Tuesday, May 29, 2007

1993-1994 IS NOT 2009-2010

Several times on this blog I have posited that, after the war strategy is defined by all accounts this fall, Health Care Reform will be the domestic issue that will elect the next President of the United States of America.

I have been called naive by highly respected experts from government,academia, and the non-profit "think tank" sectors. Even some close intelligent friends said I was dreaming? I have been called naive for "not understanding the political process". (Did I not witness the failure of the Clintons in 1993-1994?)Called naive for "not understanding that not enough of the US middle class is dissatisfied with our current Health Care system?"-an apparent prerequisite for change.Called naive for "not understanding that one cannot mess easily with the $2 trillion dollar plus US disease care sector without major economic dislocations to the US economy". That this MUST be very incremental?

Yet here is my answer. As I say in my blog title 1993-1994 IS NOT 2009-2010. Much has changed in the intervening 15 years- and for the worse-much worse! While the well intentioned but mismanaged Clinton plan failed,the collective rage against Big Insurance and Big PhRMA is growing rapidly as are legal actions against them. Credible polls consistently report Health Care Reform as a priority for most Americans. All the Democratic Presidential candidates have spoken often individually and when assembled in forums or debates on health care.

Furthermore "three stars recently aligned" for me (no-I am not an advocate of astrology) to make me believe that perhaps I just might be correct about the ripeness of this health care issue.

First the head of the US GAO Comptroller General David Walker appeared on 60 Minutes recently predicting an economic "tsunami" if politicians did not act on Medicare "yesterday"!

Secondly a sober and intelligent yet muckraking filmaker Michael Moore appeared on comedic but smart pundit Bill Mahar's popular TV show just last week to talk about his new movie SICKO which just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival a few weeks ago. Mahar who viewed the entire movie said that the it could very well be the tipping point for the Health Care Reform issue after it is released this late June in the US. And get this- Moore said his movie was well received in Cannes by both Democrats and Republican types.(Moore even had some preventive medicine advice for his mid-western type couch potatoe brothers and sisters as it relates to advocating "any mild exercise and discovering fruits and vegetables" which has personally helped Moore himself lose weight)

Finally the too long awaited details of the "electric presidential candidate" Senator Barack Obama's Health Care Reform plan were released today in Iowa City,Iowa as reported by THE NEW YORK TIMES. Obama did not mince words when he laid the blame for our failed US health care system at the feet of Big Insurance and Big PhRMA-deservedly so I would personally add. Obama said that similar efforts to create universal coverage were "crushed under the weight of Washington politics and drug and insurance industry lobbying". Obama then went on to say "This cannot be one of those years" GO BARACK!

But if you disagree with me you can listen to the Republican Presidential candidates who are almost embarassingly and tragically silent on this issue with the exception of former Sec.of HHS Tommy Thomson whose incompetence contributed to the problem in the first place. Or you can listen to those phoney TV ads about the "success" of Medicare part D -enhanced drug coverage for US seniors-which by some other accounts ranks up there as one of the worst pieces of legislation passed by Congress in decades-Passed literally in the middle of the night only after intense -some say unethical- swarms of lobbying by the Pharmaceutical Industry. PhRMA CEO, former Louisiana Congressman, Billy Tauzin (current salary at $2 million/year)gloated and boasted of this venal victory calling it "the way politics works" (some are calling for investigations)

So I ask -Am I naive? or not? Let me know? I need and value your input.

Dr. Rick Lippin