Instead of regulating greedy health insurance companies, there are several viable proposals that would shut them out of the health care process altogether.
Like a fish needs a bicycle
In an article posted last week in the Huffington Post, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein calls for urgent action to stop health insurance corporation greed. That's right. The health insurance industry is, apparently, a pretty greedy bunch.
Aetna had been gunning for rate hikes of nearly 20 percent and Anthem Blue Cross once had plans for rate hikes of nearly 40 percent. Feinstein points out that an independent inquiry into the proposed premium rate hikes of Aetna revealed "errors" in the formulas used to calculate the figures that led to the rate hikes. Anthem Blue Cross cited similar "errors" when it was forced to revise its rate hikes a couple of months ago. Feinstein stops short of directly accusing Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross of funny business, but she clearly wonders aloud how such mistakes could have been made. I share her skepticism as would, I'm guessing, almost any reasonable person.
She goes on to cite two bills, one that she introduced in the Senate and another awaiting action in the California state legislature, that would allow for greater scrutiny and oversight of the health insurance industry. Sounds good! Or does it?
Feinstein's article fails to mention the true solution to stopping the unbridled avarice of these companies, even though that solution is taking shape right in her own back yard.
There is another bill making its way, once again, through the California legislature called the California Universal Health Care Act. Just last week it passed the Assembly Health Committee, just about the time Feinstein was penning her article.
The bill would entirely eliminate health insurance companies from the delivery of health care to Californians while providing every citizen with comprehensive coverage, creating no new spending, and with an estimated savings of $8 billion in its first year of implementation. Under the bill there would be no more worries about funny math from the health insurance industry. Now that sounds real good! And California is not alone in its efforts.
Coalitions in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio and elsewhere have continued to press ahead with single-payer health care reform bills in spite of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that was signed into law by President Obama in March.
Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the Democratic Farm-Labor candidate for governor in Minnesota, has said publicly that she'll sign state Senator John Marty's single-payer bill into law within two years of taking office if she's elected.
Chuck Pennachio, executive director of Health Care for All Pennsylvania, is starting to convince small business owners and local chambers of commerce to consider the benefits of one plan, one payer health care. The coalition he leads has convinced 14 Republican state senators to sign onto an economic impact study of its bill. Yes, you read me correctly. There are Republican legislators interested in true health care reform.
So if Senator Feinstein truly wants to bring an end to corporate greed in our health care system she should spend less time attempting to regulate the health insurance companies, and more time working to amend the PPACA with language friendly to state efforts.
That way states can go ahead with their own health care reform experiments, unimpeded by federal prohibitions, and entirely unconcerned with the savage shenanigans of corporate health insurance predators.
July 8, 2010
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Steve Carlson lives in Trego and is the Wisconsin state coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.