Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AHIP and PWC more on the politics

See post below. I agree with many commentators that the Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) analysis commissioned by the health insurance lobby (AHIP) which concludes that the Senate Finance committee bill would cause a huge increase in health insurance premia is totally totally bogus.

So what is AHIP trying to achieve ? I don't think they are trying to sabotage reform. For one thing, reform is likely to be great for their bottom line. They might be making trouble on the squeaky wheel gets the oil principal. However, I think they are trying to influence the reconciliation of different bills by SenReid, the whole Senate and the conference committee. In particular, I think they really want the full individual mandate rather than the watered down mandate for some but not for others in the Finance committee bill.

I believe this, because they have said this again and again over the past year.

I think commentators are confused about AHIP's motives.

Update: Either Kevin Drum is not one of those confused commentators or he and I both are confused. In any case, he wrote a much pithier version of the post below.


I think that, for more than a year, AHIP has made their condition (singular) for supporting health care reform very clear. They demand and have long demanded that health insurance coverage of everyone be obligatory.

In a last minute compromise, the Senate finance committee watered down the individual mandate so that some people would be allowed to go without insurance. AHIP objected just as they have long said they would.

Note AHIP doesn't like the public option, but they have not publicly declared that they will oppose reform if it includes a public option.

AHIP had one single simple demand and it was not met. They said they would support a reform bill if an only if it met a condition. The other 4 committees' bills meet that condition and which the finance committee's bill does not meet it. They declare war on the finance committee's bill. They didn't attack the other committees . If I understand correctly (based on no systematic research) all of AHIP/PWC's objections are to ways in which the Finance committee bill differs from the two bills reported out to the House of Representatives.

Now it is possible that the attack came now, because everyone who counts knows that only the finance committee's bill really matters. It is possible that it was saved for a late minute (I wrote "last minute" hah I wish) so that people desperate for a deal any deal would cave. Still if an organization repeatedly says something very specific about what they will and will not do, and then does exactly what they said they would do, it is very odd to dismiss the hypothesis that they meant what they said.

If I am right, many smart people are ignoring something which was very explicitly and repeatedly stated. Why ? I'd say that people are forcing a complex issue onto a simple left/right spectrum.

Baucus and Snowe are to the right of Kennedy, Dodd, Rangel, Waxman and (fill in chairman of the House education and labor committee). AHIP is surely to the right of sincere reformers. Universal health insurance has long been a goal of the US left. AHIP just can't possibly have meant it when they said they would oppose any health care reform bill which didn't mandate universal health insurance. It just doesn't make ideological sense. It's as if they cared about profits not making Ted Kennedy turn over in his grave.

So part of the problem is trying to force profit maximizing corporations onto a left right spectrum when they care about other things too including their profits.

I think the concept "center" caused even more confusion than the concepts "left" and "right." I'd say that Baucus is so eager to settle for half a loaf rather than none, that he overlooked the fact that he could get a whole loaf but not half a loaf.

I think that, since 94% coverage of legal residents is further from Baucus's stated aim of 100%, he assumed it was more achievable.

I have a hint. When Paul Krugman and Karen Ignani agree on something, maybe they have a point.

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