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Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Obama's Health Care Struggle – Waterloo or Water Down?

Push finally came to shove in Washington this week as the battle for health care escalated from scattered sniper fire into all-out combat. If it all seems to be getting more and more confusing, join the club. It’s hard to see what’s happening through all the gun smoke.

The Republicans have more than health care reform in their bombsights – they want a loss for Obama so crushing it will bring the administration to its knees and restore GOP control of Congress after next year’s elections. In the words of Republican Senator Jim DeMint, “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

The “Waterloo” of DeMint’s metaphor, of course, is not the 1974 ABBA hit but the battle in 1815 that ended Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule as Emperor of France – a humiliating defeat and a turning point in European history. Right wingers like Glenn Beck see Obama as Napoleon incarnate, a popular emperor who must be stopped.

Here’s what Beck said on his television show Monday, July 20: “I’m telling you, this guy is dangerous. He’s never lost before. He won’t understand… like, ‘Who are you to question me?’ I mean, this guy is practically an imperial President now. When he starts to lose and people start to question him and push him back against the wall, he’s not gonna know how to react.”

The Republican strategy is almost identical to the way they turned health care into Waterloo for Bill and Hillary Clinton in 1993. Back then, one of their chief propagandists, William Kristol, urged his party to block any health care plan for fear that Democrats would be seen as “the generous protector of middle class interests.” Now he’s telling the GOP to “go for the kill… throw the kitchen sink… drive a stake through its heart… We need to start over.”

So in lockstep are the Republicans that when strategist Alex Castellanos issued a memo outlining their battle plan, party chairman Michael Steele parroted large sections of it word for word in a speech at Washington’s National Press Club. Asked a health care-related question that took him off script, Steele replied, “I don’t do policy.”

As the Republicans fired away, big business stepped up the attack, too, their lobbying and advertising guns blazing. The Chamber of Commerce, for one, announced a major campaign of rallies and print and Internet ads to crush the White House plan for a competitive public option allowing consumers to choose between a government plan and private health insurance. In key states where members of Congress remain on the fence, the airwaves are vibrating with television commercials aimed at shifting hearts and minds away from any change that might threaten profits.

President Obama rejected the Republicans’ Waterloo metaphor and mounted a massive media counteroffensive of his own. But the President has already run into booby traps of his own making and minefields laid by members of his own party, exacerbated when the Congressional Budget Office reported that reform plans, instead of controlling costs, would send the national debt further into the stratosphere.

Meanwhile, supporters who want to scrap the present system for fundamental change are staring glumly though the fog of war at a battlefield in total disarray. They fear that in the White House’s desire to get a bill – any bill – passed by Congress, it will have been so compromised, so bent to favor the big interests, that it will be less Waterloo than water down, a steady diluting of the change they had hoped for and that America needs.

The big drug companies are already so pleased with what they’ve been promised that they’ve brought back Harry and Louise – the make-believe couple who starred in TV ads that helped torpedo the Clinton health care plan – but this time they’re in favor of reform.

According to the Associated Press, the drug industry’s trade group PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) and the drug company Pfizer “reported spending more money than other health care organizations on lobbying in the second quarter of this year” – $6.2 million from PhRMA, $5.6 million from Pfizer.

“Including its latest report, PhRMA has now spent $13.1 million lobbying so far this year. Pfizer has reported $11.7 million in lobbying expenses for 2009.”

This is part of the reason, as Alicia Mundy and Laura Meckler recently wrote in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, that “the pharmaceuticals industry, which President Barack Obama promised to ‘take on’ during his campaign, is winning most of what it wants in the health-care overhaul.”

Their story describes “a string of victories” plucked from the Senate Finance Committee by drug company lobbyists, including no cost-cutting steps, no cheaper drugs to be allowed across the border from Canada, and no direct Federal government negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies to lower Medicare drug prices.

And that’s not all. The Senate Health Committee is giving the biotech industry monopoly protection against competition from generic drugs for 12 years after they go on the market.

