In yet another "sternly written letter" Dave Jones, the impotent-by-law Insurance Commissioner of California criticized Aetna
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Thursday criticized Aetna Life Insurance Co. of Hartford, Conn., for raising health insurance group rates by an average of 8% a year for about 77,000 employees of small companies. The rate increases, which took effect April 1, were as high as 21% in some cases, Jones said...It reminds me of how I am with my beloved pooch:
Jones said his actuaries questioned the Aetna increase after determining that the company's California health insurance subsidiary made a 27.7% profit in 2011 and paid $1.7 billion in dividends to its parent company...
"I am disappointed that Aetna has decided to reject my request to refrain from its latest health insurance rate increases on small employers, which are unreasonable and not justified by the company's claims experiences," Jones said.
"Bad Dog! Bad Dog! Off The Couch! Sit! Sit! Oh, You Won't Sit? Here's Your Treat Anyway."
Except that I have a sneaking suspicion that Health Insurance Executives are not nearly as cute.
This is what we have come to. The one elected official in California willing to take a stand against the gouging of consumers by health insurance companies can in fact do nothing.
Let me be clear. Dave Jones is not the problem. He has been a unrelenting advocate for health insurance rate regulation. He pushed AB 52, the bill that failed months ago in the Senate because enough Democratic State Senators are in the pocket of insurance companies. He has been advocating a ballot initiative that would be the equivalent of AB 52. And if such a law were put on the books I have confidence that he would hold the health insurance companies to account.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
We are not yet enraged (enough). We are not yet rioting in the streets (enough). The manufacturers of pickaxes and torches have not yet started operating their factories twenty-four hours a day.
The Legislators who are voting down consumer health care bills like AB 52 and SB 810 (single payer health care) should be being burned in effigy and non-stop protests should be happening in their districts. Recall petitions should be being circulated. Sacramento should be being Occupied continuously until the legislature stops licking the backsides of insurance lobbyists and does right by the people of California.
But it's not happening. Thirty two years of Republican psycho-babble have conditioned us to accept the premise that health insurance companies and their CEO's can make giganormous profits while people die in the streets for lack of health care.
That's more than sick. It's diseased.
11:12 AM PT: Just popped into my email:
James, obscene, unjustified rate hikes could be a thing of the past if you sign and mail this ballot petition.
You were one of the thousands of Courage Campaign members who fought for AB 52, the bill debated last summer in Sacramento that would have forced health insurance companies to play by the same rules as all other types of insurance in California. In other words, they'd have to publicly and transparently justify their rate increases. Currently, Kaiser, Blue Shield, and their cohorts operate in the shadows and raise our rates with impunity, bankrupting families and small businesses, all so they can pay their executives like they work on Wall Street.
Even though lobbyists from the health insurance industry killed AB 52, our friends at Consumer Watchdog have devised a way around the special interests in Sacramento: a ballot initiative. It's a grassroots effort. They've already gathered more than 200,000 signatures, but they need our help with the deadline for the November ballot fast approaching.
Thanks for all you do,
Eddie Kurtz, Director of Campaigns