Archive for Saturday, December 19, 2009

True competition

December 19, 2009


To the editor:

Dr. Bruner’s letter of Dec. 17 makes an incorrect assumption. He infers that by providing a government option or a Medicare buy-in option it will provide the “competitive pressure” necessary to drive down the costs of health care insurance premiums.

What is needed is more insurance companies being able to do business in more states. This would provide true competition to drive down premiums. Pay attention everybody: The government can’t run anything correctly. The government has never completed anything for the original estimated costs. The government has never run anything efficiently. The government does not create jobs or wealth. The only thing the government can do is take something from one person and give it to another. That’s it!

The government is not the answer! Private industry and small business that are allowed to flourish create a healthy economy. If you are curious about where the liberals in this world are trying to lead us, take a hard look at what Hugo Chavez had to say in Copenhagen. He quoted Karl Marx, railed against capitalism and received extended ovations for his “inspiration.” There is our future if we allow it and this health care bill to proceed


mom_of_three 8 years, 4 months ago

I have to read Mr. Burkhart's editorials just to get a good laugh!!! All the government does..... Liberals...hugo chavez.....hah.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

If you’ve been watching the Senate Finance Committee’s markup sessions, maybe you’ve noticed a woman sitting behind Committee Chairman Max Baucus. Her name is Liz Fowler.

Fowler used to work for WellPoint, the largest health insurer in the country. She was its vice president of public policy. Baucus’ office failed to mention this in the press release announcing her appointment as senior counsel in February 2008, even though it went on at length about her expertise in “health care policy.”

Now she’s working for the very committee with the most power to give her old company and the entire industry exactly what they want – higher profits – and no competition from alternative non-profit coverage that could lower costs and premiums.

A veteran of the revolving door, Fowler had a previous stint working for Senator Baucus – before her time at WellPoint. But wait, there’s more. The person who was Baucus top health advisor before he brought back Liz Fowler? Her name is Michelle Easton. And why did she leave the staff of the committee? To go to work – surprise – at a firm representing the same company for which Liz Fowler worked – WellPoint. As a lobbyist.

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard in the old Washington shell game. Lobbyist out, lobbyist in. It’s why they always win. They’ve been plowing this ground for years, but with the broad legislative agenda of the Obama White House – health care, energy, financial reform, the Employee Free Choice Act and more – the soil has never been so fertile.

The health care industry alone has six lobbyists for every member of Congress and more than 500 of them are former Congressional staff members, according to the Public Accountability Initiative’s LittleSis database.

Just to be certain Congress sticks with the program, the industry has been showering megabucks all over Capitol Hill. From the beginning, they wanted to make sure that whatever bill comes out of the Finance Committee puts for-profit insurance companies first -- by forcing the uninsured to buy medical policies from them. Money not only talks, it writes the prescriptions.

In just the last few months, the health care industry has spent $380 million on lobbying, advertising and campaign contributions. And -- don’t bother holding onto your socks -- a million and a half of it went to Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, the man who said he saw “a lot to like” in the two public option amendments proposed by Senators Rockefeller and Schumer, but voted no anyway.

The people in favor of a public alternative can’t scrape up the millions of dollars Baucus has received from the health sector during his political career. In fact, over the last two decades, the current members of the entire finance committee have collected nearly $50 million from the health sector, a long-term investment that’s now paying off like a busted slot machine.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee. This Story

The report was part of a multi-pronged assault on the credibility of private insurers by Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.). It came at a time when Rockefeller, President Obama and others are seeking to offer a public alternative to private health plans as part of broad health-care reform legislation. Health insurers are doing everything they can to block the public option.

At a committee hearing yesterday, three health-care specialists testified that insurers go to great lengths to avoid responsibility for sick people, use deliberately incomprehensible documents to mislead consumers about their benefits, and sell "junk" policies that do not cover needed care. Rockefeller said he was exploring "why consumers get such a raw deal from their insurance companies."

The star witness at the hearing was a former public relations executive for major health insurers whose testimony boiled down to this: Don't trust the insurers.

"The industry and its backers are using fear tactics, as they did in 1994, to tar a transparent and accountable -- publicly accountable -- health-care option," said Wendell Potter, who until early last year was vice president for corporate communications at the big insurer Cigna.

