Wednesday, December 3, 2008

If This Were Reform, It Would Have Different Friends

I've written before that the main problem with the Massachusetts mandatory health insurance plan is that it mandates coverage--but not care. Are we about to see that problem made larger on the national level?

"Lobbies backing health reforms," today's Boston Globe headline screams. "Insurers change their tune from 1993-94 debate." But the article makes it clear that insurance companies are getting involved only so they can protect their own interests, not those of the patients who need the care. It quotes Karen Ignagni, the president of "the nation's largest health insurance lobbying group":
"Strategically, industries have choices if they're at the epicenter of the discussion about a certain part of the economy," she said. "They can sit and wait for others to develop proposals or take the bull by the horns and look at what are the issues that are troubling the country, what are the issues that need to be resolved to help improve the productivity of the country. . . . It's not an altruistic strategy, it's a realistic leadership strategy."
And the insurance companies certainly do have a dog in this fight.
The insurance industry, meanwhile, could gain or lose depending on which reforms are adopted: Offering tax credits or subsidies to help pay for private coverage for the uninsured could bring insurers millions of new customers; but if a reform law also lets people choose a public Medicare-style plan, private insurers could lose business.
As they should! Here is an early warning signal that the Obama administration may become the third term of the Clinton era. To stop this backsliding in its tracks, check out Health Care for America Now. For the solution we really need, see your doctor: Physicians for a National Health Program.