Completing this assignment will require anywhere from 60-80 minutes. It will count as two response papers. This documentary is a case study in policy making. It helps us to learn about the mechanisms of making laws at the national level for high profile policies in America. In particular, this case focuses our attention on the role of powerful and wealthy interest groups in Washington, and how they can easily influence government and sway laws to their benefit. It also helps us to lean about who has power over and in government, who is represented, who has voice, influence, and who doesn’t. Please, watch “Obama’s Deal: PBS Documentary Exposing Corruption and the Role of Big Money and Powerful Lobby in American Policy Making Process”
You may start filling out the questionnaire while you are watching the documentary. Simply copy these 14 questions into your response paper and answer them in the order of appearance. 1. What immediate problem did the president run into when initiating the healthcare reform? 2. Obama’s administration believed that taking on a healthcare reform is a test of what in American politics? According to Obama, it was intended to prove what? 3. Who opposed the healthcare reform under both Clinton and Obama? Who stood to lose from the healthcare reform? 4. What did the propaganda ads funded by insurance lobby advertise to the American public about the healthcare reform? Whose interests did they keep in mind when doing that? 5. Who could get to the congressional hearings on the healthcare reform? Was there anyone representing 50 million uninsured Americans at the congressional hearings?
6. While powerful insurance lobbyists initially stated that they would support the reform, what did they request in return and why? (hint: they wanted some feature added to the bill, what is that feature?) 7. Senator Baucus received $2.5 millions from insurance interest groups to do what? Whose interests did he represent? 8. Who is denied a seat at the negotiation table about the healthcare? Who is removed physically by guards from the press conference in the White House? 9. When in Congress senator Baucus introduced “Medicare prescription drug bill”, it was a payoff to drug and pharmaceutical industries for what? Who did the bill benefit (financially)c? 10. Insurance lobbyists (Ignani being one big player) spend tens of millions of dollars to defeat the health bill through ads that created panic, scare, rumors, and etc. Why? What is at stake for insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists if a meaningful healthcare reform took place?
11. The answer to this question would require some speculation on your part: why do you think many Americans bought the negative campaign ads against the healthcare reform that were manufactured by the insurance lobby? Why did some ordinary Americans end up siding with greedy insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists, even though saving money and health of working Americans is the last thing that those lobbyists cared about? 12. What does this documentary show us about the role of money and powerful interests in American politics? For whose benefits laws are made or blocked? Based on this case study, what would you say about who controls American political process? 13. What have you learned from this documentary that either reinforces or contradicts information from the textbook chapter 11 about interest groups? 14. Anything else you wish to state about your reaction to this case study in policy making:
Background and further readings on healthcare policy in the U.S.: Healthcare is one of the most contentious policy areas in American politics. Some of the most conspicuous issues with healthcare provision in our country are: -medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy for middle class and low income households in America -Insurance premiums and co pays are too high and limits for patients with preexisting conditions are numerous; insurance industry is fairly unregulated and has monopoly on setting the rules of the game on who and how they cover. -50 million Americans remain uninsured, with elderly, students/young, and workers in low paid or part time jobs that offer no health insurance benefits most affected.
We do not have a public health option that would offer a choice aside from private care, just like we have public education/universal education for any American who does not wish to spend tons on private education -while we have such programs as Medicare (for the elderly), Medicaid (for low income families), and emergency rooms, they do not cover all those who need medical care; states became strict with qualifications for such programs, cutting funding and eliminating many Americans from qualifying. Emergency rooms, if you have been to one, do not offer quality care, preventative treatment, and many other essential services. Insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions; insurance plans have limits and co-pays that many people simply cannot afford once faced with a serious illness. -Healthcare is too expensive and inaccessible to many
-What reforms are needed to address such disparities in healthcare? And more importantly, in our political system what reforms can or cannot be made? This documentary provides one way to think through the structure of policy making process in America.
Start with understanding facts, numbers, and myths about Obama’s Affordable Care Act: http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform
Margaret Flowers: Obamacare did not go far enough, we still need universal health coverage for Americans: http://www.thenation.com/video/168604/margaret-flowers-obamacare-doesnt-go-far-enough# Number of uninsured Americans rises to 50.7 million:
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-09-17-uninsured17_st_n.htm Census data on health coverage in America:
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins/data/incpovhlth/2010/highlights.html Republicans who benefit from Obama’s healthcare bill are torn about the candidates: http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/06/health/republicans-conflicted-obamacare/ Listing some benefits for women under Obama’s healthcare bill, particular for potential cancer patients: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021447151
Three myths about Obama’s Affordable Care Act:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Noq_tktemE0 Republican presidential candidate Romney on healthcare:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/opinion/krugman-romneys-sick-joke.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0 Public opinion about Obama’s healthcare bill: healthcare is
complex in terms of public opinion–while a majority favored it’s repeal, large majorities actually favored each aspect of the law. Moreover, with the Supreme Court’s upholding the law, this seems to have made it more popular (but made the Court less so):
Paul Ryan’s (runs as vice-president on the Republican ticket in 2012 election) plans to undercut social security and Medicare infuriate the elderly, he dismisses concerns with contempt and removal of a senior citizens from the hall: http://www.upworthy.com/paul-ryans-medicare-plan-will-hurt-old-people-paul-ryans-security-guys-have-hurt?g=2 Healthcare debate in cross-cultural perspective: Canada vs. U.S. http://www.diemer.ca/Docs/Diemer-TenHealthCareMyths.htm
Healthcare in Netherlands vs. U.S.: