The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘healthcare industry

Which states have the most Medicaid-funded births?

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I wonder why it is that the states that most decry government spending are the ones that take the most federal money per capita to deliver their babies? Note Huckabee’s Arkansas and Palin’s Alaska and McCain’s Arizona and Barbour’s Mississippi and Jindal’s Louisiana and Demint’s S. Carolina:
clipped from facts.kff.org

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Sixty-four years of profits before people

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What's the rush

Written by Monte

August 6, 2009 at 11:07 am

GOP Rep despairs over public option savings

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Will the GOP and conservadems protect rich health insurance companies from competition?  Or consumers from high prices?
clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

{{w|John Kline}}, member of the United States ...

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Minnesota Representative John Kline recently went on Minnesota Public Radio to despair over the way the public option would save his constituents money:

“There are some things in this legislation that I find particularly troublesome,” … “[O]ur fear is that if you actually get in there looking at the legislation that it’s set up in a way that employers would increasingly opt to letting their employees move over to the… public option. And because it is cheaper, it’s designed to save money, which the government-run program has some very clear advantages. […]

Brian Beutler at TPM adds:

I assume that public opinion polling must show overwhelmingly that Americans want to pay more for health care so that insurance companies don’t have to contend with a superior, cheaper competitor. Otherwise it’s hard to understand Kline’s statements anything other than a call to subsidize insurance companies […]

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Wanted: A prophetic voice in the healthcare debate

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Time for the religious and humanist communities to insist that reform itself is not enough: Time for the plan that gives “‘care’ the priority over ‘profits'” and over “‘what will fly in D.C.'” (“simply code words for ‘what those congressional reps who are dependent on the contributions of the health care industry are willing to allow to get through their committees.’”)
clipped from www.tikkun.org

Engraving of the Prophet Amos by Gustave Doré ...

[T]he Religious Community has a responsibility to be a Prophetic Voice, and to insist on the approach that is most consistent with actually giving “care” the priority over “profits” for the health care profiteers, and saying that that must be the principle guiding the health care debate.

That would mean endorsing Congressman John Conyers’ HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act, insisting that the media give attention to the ways that that kind of “single-payer” plan would be both more cost efficient and provide better care, and insisting that the discussion be shifted to the issue of care rather than “what will fly in D.C.,” which is simply code words for “what those congressional reps who are dependent on the contributions of the health care industry are willing to allow to get through their committees.”

Obama has cut the ground from under the progressive perspective by convincing them all to be “realistic” […]
he faces no counter-pressure … apart from the pressures to his right […]
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Many other good points are made in Rabbi Lerner’s post. I recommend it.

I want love to win the day.  I want care for the least to matter more than riches for the CEO.  And I see no ethical reason to compromise with those who protect millionaires.

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18,000 dead: The moral issues of health care

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It’s not just politics.

Jim Wallis at Sojourners describes three moral issues that live at the center of the health care debate.  Here’s an excerpt.  Read the entire article by clicking here:

The Truth

For decades now, the physical health and well-being of our country has been a proxy battle for partisan politics.

President Truman with

When Truman tried to pass a national health insurance plan, the American Medical Association spent $200 million (in today’s dollars) and was accused of violating ethics rules by having doctors lobby their patients to oppose the legislation. In the 1970’s when Nixon tried to pass a national health insurance plan, strikingly similar to what many democrats are proposing today, the plan was defeated by liberal democrats and unions who thought that they would be able to pass something themselves after the mid-term elections and claim political credit for the plan. In the 1990’s the “Harry and Louise” ads misrepresented the Clinton health care plan but was successful enough PR to shut down that movement for reform. […]

What we need is an honest and fair debate with good information, not sabotage of reform with half-truths and misinformation.* […]

Full Access

About 46 million people in our country today are uninsured and many more find themselves without adequate coverage …  Many of them are working families who live in fear of getting sick or injured. …  An estimated 18,000 people a year die unnecessarily, many from low-income families, because they lack basic health insurance. … Seeing your child sick is a horrible feeling; seeing your child sick and not having the resources to do something about it is a societal sin.

