Howard Dean, who was once a supporter of the single-payer health care system, has now come out and criticized Bernie Sanders’s plans to implement it via a Medicare for All program. Back in 2009 he called the idea of single-payer “by far the most economically efficient system.” So what changed? It’s the same old story. Dean now works for a lobbying firm that has as its clients major players in the heath care industry.
Lee Fang gives the background.
Incumbent health care interests, particularly drug companies and insurers, have long viewed single-payer as a threat to their business model. Health insurance lobbyist strategy memos that were leaked from a source to veteran journalist Bill Moyers reveal a sophisticated effort to undermine public support for single-payer policies and to discredit Michael Moore’s Sicko, a movie that sharply criticizes the inequities and price-gouging of the American health care system. One slide discusses the need to use town halls and special forums to shape the Democratic primary debates in 2008 and peel away support for the reforms proposed in Sicko, while another calls for pundits to appear on television and denounce Moore as harmful to the Democratic Party.
After Dean began working in the lobbying industry, he gave a talk about how to navigate the post-Citizens United campaign finance world. “I’ve advised a lot of clients in the industries that I usually end up working with, which are mostly health care industries, not to give any money to either side, or if you do, give it to both sides because politicians really don’t know much about the issues,” Dean said. “But they remember the ads, and they remember who was on whose side and who wasn’t, and it makes a big difference.”
This is why it is so important to follow the money, to see who is getting money from whom. The fact that Dean has also sold out is disappointing but not surprising.