Out of the Park?

October 25th, 2009 by Gid

My partner received a note from an acquaintance who works for a hospital, encouraging him to view a video of Mike Rogers’ arguments against health care reform. In her view, his comments “hit it out of the park.” My partner asked me to write an opposing point of view for him to share with her. He read it, found it too “snarky,” and asked me to “tone it down” for the benefit of a Repugnican point of view. The idea immediately put me in mind of the White House pandering to Olympia Snowe — a situation I view with disgust. If I viewed it as a teacher gearing a lesson toward the students, it became more palatable.

In Mike Rogers’ last campaign in 2008, this is what some of his campaign funding looked like:
Pharma/Hlth Products $117,500
Hlth Professionals $96,200
Insurance $70,900

Why would such companies give him all that money? Do they really like Mike, or might they expect something in return? In the last election, I didn’t give Mike any money at all. Would he be disposed to act in my best interests in the legislative process knowing I will be no help in getting him reelected, or to act in the best interests of his contributors?

Mike states that health care reform, and the public option in particular, are against the principles of America, but one principle of the American marketplace is competition. Since the MacClaren-Ferguson act, the health insurance companies have been free of that particular constraint, and therefore free to create a cartel: a syndicate formed to regulate prices and output in some field of business. My own premiums have increased by 55% in the last 3 years alone. If health reform passes with a personal mandate as included in the bill by Senator Baucus (who, btw, got well over 1.5 million from health care concerns in his last campaign), that will guarantee millions more in premiums for the health insurers. This bill would ban exclusion, while allowing no competition. But when it seemed that the public option was gaining popularity last week, the insurance industry’s lobbyists reported that if any type of reform were passed, they would increase premiums by 111% in the coming years.

There is no basis in fact for any claim that a public option would take care away from anyone. The only thing purported to be cut is wasteful spending. If my cardiologist orders a CBC one week and my endocrinologist wants one the following week, I’d rather save my blood (and a few hundred dollars worth of wasteful spending) and tell him to call the other doctor and get the info from him. I want them to collaborate with each other anyhow. Health care being withheld as a result of a government run public option is a rumor created to scare people into defeating the public option. In fact, health care being taken away and disenrollment of policy holders has been part of the status quo of the private healthcare giants.

It’s common sense that the less money one pays out, the more money one has; therefore private insurers do everything possible to legally refuse coverage or reimbursement, and cancel policies they consider risky. CIGNA denied a liver transplant to a young woman, now dead. A healthy baby’s coverage was cancelled because he was too fat. Guardian insurance cancelled the policies of many Muscular Dystrophy patients, because one man’s annual care was in excess of $1 million. In a worst case scenario, where all the myths and misconceptions spread by spin-doctors were true, a government run system could not be worse than the treatment we now receive at the hands of the private insurers.

Mike argues against government run health care, though we already have it in the medicare and VA systems, in which the care is so good that well over 150 eligible congressment get their own health care through those systems. Furthermore, the other representatives have a health care bloc at their disposal, through which they can pick and choose their coverage from a number of companies to obtain competitive prices. It seems somewhat hypocritical that the people we elect can do this while denying that privilege from those who elected them. Mike warned that a government run health plan could determine which doctor you visit. My insurance carrier is UHC, and they do the same thing. They frequently make deals with different providers, laboratories, and hospitals, and tell me I must either see a different provider or pay steep deductibles. How would this be worse if a government run system did the same thing?

The public option offers competitive pricing and precludes price gouging, and if I can get good quality health care without paying an extra 25% to 30% for a company’s administrative costs, exorbitant executive salaries and high profit margins, I will go with a plan that’s easier on my wallet. The private insurers have become quite used to their high income — theirs is one of the few markets that showed billions in profit while most others saw the bottom fall out when the recession began. Equally comfortable are the many representatives who receive millions from private health enterprises on a yearly basis. Equally comfortable are the lobbyists who earn billions — the private insurers at the height of the campaigning this summer, were spending upwards of $1.5 million every single day to stop any reform.

On a good day, a Repugnican will admit that health care reform is necessary, but they will insist upon letting the private sector fix the problem to preclude government involvement. As this method has achieved no progress in the last 40 years — why should the private sector fix something which has made them obscenely wealthy? — I think it’s time for more affirmative measures.

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