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Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:03 AM

 

Obamacare architect leaves White House for pharmaceutical industry job

When the legislation that became known as "Obamacare" was first drafted, the key legislator was the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, whose committee took the lead in drafting the legislation. As Baucus himself repeatedly boasted, the architect of that legislation was Elizabeth Folwer, his chief health policy counsel; indeed, as Marcy Wheeler discovered, it was Fowler who actually drafted it. As Politico put it at the time: "If you drew an organizational chart of major players in the Senate health care negotiations, Fowler would be the chief operating officer."

What was most amazing about all of that was that, before joining Baucus' office as the point person for the health care bill, Fowler was the Vice President for Public Policy and External Affairs (i.e. informal lobbying) at WellPoint, the nation's largest health insurance provider (before going to WellPoint, as well as after, Folwer had worked as Baucus' top health care aide). And when that health care bill was drafted, the person whom Fowler replaced as chief health counsel in Baucus' office, Michelle Easton, was lobbying for WellPoint as a principal at Tarplin, Downs, and Young.

Whatever one's views on Obamacare were and are: the bill's mandate that everyone purchase the products of the private health insurance industry, unaccompanied by any public alternative, was a huge gift to that industry; as Wheeler wrote at the time: "to the extent that Liz Fowler is the author of this document, we might as well consider WellPoint its author as well." Watch the five-minute Bill Moyers report from 2009, embedded below, on the key role played in all of this by Liz Fowler and the "revolving door" between the health insurance/lobbying industry and government officials at the time this bill was written and passed.

More amazingly still, when the Obama White House needed someone to oversee implementation of Obamacare after the bill passed, it chose . . . Liz Fowler. That the White House would put a former health insurance industry executive in charge of implementation of its new massive health care law was roundly condemned by good government groups as at least a violation of the "spirit" of governing ethics rules and even "gross", but those objections were, of course, brushed aside by the White House. She then became Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy at the National Economic Council.

http://m.guardiannews.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/05/obamacare-fowler-lobbyist-industry1

45 replies, 3843 views

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Arrow 45 replies Author Time Post
Reply Obamacare architect leaves White House for pharmaceutical industry job (Original post)
dkf Dec 2012 OP
still_one Dec 2012 #1
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #2
awoke_in_2003 Dec 2012 #24
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #26
jsr Dec 2012 #3
Whovian Dec 2012 #4
SidDithers Dec 2012 #5
hobbit709 Dec 2012 #6
dixiegrrrrl Dec 2012 #7
ProSense Dec 2012 #8
OKNancy Dec 2012 #11
AnotherMcIntosh Dec 2012 #12
ProSense Dec 2012 #15
KoKo Dec 2012 #16
ProSense Dec 2012 #17
iamthebandfanman Dec 2012 #18
dkf Dec 2012 #19
ProSense Dec 2012 #21
ProSense Dec 2012 #20
enlightenment Dec 2012 #30
ProSense Dec 2012 #33
AnotherMcIntosh Dec 2012 #34
SidDithers Dec 2012 #22
dionysus Dec 2012 #28
rhett o rick Dec 2012 #42
a2liberal Dec 2012 #9
LWolf Dec 2012 #13
Myrina Dec 2012 #23
AnotherMcIntosh Dec 2012 #40
Octafish Dec 2012 #10
lonestarnot Dec 2012 #14
ReRe Dec 2012 #25
ProSense Dec 2012 #27
ReRe Dec 2012 #31
eomer Dec 2012 #39
ReRe Dec 2012 #41
rhett o rick Dec 2012 #43
Cleita Dec 2012 #29
mountain grammy Dec 2012 #32
joeybee12 Dec 2012 #35
jsr Dec 2012 #36
Hydra Dec 2012 #37
Zorra Dec 2012 #38
Caretha Dec 2012 #44
dkf Dec 2012 #45

Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:11 AM

1. Good riddance baucus, it is people like you who have helped reduce the Democratic party to one that

has no principles.

