Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Corporate Democrats Plotting to Kill Universal Healthcare

Probably not the same Third Way.

HuffPo reports:

A health care policy statement causing an uproar among progressives was drafted by two policy analysts with longtime connections to the health insurance industry.

The paper, leaked by the organization Third Way Monday, rejects calls for a public health care option that would compete with private insurance on the grounds that it would be divisive and undermine broader reform goals. Instead, the group calls for a "hybrid plan" that would only be available to "those employed in small businesses with 10 employees or less, those in the individual market, and those who lack insurance. Another option might [be] to limit the geographic scope of the plan in its initial phases until its worth is demonstrated." The position would be unsurprising coming from the insurance industry, which strongly opposes a public option. But Third Way is nominally a liberal organization and claims allegiance to progressive politics.

The two authors are Anne Kim and David Kendall. Kendall is a former consultant for the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Association, one of the most powerful insurers in the nation. He is on the board of directors for the Wye River Group on Healthcare, which is funded to the tune of a million dollars by CIGNA, a major health insurance player. Kim is a former corporate attorney with Hogan and Hartson, a top health care industry lobby shop, and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton. She also formerly helped write policy for the Blue Dog Coalition, which last week issued a statement of principles opposing a public option without a "trigger." A Third Way spokesman said that Kim did not work on health policy issues while at Hogan and Hartson.

In 1991, according to his bio on the Wye River website, Kendall "helped set the stage for the national health care reform debate by bringing to Washington, D.C. the idea of managed competition, a theory developed by the Jackson Hole Group to achieve universal health care coverage through private health plans. He co-created the Jackson Hole East Group to foster discussion and political interest in managed competition."

Progressives have reacted with fury at Third Way's insertion of itself into the health care debate. Adam Green at wrote that if the draft paper becomes the official position he'll work to defund the organization, saying of Third Way: "Enough."

Everybody's favorite hypertimid incrimentalist bullshitters are back again, this time to attack the public health insurance option being placed in universal healthcare legislation (they don't even take the time to attack single payer, which has already seemingly been punted off the table by the HMO money-soaked Congress).

Third Way is a policy outfit put together by Clinton-era, corporate-friendly Democrats. They're basically around to make sure that progressives don't do anything that's actually, well, progressive.

They released a statement in response to the Huffington Post story:

“Third Way is committed to helping the President and Congress succeed in enacting meaningful and comprehensive health care reform.

Currently one of the most discussed aspects of the President’s reform effort is a public plan option. In a draft Third Way memo that has been widely circulated and mis-characterized, we propose a number of policy ideas that would help ensure that a public plan is crafted in an effective way – and can garner the votes needed to advance broad health care legislation.

There is an urgent need for real health care reform in America. Health care in our country has not worked for average Americans: it is too easy to lose coverage, it is too easy to see premiums rise, it is too easy to be denied access to care. Third Way’s latest report found that only 64% of working age Americans have had the high standard of health care coverage: 4 years of uninterrupted private health care. That is a crisis."

That’s why we need health reform that provides stable coverage, stable cost and reliable, quality care for all Americans.

Of course, there should be no problem garnering the votes for a public option if healthcare is going to be passed through reconciliation (as it is). The only reason to advocate against a broad and robust, Medicare-style option being offered to all is because you think it's a bad idea (or you're being paid to say it's a bad idea).

So that's probably not really what Third Way's PR masters meant to say.

Translation: we want to make sure that the health insurance industry is alive and well, and they pay us very nicely for that. We'd get into a real debate about universal healthcare that really gets to the crux of the problem -- how wasteful it is to run insurance for profit -- but we want to continue to hookers in Hong Kong from the money we rake in from the private insurers.

At least I think that's what they're trying to say.