Sunday, August 09, 2009

BusinessWeek's Lead Story Highlights Health Care Deform


Health insurers quietly targeted conservative Democrats to get their way in health reform. While the "Blue Dogged" House passed three health care bills, the issue is stuck in the Senate. Reform is held up by "moderate" Democrats, better known as Corporacrats. Baucus, Bayh, Conrad, Nelson I, Nelson II, and the Senators from the Walmart state gum up the works to benefit For-Proifteers. Meanwhile, the White House and enforcer Rahm Emanuel defend Corporacrats from ads by progressive groups.

The BusinessWeek piece is titled "Health Insurers Have Already Won." It states:

The likely victors are insurance giants such as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Aetna (AET), and WellPoint (WLP).
WellPoint's Board includes Susan Bayh and William H.T. Bush. Susan is the wife of Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. Flipping her stock options grossed the Bayh family over $1.5 million the last five years. William H.T. Bush is known as "Uncle Bucky" to President George W. who never saw an insurance company he didn't like.

UnitedHealth's board includes Gail Wilensky, an expert who testified before Max Baucus' Senate Finance Committee. She failed to disclose her board role or her $20 million in health care stock holdings in her public testimony.

The industry has already accomplished its main goal of at least curbing, and maybe blocking altogether, any new publicly administered insurance program that could grab market share from the corporations that dominate the business.
The story details a meeting between UnitedHealth CEO Steve Hemsley and Senator Kent Conrad and the introduction of co-ops. Conrad denies Hemsley was the source of his Judas bait & switch, but it is front and center in the Senate Finance Committee's plans. The sausage making update finds:

The several competing bills pending in Congress would guarantee all Americans access to health coverage, addressing the plight of the 47 million who are now uninsured. Congress plans to achieve that by expanding Medicaid, the government program for the poor and disabled; requiring insurers to accept all applicants regardless of their health; and mandating that everyone purchase coverage.
State governors say they can't afford to take on more Medicaid enrollees. Many states are cutting Medicaid eligibility and uncovering services, i.e., shifting costs back on low income patients. Even in "covering more people", risk is being shifted back to the individual through higher deductibles, greater co-pays and fewer services covered. It's a back door way of dumping insurance company risk, a familiar refrain for the For-Profiteers. The BW piece drives this home:

In late spring, the Finance Committee was assuming a 76% reimbursement rate on average, meaning consumers would be responsible for paying the remaining 24% of their medical bills, in addition to their insurance premiums. Stevens and his UnitedHealth colleagues urged a more industry-friendly ratio. Subsequently the committee reduced the reimbursement figure to 65%, suggesting a 35% contribution by consumers—more in line with what the big insurer wants. The final figures are still being debated.
Unless there is catastrophic stop-loss coverage, medical bankruptcies will remain common. The public is being lied to on so many fronts. President Obama urgently mentions 14,000 people losing insurance coverage every day. Yet, expanded coverage for the uninsured won't begin until 2013. Republicans and their scare tactics regarding living wills, a twenty year old patient right, is just as disingenuous. The public is not being told the truth.

Both political franchises wish to abdicate their responsibilities for leadership by delegating to a MedPac, an extra-legislative body. Elected leaders don't have the cohones to do their job. Instead they pander to their corporate sponsors, many with disturbing connections. Page 4 of the BW article mentions UnitedHealth's huge stock option backdating scandal, Arthur Anderson (Enron's partner in accounting crime), Fannie Mae (also guilty of accounting shenanigans and sucking up billions in taxpayer bailout), and ethically challenged Tom Daschle of Alston & Bird (a DC lobbying firm with Tom Scully--architect of Big Pharma's Medicare Prescription Plan). Feel better?

Corporate sponsored health care deform is on the way. Expect to pay more on behalf of the For-Profiteers. Thank your Congressional lackey by throwing him/her out of office in 2010. Judge President Obama by his actions, not words.

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