Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Public Option: Uncovering Lobbyists’ Influence on the Health Care Reform Debate

The Health care insurance industry has a major influence on the distribution, cost and delivery of health care.
Image Courtesy of Till Krech via Flickr

An Example of Corporations Influencing Policy Surrounding the Prior Proposed Public Option

The past controversies over Joseph Lieberman’s sudden retract of support for the public option had Democrats scrambling for a compromise to appease his demands. As citizens of a democracy, you hope that politicians are primarily influenced by the electorate and their individual ideology. However in many instances, the main factors motivating politicians are monetary interests, goals of widespread prestige, influential contacts and expansion of their power. Many are willing to pursue these goals without any concern for the suffering electorate, the crumbling state of society or solvable social and economic issues that plague communities. They lose sight of the main goal of democracy, to be accountable to the people through satisfied votes. Corrupt politicians attempt to disregard this ideal by appealing for donations to assist in spreading empty rhetoric instead of addressing the citizens to obtain votes.

For example, Lieberman’s political behavior in 2009 should not had come as a shock with Purdue Pharma and Aetna being within his top ten campaign contributors and American Health Care Association and New York Life Insurance also contributing significantly. Lieberman bowed down to the range of pressures, from the pharmaceutical industry to the private health care insurance agencies, which have a collective incentive to kill health care reform. Although politicians urged for health care reform to be cautiously reviewed and created for sustainability: the question remains if they truly desire this or wish to eliminate health care reform legislation. 

Political attacks on the public option being implemented compete with private health care insurers seemed to hinder the purpose of health care reform which is eliminating the harmful effects of the health insurance monopoly. The rejection of this major component of legislation has the opportunity of causing the health care legislation to become futile and ineffective. However the lack of a public option would significantly reduce profit for Purdue Pharma, for a public health option would cause the cost of prescriptions to decrease. This is sharply against their interests, and against Lieberman's politicians that profit from their gain. In addition to targeting politicians the pharmaceutical industry has waged war against the public option that could assist the citizens but reduce their ability to freely charge prescriptions at an expensive rate. Lobbyists have vast resources that can be used to pay for media campaigns, the time to write proposals for their model of health care reform and the connections give politicians their written speeches to defend the decision against the public option. Pharmaceutical industries are also in a stance against allowing US pharmacies to import less expensive prescriptions abroad. Although this could save US citizens and the government billions, the proposal was shot down with feigned concerns of safety, even though quality control committees could have established. Using every method possible to fight back, many pharmaceutical industries are raising prices on prescriptions in anticipation of the health care bill.

Profits and dominance are the primary and only concerns of the private health insurance agencies, so it’s expected that their ideas are in contrary the needs of the general public. To boost profits and indirectly show their disapproval of the public option to intimidate the public, Aetna raised prices prepared for a loss of 600,000 clients from their insurance in 2009. The Center for Responsive Politics and Open Secrets reveal that Aetna spent almost $3 million in 2009 on lobbying their policy related to health care reform. With such drastic measures from a top insurance agency the public needed political to make sound judgments that protect the citizens, not support those who only care about lucrative opportunities even it takes advantage of their customers. Instead they echoed Aetna with claims to join a filibuster if the public option and Medicare for seniors as young as 55 remains in the bill. Private health insurers fear regulation of their practices, competition over their high premiums and decreased power even as the health care system rapidly collapses. The calculated attack from politicians on legislation expanding Medicare continues to raise suspicions. The evidence from the claims by private insurers and politicians that expanding Medicare would exhaust government funds and cause deficit is reveals an underlying fear of a lower cost option for citizens that would reduce their profits. This further proves that many politicians defended the interests of Aetna to maintain their financial support. Unfortunately the combined effort of these politicians and corporations crushed the public option. The health care reform has passed however the impact on America citizens may be minimal or even nonexistent. 

Discovering the true intentions of those battling health care reform sheds new light on the various claims from politicians and uninformed citizens. Greed and harmful loyalties can have a major impact on the citizens through ill legislation and the hindrance of beneficial bills. Do you know of any recent historic examples of corporations suppressing reform or regulation? What affect did this have in your community or family? 
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Matthew Shrugged said...

A couple of notes. It felt like your article was claiming that most people would support a public option if it wasn't for corporations. There are a number of arguments against government involvement in health care at the federal level, including appeals to the Constitution and free market economics. Also, if drug companies are not allowed to make a profit on their products (through the importing of low cost drugs), how do you propose to convince people to take substantial risks with capitals researching new drugs? Profit drives invention and steps to curb the high rewards of pharmaceutical development would likely curb the high risk investment in that sector.
Found in Liberty

Dianne Heath said...

@ Matthew Shrugged

Thank for you comment! I was mainly using the public option as an example of how much corporations had an effect on the dialogue about health care. The government can't really figure out how the citizens feel because of the strength of the lobbyists.
The mixture of government and politics is pretty dangerous.
Also profit from ill gains hurts everyone. Sure the banks profited from giving loans to people who couldn't afford but it doesn't mean that it's right.

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