A small army of lobbyists

Of course they have.

Even before Democrats finish drafting bills to create a single-payer health care system, the health care and insurance industries have assembled a small army of lobbyists to kill “Medicare for all,” an idea that is mocked publicly but is being greeted privately with increasing seriousness.

How could we possibly want universal health insurance instead of the thrillingly frightening risk of losing insurance along with a job or never being able to get it in the first place because your job doesn’t provide it or because you’ve been unemployed for too long or because there’s an R in the month?

The lobbyists’ message is simple: The Affordable Care Act is working reasonably well and should be improved, not repealed by Republicans or replaced by Democrats with a big new public program. More than 155 million Americans have employer-sponsored health coverage. They like it, by and large, and should be allowed to keep it.

“Reasonably well” is good enough for the peasants who have the bad taste not to be rich, is that the idea? Just plain “well” is too much to ask?

The Democrats’ proposals could radically change the way health care providers do business and could drastically shrink the role and the revenues of insurers, depending on how a single-payer system is devised.

Well, you know, shrinking the role (and $$$) of insurers would not be a bad thing, given that they are useless unless your goal is to extract profit from brokering health care. They don’t provide health care or help people find the best health care, they simply sell insurance for health care, adding a step that adds nothing of value. If people were automatically insured as of right there would be no need for insurers and nothing of value would be lost.

The hospital federation and two powerful lobbies, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, created a coalition last June to pre-empt what they saw as an alarming groundswell of interest in proposals to expand the federal role in health care.

In a daily fusillade of digital advertising, videos and Twitter posts, the coalition, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, says that Medicare for all will require tax increases and give politicians and bureaucrats control of medical decisions now made by doctors and patients — arguments that echo those made to stop Medicare in the 1960s, Mrs. Clinton’s health plan in 1993 and the Affordable Care Act a decade ago.

Blah blah blah, but what it will really do is eliminate the vast superstructure that withdraws money from the system because it can. Nobody needs a vast superstructure that withdraws money from the system because it can.

When members of Congress unveiled legislation to let people age 50 to 64 buy into Medicare, the coalition conflated it with proposals to put all Americans into Medicare.

“This is a slippery slope to government-run health care for every American,” said David Merritt, an executive vice president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobby for insurers.

Oh no, a slippery slope to guaranteed health care for everyone! The horror!

17 Responses to “A small army of lobbyists”