Thursday, September 10, 2009

President Obama Mandates Larger Profits for Health Insurance Companies?

Maybe the President is saying to the blue dogs, "don't worry, don't worry, we'll give them a phony-baloney public option" ~ Liberal Talk Show Radio Host Thom Hartmann on his program 9/10/2009.

I've been thinking about this since last night, and it occurred to me that, while the MSNBC pundits may have thought that President Obama stated that he was in favor of a single-payer type public option being included in the healthcare reform legislation, what he actually said was that there should be a "not for profit public option available in the insurance exchange". And that this option would only be "for those who don't have insurance".

In other words, he SAID public option, but then described something that isn't a public option. Single payer means that the government is the insurer. An "insurance exchange" describes a place where the health insurance consumers can go to choose from a variety of PRIVATE plans.

David Axelrod (who appeared post-speech on the Rachel Maddow show), explained that low-income individuals would qualify for tax credits - and if they still could not afford to buy - then they could be exempted under a "hardship" provision. So the plan will NOT offer UNIVERSAL coverage - and thus will not prevent people from showing up in an emergency room after having let whatever health problem they are experiencing go untreated for to long.

And what's the deal with TAX CREDITS?? Tax credits are only of use if you actually pay taxes, number one - and secondly, just because someone gets a tax credit doesn't mean they suddenly have extra money. This is more Republican appeasement, which there seemed to be quite of bit of in the speech.

My conclusion is that while this will probably be an improvement for those in the middle class, it won't do a damn thing for poor people who can't afford insurance now.

The President also brought up MANDATES. A mandate and an extremely limited public option (possibly in name only) equal a BIG payday for the insurance companies - in my opinion.

I need to hear what Thom Hartmann thinks. That should clarify it for me if any of my fears are justified. My fear is that the President used the term "public option" but it won't be a real public option. The "not for profit" option will be administered through a private company instead of the government and only certain people will qualify.

If you have access to insurance through your employer you'll be required to take it. Even if it is not that good. Even if it stinks. Access to the "public option" will be carefully controlled. You'll have to be poor to get it, but not too poor that you can't afford it. In other words very few people will get in, thus defeating one of the main purposes of the public option, which was to keep prices down. This, in my opinion, is a fake public option. The only reason it was in the speech was to placate President Obama's liberal supporters.

People with insurance won't be subject to Recission. People with pre-existing conditions won't be denied coverage. Some people who couldn't previously afford insurance may now be able to, thanks to "tax credits". The insurance companies may be making less per person (maybe), but with insurance now mandatory, they'll make up the difference with new customers.

So, will this help everyone? Absolutely not. People will still fall through the cracks, people will still be showing up in emergency rooms without insurance, and people will still die due to lack of insurance. I can't say I'm surprised, but I also can't say that I'm not disappointed.

SWTD #20

13 comments:

  1. You forgot that ending recission and forcing them to accept pre-existing conditions will probably be pretty costly for the health insurance companies. Still, for some reason I doubt the insurance companies profit margins will suffer too much.

    The credit card and banruptcy "reform" didn't seem to hurt the credit industry that much. I heard that the reason their profits are currently up is BECAUSE of the recession. They're jacking up interest rates and other fees.

    [Thom Hartman Program Notes]

    Rebroadcast of show starts at 2pm (originally aired at 11am)

    TH: Health Insurance Industry stock is UP. Much of the speech based on Republican talking points. The commons isn't mentioned once.

    This is the FIRST TIME a president has said that government can be a solution.

    On healthcare, I have some concerns. This whole public option thing... the blue dogs may be saying to the insurance industry "don't worry, we'll give them a phony-baloney public option".

    The only way you'll be able to get the public option is if you are employed and your employer offer NO insurance of any kind. In other words, it is NOT a public option. Which the President signaled, in code, to the blue dogs.

    With other forms of insurance -- most people never use it. With health insurance most people WILL need to take advantage of it at some point. Therefore there is NO health insurance industry. The health insurance companies are hoping that nothing happens before the governemnt takes responsibility.

