No matter which of the half-dozen healthcare overhaul proposals Congress is considering passing, the big winner will be the insurance industry, which is guaranteed millions of new customers, many subsidized by the federal government, reports the Los Angeles Times, “Healthcare Insurers Get Upper Hand,” Aug. 24. What began as a plan to create a public option to compete with insurers, thus driving down the cost of health insurance and the cost of care, has resulted in a windfall for the insurance industry.
But is anyone really surprised at the industry’s success in defeating potential competition?
“In the first half of 2009, the health services and HMO sector spent nearly $35 million lobbying Congress, the White House and federal healthcare offices,” reported writers Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger, relying on information from the Center for Responsive Politics. In all, that sector employed more than 900 lobbyists.
Health insurance executive Robert Laszewski expressed the industry’s reaction: “Hallelujah!”
Shouldn’t alarm bells be going off all across the country? Is Congress really going to get back to work in the fall and pass “health reform” that has the insurance industry cheering? It is unconscionable that the industry that caused the country’s health crisis in the first place is likely going to be the only one profiting from the solution.
“They have beaten us six ways to Sunday,” Gerald Shea of the AFL-CIO told the Times. “Any time we want to make a small change to provide cost relief, they find a way to make it more profitable.”
If federal health “reform” does become law, we urge stage governments to do what the federal government can’t find the resolve to accomplish: Hold the insurance industry accountable to its millions of present policyholders – and all its potential new customers – to ensure they are getting the coverage they (and their federal subsidies) are paying for.