How Democrats, Republicans, and Big Medicine Sabotaged Obamacare From the Start

Categories: Longform

obama-healthcare-speech-daniel-borman.jpg
Daniel Borman/Creative Commons
Early in his presidency, Barakc Obama tried to get the youth involved in the fight for healthcare reform with events like this 2009 rally at the University of Maryland.
It was the winter of our discontent, 2009. A season of bank failures, massive layoffs and $5-a-gallon gasoline.

Finally, a fractured country could at least agree on one thing: This had to change.

So President Barack Obama set out to deactivate the next bomb awaiting the U.S. economy, the one ticking inside our bloated, beleaguered health system.

Since the 1990s, insurance premiums had averaged double-digit annual increases. America was spending over $7,500 per person per year — 50 percent more than Norway, the next largest contender. Health spending alone was chewing up one-sixth of the U.S. economy, double that of competitors like Japan, and putting American employers at a severe disadvantage.

john-boehner-gage-skidmore.jpg
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons
Although Affordable Care Act enemy House Speaker John Boehner repeatedly claims the U.S. has "the best health-care delivery system in the world," the World Health Organization puts us at number 36.
Worse, we were paying Maserati premiums for something that looked a lot like
a used Kia. Though pols like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) loved to bray that America had "the best healthcare delivery system in the world," it wasn't remotely so. The World Health Organization ranked us an embarrassing 36th, behind such notables as Costa Rica, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia. Other rankings routinely put the U.S. near the bottom of the industrialized world.

"We spend one and a half times more per person on healthcare than any other country, but we aren't any healthier for it," Obama told Congress in 2009. "This is one of the reasons that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages."

Big Medicine had done its best to keep it that way. Since 1999, it had spent nearly $6 billion on lobbying, three times what the next-largest industry, insurance, had spent. An obedient Congress had allowed it to build a system in which millions couldn't afford coverage, huge swaths of the country were essentially served by monopolies, and prices continued to go up.

"In the decade up to 2009, 79 percent of all the growth in household income was absorbed by healthcare," says Dr. Brian Klepper, CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health. "Everything in Washington is rigged, but the thing most rigged is healthcare, because they have even more money than the banks. Both sides take money at a rapid clip from the industry in exchange for getting their own way. So everything is done in the special interest, and nothing is done in the common interest."

But that spring, with an enraged electorate and the economy in tatters, Obama was given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to break Big Med's stranglehold. He vowed to do it the old-fashioned way: by introducing competition, forcing Big Med to earn its keep.

Everyone would sit "around a big table," Obama had told a crowd in Virginia the year before. "We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators, insurance companies, drug companies. They'll get a seat at the table. They just won't be able to buy every chair."

Five years later, it's hard to argue with Obamacare's success. Some 7 million people have signed up for insurance. The sick can no longer be barred from coverage, nor can the chronically ill be kicked to the curb.

Yet Republicans still rail that Obamacare is some socialist perversion. Democrats, meanwhile, often treat the plan as an illegitimate child they'd rather not acknowledge.

What both sides neglect to mention is their complicity in sabotaging the bill, selling out an unprecedented opportunity to the very guys who created the time bomb in the first place.

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22 comments
The_Polemicist
The_Polemicist

Try this analogy: You want a clean, healthy consistent public water supply, available to everyone? You voted for me because I promised to fight for that?  Okey, dokey, I’ll help you buy bottles of Dasani and Poland Spring.


Such a program would be the opposite of a public water supply. It would clearly be designed not to satisfy the public’s needs for clean, safe water, but to strengthen and perpetuate private bottlers. cars,  And no serious public water advocate pretend that it as a public water supply, or even a “step toward” one.  (Except American liberals.)


Obama did not refuse to make that case for single-payer because he could not, but because he would not. He did not want to, because -- despite the other impressions he loves to give gullible progressives – he is a free-market neo-liberal by conviction, and favors the private healthcare system. He wanted the deal that would save and strengthen private insurance companies, not the public social fund.


