Tag Archives: Medicare for All

Greed gone wild – Insurance companies go after the Baucus Healthcare ‘Lack of’ Reform Bill

There is something definitely wrong with the Democrats.  They have a huge majority in the House and Senate AND the White House.  Poll after poll show that the people support a public option.

So this headline from the AP should have been baffling.  “Dems scramble after warning from health insurers.

I’ll tell you, it got me to open this article.

WASHINGTON – Insurance companies aren’t playing nice any more. Their dire message that health care legislation will drive up premiums for people who already have coverage comes as a warning shot at a crucial point in the debate, and threatens President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

When did the insurance companies ever play nice?  They do have their facts straight however.  This bill presented by the Senate Finance Committee and Max Baucus will drive up premiums.  This bill was written FOR the insurance companies.  Now they’re pulling this crap?!?

The insurance companies served up a nice slow pitch and this is how the White House, AARP and Max Baucus responded!

“This is a distorted and flawed report from the insurance industry and cannot be taken seriously. This so-called analysis appears on the eve of a vote that may eat into the insurance industry’s profits. It conveniently ignores policies that will lower costs for those who have insurance, expand coverage and provide affordable insurance options to millions of Americans.” – Reid H. Cherlin, a White House spokesman.

“Distorted and flawed.” – White House spokeswoman Linda Douglass.

“Fundamentally dishonest.” – AARP’s senior policy strategist, John Rother.

“A hatchet job.” – A spokesman for Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana.

The Democrats criticized the report.  They need to go after the insurance companies.

I so wish the Democrats had some stones.  They should have said ‘yes – this legislation will drive up the costs – because we are catering to the insurance companies.  Want to keep the price down – kick them out of the mix.”

“No more CEO salaries.  No more senior management salaries.  No more corporate profits.  No more lobbyists.  No more Congressional fundraisers.”

How many insurance companies are there?  You do the math.  Millions and millions saved annually.

Our premiums remain about the same and EVERYONE gets coverage.  We could pay for the uninsured and all of our co-pays with the millions saved in salaries, profits, lobbyists, advertising, and so on.

In addition to the insurance companies, we have the pharmaceutical companies who charge Americans more for our medication than they do the rest of the world.  Figure out how much money Big Pharma spends annually on advertising alone – those 30 second spots where we have to hear the list of potential side effects.  That after they tell us that if you cough you may have some horrendous thing that could kill you so you need to take their medication.

People actually have to take other medication to deal with the side effects from other medication.  This is lunacy.

Bring in Medicare for all – dump the insurance companies and tell Big Pharma that we’re no longer going to pay their insane rates for medication.  Period.

The Lobbyist firm, America’s Health Insurance Plans says on their website “Supporting Bipartisan Reforms.”  As long as it doesn’t interfere with the corporate profits.

AHIP’s President and CEO is Karen Ignagni.  She seems to have the most power in this healthcare reform debate.  As the top lobbyist for the insurance companies, she definitely doesn’t have the best interests of Americans at heart.

Karen Ignagni

Karen Ignagni

According to Money, Ignagni made (I purposely didn’t say earned) $1,236,432 in 2006.  Numbers in 2008 vary but including salary, bonus and deferred compensation she easily surpassed $1 million.   It does look like she earns the money the insurance companies pay her and her company.

Do we really want people like Ignagni fighting the battles against us?  We need to kick the lobbyists out of Washington and the first step is to set up Medicare for All, take healthcare away from the insurance companies and lobbyists and turn it over to Americans and their doctors.  It IS as simple as that.

The greed from the insurance companies is amazing.  They could have easily banded together to propose a fair and competitive process where each company submits their plan choices and all Americans can review each option, selecting the plan best suited for them and their family.

When we talk cost, how much money do we already have deducted from our paychecks to cover the insurance premiums?  All that remains is covering the uninsured.  I doubt that would cost $800 billion.

But the insurance companies have pissed me off so I no longer want an option that keeps them around.  I want a Medicare for All plan.  Before the Bush Administration privatized part of Medicare, older Americans had a great thing going AND it was run by the government.  Wow socialized medicine.

And the VA is socialized medicine too and Bill Kristol said on The Daily Show that US veterans had the best medical coverage in the world.

