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"The Great American Sell-Out: How The AMA, AARP And PhRMA Have Sold Out To Obamacare

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Great article, worth the read.

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"The Great American Sell-Out: How The AMA, AARP And PhRMA Have Sold Out To Obamacare


By HERB DENENBERG, The Bulletin
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Source The Bulletin

"This is a report on one of the great sell-outs in American history: How the insurance companies, the drug companies (PhRMA), the AARP, and the AMA have all sold-out their principles to get a piece of the profit of Obamacare for themselves. Instead of standing on their principles, and taking a position on whether Obamacare would be good for America, they are rushing in to make a deal to protect their own interests.

This is not just my interpretation of what is going on, but is being documented by national publications and pundits. For example, Business Week (August 17, 2009) has a cover story, “Health Reform: Why Insurers Are Winning.” The inside sub-headline is “The industry, deftly maneuvering behind the scenes in Washington, prepares to profit from health reform.”

Instead of fighting to defeat a bill that is being jammed down the throat of Americans and has not been properly considered and debated, the major insurance companies are simply, in effect, cutting a deal to assure their own profit, saying good bye to their principles and to the larger welfare of the country.

These major insurers may be like Winston Churchill’s definition of appeasers – those who feed the alligators in the hope they will be the last to be eaten. The insurers may be setting themselves up for short-term profits, but in the long-term the Washington-centered, big-government insurance system is likely to drive private insurers out of the market. This will mean a standard socialized medical system, a so-called single-payer system, o f the type originally advocated by President Obama and advocated by the extreme left-wing Democrats that now dominate their party.

The least surprising sell-out involves the AARP – least surprising as AARP almost from its beginning sold-out to profits rather than principles and protecting its own income20rather than that of its members. Obamacare is clearly not in the interests of the senior citizen members of AARP. The proposal is to cut $500 million out of Medicare to pay for an expansion of government insurance for others. Senior citizens belonging to AARP know that will come out of their own benefits. What’s worse, the rationing and waiting periods that will afflict Obamacare will most seriously impact senior citizens. With cost effectiveness in control, it is the seniors for whom treatment will be least cost effective. When they compete with 20-year olds for care, they will be in the position of care that is least cost-effective.

Since July, it is reported that 60,000 senior citizens have dropped their membership in AARP because of its stand on the healthcare bill. Some feel it is not only supporting legislation contrary to their interest, but also are not leveling with t heir own membership. AARP claims it is not supporting any bill, but at the same time is running ads that definitely support comprehensive reform and consequently, in effect, all of the bills on comprehensive reform now before Congress.

Investor’s Business Daily (August 10, 2009) reported on the AARP sell-out in an20editorial entitled “Geezers with Pitchforks Vs. The AARP.” IBD stated. “But they [senior citizen protestors at a town meeting] were mad as hell at the perception that AARP was selling them out in the name of government-run medical insurance. That perception was not helped when the AARP town hall on the subject was shut down…once the members dared to ask questions. The AARP did not want to hear from the members at all. Just send in your dues, granny, and be quiet.”

The AARP denies being in league with the administration in pushing Obamacare. But the publication Human Events reported on a memo from House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described plans to partner with AARP in a PR blitz to promote the expansion of health insurance. The IBD asks, “How can the AARP claim to have not endorsed the administration’s health care ag enda as it works to get its members to embrace it.”

IBD also cataloged how top AARP officials, including the CEO, have made substantial campaign contributions to Obama. IBD concludes: Having paid into the system all their lives and now AARP dues, they are upset that illegal aliens will be covered by legislation that eliminates any proof-of-citizenship requirement. And they are furious that AARP would support ‘reform’ that includes ‘end-of-life counseling’ as if they’re being encouraged to get out of the way.

“They know that the administration’s plan is one big government ‘do not resuscitate’ order for seniors, and they don’t want some government bureaucrat looking at some spreadsheet pulling their plug.”

The “end-of-life counseling” provision was recently pulled out of the Senate bill, but it is still in the House bill.

Of course, no one should be surprised at the latest sell-out of the AARP. In f act, as indicated, the AARP sold out long ago, turning itself into a marketing machine (for insurance and other financial instruments), earning a return off the backs of its members. It’s advocacy is for its own income stream, not that of its senior citizen members.

The drug companies were one of the first groups to se ll-out to Obamacare. Working through their major trade association, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Association (PhRMA) they agreed to kick in $80 billion over ten years to reduce the cost of drugs for senior citizens. This, of course, was more in the nature of protection money to protect their interests in the crafting of the final version of Obamacare. As a Los Angeles Times (August 4, 2009) headline put it, “Obama gives powerful drug lobby a seat at the table: The pharmaceutical industry, once condemned by the president as a source of healthcare problems, has become a White House partner.”

In addition PhRMA is spending $150 million on an advertising campaign to sell Obamacare.

What did PhRMA get in return? The White House agreed not to resort to Medicare drug bargaining. The White House also agreed to break another one of the many campaign promises it routinely breaks: The new law will not authorize importing cheaper drugs from Canada or Europe. Of course, there are denials, but they are hard to believe.

On July 16, 2009, the American Medical Association (AMA) endorsed Obamacare and the radica l overhaul of the American healthcare system. This was a total about-face as the AMA and other doctors’ groups have long opposed socialized medicine out of fear of rationed care, long waiting lines for treatment, government interference in doctor-patient relations, and massive deficits and national debt to pay for the system.

It is not clear what, if anything the AMA got in return, but it is suspected that some sort of guarantee of doctors’ fees may have been the quid pro quo. It is also speculated that the AMA viewed the reform as inevitable, so wanted a seat at the table to determine the direction of health care legislation.

Of course, some groups didn’t have to ma ke a deal. The plaintiffs’ bar gives so much to Democratic politicians and is such a key part of the Democratic Party machinery that tort reform was never on the table as part of healthcare reform. Even Democrats like pollster Pat Cadell is appalled at Obama for proposing healthcare reform without doing something about tort reform, which drains the system of billions to pay for defensive medicine and malpractice premiums. Big labor, like the trial lawyers, didn’t have to bargain, as they are another key segment of the Democratic Party coalition.

It’s not reassuring to see groups of professionals, a group organized to protect senior citizens, and other groups with responsibility to the public selling out to a socialized scheme of medicine that we can’t afford, that will wreck the health delivery system, and that is contrary of to most important values of the U.S. But the lesson for the public is clear – if the public wants to be protected from socialized schemes that will destroy America it has to stand up and fight for its rights. It is clear that Congress and the various special interests of the healthcare industry sold out in a hurry.

The lobbyists are cutting all kinds of deals on behalf of their clients. The only group without lobbyists in Washington is the public. Congress is supposed to represent the public, but by now, everyone should not that’s not so."

http://www.thebulletin.us/articles/2009/08/25/commentary/op-eds/doc4a93919fa77ed821435100.txt

Entry #1,349

Comments

1.
Rick GComment by Rick G - August 26, 2009, 3:51 pm
Pretty telling when 60,000 renounce their AARP membership. That's a lot of dues $. And with the cost of their TV advertising pushing the boondoggle, one has to wonder who is financing their position. Did they get a bailout too?
2.
konaneComment by konane - August 26, 2009, 5:31 pm
Thanks Rick!!! Interesting thoughts I'd not considered. Neither of us became members due to their left leaning stance, heavy lobbying in that direction. LOL no money wasted here.

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