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Today's single payer post: battle to save Medicare

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The battle to save Medicare

Reader Jack Wajda, 69, of Orlando, a retired AT&T executive and financial planner, identifies the single greatest problem with the American health-care system as well as anyone. He writes: "To allow private for-profit insurance companies to decide whether and what type of care we receive is incomprehensible to me." ...

... Now, as Wajda correctly writes, taxpayers pay the private Medicare Advantage plans at least $9,000 a year more per patient than for traditional Medicare, with salespeople getting commissions. On top of that, the prescription benefit, Part D, has also been given to the insurance companies, which are earning high profits.

Medicare Advantage and Part D have been so confusing and corrupted by greedy sales practices and deception that even this administration has taken measures to crack down. But more important, the privatization of Medicare has come at great cost to the principles and the budget of our most popular public health-insurance program. As Judith Stein, of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, writes, private insurance is in danger of killing Medicare. ...

As Democrats seek a Medicare bill that will pass, AARP has launched a nationwide advertising campaign to "Keep Medicare Fair." AARP's Andrew Nannis told me the organization favors the bill's proposals to loosen the assets tests and cancel the physician cuts, without raising Medicare premiums. He added that AARP favors cutting the subsidies to private plans, but it's not clear how hard their lobbyists are pushing for it. AARP's insurer, UnitedHealthcare, is lobbying hard to retain the subsidies, which earns AARP $700 million a year in royalties.


Cuomo also announced that he has issued 16 subpoenas to the nation’s largest health insurance companies including Aetna (NYSE: AET), CIGNA (NYSE: CI), and Empire BlueCross BlueShield (NYSE: WLP), and that he intends to file suit against Ingenix, Inc, its parent UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), and three additional subsidiaries.

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Submitted by DCblogger on

check out FireDogLake

on the right hand side is an advertisement for UnitedHealth Group. Maybe if we step up our attacks we can support more lefty bloggers!

Submitted by jawbone on

massive remunerations. Up 25% this year.

25% increase in one year, folks. That's what it takes to keep a CEO properly inundated in financial rewards, perks, stock options, etc. Once every 5 years the NJ Insurance Commissioner takes a look at these insurance plans, and last year did tell the insurers they had to come up with something more affordable. They increased the co-pays and increased the monthly premium only slightly. What a break for the customers!!

This year they went hog wild and recouped their last year's "loss" forced by the regulators. And they can do that for three more years before they're reviewed again. Ain't that sweet???

Does Las Vegas have any odds on whether Obama will pass universal healthcare? I'd put it pretty damn low.

Hey, Senator "I don't need no skinkin' public financing" Obama, I freakin' donate to AETNA--so they can fat cat you.

I found this tidbit of news highly disturbing.... Thus, this emotional outburst.

(Response to amberglow @ 12:39)

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Submitted by DCblogger on

Does Las Vegas have any odds on whether Obama will pass universal healthcare?

if congress passes HR 676 Obama won't dare veto it. Just like Reagan signed the sanctions against apartheid South Africa, Obama will sign HR 676 and then take credit for it.

who cares, I just want health care

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Submitted by DCblogger on

it has 90 cosponsors, we only need to find 128 additional supporters in the House and we win. The support from the Mayors is a great victory.

Submitted by gob on

what the likelihood is. I've been doing some reading, but I'm so ignorant I don't have anything to report.

Maybe someone here can tell me whether there's any conclusion to be drawn from the fact that the bill was sent to three House committees: Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Natural Resources (the last seems especially bizarre). Is this a way of making extra sure it dies in committee? Or could any one of the committees send it to the floor? I assume that the bill is only a formality this year, no one will do any committee work on it, and it will have to be resubmitted next year, right?

The number you cite (128) is the additional number needed for a discharge petition, which can get it out of committee without a committee vote. Does this actually happen, that is, has it happened recently?

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Submitted by DCblogger on

It is presently before the subcommittee on health, which is part of the Energy and Commerce committee. We can get this out of committee.

There are 435 members of the H of R. We need 218 votes to pass this legislation. We have 90 votes, so we need to find 90 more.

We can do this, we just need to focus.

Submitted by gob on

about my questions. One of them is: given that the bill is presently in three committees, is it possible for just one of those committees to get it out there for a floor vote, or do all three have to agree?

Thanks for the reminder about the Energy and Commerce subcommittee members and the races.

Another of my questions, if anyone out there knows the ins and outs of the House: even if a bill is bottled up in committee, if a majority of the House votes for a "discharge petition" the bill can be brought up for a vote. Does this actually happen?

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Submitted by DCblogger on

the short answer is that I don't know.

a discharge petition is a huge slap, not just to the chair, but the whole committee. it is not a course of action to be lightly undertaken.

Conyers is chair of the House Judiciary Committee and an old lion of the House. We are very fortunate to have such a champion. We should defer to his judgment on strategy, as he will know best.

I will try to look at the other committees, or maybe someone else in the mighty Corrente building can do that. We are all amateurs here, so distributed research works best.