Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's Wrong With Max Baucus And His Health Care Plan-- In 2 Minutes

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Jerry Flanagan from ConsumerWatchdog.org teamed up with Brave New Films and put out a 2 minute video that gets right to the heart of the problems with Baucus' vision-- i.e., the Insurance Industry's vision-- for health care "reform:" give us your money and trust us... and give us your money.

He doesn't mention anywhere in the two minutes slot that Baucus has gobbled up $2,890,631 in thinly disguised bribes from the Medical-Industrial Complex during his disgraceful time in the Senate, and another $1,196,463 from the Insurance Industry, basically the same amount as Joe Lieberman, whose wife was an insurance industry lobbyist and who has a reputation of being one of the most corrupt characters to have ever served in the United States Senate. The only sitting senators to have taken more from the Insurance Industry Baucus are McCain, Dodd and Kerry, all of whom ran for president, and Ben Nelson, a former insurance industry executive, widely considered to be the industry's last line of kamikaze defense if everything else falls apart.

Yesterday ex-Cigna Insurance PR exec, Wendell Potter, wrote about some of the problems with what the Insurance Industry, through their boy Baucus, is proposing. He says that without a public option the whole exercise is a waste of everyone's time. And he reprints a letter he sent to Baucus last week that lays out what the senator should do if he were to decide that he works for his constituents rather than for his campaign donors:
As a former health insurance company executive, I am very concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability in the health insurance industry. That is why I urge you to incorporate Senator Rockefeller’s Amendments #C12 and #C13 into the America’s Healthy Future Act (AHFA), in particular with regard to the need for airtight regulations to protect consumer interests.

As proposed, AHFA will allow insurers to continue many of their most discriminatory practices without either transparency or real accountability: cost-shifting to their most vulnerable members through benefit designs that serve the needs of Wall Street; and rationing of care based on arbitrary opinions about what care is needed. In addition, there is no accountability for insurance companies to provide affordable and comprehensive health care coverage. A requirement that everyone buy health insurance accompanied by subsidies for people with low incomes does not ensure that Americans will have affordable care. The explosive cost growth in Massachusetts after health care reform is a case in point. And, AHFA has no mechanisms to enforce the insurance regulations that are included.

In addition, AHFA designates the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to write key regulations. This is of great concern to me because this proposal delegates to the NAIC, a private organization, with rule-making authority that is generally reserved for an agency of the federal government. Any institution given the authority to define the rules that will determine health insurance coverage for millions of Americans must be completely independent of the insurance industry and have a demonstrated record of putting the concerns of consumers first. The institution must also have the will and the resources to carry out the rulemaking process in a transparent and unbiased manner, with opportunity for input from all interested parties at each stage of the process. Based on its traditional manner of conducting business, the NAIC fails to meet any of these standards. The NAIC does not operate independently of the insurance industry. In fact, the NAIC is a private corporation, funded, in large part, by the insurance industry itself. Without industry dollars, the NAIC would not operate as it does today. In addition, eight of the last 10 NAIC presidents, as well as numerous commissioners, have gone directly from their posts to industry positions, creating the distinct impression that leadership positions at NAIC are mere stepping stones to more lucrative careers in the insurance industry.

For all these reasons, as well as my inside knowledge of how easily insurance companies circumvent existing regulations, I support Senator Rockefeller’s Amendments #C12 and #C13 to AHFA, which will:

*Create a grant program for state insurance departments to help them better enforce market rules and protect consumers.

*Establish a federal role for private health insurance oversight and provide resources for the Department of Health and Human Services to hire expert staff to carry out these functions and coordinate with state regulators.

* Require health insurance plans to disclose clear, accurate, and timely information on their policies and practices to ensure that they do not circumvent new federal health insurance regulations.

* Add needed transparency requirements such as: establishing fair grievance and appeals procedures by health insurers; clarifying information for health professionals and freeing up time for patients by establishing transparency standards relating to reimbursement arrangements between health plans and providers; and requiring advance notice of plan changes so consumers get what they pay.

*Establish America’s Health Insurance Trust, a nonprofit, independent, consumer-driven organization that will evaluate and give ratings to all health insurance products offered through the National Health Insurance Exchange. Annual insurance product ratings will be based on factors such as affordability, adequacy, transparency, consumer satisfaction, provider satisfaction, and quality.

* Ensure that ombudsman offices in each state are open to consumers at all stages of the appeal process to allow for early intervention and increase the likelihood of successful appeals.

Health insurance reform requires that we not only create strong new consumer protections. It also requires that those rules be effectively enforced. American families and businesses must have health insurance that is accountable to them, not to Wall Street.

Now, back to the two minutes with consumer advocate Jerry Flanagan:



You see why people say Baucus sucks? Damn, I wish BooMan was the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee instead of Baucus!

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4 Comments:

At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Lee said...

Howie,

I wish every member of Congress was sitting in synagogue yesterday and listening to my Rabbi. His sermon was on health care and our responsibilities as Jews to do the right thing morally to those of us who don't have health care.

 
At 2:07 PM, Anonymous john gordon said...

My concern with this health care reform, as an Independent, is that it’s all over the place, there are not enough specifics and it must be put into writing and as if “written in stone” so that not every illegal that comes to the US will get free healthcare and those that work hard all their citizen life in US pay for every “Tom, Dick and Harry”

 
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