Source The Guardian
America’s healthcare industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to block the introduction of public medical insurance and stall other reforms promised by Barack Obama. The campaign against the president has been waged in part through substantial donations to key politicians.
Supporters of radical reform of healthcare say legislation emerging from the US Senate reflects the financial power of vested interests ‑ principally insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms and hospitals ‑ that have worked to stop far-reaching changes threatening their profits.
The industry and interest groups have spent $380m (£238m) in recent months influencing healthcare legislation through lobbying, advertising and in direct political contributions to members of Congress. The largest contribution, totalling close to $1.5m, has gone to the chairman of the senate committee drafting the new law.
“It’s a total victory for the health insurance industry,” said Dr Steffie Woolhander, a GP, professor of medicine at Harvard University and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Programme (PNHP).
“What the bill has done is use the coercive power of the state to force people to hand their money over to a private entity which is the private insurance industry. That is not what people were promised.”
Robert Reich, the labour secretary in the Clinton administration, says the Obama White House, mindful of how the health industry killed off Clinton’s attempts at reform, has grown so fearful of industry money that it has quietly reached agreement to pull back from price caps and public health insurance.
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