9/3/9 What You Need to Know: Examining the Medical System Overhaul, part 1

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience
Albert Camus, French novelist, essayist, and playwright 1913-1960

"The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other.... not the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing."
John Berger

"The financial crisis drives home to other nations that 'without an America that is successful financially, economically and therefore also politically, they're not going to be successful... If we don't function well, no one functions well."
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama advisor, Jimmy Carter's National Security advisor
Tom Raum's "Global woes pose risks, also openings for US", Yahoo! AP 12/14/2008

U.S. DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL POLITICS ARE INSEPARABLY INTERCONNECTED PARTS OF THE FINANCE CAPITAL 'NATIONAL SECURITY AGENDA: we have no stake in the phony partisan electoral debate in bipartisan class dialectics: cutting capitalist costs to increase profits

What can ruling class do when an awakening, angry public opposes not just a predatory profit-making / care-cutting 'healthcare overhaul', but sever the 'reform' from U.S. bipartisan 'national security' agenda requiring the finance capital bailout being bled from working and oppressed peoples and nations worldwide ?

* decontextualize: sever medical care from the 'bailout' which refers only to TARP 'stimulus', not finance 'loans' - and sever from broader imperialist agenda
* redefine: when convenient call it socialism, counting on public ignorance of political-economic system's defining class basis and presto transform the dictatorship of capital is
'socialist'. Not applicable to actual 'socializing' debt in order to privatize and increase capitalist profits
* reframe: bury actual promoters & beneficiaries, 'media-ate' propaganda to frame all opposition as anti-change by repugs and racists who hate obama
* add a few Secret Service/DHS approved gun-toters to the mix to reinforce 'redneck' nature of all opposition to 'reform' while scoring points with actual 'NRA types', as the
disarming capitalist state classifies all who defend any but the state's right to own guns

capitalism 101: class dialectics of 'recession & recovery'
"Economists said the rising productivity and lower labor costs supported their view that the longest recession since World War II is coming to an end"
Productivity gains in 2Q due mainly to cost cuts
Companies managed to boost their workers' productivity and their own profits in the spring mainly by slashing costs and capping their employees' pay.
Productivity [NB: source of surplus value, e.g. exploitation and profits] - the amount of output per hour of work - rose at an annual rate of 6.6 percent in the April-June quarter, the Labor Department said. That's the largest advance since the summer of 2003.... slightly better than the 6.4 percent productivity increase the government had estimated last month.At the same time [NB: obscuring the causal relationship], labor costs fell at an annual rate of 5.9 percent - the sharpest drop since 2000 and slightly more than the 5.8 percent drop estimated a month ago.
Economists said the rising productivity and lower labor costs supported their view that the longest recession since World War II is coming to an end. Companies managed [NB:: while richly rewarding top execs and other speculators] to boost their workers' productivity and their own profits in the spring mainly by slashing costs and capping their employees' pay. That was clear from revised government figures released Wednesday that provided further evidence that a tentative economic recovery has begun, while also reinforcing nagging concerns. Analysts worry the tight job market and lack of wage growth will depress incomes, limit further corporate profitability and forestall a pickup in all-important consumer spending...."Profits have recovered nicely, but it's more the way that they have recovered that gives people pause," Schultz said. "The key is to somehow blend this cost-cutting with revenue growth."
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2009792945_apus...

U.S. Lost [sic] 335,000 Jobs in August and 5.9 Million Jobs in Past Year
Massive Job Losses Lead to Big Drops in Wages and Savings: Wages Fall 4.1% Year-over-Year in August, and M2 Savings Drops Record $94.6 Billion in Past Three Months according to
TrimTabs Investment Research based on analysis of daily income tax deposits to the U.S. Treasury from all salaried U.S. employees.
http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/trimtabs-estimates-us-lost-33500...

Pay of Top Earners Erodes Social Security
Executives and other highly paid employees in the financial world received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total U.S. pay in 2007 ... more than one-third of all pay in the U.S ... the latest figures available. The compensation numbers don't include incentive stock options, unexercised stock options, unvested restricted ... according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Social Security Administration data -- without counting billions of dollars more in pay that remains off federal radar screens...

Obscuring the socialization of trillions transferred to public debt, the ruling class and its media attempt to portray the restructuring and concentration of finance capital, e.g. 'bailout', as 'socialism' and only ask about 'stimulus' in their PR polls
Poll: 57% stimulus not working
http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2009-08-16-stimulus-poll_N.htm
Six months after President Obama launched a $787 billion plan to right the nation's economy, a majority of Americans think the avalanche of new federal aid has cost too much and done too little to end the recession. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found 57% of adults say the stimulus package is having no impact on the economy or making it worse. Even more --60% --doubt that the stimulus plan will help the economy in the years ahead... almost half in the full sample say they are "very worried" that stimulus money is being wasted.... and only 18% say it has done anything to help improve their personal situation... Since the plan began.. an additional 2.2 million Americans without jobs, according to Labor Department surveys.
That skepticism underscores the challenge Obama faces in trying to convince the public that the stimulus has helped turn the economy around. It also could complicate the administration's plans to overhaul the nation's health care system.

OXYMORON: PROFIT-DRIVEN 'HEALTHCARE'
Dr David Scheiner, a Chicago physician was Barack Obama's personal doctor. He adamantly rejects the plan being advanced by Obama and the Democrats as grossly inadequate to solve the healthcare crisis. "Access to needed health care should not be regulated by profit" declared Scheiner. "Obama knows that."
http://www.bestcyrano.org/

Financial bailout's cost to U.S. could total almost $24 trillion --- or $80,000 for every US resident.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32010841/ns/business-us_business

In case you missed it, recession now over
The most severe economic recession since the Great Depression is history, economists said Tuesday, after key early data for economic conditions...
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2009788213_rece...

