Health Industry Shakedown Imperils Reform

Obama must ignore lobbyists for insurers, doctors, drug makers
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2009 3:32 PM CDT
Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, speaks at a political conferenc, February 17, 2002 in Los Angeles, CA.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – In dealing with pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and the AMA, President Obama should take a page from David Letterman's book and not fall prey to blackmail, writes former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. Promises the administration made to those three constituencies in exchange for staying neutral or positive about health care reform amount to “hush money,” writes Reich. "When they all get paid off, who will do the paying? Middle-class Americans who are already in a financial squeeze."

The deal created tens of millions of new customers, and no reforms that bit into profits—no Medicare bargaining for lower drug prices, no public option to compete with private insurance, and no messing with the fee-for-service model that pays doctors more for more treatment, not better outcomes. If the president doesn’t slam on the brakes, not only will the extra coverage he wins for currently uninsured Americans represent a hollow victory, but "Sarah Palin or some other right wing-nut populist will wallop Obama."
(Read more Robert Reich stories.)