Thursday, July 23, 2009

Robert Reich Exposes Health Care Reform Bombs

Remember when credit card reform included an amendment to carry firearms into federal parks? Obama signed it into law. He didn’t threaten to veto the bill so Congress would be forced to have it removed.

I believe the same situation will occur in the final bill for health care reform. Yes, I do think there will be a gun amendment slipped in at the last minute, but that’s not my point. Republican poison pills will doom any successful effort to rein in costs and make reform a reality. Robert Reich points out a few glaring problems that will make this effort moot. The first three examples are the most devastating and most uncharacteristic of the Democratic Party.
1. Big Pharma, for example, is in line to get just what it wants. The Senate health panel’s bill protects biotech companies from generic competition for 12 years after their drugs go to market, which is guaranteed to keep prices sky high.

2. Meanwhile, legislation expected from the Senate Finance committee won't allow cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada and won't give the federal government the right to negotiate Medicare drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

3. Last month Big Pharma agreed to what the White House touted as $80 billion in givebacks to help pay for expanded health insurance, but so far there's been no mechanism to force the industry to keep its promise

4. Private insurers, for their part, have become convinced they'll make more money with a universal mandate accompanied by generous subsidies for families with earnings up to 400 percent of poverty (in excess of $80,000 of income) than they might stand to lose.

5. The biggest surprise is the AMA, which has also now come out in favor -- but only after being assurred that Medicare reimbursements won't be cut nearly as much as doctors first feared.

But all these industry giveaways are obviously causing the healthcare tab to grow.

To control long-term costs, he'll also have to take away some of the goodies that have been promised to the health-industrial complex, and maybe even cross Big Labor.

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