As the congressional super committee looks for $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee urged repeal of President Obama's health care reform, The Hill reporter Sam Baker wrote this week. The truth is that Republicans are playing a two-sided game over repeal. Here's how.
You'll remember that in February of this year, House Majority Leader John Boehner led Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote for the repeal of the health care reform law even though the Senate didn't have the votes to do the same. It made for a good show of solidarity with the Tea Party that had swept Republicans into office in the 2010 mid-term election.
But wait a minute. Why would Republicans want to repeal health care reform? Sure, they don't want to see Obama succeed on his signature domestic issue. But their natural allies, big health care businesses -- drug companies, device manufacturers, health insurance companies -- gained a whopping 32 million new customers beginning in 2014 with the stroke of Obama's pen on March 23, 2010.
What businesses would ever get that many new prospective customers - with government subsidies to boot? Even better, each customer will spend, on average about $8,000 a year on health care. The medical-industrial complex will divide the lucrative spoils. This means that another 32 million people are at risk of having unnecessary cancer-causing CT scans, open heart surgeries and stents and drugs which I wrote about in The Treatment Trap.
Los Angeles Times reporter, Norm Levy, reports that conservative experts think that if the GOP wants to dismantle the law, they need to replace it with something else. They'll need a replacement, too, if the US Supreme Court declares the individual mandate unconstitutional.
Are Republicans having a moment of compassion for people without health insurance? Hardly.
The truth is that Republicans face great peril if they succeed in repealing the reform law and denying the medical-industrial complex the hundreds of billions of dollars they expect in revenue from Obama's health care reform. Expect a big push back from an apoplectic industry.
Levy from the LA Times quotes Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of executives of big health care industry companies, 'Wholesale repeal leaves you with nothing." That's right. Repeal of health care reform leaves the health care industry with nothing.
That's not an option for Republicans who have conspired with the big-moneyed health care interests whose bottom lines depend on the blind generosity of the American taxpayer.
Health care is still so lucrative now that private equity firms are jumping on the bandwagon and pouring money into health care with the expectation of profits in the next couple of years. See my earlier blog post: They want to get in, grab the money, and go before health reform's Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) kicks in beginning in 2015. Maybe.
Republicans and the industry are targeting the IPAB and anything that gets in the way of them taking a larger share of America's income. The board acts like a circuit-breaker if Medicare spending shoots up too much in a given year. It's the only part of the health care reform that has a meaningful chance of making Medicare sustainable as the boomers reach their 80s and 90s.
Of course, the medical-industrial complex doesn't care about that. It claims that the board will allow government bureaucrats to get in between you and your doctor. Here's the truth.
Drug and device companies want to get in between you and your doctor so they can market every drug and device known to humankind right on your IPad and IPhone. This gives new meaning to direct-to-consumer advertising. People will succumb to all kinds of gimmicks -- treatments, tests and surgeries that can cause more harm than good.
Whatever happens, Wall Street-driven health care will find its way into your wallet.
Rosemary Gibson is the author of The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Unnecessary Medical Care is Wrecking Your Health