United States News Digest
LaRouche: Don't Be Brainwashed by the Press on Health Care
Dec. 24 (EIRNS)The Senate voted 60-39 early on Dec. 24 to pass the final version of the Nazi health-care bill that had been introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Passage of the bill was made possible only by a series of dirty deals cut with holdout Senators. One such deal, with Sen. Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska, exempts that statebut no other statefrom all Medicaid costs.
All the maneuvering to get the bill through means nothing.
Lyndon LaRouche said on Dec. 21 that, after the defeat of the British oligarchs and their puppet Obama at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, these would-be legislators are "losers," and they are finished. "You have a change in dynamics, and the people who were on top, in terms of making legislation and so forth, are now on the bottom," said LaRouche. They are "flopping on the beach like fish left behind by the outgoing tide.... The tide has turned against Obama's health care and other legislation. And only the stubborn losers are going to stick to it.... Don't be brainwashed by the press and similar kinds of things, by the lobbyists running around the Congress."
Reid thinks that he's clever, but his own re-election in 2010 is in doubt. Polls in Nevada give Reid only a 38% approval rating. From both the Republicans (in an RNC conference call today) and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party (typified by blogs like firedoglake.com), there are threats that every Senator who sold his or her soul to vote up this health plan will be run out in the next election. Firedoglake.com calls every Democrat who voted for this "an idiot," and warns, "If you don't fix this, we will watch/help you lose next November and again in 2012. Trust us."
Senate 'Death' Bill Is Unconstitutional
Dec. 22 (EIRNS)The Reid-Baucus Senate health-care bill not only gives an unelected commission dictatorial powers to slash health-care costs and deny treatments, but it attempts to prevent future Congresses from altering the dictates of the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (IMAB).
A provision in Sec. 3403 of the bill, introduced in November, which pertains to dealing with IMAB cost-cutting recommendations, says that: "It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection" (p. 1,020).
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) raised a series of parliamentary inquiries on this at the Dec. 22 session, pointing out that under the Senate rules, any change in those rules requires a two-thirds majority vote. The presiding officer, acting on advice of the Senate Parliamentarian, rebuffed DeMint, ruling that this is just a change in procedure, not in the rules.
EZ-Kill Emanuel Gets Health Cuts He Wanted
Dec. 26 (EIRNS)The Reid-Baucus health-care bill, which passed the Senate on Dec. 24, gives President Obama's special advisor on health care, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, many of the genocidal cuts in medical care he has been demanding for decades.
When EIR's Anton Chaitkin confronted Emanuel at a meeting of the Federal Coordinating Council on Comparative Effectiveness in Washington on June 10, 2009 the sleazy bioethicist Emanuel lied about his commitment to euthanasia policies. Chaitkin had charged that Emanuel, and the Council as a whole, were devising rules by which Americans would be denied life-saving medical care, en masse. Emanuel claimed he was being slandered, and that he opposed euthanasia.
EZ-Kill's lies are an attempt to cover up his decades-long promotion of genocidal rationing of medical care, and euthanasia sold as the "right to die." One of the leading elements of Emanuel's death program is a campaign against life-saving medical technology, ranging from MRIs to dialysis. Emanuel claims that saving the lives of patients who need these technologies is not worth the money. Read his own words, in a Nov. 23, 2008 article on what drives up health-care costs (naturally, he ignores the 30% overhead costs of the private HMOs):
"Most of the relentless rise can be attributed to the expansion of hospitals and other health-care sectors and the rapid adoption of expensive new technologies, new drugs, devices, tests and procedures. Unfortunately, only a fraction of all that new stuff offers dramatically better outcomes. If we're worried about costs, we have to ask whether a $55,000 drug that prolongs the lives of lung cancer patients for an average of a few weeks is really worth it."
How serious Emanuel is about his campaign against medical technology is shown in the provisions of the Obama Administration-blessed Senate health-care bill, which calls for a $20-40 billion tax on companies producing medical devices. This tax will not only cut back on employment (an estimated 18,500 direct jobs, and 75,000 indirect jobs, in Indiana alone), but will also adversely affect the ability of companies that produce everything from prosthetic devices, to stents and imaging machines, to continue to invent new, more advanced technology to improve and save lives.