So enough is enough.  Time to take back our health from the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

More angering items from the AP story:

“We’ve got ourselves a real health care shooting war now,” said Robert Laszewski, a former health insurance executive turned consultant. “The industry has come to the conclusion that the way things are going in Congress, we’ll have a … formula that will be disastrous for their business, so they can’t stand on the sidelines any longer.”

First of all, the insurance companies haven’t been on the sidelines.  They have been utilizing their lobbyists and had significant influence on the wording of the Baucus bill.  Second, they want the status quo and are totally unwilling to give up anything in this compromise.  Americans are already being asked to give up quality and cost effective healthcare so these greedy companies can continue to rake in the profits.

“The misleading and harmful claims made by the profit-driven insurance companies are politicking for corporate gain at its worst,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

You think?

The politicians in favor of the single-payer (Medicare for All) system need to band together and get the word out.  They need to organize their constituents to come out and fight for what is right for all Americans.  We know the media is behind the insurance and pharmaceutical companies as they would like to keep their advertising revenue.

Another huge issue I have is that this bill won’t be fully in effect until 2013!   Notice that it’s set to go AFTER the next presidential election.  Can we really wait another 4 years for this garbage plan that solidifies the insurance company’s stranglehold on American’s health?

Worse still, this bill will only cover 94 percent of eligible Americans up from 83 percent today.  Can the 6 percent really afford not to have healthcare coverage?

How is this healthcare reform?  As I’ve said before – this bill is healthcare reform without the reform.

We need a bill that will cover 100 percent of Americans.  Anything short of that is pure failure.  Anything that permits companies to deny coverage and stand between Americans and their doctors is unacceptable.

I’m sick and tired of Americans having to fight their insurance companies in order to get coverage for life saving medical treatment.

This has got to stop.  Americans need to fight back.  If our elected representatives will not take up the fight for us in Washington, we need to throw them all out.

In Greed We Trust

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Max Baucus’s Healthcare Reform Bill – Is it better than nothing?

It’s nearly unanimous.  The Healthcare Reform Bill presented by Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee is not a good bill. 

No matter what the bill said, you knew the Republicans would rally against it.  That is what obstructionists do.  Republicans don’t even pretend to be bi-partisan.  This bill is fantastic for the insurance companies which, doesn’t fully eliminate pre-existing conditions and even introduces co-operatives.  All Republican backed these ideas though they are still coming out against it because just the mere fact that a bill passes into law with the words ‘Healthcare Reform” attached to it and it will be perceived as a Democratic Party victory.  Forget that this bill would be a victory for their corporate love interests.

Meanwhile, liberals and most progressives like the idea of a single-payer Medicare for All plan.  Anything short of that is failure.  They will bash whatever plan is out there (as I did with Baucus’s plan).  Their argument is that the Democrats control Congress and the White House so let’s just come up with the real liberal bill.

Blue Dog Democrats (or as I like to call them Moderate Republican) are in favor of many of the items in the Baucus bill.  That said, I still haven’t read one story of someone coming out in favor of the bill other than Max Baucus.

What surprises me is that Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is against this bill.  I figured that since it had co-opts in there, she would have approved.  Looks like she too is putting party before country. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Baucus’s bill doesn’t put country first.  It puts corporate interests first which is just as bad. 

Paul Krugman published an op-ed Thursday that further analyzed the reaction of this bill. 

“You see, it has been clear for months that whatever health-care bill finally emerges will fall far short of reformers’ hopes. Yet even a bad bill could be much better than nothing. The question is where to draw the line. How bad does a bill have to be to make it too bad to vote for?”

I disagree that a ‘bad bill’ is better than nothing.  This bill is good for the insurance industry and really doesn’t help people.  It doesn’t lower cost as it actually will cost more and it doesn’t offer better access.  It penalizes those who do not purchase coverage.  If pre-existing conditions are permitted for even one day, Americans would still suffer the risk of financial ruin.  Besides, who determines what exactly is a pre-existing condition?

“Now, the moment of truth isn’t here quite yet: There’s enough wrong with the Baucus proposal as it stands to make it unworkable and unacceptable. But that said, Senator Baucus’s mark is better than many of us expected. If it serves as a basis for negotiation, and the result of those negotiations is a plan that’s stronger, not weaker, reformers are going to have to make some hard choices about the degree of disappointment they’re willing to live with.”

