In yesterday’s post , I picked up on a story about the friendly noises being made by Ted Kennedy toward proposals made by the health insurance industry, which is reminiscent of the way things went with the Bush Adminstration’s Medicare Part D and Big Pharma plan, with much “protest” at the time by Kennedy. (See The Past Week: November 30-December 6, Recaps and Random Thoughts (Freepers “Heart” GG; Obama & Chester Arthur; Healthcare “Reform”; Montana-Yes, MONTANA-Legalizes Assisted-Suicide; Greens Pic); (once again, a h/t to Not Your Sweetie for the source article). And, of course, the Democrats failed to change the plan as part of their “100 hours” agenda when they retook the House and Senate after the 2006 election.
“There’s a spirit of optimism about our work to ensure quality, affordable health care for all Americans — and today’s announcement adds to that optimism,” said Kennedy spokesman Anthony Coley. “The insurance industry has advanced serious proposals that deserve serious analysis and consideration.”
Meanwhile, there’s a new twist to the story (this particular version of the story features a big picture of Tom Daschle–inspiring, no?), along with the obligatory dig at the Clinton Administration/Hillary Clinton’s efforts:
Obama hopes to avoid Clinton health care misstepsSat Dec 6, 2008 5:06 AM EST
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama and his aides are determined not to repeat the mistakes the Clinton administration made 15 years ago in trying to revamp the nation’s health care system. That means applying some of the lessons learned — moving fast, seizing momentum and not letting it go.
Tom Daschle, Obama’s point man on the issue, discussed the early strategy, although details of Obama’s proposals won’t be finalized for a while. Already, however, the political and public relations parts are coming into place.
The strategy begins with giving people the chance to highlight their concerns and experiences. Daschle invited people around the nation to hold what amounts to house parties from Dec. 15-31. Obama’s transition team will gather the information from those meetings and post the material on its Web site, http://change.gov.
By asking anybody and everybody to share their health care experiences, Daschle is confronting one of the major criticisms of 15 years ago: that the effort to craft former President Bill Clinton’s plan for universal coverage was too secretive.
“We have to make this as inclusive a process as possible,” Daschle, the former Senate majority leader from South Dakota, said in a speech in Denver. It was his first since Democratic officials confirmed last month he was offered the job as health and human services secretary and that he had accepted.
“They are clearly trying to do it differently and help the American public see the case for reform in human terms,” said John Rother, public policy director for the advocacy group AARP.
So, here are the healthcare “house parties,” public relations blitz and all that fake “transparency” being rolled out. And are we supposed to be impressed with AARP which lost a load of members over its support of the Medicare Part D sellout?? The same AARP which is selling more Part D policies than any other outfit? Are you buying any of this? “Reform in human terms?” (For an exhaustive history of AARP and it’s machinations, see The Seduction: The Shocking Story of how AARP Backed the Medicare Bill by Barbara T. Dreyfuss, the American Prospect, 2004.)
For a really great personal account of the Medicare Part D realities for seniors and what Obama’s “plan” means for Medicare and healthcare reform as a whole, check out this piece by James Ridgeway entitled “Medicare’s Poison Pill” which was published in the September/October 2008 edition of Mother Jones. Take note of this warning about what this could all mean for Medicare itself, not just the Part D drug plan:
None of these measures addresses the core weakness of the program—its obligations to the insurance and drug industries. Medicare Part D is a small-scale model of just the kind of system some Democrats, including Barack Obama, now propose—a government-subsidized health insurance plan, one that preserves the profits of private middlemen at a high cost to citizens’ and government coffers.
For conservatives, meanwhile, the goal is to take Part D as a model for the rest of Medicare—and they’ve already made some inroads. The 2003 law that established Part D contains a “demonstration project” beginning in 2010 that will require Medicare to compete with private plans (which, via a complicated pricing formula, will be rigged to have lower rates) in six metro areas. This is meant to be the model, the seed that will grow into the Brave New World of privatized Medicare.
Back before the drug bill passed, the senior advocacy group Gray Panthers saw the writing on the wall and denounced the legislation as “bait in an insidious strategy to undermine traditional Medicare and convert it into a private industry using taxpayers’ subsidies to pay for it.” They were right, and the way things are going, I may yet live to see it happen—as long as I keep taking my drugs.
Reform the insurance market to increase competition by taking on anticompetitive activity that drives up prices without improving quality of care.
Oh, really? When have we heard THAT sort of line before??
The last line of the entire “agenda” is billed as A Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility:
Barack Obama will pay for his $50 – $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level.
Oops, hasn’t that “changed” already?? Yes, it has!
Before the election my doctor reminded me to vote for Obama because we needed “healthcare.” Post-election, another health provider, already souring a bit, told me the only thing they trusted Obama with was “healthcare.” I told that person they shouldn’t trust him with anything. Next time I see either of them, I’m giving them a copy of this post…
The Past Week: November 16-22, Recaps & Random Thoughts (Critical Thinking vs. Elation; Pics from “Elation Central”; Drying the Tears of Progressive Groups; Medicare Part D Surprise from the Democrats; Face Reading; Housewives & Ludacris; Stray Dog Update)(UPDATE 1X–Dog)
The Scanner-Politics 11/20/08 (CHANGE?? Daschle at HHS, His Wife and Lobbying; Organic Consumers Org. So Ticked at the Thought of Vilsack at Agriculture That Their Petition is Already Going Strong; Froma Harrop on “Palin’s Next Career Move” Will Raise Your Blood Pressure) (Updated 1X)
Filed under: Current Politics | Tagged: AARP, Barack Obama, Barbara T. Dreyfuss, Bill Clinton, Bush tax cuts for wealthy, Gray Panthers, healthcare reform, Hillary Clinton, insurance industry, James Rideway, Medicare, Medicare Part D, Mother Jones, Ted Kennedy, The American Prospect, The Obama-Biden Plan, The Seduction: The Shocking Story of how AARP Backed th, Tom Daschle, universal healthcare | 7 Comments »