Here It Comes

See, things like this are what convinces me that the netroots would be better off lobbying the system than backing progressive candidates — since so many of them don’t stay progressive in the face of this corrupt system. I’m a big believer in working with what actually exists, and not what we wish it would be. Work to change it, sure — but work it in the meantime:

Five of the nation’s largest health insurers are in serious discussions about creating a new nonprofit group and bankrolling it to the tune of about $20 million to influence tight congressional races and boost the image of their industry.

Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., Humana Inc., United HealthCare Inc. and WellPoint Inc. are weighing the new drive in part to shape the government regulations that will implement this year’s sweeping new health care legislation. Two lobbying sources familiar with talks underway by high-level insurance executives say that a decision to go forward with such an effort is likely to be made by at least four of the insurers—and possibly Cigna – in coming weeks.

The two sources tell the Center for Public Integrity they expect millions of dollars will be pumped into issue advertising in a number of races where candidates sympathetic to health industry concerns have a shot at winning.

“The objective is to make the House more accommodating to concerns that have been raised,” says one industry source. “They’re looking at toss-up candidates,” adding that the companies want to “focus resources to influence campaigns.”

Representatives of Aetna, Cigna, Humana, United HealthCare, and WellPoint could not be immediately reached for comment.

Overall, the insurers are expected to focus on swaying about two dozen close House contests, says one source.

The insurers’ goal will be to help elect members who can be allies in the all important regulatory writing process now underway to implement key parts of the health care legislation that was signed into law earlier this year.

The sources stress that insurers are particularly concerned at this stage about a provision in the new law that mandates they spend 80 cents of every premium dollar received on the welfare of patients. The high financial stakes mean insurers have been pushing hard with state regulators to allow for broader definitions of what constitutes patient welfare expenditures. This issue is “probably the most important one right now,” explains a source.

It depresses me that this crappy healthcare bill, as imperfect as it is, will be torn apart by this pack of wolves until there’s nothing left but bones. But hey, victory!

5 thoughts on “Here It Comes

  1. What the hell did we expect without a strong Public Option? The so-called “Affordable Health Care Act” —such as it is—will be nothing more than words on paper by the time it actually goes into effect in 2014.

  2. [a|the] [strong|robust] public [health insurance?] [option|plan] began as an academic proposal by one Jacob Hacker, which was a Medicare-style program with 130 million enrollees. Along the way, in a classic bait and switch maneuver, the so-called “public option” dwindled to 9 or 10 million enrollees, not enough to muscle the insurance companies, and then vanished entirely — although the “progressive” drumbeat in its favor, and the accompanying drowning out of single payer advocacy, continued as if there had been no change at all. Finally, it was revealed that Obama had betrayed the advocates of the so-called public option from the beginning, and never intended to support it — giving the lie to the savvy “progressive” “make me do it” incrementalists who were pushing it (and were funded to push it).

    The “public option” was nothing but vacuous and ill-defined marketing slogan whose only effect was to suck all the oxygen out of the discourse for the only solution on offer that was shown by evidence to save both lives and money: Single payer. Even worse, from the standpoint of the next battle on health care, is that no policy groundwork was laid for a proven solution.

    The “public option” is a zombie that still staggers on. Please, please, please, can somebody figure out how to stop it?

  3. But of course, my Buy Back Our Government effort was ignored. Only certain players are given any traction. Just like the people we rail against.

    Carolyn Kay

  4. Dr. Don McCanne at PHP on the friggin public option, which has been resubmitted:

    So here is the stand-alone bill for the public insurance option that created so much controversy during the reform process. As we look closer at this option, we can see that the great tragedy of the public option debate was that this almost worthless proposal diverted our attention away from the debate that we should have been having – a debate over whether or not we should enact a single, universal public insurance program.

    The broader impact of H.R. 5808 is much more consequential. Considerable political capital will be consumed in efforts to enact it. The managers of the bill would understand that any consideration of a single payer national health program would have to be left off of the table since that model actually would accomplish the goals of reform. To go through another process that alienates so many colleagues in the health care justice camp risks creating an impasse to real reform that could last many years or perhaps even a decade or two.

    The financing infrastructure of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act cannot work to achieve equitable health care financing for everyone. We can’t afford to waste political capital on a legislative amendment that merely appeases those who lost the public option debate, but does nothing to build the solid financial infrastructure that we need.

    Let’s spend all of our political capital on real reform: a single payer national health program – an improved Medicare for everyone.

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