EDITORIAL: Selling out private coverage

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The specter of nationalized health care is making strange bedfellows. Democrats have attacked medical insurance and pharmaceutical companies as evil for wanting to stop the government takeover of health care. But at the same time, Democrats are working closely with these industries to push the initiative forward. In exchange for favorable treatment in the plan, health care companies are financing a massive ad campaign to support government care.

Fox News reports that pharmaceutical companies are prepared to spend at least $150 million, and possibly as much as $200 million, to promote the changes President Obama wants. Private insurance companies, which funded ads that helped defeat President Clinton’s takeover of the health care industry in 1993 and 1994, have launched ads supporting Mr. Obama this time around. These campaigns will dwarf any opposition efforts to highlight the dangers of the proposed reforms, according to Fox.

Despite the largesse, Democratic rhetoric gives no quarter to the drug and insurance companies. When polls started showing that support for the president’s plan was dropping, Democrats needed a boogeyman, even if it was their allies. Referring to insurance companies, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed at the end of July that, “Of course they’ve been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure. They are the villains.”

In his July 22 press conference, Mr. Obama warned: “You know, there had been reports just over the last couple of days of insurance companies making record profits. Right now, at the time when everybody’s getting hammered, they’re making record profits, and premiums are going up.”

The demonized companies can take the heat because the eventual payoff will be huge. Democrats are proposing that these industries run the new government health care system. This serves as an unwelcome reminder that some big businesses don’t care about capitalism; they only care about their profits. If getting in bed with government guarantees cash flow, that is fine with them.

The consumer is lost amidst all the horse trading. The government and large firms might get what they want, but individuals will not. Most Americans just want to keep the coverage they already have. That option is not on the table in the smoky back room.

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