The Christmas Gifts to pass "Health Care Reform"

Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle bell rock. The Senate is hot, they know to say not, giveaway, giveaway lobbyists galore, buyouts and paybacks, we know the score...

There are many reports tallying the winners and losers on health care. Of course it's a given that the American people will lose...

The consensus seems to be big pharma won big as did insurance companies.

Firedoglake (they are not always on top of their economics, trust me!) gives 10 reasons to kill the Senate bill, which I find rather scary.

  1. Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income to private insurance corporations — whether you want to or not.
  2. If you refuse to buy the insurance, you’ll have to pay penalties of up to 2% of your annual income to the IRS.
  3. Many will be forced to buy poor-quality insurance they can’t afford to use, with $11,900 in annual out-of-pocket expenses over and above their annual premiums.
  4. Massive restriction on a woman’s right to choose, designed to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.
  5. Paid for by taxes on the middle class insurance plan you have right now through your employer, causing them to cut back benefits and increase co-pays.
  6. Many of the taxes to pay for the bill start now, but most Americans won’t see any benefits — like an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions — until 2014 when the program begins.
  7. Allows insurance companies to charge people who are older 300% more than others.
  8. Grants monopolies to drug companies that will keep generic versions of expensive biotech drugs from ever coming to market.
  9. No re-importation of prescription drugs, which would save consumers $100 billion over 10 years.
  10. The cost of medical care will continue to rise, and insurance premiums for a family of four will rise an average of $1,000 a year — meaning in 10 years, your family’s insurance premium will be $10,000 more annually than it is right now.

The post has references on each enumerated claim. So instead of a tax hike by the government, it looks like we'll just hand over our paychecks to the insurance companies. Nice huh?

Want a really good way to track just how much the Health Care Reform bill is not in the public's best interest but is in the for profit health sector's?

Oct 18 stock quote health sector

  • Coventry Health Care, Inc. ↑31.6%
  • CIGNA Corp. ↑29.1%
  • Aetna Inc. ↑27.1%
  • WellPoint, Inc. ↑26.6%
  • UnitedHealth Group Inc. ↑20.5%
  • Humana Inc. ↑13.6%

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As a long time reader of FDL, I agree that it is not an economics site. Still, they have contributors there like "massacio" and "stirling newberry", who most defintely understand econ and politics, and find really useful ways to explain their observations within the context of political activism, which is the primary purpose of the site.

Additionally, another econ-savvy contributor is Ian Welsh, who recently summarized what true HCR reform should look like, at his own website:

.Seriously, someone explain to me what is wrong with Cadillac plans. Yes, they cost more. That’s because they’re the only plans where you stand a chance of actually getting the care you really need, when you need it, and not going bankrupt. We should want more of them, but that can’t be done because we can’t afford it.

Unless, of course, the US went to something rational—like, say, Medicare-for-all, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Why? Because Medicare-for-all would cut health care costs by at least a third.

The health care crisis isn’t about people not having insurance, it’s about people not getting the health care they need when they need it without having to pay money they can’t afford. When I go to a Canadian hospital, I never, ever, even see a bill.

And unless you’re a multi-millionaire, I get better care than you get too.

There you have it in less than 200 words, and who can argue with it. It is sensible HC reform, IMO and achieves all the goals of true "reform". Of course, the Healthcare Insurers lose out, and that cannot stand in our corporatocracy. Too bad about that.

BTW Robert, I filled out the petition to kill the Senate bill, did you?

if you're tracking on this

Maybe you would be so kind as to write up an overview post, from an econ viewpoint.

Yeah, the problem with Firedoglake is everytime keyword "immigration" is mentioned it is accompanied by "racist xenophobe". Those keywords are banned on EP because it completely ignores labor econ. realities or manipulation of immigration policy for wage repression, enabling offshore outsourcing (most common with guest worker Visas)...

That crap drives me nuts, ignoring labor supply/market econ....if one wishes to argue for "pathway to citizenship"
which in some cases could actually help wage levels, depending, for humanitarian purposes or whatever, that's ok, but labor econ fact denial just drives me nuts and that claim of all Americans being a bunch of card carrying KKK Nazi racist xenophobes is so's just corporate lobbyists propaganda so people won't really examine what's happening...because of course no one, esp. those who care about diversity, equality and so on....want to be labeled a "racist xenophobe". It's just an abuse of those terms!

Anywho, this post seemed very well researched and for me...

I called all of my reps the minute I saw the insurance, big pharma lobbyists crafting the bill and they absolute denial of single payer or ignoring the many proposals to really reduce costs and get the U.S. a system along the lines of other industrialized nations....I was like "kill this period" a long time ago for I knew it would end up to be yet another money grab for the "for profit" industry sector. I've been watching it from the "Wall Street" perspective after that and plain gave up tracking it because it's so obviously controlled by these lobbyists.

But to find out the details of the shit pile, now that it's in two final forms, to be "negotiated by 6 "hand picked" conferrees" (and watch out there! I've seen major bill changes happen in conference!) it might be time to overview what's happening.

Looks like they are going to pass this turd and the Firedoglake post appears to be accurate.

Since this is the Holiday break, the readers will be possibly down but also the latest "outrage du jour" news stuff is way down, so getting some attention to these major policies, the details, it's a great time to take it on.

Bad policy.

And how is this a good thing - from Paul Krugman:

It’s a seriously flawed bill, we’ll spend years if not decades fixing it, but it’s nonetheless a huge step forward.

