Politics as Usual for the Obama Administration

Insidious rumors about health care reform and industry-funded “grassroots” organizing have led to increasingly hostile crowds at recent town hall events across the country.  Beneath all of the lies and fear-mongering about health care reform, however, is a middle-of-the-road White House that is becoming more representative of the status quo each day.  A White House that is not proposing any substantive or  bold change but rather advocating that we must maintain a broken system that exists for profit rather than health.

On Monday, we posted a summary of the reported deal that the White House has made with Big Pharma.  Today, an internal memo confirms that the White House has indeed promised the drug industry that it will oppose the following: using the government to negotiate drug prices; importation of drugs; the opening of Medicare Part B; and rebates in Medicare Part D.  In exchange, the drug industry has agreed to cut “up to $80 billion but not more than $80 billion (emphasis added)” over the next ten years and will invest $150 million in pro-health reform advertising.   While this deal is not necessarily a done deal, it is a big indicator of what the Obama White House is willing to capitulate on in order to receive the political support of special interests.

Also indicative of how much the President is willing to compromise on health care reform is the active role that the White House has been taking in the legislative process, namely in tandem with the powerful Senate Finance Committee, and the reported deal that has been reached with the hospital lobby.  This deal involves $155 billion in concessions in exchange for a White House pledge that they would not support final legislation if it called for a public option either (1) paying Medicare reimbursement rates or (2) controlled by the Secretary of HHS.

So while much attention is being paid to the concerns of corporations, as well as the concerns of misinformed citizens being organized by industry insiders, the real concern of all Americans should be on what kind of health reform are we going to get while we have this opportunity?   Single-Payer may not be making the headlines in the mainstream media but it has the majority of Americans behind it and will be getting a vote in the House after Congress returns from their August recess upporting single-payer health care may ostensibly be against the odds in a nation whose politics are dominated by special interests but isn’t that the audacity of hope?

The next few weeks are critical in the national health care debate.  Click here to find out how you can take action.