Media Special: A healthcare reform for suckers
Cyrano's Dispatch
http://www.bestcyrano.org/?p=2926
Cyrano Note: Most visible “liberal media assets” such as MoveOn.org, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Huffington Post, The Nation, etc., have circled the wagons around Obama as the hypocritical attacks by the right continue to convince people that his healthcare plan is really a populist assault on ingrained corporate power. In doing so, these liberals are adding further credence to the ludicrous notion that this is indeed a serious if not revolutionary plan, one being secured at great cost by a heroic and embattled president, standing tall for the interests of the “little guy”. Alas, if only part of this manufactured belief were true. As it is, all that’s being obtained by such loyalty to Obama is to add confusion to an already sufficiently murky debate, rendered intentionally obscure by the Obama team itself, which is advancing a veritable Rube Goldberg concoction capable of satisfying no one, but sure to meet the demands of his real political owners, the rich financial elites who chose him, promoted him through their media, and eventually made his election possible. A lot of suckers are born every minute in America, but the birth rate for this kind of infant sure shot up since Obama rode into town. Don't fall for this bipartisan charade:

Is the Obama Health Care Plan Really Better Than Nothing?
By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
The Obama plan is about health insurance, not health care.
Candidate Barack Obama told us to judge his first term by whether he delivers quality affordable health care for all Americans, including nearly fifty million uninsured. So why does his proposal not cover the uninsured till 2013, after the next presidential election when Medicare took only 11 months to cover its first 40million seniors? Why are corporate media pretending that no opinions exist to Obama's left? And why has the public option part of the Obama health care plan shrunk from covering 130 million to only 10 million, with 16 million left uninsured altogether?
The Obama plan’s “public option” is a bait-and-switch scam
The “public option” has that magic word “public” in it, and that’s reassuring to progressives and to most of the American people. Taxing the rich is a popular idea too. So if you rely on corporate media, the administration, or some of the so-called progressive blogs to identify the players and keep the score, it seems a pretty clear case of President Obama on the side of the angels, battling the greedy insurance companies, Republicans and blue dog Democrats to bring us universal, affordable health care…That whole picture has about as much reality as the ones the same corporate media and most of the same politicians drew for us about Iraq, 9-11, weapons of mass destruction and some people over there who wanted us to free them. Iraq and the White House were and remain actual places, and there really is a problem called health care. But the places, problems and solutions are very different from the bubble of fake reality blown around them. http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/obama-health-care-plan-reall...

Progressives Abet Obama-Fraud
Don't Confuse Medicare with Single-Payer
By Mary Lynn Cramer
Obama’s healthcare reform is no more a response to the needs and wants of citizen supporters who worked to get him elected, than was his increasing the military spending and expanding the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is, however, a response to an economic crisis that has been growing in the “real economy” for decades. The remedies and options open to Obama are the same as those of his predecessors in similar situations: transfer as much as possible of the wealth, income, labor and resources away from the “consumer” (a/k/a workers, low income and middleclass citizens, elderly, disabled, children, the poor, et. al.) over to the private sector through wage and benefits cuts, through inflation, through outright “bailouts,” through government spending in industrial sectors that could not survive without that intervention (e.g. military weapons, aircraft, corporate agricultural industry, etc.)---all with the great “hope” of returning profitability to real (not bubbles reflecting inflated worthless paper)economic/industrial production. (For more details on this process, please see some of my previous articles in Counterpunch, e.g. “The Multi-Trillion Dollar Question” and  “Greenspan’s Higher Power.”) The point being, that within the context of the “worse depression since the Great Depression,” we are not going to see a health reform plan designed to meet the needs of citizens for affordable, comprehensive medical services.  We will see a plan designed to increase profits in the private sector at the expense of the health and welfare of the majority of Americans, with particularly disgusting consequences for the poor and elderly. 
http://www.counterpunch.org/cramer08182009.html

Top Ten Ways To Tell President & His Party Aren't Fighting For Health Care For Everybody
by BAR managing editor Bruce Dixon
http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=print/content/top-ten-ways-tell-your...
With the corporate media relentlessly distorting the public discussion around health care reform, it time for some clear, bright lines to help us tell who is doing what to whom, and whether any of it leads to health care for all of us.  Here are ten of them [....]

UnitedHealth Group Q2 Profit Jumps 155%
http://www.nasdaq.com/newscontent/20090721/unitedhealthgroupq2profitjump...
UnitedHealth Group Inc. second quarter profit more than doubled from last year, but its health insurance enrollment continued to decline...

This is how BusinessWeek describes Helmsley and UnitedHealthcare:
No. 14: UnitedHealth Group
Industry: Managed Health Care
Sales: $75.4 billion
Net Income: $4.7 billion
Stephen Hemsley, who became chief executive in 2006 after a stock options scandal forced out his predecessor, has kept UnitedHealth Group (UNH ) growing. As health-care costs soar, many of the nation’s largest companies count on the $75 billion-a-year behemoth to keep a lid on costs. UnitedHealth is the No. 2 health insurer in the U.S., behind WellPoint, and reaches some 71 million customers. The 2008 elections could be a boon for the Minne tonka (Minn.) company—if plans to cover the uninsured take off, and include a bigger role for private companies.

