Health Reform Bogged Down

July 14th, 2009 | Sources: NY Times, Washington Post


The Big O’s Health Reform Express has been stuck in the La Brea of tar pits for weeks as it confronts dissention among Congressional Democrats and cold feet among key stakeholders it thought were in the bag.

healthreformersinlockstepAnd today’s release by House Democrats of a draft proposal that would tax the rich to pay for health reform and launch a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers only makes things stickier, since it has no chance to pass in the Senate.

Henry Waxman, who has lead reform drafting efforts in the House, continues to act like the kid on the playground who didn’t get picked to be in the game.

Referring to deals struck in his absence by the Senate Finance Committee, the Big O, industry executives and various interest groups, the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee chirped “we’re not bound by (those agreements). The White House was involved…we were not.”

Meanwhile, American Hospital Association reps from several states were criticizing their parents’ $155 billion deal with the Big O on grounds that across-the-board Medicare cuts unfairly penalized providers who already provided care for reasonably low cost.

For their part, 5 Big Pharma CEOs were complaining to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and health czar Nancy-Ann DeParle about proposals to permit the purchase of imported drugs and to regulate generic biologics.

On the latter issue, the Biotechnology Industry Organization wants 12 years worth of patent protection for its fancy new drugs. That’s “asking for a protection deal twice as sweet” as that given to traditional drug makers 25 years ago, an incredulous AARP spokesman Jim Dau told the Washington Post.

“How much more money do they think they can wring out of patients and taxpayers?”

Amid all this, Emanuel has remained unphased. The public outcry for an affordable, accessible health care system, he insists, will eventually carry the day. “It leaves those who oppose reform as the defenders of the status quo,” he told the Post.


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