Current political life is like a satire of our historical political life, only more wasteful and dangerous. The early days of our country’s formation were filled with devotion to freedom and equality. Real freedom, not merely a slogan on a sign, and real equality, where men and women argued for their rights to vote and work. These were heated argument on real issues that would affect us for centuries. Then, when we sought true equality–equal citizenship no matter the color of your skin, there were literal fights in the halls of congress between pro-slavery southern representatives and abolitionists.
Over one hundreds years later, we still have our southern dissidents, this time fueled not only by racism, but fueled by what can only be termed ignorance and superstition, the result of a failed educational system and misguided goals. We now have spread around our ignorance. It exists everywhere in society, in every state and many rural communities. We still have people in society who believe that some God or another, or some prophet is telling them how we should all live, and are willing to sacrifice the rights of others to have us all live by their superstitions. And they call their right to dictate to us how we should live…their “freedom.” Well, that isn’t freedom and they do not have that right.
It is in that context that we take a look at the Neoconservative Obstructionists’ health care bill. Unlike the Democratic plan which is self-contained in approximately 1990 pages, it has only 219. The reason is that you must go to other legislation, where the Neocons have inserted paragraphs, legislation like HIPAA, which has a thousand or more pages, read the appropriate section, insert the Neocon health bill part, then re-read it to see how it would read, then go back to the Neocon legislation. It does this with HIPAA, ERISA, the IRS tax code and the Public Health Service Act of 1947, (1176 pages alone.)
It starts off talking about an approach to “re-insurance” that sets up state organizations that will encourage health insurance companies to offer insurance in the “high risk pool.” Traditionally, if you do not now have insurance of any kind, you would automatically be categorized as being in the expensive “high risk pool.” These already exist in all kinds of insurance all over the country. It is common in most kinds of insurance for those who cannot buy standard insurance. The Neocon Obstructionists merely want to formally adopt it, apparently, as the hallmark of their program. But that’s just the start.
Next, they state that there must be a “high deductible plan” among all the offerings in every area…to protect the insurers. (After, of course, pointing out as they do in every section that illegal aliens cannot get any of this…every single section leads off with that! We get it, fool! No illegal aliens. Of course, that is already law. But why worry about facts.) The plans in general cannot raise rates more than…are you ready…double, plus fifty percent. So your plan from the Neocon-Obstructionists cannot go up from $10,000 per year to more than….$25,000 per year. Hooray!
Remember, however, to bring your proof of citizenship. The law states that every person who enrolls in a private health care plan (there are no public options) must bring evidence of citizenship to get in.
So the states will set up these supervisory boards to create better…let’s give the Neocons some credit for humanity or at least some intelligence…“risk pools.” If done properly, they would be the same general idea as the Democratic plan, except that “risk pool” in many people’s minds automatically pre-supposes higher rates. For example, if you have had five drunken driving accidents, you could theoretically go into a “risk pool” to be able to get auto insurance.
There are bundles of money tossed into this program, and it is not too clear just what they are for. $15 billion here and $9 billion there, all to the states and all after several years of running these things for nothing. They are set up as some kinds of incentives for lower rates, but the plan doesn’t say clearly what the money is for or what the incentives are. At one point, the amount of one trillion dollars is mentioned. One trillion dollars? I thought that this was supposed to save us money?
If money is going to the state and the state is running the program, with independent insurance companies offering insurance as they do now, and if, as this plan states, the local state can adjust or even abolish the plan…what good is it in protecting citizens? It is meaningless. It is worse than meaningless because it sets up for corruption by letting states determine progress and then apparently using government funds to pay off insurance companies if they lower rates! How else, under this system is a state going to incentivize health insurance companies to lower rates?
There are sections of the bill that say that insurance companies cannot deny or rescind insurance coverage. But later it discusses third parties who have the authority…not the insurance companies but people who understand insurance (where might they come from do you imagine?)…who have the right to decide for the insurance companies, on appeal, that they can “non-renew” a policy. These same people, affiliated with these state agencies, will have actuarial experience and will be the counselors about rate settings. The insurance companies have the right not to renew, but there must apparently be this review and there must be notice in advance. Big deal. You get a letter in advance that your insurance will not be renewed. What difference does that make? You are still not renewed.
