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As we head into the Thursday White House meeting on health care reform, it is important for the entire nation to focus our attention on the real roadblocks to a just health care system in this -- the richest nation on the planet.

I present, Anthem/Blue Cross's Terrible, Horrible, Crappy Day in Sacramento.

SACRAMENTO, CA (KGO) -- Executives from Anthem Blue Cross had some explaining to do in Sacramento on Tuesday afternoon as they faced the Assembly Health Committee in Sacramento and things got testy.

"Have you no shame?" asked Dave Jones, the Sacramento Democrat who chairs the Assembly Health Committee. Jones was quizzing two executives of Anthem Blue Cross, the company that plans to raise rates for its individual policy holders in California by as much as 39 percent.

"The question is disappointing to me Mr. Chairman," responded a shaken Leslie Margolin, the president of Anthem Blue Cross in California. "It is disappointing to me."

Nonetheless, Anthem executive told the committee, despite scathing criticism from lawmakers and consumer groups, they will go ahead with the increases. "We advocate appropriate rates," said Jim Oatman, a Vice-President with Anthem's parent company Wellpoint, which recorded profits in excess of $3 billion in 2009.

Video here.

Is this company going to let some minor state government push them around?

Hell no.

Blue Cross told state officials Tuesday that California's largest health insurer will go forward with much-criticized individual-policy rate hikes of as much as 39% once a two-month delay lapses May 1.

In Biblical Times, these people were known as Moneychangers.

Kicking them out of the temple was the only time Jesus really kicked major ass.

So here is the question for us, as a Democratic movement.

Originally posted to greendem on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 07:23 PM PST.


On Thursday, Democrats at the White House Health Care Reform Summit will:

26%17 votes
65%41 votes
7%5 votes

| 63 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

    by greendem on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 07:23:24 PM PST

  •  Great Minds Must Think Alike (6+ / 0-)

    I posted a similar diary just minutes before you did, I was going to use the quote from Jones, but decided to go with the more mainstream LA Times and SJ Mercury News articles.

    I'm not that hopeful either, I'm hoping the American public will come out of its coma and pester their representatives for the public option. Because about the only way it's going to happen is for massive protesting in favor for it if it's not included in the final version of the bill.

  •  Here's an idea (5+ / 0-)

    states can regulate healthcare insurers.  New rule:  all healthcare insurers must be non-profit.

    Denial is complicity.

    by Publius2008 on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 07:39:16 PM PST

    •  Of course the public option is not (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the be all and end all of reform. Regulation can be just as effective a tool, even moreso, but it takes will. And will can be subverted, every legislative session, with different people being in power.

      I think that tax policy alone could solve the HC issue. Even Chris Matthews agrees that the proper place for "reconciliation" is in taxation issues. Just have a law that sez tax all insurance profits at a rate of 99.9 percent, and pass it with a simple majority. Apply all proceeds towards subsidies for those who can't afford the premiums. Problem solved.

      •  In unicorn land (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I wish we lived there. Sound almost Swedish.

        "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

        by greendem on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 07:50:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  the root of the issue of the Public Option is (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greendem, kareylou, DawnN, pistolSO

        not that simple.

        For our national healthcare system to remain solvent (I'm including Medicare and Medicaid because their funding comes from taxpayers), it is critical that all Americans become insured against catastrophic care (which is, in the end, what eats up most of the healthcare dollars) - unless the Risk Pool is everyone, it's not big enough to provide enough funds to cover all needs.

        There is (at least for me) a moral issue of the Federal Government requiring me to purchase a private product or face retribution from my Government (the IRS will be enforcing any fines for failure to obtain insurance).

        There may well be a Constitutional issue, in addition, and I've read and heard (from the lips of Republican Senators, of course) of possible SCOTUS challenges to any Mandate to Purchase from private companies (which is currently being proffered as possible via the Commerce Clause in the US Constitution).

        For these reasons, and more importantly, because a Public plan will cost at least 15-25% less than any Private plan - there is also a critical need to include a Public Option in the overall Healthcare Reform.

        I do not believe, given the circumstances, that tax policy alone can meet the needs of our situation.

        •  It would remove the profit motive from (0+ / 0-)

          Health Insurance. All proceeds from the tax would be used to provide health care for people who can't afford it.

          This plan would have to also include taxing doctors and nurses and everyone who is paid through health insurance payouts, drug manufacturers, psychologists... a marginal tax rate, based on your individual net income.

          It's a simple plan, but all taxes have loopholes, I know. Where money is concerned, people will go to any length to obfuscate and avoid.

    •  that depends (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      on what counts as profit.  If you pay your management team enough you can eliminate all profit.

  •  Today I got an email from (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, greendem, Dallasdoc, BachFan, standupguy

    Anthem Blue Cross of California telling me that even though I canceled my policy I should get in touch with them because they have lots of affordable options. I canceled in January, before the hike was announced, because I couldn't afford to spend a third of my income on premiums and deductibles before I got any benefits.

    Without having heard about Assemblyman Jones' remarks in Sacramento, I emailed back the exact same words: "Have you no shame?"

    The last time a frog escaped a pickerel must have been in Pliocene time. John McPhee

    by Red Bean on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 08:05:44 PM PST

  •  Dem Talking Point. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dallasdoc, kareylou

    We either need cops back on the beat regulating the hell out of this industry, or these people need to go find honest work elsewhere, because the society cannot afford this kind of private profit-taking for serving an essential public need. Some things are too important to be left to the market.

    The Aircraft flight regulation system in this country is not a private venture.

    "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

    by greendem on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 08:12:47 PM PST

  •  Poll looking bad. (0+ / 0-)

    Two thirds of us have lost faith in our party's backbone.

    Hope we are pleasantly surprised.

    "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

    by greendem on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 09:20:44 PM PST

  •  Now's the time for single payer! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Don't say that malarkey about "Don't let the perfect be enemy of the good."

    Oh! There just happens to be a fully designed comprehensive single payer bill currently working in CA legislature. In fact, it already passed twice and was vetoed twice by our stupid governor Schwarzenegger. It's popular in the state.

    This single payer bill would save the state of CA an estimated $14 billion per year, enough to erase the state debt within two years, and cover everybody far more reliably, comprehensively and economically than they are covered now.  

    Maybe Arnold will look twice next time the bill comes under his nose for signing, when he considers insurers he's been protecting won't protect him and will keep coming back with their lawyers and billions of bucks and will bleed California dry and make California consumers cry with wild-eyed premium increases. His best bet is to turn around and adopt the best idea of the 21st century -- publicly funded, privately delivered healthcare, non-commercial, nonprofit, massively economical single payer.

    There's a similar single payer bill working in the PA legislature and probably in other states as well. Support them any way you can.

    •  SP in NY state too (0+ / 0-)

      New York state has a single payer billworking in its legislature.

      Rep Dennis Kucinich had an amendment that would grant a waiver of the application of ERISA to state single payer plans. Unsure current status of this amendment (it might have disappeared when Dems and WH caved in and the whole HCR effort went down the Baucus drain) but it's worthwhile encouraging Kucinich to keep it alive. States are likely to work on their SP bills anyway, the Kucinich amendment just makes things easier in terms of legal threats from private insurers which don't want SP to exist, of course. If mandated insurance policies become law without a strong public option and anti-trust exemption is not lifted so insurers continue monopoly pricing, and if insurers continue to boost rates unreasonably and Obama's premium oversight "commission" turns out to be weak and ineffective up against more lawyers than God from insurers, look for major state efforts to create single payer systems for themselves.

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