Archive for July 28th, 2009

by problembear

 the health insurance parasites are so grateful to max for taking care of their interests they made him a commercial….

by JC

CQ Politics reported today that:

The Blue Dog revolt against the House leadership’s health care overhaul took a new turn Tuesday morning, when a several members of the centrist faction made overtures to House Republicans about joining forces to slow… the bill.

Republican aides said there was great interest among GOP lawmakers in trying to work with dissidents in the 52-member Blue Dog Coalition to try to stop the legislation. “Blue Dogs will be the main event all week,” said one GOP aide, referring to efforts by Republicans to woo them.

When you hear the code word “slow” the process down, think “kill” health care reform.

So the whole health care reform debate seems to have devolved into one of Obama, Reid and Pelosi’s ability to hold the democratic party together, enough to be able to get legislation through to the conference committee, where a last minute, “Hail Mary” strong arm strategy will occur. If the dems lose enough Blue Dogs and “centrist” dems to the republicans, reform will fail, as the progressive wing of the party will not vote for a bill that does not include a public option, and we’ll never get to conference committee.

Obama had this to say on his strategy last week:

There will be a conference committee where the House and Senate bills will be reconciled, and that will be a tough, lengthy and serious negotiation process.

I am less interested in making sure there’s a litmus test of perfection on every committee than I am in going ahead and getting a bill off the floor of the House and off the floor of the Senate. Eighty percent of those two bills will overlap. There’s going to be 20 percent that will be different in terms of how it will be funded, its approach to the public plan, its pay-or-play provisions…

Conference is where these differences will get ironed out. And that’s where my bottom lines will remain: Does this bill cover all Americans? Does it drive down costs both in the public sector and the private sector over the long-term. Does it improve quality? Does it emphasize prevention and wellness? Does it have a serious package of insurance reforms so people aren’t losing health care over a preexisting condition? Does it have a serious public option in place? Those are the kind of benchmarks I’ll be using.

And if Blue Dog and Finance committee attempts to circumvent the “bottom lines” of Obama continue to play to the republicans, like Baucus’ plans (as discussed over at LitW) to deliver a bill without a public option, will the President have the cajones to veto it. Actually, does he have the moxy to tell Baucus and the Blue Dogs straight up what the shape of the final legislation needs to be before he is willing to put his signature on it?

by jhwygirl

Let me first say that this story can (and will) be applicable to any town, any place, any time in the future. It just happens to be being reported in Bozeman right now.

Bozeman School Board has about 500 employees, and is self-insured. The $62,000 increase in premiums is a back-up policy that they have to cover any employee that goes over $150,000 in claims in any given year.

That $62,000 increase is going to translate into some risk exposure for the School Board (increasing its threshold for the back-up policy to $175,00) and increase premium costs to its employees. From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

For employees choosing the medium plan and family coverage, their monthly share would increase from $175 to $211, while the school district pays $689 a month. For single employees choosing the least expensive, basic plan, their monthly cost would go from zero to $14, while the school district covers $420 a month.

That’s a 20% increase in cost to families, and I don’t even know what % increase something is when it goes from zero to something, for one year.

Now – if it were city council sitting around deciding to raise your taxes by $36 bucks a year, for, say, a “Everyone Loves Bozeman” media campaign, how do you think the residents of the City of Bozeman would respond?

Yet, PhRMA spent $6 million bucks lobbying against reform in the months of April, May and June of this year. They spent $6 million bucks lobbying senators and spending money on a media campaign geared towards telling us why we don’t need health care reform.

Pfizer spent $5.5 million. Amgen, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline spent about $3 million each.

That all evens out to about $3 million a week.

Sweet! Here’s a government, having to provide health care to its employees. For now, they’re willing to pass the cost to the employees and increase their own exposure risk. How long before the next increase in cost? How long before that cost is passed on to taxpayers?

How long before it’s city employees? City police? County? State?

Because it’s coming folks. Not one of you out there can say costs are going down. Not without reform – and current proposals that were recently reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office were seriously lacking in any significant cost-savings. In other words, what the industry has so far lobbied for – and what they’ve successfully been able to avoid – is real cost-saving reform.

In more irony – who is the back-up insurer for Bozeman’s policy? Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Why is that significant? Because Montana doesn’t have many choices…and lack of choices translates into higher costs because of the lack of competition. In fact, when one raises its costs, you can damned well bet the others are going to so also, proportionate to whatever it was that the other raised it by.

Business Week had an article about what competition means in the health care industry. Montana doesn’t rate very well – Blue Cross/Blue Shield has 75% market share

How much has Blue Cross/Blue Shield spent so far this year on lobbying? $5 million buckaroos.

So Bozeman School District employees are going to be paying $20 more out-of-pocket this coming year – and the school district itself is going to increase its risk by $25,000 for each employee – all because Blue Cross/Blue Shield had to spend $5 million bucks convincing Congress that it didn’t need to be reformed.

All because Blue Cross/Blue Shield had to spend $5 million for a media campaign telling everyone in Washington that would listen how great they are – its own “Everyone Loves Blue Cross/Blue Shield” campaign.

That is the free market. That is how it is operating. The health care industry can’t help itself – it is conglomeration of corporations. Corporations exists for one sole purpose. They will do whatever the law allows it to do as it seeks maximum profits.

It’s what corporations do.

It will not self-regulate. The only self-preservation that it knows is to stop reform. As I mentioned above, recent assessments by the Congressional Budge Office shows that whatever concessions they’ve given have been ineffective.

How can anyone say that is OK and that the U.S. doesn’t need heath care reform?

Have you written Sen. Tester, Sen. Baucus or Representative Rehberg lately? Let them know what you are thinking.

You know you need to – because the mere fact that I’ve provided that link means that Big Swede and all his friends are going to use it to diss on health care reform.

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