    We don't have a health insurance industry. We have organized crime.

    (commercial break at 2:25pm)

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  2. [Thom Hartmann show continues]

    (2:29pm - back from commercial. bumper music plays. I can't identify the song)

    TH: Thom Ridge scheduled to be a guest - if he shows up.

    Bozo Joe Wilson. I just realized, he has the same name as Valarie Wilson's husband. Anyway, back in 2003, if you remember, Strom Thurmond acknowledged having a bi-racial child. Joe Wilson made headlines in "The State" (SC newspaper) when he said that Strom Thurmond should have kept that a secret. I soon as I heard him yell "liar" last night I googled him and found that his opponent in the last election, Rob Miller. And found his website, and looked at his position on the issues. Against so-called free trade. Iraq war vet. Running again. I sent him $50. I suggest you do the same. If you are so inclined. Wilson's yelling should get him censured (sp?).

    It was a brillant speech. The problem is... I'm not sure that BHO will be the last president to take this up. (plays clip) BHO: we want to build on what works.

    TH: We don't have a system that works.

    BHO: I don't want to put the insurance companies out of business.

    TH: I do. (my commentary: so do I). It may well be that this is all we can get. I may be that voice in the wilderness that is saying I wish he was like LBJ who pushed through medicare against the objections of Republicans.

    (goes to commercial at 2:38)

    [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #3]

    (back from commercial at 2:42pm. bumper music "keep 'em seperated" plays)

    TH: Pigeon alert for the day. Pigeons are actually robots from the planet Xenu. A south african company proved it was faster to transmit data by pigeon over using their data server. Winston, the pigeon took an hour and 8 minutes, the data took over 2 hours to upload.

    Rob Miller has raised over $200,000.

    Sonya Sotomayor raised the case of "corporate personhood".

    Plays Audio: Once we say they can't accept... would we be cutting off that future democratic process. The courts created corporations as persons. The arguement could be made (that was a mistake). Would we be doing more harm than good with a broad ruling?

    TH: she was arguing for a very narrow decision. John Roberts was probably having a fainting spell at that moment.

    (takes call)

    Caller: I'm disappointed in the speech. President said we voted not for change but more of the same.

    TH: Clinton-esqe speech.

    Caller 2: System dominated by big pharma. Treat with drugs instead of natural cures or preventive care.

    TH: Middlemen. That is what it was all about last night. BHO reaffirmed his commitement to keeping insurance companies around. That disappointed me.

    TH: (responding to caller) Dennis Kucinch may hold hearing on price collusion. But congress gave health insurance companies an exemption from anti-trust laws. they CAN engage in criminal conspiracies. Not criminal for them.

    TH: (resonding to caller) Speech irritated Republicans.

    George (caller): I'm in favor of single payer. I'm going to be dropping out of OSA. Used to be "Obama for America". This is a gift to health insurance companies. I did hear him say that he would be fining the poor who can't afford to buy into the public option.

    TH: next up - Darwin award canidate.

    (Goes to commercial at 2:53pm)

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  3. [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #4]

    (back from commercial at 2:58 pm. bumper music plays)

    TH: Welcome back to the place where smart people get their news. I will be debating Michael Medved on his show, about healthcare.

    (Lists off other upcoming events he is involved with)

    It's our "because I got high" alert. A man pulls up at the gas station in Maryland asks the clerk if he can pay in pot. The clerk goes inside and calls the police.

    (begins taking calls)

    Mike (caller): Keep the pressure on to get healthcare that means something.

    TH: Instead of starting with Medicare for all and negotiating down to a public option, he started at the public option and negotiated down to a public option that covers only 5 percent of us.

    TH: 4 years to start insurance exchange means four more years of big campaign contributions.

    Mike: The whole thing is a government hand out to the insurance industry.

    TH: agrees. (my comment: my instincts were correct!) The speech included a shout out to the industry - stay with the Democrats.

