Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Praeger discusses health care reform at breakfast meeting

Gene Meyer, president and CEO of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, foreground left, and Sandy Praeger, Kansas insurance commissioner, visit before Praeger addressed an audience on health care reform during an event sponsored by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and LMH in September 2009 at the hospital.

Gene Meyer, president and CEO of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, foreground left, and Sandy Praeger, Kansas insurance commissioner, visit before Praeger addressed an audience on health care reform during an event sponsored by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and LMH in September 2009 at the hospital.

September 30, 2009, 1:46 p.m. Updated September 30, 2009, 5:23 p.m.

Advertisement

Insurance Commissioner talks health care reform

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger was on hand Wednesday to talk about health care reform. She says if the federal government doesn't act, she expects the state to take up the issue. About 140 people attended the event at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Enlarge video

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger remains hopeful that some of the nation’s health problems will be fixed at the federal level.

She talked about health care reform during a breakfast Wednesday morning at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which about 140 people attended. The event was sponsored by LMH and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

Praeger reviewed three major proposals that are being considered in Congress. They all get rid of pre-existing conditions, but then the debate begins.

Among the issues: Whether to mandate coverage, whether to offer subsidies, whether to tax expensive health plans, who will oversee regulations and how to pay for reform.

Praeger said these four key elements should be addressed for successful health care reform:

• Getting rid of pre-existing condition exclusions.

She said her department receives calls every day from people who have been denied health insurance coverage or even lost coverage because insurance companies claim they lied about a pre-existing condition — even in cases when they didn’t know they had one at the time.

“It will just take away a huge, huge disagreement that crops up between insurance companies and individuals,” Praeger said.

• Mandating that everyone has health insurance.

She said the nation can’t get rid of the pre-existing condition exclusion unless it mandates that everyone be covered.

“If we don’t require people to buy coverage, then they will just wait until they need it and then they can’t be excluded, and it will just drive up the cost for everybody,” she said.

She said it is similar to buying car and home insurance.

“You can’t buy home owners insurance after your home is on fire,” she said.

• Offering subsidies to make insurance affordable for low-income residents.

“You can’t tell somebody that they have to buy something if they can’t afford it, so we are going to have to step up to the plate and find ways to make it affordable,” Praeger said.

• Keeping regulations mostly at the state level, and offering some flexibility in those regulations.

Praeger said consumers have unique problems that aren’t necessarily going to be covered under one standard.

The insurance commissioner said if Congress doesn’t pass health reform, it likely will be due to bipartisan battles. But, she thinks Tuesday’s vote by a Senate panel to reject a government-run option — which she thinks is off the table for good — will bring the sides closer together.

“At least, I hope so,” she said.

If the federal government fails to pass health care reform, Praeger expects the state to pick up the issue. But, she said, some issues such as pre-existing condition exclusions need to happen at the federal level.

“I will be very disappointed if we don’t get some of them passed,” she said.

Comments

notajayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

"• Keeping the regulations at the state level."

Golly gee whiz, what an unexpected position to take from a state insurance commissioner.

Boston_Corbett 5 years, 2 months ago

Toe: "National regulation of insurance companies may be a good thing."


Oh sure. It worked so well with the derivatives markets.

I trust the state insurance commissioners one heck of a lot more than congress.

mdrndgtl 5 years, 2 months ago

So how was the breakfast anyway? Did she mention anything about the menu?

rtwngr 5 years, 2 months ago

How about opening the state up to competition in the health insurance market, Sandy baby? I would be curious to see who can do business in this state, who can't, and the reasons why.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

BC,

I thought the problem was that they didn't regulate derivatives and other financial products.

annemccracken 5 years, 2 months ago

This is the first I have heard of her, but I really love the descriptions given by Sandy Praeger. She did a really good job of breaking down issues ( at least the ones LJ World quoted), and explaining things in a truthful manner. I am not sure if she is a Dem. or Rep. but I wish more government officials would act more like this.

fairplay 5 years, 2 months ago

Wait...Praeger wants to mandate coverage for everyone and then control it all herself? That is starting to sound like the sort of plan a socialist dictator would propose. Chavez, Castro, Ahmadinejad, Praeger: Which one pretends to be a Republican?

I think we just found what everyone is complaining about when they said the Republicans have lost their way.

annemccracken 5 years, 2 months ago

fairplay (Anonymous) says… Wait…Praeger wants to mandate coverage for everyone and then control it all herself?

Where does it say that? I re-read twice and googled her... never saw anything silimar to your quote.

CheneyHawk 5 years, 2 months ago

When is Gene Meyer moving to Lawrence?

Steve Jacob 5 years, 2 months ago

Does any politician work evening or weekends so people under 50 can come? Does not seem like it.

