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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-13-09 07:12 PM
Original message
Abysmally deep cynicism is taking over.

Robert Reich lays it all out in its greed and glory:

September 11, 2009

The real political race for healthcare has just begun. The significance of the president's speech to Washington insiders was its signal about where the White House is placing its bets and its support. More on this in a moment. First, let's be clear about who's racing and why. Think of the speech as the starting gate of a two-month sprint between two competitors -- and they're not Democrats and Republicans.

On one side are America's biggest private insurers and Big Pharma. They're drooling over the prospect of tens of millions more Americans buying insurance and drugs because the pending legislation will require them to, or require employers to cover them. The pending expansion of Medicaid will also be a bonanza. Amerigroup Corp., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and other companies that administer Medicaid are looking at 10 million more customers. Healthcare Inc.s Medicaid enrollment is expected to jump by 43 percent, according to its CEO. WellPoint Inc., the largest U.S. insurer, is also looking at big gains.

But the big insurers hate the idea of a public option because it will squeeze their profits. A true public option will force private insurers to compete in markets where there's now very little competition, and also have the bargaining power to force drug companies to offer lower prices. Big Pharma also wants to prevent Medicare and Medicaid from having the power to negotiate lower prices, for the same reason. Private insurers and Big Pharma would rather fudge the question of where the savings will come from or how all this will be paid for. They certainly don't want to pay for wider coverage with a surtax on the rich, because, hey, their executives and shareholders are mainly rich.

On the other side lies the Democratic base (organized labor, grass-roots progressives, leading activists) whose main goal is to make healthcare more affordable for a hundred million American families who are now paying through the nose (higher and higher co-payments, deductibles and premiums, not to mention wages that are depressed because of employer-provided health insurance), and affordable to the tens of millions who can't get it now. To this end, the Dem base wants a public option and wants Medicare and Medicaid to have negotiating power. That's because every dollar that's squeezed out of the private insurers and Big Pharma is a dollar saved by average Americans on their healthcare -- or a dollar saved by taxpayers who otherwise end up footing the bills for Medicare and Medicaid. There's simply no more direct way to control costs. And the Dem base isn't at all reluctant to put the burden of paying for wider coverage on the wealthy.

Private insurers and Big Pharma are being represented in this race by Max Baucus and his Senate Finance Committee. Senate Finance is on the verge of reporting out a bill that requires that just about every American have health insurance and just about every business provide it (or else pay a fee). But the bill will not include a public option. Nor will it change current law to allow Medicare to negotiate low drug prices. Nor will it include a surtax on the wealthy. The committee's only real nod to cost containment is a small tax on expensive insurance policies, which doesn't worry the private insurers because its cost is so easily passed on to the beneficiaries. The Democratic base is being represented by Nancy Pelosi and House Dems, who have reported out a bill that includes a public option, want Medicare and Medicaid to have negotiating power, and will pay for universal coverage with a surcharge on the rich. The Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, formerly chaired by Ted Kennedy, also represents the Democratic base, and reported a strong bill that parallels that of the House.


And, all during the summer, the questions on the lips of everyone who has been paying attention have been:

*Where does our President stand on all of these bills coming out of 3 House committees and 2 Senate committees?*

*What, exactly, is he demanding to be present in a health care reform bill that he would sign or otherwise reject if those conditions aren't met?*

*And what, and how large, is the influence of recalcitrant Blue Dogs in the House and ConservaDems in the Senate, and of conniving and backstabbing Republicans, on our President's thinking processes?*

Reich answers these questions for us:

Where's the White House? For months now, it's been straddling the fence -- reassuring the Dem base that the president is with them (he did it as recently as Monday with a rousing speech to organized labor), while at the same time nodding and winking in the direction of the private insurers and Big Pharma. Last spring the White House agreed to Big Pharma's demand that Medicare not be permitted to negotiate low drug prices in return for Pharma's agreement to support the healthcare bill emerging from the Senate Finance Committee. Since then it has quietly told private insurers that it will work with Senate Finance to find less potent alternatives to the public option, such as Kent Conrad's "cooperatives" or Olympia Snowe's "trigger" mechanism, in return for the private insurers' support of the compromise. And it has told the private insurers and Big Pharma that it will not support a surtax on the wealthy.


But (Obama's Wednesday night) speech also made clear that the White House has decided to side with the Senate Finance Committee and against the Democratic base on the details. The president was careful to note that a public option is only a means to an end and he remained open to other ideas (read: Conrad's cooperatives or Snowe's trigger). The speech included nothing about Medicare bargaining leverage, thereby letting the drug deal stand. The president clearly sided with Senate Finance on the funding mechanism of a tax or fee on high-end insurance rather than a surtax on the wealthy.


Mr. President, please explain to us what these deals last spring mean for the rest of us, many of whom are ill and dying from the lack of affordable health care.

Is making those deals to preserve those industries' profits really worth selling out the American people?

We were told in the speech that 'there is agreement on 80% of the issues.'

But, we the people have NOT been clued in to just what 'the issues' are. It's nearly a slam-dunk bet that the 'issues' were spelled out to the President by Big Health Insurance and Big Pharma and Big Medical Equipment Suppliers.

And another deep suspicion is that the reason that any public option that manages to survive will not take effect until 2013, is because of the promises that were exchanged from The Big Boys to steer lots of cash into the re-election of Democrats in 2012. It just fits too neatly.

If true, this is nothing but quid pro quo, at the American people's expense and peril.

And now that Reid and Pelosi are starting to waver on any public option at all since Wednesday's speech, only to see this yesterday?

What is happening to us?

I am not going quietly.

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AntiFascist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-13-09 07:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. The hidden hand controlling all of this...

is probably The Doctors. Negotiating tort reform is probably the way to go. Expect Wall Street to suffer if this really happens.
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abumbyanyothername Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-13-09 07:26 PM
Response to Original message
2. Primary 2012. nt
Even if Kurt and Hunter thinks it's a bad idea.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-13-09 08:19 PM
Response to Original message
3. "What is happening to us?" That's easy, we're being fucked by the Oligarchy & their loyal DC vassals
I refuse to lift one finger to support Obama's health "reform" which is nothing but a sham.

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Mari333 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-13-09 09:00 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. +1
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lordsummerisle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-13-09 08:31 PM
Response to Original message
4. Count me
among the cynical...
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inna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-13-09 08:41 PM
Response to Original message
5. What we need is Universal Health Care funded by progressive taxation.
What we're getting instead is the government-mandated RACKET by the profiteering insurance corps.

This bad, sad, cruel joke of a reform is going to hurt the most the struggling middle class; it's basically "an attempt to turn the middle class into serfs to the health care industry." /

(Unfortunately, it's pretty clear at this point that it is the Senate Finance Committee bill that is going to be the basis for the reform.)


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inna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-13-09 08:55 PM
Response to Original message
6. deficit spending is for important things only!
“I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. Period.” - President Obama

deficit spending is for important things, such as wars, taxcuts for the rich (still not expired/rolled back), and multi-trillion dollar give-aways to the banks.

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graywarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-13-09 08:58 PM
Response to Original message
7. It's like being bi-polar.
We were so ecstatically happy in November 2008 and now we're all suicidal.
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