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DN!: Ralph Nader on Obama’s Deals with Big Pharma & Health Insurance Co’s

“You Do Not Cut Deals with the System that Has to Be Replaced”: Ralph Nader on Secret White House Agreements with the Drug Industry

RALPH NADER: What is emerging here is what was being planned by the Obama White House all along, which is they would only—they would only demand legislation that was accepted by the big drug companies and the big health insurance companies.

You can see this emerging over the last few months. President Obama has met with the heads of the drug companies and the health insurance companies. Some executives have met with President Obama four to five times in the White House in the last few months. He has never met with the longtime leaders of the “Full Medicare for Everybody” movement, including Dr. Quentin Young, who is a close friend of his in Chicago; Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the head of the Health Research Group of Public Citizen; Rose Ann DeMoro, the leader of the fast-growing California Nurses Association—not once in the White House.

That’s all you need to know to realize that the deal that’s being cut here is from Obama to Senator Baucus, the Blue Dog senator from Montana, who is cutting a deal, largely in private, with right-wing Republican senators and getting it through the Senate and presenting Henry Waxman and John Dingle and others in the House with a fait accompli. So whatever they pass in the House will be watered down in the Senate-House conference. And what we’ll end up with is another patchwork piece of legislation, allowing huge and expanded profits for the health insurance companies and the drug companies, and continuing this pay-or-die system that has plagued this country for decades, a system that takes 20,000 lives a year, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. That’s about fifty to sixty people who die every day.

The big mistake that the Obama administration made was they did not have continual public congressional hearings documenting the greed, the fraud, the $250 billion in billing fraud and abuse alone that the GAO years ago has documented. They didn’t document the $350 billion of waste, the overhead of Aetna and UnitedHealthcare and other health insurance companies with their massive executive salaries and bureaucracies. They did not document the deaths, the injuries, the sickness that hundreds of thousands of Americans go through every year because they can’t afford healthcare.

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5 Responses

  1. If insurance companies really are a big part of the problem, why can’t we just start a new one that behaves? Doesn’t that seem simpler than a thousand page bill?

    Just form it as a non-profit and Obama can even assign the board of directors. No one could possibly object to that and it would give him the added competition he says is needed.

    • Sabba,

      You ask good questions. HR 676 which was written by Rep. John Conyers is only about 20 pages and it has 90 sponsors in the House. It creates a single-payer universal healthcare system. That would take the profit out of healthcare. Even more important it would mean that a business would not be considering it a “loss” every time you got healthcare.


    • @ Sabba: You are assuming that we exist in a competitive capitlist society. We don’t . It is a corporate oligarchy. Tryingt to be the new comer will not work.

      Also, on of the greatest problems with the system is the plethora of forms and regulations for the 100s of insurance companies. A single payer system would free doctors from being bureaucrats.

  2. @Wilderside: But if it’s the profit that’s the problem, then start a non-profit to compete. It doesn’t need any government involvement at all — certainly not a single payer system.

    If capitalism is to blame, then start a non-profit that beats it. It’s very simple and completely voluntary. What’s the problem? Why is the government needed for this? What exactly prevents you from developing a non-profit alternative? If there is something, fix *that*.

    • Sabba,

      Thanks for the interesting thinking on this. Though, your suggestion has a big flaw.

      I know in New York, but I think with any state, the government must approve non-profit status.

      Well, people can create organizations to do work. But, if they want to get a “stamp of approval” that will cause most people to feel comfortable giving them money and donating time, and if they want to thrive without paying enormous taxes, then they have to register with their state, and then with the federal government to be tax-exempt.

      Most non-profits survive by A. Posturing and making a mission that a government approves and B. Making nice-nice with local politicians in order to not get in trouble, and to get grants.

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