Populist Daily

Politics, Culture and American Life

Populist Daily header image 1

Neocons to Middle Class: Forget Health Care Reform. Buy or Die!

January 6th, 2011 · No Comments · Health Care, Politics

The Neocons have begun their full-scale assault on the middle and lower classes of the American People. It began January 6, 2011, with the initial hearings on the already announced legislative proposal to repeal health care reform.

Despite the fact that 7 out of 10 Americans do not want health care reform repealed, the Republicans began hearings on “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” the health care repeal legislation. (Not making it up…that’s the name!) The important thing for them, obviously, is that the health insurance industry, their patrons, do want it repealed.

The CBO does not want it repealed either, despite the Neocons’ and Tea Baggers’ pretended fervor for cutting government spending. They want to repeal health care reform despite the fact that the impartial Congressional Budget Office says it will add an additional $230 to the national debt.

What would the Republicans be repealing at this point? Well, here is what the new health care reform bill does right now, and it will get much better in 2013 and 2014:

People can no longer be denied insurance because they have had some pre-existing condition.

Children can remain on the parents’ health insurance to age 26.

All insurance programs must now provide free preventative screenings, like colonoscopies and mammograms.

People cannot be dropped from health care insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

Seniors on Medicare will now receive 50% off on drugs to begin to close the donut hole, which will eventually be closed completely.

There will no longer be lifetime limits on health care coverage. Some policies have had limits of two or three million dollars and cut people off at that point. Not now.

All these valuable consumer protections the Neocons want to repeal for their patrons, the health insurance industry.

How is it clear that this is an all-out assault by Corporatists and the Super-Rich? It is clear because the Neocon Republicans had a number of options about what to do with health care reform. A sensible and reasonable approach would have been to come to Congress with some specific proposals. But they have none.

David Drier, Neocon House Member from California says that Congress wants everyone to have health care. But last year, every single Republican in both the House and the Senate voted against any kind of health care. In the Clinton Administration the Republicans fought against and defeated universal health care.

Ronald Reagan said that Medicare, which almost not one person in the country would do without, would lead quickly to Socialism and was adamantly against it. And in the four years of Bush I, and the 8 years of Bush II, not one proposal was brought up by the Neocon Republicans.

A serious effort would have said that there must be some adjustment, for example, in the mandate that all citizens have health care…even though this is carefully planned in the legislation to make it as easy as possible for people at all levels to handle. But there was no such proposal.

If they had been serious, the Neocons would have proposed amendments, added new provisions, asked that specific provisions be removed. But they have no such plan or any serious plan at all. They owe repeal to the health insurance industry. That was the deal.

So it is obvious…and it has been obvious to the trained observer for at least two years…that the Neoconservative Republicans are not serious as a political party. They are clearly front men, “bag men” if you will…legislator-lobbyists, in this case, for the health insurance industry. And how can they do this?

They have great control over the media, with ownership and editorial control of well over half of all the editorial in newspapers, 90% of the political conversation on radio, and two very large, very well funded, 24-hour propaganda television networks. A campaign of more than $400 million dollars can buy a lot of commercials to influence a lot of voters and it can buy a lot of Neocon politicians. And that’s exactly what it did.

The Neocon Republicans not only organized around the contributions of the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the health care industry, but they also brought new, wealthy, Right Wing candidates into campaigns.

They persuaded Meg Whitman to run in California on the Neocon ticket against Democrat Jerry Brown. Despite spending about $180 million of her own money, she lost to Brown when she said that she would restore California to the wonderful place it was in the 1970s when she first moved there. It turned out that this was the time when her opponent had previously been governor.

The Neocons persuaded Rick Scott, the man who ran the company that paid the largest fine ever for Medicare fraud, to run for Governor of Florida. He spent $73 million of that money he made running the scam on the federal government to get elected.

He apparently is about to act on education (instituting vouchers to destroy the public school system,) Medicare reform (Condone some kind of fraud, one would expect. His former company defrauded the government so badly they paid a $1.7 billion fine!) He is going to act on pensions…presumably to cut state pensions and make private pensions to 401Ks or let companies abandon them altogether. And finally he is going to attack “torts.” This can only mean that he intends to see that people who mistakenly have a leg cut off will only get enough money to cover crutches and a prosthetic device.

The fact that Neocons want to destroy the American people…those who are not in the top 1%…is no surprise. It is blatantly obvious to those who have been following the progression of society since Ronald Reagan took office in a sort of “fantasy administration” that started in January of 1981, 30 years ago almost to the day.

From 1980 to 1992, we were continually told that, while unemployment was growing to as much as 13 or 14 percent in some areas in the early 1980s, that it was “Morning in America” and that the worst words you could hear would come from the mouth of a government official showing up to help you.

Even though Reagan governed more moderately than he spoke, his disciples have gone on to become rabid, anti-government, anti-tax, anti-middle class freaks. And the first target of this new House of Representatives is the health reform bill, because they have learned how to monetize Right Wing radicalism.

There are some nut cases, like the Koch Brothers and the William Mellon Scaifes and the Waltons of the world who will search out lobbyists and legislators, or lobbyist-legislators…Neocon Republicans…who will do their bidding for money. And what do they want? They want fewer restrictions on their corporations and fewer personal taxes.

And in the vein of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” the Super-Rich and the largest and greediest corporations have combined with the greediest of the Health Insurance Industry to try to keep Americans from ruining their day by having reliable, affordable health care insurance.

Here are some simple facts, which, if you can think at all past the fifth grade level, will tell you what is going on.