Cost

… An estimated 60 percent of bankruptcies this year will be due to medical bills. Seventy-five percent of those declaring bankruptcy as a result of medical bills have health insurance. … In the end, some are paying too much for care and others are making too much from these present arrangements. […]

… special interests groups … will be promoting their own self-interests during this process. The faith community has the opportunity to step in and speak for the interests of the common good and those who would not otherwise have a voice. I am sure that every one of the 18,000 preventable deaths that will happen this year from a lack of basic health insurance breaks the heart of God. And, it should break ours too […]

Amen to that.  People in this country are dying on our watch.   The life preservers have been kept under lock and key by special interests for a hundred years.  Profits are saved; human beings are sacrificed.

That’s a moral issue.


*As a resource for congregations, small groups, and individuals, Sojourners has worked with its partners to publish a health care tool kit [click here to download] to help frame and guide this necessary debate. This guide gives an overview of the biblical foundations of this issue and frequently asked questions about it.

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Health insurers near monopoly control of most markets

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Private insurance makes a lot of cents for the...
Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

I thought I understood why insurance companies were the main threats to a “public option.” It’s easy.  Their overhead—exec salaries, advertising, political lobbying, etc.—averages 31%.  Medicare’s overhead is 1%.  No duh they don’t want to compete.

Today, I found out there’s another reason:  they mostly don’t even compete against each other. Consumers in 94% of America’s insurance markets buy their health insurance from near-monopolies that dominate their region.  The Bigs don’t want to avoid public competition, they want to avoid any competition.

And what happens when profit-makers don’t have to compete? You know what.

Premiums have risen 87% over the last six years, while profits at the ten Bigs rose 428%.  Wait a minute: If your insurer’s profit is up 400%, why are your premiums rising so fast?

So, on with the debate:  Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), speaking on Fox News, defended the insurance company position, saying a public option would “destroy the marketplace for health care.”

But TPM today covered a report by Health Care for America Now, saying:

clipped from tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com
[T]he notion that most American consumers enjoy anything like a competitive marketplace for health care is flatly false. […]
The report … uses data compiled by the American Medical Association to show that 94 percent of the country’s insurance markets are defined as “highly concentrated,” according to Justice Department guidelines. Predictably, that’s led to skyrocketing costs for patients, and monster profits for the big health insurers. Premiums have gone up over the past six years by more than 87 percent, on average, while profits at ten of the largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007.
HCAN describes the situation as “a market failure where a small number of large companies use their concentrated power to control premium levels, benefit packages, and provider payments…”
[O]ne former top Federal Trade Commission official … has sent a letter to the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, asking for an investigation into the health insurance marketplace.
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And maybe that’s why millions of your excess insurance premium dollars are being spent on defeating a public option, rather than on reducing your premium.

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Sen. Grassley: “Bipartisan” means “no public option”

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WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 03:  Sen. Chuck Grassley ...
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Aw, c’mon, Senator.

72% of Americans want health care reform to include a “public option.” Nearly three-fourths of the nation.  Including more than half of all Republicans.

Sen. Grassley, however, insists that the  “public option” must be killed if there is to be a “bipartisan” bill.

But wait.  Isn’t America already bipartisan on this?  Even Iowans, Mr. Grassley’s constituents, support a public option 56% to 37%.

Mr. Grassley wants the Senate to ignore what a bipartisan majority of American people want in order to get what a minority of U.S. Senators want.

Ah.  Then, he’d maintain, we’d have something bipartisan. In Washington. Hooray for that.

clipped from thinkprogress.org

Grassley: In Order For Health Care To Be ‘Bipartisan, ‘We Need To Make Sure There Is No Public Option’

On MSNBC this morning, Norah O’Donnell asked Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, “what needs to be in” a health care reform bill “for it to be bipartisan.” After saying it needs to be paid for, Grassley declared, “We need to make sure that there’s no public option.” When O’Donnell double-checked that Grassley was saying that a public option was a dealbreaker for Republicans, he replied, “Absolutely.” Watch it:

By claiming that a public option would destroy bipartisanship, Grassley is ignoring the preferences of a strong majority of Americans. Earlier this week, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that a public health insurance option (which would lower costs and improve quality) is supported by 72 percent of Americans, including 50 percent of Republicans.
56 percent of Iowans support creation of a public plan, 37 percent oppose
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By the way,  Senator Grassley is the 6th-largest recipient of health care industry money in the U.S. Senate.

Looks like the industry’s getting what it wants from Mr. Grassley.

Looks like Americans—and Iowans—aren’t.

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