By Ben Cohen
The insurance/lobbyists/doctors and pharmaceutical companies are basically preempting a White House led reform of the industry by offering a plan that would substantially reduce costs over the long term. Krugman remains skeptical, but views the process as being a step in the right direction.
Personally, I'm nowhere near as giddy, and here's why. Any voluntary measures are not binding, and people will have to rely on the goodwill of giant, self interested corporations to lower costs. Obama is already signaling that he may acquiesce on his pledge to create a public insurance plan in favor of tighter regulation, and the idea that the whole 'reform' process could boil down to corporations promising to 'do better' is genuinely scary.
Having stolen billions of dollars from the public, the insurance industry knows the gig is up in the shattered economy. People just cannot afford to insure themselves any more, and as a result, the whole industry suffers. Playing nice and lowering costs in the short term is brilliant for business. It will restore some public goodwill, and foster the notion that the market is the best way of covering the public rather than the government.
The only way to reform health care in America is to follow in the footsteps of every other industrialized nations on the planet - government backed insurance or direct, universal care. A corporation's sole aim is to increase profit, and nothing more. While people in the industry may like to cover everyone, if it isn't profitable they won't do it.
Bernie Maddoff apologized when caught stealing billions of dollars and went to jail for it. The insurance companies have done the same, but instead are rewarded with an even greater role.