Clinton gave the keynote address here
at the annual meeting of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the
powerful insurance lobby that has strongly opposed efforts at wholesale
reform in the past. [...]
But if others didn’t consider AHIP to have been a cheerleader for
the reform bill that ultimately became law, Bill Clinton seemed to.
“I want to thank you for your support of the healthcare reform
movement,” Clinton said numerous times during his lengthy, largely
economics-oriented speech, which dealt with everything from the BP oil
spill to a new bus system in Lima, Peru.
I’m sure AHIP also thanked its keynote speaker with a substantial fee.
This should put to rest the empty rhetoric in the health-care debate
that the new law was going to take on the insurance industry. There’s
no single-payer option, which would have eliminated the industry. It
won’t face new competition from a public option or Medicare buy-in. The
health insurance industry did not lose its exemption from federal
anti-trust laws, and will not be under federal regulation or face a
federal rate-review agency. Enforcement is left to weak and often
overly friendly state regulators.
The law very closely resembles AHIP’s own health-care reform proposal.
It has the government forcing millions of people to become the
industry’s customers through an individual mandate, and gives hundreds
of billions in federal subsidies without serious federal oversight.
Of course, if the Democrats actually took on the for-profit health
insurance industry through tough legislation, they’d probably lose
those lucrative invites to speak at its fancy conferences.