After Daily Kos broke the draft plan for a "public option" from the Third Way yesterday, HuffPo followed up with a bit of investigation on the plan's authors.
The three authors are Jim Kessler, Anne Kim and David Kendall. Kendall is a former consultant for the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Association, one of the most powerful insurers in the nation. He is on the board of directors for the Wye River Group on Healthcare, which is funded to the tune of a million dollars by CIGNA, a major health insurance player. Kim is a former corporate attorney with Hogan and Hartson, a top health care industry lobby shop, and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton. She also formerly helped write policy for the Blue Dog Coalition, which last week issued a statement of principles opposing a public option without a "trigger." Third Way spokesman Sean Gibbons said that Kim did not work on health policy issues while at Hogan and Hartson.
Gibbons said that Kendall was "not the principal" drafter of the memo and that Kim and Jim Kessler, a Third Way founder, took the lead.
In 1991, according to his bio on the Wye River website, Kendall "helped set the stage for the national health care reform debate by bringing to Washington, D.C. the idea of managed competition, a theory developed by the Jackson Hole Group to achieve universal health care coverage through private health plans. He co-created the Jackson Hole East Group to foster discussion and political interest in managed competition."
Perhaps that's part of the problem--we're not in 1991 anymore, and much of the Third Way's draft reads as though we are, including the invocation of Harry and Louise. The best minds in 1991 might have been looking to managed care as the solution--it was gaining prominence at the time, and did seem to be a solid system for achieving efficiencies, but it was a disaster politically. What people wanted then was what people want now--choice. And they want that choice to include a Medicare-like public option.
Which Third Way seems still not to recognize. Here's their response to HuffPo's article.
Third Way is committed to helping the President and Congress succeed in enacting meaningful and comprehensive health care reform.
Currently one of the most discussed aspects of the President's reform effort is a public plan option. In a draft Third Way memo that has been widely circulated and mis-characterized, we propose a number of policy ideas that would help ensure that a public plan is crafted in an effective way -- and can garner the votes needed to advance broad health care legislation.
There is an urgent need for real health care reform in America. Health care in our country has not worked for average Americans: it is too easy to lose coverage, it is too easy to see premiums rise, it is too easy to be denied access to care. Third Way's latest report found that only 64% of working age Americans have had the high standard of health care coverage: 4 years of uninterrupted private health care.
That is a crisis.
That's why we need health reform that provides stable coverage, stable cost and reliable, quality care for all Americans.
We can agree that we have a crisis, that we need health reform that "provides stable coverage, stable cost and reliable, quality care for all Americans." That's a progressive goal. Cutting a viable, effective, and robust public plan out of the reform plan is not.
Adam Green has an effort underway to tell Third Way just that.