Share

POLITICS

The 'curious' case of HMOs liking Obamacare cash

By |
Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

 

Would you be surprised to hear corn farmers supporting ethanol subsidies? What if the federal government ordered the states to start subsidizing gym memberships – would you find it a “curious twist” that gyms were pushing the states to set up these subsidy programs faster?

Why are journalists so constantly surprised when the companies that stand to profit from provisions of Obama’s health-care law support the implementation of those provisions?

Here’s the New York Times today:

In another curious twist, insurance companies, which battled Mr. Obama over health care in 2009 and 2010, are now urging state officials to set up exchanges. They generally prefer state regulation, and they stand to gain because the United States Treasury will send subsidy payments directly to insurers on behalf of low- and moderate-income people who enroll in health plans offered through an exchange.

Again, the exchanges involve subsidizing health insurance companies. I find nothing curious about their support for state exchanges. The Times’ Robert Pear raises an eyebrow because the insurance industry “battled” Obama over the law.

Yes, they opposed provisions regarding Medical Loss Ratios (basically capping the legally allowable profit and overhead that health insurers can make), but the heart of the bill – an individual mandate paired with rules requiring insurers to accept all comers and controlling the pricing tiers they have – was a package the insurers proposed even before Obama was sworn in.

Throw in the subsidies for insurers and the laws requiring employers to cover employees, and you’ve got a bill full of insurer-friendly provisions. It’s noteworthy that on the ObamaCare case before the Supreme Court, the top health insurance lobby is not arguing to overturn the law, but is simply arguing that if the court kills the individual mandate, it must also kill the must-issue and “community rating” regulations.

And just as a reminder, the biggest single-industry lobby in the country, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, supported the bill and dedicated millions of dollars to supporting Democratic incumbents who might face electoral trouble for their “Aye” votes.

The other biggest health-sector lobbies – the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association – also supported the bill.

What’s “curious” is how Obama convinced the country that his law was a broadside to the whole health sector.

View article comments Leave a comment