No wonder the cost of reform keeps going up and up and up. Could it be that Harry and Louise are happier because, this time, they’re in on the deal?


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Comments

Mr. Moyers,
Rarely am I moved to write in a blog; yet I feel very engaged by what was offered in your most recent program on Healthcare reform, Supreme Court rulings and lobbyists.
At heart, I am a libertarian who is pained to see corporations (not qualified doctors, small businesses and individuals) given the unconstrained major voice in health care or elections. It has also been painful to see President Obama recoil from the leadership he promised in his campaign on these matters. (That said, I give him the first year to “get his sea legs” in the job and have confidence he will do better going forward, as other presidents have often done.)
Regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling. As a dedicated American it was also painful for me to withdraw my trust and support of the Supreme Court beginning in 2001, when they wrongly ruled/interfered in the Florida presidential election issue. With that decision, the idea that there was still at least one independent voice in our country capable of delivering a decision based on law and due process, and not on their personal political beliefs/gain was lost. Since then, I suspended giving any credence to the decisions made by our country's highest court. I simply have marginalized the court in my mind and marked them as yet another declining system in need of reform. Short of resignations of court members who participated in that Florida vote decision, there is little hope of my faith in the court system being restored any time soon without constitution reform.
I can only hope that in time, as new judges and politicians are appointed and elected, someone will step forward and give an example of leadership that has a conscience and is able to ignite people to seek consensus on all sides of the political spectrum. I still believe our president can be such a leader; I still believe our Congress still has a chance to display such leadership; but I have suspended my belief that our Supreme Court has much legitimacy on this matter.
For the first time in my life, sadly, I believe it’s possible that more than half (50%) of our government’s three branches are displaying signs of being mired in active corruption and serious misuse of their authority (the Supreme Court, a large percentage of our Congress and possibly some of our President’s cabinet). I would never have dreamed I would feel this way as an American in my lifetime, and I pray I am wrong.
I'm grateful at least I have a spiritual practice that tells me all politics and laws are to be kept in perspective, and do not make up the entirety of my life in America, that there is still much more good than corrupt here in America, although it sometimes seems like court rulings, malevolent greed and corrupt political and media agendas conspire to monopolize my daily attention.
Thank you for this public forum.

Rev. Eric Jennings

Since Bill is retiring after this year, could PBS ask Aaron Brown to host a similar program? I will miss Bill very much. I've always enjoyed his thoughts, views, and programs.
I also missed Aaron Brown when CNN took him off the air. The Fri. night time slot would be excellent for him. I think he could retain many of Bill Moyer's viewers.

Rich Snow

The Republicans are the Pot calling the Kettle Black. They are big business and they have no more desire to do what's right for all the people of this country in Health reform fairly- than they did when they created the Wall Street & Bank & Credit Card & Student Loan Schemes that profited only 5% of them but still holds their followers, who obviously suffer from Stockholm syndrome, hostage . They are letting their leaders cut off their noses to spite the face of Obama & the Democrats, at least those who aren't really Republicans who believe in abortion.I was afraid from day one that the Democrats would knuckle under again..Someone explain to me how a 50 state government co-op of non profit insurance funded by the federal government is better for the tax payer & insured than a single federal option? And I SAID OPTION - NOT SYSTEM. Tell me why it is so horrible for your doctor to get paid to discuss your living will options but so democratic for your lawyer to keep charging for it?? What is hospice if not end of life decisions? No insurance will pay for the board & room of hospice - costs over $1200 a month, but the Republicans have no problem with you having to pay it or the government Medicaid - 50 more state government health care plans that cover the poor but not rescinded, that the insurance companies don't want.. importable & full of fraud by the hospitals & doctors.
I would say the Republicans & their nasayers will get what they deserve if they stop real reform and don't put medical business back in its place - BUT they have already reaped the gains & I will be the one to suffer under the health crunch, still - just like we all suffer from the economic crisis..except the ones who made it.
Even out of majority - they are the Emperor in his new clothes and not even the Democrats are willing to expose their nakedness, while business sells them another wardrobe that has no substance, but for which we all pay. For all their socialism ranting, they are the United States of the Republican Party of Facism..all for business & war..war because it is big business for them...check the profits of Landstar Trucking a la the Bush Brothers from the war & Katrina - now THAT WAS POLITICAL CONNECTIONS FRAUD that even put Cheney's Halaburton to shame...
We only hear the real stories on PBS - where are all the liberal newspapers & television the Bush Republicans whined about??

