What Opposition? Health-Care Industry "Villains" Actually Support Reform

Health-care reform advocates have spent a fair bit of time complaining about the boisterous protests that have hit town-hall meetings across the country over the last week. Many of the complaints have suggested that the protests are illegitimate because they are industry funded. If I had to guess, I'd say that industry funding has probably played some role in some of the protests, but I'm not sure that necessarily delegitimizes them.

Moreover, if we're going to talk about industry support, I think it's worth looking at where major industry players stand with regard to reform. Democrats, meanwhile, have vilified industry—literally: Nancy Pelosi recently called health insurers "villains" and said that they're "immoral." 

Funny, though, as Tim Carney points out, while the insurance industry is wary of a government-run public plan, which would serve as a competitor, it supports reform to the extent that it expands coverage and subsidies. 

So the insurance industry, despite being labeled villains, is, for the most part, playing along. How about other major industry players? The drug industry, represented in Washington by PhRMA, came out in favor of reform. It cut a deal with the White House up front, promising to help reduce costs and make some drugs more affordable for seniors in exchange for protection from additional measures that might cut into its revenues. President Obama, who ran an ad attacking PhRMA head Billy Tauzin during his campaign, bragged about the deal, calling the industry's support "a turning point" on the road to reform. Doctors, meanwhile, represented by the AMA, have announced support for the House overhaul plan. 

Deal-making is a fact of life in Washington, and knowing this, politically savvy reformers have openly sought to bring industry groups on board with their plans in hopes of avoiding the industry-funded opposition that helped tank the 1994 reform attempt. The point here, I think, is that no matter what Nancy Pelosi says about the supposed evils of the insurance industry or what harsh words Obama has for top drug industry representatives, Democrats have explicitly made major industry players partners in their legislative efforts, and industry has been basically happy to play along. 
 
Previously, I wrote about how the Obama administration empowers lobbyists. Ron Bailey wrote about handouts in cap-and-trade legislation here

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  • Paul||

    The hospital I work for is creaming themselves just thinking about reform. They want it, they want it bad, they want it yesterday, and they want it fast.

    The CEO of my organization, a suit-wearing capitalist was complaining publicly that we're not giving Obama a chance to get something done.

    My organization wants healthcare reform for one reason and one reason only, they think their coffers will expand under it. Yet those of us who oppose reform are told that we are biased and only make our decisions based on our pocketbook.

  • ||

    Nearly anything Pelosi says about anything is a lie.

    When she speaks of villans and immorality she is projecting.

  • ||

    She's Tip O'Neil in drag.

  • Paul||

    She's Tip O'Neil in drag.

    Tip O'Neil will never look like anything except Tip O'Neil.

  • <strike>strike through</strike||

    Of course Pelosi is a liar. She could not have become Speaker without that particular talent. We're in an age when lying is expected from our representatives. And our news media. And our lawyers. And our blogs. In fact, we've become a nation of liars.

  • ||

    Pelosi is in favor of a public option. The industries aren't merely "wary" of a public option, they're doing everything they possibly can to kill it.

  • Mike Laursen||

    The point here, I think, is that no matter what Nancy Pelosi says about the supposed evils of the insurance industry or what harsh words Obama has for top drug industry representatives, Democrats have explicitly made major industry players partners in their legislative efforts, and industry has been basically happy to play along.

    I guess the Democrat's presumption is that the major industry players are playing along publicly because they have to do so, but aren't necessarily happy about it. While that they are privately funding all these suit-and-tie-wearing Nazi goon squads that are sickly children and old people in effigy.

  • UnitedHealth Care||

  • Mike Laursen||

    burning in effigy, burning in effigy

  • ||

    Jerry: What's taking him so long out there?

    George: Didja see the way she was looking at me?
    Jerry: She's a Nazi, George. A Nazi!

    George: I know, I know. Kind of a cute Nazi though.

    Jerry: Well we gotta make a plan before they come back, what are we gonna do?

    George: I don't know.

    Jerry: Let's just make a run for it.

    George: I can't run, I have a bad hamstring.

    Jerry: How'd that happen?

    George: I hurt it in a hotel room. You know where they tuck the covers in real tight in those hotel rooms? I can't sleep like that so I tried to kick it out and I pulled it.

    Jerry: I know, why do they make that bed so tight? You gotta sleep with your feet like that.

    George: For a mental patient. Wait a minute, the phone, we'll call the police [grabs the car phone]. Nine-one-one. She said she'd do anything. Hello, police? Uh, yeah, listen, we're in the back of a limo in Queens--[Tim re-enters the limo.]

    George: --Astroturf? You know who's responsible for that, don't you?! The Jews! Ah, the Jews hate grass. They always have, they always will.

  • ||

    Tony,

    Read the Fucking Article, Moron.

  • ||

    EAP,

    Read my fucking comment you insufferable idiot. Industry is in favor of what adds to its profits, such as getting subsidized to add more people to its rolls. They're not in favor of anything that subtracts from their profits, such as actual health care reform.