That assumes that there will be Democratic majorities and a Democrat in WH for years or decades which is highly unlikely if this thing turns very bad. To me Prof. Krugman provides a major reason to pass a much better bill on the first try. Think about it - if this weak ass foundation turns out to as bad as it is on paper - do you think Democrats will have any credibility in the future to address this issue.

If the incremental change doesn't provide a tangible benefit to most people there is a much higher likelihood of its repeal than anything else. - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

The issue now is entirely political one.

Failure pretty much renders Obama Administration useless for the remainder of term. It's amazing with so much at stake this Administration provided NO leadership and totally turned their number one legislative priority over to a congress that is bought and paid for by corporate interests.

Defenders say well we do have two separate branches of government - yeah right - he is the de facto leader of the Democratic Party and if he really wanted to sheppard a strong bill through the sausage maker he could have. - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

no kidding, it was open season

for lobbyists by not presenting a detailed crafted, with analysis bill to Congress.

Was wondering where you were this morning. I expect the site to be fairly quiet due to the holidays so if folks want to write up some elegant rant to a detailed research post, tis the season (or to write silly theme intros that I did today. ;))

I was trying to avoid this topic.

It's sad how bad this was screwed up. Our health care system is economically and morally bankrupt and the best we can do is preserve the economic and morally bankrupt system. - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

it can kind of be a Eulogy

that's how I feel about it too, oh thanks, so many waiting until Medicare and it sure sounds like they are going to screw the baby boomers...

Our country is so controlled by corporations.

Did you know "immigrants" has been quotes as saying the U.S. isn't a country, it's just a place to go to make a lot of money? (not all immigrants obviously, but this is a quote often repeated).

Agreed RC.

I don't know how many people noticed this article over the weekend, but it really drives home the point of how much of a leadership void exists.

I have been saying for a long time that we are not only in a financial crisis but a larger political crisis. The obvious buyouts for votes to secure cloture of the so-called "Health Care Reform" in the Senate provides ample evidence to anyone paying attention that our entire system of representative government is broken. There is no "representative" democracy, unless you are referring to the millions of dollars in corporate campaign contributions afforded to candidates which then become primary access to legislative manipulation once the candidate is elected.

Evidence of this constitutional betrayal to the average registered voter, whether they be D, R, or I, is included in this explosive piece from Yves Smith, over the weekend.

There is no incremental change that will achieve anything worthwhile. Some weeks ago I wrote an article explaining that There will be no recovery. In very simple terms, the underlying problem is that the "economics of growth" that exemplified the past 2-3 decades of the American experience is simply not sustainable. It was an illusion sold to the American public in order to perpetuate the myth of American superiority and global hegemon. It was totally misleading when it first registered in the American concience, and now it is a cynical lie.

I am 90+% sure that we cannot reverse what has already been set in motion, but I am willing to fight the righteous fight 'til the end, on the off chance that I could be wrong. But I truly doubt that I am and I think Drew Weston says it all better than I could ever say (at least in a single article).

The Senate bill has to be voted down and a Progressive "line in the sand" must be established. This administration must be intimidated from the left, IMO.

A crying shame

For the life of me, I've never understood why we went to Medicare-for-All. Oh I know why, but you know what I mean. It would have worked out for the insurers as well, with regards to supplemental coverage. I've been on Medicare since earlier this decade. Never a problem. Indeed the only hassle has been dealing with a new supplemental or not at the end of the year, and the choices have been getting lousier.

It's so much more simpler. You have two types, A and B, and that supplement. Then they complicated it with those Advantage plans, but still here, my mom's had it with no problems. Another wasted opportunity for insurers.

Nobody won in this. The insurers may think "holy cow, Uncle Sam's gonna force 'em into our product." This is now an oligopoly. And the terms of this arranged marriage is not that great. There won't be any real choices on product, from what I can tell all the plans are the same it's just the payments that are different.

It would have been better to give everyone Medicare A & B, let the market compete for the supplemental, even across state lines if need be. The fact remains not everyone needs the same coverage. Basic care yes, catastrophic coverage yes. But now folks will be paying for things they will never use.

Like I said, I've had Medicare, because I'm disabled, since 2000, never a problem.

Black market

Couple of things I foresee happening. One, you're going to see a black market in pharma drugs. This deal will bring on a clamp down on Americans buying their pills from places like But you tell a senior citizen on Social Security to pay $150 for 30 pills or rent. No, she'll take the bus up North and get her meds which would most likely be generics of popular medicine down here, but because of the deal cannot be sold in the US, unless the Canadians put a stop to it.

Something else I learned, while you're forced to buy insurance, doctors aren't forced to take it. Oh yes, like with Medicaid, they can opt out. That means you're going to see a two-tier system. A lower quality revolving door medical business and doctors taking cash only if you're not on Medicare.

agree 100% on both counts

They already have a system in place that works pretty well Medicare and it should have been turned into "for all" and then work out the inefficiences (which I image would costs would have dropped like a stone with insurance companies out of the picture and Big Pharma having to negotiate with the gov solo)

On black market, oh yeah and people are also going to get bad drugs.

But here is the story that just disgusted me, a WSJ post claiming we have to do that otherwise we are "outsourcing" pharmaceuticals. Uh, not only have they long ago offshore outsourced manufacturing, pretty much all of this decade, esp. '06, they offshore outsourced advanced R&D. Thousands of PhD level researchers lost their jobs/careers.

Not a word of it in the press. So, Big Pharma is already outsourced but still charging absurd profit margins and even planted a story in the WSJ like the are manufacturing here....they have no shame.