Tag Archives: America’s Health Insurance Plans

One of the biggest selling points of the healthcare reform legislation — a reason why we are suppo

One of the biggest selling points of the healthcare reform legislation — a reason why we are supposed to just accept the massive concessions to the insurance industry and drug companies — has been the promise that the private insurers would finally be banned from the disgraceful practices of denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Well, not so fast, says a report in the Washington Post Sunday.

Reporter David Hilzenrath interviews several policy wonks and concludes that the insurers will still have a variety of ways to violate the spirit and intent of the law. For example:

they could try to cherry-pick through more subtle means. For example, offering free health club memberships tends to attract people who can use the equipment

Or how about this scam:

to avoid patients with costly, complicated medical conditions, health plans could include in their networks relatively few doctors who specialize in treating those conditions

Some are aware of the problem and trying to find ways to neutralize the abuses.  But, Hilzenrath adds,

Unless lawmakers tackle the problem effectively, a reformed health-care system could continue to reward insurers for avoiding rather than treating illness

We already know how accomplished they are at that practice, as was evident in the report last month from the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee that in California six of the largest insurers have rejected on annual average nearly one-fourth of all claims since 2002.

Here’s CNA/NNOC representative Donna Smith debating an insurance executive on the data on CBS Friday.

The insurance trade lobby AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) agreed to the idea of what is called “guaranteed issue”, the willingness to sell policies to people even if they did once have acne or a yeast infection.

But only in exchange for an individual mandate forcing everyone not covered to buy insurance. Big of them.

The mandate alone will be a massive bailout, especially as accompanied by the public subsidies for middle income people to buy private insurance and what are, at best, dubious controls on price gouging by the insurers.

It’s not just that the insurers are greedy — well maybe just a little — but that their first obligation is to make profits, not to guarantee care.

As Hilzenrath notes:

AHIP has been trying to shape the legislation in ways that could help insurers attract the healthy and avoid the sick

And, they have long perfected marketing techniques to do so —

From the messages they advertise to the overall level of coverage they provide and the smallest enticements they add to their benefits packages.

Techniques for which they will now have a lot more money to exploit in advertising.

If we should have learned anything about the insurance industry, it’s that they can not be reformed, and will find ways to abuse whatever regulations and restrictions the Congress may impose.

That’s exactly why many of us have continued to advocate for removing their choke hold over our health care system by adopting a single payer/Medicare for all reform.

Rep. Anthony Weiner is sponsoring a Medicare for all amendment that will come up on the House floor presumably sometime this month.  And with the travesty that has been unrolling in the Senate Finance Committee, wouldn’t it be nice to see the House leaders walk into a conference committee session with Baucus and company with a Medicare for all bill on the table.

Ask your Congress member to support Medicare for all, for the best reform. It might be the best vote they will ever make.

Terry McAuliffe to be Protested June 19th

AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans, decided downtown San Francisco would be a good place for the health insurance company lobbyists and executives to hold their convention. Not surprisingly, thousands of people will take to the streets at noon on June 19th at the Moscone center to protest getting ripped off by the health insurance companies and rally for SB 840 in California and HR 676 nationally.

One of the key people being protested is none other than former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe who is a keynote speaker for the industry. Which adds some context to his quotes in yesterday’s New York Times on the Clintons’ enemies list and rewarding of friends:

“The Clintons get hundreds of requests for favors every week,” said Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign. “Clearly, the people you’re going to do stuff for in the future are the people who have been there for you.”

Finally, we’ve recovered from McAuliffe’s disaster as DNC Chair when he ran it like the DLC and was proven incapable of moving beyond transactional politics to a post-McCain/Feingold fundraising party that isn’t a subsidiary of special interests. And yes, we’ve also moved beyond his success in perfectly executing a Clinton campaign strategy that took her from undisputed presidential front-runner to junior senator. But there is he is, using his name and connections to help out those who have helped them while Americans suffer.

In my opinion, one of the most important outcomes of Clinton’s loss was that they won’t get back control of the DNC — which is great news for Democrats. But T-Mac is a reminder that we all need due diligence in the process of choosing the next California Democratic Party Chair so that we can reform the CDP to also move into the 21st century.

Currently, there are 1,904 pledged attendees at the rally according to the neat online organizing tool. Check to see which groups have currently pledged how many, get your group involved, and join in this important event.

450 – California School Employees Assn.

400 – California Nurses Assn.

200 – California Alliance for Retired Americans

200 – California Universal Health Care Organizing Project

100 – Cindy Sheehan for Congress

54 – Others

50 – Green Party SF

47 – Health Care for All-Marin

40 – American Medical Student Association

30 – Gray Panthers SF

25 – Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club

25 – United Educators of San Francisco

20 – Amer. Fed. of Teachers, local 2121

20 – Neighbor to Neighbor

20 – West Country Seniors

20 – Senior Action Network

20 – Older Women’s League of San Francisco

20 – Hermanson for Congress

20 – HAT

20 – Green Party San Meteo

15 – California Physicians Alliance

15 – Socialist Action

14 – Health Care for All-Santa Cruz

12 – International Longshore and Warehouse Union, local 6

10 – California Alliance for Legislative Action

10 – Office and Professional Employees International Union, local 3

10 – San Francisco for Democracy

9 – American Postal Workers Union – SF

9 – UC-Santa Cruz students for Single Payer

5 – Chris Jackson for Community College Bd

5 – Young Workers United

4 – Health Care for All-Sonoma