Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

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Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Dominus Atheos » 2009-09-10 08:45pm

Earlier this week Baucus finally got around to releasing his version of the healthcare bill. (it sucks, in case you can't guess)

As a commenter on Marcy Wheeler's blog found, when you open the PDF file Baucus is circling, it clearly shows as being authored by Liz Fowler, aka the former Vice President for Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint, Inc. Anyone can check this by downloading the PDF and going to File then Properties.

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It's not should be like this is a surprise to anyone, but I thought people would like to know anyway.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Alyeska » 2009-09-10 08:59pm

Thats fucking it. Max is my senator, and I am sick and tired of his bullshit. As a citizen of Montana, I am going to call his office tomorrow and explain to them in detail how fucked up this situation is. How I dislike Max being in the pocket of the health care industry, and how when it comes to the next election I will throw as much support against his strongest opponent (regardless of their party) just to see him voted out of office.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Rogue 9 » 2009-09-10 08:59pm

Wow.

If that means what it looks like on it's face, this whole deal is totally corrupt. I wonder how the fuck he's going to explain this one.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Stark » 2009-09-10 10:55pm

How likely is it that someone in that position woudl actually make it anyway? Surely it'd be made by marketing and pdf'd by admin staff on her orders. It seems more likely it was just edited in (which is hardly impossible given that metadata doesn't really mean anything).

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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Dominus Atheos » 2009-09-10 11:37pm

Destructionator XIII wrote:Is there a link to this from a more official source? For all we know, the link from the Washington Post blog has been doctored.


The Washington Post isn't official enough?

Anyway, I realize that you surf the internet with Lynx or something, but you can still use Google. The fifth (sort of) result on that page is a CNN article and if you scroll down that, there's a "Don't Miss" box that also links to CNN (turner broadcasting)'s hosted copy. That copy also shows it being authored by Liz Fowler in Microsoft Word 2007.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Dominus Atheos » 2009-09-10 11:42pm

Stark wrote:How likely is it that someone in that position woudl actually make it anyway? Surely it'd be made by marketing and pdf'd by admin staff on her orders. It seems more likely it was just edited in (which is hardly impossible given that metadata doesn't really mean anything).


Most likely all the copies of Microsoft Word in Ms Fowler's office are programmed to show her as the author on any documents written in that office.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Stark » 2009-09-10 11:49pm

Good point. As a lobbyist, doing so would seem reasonable. I'm too user to think in a corporate context where everyonexwants their name on things rather than politics where you want THE name on everything.

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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Axis Kast » 2009-09-10 11:53pm

If she's a former executives, what's the big fuss? A conflict of interest arising from pass affiliation?

Coming at it from the other side, couldn't one say that this would be an individual with strong credentials for the post? (I haven't.) Have you read the Baucus bill? Is it a clear, and injurious, sop to corporate interests? Shouldn't that be the litmus test, if any?


Most likely all the copies of Microsoft Word in Ms Fowler's office are programmed to show her as the author on any documents written in that office.


Why would that be the case? Is that standard procedure? It would seem to me to be obviously unwise both functionally (because configuration control and identity of ownership become impossible) as well as politically (one can't get any distance from whatever products are disseminated). The legislation will bear the Senator's name anyway.

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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Dominus Atheos » 2009-09-11 12:20am

Axis Kast wrote:If she's a former executives, what's the big fuss? A conflict of interest arising from pass affiliation?


If anyone thought that that it was a past affiliation it wouldn't be so big a deal, but Ms Fowler left Wellpoint for the sole purpose of writing this bill. Politico:

The Backroom Operator: Liz Fowler

If you drew an organizational chart of major players in the Senate health care negotiations, Fowler would be the chief operating officer.

As a senior aide to Baucus, she directs the Finance Committee health care staff, enforces deadlines on drafting bill language and coordinates with the White House and other lawmakers. She also troubleshoots, identifying policy and political problems before they ripen.

She first worked for Baucus from 2001 through 2005, playing a key role in negotiating the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Feeling burned out, she left for the private sector but rejoined Baucus in 2008, sensing that a Democratic-controlled Congress would make progress on overhauling the health care system.

Baucus and Fowler spent a year putting the senator in a position to pursue reform, including holding hearings last summer and issuing a white paper in November. They deliberately avoided releasing legislation in order to send a signal of openness and avoid early attacks.

“People know when Liz is speaking, she is speaking for Baucus,” said Dean Rosen, the health policy adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).


