The health insurance companies have been making lots of noise recently, pretending to support health care reform, but at the same time they have been plotting to double-cross the push for reform. While publicly supporting reform, they have been practicing dirty politics at its worst: lobbying Congress to block the public health insurance option, and filming ads reminiscent of the infamous “Harry and Louise” ads they used to torpedo health care reform during the Clinton administration.
It will be interesting to see if these ads work this time around. They use the same lies they used the last time. For example, ads being put together by Blue Cross Blue Shield show Americans being denied their choice of doctor, or being forced to wait months for appointments. How hypocritical is this? I don’t know what kind of health insurance they are talking about offering — my (very expensive) policy doesn’t give me free choice of doctor, nor free me from waiting for appointments.
Indeed, none of the proposals currently on the table force you to choose a government-run insurance plan. It is the insurance companies who are trying to deny you the choice of a public plan, because it would cut into their obscene profits.
But what is really interesting about this is whether Obama will have the political will to stand up to the insurance companies. During the presidential campaign, Obama said “If those insurance companies and drug companies start trying to run ads with Harry and Louise, I’ll run my own ads as president. I’ll get on television and say ‘Harry and Louise are lying.’”
Well, the insurance companies are about to start running “Harry and Louise” ads. Will Obama keep his promise?
If Obama is serious about changing the way Washington works, of putting the American people above the special interests, this is his big chance.