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Wed Dec 5, 2018, 09:05 PM

An interest in keeping the health care status quo


The great majority of Americans — 70 percent or more — support the idea of “Medicare for All” as the answer to the fragmented, expensive and inadequate system of insurance-based health care we now have. That’s enough support to scare the companies that make tons of money off that broken system, so they have formed an alliance to once again fend off what most Americans want: a sensible universal health care system. They call their alliance the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF).

Members of this “partnership” include America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the association of 1,000+ companies that sell commercial health insurers to many millions of Americans; the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) whose members also sell commercial health insurance; the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), an association that promotes the business interests of companies that sell health insurance; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the association of drug companies; the Federation of American Hospitals, an association of for-profit hospitals; the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers an association of “200 of the world’s top commercial insurance and employee benefits brokerages”; the National Retail Federation; the American Medical Association (AMA); the American College of Radiology (ACR); and several others.

It is clearly dominated by those who make money — lots and lots of money — from our current health care system that relies on insurance. This is not a partnership that will ever reach the conclusion that we need a truly universal, efficient system like Medicare for All. Based on the partnership’s own internal documents, the group will campaign specifically to “change the conversation around Medicare for All,” then “minimize the potential for this option in health care from becoming part of a national political party’s platform in 2020.”

The whole point of the partnership is to play around with a few changes at the edges of our current system to mollify the people demanding change, while preserving the status quo under which many Americans get inadequate care that in some cases, actually causes their deaths. If they succeed, Americans will continue to suffer when they can’t afford commercial insurance premiums and go “uncovered” with the health consequences that follow; when they choose high deductible policies because they can’t afford better coverage and end up sick, dead or deeply in debt; when they can’t afford the medicine they need and skip it or cut down the dose and end up sick or dead; when they stay up nights surrounded by bills and try to figure out how to pay rent, buy food and still get the health care they need; when they do go get care that they cannot afford and end up so deep in debt that their lives are altered for the foreseeable future; when they delay going to a doctor to avoid a cost they really can’t afford and the delay makes them far sicker or kills them.

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