Potter said he worries "that the industry's charm offensive, which is the most visible part of duplicitous and well-financed PR and lobbying campaigns, may well shape reform in a way that benefits Wall Street far more than average Americans."

Insurers make paperwork confusing because "they realize that people will just simply give up and not pursue it" if they think they have been shortchanged, Potter said.

More on this story:

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

The most expensive medical insurance industry is corrupt through and through. After 70 years in business corruption has flourished. Hmmmmmmmm

Is protecting the most expensive medical insurance in the world good for business? No it is anti business and anti new jobs and industry.

Is protecting the most expensive medical insurance in the world good for keeping the cost of of just about everything we buy in reasonable check? Absolutely not! it increases our cost of living across the board just like high dollar gasoline.

Did we elect people to office to protect the most expensive medical insurance in the world from a more reasonable and fiscally responsible National Health Insurance program? No way jose' That is corrupt.

Did we send elected officials to Washington to accept special interest campaign money from the most expensive medical insurance program in the world? Heck NO that increases the cost of insurance! AND it is corrupt.

So it seems the loudest voices against National Health Insurance/ Smart Medicare Insurance for All are those who are profiting from the misfortune of others.

Why is it $1.2 trillion tax dollars are paid out on the most expensive medical insurance in the world to cover a wide variety of government employees including elected officials? Yet these same officials say NO to all of the rest of taxpayers.

Medical Insurance corporations do not provide health care they simply use YOUR money to make huge profits AND interfere with medical decisions. Eliminate this " high profit middleman operation" today.

Medicare IS the most efficient insurance program in the world.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

How much is the sick U.S. health care system costing you? By Joel A. Harrison

Paying through the Taxman

The U.S. health care system is typically characterized as a largely private-sector system, so it may come as a surprise that more than 60% of the $2 trillion annual U.S. health care bill is paid through taxes, according to a 2002 analysis published in Health Affairs by Harvard Medical School associate professors Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein.

Tax dollars pay for Medicare and Medicaid, for the Veterans Administration and the Indian Health Service. Tax dollars pay for health coverage for federal, state, and municipal government employees and their families, as well as for many employees of private companies working on government contracts.

Less visible but no less important, the tax deduction for employer-paid health insurance, along with other health care-related tax deductions, also represents a form of government spending on health care.

It makes little difference whether the government gives taxpayers (or their employers) a deduction for their health care spending, on the one hand, or collects their taxes then pays for their health care, either directly or via a voucher, on the other.

Moreover, tax dollars also pay for critical elements of the health care system apart from direct care—Medicare funds much of the expensive equipment hospitals use, for instance, along with all medical residencies.

All told, then, tax dollars already pay for at least $1.2 trillion in annual U.S. health care expenses. Since federal, state, and local governments collected approximately $3.5 trillion in taxes of all kinds—income, sales, property, corporate—in 2006, that means that more than one third of the aggregate tax revenues collected in the United States that year went to pay for health care.

Recognizing these hidden costs that U.S. households pay for health care today makes it far easier to see how a universal single-payer system—with all of its obvious advantages—can cost most Americans less than the one we have today.

Medicare must exist in the fragmented world that is American health care—but no matter how creative the opponents of single-payer get, there is no way they can show convincingly how the administrative costs of a single-payer system could come close to the current level.

More on this matter: ============================== National Health Insurance

Health Care In the USA

anon1958 8 years, 4 months ago

The insane rantings of the tea-baggers and other right wing blowhards about health care demands a new definition of liberals.

Liberal: A masochistic man or woman committed to bringing affordable health care to the poor and middle-class conservative voters.

Paul Decelles 8 years, 4 months ago

Come on Scott. Get real.. Linking Hugo Chavez to American liberals might make you feel emotionally better but it makes about as much sense as calling all conservatives right wing religious fanatics.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 4 months ago

thanks Scott for a very good letter. the supporters of Obama's vision for this country and specifically healthcare should listen to what Chavez really said. and note the standing ovation he received at the conference considering a now discredited anthropogenic global warming myth (east anglia e-mails as recent as a year old, and IEA tells us their data was indeed cherrypicked by the global warming hysterians).