tressa: When was the last time you went to the doctor? How much did it cost you and were you satisfied with the care? (You seem to be suffering from a palsy, causing you to triple-post- titter, titter, titter.) Don't you have relatives paying insurance premiums from their paychecks for nearly nothing? Haven't you seen anyone financially ruined by an illness or accident because of inadequate coverage? Haven't you heard about greedy, callous doctors who prescribe and diagnose according to their bottom line? If you are not aware of these things you are truly "out of it." Maybe you don't care to do your own investigating of how these things could be fixed, but it is truly sad when you take your script from profiteers who care nothing for your well-being. I came to support a single payer, government regulated system after having been an employer unable to offer health insurance, and after being bankrupted by my wife's heart attack. What would you have me do? I realized how some things in life work better as a collective need and others as controlled competition. Capitalism had its chance with our health and it failed. In fact, it is killing honest conscientious people everyday. The freedom to be healthy and compete is a great foundational liberty.

You also say Obama has turned on the people who elected him. What I say is that his program has been watered down by threats from people who did not support his majority views. Maybe some people don't play fair in this democracy and will never accept a mixed race man as their leader. Are you one of those poor souls, tressa?

Mr. Moyers,
I saw your program on helthcare on PBS. Its funny; but so obvious that you are in favor of Socialism and this governmernt healthcare program, but your over the line comments regarding the protests people had about the healthcare program is totally irresponsible. I would want to see you have the same remarks regarding protestors on the left such as against the war, Code Pink; against George W. Bush; but of course this is in your backyard as a left wing liberal, so these people you describe as exercising their 1st amendment right to protest. But the seniors; the middle america people; the infirm; who went to town meetings to talk with their elusive representatives, those you describe as an angry mob; and unamerican. You should read the bill before you decide that this President is right in pushing this important bill in two weeks. Something is wrong when a President starts criticizing the people who elected him! This administration is looking for a boogyman and every week it changes! So, Mr. Moyers, just remember that Socialized Medicine has never succeeded in any country it has been tried, and you as an Obama supporter should read the bill before you mouth off on how we need this bill. Anything the government has control of becomes a boondoggle, with out of control spending; bureaucratic red tape and rationing. The President lost control because he doesn't know what the heck he is talking about..and this rush to pass this bill; the stimulus bill; the push toward socialism and the dismantling of our Republic...so whatever he calls it healthcare, insurance care, it is still a piece of garbage and he should stop traveling and sit in the oval office and bring this country back to its greatness. But he is too busy knocking American. He is all over the place; because he is a puppet of Axelrod; Emmanuele; and Soros. Also factcheck is an arm of the Obama Administration. Now they are making the insurance companies the scapegoat; nothing will work and I hope the Senate will demolish this bill...People don't want public option and the sooner those psuedo liberals bleeding hearts you had on your show know this is when our country can get back on track. This bill is about control not worrying about people's healthcare; it is for the total control of the populace.

