Saturday, May 23, 2009

Health Care Reform - Paul Krugman's Challenge to Obama

In yesterday's NYT, Paul Krugman (here) argued that Obama is going to have a harder time co-opting health-insurers than might have been assumed in light of their joining in the roll-out a couple weeks ago.

In particular, Krugman says there will be significant push-back on the idea of creating a 'government option' for insurance (on The Daily Show this week, Elizabeth Edwards argued that implementing a government option is the key to the whole issue; I previously posted about the government option here).

Krugman says that the insurers are showing their true colors as Blue Cross-Blue Shield prepares an advertising campaign that will oppose the government option.

Krugman argues that there's an irony at the center of private insurers' argument that a government option would put health care decisions in the hands of bureaucrats who do not have the patient's best interests in-mind: "private insurance companies are, in the real world as opposed to the world of their ads, more bureaucratic than any government agency, routinely denying clients their choice of doctor and refusing to pay for care."

Krugman's money-line is a challenge to Obama to stand up to the insurers:
The medical-industrial complex has called the president’s bluff. It polished its image by showing up at the big table and promising cooperation, then promptly went back to doing all it can to block real change. The insurers and the drug companies are, in effect, betting that Mr. Obama will be afraid to call them out on their duplicity.

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