Obamacare Sold Out America

Obamacare Sold Out America
Illustration by Jesse Lenz

In 2009, President Barack Obama set out to deactivate the next bomb awaiting the U.S. economy, the one ticking inside our bloated, beleaguered health system.

Meanwhile, Big Medicine donated heavily to Democrats, who suddenly began to see the industry in a far less menacing light.

Since the 1990s, insurance premiums had averaged double-digit annual increases. America was spending more than $7,500 per person per year — 50 percent more than Norway, the next-largest contender. Health spending alone was chewing up one-sixth of the U.S. economy, double that of competitors like Japan.

Worse, we were paying Maserati premiums for something that looked like a used Kia. Though pols such as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) loved to bray that America had "the best health-care delivery system in the world," it wasn't remotely so. The World Health Organization ranked us an embarrassing 36th, behind Costa Rica, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia. Other rankings routinely place the United States near the bottom of the industrialized world.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus drafted an insurance industry insider, Liz Fowler, to lay the groundwork for what would become Obamacare.
Elena Schneider/Medill News Service/Creative Commons
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus drafted an insurance industry insider, Liz Fowler, to lay the groundwork for what would become Obamacare.
Although Affordable Care Act enemy House Speaker John Boehner repeatedly claims the U.S. has "the best health-care delivery system in the world," the World Health Organization puts us at number 36.
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons
Although Affordable Care Act enemy House Speaker John Boehner repeatedly claims the U.S. has "the best health-care delivery system in the world," the World Health Organization puts us at number 36.

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"We spend one and a half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren't any healthier for it," Obama told Congress in 2009. "This is one of the reasons that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages."

Big Medicine had done its best to keep it that way. Since 1999, it had spent nearly $6 billion on lobbying — three times what the next-largest industry, insurance, had spent. An obedient Congress had allowed Big Med to build a system in which millions couldn't afford coverage, huge swaths of the country were essentially served by monopolies, and prices continued to go up.

"In the decade up to 2009, 79 percent of all the growth in household income was absorbed by health care," says Dr. Brian Klepper, CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health. "Everything in Washington is rigged, but the thing most rigged is health care, because they have even more money than the banks."

But that spring, with an enraged electorate and the economy in tatters, Obama was given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to break Big Med's stranglehold. He vowed to do it the old-fashioned way: by introducing competition, forcing Big Med to earn its keep.

Everyone would sit "around a big table," Obama had told a crowd in Virginia the year before. "We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators, insurance companies, drug companies. They'll get a seat at the table. They just won't be able to buy every chair."

Five years later, it's difficult to argue with Obamacare's success. Some 7 million people have signed up for insurance. The sick can no longer be barred from coverage, nor can the chronically ill be kicked to the curb.

Yet Republicans still rail that Obamacare is some socialist perversion. Democrats, meanwhile, often treat the plan as an illegitimate child they'd rather not acknowledge.

What both sides neglect to mention is their complicity in sabotaging the bill, selling out an unprecedented opportunity to the very guys who created the time bomb in the first place.


The president's ultimate goal was coverage for the nation's 48 million uninsured. In places such as Europe and Canada, the government pays basic health-care costs for all citizens. This type of insurance is often called "single-payer," because one payer, the government, covers basic medical care.

Anyone wondering how it might function need look no further than Medicare, which runs all senior health care in this country. It's arguably the most popular government program in America and one of the more cost-effective.

Start with the cost of administration. Medicare's ranges between 2 and 5 percent of its budget. For private insurance, the average is 12 percent. The Government Accountability Office once estimated that this simple savings alone would be "more than enough to offset the expense of universal coverage."

Moreover, a single provider would have the size to negotiate better prices from providers and pharmaceutical companies. According to a New England Journal of Medicine study, this would save $400 billion more — and provide a boon for American business, reducing labor costs by 10 to 12 percent.

A CBS poll found that 59 percent of the public favored a government health plan, but insurers treat single-payer like Israelis do the Palestinians: as a threat to their very existence. So the industry set out to ensure that such a program never saw the light of day.

"Of course they don't want it," Robert Reich, a former secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, wrote in a 2009 opinion piece. "A public option would squeeze their profits and force them to undertake major reforms. That's the whole point."

Congress, naturally, would not allow a frontal assault on the insurance industry. So Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) pitched the Healthy Americans Act, which had several Republican sponsors and significant support on both sides of the aisle.

It was a simple plan: Instead of supplying insurance to employees, companies would give that money to workers to shop for policies on their own, allowing them to pocket any savings. With so many shoppers flooding the marketplace, insurers would be forced to truly compete.

But Obama caved at the opening bell. His first big mistake was delegating the plan's creation to a cabal of senators and health-care lobbyists — some still employed by the industry, some recent additions to the senators' staffs. They met behind closed doors, hashing out the details and squeezing other legislators out of the process.

