They want out now. They didn’t count on what selling out the American citizen really meant to their bottom line.
Hospital groups now say they want Congress to peel back $155 billion in payment cuts that they agreed to in 2009. Representatives of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Aetna, Inc., and Humana Inc. say they need greater freedom to adjust premiums to reflect risk. Medical-device companies are making a new push to roll back their 2.3% tax. Hotels, retailers, and restaurant chains are clamoring for a two-year delay in enforcement of a requirement that they cover full-time workers or pay a penalty, giving them until 2016 to comply.
Under such conditions, different industry groups were bullied and cajoled into signing on to a program that clearly threatened their own independence and integrity:
- Under the leadership of Billy Tauzin, the Big Pharma lobby agreed to do a $150 million Obamacare-friendly advertising campaign in return for protection against strict price controls on Medicare prescription drugs and drug re-importation from Canada (one of Obama’s campaign pledges). Tauzin also agreed to chip in $80 billion from the industry to help close a gap in Medicare drug coverage For his success in brokering a deal with the administration, the former congressman turned pharmaceutical industry lobbyist, was paid $11.6 million in 2010.
- The health insurers’ lobbying group under Karen Ignagni cut a deal with the administration in which it gave up A and B in order to get C and D: It agreed A) to bite its tongue in the face of avalanche of new mandates and other problems, and B), to commit publicly to squeezing some $2 trillion in costs out of the system, in order to get C), a law that was supposed to force 30 million uninsured to buy insurance, and D), the all-important promise that administration would not put them all out of business by exercising the so-called public option.
- The American Medical Association lent public support to Obamacare in return for promises of a “doc fix” — protecting doctors from the automatic imposition of future reductions in their compensation. In a truly remarkable display of docility, 150 doctors from 50 states played dressy-up for the president in October, 2009 — wearing White House-provided white lab coats as they applauded his pep talk on Obamacare. “Nobody has more credibility with the American people on this issue than you do,” Obama told his guests at the photo op in the Rose Garden.
- Hospital groups agreed to $150 billion in future Medicare and Medicaid cuts — just to protect themselves against even steeper cuts down the road.
- Then there was the AARP sell-out. In the fall of 2009, many people were surprised when the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) announced its support for Obamacare even though one of the ways the Democrats proposed to “pay” for the health care law was by taking an axe to the popular Medicare Advantage program and forcing millions of seniors back to the more expensive coverage of traditional Medicare. As David Catron wrote in this space (“The American Association for Retiree Plunder,” 3-30-11), AARP is really an insurance company fronting as an advocacy group. Most of its revenues come from sales of “Medigap” policies that fill in for gaps in standard Medicare. As Catron explained, “AARP endorsed a law that does real financial harm to seniors in order to reap a crop of new customers when Obamacare guts Medicare Advantage.” That impression was partly confirmed later in a trove of emails made public by House Republicans. “We really need to talk,” an AARP lobbyist wrote in an email to the White House, noting that calls from seniors were running 14 to one against Obamacare.
Let us hope that no one advocating repeal is beguiled into thinking that any part of Obamacare should be considered salvageable. The whole thing (all 2,700 pages) should be dumped in the nearest recycling bin.
It is no good pretending — as the Obama administration has done throughout the long debate over health care — that anything will come true if you wish for it hard enough.
Ross Kaminsky put it very well in another Spectator article in the weekend edition, when he observed: “Obama’s laundry list of items which insurance companies must and must not do [is] a perfect reflection of the Democrat mentality that they can raise costs to insurers and health care providers without hurting quality, availability, or affordability for the public. It is the economic equivalent of believing, as my six-year old daughter does, in magical flying unicorns.”
And the middle finger salute to all who pushed this trash. h/t Brenda
If this hasn’t made you want to throw up, read this.