Friday, November 21, 2008


Yesterday it was announced that the president-elect has chosen former senator Tom Daschle to be HHS secretary. When he was a senator, he was one of the biggest recipients of campaign donations from the health care industry. Since he left the senate, he’s had a position advising a Washington legal and lobbying firm on a number of issues, notably health care. That firm’s lobbying clients include a number of pharmaceutical companies.

Indeed, in yesterday's NYT:
Although Mr. Daschle’s work might not preclude his appointment, it could raise the possibility that the administration could require him to recuse himself from any matter related to either the Mayo Clinic or some of the clients he advised at Alston & Bird — a potentially broad swath of the health secretary’s portfolio.

No presidential administration has sought to extend its conflict-of-interest policies to previous employers as Mr. Obama has pledged to do, earning high marks from government ethics groups. Mr. Daschle’s selection reflects a clash, widely predicted by Washington lawyers and lobbyists, between Mr. Obama’s unusually sweeping self-imposed ethics rules and his desire to recruit experienced policy hands.
Change we can believe in.

In a pathetic round-table discussion last night on PBS’s Newshour, Judy Woodruff was joined by
Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, a national trade association representing health insurance providers;

Stuart Butler, vice president for domestic and economic policy at the Heritage Foundation;

Chris Jennings, former senior health policy adviser to president Clinton, now president of Jennings Policy Strategies, a health policy consulting firm;

and Uwe Reinhardt, professor of economics and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University (he of managed care, which gave “consumers” a “choice,” but was controlled by insurance companies that put profits before patient care).
All these expert analysts used the current financial crisis as an explanation and excuse for preventing Obama's "desire" for real and serious health care reform. All are tied to the status quo of health care delivery in this country.

Judy Woodruff did not invite any working people, patients or physicians into the discussion mix. The Newshour's experts don't know what the citizens want, but speaking for their corporate connections, they presume to know what's best for us. Not once during the discussion was single payer mentioned.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, has introduced a bill - HR676 - for single payer, making it unlawful to sell private health insurance for benefits that are medically necessary.

57% of Americans, when asked about their choice for health care delivery, have said they want it government sponsored. (70% of Democratic primary voters want it.) Even back in August, the Democratic platform snuffed out single payer in the mix for health care reform solutions.

In the interest of a true discussion and debate, why didn’t Woodruff have representatives from the California Nurses Association or Physicians for a National Healthcare Program? Both groups have called for single payer. (Although the CNA supported Obama.) Why not include Vermont’s own Dr Deb Richter, former president of PNHP or its founders Dr. Steffie Woolhandler and Dr. David Himmelstein?


  1. The Newshour panel you mentioned is sadly typical of how PBS is controlled by the GOP and its advertisers. (Yes, I know they say their advertisers are not advertisers.)

    Good work. Education and activism on media issues are important.

  2. Indeed, this show has become too mainstream for my tastes. It was not always so. Much of PBS does this in the name of 'balance.' But clearly the analysts on this program were not so balanced. LOL@ your advertisers comment. Well, not only GOP, but even Democratic mainstream influence shows, too. Well this "viewer like me" doesn't contribute for that reason.


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