Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

09.23 Nasa launches satellite to precisely track how Earth's ice is melting

09.23 Climate study ‘pulls punches’ to keep polluters on board

09.21 Greed is killing Alaska's salmon habitat – but we can still save it

09.21 Trump administration poses new threat to birds in allowing ‘incidental’ killings

09.20 Al Gore Is Still Optimistic [24:06 video; rather than future Frankenstein governments, how can we better ensure having brilliantly efficient & competent governments?]

09.20 The $11 trillion question Chris Cillizza can't answer

09.20 Florence sparks pollution fears after excrement-filled 'hog lagoons' overflow

09.20 EU must end new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 to meet climate targets – report

News Media Matters

09.22 Progressives to DNC: It Would Be 'Insane' Not to Hand Over Twitter Account to Ocasio-Cortez

09.20 Morning Edition’s Think Tank Sources Lean to the Right

09.19 Taibbi: Bernie Sanders’ Anti-Amazon Bill Is an Indictment of the Media, Too

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

09.23 MARYLAND GOVERNOR REBUFFS CALL FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO BRETT KAVANAUGH ATTEMPTED RAPE ALLEGATIONS [Republicans above the law...]

09.23 Trump Is Strangling the U.S. Refugee Program to Death

09.23 Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9" Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise

09.23 The Trump Administration's Latest Tax Scam for the Rich [video]

09.23 One Tiny Tax Reform, Billions for America

09.22 As Right-Wingers Push Trump to Fire Rosenstein, Here's What to Do If He Does

09.21 400,000 Americans in 900 Cities Ready to Take to Streets If President Trump Fires Rosenstein After NYT Bombshell

Justice Matters

09.22 Making Tariffs Corrupt Again

09.22 Why isn't Mark Judge testifying about Kavanaugh? He is an alleged witness

High Crimes?

09.20 Trump Should Be More Worried About the Brennan Dossier

09.19 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen [Does America's government have empathy? Does it understand the concept of morality? The Saudi Air Force would be ineffective without U.S. military assistance...]

09.19 ‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

09.16 Merchants of Death Profit from the Bombing of Children as a US-Backed War Goes Largely Ignored

Economics, Crony Capitalism

09.23 The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire [1:18:01 documentary video]

09.23 Why We Have To Break Up Amazon

International & Futurism

09.23 For This Year’s International Day of Peace, Korea Takes the Lead

09.22 Which nation is 'most generous' to refugees? Certainly not the US

09.18 Racist rioting in Chemnitz has reopened Germany’s east-west split [After 10,000 generations, we are all mixed-race. So let's become friends with our cousins instead!]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Insurers Make Case for Public Option
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

Insurers Make Case for Public Option

by Robert Parry
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.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on October 13, 2009.

 

Public Service Ads: