For years, even decades, the health insurance industry has run medicine in this country. Health insurance is basically when a corporation gets between you and your doctor and tells your doctor if he can perform a procedure to improve your health or in some cases save your life.
You pay for health insurance but you don’t always get it. Why? Because health services can be expensive and health insurance companies are profit making organizations. The average CEO of an insurance company makes $14 million dollars a year, every year that he or she is CEO.
Health insurance companies in the U.S. provide the same service that governments provide in other countries, only more expensively than in other countries. In each case, governments in foreigh countries and health insurance companies here in the United States do the same thing. They take money from citizens in premiums so that the cost is spread across all of society, (in our case about two-thirds of society.) They handle administration and payment of doctors and hospitals.
In other countries, that costs about 6% of everything that goes on in the economy…the Gross Domestic Product. (GDP) In this country, it costs about 18% of our GDP. Why? So that CEOs and stockholders can make money on your health services. Except in the case of Medicare. In Medicare’s case, the costs are much lower, something like 3%. Why? Because there are no huge salaries and no profit is taken out.
Medicare and the Veterans’ Hospital system are the most efficient delivery methods we have in this country for care. Medicare’s administrative costs are about 3% of revenues. Private insurance plans, on the other hand, cost about 16.7% of total revenues to administer. But remember, we are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars of difference when you look at the actual numbers. So, if you are trying to save money and reduce the debt, yet find some kind of health care coverage for all citizens….these are significant percentages.
The Veteran’s Administration health care system beats the private health insurance industry, hands down. The VA system is by far the best and most efficient. It beats Medicare by a wide margin in cost efficiency and in customer satisfaction, it regularly beats the best private health insurance by 5 to 8 percent. If all health care were run by VA, health care costs would be reduced for the average family to some very low number, probably about $500 a month.
So, President Obama came into office knowing a couple of things. First, a huge number of Americans were suffering under the policies of the health insurance industry. Many very sick people, with long term illnesses or chronic painful and dangerous conditions could simply not buy health insurance at almost any reasonable cost. It is, by the way, a public, a Socialist if you will, health care delivery system.
Second, the national debt was ballooning and the biggest cost was health care….the actual costs of Medicare and Medicaid, over the premiums that were paid. And the high costs of VA care, even though its costs were contained as well as possible. These high costs were easy to explain unless you were part of the health care industry. They did not want them explained because health insurance really does nothing to control health care costs. Whatever the costs are, the health insurance business simply marks them up and bills the policy owner or the corporation.
That is why health care costs are so high. It is basically a game of musical chairs in which the last person standing when the music stops is always the consumer. And that is why doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies and medical equipment vendors fought against the Affordable Care Act so vigorously. To try to prevent the Affordable Care Act, they spent, in 2009 alone, what was then thought to be about 400 million dollars but now has been revised upward to what may have been as much as 700 million.
Many people wondered why passage of health care reform was so urgent, why it was the focal point of President Obama’s first term, when it drew such enormously funded attacks from the Republicans. But now we know. All the lies about “Obamacare,” all the propaganda and misinformation were, and still are, funded by these groups.
The key bit of information is lodged in the word “repeal.” Why repeal and not reform? Why not reform or in other words make adjustments to the ACA? The only reason to repeal the Affordable Care Act, rather than initiate some adjustments through legislation in Congress is that only repeal will stop the inevitable reduction in fees, charges, premiums and costs that have enriched the health care industry while draining every last dollar from working Americans.
Remember that this was not the first attempt by the health care industry to thwart the will of the American people. Newt Gingrich stopped the Clinton universal health care program in 1993 will his lies about HMOs, saying that they would bring health care costs down dramatically. Costs went up dramatically instead, as Gingrich knew they would.
Gingrich, in 2004, now working on his third wife and having been tossed out of Congress, decided to start another phony group. This time his Center for Health Transformation, having collected as much as $37 million from companies as diverse as Astra Zeneca pharmaceuticals and GE Health Care (MRI and other equipment) jumped in on the “repeal” effort worked to keep health care from 40 million Americans.
So what did the President do? When he came into office in 2009, he took a look at the health care plan initiated by the Massachusetts legislature, and said…this works. And it does. Everyone in Massachusetts has health care. And it has an over 90% popularity rating. In Massachusetts, everyone can afford health care and everyone is qualified. And if you want to sell health insurance in Massachusetts, you have to do it by their rules. Health insurance companies do abide by the rules because they know that if they don’t, Massachusetss would set up its own health insurance and they would be out of business.
