Friday, September 17, 2010

Max Baucus Theater

Senator Max Baucus, chief architect of health reform, stated America's soaring number of uninsured came as the result of "egregious insurance company abuses." These include denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and capping coverage at arbitrary spending amounts. Baucus said reigning in these abuses will help protect patients.

There's one problem with Max's pontification. Six million newly uninsured fell from the rolls of employer sponsored health insurance. They have the right to remain insured via COBRA, should they have the funds. Millions of newly uninsured aren't impacted in the manner Baucus assessed.

However, Max's calling the insurance industry "egregious" is good public theater. Baucus blocked for private, for-profit health insurers at every turn. There is neither a public option nor federal rate review. The federal government takes risk from insurers through a number of reinsurance programs and creates a $ billion fund for health care investments.

"Egregious" might apply to CEO pay, but Max didn't speak to that. While America's uninsured rose to over 50 million people, health insurers had a banner year, with most CEO's getting millions in incentive pay.

How many businesses can lose millions of customers and make higher profits, driving more obscene CEO compensation? Health insurance companies can. That gives them the ability to donate $1.3 million to Senator Baucus over his career.

Next up for Senator Baucus, tax reform. It will offer the same lines as health reform: Make America more competitive in a global economy, The perfect is the enemy of the good...

One of the first witnesses to testify is Rep. Dick Gephardt. Gephardt sits on the board of Cenetene, a health insurance company, as does Tommy Thompson. During the break, Dick should thank Max for his insurance-oriented health reform bill. They can chuckle over political theater, even when the lines don't make sense.

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