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Why health care reform is failing

Karl Rove, former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, published a column today in the Wall Street Journal. The article, entitled “ObamaCare Isn’t Inevitable,” derides President Obama’s ideas of a public option for health insurance and blames the inability of Congress to put together health care reform on the American people.

Citing a Resurgent Republic (a group he calls a “nonprofit, right-of-center education organization” whose creation he assisted with) poll released Tuesday, Rove declares that “by a 60%-to-31% margin, Americans prefer getting their health coverage through private insurance rather than the federal government.”

Hold on, Mr. Rove. A New York Times/CBS News poll was released on Saturday, and its findings are a bit different:

The national telephone survey…found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan — something like Medicare for those under 65 — that would compete for customers with private insurers…The proposal received broad bipartisan backing, with half of those who call themselves Republicans saying they would support a public plan, along with nearly three-fourths of independents and almost nine in 10 Democrats.

So if it has such broad support, why hasn’t health care reform made much progress since it began a little less than a month ago? The answer: lobbyists. Remember how the American Medical Association (AMA) told Congress it “does not believe creating a public health insurance option… is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs”? Well since the 2000 election cycle, its political action committee has contributed $9.8 million to Congressional candidates.

This weekend, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus is taking a break from health care reform to hold a fundraiser, where lobbyists can pay thousands to hang out with the senator. Our own Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s Legislative Representative, recently told CQ Politics:

It’s unseemly to be doing this just before the markup [of Baucus’ draft health care bill]…This kind of schmoozing of lawmakers clearly buys influence.

When the AMA, insurers and pharmaceutical companies get involved, they are going to look out for the best interests of those they represent, and that isn’t the American people.