Monday, March 22, 2010

President Clinton Lobbied Congress for Health Reform Alongside Creator of Harry & Louise

White House Press Secretary Bob Gibbs described President Bill Clinton's role in pushing passage of health reform at the 52:38 mark of his press conference. Clinton made calls Saturday evening. Below are Gibb's words (without the and's and uh's):

Look, obviously President Clinton has relationships with many members of Congress on the Democratic side going back to his time here. We made use of his offering to do whatever he could to help pass this legislation. He asked for calls, obviously Rahm knows who President Clinton knows well and we handed him members to reach out to. I think in the end he was successful in helping us get some of those votes. I'll say this too, prior to coming out here, I was in a meeting in the Situation Room where Secretary Clinton was. She was very happy to see what happened yesterday. When the President came in, walked over and gave him a big hug for what had been accomplished. Thanks guys.

Oddly, Bill Clinton and Chip Kahn, the creator of Harry & Louise ads that took down Clinton era reform, supported the Reconciliation bill with its massive privatization and pay for performance.

President Clinton believes in the power of private money, even in the face of a huge natural disaster. Chip is CEO of the For-Profit hospital lobby. He knows HCA paid its private equity owners $1.75 billion in special dividends, borrowing to do so.

Clinton privatized government security operations, which The Carlyle Group later flipped for huge profits. Altegrity-USIS is on its fourth owner.

As for pay for performance, it will do for health care what it did for Wall Street. Incentives distort the performance of good work. President Obama could've learned this from Dr. Gawande's New Yorker article. It's difficult to believe Obama read the piece.

Privateer Bill Clinton runs in fast circles. He spoke Saturday night at the annual Gridiron Dinner. Somehow he fit in phone calls to Congressmen on Rahm's list, before traveling to Haiti with George W. Bush. Soon Clinton will run around the beach in Miami. He should find the view inviting.

As for Mr. Gibbs, he's already back pedaling on his boss' promises. Insurance reforms will be phased in by the end of the year, not immediate as President Obama stated in his congratulatory fund raising e-mail.

Arbitrary premium hikes, insurance cancellations, and discrimination against pre-existing conditions will now be gone forever.

Contrast the President's words with CNN Money's description:

* Insurers will no longer be able to set rates or exclude coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and can vary premiums only by geographic location, age, and tobacco use.

These restrictions, however, would not kick in until 2014. Going into effect immediately: a ban on lifetime limits on coverage, and on "rescission" (canceling policies already issued) except in cases of fraud.

Or the NYT's summary:

High risk pools will operate until 2014, when insurance companies can no longer refuse applicants with pre-existing health problems.

Back to Obama's e-mail:

Because of you, every American will finally be guaranteed high quality, affordable health care coverage.

Not even in 2019, when CBO scoring shows 22 million people without insurance.

President Obama spins like his Democratic predecessor. Populist rhetoric, corporatist implementation. This is what change looks like. You don't want to hear how it sounds.

Update: President Bill Clinton told ABC News, "Hillary and I lobbied people all over the weekend before the vote."

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