But the private companies don’t like Obamacare. Why? Well, as one example, the President’s plan now says that as of 2012 a health insurance company that does not spend 85% of its premiums on health services rather than on higher CEO and top executive salaries and bonuses must rebate the difference to policy holders. And this year millions of Americans will get rebate checks from their health insurance companies for that reason.
Here’s why the health insurance companies have had a hold on the American people. About 9 out of 10 people are employed and a large percentage of those have health insurance through their employer. Another large segment of the population are students who have health care through their universities.
A further segment of the overall population is in Medicare and the very poor…no incomes or only welfare or less than poverty wages, which includes minimum wage workers…are on government paid Medicaid. So only a portion of the country, about a third, is caught without health insurance but that is still a very large number…and it is very expensive.
For a variety of reasons, not only do health insurance premiums go up every year, but for years now the largest single cause of people going bankrupt is an uncovered major health problem. Medical costs are staggering, and many families simply do not have the resources. About 500,000 people in the U.S. experience this every year.
But now the Affordable Care Act has been passed and its legitimacy sustained by the Supreme Court and its worth validated by the American People, who voted to extend Obamacare by voting for him. If they had not wanted the Affordable Care Act, they could have voted for Romney and Ryan who both said that they would repeal it. So, if the people want the ACA, who is against it?
The health insurance industry and their associates, the hospital chains, the doctors, and the pharmaceutical industry are against it. And that is why you hear the term “repeal” Obamacare. Why repeal rather than reform or modify or adjust?
Under ACA, the Affordable Care Act, children who graduate from college, or even those who do not go to college, can stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. Children can no longer be turned down for health care because of a pre-existing condition. Health insurance companies must spend at least 85% of your insurance premiums on actual health care, not CEO salaries and bonuses.
The infamous “donut hole” where seniors must pay about $2,500 before they can get prescription drugs either free or at low cost has been reduced and will be eliminated. Small businesses get large deductions and part of the premiums paid if they want to provide health care for their employees.
1990s. Health care was a big enough problem back then…before it became a really big problem. President Clinton tried to institute a national health care program, one, that like the 32 advanced nations ahead of us in world health, like, say…Portugal…have already established and which have cut their health care costs to 6% whereas ours are 18%. So for every six dollars they spend…and everyone is covered…we spend eighteen and you may or may not be able to get coverage.
So think about who profits. Who profits from keeping your health insurance premiums high? It isn’t Barack Obama and it isn’t your fellow citizens. It is health insurance companies, hospital chains, doctors and pharmaceutical companies. All have profited immeasurably from the misery they have left with the American People.
And now that we have Obamacare, what do the Republicans want to do? They want to ignore the law, stifle the will of the People and ruin the new health care system. How will they do it? They are trying to do it state-by-state. All Republicans. The governors of Repbublican states are trying to sabotage health care for the American People. Their own citizens. They are lying to and subverting health care for their own citizens.
For example, Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma announced that she will not let Oklahomans participate in the extension of health coverage to poor and middle-class citizens. She will not go against the insurance industry in that part of the ACA that creates health insurance exchanges.
The goal of these Republican governors is to prevent universal coverage by stalling the implementation of the law. So the federal government will set up health insurance exchanges. These exchanges will allow all Americans to find affordable health care. Those who are too poor will go on Medicaid (those with incomes under $15,000.) Those with incomes over the poverty level up to $44,680 will receive credits to help purchase health insurance.
So now we have a group…17 so far…of Republican governors who think that they are bigger than the U.S. government and bigger than their own citizens. These governors almost all of them elected with money from huge super-pacs funded by the massive wealth of the health insurance industry, think that their allegiance is to the corporations who pay them, and to the organizations formed from huge corporations, like ALEC, who have representatives in every state.
The health insurance exchanges are supposed to be up and running by Oct. 1, 2013.
Mallin of Oklahoma said that in her opinion the expansion of Medicaid would be unaffordable. Of course, what Mallin doesn’t say is that any expansion will be paid for by the federal government. Seven other states besides Oklahoma have said that they will not expand Medicaid to their poorest residents, despite the fact that the federal government will pay the full cost from 2014 to 2016, then scale back its share until it reaches 90 percent in 2022.
