Last week I wrote about Karen Ignagni, CEO of America's Health insurance Plans (the industry trade group known as AHIP) who was called on and recognized by President Barack Obama during his White House Summit on Healthcare Reform in late February and who was also the only "stakeholder" seated in the front of the room later for a briefing by the staff of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (the committee chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy). Clearly, Ignagni has been afforded a sort of access and status in this debate and in the reform effort that many others have not.
The fox isn't just in the hen house. The fox is building it.
I've got to hand it to Congress right now. Most members of Congress are making sure they remember "on which side of the toast you find the butter" in terms of making the for-profit health insurance industry comfortable in their deeply entrenched roles not only in our broken healthcare system but also in the deep-pocket funding of many Congressional campaigns. The insurance industry's influence is purchased with millions and millions in campaign contributions and with the preventable deaths of tens of thousands of American citizens every year. That is fact.
So why does it even warrant mention that the hearing this week to discuss health insurance reform has a witness list populated with industry-friendly voices, including Ignagni? I write this because it is so deeply dishonest and offensive to me that we are told we have an allegedly open and inclusive process to explore what's best for the nation's healthcare reform while the drafting and crafting thunders forward with very closed very elitist and very non-human rights oriented effort.
If healthcare is a basic human right, we must start from that truth and work forward in how to provide that basic human right to every person in this nation. Period. That is not Karen Ignagni's view. It is not her job. Her job - and she does it well - is to advocate for and protect her industry.