Mr. Krugman said that this bill was better than he expected.  What kind of garbage was he expecting?  J

Krugman’s op-ed also provided examples of countries with universal coverage that utilize the private insurance system to achieve their goal.  He also cited the Massachusetts health reform that – though flawed – is far better than what currently exists in the U.S.

Krugman outlines the 3 major areas of inadequacy of the Baucus bill:

“First, it bungles the so-called “employer mandate.” Most reform plans include a provision requiring that large employers either provide their workers with health coverage or pay into a fund that would help workers who don’t get insurance through their job buy coverage on their own. Mr. Baucus, however, gets too clever, trying to tie each employer’s fees to the subsidies its own employees end up getting.”

“That’s a terrible idea. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, it would make companies reluctant to hire workers from lower-income families — and it would also create a bureaucratic nightmare. This provision has to go and be replaced with a simple pay-or-play rule.”

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, if my company offers me a less than adequate plan, I should be able to opt into the public option.  Without it, there is no incentive for my company to offer me any quality coverage. 

Additionally, if I were to opt out into the so called public option, I would expect my company to have to supply my employer contribution into the plan.  If they are permitted to keep the money, it would mean huge savings for my company. 

In my case, my employer contributes roughly $7,000 for my health coverage.  If they are not required to contribute it to the public option, they will save $7,000.  I work at a large corporation with more than 10,000 employees.  Let’s say 10,000 employees opt out, my company will save approximately $7,000 for ten thousand employees.  You do the math.

“Second, the plan is too stingy when it comes to financial aid. Lower-middle-class families, in particular, would end up paying much more in premiums than they do under the Massachusetts plan, suggesting that for many people insurance would not, in fact, be affordable. Fixing this means spending more than Mr. Baucus proposes.”

This plan is stingy when it comes to assisting the Americans who need it the most yet it calls for $349 billion in cash raised through taxes and fees. 

Look at Krugman’s last line in this paragraph – ‘fixing this means spending more than Mr. Baucus proposes.’  In my post from September 16th, I pointed out that this estimate is inaccurate predicting an estimate closer to $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion.  If Mr. Krugman is correct in his thoughts, the concern I have is that the final number may push past the $1.5 trillion mark. 

Third, the plan doesn’t create real competition in the insurance market. The right way to create competition is to offer a public option, a government-run insurance plan individuals can buy into as an alternative to private insurance. The Baucus plan instead proposes a fake alternative, nonprofit insurance cooperatives — and it places so many restrictions on these cooperatives that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, they “seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country.”

Mr. Krugman is correct here.  From 1986-1991 I worked for the federal government.  Each year, for open enrollment, I entered the cafeteria to a plethora of insurance companies each seeking my business.  I spoke to representatives of the companies and brought home documentation to read describing each plan.  I selected the plan that best suited my needs at the time – a single man in my mid-20’s with no children.  I rarely needed the plan, just as I expected but when I did, it performed exactly as I needed it to. 

That is what we need.  If we cannot run with full Medicare for all, then the only other alternative is the Public Option for all.   Plans offered by insurance companies but managed and regulated by the government.  Insurance companies will still make nice profits, all Americans will receive coverage, all Americans will have choice through competition thus driving down price. 

“The insurance industry, of course, loves the Baucus plan. Need we say more?”

Of course they do.  The industry loves it – Republicans are afraid to support it – liberal Democrats hate it. 

Where Mr. Krugman thinks this should be a starting point, I believe we should start by shredding all 1000+ pages.

“It would be disastrous if health care goes the way of the economic stimulus plan, earlier this year. As you may recall, that plan — which was clearly too weak even as originally proposed — was made even weaker to win the support of three Republican senators. If the same thing happens to health reform, progressives should and will walk away.”

Mr. Krugman is spot on here.  Democrats are working very hard to appease Blue Dog Republicans Democrats and win over the love of Olympia Snowe.    That is a bad idea and I agree – progressives need to run away.

“But maybe things will go the other way, and Mr. Baucus (and the White House) will, for once, actually listen to progressive concerns, making the bill stronger.”

“Even if the Baucus plan gets better, rather than worse, what emerges won’t be legislation reformers can love. Will it nonetheless be legislation that passes the threshold of acceptability, legislation they can vote for? We’ll see.”

Read:  Baucus and the Threshold