August 17, 2009

The Obamacare Deception

The MSM?s reporting on the latest twist in the Obamacare saga this past weekend usual went something like this,

Healthcare reform could proceed without a government-run insurance scheme, the Obama administration is increasingly acknowledging?a decision that would win over some conservatives, but would disappoint many liberals.

(Or at least this is how it read in my morning paper.)

And while it?s true that Howard Dean is very disappointed and Drudge is rejoicing, featuring a picture of a big white flag being proverbially raised by the Democrat Surrender Monkeys, in reality Obama is giving up very little, if anything at all.

In my column last week, I wrote a skeleton plan of how to get massive things done in Washington (using the example of the Iraq war and Obamacare):

First, you trump up a problem (2003: Terror/WMD/Saddam!; 2009: Healthcare costs! (which, granted, are outrageously high, though not for the reasons Obama, Krugman, & Co. say they are)). Next, you declare loudly that something just must be done, and you offer your gargantuan program (which you?ve wanted to enact for decades) as the one solution forced upon us all by the terrible predicament we?re in (We must invade Iraq!; We must have universal healthcare coverage!). Thirdly, you lament that the other side ?offers no solutions? and is preventing a ?consensus,? and you might have to also express chagrin at long-time allies who are reluctant to jump on board (?unpatriotic conservatives?; Blue Dog Democrats). You finally agree to ?compromise? and perhaps whittle down some of your more outlandish proposals (Send Colin Powell to the UN; lower the proposed taxes on small businesses.) No matter what, you win in the end because you started the whole process off demanding something really big, forcing people to ?compromise? towards your position, so to speak.


Dumping the public option for ?co-opts? is another one of those near meaningless ?compromises? and false trade-offs. It all sounds like Obama?s finally giving into the TEA Partiers, but these organic-y, Park Slope-sounding ?co-opts? are actually going to be funded by the government?to the tune of 3-4 billion at the start (more later, no doubt). One wonders what exactly the difference is between ?co-opts? and ?the public option??

From the AP:

With $3 billion to $4 billion in initial support from the government, the co-ops would operate under a national structure with state affiliates, but independent of the government. They would be required to maintain the type of financial reserves that private companies are required to keep in case of unexpectedly high claims.

Sounds like a healthcare version of Fannie Mac and Freddie Mae: ?non-government organization? that everyone knows are just part of the government. All that?s missing is some cutesy Southern nickname.

And in the words of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,

I think there will be a competitor to private insurers. ? That’s really the essential part, is you don’t turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing. [Emphasis added]

Sibelius doesn?t want competition within the market, she wants competition with the market, something only a ?public option? can provide.

Also, more evidence has surfaced revealing that the medical industrial complex is beginning to make nice with Obama and Obamacare. HuffPost has obtained a memo that ?confirms that the White House and the pharmaceutical lobby secretly agreed to precisely the sort of wide-ranging deal that both parties have been denying over the past week.?

The memo, which according to a knowledgeable health care lobbyist was prepared by a person directly involved in the negotiations, lists exactly what the White House gave up, and what it got in return.

It says the White House agreed to oppose any congressional efforts to use the government’s leverage to bargain for lower drug prices or import drugs from Canada?and also agreed not to pursue Medicare rebates or shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D, which would cost Big Pharma billions in reduced reimbursements.

In exchange, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) agreed to cut $80 billion in projected costs to taxpayers and senior citizens over ten years. Or, as the memo says: “Commitment of up to $80 billion, but not more than $80 billion.

If Obamacare eventually goes through, Big Pharma will recoup that 80 billion in no time as the ?co-opts? transform uninsured Americans into taxpayer-funded pill-poppers.   


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