years ago. There is no other way to explain their bizarre rejoicing because a bandaid has been placed over a gunshot wound.

Nixon proposed forcing private insurance companies to cover everyone regardless of prior health condition, with the government subsidizing those unable to pay.”

Nixon’s proposal ultimately failed because the late senator Ted Kennedy opposed it. Kennedy was the Democratic point person on health care and he saw the obvious flaws in a plan which maintained a dependence on the rule of private health insurers. He assumed that an eventual Democratic presidential victory would bring true health care reform, and torpedoed the Nixon initiative which is now being celebrated by Democrats as a progressive triumph.

The Obama plan does address some of the major problems inherent in the current system, such as allowing parents to continue covering young adult children and preventing pre-existing conditions from barring access to coverage. These are certainly worthy goals, but a true single payer, Medicare for all plan would address those problems too, and would also address the biggest obstruction to true health care reform, the reliance on private health insurance companies to provide care for every person.

Private health insurance companies are the problem, and the Affordable Care Act presents a huge windfall for them. When Obama’s plan goes into full effect in 2014, there will still be nothing to prevent health insurance companies from manipulating the market place and giving Americans access to inferior coverage with high deductibles. Medical care bankruptcies will not disappear, and the true death panel, privately run health care, will continue with the help of government dollars. Nixon’s plan was in some ways superior to Obama’s because it called for strict federal oversight of the insurance companies. Greater regulation would have prevented what will now be an inferior and overly expensive system from dictating health care outcomes.

The true death panel, privately run health care, will continue with the help of government dollars.”

As Vice President Biden famously said, the Obama plan is a “big f*ing deal.” It is a tremendous political victory for Obama but once again we must ask if political victories are also victories for the people. We now have a deeply flawed health care system that is more entrenched than ever. The argument that this plan will eventually lead to a single payer system is highly problematic. Big pharma and health insurance companies were at the negotiating table every step of the way while single payer advocates were locked out. This act solidifies their control over our lives and shows once again the degree to which corporations drive American public policy.

A victory for Obama is not necessarily a victory for the people, even if that political victory causes insanity among Republicans. Scorn from Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are not necessarily justifications for rejoicing. Republicans can’t strike a blow against Obama in part because he accepted and promoted so many of their policies. From making war around the world, to bailing out the banks, to bailing out health care, Obama and the Democrats act like the Republicans they say are their political enemies.

We are told that Ted Kennedy must be smiling in his grave because his long held dream came true. After living to see only backward steps in the health care system he acknowledged regret at not accepting the Nixon plan. The president who resigned in disgrace ended up winning in the end. Nixon may also be happy in the great beyond. It took a black man and the Democratic party to give him his final political victory.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

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The Obama groupies of the NAACP

They booed Romney after he said he would repeal ObamaRomneyCare, but clapped when he said he would "means test" i.e. cut peoples Social Security and Medicare:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv5j1fZ-37g

The fascist governors are already "Means testing for eligibility" i.e. cutting peoples welfare, food stamps, and SSI disability. They're also discontinuing federal student loans.

Wikipedia:

"In 1992, third-party Presidential candidate Ross Perot proposed that future Social Security benefits be subjected to a means test; though this was hailed by some as a potential solution to an impending crisis in funding the program, few other political candidates since Perot have publicly made the same suggestion, which would require costly investigations and might associate accepting those benefits with social stigma."

Means-testing has been criticized on a number of grounds, the most fundamental of which is the distinction between a social program, which helps all equally or in proportion to their taxation, and a poverty program, which disproportionately helps the poor. Issues of a poverty program versus a social program include the following:

Stigma

A program benefiting only the poor may carry a stigma on its use and be demeaning; compare poverty food.

