Barry and Co. should calibrate their words more carefully on this subject while they’re at it.
President Barack Obama and his aides have repeatedly suggested that major health organizations are with them on health care reform, but an analysis of these groups’ positions suggests few are completely on board and several may oppose the president in the end.
Obama and his aides do not explicitly say health providers like hospitals and drugmakers back the president’s proposals. But it would take a careful reading of comments out of the White House to understand this. Obama and his aides frequently associate these groups with their reform effort, creating an unmistakable impression that the health organizations that could sink the health care overhaul will not oppose Obama’s plans.
“There’s always going to be some interest out there that decides, you know what, the status quo is working for me a little bit better,” Obama said during last Wednesday’s East Room news conference. “And the fact that we have made so much progress where we’ve got doctors, nurses, hospitals, even the pharmaceutical industry, AARP, saying that this makes sense to do, I think means that the stars are aligned and we need to take advantage of that.”
At a White House event July 8, Vice President Joseph Biden also suggested an alliance with health providers.
“We have these hospitals working with us, and we have the pharmaceutical industry working with us,” Biden said. “We have doctors and nurses and health care providers with us.”
Obama and Biden were echoing comments that aides have made to lawmakers in selling his health care initiative, according to Congressional sources.
The White House has also carefully staged events with health care providers, reinforcing the impression that everyone is on the same team.
Biden’s comments came during an appearance at the White House with hospital officials at which it was announced that hospitals would agree to “contribute” $155 billion to health reform — as long as increased coverage defrays the costs of all those uninsured people being dumped into hospital emergency rooms whenever they need medical attention.
The Biden event followed a June 22 appearance at the White House with Obama and pharmaceutical industry officials where the president praised their decision to provide $80 billion to help seniors buy drugs and close the Medicare “doughnut hole.”
On May 11, Obama was at the White House with doctors, drugmakers and hospital officials to tout an initiative to keep down costs. Even private health insurers — who now fully oppose Obama’s plans for a government insurance option and who are regularly bashed by the president for getting paid too well — were on hand at the event.
And yet, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug industry’s trade group, opposes the main Democratic bill in the House, which Obama has endorsed. And while PhRMA has not come out against Obama-backed legislation passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, it has declined to support it.