Remember “The Price is Right”? You may be surprised to know that the TV game show which began in 1956 is still going after over 50 years. Though the format has changed from the original, it is still a fairly simple concept. Contestants try to determine the correct retail value of something and the one who comes closest, without going over the price, is the winner.
My guess is that someone of influence in the Obama Administration is a Price is Right fan.My guess is that it is Timothy Geithner. He is all about numbers (well, except when it comes to his own taxes). The reason I think there is a big fan of the show in the White House is that they have learned well how to play the game. For example:
Take Jonathan Gruber, the famous MIT Economist. He has been the leading “independent expert” in support of the numbers proclaimed by the White House in support of Mr. Obama’s Health Care proposals. Or….
Take Ben Nelson, now famous Senator from Nebraska. He cast what was considered the critical 60th vote to move the Health Care Plan in the Senate from Committee to the floor for vote. Or…
How about Mary Landreiu, Senator from Louisiana? She could also be credited with that 60th vote, though it does appear that she had confirmed her vote prior to Mr. Nelson. Or…
You should look at Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy. Both are Senators from Vermont who seemed like they might vote against the healthcare plan. Or…
Look at the AARP. The American Association of Retired Persons. Their support for Obama Care is critical in the eyes of the Obama Administration. As is…
The support of the AMA. The American Medical Association could do great damage to the current Health Care Plan by signalling to the public that the plan will cost them more and lower the quality of the services they receive. Luckily, for Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid, and Mrs. Pelosi, the AMA has come out in favor of “Obama Care.” Or at least their President has.
So what do these people/Organizations have in common and how does this relate to “The Price is Right”? You guessed it. The Bill’s sponsors and the Administration have discovered the Retail Price of Each.
Dr. Gruber has for 9 months been the go-to-guy when the Administration wanted an “Independent Expert” to confirm their highly optimistic estimates of the costs of Obama Care. It turns out that all the while, Dr. Gruber has been paid $297,000 for “technical assistance” by the Department of Heath and Human Services. Until the past week, this fact has been hidden from the public. Amazingly, when asked for a list of all consultants on the subject employed by government resources (request made by Republican Mike Enzi) last July, Dr. Gruber’s name never showed up. It must have been an oversight.
We all know the price of a Ben Nelson. It is $300,000,000 in Medicaid payments to his state.
And, Ms. Landrieu’s vote sold for probably $100,000,000 (can’t find an independent economist to verify it) that is available only for Louisiana. It is interesting that for some unknown reason, the authors of the Senate Bill did not want to come out and say this $100 Million plum was just for Louisiana. Instead, they wrote 2 full pages of confusing text about states that have suffered major disasters but narrows it down so that only Louisiana fits the description. As a quick aside, there are 656 words in the offending Section 2006, Special Adjustment. What do they say? Louisiana gets One Hundred Million Dollars in Federal Medical Assistance Plan funds. That’s 12 words needed and 656 used. If the entire 2000 page document is as bloated as this (and it may be more bloated), that means it could have been written to fit on less than 40 pages.
Mr. Leahy and Mr. Sanders together secured for their state about $100,000,000 in Medicaid offsets (much like what Mr. Nelson obtained for his vote).
The AARP claims to represent Seniors but in fact, their main source of income is sales of Medicare supplement insurance, Medigap, plans. When the bill was written to remove most of Medicare Advantage, that opened the door to over hundred million dollars of need for Medigap plans.
Then there is the AMA. This one is a bit harder group on which to set a price. First there was the trade of “We’ll reverse the planned 21.5% drop in Medicare reimbursements (scheduled for January 2010) if you will support our plan.” Second, there is an unknown prize that was likely bestowed on the President of the AMA who came out in support of the House Health care bill on literally the day before his organization’s House of Delagates was scheduled to discuss and propose the AMA position. By preempting the assigned duty of the Board, the AMA President put them in the position of going along with his view or making the AMA look like a group of fighting schoolkids.
So what’s the final score? Ben Nelson’s retail price at about $300,000,000 seems to be the highest priced. Landrieu, Sanders and Leahy seem to be available for about $100,000,000 each. Similarly, it looks like you can buy the AARP for about $100,000,000. Economic Experts seem to be the bargain of the group. It looks like it only cost about $300,000 to buy Jonathan Gruber. The AMA is a bit more confusing. It is hard to value to 21.5% reduction in pay. I have also not been able to find what else motivated the President of the AMA to preempt his Board. My guess is that it was somewhere between $300,000 and $100,000,000.
Why do I feel like I live in a Third World nation all of a sudden?