Health Insurers Have Already Won
How UnitedHealth and rival carriers, maneuvering behind the scenes in Washington, shaped health-care reform for their own benefit
By Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein
http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/09_33/b4143034820260....
As the health reform fight shifts this month from a vacationing Washington to congressional districts and local airwaves around the country, much more of the battle than most people realize is already over. The likely victors are insurance giants such as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Aetna (AET), and WellPoint (WLP). The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable. Health reform could come with a $1 trillion price tag over the next decade, and it may complicate matters for some large employers. But insurance CEOs ought to be smiling.... whatever overhaul Congress passes this year will help rather than hurt huge insurance companies....
The industry has already accomplished its main goal of at least curbing, and maybe blocking altogether, any new publicly administered insurance program that could grab market share from the corporations that dominate the business. UnitedHealth has distinguished itself by more deftly and aggressively feeding sophisticated pricing and actuarial data to information-starved congressional staff members. With its rivals, the carrier has also achieved a secondary aim of constraining the new benefits that will become available to tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured. That will make the new customers more lucrative to the industry....

Obama launched his Administration vowing to extend coverage to all Americans and help pay for it by reining in insurance costs. Seven months later, insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers that appeared vulnerable to a regulatory crackdown have been welcomed to the negotiating table by the President's own party....And that Democratic proposal to tax insurance companies? It seems to be fading after the industry said it would raise rates for workers and their families....

UnitedHealth has traveled an unlikely path to becoming a Washington powerhouse. Its last chairman and chief executive, William W. McGuire, cultivated a corporate profile as an industry insurgent little concerned with goings-on in the capital. From its Minnetonka (Minn.) headquarters, the company grew swiftly by acquisition. McGuire absorbed both rival carriers and companies that analyze data and write software. Diversification turned UnitedHealth into the largest U.S. health insurer in terms of revenue. In 2008 it reported operating profit of $5.3 billion on revenue of $81.2 billion...
What people in Washington tend not to discuss, at least on the record, is the open secret that insurers are minimizing their forecasts of the eventual windfall they will enjoy from expanded coverage for Americans. UnitedHealth has given certain key members of Congress details about its finances and tax liability—both historical numbers and figures projected under various cost-sharing scenarios. But some on Capitol Hill are skeptical. "The bottom line," says an aide to the Senate Finance Committee, "is that health reform would lead to increased revenues and profits [for the insurance industry]. ...

Stevens says UnitedHealth and its corporate clients want to steer Congress toward benefit levels and cost sharing that can help control overall health spending: "We are providing another resource of actual modeling and advice on how proposals in the committees are structured and some potential unintended consequences of going down certain routes."
Perhaps more than any other insurer, UnitedHealth is poised to profit from health reform. Its decade-long series of acquisitions has made the company a coast-to-coast Leviathan enmeshed in the lives of 70 million Americans.
United's AmeriChoice unit is the largest government contractor administering state Medicaid programs for the poor and federally sponsored plans for children. AmeriChoice's revenue rose 34% last year, to $6 billion, and it has 2.7 million people enrolled. Those numbers should continue rising under reform since congressional Democrats are proposing an expansion of Medicaid to help achieve universal coverage. More of the working poor would qualify for Medicaid, and AmeriChoice can sell itself to states as the leading service provider.

Another of the big beneficiaries among UnitedHealth's stable of subsidiaries is OptumHealth. It's the company's one-stop shop for managing the chronically ill, offering wellness programs and guiding consumers on treatment options. Even before the reform debate, these services were growing in demand as big employers, state and local governments, and others tried to curb health-care spending by supervising patients more aggressively. OptumHealth provides a broad range of services, from a 24-hour hotline where nurses can suggest the best hospital for a transplant to "health coaches" who dole out meal plans, to-do lists, and motivational messages. Some OptumHealth clients bring coaches into the office or onto the factory floor to teach about diet and exercise. Many of the cost-containment strategies Democrats are pushing call for more of the preventive care that OptumHealth sells. "We are extremely well positioned for a much broader adoption," says Dawn Owens, OptumHealth's chief executive. Her division, based in Golden Valley, Minn., already boasts $5.2 billion in annual revenue [...].Terhune is a senior writer for BusinessWeek based in Florida. Epstein is a correspondent in BusinessWeek's Washington bureau.

PhRMA, condemned by Obama as major source of healthcare problems, now a major care reform' partner.
White House Affirms Deal on Drug Cost
The new attention to the agreement could prove embarrassing to the White House, which has sought to keep lobbyists at a distance, including by refusing to hire them to work in the administration. The White House commitment to the deal with the drug industry may also irk some of the administration’s Congressional allies who have an eye on drug companies’ profits as they search for ways to pay for the $1 trillion cost of the health legislation. But failing to publicly confirm Mr. Tauzin’s descriptions of the deal risked alienating a powerful industry ally currently helping to bankroll millions in television commercials in favor of Mr. Obama’s reforms. The pressure from Mr. Tauzin to affirm the deal offers a window on the secretive and potentially risky game the Obama administration has played as it tries to line up support from industry groups typically hostile to government health care initiatives, even as their lobbyists pushed to influence the health measure for their benefit.... The Obama administration has hailed its agreements with health care groups as evidence of broad support for the overhaul among industry “stakeholders,” including doctors, hospitals and insurers as well as drug companies.... As for the administration’s recent break with the insurance industry, Mr. Tauzin said, “The insurers never made any deal.”...
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/06/health/policy/06insure.html?_r=1

Obama gives powerful drug lobby a seat at healthcare table
By Tom Hamburger..
atimes.com/features/health/la-na-healthcare-pharma4-2009aug04,0,3660985.story
"I think the pharmaceutical industry has been quite constructive in this debate," Obama told a smalhRMAl group of regional reporters last week. "And the savings that they've put on the table are real and significant and are appreciated."... a popular president who six months ago criticized drug companies for greed now praises their work on behalf of the public good.
As a candidate for president, Barack Obama lambasted drug companies and the influence they wielded in Washington. He even ran a television ad targeting the industry's chief lobbyist, former Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin, and the role Tauzin played in preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices. Since the election, Tauzin has morphed into the president's partner. He has been invited to the White House half a dozen times in recent months. There, he says, he eventually secured an agreement that the administration wouldn't try to overturn the very Medicare drug policy that Obama had criticized on the campaign trail. "The White House blessed it," Tauzin said.... Tauzin said the industry he represents was offering political and financial support for the president's healthcare initiative...

