Now, to the substance of the conference call.
The news this morning, from Paul Krugman, and others is a very mixed bag.
Paul Krugman delivers an interesting account of the call, though I think he's a bit optimistic about how the insurance industry will behave.
Harry, Louise and Barack
Hospitals, insurance companies, drug makers and doctors planned to tell Obama on Monday they'll voluntarily slow their rate increases in coming years in a move that government economists say would create breathing room to help provide health insurance to an estimated 50 million Americans who now go without it.
Although the offer from the industry groups doesn't resolve thorny details of a new health care system, it does offer the prospect of freeing a large chunk of money to help pay for coverage. And it puts the private-sector groups in a good position to influence the bill Congress is writing.
You need to go to the Huffington Post to understand what really happened.
Here's the full story courtesy of M.S. Bellows, Jr., who was on this hastily arranged, urgent Mother's Day White House conference call.
Is the Administration Being Naive About the For-Profit Health Industry's Commitment to Healthcare Reform?
. . .On Sunday afternoon, two senior Obama Administration officials called a telephonic press conference to announce a huge, positive new development in the healthcare reform effort. When I say senior, I mean pretty darn senior. And they seemed genuinely, sincerely excited about this mysterious new development - excited enough to buzz every national journalist's BlackBerry with an invitation to the conference call in the middle of Mother's Day. They considered the development significant enough to declare an embargo, forbidding journalists to write about it until 9 p.m. Eastern time. Because the President himself will be announcing this development officially tomorrow morning, they made the call - arranged by the White House press office - "on background," asking not to be identified by name or position.
The big news? Just this: a coalition of health insurance, hospital, pharmaceutical company, and physician trade groups, plus a major union, will promise the President Monday that they will reduce the rate of future growth in the cost of healthcare by 1.5% per year for the next decade.
. . .The senior administration officials were hyperbolic, if not hyperventilated. One, focusing on the political battle to enact healthcare reform, called this promise by industry trade groups "a game changer."
So what's going to keep the
criminal monster insurance industry honest? What mechanisms are in place to guarantee that this predatory group of thugs will be the guardians of our health? Read on.
The journalists on the call, understandably, were more skeptical. The biggies queued up to ask questions: reporters from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Washington Post, NBC News, CNN, Los Angeles Times, Reuters. Some asked for wonkish, green-eyeshade details (few were forthcoming).
Other reporters questioned what mechanisms were in place for making sure those promises are kept (answer: there are none).
In response to a question from Karen Bullhen (sp?) of Reuters, one of the officials put his trust in the bully pulpit and the Fourth Estate, saying, "I don't know how many of you have made, in-person, a commitment to the President of the United States... There will be accountability not only through regular check-ins with the President of the United States but also through the media, because I have no doubt that you all will be checking up on them."
The other official simply believes that pharmaceutical, insurance and hospital trade groups are acting in , saying, "These are very sophisticated trade associations which in the past have, one could argue, dragged their feet when it came to the subject of health care reform and certainly cost containment. They're coming forward voluntarily, approaching this President and saying, we want to be part of the solution, we want to be part of getting health care reform done... That fundamentally aligns these major provider groups with the President's goal of getting health care reform done this year. That is a game changer in our opinion."
I wonder why
the Mafia AHIP is doing this? Could it be because they finally recognize the train has left the station? Could it be that they're counting democrats in the Senate--yes, I know, we're burdened with a fair number of DINOS. Could it be that they remember we had an election in November?
The AHIP Denial Machine:
Madoff Ignagni, the CEO of AHIP is begging Congress to regulate, really, really regulate her murderous criminal industry. So they're begging for regulation one day, and promising to be patriotic Americans the next day. Well, where I come from, patriotic Americans don't balance the books on the misery and suffering of other Americans and then deliver the money to Wall Street.
So how will Ms. Ignagni's thugs "contain cost". All you need to do is go to the web site of America's Health Insurance Plans to the section they call "AHIP Partners". There you will see AHIP SOLUTIONSSolutions? You bet, behold a long list of corporations (they're called AHIP Partners), whose sole mission is to sell services to the health insurance industry which enable for-profit health insurers to deny you and me necessary healthcare.
Here's what the New York Times is reporting about these cost containment measures. Let me tell you what the insurers mean by "curtailing unnecessary tests and procedures". It means plain and simple, denying claims for life saving healthcare. Always remember, the for profit health insurance industry has only one goal, one mission, to deliver a revenue stream to shareholders on Wall Street.
Signers of the letter said that large amounts could be saved by aggressive efforts to prevent obesity, coordinate care, manage chronic illnesses and curtail unnecessary tests and procedures; by standardizing insurance claim forms; and by increasing the use of information technology, like electronic medical records.
Back for a moment to the excellent Huffington Post account of the White House conference call.
Eliza Marcus of Bloomberg and Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post asked outright whether the healthcare industry was buying something with this concession. One of the officials dismissed the possibility denied that there have been any discussions at all about the public plan or any other quid pro quo, instead casting the industry coalition in purely patriotic terms: "They put it to me that everybody must share responsibility... they want to get everybody covered..., and they said to me, we know we have to do our part... this is them coming forward as Americans to get this done."
Am I the only one who is puzzled at the Administration taking these groups at their word? Big Pharma, for example, hasn't made a concession yet without something being in it for them. Many of the groups participating in this initiative historically have opposed health care reform and are large donors to the Republican and Vichy Dem politicians who are preparing to mount a political and rhetorical battle against health care reform, as evidenced most recently by the leak of Republican pollster Frank Luntz's crassly cynical talking points memo on how conservative and industry opponents of healthcare reform can "spin" Obama's plan so it sounds like Mandatory Gay Nazi Communism.
Our intrepid reporter Mr. Bellows had the last question:
Bellows: "I have two questions. The first is following up on Michael Fletcher's and Eliza Marcus' questions: is the President still insistent that a public health plan will be among the options offered to people, or is that a bargaining chip in any way? And the second question, following up on Andrew Beatty's: is it correct that the cost per capita will still increase, just not as much as it previously was projected to?
Senior Administration Official #1: "On the second question, the answer to that is yes. Again, what we're talking about here is reducing the growth rate, so yes, health care costs, you should anticipate health care costs will continue to rise, but achieving a slowdown in the rate at which they increase is a, would be a huge accomplishment in terms of freeing up resources for other priorities and in terms of relieving pressure on the federal budget."
The official continued with a justification for accepting continued healthcare cost increases: "One of the reasons that you should expect health care costs to continue to increase is not only that the population is aging, which puts some upward pressure on health spending, but also that as incomes rise over time, it is natural that people want to spend part of their additional income on health care...."
Bellows: "The second question?"
Senior Administration Official #2: "On the public plan, this event with the President tomorrow is not about the public plan, we've had no discussion with this group about he public plan, in fact, if I look at the list of trade associations that are part of this, there are different views about it, but the President likes the public plan, it's part of his campaign plan [sic: campaign platform?]"
Speaking of Wellpoint, go ahead, keep your Wellpoint policy, but it is a criminal company, even the American Medical Association hates them.
Unless we have a strong, well funded and robust public option, it will be business as usual with this miserable industry. The only hope we have, is for the for-profit insurance industry to fear extinction.
Without a public option it will be more of the same, take your money, then deny your claim.
Hey, now it will be even worse. Healthcare will denied in the name of patriotic cost containment.
Visitors Office: 202-456-2121