Who's winning the health care battle? Lobbyists, says the New York Times, who've succeeded in blocking virtually every avenue for cutting health care costs that has been put on the table. They've killed proposals that would pinch doctors, hospitals, insurers and employees who are the beneficiaries of so-called Cadillac health plans. Now they're aiming at the last two measures still standing: a scaled-back Cadillac tax and a nonpartisan Medicare cost-cutting commission.
Both labor and business lobbyists have brought out the big guns on the Cadillac tax, managing to get 157 House Democrats to sign a letter to speaker Nancy Pelosi opposing it. And drug lobbyists have won a cost-cutting agreement with Sen. Max Baucus that appears to exclude drug price negotiations through a Medicare commission. A parallel White House deal with hospital lobbyists also appears to have excluded negotiation by such a commission, and that's causing other constituencies to cry foul.