Coming at it from the other side, couldn't one say that this would be an individual with strong credentials for the post? (I haven't.) Have you read the Baucus bill? Is it a clear, and injurious, sop to corporate interests? Shouldn't that be the litmus test, if any?


That's a completely accurate desciption of the bill.

Most likely all the copies of Microsoft Word in Ms Fowler's office are programmed to show her as the author on any documents written in that office.


Why would that be the case? Is that standard procedure? It would seem to me to be obviously unwise both functionally (because configuration control and identity of ownership become impossible) as well as politically (one can't get any distance from whatever products are disseminated). The legislation will bear the Senator's name anyway.


Yes, it's standard for all aides, assistants and secretaries to have their copies of Word programed to show their bosses as the author in any corporate office. It's just like company letterhead.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Dominus Atheos » 2009-09-11 12:29am

Destructionator XIII wrote:
Dominus Atheos wrote:The Washington Post isn't official enough?

No. If the link was a direct one to his office, then there'd be something to it, but as it is, this is hearsay.

Anyway, I realize that you surf the internet with Lynx or something, but you can still use Google.

lol

hey guys lets make barely supported claims then expect the skeptics to provide my evidence for me


lol

hey guys lets use internet-speak to dismiss entire pieces of evidence without providing any of our own

That copy also shows it being authored by Liz Fowler in Microsoft Word 2007.

This still leaves plenty of reasonable doubt about it coming out of the Senator's office.

Suppose this scenario: the senator writes the bill and distributes it in some other format, maybe even on plain paper.

Ms Fowler's firm takes it, does a conversion to pdf so it is neatly packaged for outsiders and sells it to the media. The pdf gets her name on it simply because a computer she owns did the format conversion.


If the pdf came directly from the senator's office; his own .gov website or something like that, you'd have a stronger story. But as it sits, there's no solid proof that a third party conversion and marketing effort, like outlined above, isn't all that happened.


If you have questions, do your own damn research. If you can find a copy that shows "Max Baucus" or some staffer as the author then we'll discuss it. If you refuse to find your own evidence then shut the fuck up and get out of the thread.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Broomstick » 2009-09-11 10:00am

Dominus Atheos wrote:
Stark wrote:How likely is it that someone in that position woudl actually make it anyway? Surely it'd be made by marketing and pdf'd by admin staff on her orders. It seems more likely it was just edited in (which is hardly impossible given that metadata doesn't really mean anything).

Most likely all the copies of Microsoft Word in Ms Fowler's office are programmed to show her as the author on any documents written in that office.

Things may have changed since I worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield (of which WellPoint is a part) but back in the day no, that would not have occurred. Computers are assigned to individuals, and that person would be the one whose name would appear as document author for any document generated on that computer's software. In other words, if one of Ms. Fowler's admins typed this in for her, or someone else in her office wrote it, that person's name would appear as author in the metadata. So, most likely, Ms. Fowler is indeed the original author, though that would not bar contributions from marketing or editing by others. I suppose there are ways around that, or it could have been deliberately changed to reflect her as author, but I find it unlikely given what I know of how that family of companies operates.

And, given how the Blue Cross system has been dumping admin staff these past few years (I speak from experience) it's not beyond reason that she PDF'd it herself as well. I certainly knew execs in the system who were capable and did do document conversion themselves.

Unless I'm confused on the timeline here (which is possible) - did Ms. Fowler write this while she was at WellPoint, or did she leave WellPoint then write it? Did she start it at WellPoint and finish it after she left.

Yes, it's standard for all aides, assistants and secretaries to have their copies of Word programed to show their bosses as the author in any corporate office. It's just like company letterhead.

Actually... that has NOT been my experience. Most of the corporate offices I've worked for did not have the software programmed to show the boss as author on assistant and secretary generated documents. It does not surprise me that there would be exceptions, but it's by no means a universal.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby FireNexus » 2009-09-11 11:04am

We all need to remember here that she works for Baucus as a top aide now. She is not a current executive at WellPoint. The idea that she would have written this bill is completely reasonable, and I don't think the standard of evidence given the circumstances really needs to be that high. The point up for discussion is that someone with such an obvious conflict of interests is writing a proposal for healthcare reform.

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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Broomstick » 2009-09-11 11:26am

Well, hell, back when Hillarycare was causing a ruckus I was employed by Blue Cross and there most certainly WAS a plan to, essentially, subvert the reform process back then (of course, the process was clothed in much more polite terms). I know there are contingency plans the industry plans to use should the country convert to single-payer. Why should anyone be surprised that health insurers have their fingers in the pie, now?