    We can't have a Republican president in 4 years.

    TH (responding to caller): What they (big money) were demonstrating with the tea parties is the power of astro-turfing. They were saying "we can control the people".

    (goes to commercial at 3:06pm)

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  4. [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #5]

    (back from commercial at 3:14 pm. top of the hours bumper music plays)

    TH: Welcome back to the second hour of our program. Tom Ridge is with us. His book, "The test of times".

    TR: Thanks for the invite.

    TH: Anthrax went to Tom Dashel and Pat Lehey. They were the only two guys who could have stopped the patriot act. Is there a political component?

    TR: I can't say if there is a political connection. The guy the FBI thought was responsible comitted suicide. I don't know if they identified the right guy.

    TH: do you have any sense of where OBL is?

    TR: I think he is still alive and on the border between Afgan and Pakistan.

    TH: Bush's (replaced) biographer gave an interview and said "he was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999. GWB said to me that one of the keys to being seen as a great leader is being seen as commander in chief. I'm going to invade Iraq if I have a chance".

    TH: The first cabinet meeting GWB brought up the topic of invading Iraq. Cheney said "start a small war for political power". If you accept as true what I just said, how about your disavowement of raising terror alerts for political reasons.

    TR: I stand by what I've said (my commentary: He still disagrees with what he wrote in his own book). I absolutely reject that notion.

    TH: Refers to dust jacket. I'm the author of 21 books in print. I have never failed to get jacket copy submitted to me and sign off on it.

    TR: I submitted my own version of the jacket copy and it wasn't used.

    TH: That's a pretty serious indictment of the publisher.

    TR: Read the book and not the jacket copy.

    TH: Where did the word "homeland" come from. (Mentions Nazi Germany connection).

    TR: I don't know.

    TH: it's a little creepy.

    TR: I agree. I don't know who suggested it.

    (goes to commercial at 3:24pm)

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  5. [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #6]

    (back from commercial at 3:14 pm. bumper music plays)

    TH: That was interesting (interview with Tom Ridge). I believe that GWB wanted to have a war just for political purposes. IN 1934 Hitler was man of the year. Rudolph Hess introduced Hitler and, for the first time referred to Germany as the "homeland". Tom Ridge said "that gave a lot of us heartburn).

    Nancy (caller): gave big fat wet kiss to insurance companies. How could he have done that considering what happened to his mother.

    TH: I think he did what he did with good intentions. He believes that he has to get along to go along. I think he's wrong.

    Caller: (asks about HR676)

    TH: a great piece of legislation which should have been on the table to begin with.

    David (caller): I'm a lifelong Democrat who has said "to hell with the party".

    TH: (tries to convince him otherwise). If we walk away from the party it will be taken over by the blue dogs. It was almost there under Clinton. A movement and a party are two different things. BHO created a movement. Then he became president and we said "where did the movement go?"

    (goes to commercial at 3:36pm)

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  6. [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #7]

    (back from commercial at 3:42 pm. bumper music plays)

    TH: Welcome back. (gives phone number). Frankly I was very pleased to say that government has a role to play. A solid defense of liberalism. He said that when we diminish government it brought to mind what reagan said about the 9 most terrifying words in the english language "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help".

    High point of the speech for me. Limited public option was the low point of the speech for me. Let's wait until the legislation is finished before we go crazy.

    TH: (responding to caller) one piece missing - in every indust country it is a crime for healthcare insurance providers to be for profit. That is our problem. A for profit health insurance industry. A true public option would lead to true competition. Maybe this is a good start? A half-assed public option may grow over time.

    Dean (caller): I agree with what you've said. I feel that this was an opportunity for a presidential defining moment. I wanted him to sound like FDR.

    TH: yes, that is what I was hoping for.

    Don (caller): I had a question about the nuclear option. Can we get this thing passed without the support of the blue dogs.

    TH: chaning the senate rules. Republicans threatened and the Democrats backed down. I don't think the Democrats have the courage to do it. It aint gonna happen. We'll be looking back on this 5-10 years from now and saying that was brillant or that was stupid.

