The health care debate isn’t about Democrats vs. Republicans. It’s not about Obama vs. Congress, and it’s not about markets vs. government.
If the free market were really working for health insurance, everyone would be able to afford it. Producers — the insurance companies — would be competing with one another to keep prices low, and innovation would drive progress. Health insurance would be a commodity. Small businesses wouldn’t be forced into making hiring decisions based on whether they could provide their employees reasonable health coverage. Families wouldn’t be getting kicked off of their health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, and recission would be completely out of the question — some company would find a way to cover it, profit from it, and everyone else would be forced to follow suit.
But that hasn’t happened, of course, and every day, more and more families are losing their health insurance. The effect of the health care crisis on the health of our economy is becoming more and more dire each day, and families are forced to declare bankruptcy in increasing numbers due to medical costs.
And along comes this Obama guy, with a campaign platform that says a public health insurance option is the way to go — a larger pool will keep costs down, there will be no profit incentive for the provider (the federal government), and the private insurers will be forced to follow suit — lower overhead costs, pass on savings to the consumers, or suffer the free-market consequences. The insurers are faced with the disadvantage that their natural allies in this fight — Republican Representatives and Senators standing up in public for the horribly broken status quo — have no argument to make other than “do nothing! Obamacare is teh evuls!” and that’s not likely to stand up too well in the court of public opinion.
So what do the private insurers do?
Play nice in public, spouting off platitudes about helping lower costs, while continuing to funnel millions of dollars into so-called “moderate” Senators’ pockets to keep the legislation from moving forward.
Don’t believe me? Have you read about the ingloriously named “Gang of Six” that’s demanding delay in the movement of a reform bill?
Let’s take a look at the contributions each has received from the health care industry — both providers and insurance interests — in their political careers:
Nelson, Ben: $2,257,165
No surprises from Landrieu, Lieberman, and Nelson. Generally, those three have been corporate shills for much of their time in Washington, and Lieberman especially seems to take particular glee in being with the Democratic caucus on everything but the war (and everything else).
Collins and Snowe, two of the few remaining “moderate” voices in the Republican caucus, aren’t really huge surprises — they’ll vote with the Obama Administration’s agenda on some things, but both need to demonstrate their Conservative-Stick-In-The-Mud bona fides to their colleagues from time to time.
Wyden (D-OR) is a bit of a disappointment, as he is pretty good on most issues. But things come into stark relief when you see them through the lens of his health care industry donations.
76% of Americans want a public health care option. Not a Cadillac option, not even a mid-size-with-leather-seats option. Just a basic option ensuring that working families don’t have to choose between getting their kid to a doctor in an emergency or putting food on the table. This legislation has been coming for months. Are these Senators so tuned out that they sincerely think asking for more time to read the thing is going to turn up anything new, or are they seeking to delay it until after recess so the insurance industry can hammer their colleagues with ads to soften its effect?
It’s not about Democrat vs. Republican. This is a straight-up battle between the People and the Power of Corporate Money.