Friday, July 31, 2009

Obama, Health Care and Blue Dogs

Well folks, it's almost all over but the shouting.

The Great Legislative Sausage Factory is about ready to roll out its latest product, "Health Care Reform" ..... coming soon to a workplace near you, provided you have a job.

Here's what it'll feature:

No Public Health Care Option.

Remember when we were promised you would actually get a choice
of health care options, which would include a public plan individuals and
small businesses could actually afford - through something called a
Health Care Exchange? Forget about it - it's off the table.

The Health Insurance Industry - I mean the rent-seekers - have determined they can't afford it.

Which means if you're a self-employed individual or a small business
(under 50 employees), your health care costs just went up from "unaffordable"
to "forget about it".

End result - at least a 50% increase in the number of folks without health coverage.

No reform of Medicare. Which means that eventually it'll bankrupt the whole system.

Not because Medicare is a bad idea - it's been one of the few successes
of the entire medical system - but some managerial control needs to be exercised.

When you consider that two-thirds of all health care dollars spent in this country are spent on or by people over the age of 65, even small changes - such as a transition away from fee-for-service and toward an HMO or managed-provider system can have big cost savings.

But again - there was too much pressure for the politicians to handle.
The rent-seekers got Grandma scared that all of a sudden, she would
lose access to the doctor she's had for the last thirty years.

So, Medicare Reform is off the table.

But Big Pharma came out best of all. Among the concessions they scored:
-No cost-cutting efforts in manufacturing;
-No importation of drugs from Canada;
-No negotiations between the government and the pharmaceutical industry
for lowest-possible prices;
- An increase in the number of years they may hold an exclusive patent until
it can go generic;

All in exchange for a vague promise of 80 billion dollars in "soft-cost" savings
over the next ten years - which will be quickly forgotten once
Health Care Reform is dead and buried.

Now how did the rent seekers score all this?

Simple. Money.

The three most important truths about Washington are:

1) It's "Pay to Play";
2) If you don't have Money to offer Washington, Washington has
nothing to offer you;
3) The Congress does not exist to protect voters from Special Interests -
It exists to protect Special Interests from voters.

Which is why all the Players - the Health Insurance Industry, Big Pharma,
The AMA, and the American Hospital Association - spent 82 million dollars
on lobbying Congress just in the last three months.

And 60 million of this went to a select group of Senators and Representatives-
a small ideological minority - The Blue Dog Democrats.

Of all the breeds of curs, mutts and mongrels that inhabit Congress, these dogs
are the most dangerous.

Elected from isolated, rural states and districts, they combine with the
Republicans to have enough votes to block meaningful reform of
the current system.

And boy, did those dogs hunt.

They've managed to so chew up The President's proposals that it would
surprise me not at all if he vetoes the final result, assuming it even passes.

And that's just fine with the Blue Dogs.

I don't know - maybe their constituents inhabit some Alternative Universe
where the private, for-profit Health Care system delivers excellent care
at a reasonable price.

Maybe in this Alternative Universe there's no such thing as denial for
pre-existing conditions; or denial of a previously approved claim -
or rescission of an employer's entire plan because one employee contracts
an expensive illness or suffers a traumatic accident.

Maybe, but I doubt it. You see, I'm from a Blue Dog state - Nebraska -
and the last time I looked , Nebraska ranked low in income, education,
and most importantly, the percentage of inhabitants covered by any kind
of health care plan at all.

Ben Nelson, are you listening?

And I live in another one - Nevada - where with the exception of Harry Reed,
the entire delegation is on record as opposed to Health Care Reform -
including Blue Dog Rep. Dina Titus.

Dina, you campaigned as a progressive - and I even voted for you because
your opponent just made no sense at all on any issue affecting the district.
On this issue, I thought we could count on you.

But the lobbyists got to you. Just answer two questions - when, and for how much?

But they tossed you your bone - so , Good Girl, run along now and chew on it.


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