Sure, she's a former exec of WellPoint. Now she's a top aide of Bacus. Do you think her current job would, in any way, bar her from a return to executive-level status at WellPoint in the future? It is quite common for people to move in and out of high level positions like that.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby FireNexus » 2009-09-11 11:40am

Broomstick wrote:Well, hell, back when Hillarycare was causing a ruckus I was employed by Blue Cross and there most certainly WAS a plan to, essentially, subvert the reform process back then (of course, the process was clothed in much more polite terms). I know there are contingency plans the industry plans to use should the country convert to single-payer. Why should anyone be surprised that health insurers have their fingers in the pie, now?

Sure, she's a former exec of WellPoint. Now she's a top aide of Bacus. Do you think her current job would, in any way, bar her from a return to executive-level status at WellPoint in the future? It is quite common for people to move in and out of high level positions like that.


No disagreement from me. I was just trying to clarify the point because it seemed like there wasn't an understanding of her current position, what with the questioning of the veracity of DA's source earlier. I think this shit is downright despicable and I hope Baucus roasts in a special kind of hell for being such a slimy fuck.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Scottish Ninja » 2009-09-11 11:46am

Broomstick wrote:Well, hell, back when Hillarycare was causing a ruckus I was employed by Blue Cross and there most certainly WAS a plan to, essentially, subvert the reform process back then (of course, the process was clothed in much more polite terms). I know there are contingency plans the industry plans to use should the country convert to single-payer. Why should anyone be surprised that health insurers have their fingers in the pie, now?


Are you allowed to talk about that? I'm guessing not, but it sounds like juicy reading.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Guardsman Bass » 2009-09-11 02:42pm

Scottish Ninja wrote:
Broomstick wrote:Well, hell, back when Hillarycare was causing a ruckus I was employed by Blue Cross and there most certainly WAS a plan to, essentially, subvert the reform process back then (of course, the process was clothed in much more polite terms). I know there are contingency plans the industry plans to use should the country convert to single-payer. Why should anyone be surprised that health insurers have their fingers in the pie, now?


Are you allowed to talk about that? I'm guessing not, but it sounds like juicy reading.


I'd be interested to here about those as well. I'm guessing they'd probably try to move into supplemental insurance markets, and then squeeze the government to buy them out in a conversion to single-payer, among other things.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Broomstick » 2009-09-11 02:57pm

Scottish Ninja wrote:
Broomstick wrote:Well, hell, back when Hillarycare was causing a ruckus I was employed by Blue Cross and there most certainly WAS a plan to, essentially, subvert the reform process back then (of course, the process was clothed in much more polite terms). I know there are contingency plans the industry plans to use should the country convert to single-payer. Why should anyone be surprised that health insurers have their fingers in the pie, now?

Are you allowed to talk about that? I'm guessing not, but it sounds like juicy reading.

Not really. While I did work for both VP's and CEO's in the Blue Cross system I was certainly not privy to all details of such plans, I certainly can't produce any documentation, and there was that agreement I signed in exchange for a significant severance package upon my departure.

I do know that, should the country go to single payer Blue Cross will attempt to step in as the administrator of the whole shebang - why not? They're already the administrator for Medicare, and used to be for TriCare until someone fucked up the reapplication process (and it really was a stupid error that lost them that contract). They already, collectively, cover 100 million "lives" - more than any other health insurer in the world, and more than the population of most countries. Certainly, such a change would severely reduce profits in the system, but Blue Cross has every intention of surviving such a change, if it ever occurs. A significant portion of Blue Cross is run as a not-for-profit anyway, and those areas typically run at a 3-5% overhead cost, as opposed to 10-20% or more at entirely for-profit health insurers. The Blue Cross system could adjust to reduced income much easier than some of its competitors.

Given the timing of my lay off and the current administration's start I do not have any details on what is currently being planned by my former employer, but I have no doubt there are plans in place for several outcomes. It's the way the confederation of companies that is Blue Cross does business.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Broomstick » 2009-09-11 02:59pm

Guardsman Bass wrote:I'd be interested to here about those as well. I'm guessing they'd probably try to move into supplemental insurance markets, and then squeeze the government to buy them out in a conversion to single-payer, among other things.

Oh, yes - that is definitely a feature of some of their contingency plans. Blue Cross already operates in supplemental insurance such as "medigap" (supplemental to Medicare) and in countries that already have UHC such as Canada, France, Great Britain, and others.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Aaron » 2009-09-11 06:25pm

Broomstick wrote:Oh, yes - that is definitely a feature of some of their contingency plans. Blue Cross already operates in supplemental insurance such as "medigap" (supplemental to Medicare) and in countries that already have UHC such as Canada, France, Great Britain, and others.


