Monday, March 22, 2010

Health-care homies

No deal? Deal (Mogulescu/HuffPo)

""""For months I've been reporting in The Huffington Post that President Obama made a backroom deal last summer with the for-profit hospital lobby that he would make sure there would be no national public option in the final health reform legislation. (See here, here and here). I've been increasingly frustrated that except for an initial story last August in the New York Times, no major media outlet has picked up this important story and investigated further.

Hopefully, that's changing. On Monday, Ed Shultz interviewed New York Times Washington reporter David Kirkpatrick on his MSNBC TV show, and Kirkpatrick confirmed the existence of the deal. Shultz quoted Chip Kahn, chief lobbyist for the for-profit hospital industry on Kahn's confidence that the White House would honor the no public option deal, and Kirkpatrick responded:

"That's a lobbyist for the hospital industry and he's talking about the hospital industry's specific deal with the White House and the Senate Finance Committee and, yeah, I think the hospital industry's got a deal here. There really were only two deals, meaning quid pro quo handshake deals on both sides, one with the hospitals and the other with the drug industry. And I think what you're interested in is that in the background of these deals was the presumption, shared on behalf of the lobbyists on the one side and the White House on the other, that the public option was not going to be in the final product."

Kirkpatrick also acknowledged that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina had confirmed the existence of the deal.

This should be big news. Even while President Obama was saying that he thought a public option was a good idea and encouraging supporters to believe his healthcare plan would include one, he had promised for-profit hospital lobbyists that there would be no public option in the final bill.

The media should be digging deeper into this story. Washington reporters should be asking Robert Gibbs if President Obama is still honoring this deal. They should be calling Jim Messina and hospital lobbyist Chip Kahn to confirm the specifics of the deal. They should be asking Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leaders Dick Durbin and Harry Reid the extent of their knowledge of this deal. They should be asking Pelosi if the reason she's refusing to include a public option in the House reconciliation bill to be sent to the Senate is that there are at least 51 Senate Democrats who would vote for it and she needs to insure that a final bill with a public option does not end up on President Obama's desk where he would then have to break his deal with the hospital lobbyists and sign it, or veto it to honor his deal...."""

There may be a few positives to the "historical" health care reform (such as allowing for pre-existing conditions, and expanded Medicaid, and slightly lower costs for the po'), but they are more than likely outweighed by the negatives (the Law is about 2400 pages long, and demopublicans barking away most likely have read summaries of less than ten pages of those 2400). A public option does not figure in the plan at all, for one (the main "talking point" from, what, 2007-2008, sacrificed with barely a whimper from d-crats). When it goes into effect, the plan will require mandatory coverage as well--ergo, freelancers of whatever sort will be required to purchase health-insurance, as they do vehicle-liability insurance, and those who choose not to will pay a penalty. That's not a democratic plan: that's a corporate plan, a sweetheart deal for the insurance execs.


CharleyCarp said...

Yes, but it's also a nose in the tent.

J said...

I'm not sure I buy the "it's not great, but it's better than nothing" argument, Sir Carp.

The h-c debate has become so skewed and twisted that rational discussion has become mostly impossible--and the KOS/DU morons are as guilty of obfuscation as the teabagger morons. Merely object to Obama/Pelosi's corporate plan, and the usual hysterical Democrat (who now says nothing about the elimination of the public option) starts into her usual hysterical reaction, w/o knowing squat about the specifics of the law--like the mandatory coverage provisions, and all the fineprint meant to benefit insurance execs (like not covering medication costs, either--apparently--there's still some debate ). It's not meant to benefit the middle class either, who have h-c plans. Most union members also have good h-c plans.

It merely provides a few benes for po' folks (who already have state/county care--not great, but a few retrofits would have sufficed...).

And $940 bil. Price is a bit steep, even for you and yr pals, Sir Carp.

CharleyCarp said...

I'm not going to defend the rhetoric of morons of any stripe.

I think this legislative effort is as progressive as our society can manage at present. I think in 20 years, it will be seen as an important starting point. We'll see.

J said...

Perhaps, but that doesn't make the HCR bill itself progressive. Did you catch DeLong's take on the HCR? He calls it "RomneyCare"--as he points out it's really a conservative plan--mandatory insur. plans were a GOP idea (also supported by the Mittster in Mass)-- with a few slight alterations (via the House--but delayed until 2014 or 20 or whatever).

Now I hear the Senate might not rubber stamp the modifications--then it's really Mitt-Med. The manager class should be pleased.

That said, there may be a few...perqs. Extending Medicaid will help out some, as will allowing pre-existing conditions (I doubt insurance/pharma sharks cared for that--probably what's bothering their GOP poli-puppets, along with the few tax increases for wealthy).

But on whole, a massive bureaucratic boondoggle.

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