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:16 AM

2. K&R I'm shocked!

 


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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:21 AM

24. +1 million...

I have never seen the movie- I need to rectify that.

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Response to awoke_in_2003 (Reply #24)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:29 AM

26. OMG, yes you do. It seems to become more relevant with each passing year. n/t

 

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:24 AM

3. In partial payment for services rendered to the industry while on the taxpayer payroll.

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:27 AM

4. Why am I not surprised.

 

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:30 AM

5. Greenwald. LOL...nt

Sid

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Response to SidDithers (Reply #5)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:32 AM

6. I refer you to post #2

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:33 AM

7. It is not news that insurance lobby drafted the health plan.

THAT was discussed a lot when the plan was first being discussed.
Nor is the revolving door between Congress and corporations anything new.

Have no idea how bad it will have to get before people stand up against it.
I do know voting will not work in my state..the Republican offices on the ballot were UNOPPOSED this year.






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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:38 AM

8. What a stupid argument

"Whatever one's views on Obamacare were and are: the bill's mandate that everyone purchase the products of the private health insurance industry, unaccompanied by any public alternative, was a huge gift to that industry."

This is the same shit that's been beaten to death since before the law was passed. It's like people are ignoring reality to push a talking point.

The insurance industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars since the law passed trying to kill it. They tried to kill it via the SCOTUS.

The notion that the insurance companies are happy about the law is silly.

Health Insurers Will Be Charged to Use New Exchanges
http://upload.democraticunderground.com/10021911117

They also can be dropped from the exchanges if they don't play nice.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #8)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:50 AM

11. stupid, and well-known

Greenwald isn't going to change any minds. But thanks anyway dkf

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Response to ProSense (Reply #8)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:56 AM

12. We have so many homeless people. Why not require people to buy more houses?

 

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #12)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:04 AM

15. Are you really

"We have so many homeless people. Why not require people to buy more houses?"

...trying to use this stale point?

President Obama never stated that the mandate was unconstitutional or that he was completely opposed to any mandate. His argument was always affordability before a mandate. In fact, the statement about homelessness was specifically to reiterate the affordability point.

<...>

OBAMA: Let's break down what she really means by a mandate. What's meant by a mandate is that the government is forcing people to buy health insurance and so she's suggesting a parent is not going to buy health insurance for themselves if they can afford it. Now, my belief is that most parents will choose to get health care for themselves and we make it affordable.

Here's the concern. If you haven't made it affordable, how are you going to enforce a mandate. I mean, if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house. The reason they don't buy a house is they don't have the money. And so, our focus has been on reducing costs, making it available. I am confident if people have a chance to buy high-quality health care that is affordable, they will do so. That's what our plan does and nobody disputes that.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0802/05/ltm.02.html


<...>

SEN. OBAMA...According to Senator Clinton...there are more people covered under her plan than mine is because of a mandate. That is not a mandate for the government to provide coverage to everybody; it is a mandate that every individual purchase health care...If it was not affordable, she would still presumably force them to have it, unless there is a hardship exemption as they've done in Massachusetts, which leaves 20 percent of the uninsured out. And if that's the case, then, in fact, her claim that she covers everybody is not accurate....

MR. WILLIAMS: And Senator Clinton, on this subject --

SEN. CLINTON...Senator Obama has a mandate in his plan. It's a mandate on parents to provide health insurance for their children. That's about 150 million people who would be required to do that. The difference between Senator Obama and myself is that I know, from the work I've done on health care for many years, that if everyone's not in the system we will continue to let the insurance companies do what's called cherry picking -- pick those who get insurance and leave others out.

<...>

SEN. OBAMA...I do provide a mandate for children, because, number one, we have created a number of programs in which we can have greater assurance that those children will be covered at an affordable price. On the -- on the point of many adults, we don't want to put in a situation in which, on the front end, we are mandating them, we are forcing them to purchase insurance, and if the subsidies are inadequate, the burden is on them, and they will be penalized. And that is what Senator Clinton's plan does.

