January 22, 2019 | Uncategorized

The Washington Post: Health-Care Industry Preps Offense Against Medicare-For-All

The Washington Post reports today on the diverse coalition of the nation’s doctors, clinicians, hospitals, health insurance providers, biopharmaceutical researchers and manufacturers, employers, and patient organizations, who are partnering to improve on what’s working in health care and fix what’s not:

Industry leaders – who have united to fight what they view as a threat to the country’s existing patchwork system of public and private payers – told me they’re planning to ramp up advertising and lobbying efforts this year to argue against such a dramatic overhaul of the health insurance system, saying education is all that’s needed to turn more Americans against the idea.

“I get the sense that progressives have gotten a total free pass. There is no pushback against those calling for Medicare-for-All,” said David Merritt, executive vice president for public affairs at America’s Health Insurance Plans.

“The people who are going to be impacted, like patients, like doctors who treat patients, like insurance plans that cover patients – no one has started to say in an organized and sustained way, ‘Here are the consequences if we do go down that path,’” Merritt said.

Last summer, AHIP joined with the Federation of American Hospitals, the American Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and 14 other groups in what they’ve named the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.

Their mission: to convince Americans that a single-payer system would deeply hurt their access to vital health-care services. Their aim is to dissuade Democrats from fully embracing Medicare-for-All – once a progressive hobby horse that has moved mainstream as House Democrats announced they’ll hold hearings on such proposals this year.

Their argument goes like this: If the government is the sole payer, it could deny coverage for certain services and demand lower rates from providers, potentially forcing them out of business altogether. A single-payer option, especially one as dramatic as the Medicare-for-All plan offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), would also cost the government considerably more money, probably requiring tax hikes.

The report also notes that, despite reporting and commentary that there’s growing demand among Americans for Medicare for All or similar government health care proposals, the facts show that’s far from the case:

…[I]ndustry leaders contend that Medicare for All didn’t sell nearly as well on the campaign trail as some have imagined.

They point to the most competitive House districts, where the winning Democrats largely didn’t run on – or even support – the idea [of Medicare for All]. Of the 35 Democrats who seized Republican-held seats, 23 didn’t support Medicare-for-All, and seven more who did support it nonetheless didn’t run on it, according to an analysis by Forbes Tate Partners, a public affairs and lobbying firm founded by former Democratic administration officials that is managing part of the coalition.

Highly publicized candidates such as freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan embraced Medicare for All. But in moderate districts and swing states, Democrats such as Reps. Lauren Underwood of Illinois and Donna Shalala of Florida kept the idea of a single-payer system an arm’s length away.


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