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In the short time since the article Obama’s Health Insurance Bailout Bill of 2009 was posted, several people have commented on it, both here, in private messages, and in various other places around the web. This article is in response to some of those comments.

The question often posed is this: Exactly why was single payer taken “off the table”?

When the Obama administration came into office, the talk was that Single Payer was "not on the table" because some of the important "stakeholders" in health care reform opposed it and that passing single payer was unfortunately not in the cards. After all, we have to be “pragmatic” and do what’s politically possible.

Now just who were those "stakeholders"?

Why, they were those very selfsame health insurance companies, those pharmaceutical companies, and the big HMO/hospital chains who had profited by creating the malady in the first place and who now stand to gain beaucoup bucks when the proposed cure is administered! They want to benefit from both causing and curing the disease!

Well Duh! What a bleeding coincidence! We might just as well let the bank robbers design the bank’s security system!

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Right now, in the USA, a patchwork of private insurance companies pays for health care of a major proportion of American population.

To put it baldly, the health insurance companies make money by denying you coverage that you, as the policy holder, have paid for. This becomes especially true if you become really ill and desperately need that coverage, although you’re probably okay if you just get a cold.

That’s just crazy making.

Under modern capitalist management theory, corporations try to minimize the impact of what they call, in polite corporate circles, “cost centers” and maximize the impact of what they call “revenue centers.”

For an operation like an auto maker, a megastore like Wal-Mart, or a meatpacking operation, a “cost center” might be wages and benefits paid to workers. Alternatively, “revenue centers” may consist of sales of SUVs, sales of hormone-laden, additive-spiked dead cow burgers, or sales of cheap nasty plastic garden gnomes.

And in the case of health insurance companies, payouts to health care providers would constitute a “cost center,” while the collection of premiums constitutes a “revenue center.”

In other words, if you become really ill and really need medical care to save your life, your health insurance company would benefit from spending as little as possible on you, even  to the point of denying you the very coverage that you paid for. That’s about when the insurance company starts looking for some “undisclosed preexisting condition” or some other dubious reason to drop your coverage, as I explain below. The insurance companies make money by saying “no” when you need coverage, and they lose money by saying “yes” when it comes time to pay your medical bills.

That unappetizing economic fact is the most salient point to keep in mind when looking at the present political spitball fight going on in Washington.

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 dollarsign This morning, on December 8, 2009, Peter Shane, a law professor and author of “Madison’s Nightmare: Unchecked Executive Power and the Threat to American Democracy” posted an article on the Huffington Post titled WH Releases Open Government Directive: Transparency (Plus) Engagement (Equals) More Democracy. It is a somewhat breathless article about a supposed new openness from the Obama White House.

Regardless of how much credit you want to give to the President for sponsoring openness in government, one item jumped out to me. That is the mandate that government documents to be made public must be placed in an open format. That’s interesting and may cost Microsoft millions. Here’s why:

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