  • ||

    Seven lawyers in Tabriz and Mashhad who had been representing young Iranians detained in post-presidential election protests have been killed by the Iranian authorities in recent days, according to sources in Iran. Their deaths have deterred other lawyers from taking detainees' cases, they added. . . .In Tabriz, Iran's fourth-largest city, the bodies of five lawyers were returned to their families earlier this week, the sources said. The five had been representing some of the hundreds of Iranians detained in the northwestern city during the post-election protests. They were then themselves accused of disrupting security and encouraging unethical actions against the regime, and were sentenced to three years each in jail.

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418544518&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

  • ||

    "Pelosi is in favor of a public option. The industries aren't merely "wary" of a public option, they're doing everything they possibly can to kill it."

    "Industry is in favor of what adds to its profits, such as getting subsidized to add more people to its rolls. They're not in favor of anything that subtracts from their profits, such as actual health care reform."

    You know, those two statements don't entirely mesh. You imply doctors oppose tort reform.

    BTW, I delight in the knowledge that you find me insufferable.

  • ||

    To clarify for Tony, tort reform would be actual heathcare reform, but in Tony's little world,doctors(an "Industry") don't want that.

    See the disconnect there, Jimbo?

  • ||

    EAP,

    How am I being inconsistent? Pelosi wants public option. Industry wants to kill it. Thus, they are villains. I didn't mention doctors or tort reform. Put down the shrooms and back away.

  • jc||

    "Pelosi wants public option. Industry wants to kill it."


    "Industry is in favor of what adds to its profits, such as getting subsidized to add more people to its rolls."


    you are an idiot. seriously. you are dumb.

    i pray that you are a bored high school student and not a grown man.

  • ||

    Of course the insurers are playing along, hoping to secure a favored position in the new order, as they did back in the WWII-era days when the ball really got rolling with employer-provided health care perks, as a way to dodge FDR's wage and price controls.

    And yes, they are all salivating at the prospect of mo-money, mo-money, mo-money. They've crunched the numbers. They're not stupid. But if we let Obama get away with the final steps in the government takeover of health-care, we'll be the stupid ones.

  • Paul||

    The industries aren't merely "wary" of a public option, they're doing everything they possibly can to kill it.

    [citation needed]

    Which industries? The insurance industry? Or healthcare industries at large? Because I can prove otherwise.

  • Paul||

    UnitedHealthcare: Thanks for the link. From your link:

    The Health Insurers Have Already Won
    How UnitedHealth and rival carriers, maneuvering behind the scenes in Washington, shaped health-care reform for their own benefit



    Ya think? What really annoys the ever-lovin' shit outta me is how people think that we (libertarians) oppose reform merely because we like the status-quo.

    It's because any government healthcare reform measure will be flypaper for rentseekers. Why are you such a shill for corporate America, Tony?

  • ||

    Here's what's kind of ironic/interesting.

    If the public plan actually attracts customers by undercutting private insurance prices, it will almost certainly have to run at a loss, and be subsidized by deficit spending (or else offer less coverage than private plans). The Democrats say the costs will be paid for by tax hikes.

    But if more people actually join the private plan (which they certainly hope for), then the costs of paying for it will increase, which will require more deficit spending and/or more tax hikes.

    In other words the more "sucessful" the public option is, the more expensive it will get. It's almost guarenteed to self-destruct at some point when services must be cut or premiums hiked. If services are cut, it becomes a slightly better version of medicaid.

    What will be itneresting to see is if they try to prevent people from paying fee-for-service outside the system when they can't get some kind of testing or treatment in a reasonable amoutn of time within it. Canada had to outlaw people buying doctors services free-for-service outside the system to protect their medicare system.

  • Bart Jones||

    It hardly needs to be said, but...

    The idea that health insurers are chomping at the bit to add members at Medicare (or "Medicare plus") rates is laughable. Medicare reimburses at below cost -- adding more loss-leaders is gernerally not good for business.

    Kaiser Permanente, a non-profit HMO that has been cited by President Obama as a good model for healthcare, would probably not care to see their Medicaid patient roles expand.

  • Bart Jones||

    Roles, rolls, whatever.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    JAM,

    But if we let Obama get away with the final steps in the government takeover of health-care, we'll be the stupid ones.

    Got any suggestions on how we're supposed to stop him? Given the trend in DC to pass things that are clearly contrary to the voting public's wishes.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    But if more people actually join the private plan (which they certainly hope for), then the costs of paying for it will increase, which will require more deficit spending and/or more tax hikes.

    Think "heavy on the deficit spending". They'll borrow against tomorrow to the point of bankruptcy, just like California.

    The loudest voices in D.C. are calling us all down this very road.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    Of course the Chinese will get screwed good by the time it's done, with all those T bills they've got. They're gonna be a very pissed off bunch of people.

