Saturday, March 20, 2010

Anatomy Of The Health Care Bill

President Obama knew coming in that reforming health care, the Wild West of American Capitalism, would be a tough job. Only two industries, professional baseball and health insurance are exempt from anti-trust legislation. So how do you harness something free to collude and cahoot--a beast that has never been ridden?

And the pharmaceutical industry, flush with billions delivered from the cash cow of overcharged sick Americans and an army of lobbyists willing to purchase meaningless reform or finance opposition that upset their apple cart.

And the Republicans, ran out of office during a five alarm fire stand armed with moltov cocktails to pitch at any fire trucks arriving on the scene. A party willing to see this country burn to the ground rather than any democratic policies enacted for water.

And the liberal base of the President's party seeing their moment of empowerment wanting to slit the throats of those profiting from sick people and demanding Medicare for all--also known as single payer.

The post-partisan President sought to thread that needle.

And to thread that needle, President Obama chose the DLC-Clinton model. The DLC or Democratic Leadership Council is a corporate friendly organization formed to suckle off some of the Republican campaign dollars from the corporate teet. The DLC-Clinton model is where progressive goals are obtained through private entities for the mutual benefit of the private entities and the administration.

In early July of last year the Obama administration entered into deals with Pharma and America's Health Insurance Plans, (AHIP). Pharma agreed to cut up to $80 Billion in projected costs to American citizens and seniors over the next ten years, run ads supporting vulnerable Democrats in their districts, not to torpedo the reform effort, and no playing footsie with Republicans. They would receive no drug reimportation bill, no shifting of drugs from Medicare part B to Medicare part D, and no Government negotiated prices for drugs.

The deal with AHIP was similar--$155 Billion in cuts over ten years, run some ads, don't torpedo the effort, eliminate pre-existing conditions, quit dropping sick people, etc. They would get 30 million new customers mandated by law to purchase their product with tax subsidies for those who can't afford it.

AHIP became a little concerned with the public insurance option but were assured it would not be in the final bill. Even though candidate Obama campaigned on a Government run plan and President Obama said he favored it, behind the scenes it was a different story. The public option was merely a cudgel over the head of AHIP to encourage compliance and something to keep the progressives busy with. It was traded away in early July.

These meetings and deals were not aired on C-Span. The congress scampered around having their kabuki with the Senate, meanwhile the deal was done and no meat was left on the bones. Congress looks bad in this whole thing because they didn't have much to work with.

What we are left with is the most massive transfer of wealth from the public sector to the private sector in American history, save for WWII. This money goes to an industry rife with bad practices. However, the money comes attached to some regulations--and not a regulator in sight.

I feel better already.

No comments: