Sunday, August 16, 2009

Will "Democracy" Cost You Your Health Care?

According to The Washington Post and Consumer Watchdog, "health insurers and their employees contributed $2.2 million to the top 10 recipients in the House and Senate since 2005, while drug makers and their employees gave more than $3.3 million to top lawmakers during that period."

PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) chief, Billy Tauzin, says that all his industry's campaign contributions "simply reflect participation in American democracy."

"We do what most people do in political systems: We support people with whom we agree and with whom we believe in. We also support other people who don't always agree with us but are honest and fair and open-minded."

Of course, if you're naive enough to believe that, I've got some swampland in Siberia to sell ya. After all, this is the same Billy Tauzin who, while in the House, spearheaded that Medicare Prescription Drug Bill that ballooned the budget to pay the pharmaceutical companies whatever they wanted to charge only to leave two months later to take that PhRMA head job for $2.5 million a year. The same Billy Tauzin who's bragging that he's made the White House promise that any new health care reform will "block any congressional effort to allow the government to negotiate Medicare drug prices."

With some of these top Congressional beneficiaries of health sector "democracy," it will be no surprise how they will ultimately vote on this health care debate. However, it is interesting to hear their justifications in light of how much money they get.

Let's take a look:

Sen. John McCain


--Often talks about tort reform and severing the link between health coverage and employment

Sen. Mitch McConnell


“I don't think we need to change the entire American health care system. We have the finest health care in the world now. We have some problems and we ought to do some niche fixes related to the problems.”

Sen. Max Baucus


--Reportedly opposed to and planning to kill "the public option" in the Senate bill

Rep. John Boehner


--recently said, according to The St. Petersburg Times that the Democrats health care reform "will require (Americans) to subsidize abortion with their hard-earned tax dollars."

Rep. Eric Cantor


Rep. John Dingell


--After being shouted down at a couple town hall meetings, wrote an op-ed piece in The Detroit News where he said: "I want to hear from my constituents, but also explain that by lowering costs, improving quality and giving more choices to Americans, we can save both our health care system and economy."

Rep. Earl Pomeroy
(D-North Dakota)


"Under the current version of the House health care reform bill, the public insurance option would reimburse providers at Medicare rates, which unfairly disadvantages North Dakota. Medicare underpays providers in North Dakota to begin with, so a public option that pays Medicare rates could diminish the quality and level of services available in our state, leaving North Dakotans to potentially have drive to Minneapolis to see a specialist or having to wait longer to see a primary care provider." -- from

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