This article adds to all we already know about how Obama and the Blue Dog Dems undermined the possibility of a single-payer system, and took a step back from, not towards, that more effective system. These facts are ignored by stubbornly delusional Democratic constituents who want to believe that their party leaders only produce such monstrous policies because they’re hogtied by Republicans.


The Republicans did not stop the Democrats from doing anything. The Democratic politicians did exactly what they wanted (and what their constituents did not want). Another world of healthcare was possible. People were clamoring for it. America had voted for, and expected it.  It was Democratic Party health industry stooges, with Max Baucus and Barack Obama in the lead, who stood in the way, insisting that nothing else was possible.


The progressive constituency, and the people of America, were betrayed by Obama and conservative Democratic legislators, who never wanted any public plan, and by compliant progressive Democratic legislators who reneged on their sworn and signed promise not to vote for exactly the kind of capitulation to the insurance companies the ACA is. Prominent liberal groups and personalities – MoveOn, the unions, and the Michael Moores – collaborated in this betrayal en masse.

It was the progressive constituency, not the Republicans, that was fought and played by the Obama and the Democratic Party, and it was Obama and the Democratic Party who should have been, and still must be, the targets of progressives’ relentless pressure for a single-payer system.


See detailed analysis at Who's the Boss? The Obamacare Deception 


bphood
bphood

Wait...so it was a bad bill? and the dems don't take money from big pharma or banks...this is a case of  Plausible deniability as opposed to laughable deniability.

johnblackqe2
johnblackqe2

Most american's just don't like the neighbor sitting home getting free stuff as they go to work and pay for it all. It's a culture thing that is changing as most of us are now on the dole in many ways. So all will work it's way to government run health,housing, jobs etc just takes time for the people to adjust to less choice. 

dlakatos
dlakatos

If you think Obama care is going to be a good thing you are mistaken. Just ask a Vet how well the Government takes care of there medical care.


dlakatos
dlakatos

The Communist Obama and his Obama Care has in it. That you can be Micro Chipped like a dog so your Master's will know where and what you are doing at all times.

dlakatos
dlakatos

Liberalism will not, and cannot, help those whom they try hardest to help. Because they take the opposite approach to helping – they actually make things worse for everyone, and especially for the the poor. Obama NAZI care didn't help one poor person. Out of the 46 million poor in this country. They still have to go to Emergency Rooms. While Obama Care is shutting down Emergency Rooms. All it did was lay another burden on the poor to get out of poverty.


dlakatos
dlakatos

Obama care will come to a end as soon as the Mountain's of Bureaucratic Paper Work get so bad that they will crash the whole system.


dlakatos
dlakatos

The Obama Administration Targeted Political opponents with Black Mail to get Obama Care Passed. Nothing but a bunch of above the law Gangsters are running America. There is know such thing as a free ride you all will be paying bigger premiums in the future. You really think that Big Pharma and Doctors and Administrators are going to work for free. There in business to make a profit not to give everybody free health care.

dlakatos
dlakatos

Just wait for the Government to start to take the money out of there Banking Accounts and Garnishee there wages when they don't pay there premiums. People are going to get really mad when they come up short at the end of the month. How you think this Obama Care is going to work. When people are living from pay check to pay check.

Amøs Türnür
Amøs Türnür

"Early in his presidency, Barakc Obama" - in the 1st sentence. Really?

David Betak
David Betak

It did not go far enough! We should not be making a profit off of the sick and suffering!

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

Since the 1990's 


not coincidentally the time the Clintons were making their move against the people with this government controlling scheme


ITS NO COINCIDENCE



WHEN BUSINESS KNOW THEY ARE GOING TO GET THE SHAKEDOWNS 


be it from street gangs or tie wearing politicians


they up the prices to the consumer as regulations cost money to keep you on the good side


of the criminal, again, be they street gangs or tie wearing politicians 



I dont care if its so called conservatives named romney or socialists who are proud of it named obama



the scheme is the same



and it hurts the people


why do you think the unions changed their tune once they read the details!!!???


stop playing politics people 

gold
gold

So, does Mt. Sinai in LA recognize all the "plans" bought through the Cali site? The whole pklan was a whim, as Pelosi said, she didn't know what was in it. How did Medicaid get into plans? How does one capture the tax credit for subsidy - need to file a return?  Some plan.  Keep your doctor - period. Nope.