States are legally allowed to opt out of this program, not out of Medicaid altogether, even though it is completely paid for under the federal legislation as part of the idea of complete coverage of citizens. Make no mistake about it, this is an attempt to hurt the poor, who are primarily elderly and…African-American. The evidence of this in Oklahoma is the state’s lawsuit against the health care law and in particular against the federal government’s ability to assist the poor with tax credits for health insurance.
One can only assume that there are other positions that these governors take that make them attractive to voters, particularly voters who have children, voters who have elderly parents, voters who have some compassion for the working poor and voters who now have jobs but can look ahead to see what might happen to them if they either lost their jobs or were otherwise somehow in reduced circumstances.
So what will happen at the state level if these governors decide not to set up state exchanges? The answer is that the federal government will set them up, and administer them. If they continue to ignore the system, then the likely outcome is that the federal government will run about half of all state health insurance exchanges in the country.
And that brings up an interesting prospect. If the health insurance industry continues to create policies that offer more benefits to their CEOs and stockholders than to the public, federally run exchanges will be a very good thing. The reason is this. The law states that if there is no meaningful competition, the state exchanges can offer state and federally created health insurance programs. In other words, those kinds of plans that are now available in combination with Medicare will be made available to everyone and subsidized for the poor.
That will be the worst case scenario and probably the death knell for the private health insurance industry. After all, the other countries in the world that have universal health care either run it through government agencies or run it through non-profit private corporations. We are the only country in the world that allows profit to individuals from other people’s health misfortunes.
The most radical of the Right Wing governors, those who have worked tirelessly against the poor and middle class and workers, like Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Governor Rick Perry of Texas and Governor Paul LePage of Maine have already said that they would not lift a finger to help those who need and will be enabled to have health care through the ACA health insurance exchanges.
As of the end of October 2012, the following states have said that they will not have their own health insurance exchanges: ALABAMA, ALASKA, GEORGIA, INDIANA, KANSAS, LOUISIANA, MAINE, MISSOURI, MONTANA, NEBRASKA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NORTH DAKOTA, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, SOUTH CAROLINA, SOUTH DAKOTA, TEXAS, VIRGINIA, WISCONSIN, and WYOMING.
All these states still have Republican governors.
On the brighter side, 17 states have already said that they will have their own health insurance exchanges, and another five will work jointly with the federal government in establishing them.
The states that have yet to decide whether their state will establish a health insurance exchange are: ARIZONA,ARKANSAS, FLORIDA, IOWA, IDAHO, MICHIGAN, NEW JERSEY, PENNSYLVANIA, TENNESSEE, UTAH, and WEST VIRGINIA.
So what will happen? Will the Republican governors prevent health reform in their states? Will their alliance with the large health insurance companies, with the other health care industries and individuals profiting from the misery of Americans, particularly the poor and elderly…will that alliance, that conspiracy, succeed? No.
The die has already been cast. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on trying to prevent the American People from gaining services for the roughly 40 to 50 million of us who still do not have at least some minimal program, which is what the Affordable Care Act offers, the health care industry has lost.
The bill provides that health insurance exchanges will be established, whether these Neo-Fascist governors want it or not. The bill has dozens of cost-reduction provisions, but the real cost reductions will come into being just the way WalMart came into being.
One of the big factors motivating businesses is staying in business. If, in the health insurance exchanges, a company provides the same services at a lower cost, its competitor will be forced to lower its premiums. That is the nature of business and because the law provides that there must be competition or the government steps in….with really lower costs…the reduction in premiums will continue and more companies will eventually get out of the business as their CEOs just find the reduction in their 8-figure incomes just cannot tolerate it any longer.
Other companies, with more rational CEOs and managements who will see the opportunity for a good living but not an exorbitant one, will step in. And soon, the total exercise of completely free markets will finally bring health care down to a manageable level.
Premiums will come down because insurance firms will put the pressure on suppliers, not on the public, as they do now, because it is easier to simply add on costs when there is no one to stop them.
The main thing to do, however, is to remember which governors were on your side and which governors tried to prevent you from having affordable health care. Make no mistake about it. This is not about Medicaid costs…which will be paid in full for the first two years by the federal government and then 90% after that (which is far, far better than states have it now.)