    Caller: Liked BHO bringing up Ted Kennedy. Concerned about a public option will mean people clogging doctor's offices.

    TH: (disagrees).

    Renee (caller): We need single payer. This is a gift to the insurance companies. Sick old people are shifted onto a government plan and insurance companies keep the profitable people.

    TH: (agrees)

    (Goes to commerical at 3:53pm)

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  7. [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #8]

    (back from commercial at 3:58 pm. bumper music plays)

    TH: 9 and a half minutes before the hour. Thom Hartman here with you. Glenn Beck is at it again ("if I only had a brain" plays).

    Nazi propaganda based on liberal talking points. Another WH official asked to resign. (I missed who. I'll have to look it up later).

    Caller: I'm a physician. Some people may over-use the system. Americans have become used to a level of healthcare that is not sustainable (my commentary: not my experience. I haven't been to a doctor in over 5 years).

    TH: I've used healthcare in other countries (Germany). This problem doesn't exist. If primary care was widespread - if everyone felt that their needs would always be met - this emergency room presentation would decrease.

    Caller: Consumption oriented culture in the US. Get the most you can get out of the system.

    TH: what is the solution.

    Caller: Rationing. Wait 6 months for a hip replacement. I've worked in the VA system. Everyone is getting high cost top notch care that they don't necessarily need. They could be more cost effective.

    TH: We do we have someone in the middle handling the money for profit? WHY?? In no other developed country in the world is this the case.

    (Goes to commercial at 4:05pm)

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  8. [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #9]

    (back from commercial at 4:13 pm. top of the hour bumper music plays)

    TH: Welcome back to the third hour of our program. Remember this moment from the speech. (plays clip of Joe Wilson yelling "you lie"). Top donar to Wilson's campaign: Health care industry. He's a prostitute.

    Caller: Says something about Iraqi shoe thrower.

    TH: Offered a wife, 10 million for his shoes. He says he is going to start an orphanage when he gets out of jail.

    Caller: Guy had courage to "just do it". People should boycott health insurance companies.

    TH: Tragically you're wrong. Difference between shoe thrower and joe wilson.

    Vince (caller): Frustrating for alot of us is how BHO reaches out to Republicans. If McCain and Palin were in the WH we'd be in worse shape. War in Iran and tax cuts for the wealthy.

    TH: We still have a long way to go. We'll take what we can get.

    Paul (caller): I'm worried and inspired by BHO's speech. I want a public option. Insurance companies are like the mafia asking for protection money.

    TH: (agrees).

    Suzy (caller): Doctor recommended a procedure I didn't feel I needed (for more profit).

    TH: I get it. Point taken. Brillant NY article found that doctors that owned imaging center were suddenly recommending more imaging.

    Caller: Pre-existing condition disallowed. Best part of speech.

    TH: Need regulation of a not for profit industry. (get rid of for profit health insurance).

    (goes to commercial at 4:24pm)

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  9. [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #10]

    (back from commercial at 4:29 pm. bumper music plays - "Geeky Science Alert")

    TH: Rolph Sklar (sp?) from Greenpeace.org with us. There's a fascinating article in "Science" that is talking about the forest fires that we've been seeing out west.

    RS: (suggests global warming responsible). Although that doesn't adequately describe it. A complicated process.

    TH: We should call it atmospheric deteriation. This is what we're really talking about. In the past scientists were hesitant to say "global warming responsible for Katrina". Now they are more willing to make the connection.

    RS: In the future there's going to be more of this. (talks about precautionary measures that can be taken to minimize possible damage from fires). Cut emissions.

    TH: Newly elected PM of Japan has said that we will (instead of 8 percent) we're going for a 20 percent cut in emissions.

    RS: US has failed to provide leadership. 4 percent cut with loopholes. Talks are at risk.

    TH: Carbon dioxide levels at 380ppm. We need to get it down to 350ppm.

