FAIR busts the media - including NPR - for its lockdown against reporting on a single-payer health plan for the US. So it was rich to hear Maura Liasson covering President Obama's Forum on Health Reform. Liasson feels no irony in stating "even the White House is careful to say it's open to ANY ideas that meet its goals of controlling costs" while never mentioning the single-payer option. Not only does this idea get no mention, Liasson's whole report is a shameless spin operation by two major players for the Hospital and Health Insurance Industry.
We hear a lot from Chip Kahn who's biography notes that
"Prior to joining the Federation of American Hospitals, he was one of the nation's foremost leaders of the health insurance industry. From 1998 to 2001, while serving as President of the Health Insurance Association of America."Liasson's report also leans heavily on the comments of Karen Ignagni - president and CEO of - what do you know - the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). We get to hear Ignani explain how she helped wreck the 1994 Clinton attempt at health care reform because her group was "very concerned about the role of government in that plan" but now - according to Liasson - AHIP "wants to help craft not kill a health reform bill." Isn't that sweet?
Liasson also lets us hear from Rahm Emmanuel who claims that the White House approach puts "everyone at the starting gate together." Seems like it would have been a good time to ask why single-payer representatives were only allowed in at the last minute, and why single-payer has been essentially eliminated from consideration by the administration (and by NPR too).
The one story NPR did on single-payer recently (Dec. 24, 2008) was interesting for how much time it spent trying to distort and dismantle the accepted fact that single-payer is viewed rather favorably by most people in the US. A good deal of that Christmas Eve program was turned over to Robert Blendon who tries to spin one poll into a rejection of single payer. NPR cleverly identified Bob Blendon as "an expert in health care public opinion at the Harvard School of Public HealthHarvard School of Public Health." What they failed to mention is that he's on the board of directors of Assurant, Inc., a corporate powerhouse which provides, among other things, "individual health and small employer group health insurance; group dental insurance." An honest oversight, I'm sure...