Monday, June 15, 2009

The Fix Is In: Big PhARmA, AMA, Join With *HIP* To Kill Public Option

It's in the bag. Nobody in DC has the stones to fight off all that money! Forget about it. Go home, pack up the kiddies, and head for the beach, because there is NOTHING you can do. The Deal Is Done! Reform is OVER. Everything will go on as before!

Any "changes" will be cosmetic, but Obama and the Root-beer Drinkers will tout it to the heavens as a "REAL REFORM." Which will of course be a fabric of Transparent Lies. But the Big Lie machinery is in place, so it will become "true," with sufficient, authoritative repetition. Trudy LiebermanCJR last week added a segment to the on-going studies she's been conducting on the representation of interests in the public debate over health-care reform (the whole series is archived here). She was wondering when attention would finally get around to Big PhArmA and the AMA, two lobbying groups every BIT as opposed to the "public option" as the grifters and thieves of the *HIP* (Health Insurance Parasites). Most of the press coverage had and has focused on the HIP, leaving the physicians and the pharmaceutical companies who stand to "lose" a LOT of money, mostly alone.

Last week, the AMA and Big PhArmA joined the fray, and according to Robert Reich, their overt presence in the debate will likely be determinative, as always:
Former Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, reveals that drug makers and insurers have teamed up to kill the public option, and that many moderate Dems and Republicans seem to be embracing softer versions of a public plan. Count the AMA on the insurer-drug team as well.

Most journalists, let alone the public, haven’t read the lengthy comments the AMA submitted to the Senate Finance Committee, laying out what the AMA really wants. But Kuttner, Reich, and other influential bloggers and MSM reporters should take a good look, and offer a more informed discussion of the AMA’s actions.
The AMA is NOT happy, and they're joining their natural allies in the 'health industry' to tube the pooch. Lieberman continues:
The (AMA), which represents the hard-liners of organized medicine, has been as instrumental as insurers in blocking serious health reform over the decades—not only with their campaign contributions (the AMA ranks second only to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the last ten years in the amount it has spent to influence Congress) but also with other forms of public pressure. Like insurers, they started out by being oh-so-agreeable. Early this year, the AMA even tried to position itself as the “Voice for the Uninsured.” But look what it stands for now. Some of its proposals look like they were cloned from those of AHIP, the insurers’ trade group.(Emphases supplied. W)
The AMA opposes EVERYTHING about national health care. EVERYTHING:
According to the AMA, the magic of the market will bring insurance to all. To that end, it supports letting markets create the most attractive combinations of plan benefits and premiums. It wants to tax some insurance benefits provided by employers and shift some of the newly created tax revenue to tax credits or vouchers for the uninsured, and it supports the individual mandate, which would require people to buy insurance in the private market if they coud afford it. The individual mandate is the sine qua non of the insurers’ reform agenda.

Along the way, the AMA wants to rid the market of state-mandated benefits, also high on the insurers’ wish list. “Appropriate regulations and fewer benefit mandates would permit market experimentation to find the most attractive combinations of plan benefits,” the docs say. No self-respecting insurance carrier would disagree. It opposes letting people between age fifty-five and sixty-four buy into Medicare, even temporarily. The AMA has a proposal for the youngsters, too. It suggests that the government offer tax credits or vouchers to parents of kids enrolled in SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, to make it easier to buy health coverage in the private market. In other words, it wants to begin eroding government coverage for poor kids.

The AMA doesn’t care for a public insurance option, either. Here’s what the doctors say:
The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans. A crowd-out of private insurers and the corresponding surge in public plan participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers.
There you have it—is this the same old AMA opposing anything that even remotely looks, smells, or quacks like an entrée to national health insurance? Is it 1948 all over again? Health care journalists should make it their business to find out.
There is no fire hot enough to which to hold the feet of the most powerful interests in the game to make them back off. None. Obama doesn't have the stones (or the mandate), the Dims are as ever gutless AND completely sold-out and compromised (save Bernie Sanders, the 'socialist' without a constituency), and the Pukes are supremely happy with the chaotic status quo, which they anticipate will enable them to replace Obama next cycle, and leave themselves a clean plate upon which to carve up what's left of the Democracy.

We are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Fucked, friends.

UPDATE (10:45 AM, MDT): I just was over at Bill Sher's Progressive Breakfast blog where he has more news on a much wider scale than I have addressed above, and is well worth your continued attention. I particularly enjoyed this item: FLASHBACK: "Capping jury awards would have almost no impact on health costs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But it would help conservatives protect insurance company profits, instead of patients victimized by fraud or negligence." (Emphasis supplied. W)
That, my friends, is nuanced analysis.

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

I believe that I read that the AMA has less than 20%, maybe as little as 15% membership of physicians? They may have lots of powerful friends but it seems they are not as powerful as they used to be? I hope this is a positive development.