Scott, worth adding to your letter is that even nutral congressional rating services note that many/most americans who currently pay health insurance premiums will see them increase under the plan, and that the vast number of overnment regulations and mandates will naturally force up cost/premiums. is this intentional? maybe.
after this scandal were signed into law (God forbid), someone who wanted to buy a high-deductable low premium plan couldn't!

rtwngr 8 years, 4 months ago

Good letter Scott! The lib bloggers on this letter will be singing a different tune when this whole healthcare debacle finishes off our economy. You cannot borrow yourself out of debt. When you are in debt you are no longer free.

SnakeFist 8 years, 4 months ago

"The government can’t run anything correctly." What about the greatest military in history, the space program (the only one to put men on the moon), the police and fire departments?

"The government has never completed anything for the original estimated costs." Isn't that because private contractors underbid and then run over? Why is that the government's fault?

"The only thing the government can do is take something from one person and give it to another." And small business does what - print money? Newsflash, business is nothing but the bourgeoisie exploiting the poletariat. (OMG did I just quote Marx? Guess I must be evil!)

What it comes down to is this: Liberals would rather trust a government of elected, accountable officals, while conservatives would rather trust greedy, unaccountable corporations to do what's best for the country.

rtwngr 8 years, 4 months ago

Merrill talks about accountability in Washington while Barack Obama pays off SEIU with TARP funds. SnakeFist talks about accountability while Harry Reid drafts a mythical healthcare bill behind closed doors. Hypocrites all.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

The "middle man" aka medical insurance industry is making huge profits while NOT providing health care.

The repub plan of changing nothing brings on a substantial increase of about 20-25% for 2010.

How many see pay increases of this magnitude?

Remember this is the same insurance industry who may cancel at any moment or who will decide that your cap on cancer treatment has been met thus leaving you the patient holding the bag and/or large medical bills... if you will.

The medically insured are the largest group filling for bankruptcy due to medical bills.

So why pay out thousands annually if the provider may cancel at any given moment? What's the point?

YOU paying high deductibles and co-pays effectively relieves the insurance provider of responsibility in spite of the fact that YOU the consumer are paying a premium as well. What kind of coverage is that?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

If 3 million healthy insured dropped their policies in the next two weeks not only would they save thousands of dollars the insurance industry would faint in disbelief that this many people actually are awake and give a damn.

Sooner or later another few million would do the same. Suddenly all of america would realize the medical insurance business has been doing nothing but making tons and tons of profit by way of fear mongering and NOT providing health care.

At that point all would see the point in eliminating the "middleman" thus america could have insurance at a much much lower rate such as 225 a month for the best coverage in the world that includes the entire family.

Makes dollars and sense to me. More money to invest smart instead of supporting high rollin executives and shareholders.

Maybe get on with that home improvement with cash instead of borrowing from the bank.....just maybe.

Maybe go to Jamaica for a few weeks instead of supporting high rollin executives and shareholders.

Most consumers are under-insured = candidate for bankruptcy. Most coverage WILL NOT stick with consumers when the going gets tough = fraud.

What could be done with that high profit middle man money that which DOES NOT provide health care?

  1. Home Improvements = jobs

  2. Invest in a green annuity

  3. Create a college investment account for children

  4. Purchase a fuel efficient auto = money saved and secures jobs in the automotive industry

  5. Buy gifts for a lover which improves ones quality of life and boosts a local economy

  6. Buy a second home in the Rocky Mountains = helps reduce number of homes for sale

  7. Keep an existing vehicle in top running condition = dollars saved and clean air

  8. Landscape a yard to reduce mowing substantially and requires far less water = conservation of natural resources and more money in the wallet

10.Donate to a local zoo or library.


  1. Set up a health care investment account or annuity that makes YOU money instead of wealthy CEO's. Your health care annuity will NOT cancel out on when the poop hits the fan.

  2. National Health Insurance is far better for America than the public option and/or the middle man industry( med insurance).

SnakeFist 8 years, 4 months ago

rtwnger: Like most conservatives, you like to attack what others have to say, but say nothing substantive yourself. Speaking of lack of accountability, how about Cheney's secret meetings in which Enron and the like set U.S. energy policy?

Speaking of hypocrisy, how about "compassionate" Christian conservatives who would rather spend billions on bombs than ensuring that their neighbors have healthcare?

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