Follow the (insurance lobby’s) money

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In the race to influence health care reform, the insurance industry and major corporations just made a big score in the toy department. RAND Corp. today announced a new online "analytic tool" of health reform proposals for "policymakers and interested parties." It leans hard toward having individuals pay for their own private insurance. It and completely omits a true public insurance choice like opening Medicare to all, much less any kind of single-payer plan. It’s all free-market, all the time.

Here’s why–the list of the project’s funders:

To date, funders include the following: AARP;
Abraxis BioScience, Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, Founder, Chairman, and
CEO; Aetna Foundation; Alcoa; Amgen Foundation; Blue Cross Blue Shield
of Massachusetts; California HealthCare Foundation; The Funari Family
Foundation; General Motors Foundation; Johnson & Johnson; Karen
Katen; Charles N. Martin Jr., The Martin Foundation; Pacific Business
Group on Health; Pfizer; RAND Corporate Endowment; RAND Health Board
(designated gifts from individual members); Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation; John J. Rydzewski; Leonard D. Schaeffer; The Suzanne Nora
Johnson and David G. Johnson Foundation; United Health Foundation; and
Wellpoint Foundation.

That’s four major health insurance companies and four pharmaceutical companies, other medical industry-allied foundations, including the Blue Cross-funded California Health Care Foundation, and GM. No wonder the "tool" is such an elegant, well-built toy–lots of informational popups, colored interactive boxes and decisions made in advance about what works and what doesn’t.


In the "analysis tool" above (here’s a link to the actual page), the health-care payment option with the most pluses (in RAND’s opinion) is "individual mandate," in which individuals must prove they’ve bought health insurance, or face tax penalties. That turns government into a customer-delivery system for insurance and drug companies, while lightening the burden on employers.

The most efficient potential reform and one favored by the public in various polls, is opening federal Medicare or something like it to all comers. Yet it isn’t even on RAND’s list. There’s no kind of single-payer, universal health insurance option. Yet the list above does includes individual tax credits for buying coverage, which every published analysis shows is the most expensive, most regressive and least efficient option. 

See more of it for yourself at What’s missing speaks volumes. Its heavily edited "options" are aimed at putting the burden on you and me, and the profit in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries’ pockets. 

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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