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Business Week: The Health Insurers Have Already Won

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The Health Insurers Have Already Won! Thanks Obama! Thanks Congress! Thanks Progressives!

Victory party at Stephen Hemsley's pad!

Via Business Week:

As the health reform fight shifts this month from a vacationing Washington to congressional districts and local airwaves around the country, much more of the battle than most people realize is already over. The likely victors are insurance giants such as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Aetna (AET), and WellPoint (WLP). The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable. Health reform could come with a $1 trillion price tag over the next decade, and it may complicate matters for some large employers. But insurance CEOs ought to be smiling.

Obama-Care must be scrapped or radically changed. Call Congress! This is not change we can live with!

H/T Dhyana

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Submitted by jawbone on

well I think Obama is doing, open ended questions on many issues. So open ended I got to many issues before the questioner did: Health care (wish I'd seen this Business Week article before the call!), civil liberties, torture, Gitmo, lack of transparency, economy, financial meltdown, jobs, future, health care. I had a ball!

Also questions about Corzine and gubernatorial race -- oh, and NJ corruption. Asked if I were embarrassed by the arrests. No, I am not. Asked who would do better at rooting out corruption, and I said I thought Corzine would get the Comet out, a scrub brush, and get down to really cleaning up the state, especially his party. What about Christie? Said I didn't trust Bush Republicans. (Teehee, had to get that in there.)

I was asked how strong a Dem I was...said I was yellow dog strong, but if Dems didn't behave like Dems and fight for the values of FDR and LBJ I didn't know how long I could stay a Dem. Fun time on ol' polling call tonight!

Submitted by hipparchia on

to work this into talking to people, persuading them to support single payer. i plan to try.

Submitted by lambert on

I like the timing -- right before the recess. Meant to induce fear and confusion in the enemy: The peasants So yeah, I'd say head for the beach and not your Congress critter's office, fer sure.

That said, here's what Yves says -- thank gawd for econobloggers!

Recall the totally mislabeled "stress tests" which were not tests. The tests were self-administered and the result pre-determined, since Administration officials said repeatedly that the point of the exercise was to show that the banks were sufficiently well capitalized. And since there were doubts about the seriousness of the exercise, it was helpful to the PR process that the banks got pissy and pushed back, which gave the misleading impression that they were being handled roughly (as opposed to they were given a yard and wanted to see if they could take a mile).

A similar charade is in motion on the health care front. My bullshit meter went into high alert earlier this week with this New York Times story, "For Health Insurers’ Lobbyist, Good Will Is Tested," which was clearly a PR plant.

The "nice" act by the insurance industry could mean only one of two things. First would be that they see that reform really is coming, and they will have more leverage if they try to shape legislation, which means being part of the process rather than in the wilderness in a losing battle to stop it. Or else they have already won and want to make sure no one connects the dots before legislation is passed.

It turns out the latter theory is correct, that the insurers come out of this faux reform even better than before. And since one of the reasons the US has the highest health care costs in the world is that we have far and away the highest administrative costs,. All those fights to get care you thought you were entitled to just serve to make the overall tab higher. The parasites will suck even more from the host.

Consulting my Divine Comedy, I find lobbyists are relegated to the eight circle of hell no matter how you cut and slice it, as either flatterers (second bolgia) or false advisors (bolgia 8) or falsifiers (bolgia 10, along with alchemists and perjurers). This puts them on the same general level as corrupt politicians (bolgia 5), although one could make a case they belong in the ninth circle, traitors.

According to Dante, flatterers are steeped in human waste. Sure, the industry isn't fighting extendinf coverage, because it will collect fees for covering bupkis.

My take would be that everybody who paid attention starting with the bailouts knows what Obama is, and knows this is a crock. The A list didn't and doesn't, and doesn't. They missed the action, they missed the story, and they let down their readers. And win or lose this battle, we'd be in a better position the bright shiny bauble of "public option" hadn't done its hypnotic, distractive, destructive work. Thanks, "progressives"!

Oh well. Plenty of time until 2013.

Submitted by jawbone on

process, Megan McArdle, editor at Atlantic Magazine for business, and Michael Randell of Business Week. In light of the Business Week article, it was interesting to hear their take on the need for a public option and the chances of something called a public option happening.

I can't find a summary of the program, nor place to access archives--frustrating web site. (I swear the public broadcasting outlets have found new ways to hide information.). Audio is available; this discussion is from 11:15 to 15:00.

Neither guest seemed to be very worried about a public option. McArdle said that it might interfere with innovation and improvements in medical technology and devices, but I wasn't sure how. The possibility of no public option, to her, was a good thing. Randell suggested the idea of a public option raised the specter of the heavy hand of government control. Both admitted the taxpayers might view not having a public option as a "problem."

Both agreed that without a strong public option, there are no cost controls and costs will continue to soar. Randell thought that was all right, as it was important to cover more people. (I kept wondering how those people will afford higher costs if they can't afford health insurance now.)

Randell thinks something will pass, Obama will get pounded for it, and the next steps in health care reform will be taken by Republicans. We're terrified that's what may happen if Obama doesn't get his act together (Medicare for All), but Randell did not sound at all worried.

McArdle felt the mid-session budget review might kill the bill as it would show lower revenues coming in and, without cost controls, the "reforms" will be unaffordable.

Not good times listening to this, bit it was fascinating. Very different world view

Health did not seem to be an issue. This is about the business of monetizing health care and insurance, not people's well being.