The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘Iowa healthcare

Americans of a Lesser God?

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Burlington
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I came across this honest piece at the excellent Blog for Iowa.  Sounds like it was originally published in my home-town newspaper, The Burlington Hawk-Eye.  [That's beautiful Burlington,  left, at the top.]

I had the following published in the Burlington newspaper last Saturday. I offer it here for people to use, distribute further, etc. My essay is a little long and rambling, but I have been silent too long. And we dare not lose this fight.

David Ure
Burlington, Iowa

~To what lesser God do those people who have no health care insurance belong? What sin did they commit? I have no doubt some of them have made mistakes, made bad choices, engaged in illegal or immoral activities in some instances, didn’t get themselves elected to the state house or Congress; but not all 47 million plus.

The time has come, if we are to continue to call ourselves a nation of God and faith and fairness, for every American to have health insurance. My preference is to plop everyone into Medicare whose operational costs are half to 2/3 lower than the private sector, and allow the insurance companies the opportunity to sell all of us supplemental policies as my elderly, now long-gone, relatives purchased for years.

But I won’t say it has to be this way or nothing. More than anything else, I want to see coverage in place for everyone, and for it to be there in as direct and obvious a manner as can be cobbled together. Read the rest of this entry »

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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Senator Grassley, give us a choice

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Here’s the ad that Health Care for America has begun running across the nation. This is the Iowa version.

Multiple polls from news organizations and even anti-reform groups unanimously agree that nearly three of every four Americans want a public option to compete with insurance companies.  Even among Republicans, 50% favor it.

Our own Sen. Grassley, unfortunately, may be the most influential opponent of the public option in the Senate.  Insurance companies stand to make billions off the Grassley approach.

But ordinary Iowans want a choice.  Care to write Sen. Grassley (or another Senator or Representative) a note?  Click in the contact box in the right sidebar.

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