Wednesday, July 1, 2009

“OBAMA’S health (SICK) care CONtroversy” commentary by Christopher C. Barr

Health care reform is an economic necessity,” was the headline of an op-ed by Christina Romer who is chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers just prior to Obama’s blitzkrieg tour of the nation promoting what he is calling health care reform.

The centerpiece of the Obama health care reform is to require all Americans to purchase health insurance.

Yet just two months ago a mainstream news item about health care reform noted, “Medical bills cause half of all U.S. personal bankruptcies, most among middle-class workers with health insurance, according to a 2005 study by researchers at Harvard University” (emphasis added). This profound fact was buried at the very bottom of the article. As a footnote please note that the study cited is from Harvard – the President’s own alma mater.

It certainly appears that health insurance is lacking in economic benefit – and that does not even address whether it is actually beneficial to health care.

To put it simply, good health care reform is good economic policy,” concluded Romer’s op-ed referenced at the opening of this column.

Mandatory health insurance does not appear to be a good solution if “good economic policy” is a necessary criteria.

Then only two days after Romer’s op-ed a news item headlined, “Medical bills underlie 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies: study”.

Yet the actual article opens, “Medical bills are behind more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies.”

The very next line then notes, “More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts, the team at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University reported in the American Journal of Medicine.” Again like before as a footnote please note that the study cited is from Harvard – the President’s own alma mater – and additionally includes the Harvard Law School of which Obama was an editor of their Law Review.

“‘Using a conservative definition, 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92 percent of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5,000, or 10 percent of pretax family income,’ the researchers wrote,” continued the very next line in the original version of the mainstream news article. This line was moved to almost the very bottom of the article in later versions after the original edition.

Quick review

From 50 per cent in 2005 (according to Harvard) to 60 per cent – and then growing like Pinocchio’s nose to “more than 60 percent”, “62.1 percent”, “75 percent” and “92 percent” – in 2007 (again according to Harvard) with the numbers ever escalating in the wrong direction regarding both health care costs and numbers of health insured when it comes to declaring bankruptcy.

As another footnote please note that President Obama has leaned heavily and often upon Harvard connections with regard to appointees and advisers. Yet Harvard studies so central to his promotion of health care reform and health insurance for all – though antithetically so – are missed (or ignored).

Completely removed from the original version of the most recent medical bills and bankruptcy news item in later versions was a line that noted “only 29 percent directly blamed medical bills for their bankruptcy” while further noting that these individuals did acknowledge “an illness was responsible” or that they “had lost income due to illness or some other medical factor.”

Denial is not just a river in Egypt,” the old saying goes.

It appears that denial is also a central theme of Harvard graduate President Obama and his administration leaders when it comes to health care reform, health insurance, beneficial economic changes regarding health care costs, and genuine health benefits.

Christopher C. Barr writes Naturally Speaking from Arkansas: The Natural State … naturally! You may write him at P.O. Box 1147, Pocahontas, Arkansas 72455 or by e-mail at

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