Green Room

Obama’s refusal to provide records on healthcare meetings should sound alarms

posted at 1:50 am on March 14, 2011 by

The obvious question is why?  Why would the Obama administration who boasted open and transparent discussions of such a sensitive subject as healthcare close the door to the opportunity to present its factual case to the American people?  Messaging anyone?  Nope.

Complying with the records request from the House Energy and Commerce Committee “would constitute a vast and expensive undertaking” and could “implicate longstanding executive branch confidentiality interests,” White House lawyer Robert Bauer wrote the committee. Translation: Nice try.

Before the Democrats rammed through the Obamacare bill (and don’t think for one little ol’ minute that our narcissistic President doesn’t love that branding), Obama and WH officials met with several high-profile insurance executives as the WaPo lists:

The list included George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Health Plans; Scott Serota, president and CEO of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association; Kenneth Kies, a Washington lobbyist representing Blue Cross/Blue Shield, among other clients; Billy Tauzin, then head of PhRMA, the drug industry lobby; Richard Umbdenstock, chief of the American Hospital Association; and numerous others.

The most concerning is George Halvorson as he was the only executive to meet with Obama.  And here is why:

“There really are two Americas when it comes to health care — the fully insured, primarily white America and the disproportionately uninsured minority America,” Halvorson wrote. “More than half of the total uninsured people in this country are minority. That fact alone should make the need to cover everyone in America a pure ethical imperative. This issue is not about economics — it is about equality. Universal coverage should be the next major civil rights issue for this country to face.

Halvorson also wrote an article in 2007 equating health reform to the “unfinished business of the Civil Rights agenda.” Halvorson discusses the disparities between the races and health care coverage and states:

If we considered no other issue than racial and ethnic disparities, this nation’s leadership — like the leadership of a number of states — should be moving this country down the path to an American form of universal coverage as quickly as possible. There is no more vital or meaningful way for us to honor and extend the great legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Again, Halvorson was also the only insurance executive to meet with Obama at that time.  Why?  Is it because Obama wants a single-payer system and sees himself as finishing the Civil Rights Movement, and Halvorson has the same viewpoint and the most to gain via Kaiser Permanente?  But, hey, there’s nothing to see here, right?  Or, is it that those meetings were, as Halvorson stated:

“The real discussion this time, behind those closed doors, is about changing the way care is delivered. Not about the cost.” 

Now, that is confusing.  According to former WH Budget Director, Peter Orszag, I thought that we were on an unsustainable path, so how could costs not come up in these meetings?  So, if we now know that those meetings were about how our healthcare is to be delivered, wouldn’t that be cause enough for alarm?  Some questions that pop into my mind are: how are those changes going to be implemented, what type of practitioner has direct access to patients, who has the ability to refer to specialists, who orders advanced tests/images, who makes the medical decisions, what protocols are being set/followed and who sets them, and do patients have access to all available treatment options.

Additionally, the Washington Times article cites that the Clinton and Bush administrations thwarted such calls:

President George W. Bush’s administration beat back efforts to reveal the dealings between Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force and industry. President Bill Clinton’s administration successfully resisted demands for records of its failed push to remake the health care system, which was overseen by then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

However, unlike the previous scenarios, this is now the law of the land, American taxpayers will be footing the entire bill, and will potentially ultimately have their healthcare decisions placed in the government’s control.  Doesn’t that give us the right to that information trumping the “implicate longstanding executive branch confidentiality interests” excuse.  And since when does this administration give a hoot about costs, nullifying the argument that the compliance with the records request “would constitute a vast and expensive undertaking.”

To quote NRO’s Jim Geraghty, did the Obama administration just administer the Cee-Lo Green option on Americans?

Typo correction: I’ve corrected the WaPo citation as it should have been Washington Times.

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good piece SH

cmsinaz on March 14, 2011 at 8:01 AM

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Ed Morrissey on March 14, 2011 at 12:33 PM

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