The Gray Lady only got one thing wrong in the headline "Health Law Turns Obama and Insurers Into Allies," and that is in the application of the present tense. Obama and the insurers were allies from the get-go, as they connived behind closed doors to remove the public option from the equation and the president continued to lie with impunity about this fact to the American public. Obama's faux populist modus operandi, as we all should have realized by now, is to decry "fat cats"with his smirking mouth and then grandly reward them with his corrupt actions.
Writes health beat reporter Robert Pear,
With the health insurance marketplace now open for a second year, President Obama will be depending more than ever on the insurance companies that five years ago he accused of padding profits and canceling coverage for the sick.
Those same insurers have long viewed government as an unreliable business partner that imposed taxes, fees and countless regulations and had the power to cut payment rates and cap profit margins.
But since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment.(Stop the presses and start lobbying the Pulitzer judges!)
The insurers in turn have provided crucial support to Mr. Obama in court battles over the health care law, including a case now before the Supreme Court challenging the federal subsidies paid to insurance companies on behalf of low- and moderate-income consumers. Last fall, a unit of one of the nation’s largest insurers, UnitedHealth Group, helped the administration repair the HealthCare.gov website after it crashed in the opening days of enrollment.(The hand that stirs the ladle in the tainted kludge soup.)
So much money is at stake that insurers may soon be on a collision course with the Republican majority in the new Congress. Insurers, often aligned with Republicans in the past, have built their business plans around the 2010 law and will strenuously resist Republican efforts to dismantle it. Since Mr. Obama signed the law in March 2010, share prices for four of the major insurance companies — Aetna, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth — have more than doubled, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has increased about 70 percent.(You almost feel sorry for the GOP hypocrites, agonizing between the rock of destroying ObamaCare and the hard place of relinquishing all that cash.)
In addition, the Affordable Care Act has engendered growth in the role of private insurers in Medicaid. The law expanded eligibility for Medicaid, and most of the new beneficiaries receive care from private health plans under contracts awarded by state Medicaid agencies. As a result, Medicaid enrollment is up more than eight million, or 15 percent, in the last year.
You may remember that WellPoint was actually the architect of the 2,000-page law. Its lobbyist, one Liz Fowler, spun through the revolving doors from the insurance cartel to dictate the terms and conditions to her apprentice, Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus. And once the bill was finally rammed through, Fowler strolled on over to the White House to help Obama craft its actual (and it turned out, abysmal) implementation. And then it was through the revolving doors again for the talented Ms.Fowler, for a stint with Johnson & Johnson. (Price-fixed drugs and medical supplies.) Jonathan Gruber of #StupidGate and comic book fame has nothing on this versatile princess of fascism. As Glenn Greenwald wrote of her, "It's difficult to find someone who embodies the sleazy, anti-democratic, corporatist revolving door that greases Washington as shamelessly and purely as Liz Fowler."In a survey of 10 insurance companies, Joshua R. Raskin, an analyst at Barclays, reported that their revenues from the Medicare Advantage program were up about 10 percent this year. UnitedHealth Group’s Medicaid enrollment surged by nearly one million people, or 24 percent, in the last year, said Stephen J. Hemsley, the chief executive. At another large insurer, WellPoint, the expansion of Medicaid “is proving highly profitable,” Christine Arnold, a managing director of Cowen and Company, wrote in a recent report.
Unless, of course, it's Barack Obama. It's still early days in his fascistic career, he's still young, and his solid gold revolving doors await him.
As I responded to Paul "Conscience of a Neoliberal" Krugman's latest shameless shilling for Democratic Party crumbs equaling "good government" and dismissal of #StupidGate as a fake scandal -- including what he misleadingly calls "health reform,"
It's not "health reform" -- it's a piecemeal reining-in of the predatory insurance cartel. And although the premiums may be holding steady, the Affordable Care Act is anything but for many people. Deductibles and co-pays are through the roof.
Health care in America is just like the lottery. It's the luck of living in the right state and picking the right plan at the right time. You're not a patient who gets treated. You're a consumer who goes shopping. Some people will be "covered" and others will still go bankrupt when they get sick and can't afford a $5,000 annual deductible on a $20,000 income.
That "fake scandal" that Paul Krugman refers is, of course, being used for nefarious political purposes by the GOP. But the fact remains that MIT economist and ACA consultant (to the tune of $400,000) Jonathan Gruber not only called people stupid -- he admitted that the law was made deliberately opaque. Politicians were more interested in making this delayed "reform" seem deficit-neutral than in ensuring that everybody got covered. Politics trumped the public good. And that IS a scandal, no matter which side of the neoliberal duopoly you're on.
The fact remains that least 40 million Americans remain uninsured, and will continue to needlessly sicken and die in the richest country on earth. We have the most expensive medical care in the world and still rank a shameful 51st in life expectancy.
That is the scandal.
Government will succeed when we get Single Payer.