MarkLH
MarkLH

While this article is good as far as it goes, those of us who lived through the daily ups-and-downs and blows of the whole legislative process re: health care reform during 2009-10 (via the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) campaign, the national “uber-coalition” that pushed the process forward) can share a lot more stories of how truly good reform (beyond just the standard “single-payer or another approach” debate) was sabotaged (to varying degrees) by various folks.First and foremost were the vested special interests that comprise “Big Medicine” (insurers, drugmakers, hospitals, and the AMA), who were aided by the Republicans (notably Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) and some Dems (centrists Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Joe Lieberman), along with the White House (Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and OMB Director Peter Orzag.)To learn the whole bloody “sausage-making” story, and how somewhat decent reform emerged nonetheless, read “Fighting for Our Health” by Richard Kirsch, who was the National Campaign Director for HCAN, and is now a Senior Fellow with the Roosevelt Institute.

Skeptic
Skeptic

Interesting that the article make no mention of the 5+ million policies that had to be cancelled due to Obamacare requirements (and not those nasty insurance companies, people). When one factors these out from the 7 million added, we get a net gain of 2 million. Not exactly a rousing success.

ETBass
ETBass

@Skeptic  1. The biggest computer disaster in world history.

2. Trial lawyers still running wild, driving up costs.3. Millions disrupted.4. Obvious refusal to say "higher taxes."
Lies and incompetence. Period.

MarkLH
MarkLH

The truth is that insurers cancel policies all the time/every year, having nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), primarily for profit-making reasons -- one year in the last decade I had 2 different plans cancelled out from under me mid-year so that I had 3 total plans over that one year.  All the ACA has done is to set new benefit standards that all insurers have to meet in order for their plans to be deemed compliant so that people who buy them thereby meet the coverage requirement and not have to pay an additional tax next year.  The result?  No more useless "swiss cheese" policies (i.e., full of holes) which is a big win for consumers.  Insurers can still offer the old crappy plans, but there likely wouldn't be much of a market for them anymore, so they cancelled them -- good riddance, I say!

MarkLH
MarkLH

I don't know the national #s (HHS just put out a new press release today), but here in NY, 70% of the 960,000+ people who enrolled in coverage via New York's new health benefits exchange (known as "New York State of Health") were previously uninsured ...and that's just for one state.  When you add-in numbers from other "successful" states like California, Connecticut, Kentucky, etc., it should be well more than just 2 million.

scottilla
scottilla

@Skeptic  Interesting that the article makes no mention of how many of those 5 million cancelled policies were actually just replaced by other policies at work.  5 million previously insured people now uninsured?  Hardly!

gold
gold

@MarkLH The question is what have people "bought?" Did they pay premiums yet? Did they get a bare bones HMO with 6k deducts, no choice of docs and no treatment outside the insurer box? Drug coverage? Wait until the 65 year olds hit the death panels for cancer, ocular, etc.    BTW, since docs will be getting less money per treatment, where are the docs going to be? Broke? Hello, Dr. Pelosi.  How long a wait is acceptable to your for a routine physical? One month OK?  No big deal. Now, how about specialist treatment for failing kidneys? One month OK? That's what coming.  That's a de facto death panel.  Next in line please...no, you can only use our MD and she's booked for the next two months...sorry. Next! Not to worry. Congress and the POTUS are exempt.  You're exempt, right?  The average work week is now 34.5 hours per BLM stats today. Less than thirty means no requirement for employer health coverage. Guess what happens on Dec,. 31, 2014? Part time is happening and is getting bigger. That BLM number will hit 32, average for the whole work force, by Jan 1, 2015. AT that time the big news story will be how the next freezing winter is caused by global warming.  Distraction - your real doctor is Ed Bernays, that PR genius. The goal is to kill off the over 65's, the weak, the chronically ill, but thank God a 70 year old woman can get free birth control even if she gets death panel for the big med issues.

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