My lefty friends at Moveon.org emailed me (and a few million others) appalled that Rick Scott’s group is going to be spending $1 million running ads attacking the as yet officially non-existent Baucus/Daschle/deParle/Obama health plan. Now that’s not exactly a surprise. Rick Scott has been on the offensive for a while now and in the spirit of inclusiveness (or the more cynical among you might say, to start a fight in an empty house) THCB ran his op-ed a while back. Frankly it was pretty tough to figure out what he was “for” but it’s clear what he’s against—the evils of Canada and the UK.
Yesterday I had a little fun teasing some Norwegians over here to learn about the US health care system. I asked them what they wanted to learn about, and one of them said “what about the 48 million uninsured”. I told her that Americans were a kind and generous people, and that there couldn’t possibly be anyone here uninsured or suffering because of it, and obviously the two Michael’s at Cato and the nutjob prof at Harvard prove me right about uninsurance being a) voluntary and b) the fault of three Medicaid clerks in New York state who forgot to print the enrollment forms in Spanish. OK, OK, I changed my tune a little a few seconds later.
But that remains basically the screed of the Canada bashers. They say that those evil Stalinists in the UK and Canada are the same (even though they’re not), and no one gets any care. Whereas here it’s all sweetness light, teddy bears, puppies and all the MRIs you can eat.
However, I am beginning to tentatively that the lack of mainstream industry support for Rick Scott signals a couple of things—besides the fact that the mainstream is somewhat nervous of being led by a
n unconvicted fraudster man whose company settled with the government for $1.7 billion after it fired him.
First, the Dems in the Senate have decided to play tough on the reconciliation rule. That means they only need 50 Senate votes not 60 to pass health reform. As Jon Cohn points out (and he is writing some of the best purely political health reform stuff over at TNR’s The Treatment) this means that the industry is going to have to accept that something will probably pass. Which means that they’d better be making sure that they pursue the “least bad” rather than the “no bill” option. AHIP has been chasing down this road for a while, even though it probably means casting aside their smaller members. And I think for now most of the other big health care lobbying groups will follow suit.
Second, the health care industry—which has pretty diverse interests—thinks that it can punt on the delivery system reform part of the package. Almost all of the chatter has been about coverage, albeit disguised in Obama’s rhetoric of how we’re going to save average families money. But it’ll be coverage with more money coming from outside health care. I may be reading the tea-leaves wrongly, but the hard Peter Orzsag-led conversation about Medicare payment reform—e.g. paying less for “flat of the curve medicine”—seems to be unconnected to the wider coverage issue. That’s where the real fight is gong to be.
This leaves the opposition to “universal coverage the industry can live with” in the hands of the ideologues and loons.
And it leads me to my two questions. 1) Having diligently plowed this loony furrow for several years, how does Stuart Browning feel now that someone even richer, crazier and balder than him has come and stolen his thunder? And 2) THCB is a media outlet too, and we gave him our version of his 15 minutes of fame (whatever Maggie Mahar thinks of my motives). So where’s our share of Scott’s million dollars?
CODA: How the hell did I miss this? Cannon & Brownlee going at each other on Bloggingheads.tv!