If a package passes Congress, the pharmaceutical industry has pledged $80 billion in cost savings over 10 years to help pay for it. Tauzin said he had not only received the White House pledge to forswear Medicare drug price bargaining, but also a separate promise not to pursue another proposal Obama supported during the campaign: importing cheaper drugs from Canada or Europe. Both proposals could cost the industry billions, undermine its ability to develop new cures and, in the case of imports, possibly compromise safety, industry officials contend.

Much of the bargaining took place in July at a meeting in the Roosevelt Room, just off the Oval Office, a person familiar with the discussions said. In attendance were Tauzin, several industry chief executives -- including those from Abbott Laboratories, Merck and Pfizer -- White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and White House aides.

The pharmaceutical industry's political transformation provides an example of Obama's approach to achieving his healthcare goals, which includes negotiation and compromise, eve with those he and his allies have painted as a source of the problem. The benefits to the White House go beyond budget savings. Tauzin's trade association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, is helping to underwrite a multimillion-dollar TV advertising campaign touting comprehensive healthcare legislation.... Tauzin said he carefully negotiated his agreements with the White House, offering the $80-billion discount program in return for assurances that there would be no government price-setting in Medicare Part D, the drug program for seniors...to block the threat of Medicare price negotiations, which he called tantamount to price-setting and a threat to the industry. In addition, Tauzin said the industry asked the administration not to allow the import of cheaper drugs...

"Since Obama came into office, the drug industry has received everything it wants, domestic and foreign," said James Love, who leads an international nonprofit promoting low-cost distribution of drugs to fight the world's most devastating diseases. "Yes, the drug companies are getting tremendous sweetheart deals" from Obama, said Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist who studies the history of health reform and other major social and economic changes... "The drug companies form the most powerful lobby in Washington," he said. "They never lose."

Costly Drugs Known as Biologics Prompt Exclusivity Debate
Trade groups for the big pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies say that to recoup their investments, they need an exclusivity period free of generic competition that would last 12 to 14 years from the time the F.D.A. approves a drug for sale. But consumer groups, insurers, employers and generic drug companies say anything more than five years — the exclusivity period now given to small-molecule drugs like Lipitor — would eviscerate any potential savings from the new competition. So far, the biotechnology industry appears to be winning.
http://www.gainesville.com/article/20090722/znyt01/907223001?Title=Costl...

BIO Meets the Press
February 26, 2009
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) held one of its periodic meetings with the press today for a wide-ranging discussion of its policy goals and agendas for the new Congress and administration. A panel of BIO officials, headed by President and CEO James Greenwood, answered questions from more than a dozen reporters for about 90 minutes.
http://www.patentdocs.org/food_and_drug_administration/

US legislation poses threat to biosimilars market
In something of a blow to the pro-generic lobby in the US, a House committee has voted through a provision which would allow branded biologics manufacturers a guaranteed exclusivity period of 12 years. With the US market likely to be pivotal in the success of the still emerging biosimilars industry, the future of this legislation will have repercussions for all aspiring biosimilars players.Energy and Commerce was the last of the three House committees to pass legislation, which is to be amalgamated and combined with that from the Senate in a bid to overhaul the US healthcare system, a key item on President Obama's agenda. ... The amendment, sponsored by senators Anna G Eshoo, Jay Inslee and Joe Barton, would preclude any biosimilar from gaining marketing approval within the first 12 years of branded biologic launch, with an additional six months available for those drugs with pediatric indications. These terms are similar to those attached to a bill passed by the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee, on July 13.
http://www.datamonitor.com/store/News/us_legislation_poses_threat_to_bio...

Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney?
by Greg Palast
http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/08/obama-on-drugs-98-cheney/
...June 22, President Obama said he’d reached agreement with big drug companies to cut the price of medicine by $80 billion. He extended his gratitude to Big Pharma for the deal that would, “reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs.” ... Big Pharma kingpins did not actually agree to cut their prices. Their promise with Obama is something a little oilier: they apparently promised that, over ten years, they will reduce the amount at which they would otherwise raise drug prices. Got that? In other words, the Obama deal locks in a doubling of drug costs, projected to rise over the period of “savings” from a quarter trillion dollars a year to half a trillion dollars a year.... what did Obama give up in return for $80 billion? Chief drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin crowed that Obama agreed to dump his campaign pledge to bargain down prices for Medicare purchases. Furthermore, Obama’s promise that we could buy cheap drugs from Canada simply went pffft What did that cost us? The New England Journal of Medicine notes that 13 European nations successfully regulate the price of drugs, reducing the average cost of name-brand prescription medicines by 35% to 55%....
The Veterans Administration is able to push down the price it pays for patent medicine by 40% through bargaining power. George Bush stopped Medicare from bargaining for similar discounts, an insane ban that Obama said he’d overturn. But... Obama agreed to lock in Bush’s crazy and costly no-bargaining ban for the next decade.[digest: he also agreed to extend Big Pharma's monopoly on brand drugs, outlawing generics, for several more years]
What else went down in Obama’s drug deal? To find out, I called C-SPAN to get a copy of the videotape of the meeting with the drug companies. I was surprised to find they didn’t have such a tape despite the President’s campaign promise, right there on CNN in January 2008, “These negotiations will be on C-SPAN.”
This puzzled me. When Dick Cheney was caught having secret meetings with oil companies to discuss Bush’s Energy Bill, we denounced the hugger-muggers as a case of foxes in the henhouse. Cheney’s secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were creepy and nasty and evil. But the Obama crew’s secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were, the President assures us, in the public interest. We know Cheney’s secret confabs were shady and corrupt because Cheney scowled out the side of his mouth. Obama grins in your face. See the difference?

