"While just about all retirees are covered, and nearly 90 percent of children have health insurance, workers now are at significantly higher risk of being uninsured than in the 1990s, the last time lawmakers attempted a healthcare overhaul, according to a study to be released today," reported AP (see "Health insurance woes hit workers. Premiums rising 6 to 8 times faster than wages have").
"The study for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that nearly 1 in 5 workers is uninsured, a statistically significant increase from fewer than 1 in 7 during the mid-1990s."
I came across this bit of information just as I hung up the phone with Billy Tauzin, president of PhRMA. Mr. Tauzin led a "roundtable" discussion on health reform. I, and several other bloggers, were invited to participate.
Towards the end of the conversation, we all got to talking about Hilary Clinton and the 1990s, which was the last time healthcare reform was a national issue. At that time, if my memory serves me, PhRMA and the drug industry were against the reforms proposed by the Clinton administration. Now, PhRMA and practically everyone else is in favor of "reform," as long as it is the kind of reform they want.
Leaving aside for a second what PhRMA wants, what I want to know is this: what was PhRMA doing between the time Hilary was rebuffed and Obama was elected to reform healthcare? Why didn't the industry push the Bush administration to get healthcare reform back on the agenda?
While more and more workers are unable to afford private insurance, Billy Tauzin still enjoys his government health insurance plan that he was allowed to keep after he left Congress to work for PhRMA. Mr. Tauzin, however, does not want all Americans to have access to government insurance but prefers government handouts that allow people to afford private insurance.
Sorry to make this personal, but that was exactly what one blogger participant was worried about -- how to deal with all the personalities that are "at the table" in this current round of negotiations about health reform. As Mr. Tauzin said, it's different this time because everyone has been invited into the tent. Mr. Tauzin closed the call with the hope that Republicans will not continue to stand outside the tent pissing but would come in and talk.
Hey, it could happen.
At least Mr. Tauzin invited bloggers into his tent, for which I have to give him credit. Hopefully, he'll invite me again.
For tweets made during PhRMA's Tauzin call with bloggers see: http://tinyurl.com/dzp9rq