Sniffer Report: AHIP Pushed the Button and…

The Sniffer

The Sniffer

e=mc2 (Excessive-influence = moola x congressional-greed squared)

America’s Health Insurance Plans pushed the button on their “nuclear option” bomb to blast health care reform into oblivion.  The safety was released, the countdown went to zero, and “click!”

This is what AHIP and Big Medicine wanted to hear:

bravo_test_s atomic mushroom cloud(Click on the photo)

Instead they heard this, from the President of the United States:

In fact, the insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo. They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” Well, not this time. The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy – that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.

Don’t think for one second that AHIP has conceded or surrendered.  As the bills move through the process of being reconciled, the intensity of the pressure on Congress and YOU and ME, will intensify into a political nuclear storm, the likes of which we have never seen.  The days before the final votes in the Senate and the House will be filled with a Big Medicine-financed noise that would turn an Orc to stone.

President Obama, however, did not stop there:

Last November, the American people went to the polls in historic numbers and demanded change. They wanted a change in our policies; but they also sought a change in our politics: a politics that too often has fallen prey to the lobbyists and the special interests; that has fostered division and sustained the status quo. Passing health insurance reform is a great test of this proposition. Yes, it will make a profound and positive difference in the lives of the American people. But it also now represents something more: whether or not we as a nation are capable of tackling our toughest challenges, if we can serve the national interest despite the unrelenting efforts of the special interests; if we can still do big things in America.

I repeat here what I posted on August 15, 2009:

There are times in the history of a nation, that certain reforms, regardless of the opposition, and, yes, even despite the fears of some must be overcome and guaranteed for all as part of the Common Good.  One of those times was the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery.  One of those times was the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States granting women the right to vote.  One of those times was Brown v. The Board of Education decision of the United States Supreme Court that revolutionized equality in education for all U. S. citizens.  Many more could be mentioned.

Now is the time for health care to be added to those moments of sublime national change, to join those great reforms, cast as the finest, hardest steel into our Nation of Laws as an inalienable right and an eternal Blessing of Liberty.


Sniffer Report: The Countdown to Annihilate Health Care Reform is Running

The Sniffer: Big Medicine's Atomic Radiation Detected!

The Sniffer: Big Medicine's Atomic Radiation Detected! Credit: Smith Detection, UK

Update: The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-9 today, 13 Oct, (Olympia Snowe, R-ME, was the sole Republican to vote with the Democratic majority) to pass the Health Care Reform Legislation they have been working on since January.

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For years Big Medicine–led by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)–has been planning to obliterate the next attempt at health care reform.  I call it their “nuclear option.”

For the past year I’ve been sleuthing between the lines of the great media Sturm und Drang over health care reform legislation for clues to what AHIP was up to, which turned out to be far easier than I ever imagined. I assumed that they were trying to surreptitiously maneuver their anti-health reform nuclear device into position.  Only it wasn’t very surreptitious.  They were clumsy, overplayed their hand, their corporate brow becoming sweatier by the week.  So, today, AHIP released a study that was supposed to turn us all to stone.  Or something like that.  It had to be outrageously expensive to commission. Therefore the anticipated effect should have been just as extreme, reasserting their ascendancy over all things health care related.  MSNBC reported:

The study commissioned by America’s Health Insurance Plans marked a shift in strategy by the industry, which had been working for months behind the scenes to help shape health care legislation. With the Senate panel set to vote on legislation the industry fears could result in a loss of revenue, the insurers went on the attack, in dramatic fashion.

Maybe MSNBC can’t say AHIP’s plan has come apart at the seams, is in disarray, and the attack is a panic attack, but I can.  I’m writing political commentary.  AHIP should have called PhRMA and asked for a few semi’s filled with tranquilizers sent over to their headquarters.  But then AHIP would have to exercise rescission on itself for a pre-existing condition, a psychiatric anxiety disorder.  Or else, raise the rates on themselves so high for filing a claim that no one in AHIP could afford their own insurance.  To my way of thinking that leaves the Big Wigs of AHIP with the sole option of chewing on their fingernails.

Despite hundreds of millions of our health care dollars spent on lobbying and advertising by AHIP–the money we pay for the health insurance that is supposed to cover our medical costs–the wave of public sentiment, including many progressive politicians, for universal health care, a public option, and a right to medical care has grown higher and stronger.  It has begun to crest, a powerful rolling tube of determination racing toward the shore.