White House Discloses [a partial list to deter ACLU suit] Meetings With Health Care Executives
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/07/22/white_house_discloses_mee...
The Obama administration released Wednesday night a list of 15 health-care lobbyists and senior executives who visited the White House to discuss health-care reform....[it] included Billy Tauzin, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; Karen Ignagni, America's Health Insurance Plans; Richard Umbdenstock, American Hospital Association; J. James Rohack, the American Medical Association, senior executives including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, UnitedHealth Group and Merck

Class issues in US health care debate
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/jul2009/pers-j22.shtml
By Kate Randall and Barry Grey
The Obama administration’s push for health care "reform" has exposed the class realities that dominate American politics and the social interests which Obama defends. Under Obama, the issue of health care reform has been shifted from providing decent medical care for all to slashing the cost of health care to businesses and the government, primarily by cutting costs for Medicare and fundamentally changing the nature of the Medicare program.

Obamacare: A Health Care Rationing Scheme to Enrich Insurers, Drug Companies and Large Hospital Chains
Stephen Lendman
http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/
...On June 10, Physicians for a National Health Program advisor Walter Tsou told the House Education and Labor Committee: "Attempting to reconcile the dual imperatives of universal coverage and cost control through alternative methods besides single payer is an exercise in futility. When some congressional leaders declare that single payer is off the table, they are in effect saying that insurers will be protected, leaving the pain to patients, taxpayers and health care providers."
At the same hearing, the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee co-president Geri Jenkins said: "The current system rations care based on an ability to pay. Right now we are the only nation on earth that barters human life for money." ...

Cutting costs and free-market solutions emphasized ... Obama saying "If we don't drive down costs, then we're not going to be able to achieve all of those other things." Which ones he didn't say before stressing the need for "evidence-based care," meaning less is better for those unable to pay so that millions will be sacrificed on the alter of cost containment while enriching private insurers, Big Pharma, and large hospital chains that will flourish as community and public ones shut down for lack of enough resources.

Obama was callous in saying "Loading up on additional tests or additional drugs" must be curbed. "Maybe (some would be) better off not having....surgery, but taking (a) painkiller" instead. He showed disdain and indifference in stating that "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80% of the total health care bill out there" - the inference being ration their care and let 'em die to cut costs.
At the same time, he favored big insurers by saying that "One of the incentives for (them) to get involved in this process is that potentially they're going to have a whole bunch of new customers, paying customers....insurance companies will thrive" under this plan.
As for a "public option" to fill holes, Obama was receptive to alternatives but adamantly against universal single-payer coverage in saying: "For us to completely change our system, root and branch, would be hugely disruptive." Only market-based solutions will be considered along with huge cost-containment measures, mostly affecting millions of working Americans, the poor, elderly, and chronically ill.

Over the next decade, Medicare and Medicaid may lose over $600 billion in funding with recipients, of course, making up the difference or foregoing care. About $317 billion is proposed for "efficiencies" with another $313 billion in cuts for hospitals that treat the poor and uninsured. Many of them are already severely strapped as unemployment soars, charitable donations are down, expenses rise, vital services and staffs have to be cut to stay afloat, and growing numbers won't make it as economic conditions worsen....

Vaccines are hazardous
In three recent articles, this writer cited scientific evidence of hidden dangers in all vaccines. They contain squalene-based adjuvants that cause a host of annoying to life-threatening autoimmune diseases and must be avoided, even if mandated. It's also known that vaccines don't protect against diseases they're designed to prevent and often cause them.
Currently at issue is concern over Swine Flu and WHO's June 11 declaration of a global pandemic even though no forensic evidence links any deaths to H1N1. Yet experimental, untested, toxic and extremely dangerous vaccines are being rushed to market for potentially mandated immunizations globally as the fall flu season approaches. If enacted in time, Obamacare may provide cover, and if not, other US laws empower the HHS and Defense secretaries to declare a national emergency and compel everyone in the country to be vaccinated, even though submitting risks serious health consequences.

"That's what America is all about"
Congress Deadlocked Over How To Not Provide Health Care
August 18, 2009 | Issue 45•34
WASHINGTON—After months of committee meetings and hundreds of hours of heated debate, the United States Congress remained deadlocked this week over the best possible way to deny Americans health care."Both parties understand that the current system is broken," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday. "But what we can't seem to agree upon is how to best keep it broken, while still ensuring that no elected official takes any political risk whatsoever. It’s a very complicated issue."...
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said on Meet The Press that Republicans would never agree to a plan that doesn't allow citizens the choice to be denied medical care in the private sector. "Americans don't need some government official telling them they don't have the proper coverage to receive treatment," Boehner said. "What they need is massive insurance companies to become even more rich and powerful by withholding from average citizens the care they so desperately require. We're talking about people's health and the obscene profits associated with that, after all." ... Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) point to Congress' failure to pass legislation before a July 31 deadline as proof of just how serious lawmakers are about stringing along the American people and never actually reforming the health care industry in any meaningful way."People should know that every day we are working without their best interests in mind," Reid said. "But the goal here is not to push through some watered-down bill that only denies health care to a few Americans here and a few Americans there. The goal is to recognize that all Americans have a God-given right to proper medical attention and then make sure there's no chance in hell that ever happens." .... That's what America is all about... "No matter what we come up with," Reid continued, "rest assured that millions of citizens will remain dangerously uninsured, and the inflated health care industry will continue to bankrupt the country for decades."

