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06.15 So much plastic is being made that "recycling has no impact" [Non-recyclable plastic must be made illegal to manufacture, use]
06.15 We must transform our lives and values to save this burning planet [Increased ice melt in polar latitudes has been disguising reality in the middle latitudes. This effect will soon be replaced by record heat as ice volume and seasonal melting increasingly declines.]
06.15 This all-male council in Texas just voted to ban abortion [1:59 video; Bad assumptions foment ignorant actions...]
06.10 Conservatives should change how they think about global warming. I did [Another crisis issue conservatives won't acknowledge...]
06.10 Scottish Power to build vast battery to improve wind energy supply [Who won't understand this?]
06.10 Greenpeace activists board BP oil rig as it is towed out to sea [Fossil fuel company conduct should be illegal...]
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06.15 'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion [More equality or bring back the guillotines!]
06.15 White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science [When your President is a quack he naturally surrounds himself with sycophants]
06.13 Why are we still pretending 'trickle-down' economics work? [We aren't ‘laffing’ now! In Trump-world all the worst people are celebrated. Ref.: 3:07 Idiocracy Courtroom Scene]
06.14 Justice Denied, Delayed, or Done Right? Serious Concerns as Prosecutors Throw Out Charges in Flint Water Crisis Cases [A very flawed prosecution using suspiciously limited evidence has been thrown out, a stronger case will be brought using newly found, voluminous evidence.]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
06.11 The problem with billionaires fighting climate change? The billionaires [Bloomberg's sanity to control greed to save the life-on-earth (and continuing profits) is unfortunately rare]
06.09 Elizabeth Warren’s economic nationalism vision shows there's a better way [As like championed by Economist Joseph Stiglitz]
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06.15 Africa’s Lost Kingdoms
06.15 The US must stand with the people of Hong Kong [But this attacks Xi's authoritarianism, which Trump is most envious of for himself...]
06.13 What does it mean to be genetically Jewish? [Doing a mental dance with archanery: could a significant number of Russians and Palestinians be intentionally included or excluded as genetically Jewish? And why would Israel do this?]
06.12 Extending the US Embargo on Cuba & Hurting the People [Doing what's cruelest]
AN INDUSTRY READY TO GO OUT OF BUSINESS:
Health Insurers Threaten Rate Hikes
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com earlier today, 9 October 2009
Though looking forward to millions of new customers who would be compelled by the U.S. government to buy health insurance, the insurance industry is threatening to raise premiums across the board if more of its demands are not met.
Industry representatives put Congress and the Obama administration on notice that if health-reform legislation doesn’t send even more new customers the industry’s way or if a windfall profits tax is included, the industry would hit businesses, individuals and the government with higher premiums, effectively defeating one of the initiative’s top goals, reining in ever-rising costs.
The industry’s chief complaint, which was raised in connection with an already-industry-friendly bill cobbled together by Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, is that the legislation would push 29 million more Americans into the insurance market, but that they might be the sickest and thus costliest people.
The industry wants more of the estimated 25 million still uninsured – especially healthy, young people – to be compelled to buy policies, too. Without more healthy customers added to the mix, the industry says it will have no choice but to raise rates.
"The consequences of this would be an upward spiral; rate shock to everyone who stays in," Karen Ignagni, president of the industry group America's Health Insurance Plans, told the Washington Post. "This legislation will fail the test of affordability for individuals." [Washington Post, Oct. 9, 2009]
The industry’s warning comes after its lobbyists won an important victory in the Senate Finance Committee, defeating amendments that would have added a public option, a government-run program that would compete with private insurers to hold down costs.
Private insurers also bristled at an idea floated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a windfall profits tax on extra money the industry might make from the influx of millions of new customers, many qualifying for government subsidies.
Robert E. Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, told the New York Times that a tax on windfall profits “would lead to higher premiums for families and businesses” because the added expense would be passed through to customers. [NYT, Oct. 9, 2009]
However, it was not clear why insurers would worry about a windfall profits tax if they were also concerned that new customers would be a financial burden.
Still, by the industry throwing its weight around with threats of higher premiums, it may be risking a backlash from Congress, which could still turn to the public option as the only feasible method for constraining ever-rising health insurance costs.
The industry fears the public option because it could piggyback on the existing Medicare bureaucracy and thus save substantial money, which the insurance industry spends on administrative expenses, executive pay and profits.
Those costs eat up 20 percent or more of an average dollar that businesses and individuals spend on health insurance premiums, compared to about 2 percent for Medicare.
The latest threats suggest that industry lobbyists believe they have enough senators lined up to back a Republican filibuster and block the public option.
But Democrats especially have reason to worry, because if they enact a reform package without the public option – and insurers then jack up rates – Democrats could be blamed for the unintended consequence of higher costs and thus pay a steep political price at the polls.
[For more on the Democrats' dilemma, see Consortiumnews.com's "Democrats Ponder Health-Care Suicide."]
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on October 9, 2009.