Where’s THCB’s share of the money? Or does Stuart Browning feel left out?

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 an 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!

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6 replies »

  1. The real issue here is that our government is attempting to fund a plan that does not exist. That is the EXACT problem!
    I think I remember the former administration funding two other “issues” without a plan (let’s call those the war in Iraq and the bailout of the autos and financial industries).
    Funding without a plan should not be allowed in ANY country, ANY industry or in ANY situation. Forget your political affiliations for a moment and begin to question WHY. WHY would we allow our leaders to pass anything (or fund anything) without a proper plan that is well thought out and with accountability? Forcing something through to “get it done” is a reckless decision and as I stated before, should be punished with those leaders being fired from their positions.
    Too many of you are bashing CPR based on political views without regard for information. I cited that very clearly in the last post I made where the main offenders had a lack of information (or worse yet, information that was untrue) and had ulterior motives.
    As stated before, Matthew, how about we have a round table at the next Health2.0 on this topic???????????? Perhaps we can even find a sponsor to put some change in your wallet – I only mention that since you ask.

  2. Mr. Holt,
    I do not think that 1 million on ads is anywhere near close to what it would cost to buy enough media ads to convince Americans that our present system is just fine and dandy. I hope he runs those ads in the day time when many of the unemployed and now with no health insurance citizens can watch them.
    For some strange reason, I have this gut feeling that there is another story here with the Senator arlen Spector switching to the Democratic party. He will be soon nearing 80 and has had several health issues. His web site is featuring his introduction of his bill called the CAN bill.
    Spector may have finally figured out that the chances of the GOP leading the USA to finally cover citizens is a lost cause and would rather end his career in favor of health care instead of wasting time stopping health care. Just a thought.

  3. Let’s follow the KISS principle and use this as our reform guide: Health care for people, not for corporate profit.
    That should take care of fraudsters like Rick Scott and Stu Browning; they can nibble around the edges and peddle add-on insurance policies for things like cosmetic surgery and the newest purple pill, etc…

  4. Matthew, Thanks for granting me an extension of my 15 minutes of fame here on your little collectivist blog.
    Actually, I don’t feel so bad that someone else is helping to alert Americans that they will be waiting in a long line for gall bladder surgery or dying of neglect like those unfortunate elderly British patients in a Brighton hospital as shown in a recent BBC Panorama special. And how about this little jewel last week out of the UK? “Girl, 3, has heart operation cancelled three times because of bed shortage” (http://tinyurl.com/cs2frf). That’s “by design” as you undoubtedly know.
    However, judging from the usual comments here on your blog, I suspect that more than a few of your readers are just fine with that prospect and will remain avid readers of an “unconvicted fraudster” on the health care left – pedaling wealth redistribution and envy disguised as compassion.

  5. > So where’s our share of Scott’s million dollars?
    Well, now that Swiss banking is not so secret, I’m sure we’ll find out in due course. 😉
    > Cannon & Brownlee going at each other
    Sort of. Thanks for pointing it out.
    Cannon thinks Medicare can’t drive reform of physician behavior because of regulatory capture (cf. Stigler). Shannon thinks Medicare can change physician behavior, but maybe not if Medicare’s Board of Directors is literally “congress” — I think what she is hinting at is Ezekiel Emmanuel’s “Medicare Fed” sort of a structure to make CMS act like a “rational consumer” and be less influenced by “retail politics”. Cannon thinks public subsidies should be just that, and should be in the form of cash (cf. Friedman). Shannon says there is no market for the cash to work in and doesn’t want to wait for it to organize, but does not object to the premise. So they agree even when they disagree…

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