- more -

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/26/us/politics/26text-debate.html?pagewanted=print


Note:

16 million: number of Americans who become eligible for Medicaid under the health care law
http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002531684

The health care law was the biggest positive for low income Americans since Medicaid was implemented
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021441139

<...>



Guys, this is a major program to aid lower- and lower-middle-income families. How is that not a big progressive victory?

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/26/numerical-notes-on-health-care-reform/

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Response to ProSense (Reply #15)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:10 AM

16. It was based on Heritage Foundation's Recommendations though...as was Romney Care

from which it was also based.

Perhaps it was the best Obama could get but the transition is going to be bumpy. Lot's of folks will still be denied care under this no matter how many more will finally be able to obtain care who couldn't before. It's a messy mixed bag which does favor Pharma.

Needs much modification. I support Medicare for all though. Maybe we will get there eventually.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #16)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:15 AM

17. No

"It was based on Heritage Foundation's Recommendations though...as was Romney Care"

It's based on every health care law ever offered over the last 100 years.

The expansion of Medicaid was never a part of any Republican plan. Mitt vetoed the Medicaid portion of the MA health care law.

There are many other differences, including the employer mandate, another aspects Republicans hate.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #17)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:24 AM

18. i doubt theres much you can say

that would win over someone who wants single payer in this country :p

its not a very good law.

i agree, its way way better than nothing (something everyone in washington understood, as staying the status quo was costing lives and tons of money)...

this is just another case of republicans forcing an issue to the brink of collapse because they want their ideology to have majority influence no matter what ..
something HAD to be done. this was a 'compromise'.

there are definitely good things in the act, i dont know how anyone could say the entire thing is terrible..
but lets not act like the special interests involved didnt get their kick backs for the things we did win
we dont live on candy cane lollipop world :p

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Response to iamthebandfanman (Reply #18)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:34 AM

19. This was passed by Democrats so you can't really blame the Republicans.

 

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Response to dkf (Reply #19)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:44 AM

21. Blame?

Did you miss the part where the President is proud of the law? Where it's helping millions of people? Where millions of people are happy it's the law of the land?

Screw Republicans. They have nothing to do with this. They get no credit. The only thing to "blame" them for is for the disinformation campaign.

On World AIDS Day, Here Are Five Huge Advances We’ve Made To Combat The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021912280

Huge advances. Thank you President Obama.

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Response to iamthebandfanman (Reply #18)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:41 AM

20. There are

"there are definitely good things in the act, i dont know how anyone could say the entire thing is terrible.."

...definitely a lot of good things in the law:

U.S. Set to Sponsor Health Insurance

By ROBERT PEAR

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will soon take on a new role as the sponsor of at least two nationwide health insurance plans to be operated under contract with the federal government and offered to consumers in every state.

These multistate plans were included in President Obama’s health care law as a substitute for a pure government-run health insurance program — the public option sought by many liberal Democrats and reviled by Republicans. Supporters of the national plans say they will increase competition in state health insurance markets, many of which are dominated by a handful of companies.

The national plans will compete directly with other private insurers and may have some significant advantages, including a federal seal of approval. Premiums and benefits for the multistate insurance plans will be negotiated by the United States Office of Personnel Management, the agency that arranges health benefits for federal employees.

Walton J. Francis, the author of a consumer guide to health plans for federal employees, said the personnel agency had been “extraordinarily successful” in managing that program, which has more than 200 health plans, including about 20 offered nationwide. The personnel agency has earned high marks for its ability to secure good terms for federal workers through negotiation rather than heavy-handed regulation of insurers.

- more -

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/health/us-to-sponsor-health-insurance-plans-nationwide.html

The law could be further improved by offering Medicare for all as an option (ramp up the infrastructure) creating a federal exchange open to everyone (for the transition) and moving up the date for state waivers (benefit to states like Vermont).