  • Thingumbob||

    A Fishy Story

    One fine morning in Washington, D.C. Barrack Obama awoke to find himself metamorphozed into a large fish. He immediately panicked and reasoned thusly: "I must now get help to put myself in water or I will surely drown". (He not being used yet to living life as a fish really should have thought suffocate instead of drown.) So he began flapping for all he was worth. Soon he tumbled to the ground of the Presidential bedroom. Immediately at the door appeared a wide eyed secret service agent named Bill. Bill guffawed. "This must be the biggest practical joke ever played in the White House ever'" he thought. "Well, I guess I'd better just play along." So with almost super human strength he bounded forth and scooped up the large fish and ran out of the room.

    Barrack meanwhile was gurgling bubbles through his gills and thinking to himself, "I think I can get out of this jam now, because Bill is going to find me some help." Sure enough, Bill ran to the Presidential fish tank and gently eased Barrack into its confines. Barrack felt very peculiar as he slid into the tank as well he might, having only been just turned into a fish. He did his best to scream at Bill that he was the President, but no sound at all came out of his mouth no matter how hard he tried.

    "At least I'm alive," he resignedly thought to himself after a long pause. "Maybe there's a way out of this. If I can only retrace my actions from yesterday. Maybe there will be some kind of explanation. There must be some kinda way out of here. Think Barrack! Think! What could have lead to this? What was I doing that wound me up transformed into a fish. What kind of cruel magician could have cast this spell on me?" These thoughts were running over and over in his head while he swam back and forth in wide circles in the fish tank.

    In the meantime, a large group of secret service men gawked at him from the outside. They were frantically talking to each other on their Blackberries. "We cannot locate the President," were the words that went crackling over the airwaves. "We are on full alert. Only Cosmic Clearance and family will be informed. Let's get Biden down here now."

    To be continued.

  • ||

    I suggest you leave this type of thing to Franz Kafka who did it well.

  • ||

    "Got any suggestions on how we're supposed to stop him? Given the trend in DC to pass things that are clearly contrary to the voting public's wishes."

    Scrooge: We are in a spot of trouble, I will admit, but we can start letting incumbents know that they will be fired at the next opportunity -- then we must follow through, electing people in their place who are pledged to repeal some the more egregious legislative actions of recent history.

    It won't help to toss out the rascals from one major party and replace them with the corresponding rascals from the other major party. Those two parties have a cozy arrangement, and in the end, it doesn't really matter which of them are in power, as the net effect is that we all scoot a little closer to the abyss, crab-walking style.

    I'm not ready to give up on the US Constitution or rely in revolution just yet. But we really do have to show the "public servants" who is boss, and that means tossing out the incumbents and clipping the wings of both major parties. It's a big job, I know, which will require some focus and stamina on the part of the public for the next six-to-eight years. Given our recent history, that makes it a long shot plan. But it is better than revolution, or a "Constitutional Convention" to toss the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    hmm.

    You and I may agree it does no good to swap D's and R's around. But that's all the majority of the public thinks in terms of. The real cost of organizing the masses is huge, even assuming there was a product we could sell them. And that is NOT the libertarian party.

    There is nothing good to be had from revolutions or constitutional conventions. Our "intelligentsia" rotted out a long time ago.

    I believe the sad truth is that we're screwed. The only thing that *might* make a difference is threatening the sitting congress animals if they vote for this crap.

    But if it manages to get through congress, that's pretty much going to be that.


    The problem is that representative democracy is no good.

    The other problem is that every other form of government in history has proven itself to be no good.

  • STC_KAT||

    I am expressing my opinion every place that I can. I have written congressman and senators almost daily. I feel that that the dems are accusing those that are opposed to their HC proposal are idiots and can't read between the lines. I am able to interpret what I read. http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/publications/AAHCA-BillText-071409.pdf. I want govt to stay out of the health care business. They have mishandled social security, medicade/medicare. There is fraud and waste in all. I am appauld that the dems are saying that the angry mobs are being paid and fueled by big corporate opposition. It is not. I am VERY ANGRY and I would be holding a sign if the town halls were not during working hours. Which, I may add, is what is helping fund the uninsured today through my regular involuntary FICA payments. Is reform necessary ... sure ... but the govt needs to stay out of it. I have seen so many good ideas from this debate but it is as if Obama is out to get his way and is not willing to consider any other opinions. But heck, he is he all powerful and might Obama. What about the govt scarey propaganda being aired? Little Johnnie is going to die because he isn't going to get the cancer treatment that he needs. And what about the concessions that hospitals, doctors and drug companies have already committed to? Politicans are not businessman, insurance or health administration experts. Hire some experts to work it out instead of hiring experts to tell you the right buzz words to turn the stupid Americans into bobble head dolls and agree with everything you say. Stepford Americans ... just what Obama and the rest of our crooked government would like to see. This country has many things passed by because of the protests of angry mobs ... civil rights (remember that Mr. President? Its what helped you get here today ... and it was angry mobs that did it). How about pro-choice. I'm very much against it and yet the loud obnoxious people got their way.

  • Wow...||

    I think it's frightening that you guys think it's OK for the insurance industry to be able to influence United States public or foreign policy. I guess it just goes to show how deluded some people are.

  • Limo Vancouver||

    I think a good service will help you do just that: by providing the best transportation available to you, you can make sure that such life-changing events will be made as memorable as possible.Limousine@service

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