What Distorts Health Policy in the US?
The opening paragraphs of a short treatise by Drs. Woolhandler and Himmelstein (find it here) provide the answer:
t h e h e a l t h c a r e r e f o r m p r o c e s s e x p o s e d h o w c o r p o rat e
influences render the US government incapable of making policy on
the basis of evidence and the public interest.”
This statement, featured
on the December 2009 cover of one of the world’s most important medical journals, The Lancet, shortly before the passage of the Obama health
reform bill, highlights the major current problem in health policy.
The problem is not the state’s domination of the human body, but the
state’s abdication to corporate America of its obligations regarding the
health of the human body.
What role did the health industry play in the Obama health
reform? Insurance firms donated hundreds of millions of dollars to
Democrats as well as to Republicans. They then donated another
$100 million dollars to an ad campaign opposing the bill. So while the
Democrats embraced the centrist mandate-style reform (a reform first
proposed by President Richard Nixon in an effort to block Senator Ted
Kennedy’s single-payer bill in 1971), the advertising campaign (which
appeared under the name of the US Chamber of Commerce but was
actually paid for by the insurance industry) opposed it from the right.
The insurance industry’s funding of both the right and center of the
reform debate was aimed at shutting out voices to the left of the administration. Meanwhile, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America
(PharMA) donated more than $100 million to a campaign supporting
reform, which promises to expand the market for their products, while
eschewing price controls. The Senate framework on which President
Barack Obama’s reform was based was written by Liz Fowler, the former
vice president for public policy for Wellpoint/Anthem, the nation’s
largest private insurer.
Take the time to read this treatise, which provides a basic set of facts about the failings of the American healthcare system. We have a poor quality, inefficient system, which accounts for how incredibly expensive US health care is. The fact that the corporations which profit from our health care system prefer inefficiency and poor quality over real reform is well documented.
Nothing short of individual Americans educating themselves about health system failures and acting together to push health system reform will ever change the way health care business is done in our nation.
Dr. Joe Jarvis