"How much higher do premiums have to rise," he demanded, "before we do something about it?"
Mr. President, the American people are being slaughtered--lose their jobs, and their healthcare. Those of us in the individual and small group market are being gouged beyond recognition. Premiums are spiking through the roof for all Americans. And my God, Mr. President, I have have nightmares at night about the uninsured, do you?
Here's the point. Some believe a discussion of how voters will respond to this price gouging should be tabled until after the midterm elections. This isn't a good idea, there's no hiding this stuff.
This is not about Iraq, a war in a distant land. The insurance industry is waging war against all of us, the renewal notices are landing in mailboxes across the country. You cannot brush this under the rug. If anything, it needs to be confronted head on.
Democrats need to address this jarring pre-election reality, with a lot more than angry words. Voters have a right to know, what's the plan to fix this deplorable state of affairs, if we give them another two years in the majority.
The fear of Sarah Palin may save the day for Obama in 2012, but right now, in the midst of a depression/recession, these unstoppable rate hikes are indeed rage inducing.
So let's see what's happening in spots across the country.
Keep in mind, voters are largely ignorant of the nitty gritty of legislation. All they know is a bill called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed and signed with much hoopla, and they see huge rate hikes, which will cause many people to drop their coverage. Someone's gotta gets blamed for this.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting this morning that huge increases are coming from Aetna. Now, you and I know, that turning against Barbara Boxer for this is the absolute wrong thing to do, but you and I also aren't the average furious, poorly informed voter.
One million more seething voters receiving huge rate hikes on October 1st. How could Democrats have allowed this to happen?
More than 1 million Californians will see their health insurance premiums rise Oct. 1 now that regulators have wrapped up their review of a plan by Aetna Inc. to raise rates an average of 19% for 65,000 individual policyholders.
Aetna was cleared Friday by the state Department of Insurance to proceed with its new plan. It was the last of four major insurers to be reviewed by the department, which has OKd double-digit rate increases by Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Health Net Inc. in the last month.
. . .Blue Shield premiums will increase an average of 19%, and as much as 29%, for 250,000 customers.
Health Net rates will go up an average of 16%, and as high as 25%, for 38,000 customers.
Anthem rates will rise an average of 14%, and as much as 20%, for about 800,000 individual policyholders — down from an average of 25% and a cap of 39%.
Different state, same damn story in Connecticut. You cannot brush a 22.9% rate hike under the rug. And you cannot tell voters who need healthcare to be patient until 2014.
State of Washington, same story, Patty Murray is in a tight race.
As so many predicted and warned, without real teeth in the legislation (of which there are none), insurers would use the four year period until 2014, to go on an orgiastic rampage of obscene price gouging. This is precisely what's happening. If Democrats failed to see this coming, then perhaps they don't deserve the public trust. And if they saw it coming and ignored it, could this possibly be a reason they and we are in such trouble?
Now let's turn to Kathleen Sebelius who some see as our savior in all this. The jury is out on her. But, just as President Obama has done, she is bending over backwards to be I suppose a good referee between the for profit insurance corporations, now enshrined by Democrats at the center of our collapsed healthcare system, and the beleaguered and angry American people.
Secretary Sebelius did an interview with CSPAN which is worth watching if you have the time. Here's the take home message.
"It will be a balance," Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Reuters in an interview recorded for C-SPAN's Newsmakers. "We definitely want consumers to get the bang for their buck .... On the other hand, we want to make sure that people don't see their companies exit the market, that we don't have a disruption."
Investors are eagerly anticipating the recommendations on the MLR rules from a state insurance commissioner organization that is advising government, which will ultimately decide on the final regulations.
Sebelius has to weigh the profit needs of Wall Street against the needs of the American people. This is the "reformed" Democratic healthcare system, fully and totally privatized, zero competition, and with a mandate to purchase private junk insurance. Let's hope it works.
What Sebelius means about "companies exiting the market", is that she needs to be mindful of their profits, if she's not there will be further consolidation, less competition and even higher rates.
Too Little, Too Late Department
So Sebelius takes to the HHS bully pulpit and admonishes insurers, don't you dare blame the PPACA for this egregious price gouging. This is what we must politely call, far too little, far too late.
Harsh words from Chris Dodd. Add this to the too little, too late department.
It seems the Democratic response to this simply unbelievable state of affairs is to pillory the insurance industry. The same industry that Democrats left at the very epicenter of our "reformed" healthcare system.
And frankly, it doesn't help one iota, to have President Obama ridicule those of us who knew that without a shred of competition in the form of a public option, that insurers would yes, behave like insurers.
Now, the second reason I'm telling you this is because Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty.(Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. If you get the financial reform bill passed -- then, well, I don't know about this particularly derivatives rule, I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and -- (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.)
Yes indeed, we know who we are. We also want to know as you yourself asked:
"How much higher do premiums have to rise, "before
we do something about it?"
People have asked what they can do.
This candidate list is from a senior progressive activist.
If you are able, please consider donating to any of these progressive candidates.
The current top 5 progressive House incumbents on defense who need help are:
- Raul Grijalva, CPC co-chair, actively targeted over the racial stuff
around SB1070, as Howie and Digby have said;
- John Hall NY-19, CPC member, running against a self-funder in a marginal
district in NY, solid on a bunch of key issues including choice;
- Alan Grayson, for all of the obvious reasons;
- James McGovern MA-03, who has been the lead on Afghanistan and quietly
panicking about his race for about 6 months;
- Tom Perriello VA-05, who Howie and I have a friendly disagreement over -- but I've watched him organizing his colleagues around things like energy
and healthcare, and his value is far greater than mere votes or
For House offense:
Denny Heck, WA-03 (Baird open seat) - he has history that leans pretty
progressive, and his opponent would be a Republican poster child if
she won, as she's a young attractive Latina;
Manan Trivedi, PA-06 (Gerlach seat)
Ann McLane Kuster, NH-02(Hodes open seat) - primary Sept 14 against
Katrina Swett; endorsed by Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC;
Bill Hedrick, CA-44 (Calvert seat) - endorsed by Congressional
Progressive Caucus PAC;
Tarryl Clark, MN-06 (Bachmann seat) - she's a serious candidate
running against Michele Bachmann;
Brian Lentz, PA-07 (Sestak open seat);
Ami Bera, CA-03(Lundgren seat);
David Segal, RI-01 (Kennedy open seat) - has primary Sept 14, would be a terrific leader (he's tenacious to the point of crazy), endorsed by Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC;
Justin Coussoule, OH-08(Boehner seat) - a longshot, but a great
candidate, and harassing the Republican minority leader is inherently
virtuous, endorsed by Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC;
Beth Krom, CA-48 (Campbell seat) - a local elected, raising surprising $ including from independents and R's in her district despite progressive positions;
Suzan DelBene, WA-08 (Reichert seat) - very progressive on social
issues, and Reichert remains vulnerable. (I apologize for not
finishing him off last time.)
Jack Conway (KY) , Marshall (NC), Sestak (PA), Giannoulis
(IL), Conlin (IA), Meek (FL)