Thursday, February 11, 2010

A gift, cont'd

A couple of days ago, I posted about Anthem Health's outrageous rise in premiums for non-group subscribers. Robert Reich weighed in on the issue on TPM Cafe. Here's part of what he has to say:
Anthem's argument[that it was forced to raise premiums because so many people dropped coverage due to the recession] is even more questionable when you consider that Anthem has been among the most aggressive opponents of the health-care bills passed by the House and Senate. If Anthem were sincere about why it's raising its rates, it would be embracing the legislation. The Senate and House bills would add tens of millions of Americans to insurance pools - thereby spreading the costs over more people and avoiding the very problem Anthem says is now forcing it to raise its rates so much.

When we drag insurers, kicking and screaming, to accept reform, I predict they'll find that they were wrong--that, in fact, their bottom lines are fatter with more subscribers. But it's not the number of policyholders that concerns them--it's the threat of limits to their ability to gouge those whose interests they are supposed to serve.

Reich goes on: "Obama says he's open to any new ideas from Republicans for how to control health care costs and expand coverage. The problem is Republicans don't want to play this game. They don't care about controlling costs or expanding coverage. They care only about taking back the House and/or the Senate next November. And they believe a means toward attaining this goal is to prevent Obama from achieving a victory on health care." He then argues for passing the Senate bill in the House and using the reconciliation process to make the resulting enactment better.

I think Obama knows full well what the GOPhers are up to. As for passing the Senate bill in the House, there is tremendous resistance to that on a lot of fronts. Maybe the path Reich (and others) have suggested will ultimately work, maybe not. What we hope for--and must demand of our representatives--from the February 25th health-care summit is some breaking of the logjam.

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