Political Maneuvering in Health Care
This from Greg Scandlen:
|Pay Back is a (you know)
Congress and the White House are using the insurance industry as an example of what they would do to the AMA, PhRMA, AHA, and other interest groups that dare to get out of line. This is Chicago-style intimidation at its most vivid. Not that the industry doesn’t deserve it. AHIP is just fine and dandy with mandates and price controls as long as its member companies will prosper. But it was always naïve of them to think it would work that way.
There have been four reports come out recently pointing out the obvious – guaranteed issue and community rating without mandatory coverage will raise premiums through the roof. It is a completely unremarkable finding. Every economist on the face of the Earth knows it is true and it has been proven over and over again in states such as New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Now, the government may be able to paper over those premium increases with subsidies, but the underlying effect is still there. And the price has to be paid for by someone — if not by the insured through premiums, then by the taxpayers through subsidies.
AHIP and the Blues were all in favor of these rating restrictions and price controls as long as people were forced to buy what they sell. But Congress started to waver on the mandate because it is mean to working people to make them buy what they can’t afford. Well, yes it is. But they still thought it was nice to have healthy young people pay the same premiums as decrepit older people. Well, no it isn’t.
We have already reported on the studies by AHIP and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Since then WellPoint has released a study looking at the impact in the specific states where it does business, and Milliman released a report on “Adverse Selection and the Individual Mandate.” Both re-emphasize the message.
But Congress and the White House do not like to be contradicted, so National Underwriter reports that the “Administration Takes on Insurance Giant.” It writes, “The White House has accused WellPoint Inc. of “cherry picking certain policies and ignoring major aspects of reform” in a collection of analyses of how health reform might affect some of the states it serves.” And so on, in its continues effort to demonize any person or company who has the “audacity” to disagree with it.
But the abuse of power doesn’t stop at the White House. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, jes’ a good ol’ boy from West Virginny, thinks that profits are a terrible thing, according to Reuters. (Hey, Jay, just how did your granddaddy make his money again?) It writes, “Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Rockefeller, in a letter to Cigna, demanded that the company immediately clarify the amount of premiums it receives and the amount of the claims it pays for group health insurance products.”
The article adds, “He wrote in the letter that: The analysis shows that in the individual and small group segments, insurers spend a significantly smaller portion of each premium dollar on patient care than they do in their large group businesses.” Well, duh!
And so it goes in this new era of a unified America.
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