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Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
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 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.]
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...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
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.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
Insurers Make Case for Public Option
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com yesterday, 12 October 2009
By demanding that the Baucus health-care bill toughen the coercive penalties to force young Americans to sign up for private insurance, industry lobbyists have inadvertently made the most dramatic argument to date for including a strong public option in any health reform law.
After all, the bill sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, already was widely regarded as industry friendly. It had scrapped the public option, a lower-cost government-run insurance alternative that the industry hated because it would create strong competitive pressures.
Plus, there appeared to be plenty of goodies for the industry. The Baucus bill, which is expected to clear the Finance Committee on Tuesday, would impose “an individual mandate” on Americans, requiring them to buy insurance or face a government fine. The bill also contained government subsidies to help modest-income citizens pay for their insurance.
So, the industry stood to gain an estimated 27 million new customers and get federal subsidies to boot.
But industry lobbyists began to send signals last week that they wanted more. They feared that the government fines would not be coercive enough to force many healthy young Americans to sign up for insurance, meaning that many new customers might be just the ones the industry doesn’t want – people who are sick and need medical attention.
Without more severe government penalties on young Americans, the lobbyists warned that the industry would jack up rates on everyone.
“Between 2010 and 2019 the cumulative increases in the cost of a typical family policy under this reform proposal will be approximately $20,700 more than it would be under the current system,” said Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s lobbying arm which commissioned the price study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. [Washington Post, Oct. 12, 2009]
In other words, the private health insurance industry is demanding more concessions in the reform bill – particularly stiffer fines on Americans who balk at signing up for health insurance – or the industry will make health insurance even more expensive for Americans.
Yet, while the industry may view its new hardball tactics as smart politics, its threats of sharply higher insurance premiums may backfire. The admission that the industry can’t control costs without greater government coercion on citizens may end up simply dramatizing the value of a strong public option.
The public option, which could cut costs by piggybacking on the existing Medicare bureaucracy, was always the one possible route to substantial savings. Based on Medicare’s experience, a public option could operate with an overhead of around two percent compared to the 20 percent or more that private insurers take for administrative costs, executive salaries and profits.
If a public option were available to individual consumers and small businesses – as four bills that have passed other congressional committees call for – then customers could get coverage at a lower price and thus the mandate to buy insurance would be less burdensome.
Rather than strong-arming Americans to get private insurance by imposing stiffer fines, Congress might find the public option a far less draconian alternative, one that would enable more people to afford health insurance and thus make the need for penalties less necessary.
That, of course, was the reason private insurers worked so hard to demonize the public option as “a government takeover” of medicine and lobbied aggressively to make sure it was rejected by the Senate Finance Committee.
Yet, even with the public option stripped from the Baucus bill, Congress finds the industry ratcheting up the pressure to get more concessions or to kill the reform package altogether.
The industry’s move, however, represents a gamble, in that Democrats might finally recognize the potential for their own political suicide if a new health-reform law turns the federal government into the enforcer for an industry that has long prospered from the business of paying as few medical bills of sick Americans as possible.
Rather than using fines to muscle more citizens into the arms of private insurers, the Democrats might finally rebel against the lobbyists and make sure that a strong public health-insurance option is available as an alternative to private policies. Just the outcome that the industry feared most.
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 13, 2009.