Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Health Deform Goes PPP


The latest Senate move has any "public plan" coming from private insurers. The AP reported:

They may still call it a "public plan," but private insurers - not the government - would offer coverage under a compromise Democrats are considering to win Senate passage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

Instead of Medicare-for-the-masses, it would be Blue Cross Blue Shield or Kaiser Permanente, albeit with a government seal of approval from the department that handles the health plan for federal employees, including members of Congress.

I made this prediction seven months ago.

Any public plan being privately administered. From our hallowed halls of government to corporate executive suites, general contracting is their forte. The question is how many layers of "profit maximizing" private sector corporations sit between the public plan and the insured?

The AP mentioned BC/BS and Kaiser, which have co-op roots. What about WellPoint, UnitedHealth, Universal American, AmeriGroup, MultiPlan or Humana? Surely Susan Bayh, William H.T. "Uncle Bucky" Bush, Gail Wilensky, Uwe Reinhardt, Tom Scully, or David Rubenstein put in a good word for their insurer to Congressional relatives and friends. How might their home finances grow under a For-Profiteering "public plan"?

So far, four of my five health deform predictions have come true. The only one that hasn't, taxing nonprofit community hospitals, is set up by the bill's language. It calls safety net providers:

Private, tax-exempt facilities

Language paves the road to future legislation. Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Bill Thomas (now retired) pushed the tax-exempt button while Tom Scully was chief lobbyist for the Federation of American Hospitals. For-Profiteers have a fox in the hen house with White House Health Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle. How long before my fifth prediction comes true?

An ominous sign that health reform won't help the common man is private equity's keen interest in health care. Corporate flippers stand ready to pounce, expecting returns of 20 to 30% per year. The Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein echoed health care as an investment at a D.C. breakfast meeting. Deform is clearly on the way.

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