The significant difference between this plan and the Democratic plan is that it is a limited plan that presupposes certain things. It welcomes, for example, health savings accounts and encourages them together with high-deductible insurance policies. The problem with that is very simple. Insurance companies have no incentive in this plan to control costs, so these plans will need higher and higher deductibles, people will need more and more money in their health savings accounts, and caps on services will eventually throw people into serious financial problems if they get very ill, which is what this kind of program is supposed to handle. And finally, most people today do not have the $5,000 to $10,000 extra that they can put in a health savings account. This is a protection for the insurance companies, not for the people. And it is only profit-protection for the insurance companies, not liability protection.
Of course, these programs do not start tomorrow. They start, for example, (this part shows you how the Neocons think.) in 2013. That’s “December 30, 2013.” Relatively close to 2014, wouldn’t you say? One part of the plan, the automatic removal of funds from your personal account, “electronic funds transfer” (from you, not to you) begins in late, late, late 2015, i.e. 2016. It will take them that long for the private insurance companies to get around to taking your money automatically.
Now, how do we get all these new people into new programs–where the costs can only double plus an additional fifty percent and where they cannot deny you or rescind your policy without the approval of a third party, someone trained in insurance company policies? We miraculously allow, which we could have done as early as the 1960s, association members to have group policies. But there is a catch. There are certain rules. A lot of rules. For example, the association has to have been around for 3 years already. And so on. It has to be certified by this state agency with a board from the insurance companies. If you try to scam a poor insurance company by setting up a phony association, you can be fined severely or imprisoned for up to five years. (To whom are we trying to get insurance and whom are we trying to protect, again?)
And where does this leave the individual? With no government fall-back option… so that we can protect the profits of the poor insurance companies…it leaves individuals…shop owners, women with children who work sewing, or taking care of other children, or selling products as an independent small business person…out in the cold. This is worse than no solution. This isolates certain segments of society, ironically those most in need of support, and says that we will simply ignore your needs. Tens of millions of skilled, educated, middle-class people. Even if this plan offered them insurance, it would still not address the key issues, cost, sustainability, and security.
But the bill does not stop there. It goes on to pander to doctors (who have just endorsed the President’s plan. By the way, the AMA just endorsed the President’s plan, but PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Plan, 20,000 doctors) and AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians, 300,000) had already endorsed the President’s plan. It spends more than 30 pages on medical liability alone.
Despite the fact that the national association of state insurance regulators has repeatedly said that medical liability is not the first, second or third reason for high medical liability insurance rates and does nothing to reduce them, the Neocons, who must have some group paying them mightily, included a medical liability section of thirty or so pages. They put caps on all kinds of damages and the magic number seems to be $250,000 for some unknown reason. It even goes so far as to set the fees that attorneys can charge and how much money they can receive from settlements. They are basically trying to regulate medical liability out of existence. Your child’s life has now been documented by the Neocons to be worth $250,000 minus attorney fees.
In the final section of the bill, again, about 35 pages long, the Neocons try to wrap up some of the money that will be coming from the new biological drugs that many people do not even know exist. Thanks to DNA research and the Human Genome Project, many more advanced biological products are now available. The Neocon Obstructionists have legislated this into the health care bill to insure that the pharmaceutical companies are protected in their enormous prices and huge profits on these products.
And finally, to insure that doctors will not be costing too much to the insurance industry in curing people, they tossed in a provision that there will be no panels of doctors established who would evaluate and recommend best practices. Heaven forbid that doctors should find a new treatment to save lives that would cost the health insurance companies a little of their huge profits!
This is a bill written by the lobbyists for the companies that the lobbyists pay the Neocon Obstructionist legislators to support. For the People, it is a complete waste of time.