I don't mind disagreeing with opponents on the merits of one proposal versus another. But, I have very little tolerance for just lying about the facts or, at best, muddling the truth about the reality. And, so, it is with healthcare: the continuing myth, promoted by both the political and media jabbering low-minds, that the president and his former Secretary of State both made the same mistake on health care--they opted for something too "complex" "inflexible", "secretive" or "socialistic", or a combination of all of the aforementioned descriptions.
It's utter nonsense. They did make the same mistake--but it had nothing to do with complexity. It was entirely their immoral unwillingness to confront two powerful industries that have relentlessly killed hundreds of thousands of people, either by bankrupting those people or literally denying them care.
The myth rises again, as it pertains to the former Secretary of State, via Sunday's column fromMaureen Dowd (yes, one must acknowledge that Dowd is skilled at gossip but entirely incompetent when it comes to understanding policy):
The new cache of Clinton papers is benign — the press seems more enamored of speechwriters’ doodles than substance — but just reading through them is draining. There are reams of advice on how to steer health care, which must have filled the briefing binders Hillary famously carried. But did she absorb the lessons, given that health care failed because she refused to be flexible and make the sensible compromises suggested by her husband and allies? She’s always on listening tours, but is she hearing? As one White House health care aide advised in the new document dump, “We need to be seen as listening.” [emphasis added]Ah, yes, she wasn't "flexible" enough...She didn't "hear". Which, in the parlance of the dissection of the Clinton-era health care reform efforts, means that she, and then-president Clinton, didn't bow down to "Harry and Louise", the multi-million dollar assault on the health care reform via the Coalition for Health Care Choices, which was just a front group financed by the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA).
In today's version of health care "reform"the president's deal was a bit different:
After weeks of talks, drug industry lobbyists were growing nervous. To cut a deal with the White House on overhauling health care, they needed to be sure that President Obama would stop a proposal intended to bring down medicine prices.And is it a wonder that the insurance industry is spending billions of dollars promoting the ACA? No, as Marshall Auerback explains:
On June 3, 2009, one of the lobbyists e-mailed Nancy-Ann DeParle, the president’s health care adviser. Ms. DeParle reassured the lobbyist. Although Mr. Obama was overseas, she wrote, she and other top officials had “made decision, based on how constructive you guys have been, to oppose importation” on a different proposal.
Just like that, Mr. Obama’s staff signaled a willingness to put aside support for the reimportation of prescription medicines at lower prices and by doing so solidified a compact with an industry the president had vilified on the campaign trail. Central to Mr. Obama’s drive to remake the nation’s health care system was an unlikely collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry that forced unappealing trade-offs. [emphasis added]
As Randy Wray and I discussed in a recent paper, the health care bill just signed into law entrenches the centrality of private health insurance companies and contain no serious proposals to limit costs. More people will get hit with deductions, co-pays, annual limits (for several more years), exclusions, out of pocket expenses. This will ensure that health CARE remains too expensive to actually take advantage of their new INSURANCE. And many currently insured people are going to get higher taxes. Premiums will rise.Now, please go ahead, quote me all the statistics about how many people are signing up for health insurance. Fine. Those numbers do not contradict a fact:
Health insurance is the primary payment mechanism not just for expenses that are unexpected and large, but for nearly all health-care expenses. It’s akin to going to your local grocery store, buying food, submitting the bill to a 3rd party who reviews it, reimburses the grocer for part of the cost, and then extracts a 13% charge from you for the privilege of scrutinizing the bill in the first place.
The “reform” introduced by this bill largely promotes the status quo by pulling more people into an expensive health care system that is managed and funded by private insurers with no countervailing government option. Given that over half of all household bankruptcies are due to health care costs, creating mandates to force people to turn over an even larger portion of their income to insurance companies will further erode household finances and exacerbate the problem of declining incomes. It’s the Wall Street bailout principle extended to the health insurance industry.[emphasis added]
The entire scheme leaves two of the most corrupt industries ever to do business on the planet in place, and laughing all the way to the bank.
Both the president and his former Secretary of State made the same grave error: they capitulated to two powerful economic industries. You can speculate all you want as to why they caved (political donation considerations, basic agreement with the "free market") and structured their "reforms" the way they did.
But, by ridiculing/not taking seriously/undermining any discussion of single-payer health care (popularly re-branded as "the public option"--which, IMHO, reminded me of the post 1980s branding of "progressive" because no one wanted to be red-baited as a "left-winger" or, god forbid, a socialist), they sowed the seeds of the calamity we now face:
Millions of people will still shell out unconscionable amounts of their dwindling income to finance these criminals (and their CEOs multi-million dollar salaries and benefits), and we are going to live for many years with an economically foolish, immoral model for health care.
Those are the facts. And they bare repeating, time and again, if we have any hope of ever having a health care system in place that makes economic sense (single-payer would operate at roughly 3-4 percent administrative costs versus the corrupt industry's 20-30 percent administrative costs) and moral sense.