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Private Health Care Lobby Dictates Terms in Health Care Reform

Considering the number of resources mobilized by the private health insurance lobby, there can be little surprise that HR 3200 is a 1,000-page legislative mess. The pressure of the lobby ensured that any reform is framed as part of new "health insurance exchanges." This idea was concocted by the conservative Heritage Foundation, transmitted by the health care industry lobby, and is now being mouthed by an assortment of politicians as a trailblazing virtue -- note Obama's "choice and competition" slogan.
The frequently imbibing comedian W. C. Fields once proudly declared: "Everything I do is either illegal, immoral, or fattening." The adjectives used by Fields perfectly characterize the role of the private health insurance industry in the debate about health care reform. As the debate intensifies more and more private health care profits are being recycled into the political decision-making process -- framing debates, shaping legislation, padding election war chests, and marginalizing increasingly popular attempts at the abolition of private health insurance.

Overwhelming Democracy

"It's a bonanza! Hallelujah!" declared ex-private Health Insurance CEO Robert Laszewski when asked about the health care reform being proposed by the US House of Representatives (HR 3200). A seemingly strange reaction, after all the high-sounding rhetoric from the White House about the deficiencies of the private health care industry. Strange, that is, until you begin to follow the money. The health insurance and pharmaceutical lobby works from the top to the bottom of the political system. Large-scale contributions to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain coupled with smaller payments to all the legislative players in Washington serve to infect all parts of political decision making.

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