Change We Can Believe In! Where do you think we might see such change? Not just something a little different from past policies, but real, meaningful, dramatic, significant change? How about healthcare?
The Obama campaign said he would. YES WE CAN! And his administration is promising exactly that. They say we’ll emerge from the Dark Ages of western civilization and no longer be the only industrialized country without a system of healthcare that provides for universal coverage. That would be change in anybody’s book.
Harry Truman was the first American President to call for a national healthcare policy that guaranteed coverage to all Americans – more than 60 years ago! Since then, JFK favored it; so did Lyndon Johnson – even Richard Nixon – as well as some other presidents, Democrats and Republicans. Clinton made a real effort early in his first term. But nothing happened.
Why? For each failed attempt there was a reason, or reasons. For example, perhaps if President Clinton had put a professional in charge of the health plan instead of… his wife! ... But, the real reason we’ve seen the same system remain intact and grow and grow and grow until healthcare has become the largest segment of the largest economy in the world is – the power and influence of the private interests that comprise the healthcare industry. There are many of them, but basically we’re talking about the pharmaceutical manufacturers, the insurance companies and the HMOs, the hospital and service provider corporations, the medical supply and equipment manufacturers and the equity investment firms with a financial stake in our sicknesses, our treatments, and the maintenance of our wellbeing. As always – follow the money.
On the one hand – seeking change - we have the desire of the people for universal healthcare. On the other hand – there’s the mountain of money that is the enormous fortune of the healthcare industry. Thus far, it hasn’t been a fair or close fight.
We have gone the distance, 12 Presidents from Truman to Obama, with our For-Profit Only system and no national program of any kind designed to ensure actual healthcare coverage for all the people of the United States. And now – FINALLY! – Obama is saying he’ll bring us the change Truman first spoke of. Change We Can Believe In. How will he do it?
Obama has appointed a Healthcare Czar! Wow, someone who will spearhead the effort, direct the administration’s troops in the field, work with the Congress – someone who can get this Change We Can Believe In off the ground. For once, a professional will be in charge.
The Healthcare Czar’s name is Nancy-Ann DeParle. I’m sure many of you are thinking – A woman! Terrific.
Czar DeParle is on our side, right? Sure she is. Where did Obama find her? Where does she come from?
In the last 3 years Czar DeParle has served on the Boards of a number of healthcare industry corporations. And she’s been rewarded to the tune of – are you sitting down? - $5.8 million. Yes, I’m afraid so - $5,800,000 paid to her from the very industry she’s the Czar of. They must really be scared, huh?
Here’s a partial list: Cerner, Medco Health Systems, Boston Scientific, CareMore Health Plan, Legacy Hospital Partners. Czar DeParle also served as a Managing Director of another healthcare company, called Davita. This plum spot paid her $685,000. Add to this the $1 million investment stake Czar DeParle owned in CCMP. No, that’s not a part of the old Soviet Union. It’s an equity capital company heavily invested in – you guessed it - the healthcare industry.
Conflict of interest? C’mon now – She’s been appointed by Obama.
Perhaps you’ve never heard of Cerner, one of the companies on whose Board she served. Cerner is in the medical-computer business. So, how did the founder of Cerner, Neal Patterson react when Nancy-Ann DeParle was appointed Healthcare Czar and the Obama stimulus plan included $19 billion – yes, that’s BILLION – for computerized medical files? Mr. Patterson understandably called these developments “…the largest opportunity in the history of our industry!” I’ll bet it is too.
Nancy-Ann DeParle is on our side, right? She’ll bring us Change We Can Believe In… won’t she?
Of course, no Czar will be writing the legislation. And she won’t have a vote in the Congress. And we can trust our Congressional leaders to be on our side for Change We Can Believe In. Can’t we?
Thankfully, Senate Leader Harry Reid is no problem. He’s only got $50,000 in healthcare investments. Whew! A pittance. That’s good. What about the other key legislators involved in writing the healthcare bill? We’ll take fifty-grand as a good sign anytime, won’t we? We have such low standards.
Sorry. Republican Senator Judd Gregg, who’ll sit on the committee, has $560,000 of personal money invested in healthcare corporations.
But he’s a Republican – Who cares about him? It’s the Democrats who run the show. What about the key Democrats in the House? They’re sure to be on our side, right? Yeah, sure they are.
A key House committee member, Rep. Jane Harman from California, is not only married to one of the richest men in the country, she personally has – are you still sitting down? – Congresswoman Harman personally owns $3.2 million of healthcare industry corporate investments.
In fact, the 11 key members of the House and Senate have a total of $27 million in healthcare corporate investments. And they will write the bill? Are you feeling sick yet?
Looking for a silver lining among all these dark clouds? Look no farther than Sen. Chris Dodd who will be in charge of the Senate committee, in the absence of the ill Sen. Ted Kennedy. Just like we’ve always figured, Sen. Dodd is clean as a whistle. We’re saved! Well, not so quickly. You know how they do things in Washington, don’t you?
Jackie Dodd – the WIFE of Senator Dodd – just happens to sit on the Board of Directors of 4 major healthcare corporations. Your company should be so lucky. She’s the Big Earner in her family.
Like Bogart and Bergman had Paris, we’ll always have Sen. John Kerry. Too bad he didn’t win. We might have gotten universal healthcare already, right? Well, maybe not. Kerry’s financial disclosure lists some $5.2 million of his money invested in healthcare corporations.
But they’re all on our side, aren’t they? They say they are. Obama says so too. I guess they are – even if their money is stacked up against us, higher than Jack’s beanstalk. After all, what’s more influential – the wishes of the people or the power of invested capital? You don’t have to answer that.
When it comes to healthcare, don’t be holding your breath waiting for anything like… Change We Can Believe In.