Friday, July 24, 2009

Obama Not Acting Stupidly

Obama made a stupid, yet well choreographed, comment at the Wednesday press conference on health care reform by saying the Cambridge, MA police had "acted stupidly". The country has been in an uproar since.

Today Obama said, "I don't know if you've noticed, but nobody's been paying much attention to health care."

Excuse me! That was the point!

Obama's press conferences are well scripted from seating arrangement to who asks questions to what questions will be asked. The question about Obama's friend, Prof Henry Gates Jr, was the last question of the night. The presser was supposed to be about Obama's controversial health care plan and the bills moving through Congress. And it was - until that last non-sequiter question from left field about a guy being arrested for disorderly conduct.

Obama says his words were ill considered. He paused long enough to have written the first act of "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" before saying the police "acted stupidly." He's a lawyer; lawyers don't make stupid mistakes like that. Obama knew very well his comment should have been "No comment", but that would not have got the desired result, which was, "...nobody's been paying much attention to health care."

He also knows the House Democrats don't have the votes to pass H.R. 3200 and that Pelosi won't bring the bill to a floor vote before August. A head fake from a losing position was Obama's only move. How did Gov Sarah Palin put it? Oh, yeah -
"Let me go back quickly to a comfortable analogy for me, and that’s sports. Basketball. And I use it because you are na├»ve if you don’t see a full court press from the national level picking away right now. A good point guard, here’s what she does. She drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up because she needs to keep her eye on the basket and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win. And that is what I’m doing. Keeping our eye on the ball."
No matter how the Democrats or Obama charge the net, the health care reform package is still a game loser. Americans of all parties distrust health care reform as proposed and will not accept anything that smacks of Socialism no matter how many head fakes or fake heads are employed.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is Insurer and Government Conspiring to Form Health Care Monopoly?

Obama was asked at the presser yesterday if he would be a subscriber to the proposed government health care program (text.) We already know Democrat Senators won't opt for the public option. Obama didn't answer the Q except to say that, as President, he has the best health care in the world.

Of course, he does! He's covered by private sector WellPoint which operates Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Anthem, Lumenos, Wellchoice and many other insurance companies that insures government workers. The company is very much behind the public option because the law will funnel every American to WellPoint as is suggested by an April 2009 telephone survey when WellPoint made 3 million robocalls according to the Wall Street Journal. The survey asked responders how much interest they had in participating in a government health care program (survey questions.) Of the 142,000 calls that connected, 66,000 people told the computer on the other end of the line that they’d be interested in learning more.

As a private sector health insurance provider, WellPoint is available for anyone to buy into without government interference. On the Wellpoint Escort page one can find hundreds of policies sold at many varying prices as low as $149-$169 per month. This is the insurance policy pool to which Obama says federal employees are privy. Well, so is everyone else. Just put in your Zipcode and be overwhelmed by the choices.

Why would WellPoint, a private sector insurance company be working with the government to design the so-called public option that plainly states private insurance will be eliminated? Think about it, WellPoint insures federal workers now, WellPoint placed 3 million robocalls favoring the public option, WellPoint has bought up the major competitors, and is now advising Congress in crafting a national health care reform bill that will restrict other insurers to existing customers, no new policies can be written, nor can they make changes to the existing policies after the law goes into effect.

Why would WellPoint do that? For a monopoly guaranteed by law. As policy holders of independent companies change jobs (non-gov't employer policies are not mobile), as others die (no new policies can be written), as public apathy, frustration, and weariness sets in, only WellPoint insurance will be left by force of US federal government law. This is how Obama can justify his support for both public and private options, he is co-opting a private company as part of the publc government - think Co-op like farms and apartment buildings. That is what happened in 1930s Germany with National Socialism. Private companies did the work of the government at the orders of the government under penalty of lawful punishment.

Here is what the WellPoint Foundation has on its website:

Covering the Uninsured

The number of uninsured Americans is far too high. One-half of all uninsured Americans are ineligible for public aid and unable to afford private coverage. Lack of health insurance, even for a short time, results in decreased access to care. That means that the uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to receive timely preventive care, and are more likely to be hospitalized for avoidable health problems.

The WellPoint Foundation is committed to dramatically reducing the number of uninsured Americans. According to several studies, approximately one in every four uninsured Americans is already eligible for an existing government program, but simply is not enrolled.

Action Plan for the Uninsured

In January of 2007, WellPoint announced its Action Plan for the Uninsured, a proposal designed to provide health care security to millions more Americans. WellPoint’s plan includes three major themes:

* Universal health care coverage for children
* An expansion of state-based programs to cover the most needy adults
* A new public-private partnership to help low-income workers afford coverage

The plan includes a three-year, $30 million commitment from the WellPoint Foundation to support community and state-based initiatives that are helping expand access to health care.

Sound familiar? It should. It's the same stuff Obama keeps telling us and reiterated last night.

What isn't told is that WellPoint receives 20% of net income from "Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medicaid, life and disability insurance benefits, pharmacy benefits, dental, vision, behavioral health benefit services and long-term care insurance, and workers compensation services."

Another 10% of sales, less than 0.2% of net income, derives from WellPoint's "Federal Government Solutions, or FGS, business, which provides health benefits to federal employees."

"The company’s primary sources of revenue are premiums and administrative fees charged to businesses and governments for the management of employee health plans. Benefit costs, which are payments made to health care providers such as physicians and hospitals and spending on drugs prescribed to members, represented approximately 82 percent of Wellpoint's total expenses in 2007. With its exclusive license to the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand in its most significant markets and the nation's largest provider network, Wellpoint can compete with other managed care companies by offering nationwide access to care at lower costs than smaller companies." (emphasis mine)
In base enrollment numbers, WellPoint is the largest managed care company in the US with 35.5 million enrollees as of June 30, 2008. It is no longer a question of WellPoint being able to compete with smaller companies at lower cost. Being the big-man-on-campus and a government mandate for exclusivity, how can any health insurer compete with a WellPoint monopoly?

If I'm anywhere near right, we're in bigger trouble than we currently think.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.