Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Public Service means Servicing Politicians

Now "change" means," no change from W." The Blue playbook is a carbon copy of the Red's. Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake said on the Rachel Maddow Show:

It became clear Rahm Emanuel and Max Baucus were trying to deal a public plan away to the AMA, the hospitals, pharma in exchange for keeping the money out of Republican coffers for 2010.
For-profiteer White House Health Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle negotiated back room deals with her former colleagues, proprietary health care companies. Big insurers get a legal requirement for citizens to purchase health insurance, while employers continue to shed the benefit to workers.

Democratic projections call for 122 million to be covered by employers under the Obama plan. 177 million had employer sponsored insurance in 2007. That's a drop of 55 million in workplace coverage.

Who stands ready to pick up the slack of 101 million people, 46 million uninsured plus the 55 million losing employer coverage, ? A tapped out Uncle Sam will pick up less than one quarter, 23.7 million. It plans to expand Medicaid (15 million) and subsidize a public plan (8.7 million).

Who will cover the remaining 77 million? Unions badly want to become relevant by serving as a group health insurance aggregator. Think it's coincidence that health reform and the Employee Free Choice Act are considered in the same session?

AFL-CIO Chief said the public option is "do or die" for unions. Who throws their body on a stake for nonunion members? Unions see the 55 million as ripe for recruitment, with group health insurance as the carrot. Thus the need for card check. Think I'm nuts? SEIU President Andy Stern said two years ago:

"We have to recognize that employer-based health care is ending. It's dying. It will not return."

I expected the head of a health care union to be the last to cave, not one of the first. With the benefit dump, unions would manage billions in retirement and health care benefits. They'd be the mirror image of their stated nemesis, private equity underwriters (PEU's) like The Carlyle Group. I want America's elected leaders and their staffers working on the public's behalf, not unions and/or PEU's.

Some final observations, health reform has billions going for comparative effectiveness research. Uncle Sam will pay insurance companies to mine and market their databases for clinical effectiveness. Just as "No Child Left Behind" stuffed the pockets of educational testing companies, comparative effectiveness will line the pockets of big insurers.

Back to the red/blue split, Republicans know their campaign cash is at risk. Thus, things are getting nasty. David Axelrod's old firm benefited from huge ad buys. Politico reported:

The coalitions are a strange-bedfellows mix of business, labor and health care groups including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (better known as PhRMA), the American Medical Association, the Service Employees International Union and the liberal group FamiliesUSA.

If benefactors make the blue & red boys play nice, major shifts are coming. Sponsors ponied up big to come out on top. It's time to take the money out of politics. Until that point, I plan to vote "none of the above."

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