This is why your health care premiums and cost are high; why prescription drugs are high, and why so many people go without and are in debt. The health insurance companies wants to keep it that way as well as keep you sick.
Even before Democrats finish drafting bills to create a single-payer health care system, the health care and insurance industries have assembled a small army of lobbyists to kill “Medicare for all,” an idea that is mocked publicly but is being greeted privately with increasing seriousness.
Doctors, hospitals, drug companies and insurers are intent on strangling Medicare for all before it advances from an aspirational slogan to a legislative agenda item. They have hired a top lieutenant in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign to spearhead the effort. And their tactics will show Democrats what they are up against as the party drifts to the left on health care.
They also demonstrate how entrenched the Democrats’ last big health care victory, the Affordable Care Act, has become in the nation’s health care system.
The lobbyists’ message is simple: The Affordable Care Act is working reasonably well and should be improved, not repealed by Republicans or replaced by Democrats with a big new public program. More than 155 million Americans have employer-sponsored health coverage. They like it, by and large, and should be allowed to keep it.
The hospital federation and two powerful lobbies, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, created a coalition last June to pre-empt what they saw as an alarming groundswell of interest in proposals to expand the federal role in health care.
The name of the coalition is intentionally nondescript, and its executive director, Lauren Crawford Shaver, who led Mrs. Clinton’s efforts in 2016 to put marginal states into play, is cagey when asked for details. She says only that the group is planning “a big nationwide effort” with grass-roots allies.
But its reach is undeniable. The coalition has picked up more than 25 members, including the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the nation’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.
And it has already sprung into action.
When Senator Bernie Sanders, the author of the Medicare for All Act, announced on Tuesday that he was again running for president, the coalition immediately attacked him as “a leading advocate for upending our nation’s health care system in favor of starting from scratch with Medicare for all.”