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Response to ProSense (Reply #17)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:54 AM

30. Need some proof to back up that statement, please.

It's based on every health care law ever offered over the last 100 years.


As much as you love to sling around what you consider definitive proofs, ProSense, I'm a bit surprised to see that comment.

EVERY health care law offered over the last one hundred years?

I'm amazed - I had no idea that the committee had the time - or the aides - to comb through every piece of health care law offered since 1912. Astonished, actually.

Please provide some proof for that statement - something that actually backs up what you wrote would be nice, instead of a link to another DU post (not helpful) or to something that offers some vague comment that proves nothing more than your statement proves.

In your self-appointed role as chief enforcer for all things related to the ACA, I'm sure you have it readily at hand.

Thank you.

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Response to enlightenment (Reply #30)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:11 AM

33. Here:

As much as you love to sling around what you consider definitive proofs, ProSense, I'm a bit surprised to see that comment.

EVERY health care law offered over the last one hundred years?


History of health care reform in the United States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_health_care_reform_in_the_United_States

I mean, the law includes something from every plan.

As for Medicaid, Republicans have been trying to kill that ever since it was implemented. Mitt vetoed it in the MA law.

On April 12, 2006, Governor Mitt Romney signed the health legislation. Romney vetoed eight sections of the health care legislation, including the controversial employer assessment. Romney also vetoed provisions providing dental benefits to poor residents on the Medicaid program, and providing health coverage to senior and disabled legal immigrants not eligible for federal Medicaid. The legislature promptly overrode six of the eight gubernatorial section vetoes, on May 4, 2006, and by mid-June 2006 had overridden the remaining two.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_health_care_reform#Legislation

Note, Republicans also hate the employer mandate. They opposed it in the Clinton health care proposal.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #15)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:47 AM

34. If the focus truly was to "make it affordable," 1) no steps would have been taken to make it illegal

 

to buy drugs in reasonably quantities from Canadian pharmacies and 2) steps would have been taken to provide Medicare for all.

Instead, big-money donors (big-pharma and big-medco) were rewarded for their support.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #8)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:44 AM

22. It's Greenwald. Would you expect anything different?...nt

Sid

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Response to SidDithers (Reply #22)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:37 AM

28. good ol' Glen.... vaht?

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Response to ProSense (Reply #8)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 06:38 PM

42. So you see no problem with Ms. Fowler going to work for big pharma? nm

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:43 AM

9. K&R

A great plan like "let's make people buy insurance from the same corrupt companies that currently literally kill people by denying them coverage for necessary procedures" could only come from within the industry.

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Response to a2liberal (Reply #9)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:58 AM

13. +1

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Response to a2liberal (Reply #9)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:48 AM

23. +2

n/t

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Response to a2liberal (Reply #9)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 04:24 PM

40. +3

 

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 08:48 AM

10. This is not a payoff. It's a reward for good work.

"You can play ball and good things can happen to you get a big pot of gold at the end of the Wall Street rainbow or you can do your job be aggressive and face personal ruin...We really need to rethink how we govern and how regulate." -- Neil Barofsky.

http://www.businessinsider.com/neil-barofsky-2012-8

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 09:03 AM

14. Figures this asswipe would go to big pharma. He knows where the dough is.

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:23 AM

25. What was PO's rule on the swinging door when he first arrived in the Administration?

I can't remember how it went. Something about so many years, but can't remember whether it was coming in or going out the door?

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Response to ReRe (Reply #25)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:32 AM

27. They can do whatever

"What was PO's rule on the swinging door when he first arrived in the Administration?"