Mr. Moyers,
I saw your program on helthcare on PBS. Its funny; but so obvious that you are in favor of Socialism and this governmernt healthcare program, but your over the line comments regarding the protests people had about the healthcare program is totally irresponsible. I would want to see you have the same remarks regarding protestors on the left such as against the war, Code Pink; against George W. Bush; but of course this is in your backyard as a left wing liberal, so these people you describe as exercising their 1st amendment right to protest. But the seniors; the middle america people; the infirm; who went to town meetings to talk with their elusive representatives, those you describe as an angry mob; and unamerican. You should read the bill before you decide that this President is right in pushing this important bill in two weeks. Something is wrong when a President starts criticizing the people who elected him! This administration is looking for a boogyman and every week it changes! So, Mr. Moyers, just remember that Socialized Medicine has never succeeded in any country it has been tried, and you as an Obama supporter should read the bill before you mouth off on how we need this bill. Anything the government has control of becomes a boondoggle, with out of control spending; bureaucratic red tape and rationing. The President lost control because he doesn't know what the heck he is talking about..and this rush to pass this bill; the stimulus bill; the push toward socialism and the dismantling of our Republic...so whatever he calls it healthcare, insurance care, it is still a piece of garbage and he should stop traveling and sit in the oval office and bring this country back to its greatness. But he is too busy knocking American. He is all over the place; because he is a puppet of Axelrod; Emmanuele; and Soros. Also factcheck is an arm of the Obama Administration. Now they are making the insurance companies the scapegoat; nothing will work and I hope the Senate will demolish this bill...People don't want public option and the sooner those psuedo liberals bleeding hearts you had on your show know this is when our country can get back on track. This bill is about control not worrying about people's healthcare; it is for the total control of the populace.

Mr. Moyers,
I saw your program on helthcare on PBS. Its funny; but so obvious that you are in favor of Socialism and this governmernt healthcare program, but your over the line comments regarding the protests people had about the healthcare program is totally irresponsible. I would want to see you have the same remarks regarding protestors on the left such as against the war, Code Pink; against George W. Bush; but of course this is in your backyard as a left wing liberal, so these people you describe as exercising their 1st amendment right to protest. But the seniors; the middle america people; the infirm; who went to town meetings to talk with their elusive representatives, those you describe as an angry mob; and unamerican. You should read the bill before you decide that this President is right in pushing this important bill in two weeks. Something is wrong when a President starts criticizing the people who elected him! This administration is looking for a boogyman and every week it changes! So, Mr. Moyers, just remember that Socialized Medicine has never succeeded in any country it has been tried, and you as an Obama supporter should read the bill before you mouth off on how we need this bill. Anything the government has control of becomes a boondoggle, with out of control spending; bureaucratic red tape and rationing. The President lost control because he doesn't know what the heck he is talking about..and this rush to pass this bill; the stimulus bill; the push toward socialism and the dismantling of our Republic...so whatever he calls it healthcare, insurance care, it is still a piece of garbage and he should stop traveling and sit in the oval office and bring this country back to its greatness. But he is too busy knocking American. He is all over the place; because he is a puppet of Axelrod; Emmanuele; and Soros. Also factcheck is an arm of the Obama Administration. Now they are making the insurance companies the scapegoat; nothing will work and I hope the Senate will demolish this bill...People don't want public option and the sooner those psuedo liberals bleeding hearts you had on your show know this is when our country can get back on track. This bill is about control not worrying about people's healthcare; it is for the total control of the populace.

Dear Bill..I was very disapointed that YOU,Drew Altman or Kathleen Jameison, in "pondering" how the Obama Health Care plan will be funded, did not mention that the cost of war in Iraq/Afghanistan at $170 billion p/year would easily cover the $100 billion p/yr. estimated for Health Care for ALL. Those are the facts and why you don't mention them is playing ball with the righties. That $170 billion is just the war, not the $2 billion p/day we give the Pentagon. Tom White

Drew Altman's comment giving the impression that those of us are conspiracy theorists, who do not want fluorosilicic acid (called fluoride) forced down out throats by placing it in our water supply, did not escape my attention.

For very scientific reasons why placing fluoride in our water supply is deleterious to our health, I would direct Mr. Altman to the Web site, www.fluoridealert.org. There he will learn that not only is the hazardous waste material, fluorosilicic acid (fluoride) not good for us, but it is causing a great many health issues in populations who are drinking tap water containing fluoride.

There is a vast amount of very scientific evidence available against putting fluorosilicic acid (fluoride) in our water supplies, and I strongly suggest that any who just assume that fluoride in our water must be a good thing, also visit the Web site www.fluoridealert.org.