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27 comments
bristol084
bristol084

Send a copy of this article to Jorge Ramos who is Obama's good friend and he sees him as the savor or America. This country is everyday down the hill with this president. Good article but sad because America has been one the best country in the world, and it is not any more.

codeblack56
codeblack56

Maybe if South Miami Dade, rid itself of these lying and  thieving Cuban's.., good clean living white people can move back to Miami and South Miami......! 

mothertucker27
mothertucker27

Insurance prices and the cost of healthcare are skyrocketing. The biggest increase since 1980. Obamacare is a complete failure.  

Suareza
Suareza

If the program is so good, why I am paying more than double with a bigger deductible from my previous plan, why did I have to change all the doctors, (from  Primary to Specialist), why my medicine coverage is less. WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY DO THE BIG A-HOLES IN CONGRESS SIGN UP FOR THIS PIECE OF SSHHIT

DOES ANYBODY HAS A REASONABLE ANSWER???

barnyard2217
barnyard2217

Hey Chris Parker, bet you have nice company paid health insurance. It is a disgrace that we are the only major country in the free world without a national health plan for it's citizens. Fuck this pay to play shit ok. There are millions who need & can't afford health care when they lose their jobs they lose their insurance so shut the fuck up & offer a batter plan that OBama has. 

palmer1943
palmer1943

Then replace Obamacare with Medicare for all.  It would save an automatic 25%.and end  the prize money to the big insurance companies that are crying all the way to the bank. 

miamiarh3
miamiarh3

Bullshit! Obamacare is horrible....give it another 2 years and you will see what a disaster it really is...

Richard A. Guerrero
Richard A. Guerrero

Rich people always going to have good to get the most of their medical insurance. Obamacare is for people that can afford without insurance ( 30 millions) . How they are so selfish the only think about themself

Richard A. Guerrero
Richard A. Guerrero

The ingnorance is the key to stupidity , how can you give you opinion the something u don't know how it works.

miamiman911
miamiman911

Obama-care...Good intention, fooled President...Government is subsidizing an insurance policy to people at the price of a PPO when in fact consumers get an old fashion HMO... Politicians whether be Democrats or Republican are all the same..... They fight to be in power once there. They all become rich.......... These are not the type of people our founding fathers had in mind when they drafted the constitution.

francesvs
francesvs

america has become a trash  !       RIP America !!!

Josh Colletta
Josh Colletta

It was built to be a failure. All of this was intentional. It was designed to give the socialists a reason to blame the free market (even though it has no root in the free market at all) and implement single-payer. You know, the failure that doesn't work in Canada, Cuba or Europe, either. Just ask anyone who's had to wait for a heart procedure in a single-payer system. If you can find one who was lucky enough to get the treatment in time.

Chgo Dave
Chgo Dave

wellfair healthcare. = all for votes.

Eugenio A. Alonso
Eugenio A. Alonso

Who can defend something that has become far worse than what it claimed to fix. Only Marxists tout a failure as an achievement.

Jeffrey Adams
Jeffrey Adams

I've seen the govt mess up tons of things in my life, but this one takes the cake

anglin1313
anglin1313

I doubt someone who makes racist comments knows anything about good, or clean living.

miamiman911
miamiman911

Ignorance is the act of believing in something when the facts are given..... Obamacare offers HMO like policies at the price of a PPO.... You are the ignorant by talking out of your ass... get the facts Rastrero

stevenmia
stevenmia

@miamiman911  


Obama Care is step in right direction.  Medicare/Medicaid are good for retired people and really sick people and retired people so what about us working people?   We are still left at mercy of insurance companies.    The insurance companies need to dissappear and they will over time.   


Florida had a great state plan under Democratic Governor Chiles called Community Health Purchasing Alliance.   It made companies compete for business with standard policies.   I was a member for 6-7 years untill it was shut down because the Republicfan Legislature failed to fund the promotion of it.  It was for companies will less than 50 employees and individuals like myself.   


Obama Care has given individusals the tools to get insured at reasonable proces.Yes, we need comprehensive single payer system to get real savings.


barnyard2217
barnyard2217

@francesvs  Trash? It's mother fucking ignornant non english speaking dirty thieving scum like yourself who land on our shores & receive welfare & have babies they can't afford.

barnyard2217
barnyard2217

Tell me that when you lose your fuc'g job & free healthcare you weasel.

barnyard2217
barnyard2217

Take that cake & shove it up your twat  u douche bag.

miamiarh3
miamiarh3

@barnyard2217 @miamiarh3 I have United Healthcare...I pay for it and when I went on the exchange the best I plan I found was $180 a month more with a $5000 deductible...

barnyard2217
barnyard2217

@stevenmia @miamiman911  The governor of Florida Rick Fox is a cunt thief. This prick should be in jail for the thievery he caused when in charge of a big health insurance co.

bdenison
bdenison

Fuck off you low rent piece of shit! No one wants to see you reply to every post!

 
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