Indeed, they manage the coverage for Veteran's Affairs Canada, even have their little logo on my benefits card. And I suspect that they will snap up the new contract for the PSHCP as well this year.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Broomstick » 2009-09-11 07:14pm

Blue Cross doesn't like the idea of single payer, but they are far less afraid of it than other health insurance companies because they already have experience in that environment.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Guardsman Bass » 2009-09-11 07:41pm

Broomstick wrote:
Scottish Ninja wrote:
Broomstick wrote:Well, hell, back when Hillarycare was causing a ruckus I was employed by Blue Cross and there most certainly WAS a plan to, essentially, subvert the reform process back then (of course, the process was clothed in much more polite terms). I know there are contingency plans the industry plans to use should the country convert to single-payer. Why should anyone be surprised that health insurers have their fingers in the pie, now?

Are you allowed to talk about that? I'm guessing not, but it sounds like juicy reading.

Not really. While I did work for both VP's and CEO's in the Blue Cross system I was certainly not privy to all details of such plans, I certainly can't produce any documentation, and there was that agreement I signed in exchange for a significant severance package upon my departure.

I do know that, should the country go to single payer Blue Cross will attempt to step in as the administrator of the whole shebang - why not? They're already the administrator for Medicare, and used to be for TriCare until someone fucked up the reapplication process (and it really was a stupid error that lost them that contract). They already, collectively, cover 100 million "lives" - more than any other health insurer in the world, and more than the population of most countries. Certainly, such a change would severely reduce profits in the system, but Blue Cross has every intention of surviving such a change, if it ever occurs. A significant portion of Blue Cross is run as a not-for-profit anyway, and those areas typically run at a 3-5% overhead cost, as opposed to 10-20% or more at entirely for-profit health insurers. The Blue Cross system could adjust to reduced income much easier than some of its competitors.


The information about Blue Cross's role in managing several public health care administration systems is interesting. It's actually not a bad idea, per se - you'd be basically co-opting an already massive insurance company and then turning it into essentially a utility on the national level, instead of having to set-up an entirely new administrative infrastructure from top to bottom.

That'd also make for an interesting political strategy if the country ever went single-payer - in order to weaken resistance from the insurance companies, you could play them off against each other over who gets to be the monopoly on coverage at the end of the day.
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Broomstick » 2009-09-11 07:44pm

Guardsman Bass wrote:The information about Blue Cross's role in managing several public health care administration systems is interesting. It's actually not a bad idea, per se - you'd be basically co-opting an already massive insurance company and then turning it into essentially a utility on the national level, instead of having to set-up an entirely new administrative infrastructure from top to bottom.

Right. It would be somewhat analogous to the US Postal system, but originating from a private company rather than from a public service.

That'd also make for an interesting political strategy if the country ever went single-payer - in order to weaken resistance from the insurance companies, you could play them off against each other over who gets to be the monopoly on coverage at the end of the day.

Won't work - everyone in the industry knows Blue Cross is in a superior position to become the administrator. You might get Blue Cross vs. Everyone Else, but no other company has such a huge network or such experience with working with government contracts (to the best of my knowledge - I'm not infallible here)
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby The Yosemite Bear » 2009-09-11 08:41pm

Rogue 9 wrote:Wow.

If that means what it looks like on it's face, this whole deal is totally corrupt. I wonder how the fuck he's going to explain this one.



umm because...., hey look! Obama is a Commie Grandma killer, alien. <jk>
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Crossroads Inc. » 2009-09-11 09:16pm

Once More I have to ask... Has anyone heard about tis on any mainstream news? CNN? MSNBC? NPR? No?
Damn Liberal Media...
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Re: Bacus bill literally written by health insurance industry

Postby Darth Wong » 2009-09-12 11:01am

Axis Kast wrote:If she's a former executives, what's the big fuss? A conflict of interest arising from pass affiliation?

Coming at it from the other side, couldn't one say that this would be an individual with strong credentials for the post? (I haven't.) Have you read the Baucus bill? Is it a clear, and injurious, sop to corporate interests? Shouldn't that be the litmus test, if any?

It's amazing how incredibly weak cultural antipathy for conflict of interest is. Frankly, Baucus should be forced to explain any close working relationship with such people at all, regardless of whether they are actually personally writing documents for him.
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