The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Why health care reform isn’t: part II-the bought and paid for Congress

He who has the gold, makes the rules

The numbers on how much various medical interests have spent on influencing Congress and the Presidency make clear why health care reform keeps getting watered down:

..the data so far suggest that the second quarter has a good chance of reaching a new high for the health-care lobby. The industry already set records from January to March, when health-care firms and their lobbyists spent money at the rate of $1.4 million a day.

Impressive…  Is anyone on the side of good reform spending that type of money?

Of course they aren’t.  Healthcare in the US costs 5% more of GDP than it should.  That’s a lot of money, and there are a lot of people getting rich off that money.  They’ll do whatever they have to in order to keep the flow coming.  When you’re talking 692 billion dollars (give or take), well, what’s 1.2 million a day to keep the cash flow coming?

The fundamental truth of America’s Congress is that its first and most important function, when you take the time to look at the bills it passes, is to take money from rich special interests and then pass bills which favor them.  The same, I’m afraid, is true of the presidency.  Most of the 15 trillion given, loaned and guaranteed during the financial crisis was to the financial sector, and most of that was given by the Federal Reserve, which if it answers to anyone (questionable) answers to the President.  But even when Congress got into play it’s noticeable that they gave 700 billion for TARP but are now insisting that health reform be “decifit neutral”.  Likewise no one seems to mind giving lots of money to the military.

Interesting set of priorities.  Politicians seem to always be telling us how “protecting Americans” is their most important duty.  Which is how they justify spending money on a military which doesn’t seem to protect Americans from anything noticeable.  And by protecting I assume they mean “save American lives.”  This is odd, because health reform, properly done, would save those lives than anything else except massive reform of the way Ameiricans eat. But, unlike with the military, there isn’t a health-reform complex pushing to save American lives that is nearly as strong as the one pushing to keep the gravy train going.  So suddenly, saving American lives isn’t a priority.


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  1. I suspect that increased access to health care would probably lead to a lower rate of obesity, too. Having doctors and nurses nag you about your weight and the possible consequences is certainly an added incentive to lose weight. As with many health problems we have, preventive care can make a difference.

  2. gtash

    I have never liked Sam Donaldson, but he has written an editorial comment online about Obama failing to use his influence—a.k.a. “lead— preferring to bang the drum and preach to the converted all over America. Donaldson argues the time has come to quit being nice to his spineless or hopelessly corrupt Democratic and Republican schoolyard playmates. Now I am confident Obama thinks by making the wider audience of voters more agitated, they will do his work for him. That is not why we elected a President. He is supposed to do the hard task of leading. So for once, I think Donaldson is right as rain about Obama’s failed strategy to win the day—or the summer.

    Obama is not a fighter and he did not come to fight. The Republicans and most of the Dems know that now. He can make trouble for them, but he looks a whole lot smaller now, and I think everyone on the Hill knows it.

    Is there still time to fight? Yes. But he losing credibility among his constituents at meltdown rates.

  3. Brion Emde

    I think the only real solution is, unfortunately, going to be very hard to do.

    Everyone should drop their medical insurance, all at once. If they get sick, go to the Emergency Room, like the Congress wants us to. I suspect that things would change VERY QUICKLY.

    In the same way, the solution to our economic crisis is a General Strike by the populace. Again, things would change QUICKLY.

    Of course, things will need to get a lot worse before American would band together against the powers that be. Some might suspect that we don’t even have it in us anymore.

  4. tc

    Yeah, that was funny how they spent $700 billion in a couple days with no hard questions asked, and godknowshowmuchmore via the Fed and AIG (and they still won’t ask where it went), but anything that might help ordinary Americans is no-can-do.

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