The medical device tax goes along with the bill's establishment of a powerful independent Medicare Board to decide on what procedures Medicare will pay for. Such a Board would enforce, with the power of the purse, the measures the whole health bill promotescutting back on high-technology care and medical facilities.
Health Bill Gives 'Death Panel' Right To Deny Life-Saving Drugs
Dec. 26 (EIRNS)The Reid-Baucus health-care bill gives the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (IMAB) the power to enforce policies denying payments for life-saving treatments under the guise of paying only for the "least costly alternative" drug or treatment.
How this will work is indicated by a recent court case involving an appeal by a patient, Ilene Hays, for whom Medicare contractors had denied payment for the drug DuoNeb, used to treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The Medicare program under the Bush Administration had refused to pay, saying it would only pay for an older and cheaper substitute. Hays and the drug manufacturer sued the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and won in the Federal District Court in 2008; the Obama Administration appealed, but Hays won again in the Federal Appeals Court on Dec. 22, 2009. (According to one account, Hays had died by this time.)
But under the Reid bill, what HHS couldn't do administratively, it is allowed to do under the Senate bill, according to a Dec. 24 article in the Wall Street Journal. Even worse, the Reid bill exempts such rationing policy decisions from judicial review. Unlike under current Medicare laws, patients won't be allowed to appeal any of the decisions of IMABeven if it denies access to physician-ordered life-saving drugs or treatments.
Fannie and Freddie $10 Million Bonuses? 'Take It Back!'
Dec. 24 (EIRNS)The Obama Administration is expected to announce deals shortly with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the now nationalized mortgage companies whose losses in the crash have already cost taxpayers $100 billion. Pay bonuses reportedly of $4-6 million each are about to be announced for CEOs Michael Williams of Fannie Mae and Charles Haldeman, Jr. of Freddie Mac. Neither has been on the job for more than a few months. The pay-outs were hard to figure out, according to the Wall Street Journal, because they couldn't very well be paid in stock (it's collapsed), or tied to corporate performance (it's been terrible). But the White House and its "pay czar" have found a way to justify the $10 million or so.
Potentially an even worse provocation looms; there are reports that Obama may announce a new, increased Federal bailout to Fannie and Freddie within the next few days, setting off a well-deserved uproar.
Teresa Heinz Kerry Attacks Edict To Cut Mammogram Use
Dec. 23 (EIRNS)Mammography was used to diagnose Teresa Heinz Kerry's breast cancer, for which she is now undergoing treatment.
The wife of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) blasted the recommendation made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), that mammogram cancer screening should be scaled back. If either the House or Senate version of Obama's so-called health-care reform were made law, recommendations of the USPSTF would result in denial of coverage by health-insurance plans.
Kerry told Associated Press that breast cancer treatment is costly and disruptive, "So why put people through that instead of just having a test that's done, and it's done? So that's why I was so upset about that decision of this panel."
She said that nurses in a hospital where she was being treated were "livid" upon hearing of the Task Force edict. "They said, 'We've taken all these years to teach women to do preventive mammograms, and now look at this.'"
Mammography use, increasing from 39% of women 40 and older in 1987 to 70% now, has been credited with seriously decreasing breast cancer deaths. But Federal interventions in the name of "cost control," have led to a decline of 16% in mammogram use since 2000, and last month's announcement by the administration's task force, coupled with spurious propaganda against radiation risks, has confused many people on the subject, and threatens to bring a spike in cancer deaths.
Democrats Lose One, as Griffith Jumps Ship to Republican Party
Dec. 22 (EIRNS)Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Alabama, announced today that he is will become a Republican. While this will not affect the health-care vote count (Griffith already voted against the House bill), he is expected to become a vocal critic of the process, and his move could sway others (some of whom might chose to run as Independents, or a new political constellation). In addition to voting against Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) health-care reform bill, Griffith also voted against the Obama stimulus and the cap-and-trade bills. The one time he did vote with the Democrats, was for the TARP bank bailout bill, a vote for which he caught heavy flak on the homefront.