As not seen on C-SPAN …

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

Two kinds of peo­ple live in the world, as Out­liers sees it.

There are peo­ple who have lives and fam­i­lies and friends and hob­bies, and then there are peo­ple who watch C-SPAN.

But that was all sup­posed to change in 2009, when Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was go­ing to use his Paris Hil­ton-like celebrity im­age to liven up the sleepy ca­ble video feed of Wash­ing­ton’s most pow­er­ful, and most pow­er­fully mind-numb­ing, dis­cus­sions.

Dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial de­bate on Jan. 31, 2008, Obama told CNN’s Wolf Bl­itzer: “That’s what I will do in bring­ing all par­ties to­gether, not ne­goti- at­ing be­hind closed doors, but bring­ing all par­ties to­gether, and broad­cast­ing those ne­go­ti­a­tions on C-SPAN so that the Amer­i­can peo­ple can see what the choices are.”

Out­liers must have been busy on the day last July when the Amer­i­can Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion, Catholic Health As­so­ci­a­tion and Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tals ap­peared on ca­ble to ne­go­ti­ate their $155 bil­lion, 10-year agree­ment to ac­cept lower Med­i­caid pay­ments in ex­change for mil­lions of newly in­sured pa­tients. Or the day last June when the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Re­search and Man­u­fac­tur­ers of Amer­ica agreed on cam­era to de­crease con­sumer drug costs by $80 bil­lion in or­der to stave off fu­ture gov­ern­ment cost­cut­ting ef­forts in drug pur­chases.

Or last month when Sen. Ben Nel­son (D-Neb.) ap­peared on TV to ac­cept an of­fer for a per­ma­nent fed­eral sub­sidy to cover in­creases in Med­i­caid costs for his state, and his state only, in ex­change for his al­limpor­tant 60th vote for the bill.

The cloak­room deal­mak­ing has got­ten so bad that C-SPAN Chair­man and CEO Brian Lamb wrote a Dec. 30, 2009 let­ter to Demo­cratic leaders in the House and Se­nate beg­ging for ac­cess to “all im­por­tant ne­go­ti­a­tions,” in­clud­ing com­mit­tee hear­ings, as the two cham­bers work to craft a sin­gle bill. “The C-SPAN net­works will com­mit the nec­es­sary re­sources to cov­er­ing all of th­ese ses­sions LIVE and in their en­tirety,” Lamb wrote.

A con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal action com­mit­tee, the Amer­i­can Fu­ture Fund, is even bankrolling a Web site, let­the­cam­, to pres­sure Democrats to honor Obama’s cam­paign prom­ise for trans­parency in the re­form de­bate. More than 3,000 peo­ple signed the pe­ti­tion on the Web site within 24 hours of its Jan. 5 launch. “Con­gres­sional lead­er­ship’s un­will­ing­ness to per­mit C-SPAN to cover what they are do­ing begs the ques­tion, ‘What are they try­ing to hide?’ ” the group said in a news release.

Dur­ing a de­bate, Obama promised trans­parency.

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