    (goes to commercial at 4:35pm)

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  10. [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #11]

    (back from commercial at 4:43 pm. bumper music plays)

    TH: What was the piece of paper that the Republicans were waving during the speech? If you know the answer please call.

    John (caller): I was encouraged up to a point. 4 years to take effect? Why?

    TH: giveaway to health insurance companies. Health insurance companies will donate big to Democrats to get them Re-elected.

    Caller: Republicans were waving their healthcare bill.

    TH: They Republicans have a healthcare bill? I'm astounded. We'll have to track that down.

    Caller: I was disappointed with the President's speech. Dennis Kucinch is hosting a healthcare conference call tonight.

    TH: Check it out a Kucinich.us

    Honey (caller): My objections to speech are that he didn't end for profit healthcare.

    TH: Documentary producer had his name removed from a documentary on healthcare he produced because he was forced to remove info about it being illegal in countries with national healthcare that for profit healthcare is illegal. PBS made him remove that info.

    I don't think Americans know this. It is illegal to make a profit in other countries. (Where not run by the government they are all not for profit).

    Caller: No federal dollars for abortion? Women need this. No exemptions for procedures that men need. This is wrong. Why are we going to force a poor woman to go through a risky procedure?

    TH: The Hyde amendment forbids the use of federal funds for abortions. He was acknowleding the reality. Nothing he could do about it. Smart thing politically. The discussion we need to have about when life begins needs to be had. Men should have no vote.

    Caller (female): good for you.

    TH: Thanks for the call. Our Washington news bureau up next.

    (goes to commerical at 4:53pm)

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  11. [Thom Hartmann show continues, segment #12]

    (back from commercial at 4:58 pm. bumper music plays)

    TH: Ellen Ratner on the line, talk radio news.

    ER: The president addressed the Nurses Association today. The number of uninsurred people are down, but the poverty rate is up.

    TH: Can you tell me what the right wing news stations are saying about the president's speech last night?

    ER: I do 80 percent right wing news. They're saying there is nothing new in what he said except for tort reform. He gave no details.

    TH: What about the scism between the democrats and the blue dogs.

    ER: could make things very difficult.

    TH: are the progressives willing to accept this limited public option.

    ER: it is unclear. People want to see the bill.

    (prematurely disconnected from internet. I have a time limit but is was NOT up.)

    TH: Arlen Spector has called for Joe Wilson to be censured. Up tomorrow - brunch with Bernie. Bernie Sanders will answer your calls. Tag you're it.

    (show ends at 5:05pm)

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  12. W-Dervish: The plan that I proposed, not that Congress would listen to ME, was a plan similar to Medicare and Medicaid. But it is a plan that would cover those not old enough for Medicare and those not poor enough for Medicaid, but truly can’t afford to pay for private insurance. Anyone else who could afford coverage would have to purchase it. I believe Tao said it was similar to what the Swiss have now. I’m not all that familiar with the Swiss plan. But I think we could cover our chronically uninsured that way. What do you think?

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  13. Pamela D. Hart said... The plan that I proposed... a plan similar to Medicare and Medicaid. Anyone else who could afford coverage would have to purchase it. I believe Tao said it was similar to what the Swiss have now. What do you think?

    The Swiss system is not run by the government, but is instead made up of private insurers that are not allowed to make a profit providing primary care. As a conservative is that something you'd support?
    They're private, but they can't make a profit. Are you sure that isn't "socialist"?

    I'd prefer simply expanding Medicare so that anyone who wants to can buy in, and covering for free anyone who couldn't afford to buy in (at, I've heard suggested, 200 percent over poverty).

    But, we won't be getting that either. Looks like what we'll be getting will be mandated insurance for those who can afford it and those who can't afford it will have to continue to go without. In other words, socialism for corporations. At least this is the kind of socialism Republicans can get behind - the politicans, in any case.

    As for Republican voters, I'm sure FreedomWorks will find a way to convince you it's awesome.

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