Obamacare Cronyism Makes Bad Medicine

Emails released last week between representatives of major pharmaceutical companies (“big Pharma”) and top Obama administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, reveal insider-dealing sufficient to kill any remaining Hope that Obamacare was designed to deliver on the promises of its official name: there is no Patient Protection or Affordable Care discussed therein.

The joint venture was forged in secret in spring 2009 amid an uneasy mix of menace and opportunism. The drug makers worried that health-care reform would revert to the liberal default of price controls and drug re-importation that Mr. Obama campaigned on, but they also understood that a new entitlement could be a windfall as taxpayers bought more of their products. The White House wanted industry financial help and knew that determined business opposition could tank the bill.

I urge you to read the two stories linked here and here to grasp their full, gory detail, but the upshot is that in exchange for, among other things, the Obama side killing the inclusion of drug importation in the bill, big Pharma threw millions of dollars behind its passage, including a $150 million advertising campaign coordinated with the White House, and $70 million on two 501(c)(4) front groups called “Healthy Economy Now” and “Americans for Stable Quality Care” to build public opinion support for Obamacare’s passage.

The closeness of the relationship extends to discussions of the President’s addresses to the American public on the subject. Following a speech in which the President made comments critical of the industry—subsequently blamed on a “young speechwriter”—Rahm Emanuel is quoted as telling the big Pharma reps: “I take personal responsibility for that error. As you know, this is out of character for what the President has been saying since we made our deal.”

Here is a video overview of the revelations:

While Obamacare was ostensibly the “fix” for a system we can all agree is badly broken, even if it were repealed, or struck down by the Supreme Court, a fix remains needed. Rather than continuing to strike political room back-deals and expecting different outcomes, our new book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, provides workable solutions to actually achieve Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare:

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute. Having received her A.B. in economics from Stanford University, she is Managing Director of Lightning Ventures, L.P., a San Francisco Bay Area investment firm, former Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army of both San Francisco and Alameda County, and Vice President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.
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