Promises Made; Promises Broken.

January 12, 2010
catalisthealth

Obama Promises Made Promises Broken

Promises Made; Promises Broken. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in full get-a-bill mode. Virtually every promise of reform has been thrown out the window, even as those willing to work with the president have been thrown under the bus. Just consider some of the promises broken.

Promises:

  • Family health insurance premiums will drop by $2,500 a year by the end of the president’s first term.
  • Everyone will be covered.
  • If you like your current health insurance plan you can keep it.
  • Electronic medical records will save significant amounts of money.
  • The president will sit down with members of Congress and go over the legislation line by line.
  • Discussions will be an open process that even C-Span could broadcast.
  • Health care reform will cost about $60 billion a year (which would only be $600 billion over 10 years).

All those promises and more have been broken; they aren’t even considered serious anymore. And yet reform efforts move on. That’s one of the reasons those of us opposing the reform effort are so frustrated. No one — and certainly not the media — appears to be holding the president accountable.

Déjà vu. Actually, this effort isn’t all that different than the 1993-4 Clinton health care reform debate. When Clinton was elected there was also a sense of inevitability about the success of the bill. Most of the various trade associations — the AMA, PMA (now PhRMA), the AHA, the big business groups, and even HIAA — wanted to work with the administration and have a “seat at the table.”

It wasn’t until January or February of the following year (1994) — about where we are now — that many of the major groups started turning against the plan. The business groups have been turning, and some of the associations are turning.

Of course, there are differences. The Democrats are much further along this time than in 1993-4. And some of the trade associations have continued their support, even when it’s clear they will be hammered by the legislation.

But don’t let people tell you things are completely different this time. There are a lot of similarities.

No More Cards. Last week Senator John McCain (R-AZ) went on the floor of the Senate to complain that AARP has opposed every past cut to Medicare, even as it supports the proposed new cuts to Medicare — which are substantially larger than anything the Republicans ever proposed. And so McCain urged seniors to cut up their AARP membership cards.

It’s an important point. The media regularly refer to AARP as a seniors’ lobby or a consumer group. It’s not. It has effectively become an arm of the Democratic Party. Yes, AARP supported the Republican-led Medicare prescription drug legislation that passed in 2003. But Democrats roundly chastised AARP for doing so — even though several Democrats voted for the bill — and AARP apparently learned its lesson. If Democrats say something’s good, AARP must say something’s good. I just wish the media would recognize the relationship.

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