First, we must address health tort reform. Without this all fails.

Second, we must include a comprehensive "health improvement" program in any reform bill. Everyone should have access to health insurance--BUT--they must be working on improving their health in basic ways such as attention to weight reduction, reducing cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, quitting smoking, etc. If they are not working on these and showing stepped improvement they should pay MORE! Remember your house insurance will not pay you to rebuild if you burn your own house down!
Coors(Colorado corporation) has been a successful advocate of this approach and should be contacted for guidance. This is an individual responsibility to take care of yourself, not have someone do it for you!

Large corporations are essentially self insured. Yes they contract insurance companies to do their administration of health care but they pay for all but catastrophic coverages out of their own cash flow. Since health care represents their LARGEST, single cash outlay they may be more than willing to pay the 8% tax to get out of this portion of their business and give it to the government. Does the government really know what type of cost they would have to absorb if this occurred?? And how much increase in taxes this would necessitate? Of course not! This would also mean that all employees presently covered by such programs would not be allowed to keep their current coverage when their employer(corporation) opted out.

Last, we all know that the government does NOT have the capability to run something of this magnitude effectively. It lacks the business expertise to do it!! Certainly Obama doesn't have it and neither do most of the Congress. Let's hire someone like Jack Welch to take on this task and let him have full control to achieve quantified objectives. IT WOULD GET DONE!

I was dissapointed by the report tonight. Although the guests gave lucid insight into the debate and the problems of the media coverage it seems Bill Moyers did not himself listen. The guests stated that the coverage of the often misinformed/inacurate loud reactions at the town meetings was swaying public opinion in the debate away from the actual issues at hand. In spite of this between segments of the show all that was shown were these very angry inaccurate reactions at a town meeting and a representative incorrectly talking about a "death panel". Couldn't that time have been used to outline the bills themselves instead of delving into the sensationalism your own guests vilified? Please Bill try to be a bit more on point and constructive as we know you can be and usually are.

NDreyfuss. You are absolutely correct sir. Neither "side" is the is capable of change. As long as this government continues to be owned by outside interests, it will never be responsive to its citizens or their needs.

Obama is a spineless jellyfish and is not even slightly leaning toward a single payer plan a.k.a. canadian type deal. Republician/democrat have had over 200 yrs of shared power in this great country and look what shape its in.People it is time to look at other parties or start a new one for the poor/middleclass.We are the backbone of this country!!!!

I had a layaway on a pair of shoes with a store. The day I really needed them, I went to the store to pay the balance and get them. To my surprise, the store disappeared. So is it for Insurance companies. The only difference, the companies have clout: they don't have to move elsewhere or to change name; they just rip off your layaway, your contract. That's why I opt for single payer: government can vanish with my money or scrap my contract.

Secondly, Insurance, run by private, is like a Ponzi scheme in that the investors take no risk and don't really contibute to development. That's why only government should run them.

This is one of the only places I can visit where contributors really have a handle on what is going on in America. What I want to know is what can be done right now. What can we do to stop the insanity and get results now. People are in misery, starving and dying while we all talk, and the elite and congress dine in style...on our money. This is unbelievable.

Obama needs to grow a pair, quit caring about bi-partisanship...does that actually happen?...and just do what he was elected to do. Change things.

I believe this whole mess is relevant to insurance being a legal racket in the U.S. The premiums get higher, the coverage goes down, and you have to pay a co-pay to every doctor you see as well as a copay for prescriptions. HMO primary care doctors are only the "gate-keepers" for your healthcare and have to refer you to "specialists" for diagnostic testing; and the patient pays a copay for every test and specialist along the way. I tried to see an endocrinologist for 17 years and could not get a referral because my PCP (who is NOT the specialist) didn't agree that I need an endocrinologist. So I bowed out of commercial insurance altogether and now use my VA benefits where I happen to get the absolute best comprehensive care there is. I save myself the stress of having to schedule 10 different appointments around my work hours, and I pocket the extra cash. I also have the freedom to tell my PCP when and if I prefer to use an alternative therapy to increase bone density rather than take a pill. That doesn't bother him. He's not afraid I'll sue because he's protected under the government umbrella. The drug companies spend billions every year romancing doctors to prescribe their drugs. They shower them with lunch meetings and free samples obviously to grease each other's palms. The good doctors are stuck in academic medicine because they can't afford the malpractice insurance they would need for private practice. The insurance companies even have them by the short hairs. I don't trust any insurance or drug company.