Other lawmakers stressed that, while there has been some progress, the window of cooperation was closing. "When you get into the nuts and bolts of how best not to provide people with care essential to their survival, there are many things to take into consideration," Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said. "I believe we can create a plan for Americans that allows them to not be able to go to the hospital, not get the treatment they need, and ultimately whither away and die. But we've got to act fast."

For his part, President Barack Obama claimed to be optimistic, even saying he believes that a health care denial bill will pass in both houses of Congress by the end of the year.
"We have an opportunity to do something truly historic in 2009," Obama said to a mostly silent crowd during a town hall meeting in Virginia yesterday. "I promise I will only sign a clear and comprehensive health care bill that fully denies coverage to you, your sick mother, her husband, middle-class Americans, single-parent households, the unemployed, and most importantly, anyone in need of emergency medical attention. "This administration is committed to not providing health care," Obama added. "Not just for this generation of Americans, but for many generations to come.http://www.theonion.com/content/news/congress_deadlocked_over_how_to?utm_source=a-section

Behind the Opposition to the Obama Healthcare Plan?
By Patrick Martin
http://informationclearinghouse.info/article23256.htm
....The popular disaffection with the Obama healthcare plan goes much further, however, than the fanatical right-to-life constituency. The Obama administration has based its program for healthcare restructuring entirely on the argument that healthcare costs are bankrupting the US economy and that controlling and reducing these costs is essential.
The logical conclusion of this policy—even if officially denied by the White House—is that somebody’s healthcare is too expensive and must be cut back or eliminated. Millions of people fear that that somebody is likely to be them and their families. One opinion poll published last week showed that 53 percent believed they would be worse off or no better than before under the Obama plan.
Obama and the congressional Democrats have sought to use the frenzied outpourings of his right-wing critics to discredit all opposition to the measures that the administration is pursuing to cut social benefit programs like Medicare and impose even greater burdens on American working people.
The crudest effort along these lines came in a column published in USAToday Monday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, which branded the opposition to Obama’s healthcare plan “un-American attacks.” They criticized the right-wing disruptions as an effort to suppress discussion, then pledged that the healthcare “reform” would mean higher-quality care, an end to insurance company abuses and “stability and peace of mind for the middle class.” In his radio speech Saturday and at a carefully controlled town hall meeting in New Hampshire Tuesday, Obama sought to soothe popular concerns over the implication of the healthcare cost-cutting and put a “progressive” gloss on a fundamentally reactionary corporate policy....

The real relationship of Obama and the Democrats to the insurance industry was far more accurately described by BusinessWeek magazine in its current cover story on healthcare “reform,” headlined, “The Health Insurers Have Already Won.” The magazine details how UnitedHealthGroup, the largest US health insurer, has used its influence in Washington, particularly with conservative congressional Democrats in the “Blue Dog” caucus and Obama advisers like former senator Tom Daschle, to effectively dictate the parameters of the healthcare legislation moving through Congress. “The industry has already accomplished its main goal of at least curbing, and maybe blocking altogether, any new publicly administered insurance program that could grab market share from the corporations that dominate the business,” BusinessWeek wrote approvingly. UnitedHealthCare, Aetna and Wellpoint have “also achieved a secondary aim of constraining the new benefits that will become available to tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured. That will make the new customers more lucrative to the industry.”...
Obama has repeatedly avowed his support for capitalist medicine, and the “right” of drug companies, the insurance companies, the medical equipment manufacturers, and a host of other parasites to profit from the sick. His differences with his Republican opponents are purely tactical, and largely concern which sections of corporate America will benefit the most from the current legislative undertaking. Nothing that emerges from the machinations of big business politicians and corporate lobbyists in Washington can serve the needs of working people. Medical care must be made available to every American citizen and resident, provided for at state expense as a basic human right.

3 STRIKES YOU WIN FOR WORLD'S LARGEST PHARMACEUTICAL CO.
Pfizer profit down but tops forecasts
by George E. Jordan/The Star-Ledger Business Desk
Thursday January 24, 2008
Pfizer recorded fourth-quarter revenues of $13.1 billion, an increase of 4 percent over $12.6 billion in the prior-year quarter....It raised its 2008 revenue guidance, saying it expects sales in the range of $47 billion to $49 billion, versus an earlier forecast of $46.5 billion to $48.5 billion. For the full year, Pfizer recorded net income of $8.3 billion, on revenue of $48.6 billion..."This performance highlights not only Pfizer's operating and financial strength, but also our determination to meet our objectives in a challenging marketplace," Pfizer Chief Executive Jeff Kindler said in a news release... Pfizer ended 2007 in transition: It laid off 11,000 workers, closed several manufacturing and research sites around the globe.."The actions were painful, but they were necessary," Kindler said in a teleconference with analysts. He later added: "Much has changed at Pfizer, much will change."Kindler said Pfizer would eliminate another dozen plants and reduce costs by up to $2 billion in 2008.

