No one likes to be fooled. Yet there seems to be an entire industry that has grown up around the proposition that when it comes to public policy, particularly about health care, the American people can be easily frightened and herded into believing, say, that the Affordable Care Act was a great advance toward free care and, even more unlikely, that surprise medical bills are actually a good thing and keeping them is a way of sticking it to “Big Insurance.”
We know, it sounds like “Alice in Wonderland.” Plus big bucks. That’s what lobbying around health care policy has become.
There is, for example, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future. It sounds like the good guys, right? People helping people to get the care they need?
Wrong. As we told you last year, it is an army of lobbyists representing the health care and insurance industries (surprise!), headed up by Lauren Crawford Shaver, a top official in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign (double surprise!).
The Partnership actually advocates for the ACA, or Obamacare – but only as a limit to reform, and pushes hard against anything that might succeed it.
Now it has formed a state chapter called Colorado’s Health Care Future (clever!). It has aired hundreds of state ads in recent weeks, sent mailers and bought Facebook advertisements, according to Colorado Public Radio – all aimed at killing a public option bill before Gov. Jared Polis and Democrats in the state Legislature can introduce one.
A public option generally is a logical step to build on the ACA, rather than attempting to replace it with a plan like Medicare for All. Colorado’s version may be worth supporting or it may have fatal flaws, but we will not get wise counsel about momentous public policy from charlatans, and neither should you.
“We know there are powerful special interests who have a financial stake in preserving the current system,” Polis told a joint legislative session recently, and they are “using those profits from overcharging patients to run ads against legislation that could save families money.”
The Partnership (cue spooky music) is not alone. Coloradans also must contend with a group called Doctor Patient Unity, which was the top spender on national political ads in Colorado in the second half of 2019, according to The Colorado Sun. It spent more than $2.28 million in that time.
With a name like Doctor Patient Unity, you might think something good was going on there – but apparently that is only so if you are a private equity fund that owns physician practices and provides medical staff to emergency rooms. DPU has been advocating against any legislative measure that seeks to end surprise medical billing and, consistent with our through-the-looking-glass theme, its website can be found at – yes, stopsurprisemedicalbills.com. Is it Orwellian in here or is it us?
And who would be taken in by this?
Maybe anyone who is too busy working a job and getting the kids to school and trying to save enough to insulate themselves against surprise medical bills?
The Partnership’s mailers, for example, say things such as “Putting patients first” and talk about that mustached villain Big Insurance. These are scare tactics pure and simple.
Here is hoping Congress, which is supposed to be hammering out a surprise medical billing fix, and knows a thing or two about being vilified, will not be distracted; and that Polis and Colorado legislators can at least cut through the noise and present their public option plan for serious consideration.