Obviously, for profit insurance companies cannot make profits without rasing premiums and denying coverage. Cost cutting here will help!!! But this is only one component of controlling health care costs. American fructose consumption is leading to obesity among pre school children, young adults and adults alike. The loss of productive work, the use of medical resources is in excess of 100 billion dollars/year just to deal with Americans weight/dietary problems. Add on tobacco ,alcohol,drug use and we add another 100 billion dollars. Add on defensive medicine (ordering tests for fear of being sued..has proven to add on another 100-200 billion dollars/year). health care reform must address ALL these issues.

What would happen if currently healthy individuals between the ages of 25 and 35 years of age decided to abandon their private heath insurers, to not only cut off our monetary support for private heath insurance, but to threaten our government with the potential of greater numbers of uninsured needing to crowd the already overcrowded emergency rooms and being unable to afford the services they need. I think its time for our government and the private health insurers to know we will not let this continue. I am putting this out there for discussion because the American people as a mass need to take up this issue. to stop standing by hoping for the best outcome while remaining neutral in the greater debate. Lets take this to debate a step further radically standing up against big money in both Heathcare and Government. Individuals in our Government need to be looking out for the greater needs of the American people, and not letting the bribes from big money cloud their better judgment.

If you divided up all the food in the world we would all starve to death. Single payer healthcare is Ration to none. If big companies are resisting Obama health reform I would count my lucky stars, I do not want a bunch of senators and thier flunkies to run my healt care. Have You read the over thousand page reform pretty chilling,

I help gather data for a meeting that transpired between Jack Whitehead the then chairman of Techinicon Instruments Corp. and the Watson brothers of IBM.....the result of these titanic egos locking horns and wishing each other to "go to hell"... today looms as the single largest expensive mistake... stretched over the last thirty years.... to the American health care system.

Joseph Gironda

The influence of big business will not be ejected from our government institutions until we agree to public only financing of oiliticak campaings.

NDreyfuss

I am very discouraged when I hear that we cannot improve things in this country because we are up against wealthy businesses like the insurance companies. There is something very wrong with our government if there is no way for government to counter this influence of money. It effects everything in this country; who we vote into office and even the policies they can support. I feel we are Hogtied.

Agape

Obama's mistake concerning health care reform was to focus on avoiding and changing Bill Clinton's TACTICS. What he missed was what had become the Republican STRATEGY, which was and is to destroy any Democratic presidency. His tactical maneuver is falling victim to the opposing strategy. No surpise!

I worry the negativity will weigh down honest debate on Healthcare Reform. If Public Option is included, explained clearly,and point by point put up alongside Medicare (withSupplementalcoverage) people will understand. Clear talk is needed and lies need to be shot down. PresidentObama speak up!

One argument I haven't heard for saving money is the current Social Security Disability Program. Many people could work a little but can't afford healthcare that would give them medication to work. They are not allowed to work under the current system or they will lose their medical benefits. That's about $700 plus medical per month for each disabled person. Many could work a few hours per day and help close the gap but they would then be deemed able to work and get their medical benefits removed. We're paying them not to work. Some go on disability because they couldn't afford a procedure and became disabled. They wouldn't have become disabled had they had access to health care. Revamping that system would free up billions that could be used for universal insurance.

There is no question, Bill, that you are the most thoughtful, balanced and knowledgable interviewer & commentator on TV.
I sense, however, you have avoided focus upon a key reason the greedy insurance,pharma,AMA et al are again, after 60+ years of success by fear mongering & lies are about to again convince idiot ill-informed Americans to accept their so-called representatives' rationals for the same old death-care current system under a different colored cover.

