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In the “debate” over health care, key figures on congressional committees are being bankrolled by health insurers, while representatives of hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry are being consulted at White House meetings.
Any responsibility for employers to provide coverage will be marginalized, with token penalties for noncompliance. And a government-administered “public option”—if it is indeed even offered—will do nothing to alter the overall trajectory of the plan as far as ordinary Americans are concerned. It will be a cut-rate, class-based system providing inferior, rationed care based on cost-cutting “efficiencies.”
While the health care industry’s unabashed wooing of Senator Baucus stands out, he is not alone. The health care lobby gave nearly $170 million to Washington politicians in 2007 and 2008, with 54 percent of this going to Democrats.
The Obama White House has acknowledged it made a deal with drug makers to block moves in Congress to obtain any cost savings beyond the $80 billion already agreed to by the pharmaceutical lobby.
In an industry that generates annual US sales of more than $300 billion, the $80 billion is minimal. The more likely scenario is that $80 billion will be more than offset by the increased profits the pharmaceutical industry stands to make on prescriptions purchased by new patients under insurance coverage that they would be mandated to purchase under the new health care legislation.
The deal is further evidence of the corporate forces calling the shots in Obama’s health care overhaul. While touring the country claiming the plan will make the health care giants’ “honest,” the administration is cutting behind-the-scenes deals to protect and boost their profits.