As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lies My Insurance Lobby Told Me

I know I'm heartened by the news that Democrats plan to develop a plan to communicate on health care. Who thought of that, give him or her a cookie! To think, political parties can create a "message" that they can "argue" to the "public." It's really heady stuff.

Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, said many Democrats felt “unease that we did not have a strategy” to answer the criticism coming from Republican members of Congress and Republican consultants like Frank I. Luntz, an expert on the language of politics.

Senate Democrats met for more than an hour at the Capitol with David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, and Jim Messina, a deputy White House chief of staff.

“Axelrod came to reassure us that they do have a strategy,” Mr. Bayh said.

Wouldn't want to make Evan Bayh nervous that there wasn't a structure in place for him to defy. Oh, and the Luntz talking points are 16 years old, so if you were caught flat-footed by them you're not much of a politician.

Incidentally, the details of the Democratic messaging on this give me a little pause. Max Baucus explained that “You can choose your own doctor, you can choose your own health plan. There’s total choice here. I do not want to say this defensively, but this is not a big government plan.” If you're saying "I do not want to say this defensively," then you're saying it defensively.

The overall message is one of "shared responsibility," which just doesn't sound all that consumer-friendly. Especially when the "sharing" part of the responsibility has already started to collapse.

Hospitals and insurance companies said Thursday that President Obama had substantially overstated their promise earlier this week to reduce the growth of health spending.

Mr. Obama invited health industry leaders to the White House on Monday to trumpet their cost-control commitments. But three days later, confusion swirled in Washington as the companies’ trade associations raced to tamp down angst among members around the country […]

Health care leaders who attended the meeting have a different interpretation. They say they agreed to slow health spending in a more gradual way and did not pledge specific year-by-year cuts.

“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding that has caused a lot of consternation among our members,” said Richard J. Umbdenstock, the president of the American Hospital Association. “I’ve spent the better part of the last three days trying to deal with it.”

These are out and out lies coming from the industry. We have their pledge in writing, calling for a reduction of 1.5 percentage points to the annual growth of health care. Now they're trying to hedge that the 1.5% would be achieved eventually. You knew they would backtrack, I guess I'm surprised it happened within five days, but since $2 trillion dollars in savings equals $2 trillion dollars in their profits, this idea that they would patriotically put the good of the country ahead of their bottom line was always suspect.

So I have another "message" for David Axelrod, Max Baucus and the gang. How about this: "the insurance companies are thieves, they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt, and we need to both enforce their proposed savings and institute a public health care plan to compete with them on price and quality of service."

Has the benefit of being true.

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