Health care reform

Drug Pushers for Health Care Reform

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While insurers may be having second thoughts about President Obama's health care plan, Politico reports that drug manufacturers like what they see emerging from Congress enough to start planning commercials urging legislators to vote for it:

The drug industry, which has held off running ads until officials sign off on the final reconciliation bill, is growing more comfortable with the emerging legislation and is preparing a substantial pro-reform ad buy in 43 Democratic districts, according to a senior industry source. The amount and timing of the buy have not yet been set and hinge largely on action in the House. Still, the development is a substantial step forward from Monday morning, when industry officials, coming off a tough weekend of negotiating with Democratic staffers, said there were no ads in the works. The movement should also help appease the White House, which has been leaning on the industry to provide Democrats air cover, according to industry sources.

Since the message that "Big Pharma Supports Health Care Reform" is not likely to make a vote for it more popular, the ads presumably will be disguised to conceal their evil corporate sponsorship. But that's OK, because the cause is just! Corporate speech must be strictly limited to prevent corruption of the political process, except when it's useful.

Here (PDF), also by way of Politico, is the ad that the insurers' trade group ran in today's Wall Street Journal, arguing that "the current reform proposals need to do far more to address skyrocketing health care costs." The ad implicitly objects to the insurers' recent role as Obama's designated villains, insisting that "the people who work at health insurance plans are conscientious, dedicated men and women from all walks of life who are working hard every day to improve health care." But it also says "we strongly support real health care reform that covers all Americans" and "makes pre-existing conditions a thing of the past." That last goal, an inept reference to covering people no matter how sick they are, is more ambitious than anything Obama has proposed to do.

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  1. *Ahem*

    J sub D | 3.15.10 @ 2:53PM | #
    The insurance companies may be having second thoughts, but Big Pharma* is still on board.

    For weeks, Democrats who support the health care legislation have struggled to compete with the opposition. A disparity in radio and television advertisements, along with calls and mailings, meant that the lawmakers Mr. Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi were trying to persuade to vote for the measure were taking a pounding in their districts.

    The new money from Pharma, the association of drug makers, as well as contributions from labor unions and other groups helped equalize the advertising fight. This week, officials said, the groups backing the legislation will focus extensively on the insurance industry with this theme: “When insurance companies win, you lose.”

    * Drug manufacturers are no longer evil. They are doing their damndest to control rising health care costs even at the risk of hurting their own bottom line. The selfless magnanimity of the drug makers is truly inspiring.

    1. Wow! You should get a website or something.

  2. Drug company support was rewarded early on in a deal cut last summer. They’re protected from import competition, Medicare drug cost covered expanding consumer base by offsetting cost (closing Medicare donut hole), and inclusion of people with preexisting conditions now allow them to collect for consumer which may not have been able to purchase. Those things alone more than offset their contribution. Sadly and most importantly, (with regard to couching this as an effective policy) there is no drug price regulation and the drug companies have raised their prices at a rate well above other healthcare cost over the last year. At this point the increases in projected 2010 drug prices more than offset their “contribution” in the form of a new tax that has already been passed to the consumer. Any part of that which raises cost to insurance companies will drive rate increases which the currently privately insured will pay for.
    There are no cost reductions in this legislation. Only cost shifting, expansion of government coverage, unfunded mandates on private insurers and insured, state governments which households making more than about $60,000 will pay for at varying levels.
    I’m all for expanded coverage and affordable cost, but let’s be honest about what this is and who’s paying for it as part of a discussion about how to get there. In a most optimistic case, this bill will increase cost to about 80% of the country to the benefit about 15%. That’s with a focus on coverage and doesn’t address access or quality at all, except through non-binding government oversight and advisory panels (which will eventually feed policy decisions). Additionally, there is no way to achieve implementation without a second move to completely regulate private insurance policy options and cost.
    Keep in mind that a commitment to add to the deficit for healthcare through taxes and obligation of out of pocket costs further reduces the ability to tap into income and taxes for the astronomical amount of debt we already have. There aren’t any free lunches here, just a mandated sharing of people who already have lunch and a lot of lunches bought on credit that will eventually have to be paid for.

  3. Nice post.I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information .I really appreciate your work, keep it up.

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