October 14, 2009

The Treason of the Senate

There is a great deal of uncertainty in what we can expect from our lawmakers in D.C., but there is one thing we can probably count on; a pretty bad healthcare reform bill.

We will have healthcare reform signed into law pretty soon. The right is fighting it, but there are sufficient votes to shove some sort of bill down our throats. It won’t be a bill any of us will like; not even those most fervently supporting reform.

Why do you suppose that is? When polls indicate an overwhelming number of Americans support reform, why is there so much contention in Congress? The left is divided and the right simply opposes anything. Their constituents want it, so why can’t we get a good, bipartisan effort and produce a bill that would benefit the most people for the least cost?

The answer is simple: Greed.

Bill Moyers is a commentator of pretty good repute. Fact checking a Moyer story is most always an effort in futility. Bill protects his reputation by knowing what he reports to be the truth before a program airs. So when Bill Moyers asks why, when both the public and the President want a public option, such an option is absent from the bill that just passed out of the Senate Finance Committee. Bill answers his own question:

“Because, the medicine has been poisoned from day one, in part because of that same revolving door that Congresswoman Kaptur and Simon Johnson were just talking about. Movers and shakers rotate between government and the lucrative private sector at a speed so dizzying they forget who they're working for.”

Here is where I disagree with Bill. These crooks know exactly where the butter is for their bread, and it isn’t the voters who sent them to office.

"Take a close look at that woman sitting behind Montana Senator Max Baucus. He's the Democrat who's the Chairman of the Finance Committee. Liz Fowler is her name. And now get this. She used to work for WellPoint, the largest health insurer in the country. She was Vice President of Public Policy. And now she's working for the very committee with the most power to give her old company and the entire industry exactly what they want: higher profits, and no competition from alternative non-profit coverage that could lower costs and premiums.”

The fox has been left to guard the henhouse.

“I'm not making this up. Here's another little eye-opener. The woman who was Baucus' top health advisor before he hired Liz Fowler? Her name is Michelle Easton. Why did she leave the Committee? To go to work -- where else? -- at a firm representing the same company Liz Fowler worked for WellPoint. As a lobbyist.”

Moyers goes on to point out that, over just the past few months, the healthcare industry has shelled out somewhere around $380 million in their efforts to either derail the reform effort, or at the very least, to ensure any legislation that makes it out of Congress will favor them.

This is so reminiscent of the effort 60 years ago to defeat Medicare. That drive was spearheaded by physicians and the AMA. The physicians are not being as resistant this time around, but we have the insurance and pharmaceutical industries with whom we must contend... and We the People are not in that league.

The interest of the great unwashed is not served when our legislators are stuffing their pockets with industry money. Reform and meaningful regulation of big pharma and big insurance is necessary, but when our Senators and Congress members are comfortably wallowing in sties with lobbyists, real reform is unlikely. But this will change.

It took 20 years and three Presidents before we achieved the imperfect system we call Medicare. I expect we will see improvement in reforming the rest of healthcare over the next few decades, and perhaps improvements in Medicare as well. The Baucus bill is terrible; a travesty, bought and paid for by special interests, but it is probably the best we can expect this time around.

As Bill Moyers says, this is outrageous.


One Fly said...

Have to disagree that we have to settle for this. It will be bad whatever it is. This is far from over and the reality is this senate bill don't mean a hell of a lot.

Mule Breath said...

Far from over... true, but I'd wager nothing we get will be much better. Meaningful insurance and pharma reform at this point is wistful thinking.

One Fly said...

Let's keep hope alive