It is about keeping the government from preventing health insurance companies from dropping you from the insurance rolls and ending, once and for all, their control of your lives and the drain on your company’s financial resources.
These Republican governors are evil men and women. But not without some reason. The hugely wealthy corporations who want to see all regulations removed, regulations which are largely protections for the people, have joined with the health care industry to give financial support to elect these Republican governors.
They have elected 30 Republican governors, 60% of the states. But hold on. The people of Michigan hate their governor, who took over one municipality so that his friends could take land that belonged to the public parks and convert it to a high-end, restricted golf course community. The people of Wisconsin recalled their governor and while it failed to toss him out, did recover the control of the state legislature and tossed out one of his Neo-Fascist state supreme court judges. The governor of Florida now has a 28% approval rating. Governor John Kasich of Ohio has a similarly low approval rating and his chief legislative agenda was voted down.
If you go to ALECEXPOSED .org on the Internet you can quickly learn what happened, how these corporately paid and supported con men hustled their way in a bad economic time into the state houses. Lies on top of lies did it. And it will continue unless the people wake up.
Now a word to Republicans only.
The Republican governors of these states cannot obstruct your health care options. They are firmly rooted in law and confirmed by the Supreme Court. They can, however, make health care more costly to set up, to administer and to merge into a completely national network. They think that it is worth it in order to get the large campaign contributions from billionaires and corporations until the health insurance industry finally sees the handwriting on the wall…and stops contributing to failure.
But you have another alternative. You can vote these anti-middle class, anti-worker Republican governors out of office. You can see to it that good, moderate Republicans, people of the people and for the people are nominated by the Republican Party in your state. But you can’t leave it to others.
You need your own movement…Occupy Republicanism. If you don’t, the money boys will nominate more of the same kinds of people who are shilling you, lying to you to keep the rich rich and the poor poor and the middle class working but falling behind.
Rich Republicans don’t care if anti-abortion laws pass. They already have what they want. You saw it in the person they paid a fortune to nominate…Mitt Romney. He pays 14% taxes and wouldn’t show his tax returns. Would he have shown them if he paid more that 14%? Of course he would. But he didn’t. He undoubtedly paid less than 14%. That’s how you amass a quarter of a billion dollars of wealth over time.
So these guys are not working for you. They are working for the guys who nominated Mitt Romney and who elected your Republican governor. Now, that governor is never going to tell you that he is working for the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Abelson or the health insurance industry. You’d vote them right out of office. But that is what you should do because that is exactly for whom they are working.
If you are someone with personal social issues, you do not have to become a Democrat. You can opt to help nominate people who believe as you do, but also believe that you, as a middle class American, need not suffer from Republican economic policies…which are for the top 1%…in order to have representation for your beliefs on abortion, marriage, unions or any other issue that means a great deal to you.
You do not have to accept social programs that are against your beliefs or that you oppose on any grounds. Don’t let Republicans’ lies put you in a bad place financially just to get some consideration for your personal beliefs on social or religious issues. If Republicans lie to you, don’t become Democrats if you believe what Democrats believe is wrong. Take it to the streets and elect Republicans who believe what you do, but also will work for the financial security of your family.
No one favors poverty. No one thinks someone should get money without working for it. No one thinks you should pay into insurance for 40 years and then be denied it. No one thinks that you should be denied health care for your children because you happened to lose your job. Those should be Republican principles, not just Democratic principles.
You have been sold a bill of goods about “freedom.” There is nothing rational about “freedom to starve” while a pampered, egotistical rich Republican woman has an extra $90 million lying around to spend on a failed Senate seat from Connecticut.
If she had won, how would she help you? By removing the option you now have to pay less for health care? By taking away your Social Security and exchanging it for a worthless IRA, something that would save her and her pals millions in taxes…the money she is using to run against your best interests….but would pay you a couple of hundred bucks a month to retire on?
You can let them know that you do not have to switch parties in order to get your rights back and make your family secure. You can switch parties, if that is what you want to do for your own good, within the Republican Party.
Get involved. Don’t let the rich hijack your party. Nominate good people, who believe as you do, who will represent you on all issues, not work for you only on social issues but sell you out to Wall Street on your family’s finances and your long-term economic well being.