Conveniently timed to help disguise Obama 'healthcare overhaul' to benefit major capitalist industries, the media 'forgets' some important info: Pfizer 'investigation' has been going on about 6 years, only one of many govt. 'investigations' of Pfizer & subsidiaries and a 'record fine' because its standard State -Big Pharma's operation

Pfizer to pay $2.3B to settle fraud case
By Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2009796161_pfizer03.html
"...even as Pfizer was negotiating deals on past misconduct, it was continuing to violate the same laws with other drugs..."
The settlement ends years of investigation by federal prosecutors in several states, including Washington, into Pfizer and its subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn, according to Justice Department documents and officials. Primarily, it resolves criminal and civil liability arising from Pfizer's illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products, including the anti-inflammatory drug Bextra.As part of the settlement, Pfizer and its subsidiary will pay a $1.3 billion criminal fine, and Pfizer agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve accusations under the civil False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted four drugs — Bextra, anti-psychotic drug Geodon, antibiotic Zyvox and anti-epileptic drug Lyrica — and caused false claims to be submitted to government health-care programs for uses that were not medically accepted indications and therefore not covered by those programs.
The civil settlement also resolves accusations that Pfizer paid kickbacks to health-care providers to encourage them to prescribe those and other drugs. As part of its illegal marketing, Pfizer invited doctors to consultant meetings at resorts, paying their expenses and providing perks, prosecutors said. Mike Loucks, the U.S. attorney in Massachusetts said that even as Pfizer was negotiating deals on past misconduct, it was continuing to violate the same laws with other drugs. Pfizer's top lawyer, Amy Schulman, said the settlement brings "final closure to significant legal matters and help to enhance our focus on what we do best — discovering, developing and delivering innovative medicines."
Authorities called Pfizer a repeat offender, noting it is the company's fourth such settlement of government charges in the past decade.... The head of the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder, did not participate in the record settlement, because he had represented Pfizer on these issues while in private practice.

The settlement ends years of investigation by federal prosecutors in several states, including Washington, into Pfizer and its subsidiary Pharmacia & Upjohn, according to Justice Department documents and officials. Primarily, it resolves criminal and civil liability arising from Pfizer's illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products, including the anti-inflammatory drug Bextra. As part of the settlement, Pfizer and its subsidiary will pay a $1.3 billion criminal fine, and Pfizer agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve accusations under the civil False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted four drugs — Bextra, anti-psychotic drug Geodon, antibiotic Zyvox and anti-epileptic drug Lyrica — and caused false claims to be submitted to government health-care programs for uses that were not medically accepted indications and therefore not covered by those programs.

2003 Bextra Whistleblower Case Started Investigation of Pfizer
The 2003 decision by a Pfizer sales representative in Florida to file a whistleblower ("qui tam") lawsuit kicked off the federal and state investigations that led to Pfizer's record-breaking $2.3 billion settlement today. John Kopchinski, a West Point graduate and Gulf War veteran said "At Pfizer I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives. I couldn't do that." ( see Kopchinski's qui tam complaint on the Phillips & Cohen website at www.phillipsandcohen.com.)
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=prnw.20090902.PH69644&show_artic...

Eisai and Pfizer Decide not to Appeal NICE Decision and Call for an Expedited Review of Guidance for Alzheimer’s Disease
June 30th, 2009 http://blog.taragana.com/pr/eisai-and-pfizer-decide-not-to-appeal-nice-d...

In Wyeth, Pfizer Sees a Drug Pipeline
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/business/27wyeth.html?_r=1
The trouble with (conventional) small-molecule pills — including Pfizer’s own blockbuster, Lipitor, the world’s best-selling drug — is that when their patents expire it is easy for generic companies to swoop in with low-priced knock-offs based on the same chemical recipe. The looming expiration of Lipitor’s patent in 2011 is a big reason Pfizer felt compelled to buy a company like Wyeth. In contrast, biologics, whose molecules can be 100 to 1,000 times as large as those of traditional drugs, are difficult and expensive to replicate. And because there is no established regulatory pathway for approval of generic versions of biologics, companies that make large-molecule drugs have been able to charge monopoly prices. Pfizer’s acquisition of Wyeth is a validation of decision to refocus Wyeth on biologics and on vaccines, drugs that are also derived from biological material. One of Wyeth’s other cash cows is Prevnar, a vaccine for children against life-threatening illnesses like meningitis and pneumonia that are caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Prevnar had worldwide revenue of about $2.7 billion last year. “We became very attractive to a company like Pfizer, because you cannot be the No. 1 pharmaceutical company in the world and have not yet started in biotech,” Mr. Poussot said in an interview on Monday...
At the time, Wyeth was still working through legal settlements from the debacle over the fen-phen diet drug combination, which was found to damage heart valves. Then, in July 2002, a big National Institutes of Health study found that Wyeth’s best-selling small-molecule menopause drug Prempro could raise the risk of breast cancer and heart disease. A menopause products franchise that had sales of $2 billion in 2001 for Wyeth would eventually drop to half that level. But the Dublin plant, which opened in 2003, has helped offset the Prempro damage.... was the largest factory of its kind in the world.
To a pharmaceutical giant like Pfizer, such big-molecule assets looked particularly attractive, analysts say. William Tanner, a biotechnology analyst and a managing director of Leerink Swann, a health care investment bank, said it took five years and at least $1 billion to build a biologics plant.

High Stakes for Merck in Litigation on Fosamax
By NATASHA SINGER, NYT
Merck spent $7 million in the second quarter and has set aside $42 million to defend itself in about 1,200 pending federal and state Fosamax cases brought by about 1,280 plaintiff groups claims that Fosamax caused jawbone disintegration injuries according to a company regulatory filing at the end of June....Atty. Timothy O’Brien presented internal Merck e-mail messages, company documents and case reports from medical journals to bolster case that Merck knew about jaw problems associated with Fosamax ...
Compared with other drug product liability cases that have involved many thousands of plaintiffs, the Fosamax litigation is relatively small. But because Merck is trying to complete a $41 billion merger with Schering-Plough industry analysts are closely watching this first trial to gauge Merck’s potential financial liability....Meanwhile, other drug companies and plaintiffs’ lawyers expecting to try similar cases involving related bone drugs have been closely monitoring the case to see which arguments resonate with the jury.

Group Health study between 2001 and 2004: 86 percent higher risk of newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation in those who had used Fosamax compared with those who had never used it
http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_Osteoporosis_Drug_Fosamax_Doubles_Atrial_...