Your two guests (Dr. Angell & Ms. Lieberman) raised many worthwhile issues, as did insurance v.p (Potter?) the prior week. Absent from both discussions, for some strange reason I don't get, was any reference to the main reason our so-called representatives like Max Bacchus are so in the camp of insurance & pharma. Congress persons are addicted to the huge campaign contributions of their patron death-care providers. The campaign finance "system" dictates our death-care "system". Not fully examining this connection -- and the information is fully available through the Center for Public Integrity, Common Cause, Center for Corporate Accountability, and many other sources.

Go to it Bill; no program could do a better investigation than the Journal.

Thank you for your many many years of integrity & courage in journalism.

My wife & I are concerned at your heavy schedule. We hope and pray that you & your lovely wife will enjoy many more years of health & happiness. So we want to tell you to take care of yourself; your precious.

If that means only being able to experience "the Journal" every other week or so, I'm sure like us, many of your PBS followers, would agree the sacrifice was worth it.

But do take care of yourself,Bill. All the Best.
Brian & Elba Kiely

There is no question, Bill, that you are the most thoughtful, balanced and knowledgable interviewer & commentator on TV.
I sense, however, you have avoided focus upon a key reason the greedy insurance,pharma,AMA et al are again, after 60+ years of success by fear mongering & lies are about to again convince idiot ill-informed Americans to accept their so-called representatives' rationals for the same old death-care current system under a different colored cover.

Your two guests (Dr. Angell & Ms. Lieberman) raised many worthwhile issues, as did insurance v.p (Potter?) the prior week. Absent from both discussions, for some strange reason I don't get, was any reference to the main reason our so-called representatives like Max Bacchus are so in the camp of insurance & pharma. Congress persons are addicted to the huge campaign contributions of their patron death-care providers. The campaign finance "system" dictates our death-care "system". Not fully examining this connection -- and the information is fully available through the Center for Public Integrity, Common Cause, Center for Corporate Accountability, and many other sources.

Go to it Bill; no program could do a better investigation than the Journal.

Thank you for your many many years of integrity & courage in journalism.

My wife & I are concerned at your heavy schedule. We hope and pray that you & your lovely wife will enjoy many more years of health & happiness. So we want to tell you to take care of yourself; your precious.

If that means only being able to experience "the Journal" every other week or so, I'm sure like us, many of your PBS followers, would agree the sacrifice was worth it.

But do take care of yourself,Bill. All the Best.
Brian & Elba Kiely

I was quite disappointed by tonight's healthcare reform conversation.

Had the President come in with a written healthcare plan that didn't let the LEGISLATORS weigh in, it would have been dead on arrival.

How can there be specifics before the negotiating is done?

As for single payer, wonderful... just throw out any member of Congress who has been in office for more than two terms.

Does the doctor really think the powers that be would allow for a serious single payer discussion. I was truly dismayed at her remarks. She seemed content with the status unless single payer is adopted.

I believe that the government option, done right, opens the door to single payer. Over time, and not that long, people will come to understand that for profit healthcare is wrong. It's wrong and it's deadly.

Neither guest talked about the fact that many people who say that are happy with their plans haven't actually used them for a serious accident or illness.

Nor did either one mention recission and how after years of paying premiums a person find their policy cancelled.

I don't think they advanced the cause one iota.

First I will say this to the big money lobbying done including the pharmaceutical companies: Some of us have recognized the weaknesses of a top heavy financially endowed system as the United states has become. It takes no doctoral degree to see the physics our country is in for. The topple has begun. What I do not understand is the commitment to blindness. Do the drug companies have a plan when sales are zero because no one can afford their drugs?

Secondly, I believe the Republicans are so asleep that they dream that Waterloo did not happen. Republicans thought the world to become their US clients as did the defeated Napoleon. The only comparison to Napoleon is the Republican Bush / Cheney duo. If only we could banish them all to exile as Napoleon was and get on with cleaning up the mess they've made !

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