Obamacare Sold Out America

A year later, he would find that game not so unpleasant after all.


"He succeeded where presidents for a half-century have failed, so it wasn't going to be pretty. And it wasn't going to be easy."

After he became president, Obama would indulge Tauzin in the same closed-door dealings he once lambasted. The drug industry agreed to taxes and rebates involving $80 billion in savings over ten years. In exchange, Obama welshed on three crucial promises: to speed generics to market, to allow the importation of cheaper drugs, and to retain the right to negotiate Medicare drug prices.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) was among several congressmen who tried unsuccessfully to maintain negotiation rights. He proposed a bill that would have forced drug companies to match prices offered to other government programs (Medicaid, Veterans Administration) that do negotiate.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson tried to enact legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
Senate Democrats/Creative Commons
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson tried to enact legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

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"I'm not here picking on PhRMA," Nelson said at the time. "I just think, philosophically, that Medicare patients shouldn't be paying more than Medicaid beneficiaries."

But three Democrats — Sens. Baucus, Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), and Tom Carper (D-Delaware) — teamed with Republicans to ensure that Nelson's bill was stillborn in committee. They were more ­interested in keeping their word to the drugmakers than in their duty to the American people.

"A deal is a deal," Carper explained.

A less-noticed provision gave pharmaceutical companies the right to extend patents on biologic drugs to 12 years — compared to the five years that conventional drugs receive. This might prove to be the greatest budget-buster of them all.

Biologics are the industry's new cash cow. They're more difficult to manufacture because they're grown rather than chemically assembled. This is the pretext for setting prices 22 times higher than those of ordinary drugs. Some prescriptions cost as much as $100,000 annually.

"Unfortunately, both the administration and leadership felt they should put a moratorium on Medicare being able to buy in bulk and access generic drugs," says Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona). "In doing so, they locked in a price scheme that is many times out of control... We allowed the fox to control the henhouse."

Congress and the administration also repeatedly balked at the most direct route to lower prices — greater competition — even though much of the country was without it.

An American Medical Association study found that one insurer controlled more than half the market in 30 states. "In Alabama, almost 90 percent is controlled by just one company," Obama told a crowd in 2009. "And without competition, the price of insurance goes up and quality goes down."

Hit the hardest were rural residents, typically poorer and less healthy than the rest of the country. Metro areas offered the greatest profit, so big insurers and hospital groups had little incentive to ­compete for the countryside. Absent competition, premiums and hospital prices soared.

Many Democrats pushed for a public insurance plan, which would compete with companies such as Aetna for customers. But Republicans rallied to protect insurers, claiming it was unfair to make them compete with government.

"We shouldn't have ever called it a public option," says Kentucky congressman Yarmuth. "We should have called it 'Medicare for all,' and then people would have been for it, because 'public option' was too vague."

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) proposed a compromise by creating nonprofit insurance co-ops to compete with monopolies and provide coverage to rural areas. Actuaries suggested that $10 billion in grants would be enough to get co-ops started in every state. Yet the marionettes in Congress began to strip away their effectiveness almost immediately.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), a former insurance exec and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, withheld his vote unless the grants were changed to loans, making sure the co-ops were saddled with debt from the beginning.

Others sneaked in measures barring the co-ops from competing for the more lucrative business of large employers and banned them from using the government loans for marketing. It was as if Congress merely wanted fig-leaf competition while quietly sabotaging any chance to actually compete.

The $10 billion in loans was continually sheared away. Democrats repeatedly agreed to deals with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to strip the money away.

In the end, only 23 co-ops received funding. "They don't want to do anything to make the situation in the states better," Yarmuth says. "Instead, they're actively undermining the programs."

Nobody gave the co-ops much of a chance. They had to put together plans overnight, win competitive pricing from providers, and get word of their existence out without spending any of the government loan money.

Still, many were run by real pros with decades of experience. Take Dr. Martin Hickey, CEO of the New Mexico Health Connections co-op and a former executive with Cigna and Blue Cross. "This wasn't just a do-gooder thing," he says. "This was people who understood business, understood insurance and what it was going to take to make this really work. Hope is not a strategy."

Soon, co-ops were offering the lowest premiums in a third of the states in which they operated. And even when they weren't the lowest, they were providing enough competition to drive down all premiums by 8 percent.

In New Mexico's case, Hickey found that hospital groups had a motive to expand competition.

"We were able to sit down with large groups and say, 'This market is consolidating, and the last thing you want is one or two major players, because they'll hammer the hell out of you,'" he says. "I used to work at one. I know. 'It's in your interest to give us a good rate to give us a foothold in the market. We're ­physician-oriented and physician-led. We get it.'"

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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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