The strategies of Big Medicine, on the other hand, have been not at all as successful as they believed their money and influence should be.  They are angry; they are frustrated.  No one, they believe, has the right to interfere with their carefully crafted system that keeps the people at the top fabulously wealthy while the common rabble who pay them grow less and less healthy, creating desperation for medical care at any price those at the top choose to charge.  No one!  It must be stopped regardless of the consequences.

Today, instead of stunned submission, they got unbridled derision.

As reported by the Associated Press, the new report was immediately blasted for its conspicuous conspicuousness:

Questions about the technical soundness of the industry analysis by the PricewaterhouseCoopers firm was a big part of the discussion Monday. The release of the study late Sunday on the eve of the federal Columbus Day holiday had Democrats crying foul.

“The misleading and harmful claims made by the profit-driven insurance companies are politicking for corporate gain at its worst,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

You can read AHIP’s defense of the report by their spokesperson, Nancy Ignagni, who was interviewed by the News Hour’s Margaret Warner, by clicking here.  I watched the interview.  Nancy looked very grim and used lots of insurance jargon as a way to sound quite peckish and put-out with all of us mere peons who immediately recognized this report was the biggest crock of bantha poodoo since George the 43rd declared “Mission Accomplished” in, what was it, 1383.

Courtesy Getty Images

Courtesy Getty Images

Nevertheless, it is zero hour.  The anti-health care reform atomic bomb is in position.  AHIP has its finger on the button.  They will not be trifled with.  The so-called “report” (undoubtedly a work of fiction so cleverly devised it would make Dan Brown envious) is the start of the count-down clock.

Make no mistake about it.  AHIP will push that button.  Only the will of the American People, demanding from the President and the Congress no compromise on the establishment of Universal Health Care will determine whether or not the bomb goes off.

bravo_test_s atomic mushroom cloud

Amputating the Finger to Save the Ring

There are many ways to do things wrong.  A couple of weeks ago I woke up with my left hand seriously swollen.  It was a reasonably good reproduction of the hand of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Boy.  I headed to the Urgent Care Center to have it looked at.  The first thing out of the nurse’s mouth was, “We’re going to have to cut off your wedding ring.  If it cuts off the circulation anymore, you could lose your finger.”

Cutting off my wedding ring had not been part of the plan.  Although it was very tight, my ring finger didn’t hurt, and I just assumed the doctor would give me something to get rid of the swelling, my hand would return to its normal size, and I’d go my merry way.  Besides, having been married some thirty-two years, I’d guess that easily around twenty years had gone by since I’d even been able to get the ring off.

The decision actually was pretty easy to make.  Gold rings can be repaired and dead fingers can’t.  Within minutes, the nurse and her CNA were sawing away at my ring with a special device designed to cut the metal and not my finger.

Once the ring was sliced through, then came the hard part. Pulling the ring over my hyper-sized fleshy knuckle proved to be the painful part of the process.  As they say, see illustration below:

David's Swollen Hand and Ring Finger

David's Swollen Hand and Ring Finger

Within a few hours, my hand returned to its normal size and I retain a healthy ring finger.  My wedding ring can be repaired, as well.

But as I said in my lede, there are wrong ways to do things.  That happened today in the Senate Finance Committee when two different amendments for a public health plan, supported strongly by at least 65% of Americans according to recent national NYT/CBS poll, were defeated by a combination of Republicans (who have spent zillions of dollars as well as bazillions of hours trying to either wound to kill health care reform) and a group of Democrats (who, in the Senate, are referred to I think as Donkey Blue Dung Beetles).

Here’s my analogy.  The public option is the “ring finger” in the health care reform hand.  It is essential since people hands have had five fingers for a long time.  The ring finger, however, has become controlled by Big Medicine, and they have come up with this outrageous lie that their ring is soooooooo important and big, that the public plan ring finger should be amputated.  See illustration below:

Gigantic Engagement Ring. Credit: www.lovetoknow.com

Gigantic Engagement Ring. Credit: http://www.lovetoknow.com

Yep, save the ring; amputate the finger.  We won’t be able to  wear it on the hand, so we’ll just have to wear it like a crown, to remind us daily that Big Medicine is King/Queen of American Health Care.

Thanks, Max.  You’re doin’ a heckava job there making sure the American health care disaster is complete success.  Heckava job.