Liberal, Irreverent

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 40% health premium hike shame

The 40% health premium hike shame

I am sure WellPoint/BlueCross actuaries have their claim numbers,
expense numbers, profits, etc lined up to justify its 40% increase.
However, it would be good to examine the expenses line that are
included in the rate determination.

When you consider that the CEO is getting $24 million; the lobbying
arm (AHIP) alone is getting $20 million; and who knows how many more
millions go to other lobbying activities, marketing, plus the
airplanes, luxury offices, bonuses, etc., then you can get a picture.

Maybe the economic condition has caused deterioration in the market as
WellPoint/BlueCross states, but it surely has not caused deterioration
in the excesses of the health insurance industry.

Underlying healthcare cost inflation was 10-15% in 2009 which is far
less than the 40% WellPoint/BlueCross is asking for. So, what
justifies the other 25-30%? You are right, the other expenses that are
not related to healthcare cost inflation: admin and profit.

Judging for the amounts of money health insurers are paying to their
CEOs and the amounts they are spending in lobbying, it is not
surprising why they want to jack premiums 30% on top of what
healthcare inflation justifies.


Monday, February 8, 2010

What the Hell Happened to Health Care Reform?

Because it seems that everyone is writing a book these days (even
Sarah Palin "wrote" a book which I am convinced must be a Nostradamus
clue that the end is near), I though I would try my literary skills
with a short story.

So here is an excerpt of "What the Hell Happened to Health Care
Reform?" - a tragicomedy of political conspiracy drama of a love/hate

(disclaimer: the events described here are the product of the
progressive, irreverent and ruthless imagination of the author…or
maybe not…so, I rant, you decide)

--- Except for progressive activists that refused to abandon millions
of Americans to die due to their lack of access to health insurance,
the White House, and democrats in Congress have been very quiet on
healthcare, granted, except for a few snippets here and there, every
now and then, and when asked by the press. At this point I believe
Obama and many democrats would have preferred that healthcare just
dies a quite and unnoticed death, so they can concentrate on other
more politically "popular" issues like jobs and the economy.

And this is precisely the issue: politically popular. Obama ran on a
big healthcare platform and won in big part thanks to his promises
regarding healthcare. When the healthcare process started, it looks
like the democrats had the winning hand and it was only a matter of
time and letting the opponents vent out. However, as usually happen,
democrats shit their pants and tripped on their own waste.

You need to understand that AHIP, Pharma, etc. and many other interest
groups never delivered their full blown attack. Yes, they complained
here and there, aired a few ads, etc, but we never saw the full extent
of their machinery in action. Why? Why they held back? or better yet,
What held them back? And the answer is inside the White House and more
specifically Obama and Emanuel. I believe they negotiated a deal with
these groups that reform would not go "too far to the left", meaning
no single payer and no public option. That is the reason Obama kept
saying to progressives he supported the public option but never acted
upon those words. Actually the only time the White House got VERY
involved in HCR was to push the Senate version, which goes in line
with what was promise to those industries. Progressive thought Obama
would put the full weight of the White House to push the public option
to the end line and he was putting the full weight of the White House
to push the public option out of the line.

Remember those reports about Obama being surprised by the reaction of
the left? Or Emanuel's comments on what the hell the left was thinking
about? Both Obama and Emanuel made an error in calculation. They both
MISREAD THE LEFT. They thought progressives would love Obama so much
they would be willing to eat whatever piece of crap he may dump. The
White House promised it would keep the left in line, but he couldn't
and the left rebelled.

Now the impasse was real. The White House could not allow the passing
of a bill with public option and the left wont let a bill without the
public option pass. And if the White House could in some way strong
arm progressives to eat the Senate bill Obama and Rahm knew the left
would "retaliate" on November elections. So a new strategy was needed
by both sides and quick. Progressives started to push reconciliation
while the White House was on stand by mode. However reconciliation was
a tough sell because technically democrats still held a 60-vote
filibuster proof majority.

And this is the point where the collective wisdom of Mass. liberals
and independents comes into play: with the swipe of a pencil, they
took that technical 60-vote filibuster proof majority away from
democrats. Now there was no excuse for not using reconciliation to
pass HCR with a public option, as the majority of Americans have
consistently expressed is their desire. The only obstacle: the White
House's promise to AHIP, Pharma, etc. that the bill would not go "too
far to the left". This is the reason behind the White House inaction
that has many democrats so perplexed that even Al Franken had to push
Axelrod aside and start questioning why for the lack of White House

And this is the state of the union as of today. All elements are there
to give the people what people want and need. An HCR bill with public
option that has been scored by the CBO will cover the largest number
of Americans, would reduce the deficit and bends the curve of
healthcare inflation.

How will the White House get out of the mess they have managed to get
themselves into by making a pact with the devil? ---

To be continued…

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One of the few things that left and right can agree is for the
opportunity for each side to make its case directly to the American
people and the President, live, without moderators and without scripts
or cumbersome prenegotiated rules. In addition to these obvious
political advantges, the American people benefit each time opposing
ideas are debated and discussed without the trenche war of political