Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
09.18 'I was horrified that children are breathing air this dirty inside the school' [if your government isn't working, change it!]
09.13 The Guardian view on electric cars: stopped by industry inaction [Vroom Vroom is Dumb Dumb]
09.11 Air pollution is 'biggest environmental health risk' in Europe [Switch to 100% renewables and stop all mining, pumping, refining and burning of fossil fuels!!!]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
09.18 'This Election Is Last Chance to Stop Them': Kudlow Confirms Trump and GOP Ready to Gut Safety Net After Midterms [Yes, there are far too many sociopaths]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
International & Futurism
09.15 A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come [SCARY]
Empty Threats to the Health Insurance Industry
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation yesterday, 16 October 2009
The public option is fraught with all sorts of vagaries that ought to reassure the industry, and could even make them more, not less, money. The government, for example, could just buy policies from private companies and even let Blue Cross-Blue Shield, for example, run the “public” option system. That’s more like an outsourcing scheme. Hardly socialism.
The health insurance industry’s double cross of Obama has created a storm of controversy. But it probably won’t amount to much. There’s been a lot of talk about punishing the industry for its actions: through a barely conceivable threat to remove the industry’s antitrust exemption or by resurrecting the public option. Neither seems very likely.
Historically, with solid support in Congress—most especially from the Dodd family (father Thomas and son Christopher)–the insurance industry has avoided federal regulation. Instead, insurance companies are regulated by the states which, lacking the money and political nerve, have been a pushover. Under Obama there is little change in the offing. So there won’t likely be any threat to the incredible monopolies the insurance companies hold in many areas.
As for the the public option, it is fraught with all sorts of vagaries that ought to reassure the industry, that–even in the unlikely event of passage–it won’t hurt them and could even make them more, not less, money. That is because a public option won’t create a new federal insurance program but rather a contract apparatus whereby the government in effect would buy policies from private companies and even let existing insurance entities—Blue Cross-Blue Shield, for example– run the “public” option system. That’s more like an outsourcing scheme. Hardly socialism.
The same thing holds true of the newly fashionable coop scheme. It would most likely involve the local health insurance coop contracting out the insurance function to private companies or Blue Cross-Blue Shield systems.
Those who think a public option might provide beneficial competition might consider what’s happened to the Medicare Part D drug insurance program. I, for example, am a participant. I don’t buy drugs from the government or even at prices set by the government. I must buy my drugs through a private insurance company—in my case AARP–which then negotiates the price of the drugs with pharmaceutical companies. This arrangement is one of the reasons why Medicare Part D is so expensive. It is not because old farts are stealing from the young. It’s because old farts are being yanked around by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries who have free reign within the Medicare system.
Finally, those who worry insurance companies are getting a raw deal might want to consider just how one of these big companies work. Dr. Jeoffry B. Gordon provided this excellent description of the United Health Group, first poublished in Daily Kos:
Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.
Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.
Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found on his web site, http://jamesridgeway.net.
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 17, 2009.
Public Service Ads: