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Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
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.