Fosamax Linked to Unusual Femur Fractures: Osteoporosis drug also linked to bone pain and irregular heartbeats in past research
http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/healthday/080319/fosamax-linked-t...
In the latest research to cast a shadow on the safety of a popular bone-strengthening medication..."Our results provide further evidence of a potential link between alendronate use and low-energy fractures of the femur," the authors said in a letter reporting their findings published in the March 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine...
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January issued an alert to physicians about the possibility of severe bone pain occurring as a result of bisphosphonate therapy. Additionally, last year Fosamax was also implicated in some cases of atrial fibrillation -- a serious type of irregular heartbeat...

Psychiatrists make more money from drug makers than any other medical specialty
Psychiatrists make more money from drug makers than any other medical specialty, according to analyses of payment data. And Forest gives more money and food to doctors than many of its far larger rivals. Vermont officials found that Forest’s payments to doctors in 2008 were surpassed only by those of Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Novartis and Merck — companies with annual sales that are five to 10 times larger than Forest’s.Forest’s 2004 plan for marketing Lexapro offers detailed information about how the company planned to direct this money to doctors...
Lexapro was the sixth drug in a class of medicines that includes Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox and Celexa. Forest licensed Celexa from Lundbeck of Denmark and introduced the medicine into the United States in 1998. But because Celexa’s patent life was relatively short, the company quickly developed a new version of Celexa by tinkering with the molecule in a way that is standard in the industry. The company called the new medicine Lexapro and introduced it into the United States in 2002.
Forest’s executives and paid consultants have long implied that Lexapro is superior to Celexa and other antidepressants. But the Food and Drug Administration did not require Forest to test this theory in any statistically valid way. The F.D.A. views the two medicines as so interchangeable that the agency recently approved Lexapro’s use in depressed adolescents based in part on the results of a study Forest conducted using Celexa. Lexapro had $2.3 billion in sales in 2008 even though generic versions of Celexa and every other drug in the class sell for a fraction of Lexapro’s price.... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/02/business/02drug.html?em

non-stop alerts include
Warning: Smoking cessation aids Varenicline ( Chantix) & Bupropion ( Zyban, Wellbutrin, and generics) risk of serious neuropsychiatric symptoms
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHuma...

FORTY YEARS' WAR
Taking Risk for Profit, Industry Seeks Cancer Drugs
By ANDREW POLLACK, NYT
Companies are pouring billions into developing cancer drugs, lured by the high prices such drugs can command

California board votes to drop healthcare coverage for over 60,000 poor children October 1
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-california-budget14-2009aug14,0,...

expect another coverup 'investigation'
CIA doctors face human experimentation claims
Doctors and psychologists the CIA employed to monitor its "enhanced interrogation" of terror suspects came close to, and may have committed, unlawful human experimentation, a medical ethics watchdog alleged. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/02/cia-usa

legal & underground capitalist drug pushers
CIA's Drug-Trafficking Activities
http://www.serendipity.li/cia.html#cia_drug_trafficking
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, as is by now well-known by anyone who has cared to be informed, has long been deeply involved in the international trafficking of the addictive drugs heroin and (since the early 1980s, if not earlier) cocaine, the enormous profits from which have financed, and continue to finance, both U.S. covert operations and the U.S. military (via payments to Pentagon contractors).The main reason why this is not more widely known is that the main players in the U.S. media have always worked to protect the Agency and to keep the American public in the dark as to the nature of its activities (as documented in great detail in Carl Bernstein's article in the October 20, 1977, issue of Rolling Stone: "The CIA and the Media: How America's Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up"). The information you will find on this web page, and the web pages it links to, is not considered by the editors of the New York Times and other mainstream U.S. "news" media as proper for the public to know... start here:

The Real Drug Lords: A brief history of CIA involvement in the drug trade
William Blum
http://www.serendipity.li/cia/blum1.html

Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance"
"Read more in Gary Webb's 1999 book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion from Seven Stories Press. ..."
www.narconews.com/print.php3?ArticleID=1358

The Contras, Cocaine and Covert Operations
An August, 1996, "The Dark Alliance," series in the San Jose Mercury News by reporter Gary Webb linked the origins of crack cocaine in California to the contras, a guerrilla force backed by the Reagan administration that attacked Nicaragua's Sandinista government during the 1980s.

Miracle Cure?*
by Kemet Mawakana, a.k.a. The Seven Foot Poet

Eureka! We’ve finally found a miracle cure!

A miracle cure for the
I have more in common with my Harvard faculty colleagues than Black America - Disease.

A miracle cure for the
Endless tracing of DNA to prove you have Caucasian ancestry and shared genetic material - Disease.

A miracle cure for the
Desire to please white people by producing the white financed propaganda called the wonders of the African world - Disease.

A miracle cure for the
Bending over backwards to falsely blame Africans for the trans-atlantic slave trade and African-Americans for the racism, segregation, jim crow, and discrimination they encounter in the U.S. - Disease.

us.A miracle cure for the
Until it happens to me I ignore and discount Police Abuses, Black August, and the entire Prison Industrial Complex - Disease.

Yes we finally found a cure . . . it’s the Police Department.
Now let’s only hope President Barack Obama misplaces his keys and locks himself out of the white house.

(* The miracle cure has neither been approved by the FDA nor tested for long term effects. It is likely that Skip’s long-term and deeply entrenched Yurugu infections of the aforementioned diseases may merely be in temporary remission. Thus, it is wise to proceed with your efforts in support of Black August and ending Policing, Judicial and Prison abuses without expecting any support from Skippy Gates, President Obama or Colin Powell.)

By Kemit Mawakana (aka The Seven-Foot Poet)
Peace (when appropriate) War (when necessary)
http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=print/content/miracle-cure