Political support

A program benefiting only the poor may lack broad-based political support, in contrast to programs that all share in. This can make it easier to reduce the benefits later.[9]

Redistribution

Poverty programs transfer money from the rich to the poor, as they benefit the poor only but are paid for by the tax payers.
Further objections to means-testing include the following:

Poverty trap

Means tests, particularly sharp cut-offs, create high effective marginal tax rates and can serve to keep people in poverty, both by removing social support as the person tries to escape poverty, and by discouraging such attempts by high costs. For example, asset-based limits, such as requiring an individual to have little or no savings to qualify, not only discourage saving (because of the cost of being disqualified from such savings) but also require a person to become completely destitute to qualify, thus meaning that they do not have any much-needed savings when attempting to escape poverty.

Access

Means tests, particularly complicated ones and ones that differ between programs and between different levels of government, complicate access to programs: individuals cannot easily know if they qualify and may also qualify for some programs but not others. In the absence of centralized outreach, the added complication of means tests means that some, perhaps many people who qualify for programs do not benefit from them.

Administrative costs

Means tests increase administrative costs (overhead), due to the work of verifying that the tests are satisfied. Some argue that these costs can offset or more than offset the savings by reduced payouts under means-testing.

Entitlement/promises

If means-testing is implemented in an existing program, particularly for which people have paid taxes but not benefited, as in pensions or medical insurance, the reduction in benefits can be seen as a breach of promise and entitlement of the program.

Raise the Price on the private plans; "means test" public plan

Need Food Stamps [Medicare/Medicaid/SocialSecurity/WIC]? What’s Your Collateral?

http://www.care2.com/causes/pennsylvania-to-start-means-testing-for-food...

The war against the poor rages on as Pennsylvania [Fascist Corrbett] announced plans to make the amount of food stamps people receive contingent on the assets they possess.

As of May 1, 2012, people under 60 with more than $2000 in savings or other assets would no longer be eligible for food stamps.

For those over 60 the limit is a slightly less-draconian $3250. Houses and retirement benefits are exempt from counting as an asset, as is one car. But any additional vehicle worth more than $4650 would be considered a countable asset.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Welfare said the move was designed to combat welfare fraud, though advocates for the poor note that Pennsylvania has one of the lowest food stamp fraud rates in the nation: one-tenth of 1 percent. Furthermore, at least 30 percent of the people who are eligible for food stamps in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation don’t access them, making the benefit program under-subscribed.

The move is really nothing short of punitive and counter-productive to conservatives’ stated goal of making people less dependent on government. The plan punishes elderly people who are trying to save for their burials, poor people desperately trying to save enough money to move to a better location, and working-and middle-class people who have lost their jobs during the recession and are now forced to liquidate assets to feed their families.

Then again, we all know that for most conservatives in office it's not really about  making people less dependent on government as it is punishing the poor and casting a moral judgment because they exist in poverty.

[End]

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – The Corbett administration’s controversial new asset-test policy for food stamp recipients takes effect this week.

Anne Bayle, spokeswoman for the state Department of Welfare, says in order to qualify for food stamps, recipients under the age of 60 will have to have less than $5,500 in certain assets, while the limit is $9,000 for those 60 and over or disabled. She says new recipients will be evaluated when they apply the first time.

Otherwise, “When someone comes in for their benefit renewal process – which is something that’s already happening, something that you must do when you receive welfare benefits – that’s when we will go over their assets. So, we won’t be checking people all at once, right away.”

Critics say the asset test will unnecessarily hurt poor people, while the administration says it wants to make sure people turn to their own resources before seeking assistance. The Welfare Department estimates fewer than 1 percent of food stamp recipients will be affected.

ObamaRomneyCare: My Crystal Ball

A model for Obama’s health care plan

Massachusetts proposes rationing of health care for workers

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/jul2009/mass-j25.shtml

The Massachusetts model

The New York Times and Obama’s health care counterrevolution

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/aug2009/pers-a14.shtml

Duval Patrick leads attack on health care for public and private workers

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/feb2011/mass-f28.shtml

Massachusetts: Democrats attack municipal workers’ health care

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/may2011/mass-m02.shtml

Massachusetts legislation promotes health care rationing

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/may2012/mass-m29.shtml



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