The Urban Institute has issued a report explaining how wonderful a trigger would be. Apparently even the threat of a strong public option would be enough to make the health insurance companies do right. After explaining that a strong public option, one tied to Medicare rates in some way, would really cut costs, the report says:
In the absence of enough political support to pass a strong public option at this time, a “trigger” for a strong public option should be considered for inclusion in health reform legislation whether or not a weak public option is included as a political compromise. Even the threat of such a plan being triggered offers the potential to affect market dynamics between insurers and providers.
Jane doesn’t agree. But I bet this report just thrilled the folks at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has given the Urban Institute $7,915,778 since 2003. The data is from the Foundation Directory Online. This is Wikipedia’s description of the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation:
Based in Princeton, New Jersey, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is the United States’ largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. The foundation’s sole purpose is to help people in the U.S. live healthier lives and get the health care they need. The foundation has significant resources—$10 billion in assets, generating grants approaching $500 million a year—to address the nation’s most complex health and health care issues. The Foundation aims to use these private resources in the service of the public, and in a way that prompts new public policy, inspires action from the private sector, and changes systems for delivering the best health care to the most people.
Wikipedia also explains their policy on health insurance:
Health Insurance Coverage: Ensuring that everyone in America has stable, affordable health care coverage through the development of policies and programs to expand health coverage and maximize enrollment in existing coverage programs.
As far as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation people are concerned, existing health insurance plans are great, we just need to buy one for everyone.
Others contributing to the Urban Institute in the last few years are The Aetna Foundation, $55,000; and The WellPoint Foundation, $101,219
This technique of using apparently independent foundations to blow smoke at serious policy discussions and make everything as complicated as possible is standard practice for giant foundations. Professor G. William Domhoff wrote about the role of foundations in pushing the views of the power elite. One example he gives is a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, explaining how Exxon-Mobil used the tactics of the tobacco industry to confuse and delay global warming legislative action. Among other things, Exxon-Mobil funded apparently independent groups to put out the messages they wanted. It works even better if you can get groups with a good reputation to cloud the issue.