Ernest Barteldes 5 years, 2 months ago

The insurance industry needs to be regulated and we need to keep firm tabs on it. They are getting 400 PCT profits because they are allowed to do whatever they want to do. And that has to go away

somedude20 5 years, 2 months ago

Nothing like forking down artery clogging bacon, waffles, and sausages while talking about health care. Die quickly!

fairplay 5 years, 2 months ago

annemccracken:

"Where does it say that? I re-read twice and googled her… never saw anything silimar to your quote. "

From the article: " Mandating that everyone has health insurance.

She said the nation can’t get rid of the pre-existing condition exclusion unless it mandates that everyone be covered."

"Keeping regulations mostly at the state level, and offering some flexibility in those regulations."

Mandate and control. Not only that but I was at the breakfast (Hyvee catered egg McMuffins -- Not bad but a little on the cold side) and she made very clear that she and the other State Insurance Commissioners believe they should be running the Health Insurance mandates at a local level. While the State should have more control in all matters not described in the Constitution, mandated Health Care coverage is not a program that protects consumers' rights.

notajayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Pogo (Anonymous) says…

"I find no “politico speak” which addresses the premium issue. Big deal if you can get coverage….what value is it if the premium is over $500 per month for one person let alone a coupe?"

I'm curious as to why you think people with pre-existing conditions shouldn't have to pay higher premiums. Why, exactly, should it be any different than car insurance or homeowner's insurance? Would you be okay with your car insurance premiums doubling because your neighbor had an accident? Then why should I pay more for my health insurance because you get added to the pool with your pre-existing costs?


annemccracken (Anonymous) says…

"Where does it say that? I re-read twice and googled her… never saw anything silimar to your quote."

"Mandating that everyone has health insurance."

"Keeping regulations mostly at the state level" [She's the state's insurance commissioner.]

That silimar enough?


ErnestBarteldes (Ernest Barteldes) says…

"The insurance industry needs to be regulated and we need to keep firm tabs on it. They are getting 400 PCT profits because they are allowed to do whatever they want to do. And that has to go away"

And they say the Republicans are pushing misinformation.

The average heath plan makes a 3% profit, Ernie, quite a bit shy of 400%. The average hospital makes a higher profit, including 'not-for-profit' LMH, whose revenues exceeded expenditures by 5.6% last year, nearly double what the insurance companies make.

blindrabbit 5 years, 2 months ago

Is there any real speculation that Sandy will cast Smilin Sam adrift and run for Gov. herself. I'd gladly cast my vote for her.

One negative comment however on her current Ins. Commish. position. Several years ago, small independent business owners throughout Kansas tried to "join together" to form or join groups in order to obtain lower cost medical insurance for their employees. If my recollection is correct, Sandy fought this to the point that we were convinced that she was beholding to the insurance industry. Of course, keep in mind that her husband is a surgeon; how that fact affects her insurance decisions, is also conjecture.

blindrabbit 5 years, 2 months ago

Little ironic, Sandy meeting with Gene Meyer after the unfortunate situation at LMH treating rape victims. I encourage the LJW to look into a broader range of issues that are routinely discussed (on the street) about care and service at LMH. I, myself have stories to tell, given a proper forum. Maybe, Houk and McGrew (pictured) anong with "The Board" should be encouraged to do this!!

annemccracken 5 years, 2 months ago

I would rather see the state mandate Ins. regulations than the Fed. Things are easier to change on a state level. And everyone should have health insurance, period. If they find a way to make it affordable then people who choose not to carry insurance should be fined. I have a lot of family in Canada and they pay between $8 and $100 a month for insurance depending on thier situation. Something like that would be great here. Some of them say some appointments can take a while to get, but their horror stories wouldnt even hold a flame to the ridiculous run around I went through having coverage through the army and getting Cancer. If the most resonable rate I could find for insurance was under $469 a month I would have it in a second.

Ernest Barteldes 5 years, 2 months ago

Notajayhawk:

I can prove my statements. Please document yours

Best

notajayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

You made the claim first, ernie. Please show me where insurance companies make a 400% profit, and I'll think about documenting mine. Or, you could just learn to use Google, I suppose.

notajayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Oh, what the heck, let me save you some trouble.

The information originally came from here:

http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2009/08/health-insurance-industry-ranks-86-by.html#

Since it was a couple of months old and I wanted to see the raw data, I went to the source of that information:

http://biz.yahoo.com/p/sum_conameu.html

As of the latest data, hospitals' profit margins have dropped below that of health plans - now 3.1 % compared to 3.3% for health plans. Still quite a bit shy of the 400% you claimed and said you could document, ernie - can't wait to see that data.

As for LMH, the information was reported in this very paper last April:

"LMH had $151.8 million in operating revenue"

"Total operating expenses of $143 million"

Do the math yourself. And, incidentally, that margin was WITH the spending for construction - take that out and see how much 'revenues exceeded expenditures.'

Okay, ernie - your turn.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.