Massachusetts. Had the highest health insurance costs in the country. Had to do something about it. 20% increases per year in premiums, while inflation was going up by 4% per year. Income tied to inflation. Income: $20,000, health care, 20% of income…$4,000. Four years later: income $23,500, health care $7,200, or now 30% of income. Four more years…devastation.

So Massachusetts, under a Republican governor, Mit Romney, instituted a state plan. If you have your private insurance through your employer, you keep it. That part hasn’t changed much because the private companies keep raising the rates.

But here’s what has changed. If you have no insurance, you can get it through a state insurance pool, where, in order to do health care business in Massachusetts, where everyone has to have insurance, you must offer rates in open competition with other firms. Guess what? While individual rates for health insurance have gone up about 14% around the country…which means in Massachusetts they would have gone up more than that…probably 20%…the rates under the new system, the same system as Obamacare will offer…have gone down by 40%! Forty percent decrease while the rest of the country has gone up by 14%.

Here’s what else has happened. Fully 99% of the people of Massachusetts have health care insurance. It isn’t a panacea. Health insurance firms still hold tight on the reins of the employer-based insurance racket. And the Neocon Republicans are helping them, fighting the good fight to see that Americans do not get affordable health care.

The Massachusetts example is good, but it will even be better on a national scale. For example, the pools of competitive firms will be larger. Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming could create a pool where you might have as many as 20 different health insurance companies to choose from.

Remember this. Under any system that is proposed, what will happen to you is about the same. You will have a doctor. You will have local clinics and local hospitals. Probably more regional clinics and more general practitioners…not more specialists necessarily.

The changes will come in how the billing is done and how things are paid for. With more competition, some of these CEOs of health care companies making as much as $100 million a year that could go to lowering premiums—guys you never see–will be taking a cut in pay. That’s all.

So, if the problem is that health insurance companies are gouging the public, as we know they are gouging doctors…who are supposed to be smart enough to understand when they’re being gouged…but don’t, how do we know how much more they are charging than they should.

Easy. These are for profit companies. Let’s look at the financial numbers of non profits. Let’s see how much more they bring in than they shell out. The difference, in a for profit company (minus the huge salaries at the top) would be the profitability. Or at least a very close facsimile.

Non profit hospitals, according to an unbiased source, Consumer Reports, have been doing pretty darned well, doing the same thing as the for-profit companies. Non-profits are not only allowed to retain large surpluses to insure that they are never insolvent, that is never have to pay out more than they take in. So they have to keep; a substantial minimum.

But the cold hard fact is that these Blue Cross Blue Shield companies have been charging about the same rates as the for-profit companies, rate increases of between 14% and 19% annually. Pretty steep. But they don’t have stockholders. As a result, the non-profits are holding reserves that are between 3 to 7 times more than is the minimum required…which in itself is substantial.

For example, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona, from 2007 to 2009 charged rates high enough so that its surplus…surplus…grew from $648 million to $717 million. That is 7 times the amount that they are expected to retain for minimum protection against insolvency.

If you do a little quick math, you will see how much money, and how bloated the expenditures are, and how inefficient a for-profit health care system has to be when it is making this kind of money over a three year period. In fact, they are probably making more.

And yet health insurance providers continue to deny care and continue to raise rates at 15, 20, 25% and have money left over to contribute to a $400 million dollar fund (2009 alone) to continue to entrap an American middle class into a broken health care system that they run like mobsters.

It is all enabled by the Neocon Republicans, who were just returned to control of the House of Representatives. They want to deal with “torts,” frivolous lawsuits. The organization that handles data on how much doctors pay out in lawsuits, how often they win, lose and how much they pay keeps very tight control on the information on how much is actually paid out, settled, cases won, etc.

But the state insurance commissioners, FAIR, Federation of American Insurance Regulators does release information. One of the pieces of information that they have published is the fact that the problem of frivolous lawsuits, in fact, all lawsuits over malpractice, frivolous or not, results in an added cost to medicine of just .46%. One half of one percent of all medical costs.

It is not surprising. Of all cases, doctors win 62% of the time. Of the announced amounts paid to victims who do win, the average is $420,000. (Doctors want it capped at $250,000 for punitive damages.) Of course the amounts of settlements, which are often less, is normally held in confidence by both parties, so we don’t actually know.

But we do know this. These figures should mean very low liability insurance rates. Often states cannot regulate rate structures. So the doctors, not unlike some of the hick patients that they serve who send Neocons back to Congress only to have the congress persons work against them and for lobbyists, pay the tab or are driven out of a state because of high liability rates. And all the while regulators are shouting that rates are too high.

Health care is 17% of the economy. It is a good business if you do it properly. About 80% of the people have pretty good insurance or Medicare with some kind of supplement. But 20% of the people do not. That is about 50 to 60 million people now who do not have health care or adequate health care.

Dr. Virginia Foxx, the Neocon House member from North Carolina, says that people who don’t have insurance, or run out of limits on insurance or are denied insurance also have assets. They have, she says, savings which they can use up.

They have a house and cars that they can sell. They have, one would imagine, personal property…wedding rings…artwork…bicycles perhaps…that they can sell off or pawn. This is what she says they should do.

She said so on the first day of hearings on repeal of health care reform. Dr. (Ph.d) Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, as vicious and as venal and as insensitive an old viper as you will ever see, we can hope, in the House of Representatives, supports Democratic former House Member Alan Grayson’s position.

Grayson has said, and Foxx offered the perfect example, that the Republican health care plan is this:…if you should contract cancer…die. But not only die….die quickly, so that it costs us as little as possible.

Tags: ·······

No Comments so far ↓

Like gas stations in rural Texas after 10 pm, comments are closed.