...they want to, but they can't lobby the government.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Ethics-Commitments-By-Executive-Branch-Personnel

Obama Lobbyist Ban For Government Boards Upheld By Federal Judge
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/obama-lobbyist-ban_n_1916397.html

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Response to ProSense (Reply #27)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:54 AM

31. Ahhhhh......

.........thanks ProSense. Looks to me like that would be kind of hard to keep track of. Last count I remember on lobbyists in DC was c. 35,000. Probably more now. Lobbyists write most of the legislation, don't they? Lobbyists who do the bidding of megga CORPORATIONS, right? There's something rotten in Denmark about all that.

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Response to ReRe (Reply #31)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 04:18 PM

39. And even if they could keep track of that, still plenty of ways they can work the swinging door.

So they can still work inside government, do the bidding of corporate masters, then leave government and go collect their handsome reward (AKA legal bribes) as employees of the corporations they recently regulated.

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Response to eomer (Reply #39)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 04:53 PM

41. Kind of sounds like lobbyists....

.... have "Job Security", unlike the rest of us. God, that's an ancient term, isn't" "Job Security"?

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Response to ProSense (Reply #27)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 06:39 PM

43. Is the ban being enforced? Has anyone been prosecuted? nm

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:39 AM

29. What a surprise! *not*

Since Baucus was the major obstructionist for putting Medicare in the exchange as a choice for people to buy into, it seems jobs have been there waiting for those involved all the time. The same industry were also his major campaign contributors. Some would call this corruption in government. Yes, there is a big ethical question here. Somebody like say the Attorney General should be doing something about it.

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:57 AM

32. There needs to be laws against this.

I've been lobbying for that for years, but can't afford to get anything done.

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:49 AM

35. She done good, according to the industry, and is now being rewarded...nt

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 12:04 PM

36. The super rich are rather fond of servants who have proved their loyalty.

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 12:49 PM

37. So very incestuous

I think it's funny that this is considered "normal" or even "good" by some people that these people drafted a law that will kill people for profit...and and get insanely rich for doing so.

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Response to dkf (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2012, 01:06 PM

38. The ACA has done some good. But, in reality, it is fundamentally inadequate for

a very large number of people.

Kudos to Fowler and Baucus and their crew for the ingenious way they screwed so many people out of the possibility obtaining genuinely affordable health insurance, while ensuring that the health insurance industry maintained its ability to make enormous profits.

I experimented with all manner of different insurance options for different income levels and many different living situations on the calculator at the health.gov website.

One thing they forgot to add the end of some of my calculations is this: Too bad for you, you are flat out screwed.

The only health insurance many people can possibly purchase is a $300 a month "basic disaster policy", and after paying the premiums on the policy, they are forced to live on rice and beans, if they can still afford them, for the rest of the month. These are the folks who have no coverage from employment, make minimum wage to $12.00 an hour, and have no children. These are healthy working people who can barely pay their rent and living costs on their incomes, but are not eligible for any type of public health care assistance.

There are millions and millions of these folks out there, thanks to the inherent gross inadequacy of the ACA. Since the economy tanked in 2007, this group includes many formerly middle class folks who had health insurance but lost their jobs that included health care benefits, and maybe their homes, and who have been forced to flip burgers or take some other low paying job.

For many of these folks, their only option, if they get sick, is to die quick, to sort of paraphrase Rep. Alan Grayson

So yeah, the ACA helped some, and is a step in the right direction, but in reality, it is grossly inadequate.

Working people should not be forced to live in constant fear of getting sick and dying because they could not afford insurance, or constant fear of becoming homeless because they are forced to pay too large of a percentage of their incomes for health insurance.

Fowler did great work for the health insurance industry, and it is only fitting that they reward her very handsomely for her service.

We need universal public health care or something at least reasonably close to it.

End of story.



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Response to dkf (Original post)


Response to Caretha (Reply #44)

Thu Dec 6, 2012, 07:56 AM

45. Oh so you like the fact that this Former WellPoint exec practically wrote the danged thing?

 

Personally I have a problem with that. The ACA s inadequate as a fix for our healthcare system. All it does is throw more money at something that is broken.

We need single payer to control costs. That is the only solution.

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