President-elect Joe Biden’s new COVID relief plan does not adopt existing Democratic legislation to expand government sponsored medical coverage nor does it propose a promised public health insurance option. Instead, it adopts proposals from health insurance lobbying groups’ recent letter to lawmakers demanding lucrative new subsidies for insurance companies, at a moment when those corporations have recorded record profits as millions lose coverage and many face claims denials. Biden’s plan would shovel billions of dollars to private health insurers by providing subsidies for Americans to buy coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces, which are far more expensive than government health care programs and have at times been plagued by high rates of claim denials.
health insurance industry
By Lee Fang for The Intercept - THE POLITICAL APPOINTEES tapped by President Donald Trump to oversee federal health care programs — including the potential transition to a new Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act — joined the government just after working as lobbyists and attorneys for the largest health care interests in America. Several senior Health and Human Services Administration appointees previously worked for insurers seeking to influence the consumer regulations mandated by the ACA, according to new political appointee financial disclosures obtained by The Intercept. The appointees work closely under HHS Secretary Tom Price — a former member of Congress and longtime ACA opponent who has pushed his old colleagues on the Hill to repeal the ACA. Eric Hargan, the nominee for deputy secretary at HHS, and Paula Stannard, Price’s senior counselor, previously worked in the lobbying and government affairs departments of their respective law firms, Greenberg Traurig and Alston & Bird. Hargan and Stannard both disclosed serving health insurance giant UnitedHealth as a client. UnitedHealth, which prompted worries about the ACA’s tenability when it exited most of the health exchanges that underpin President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, has lobbied the federal government on a number of issues.
By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Many have argued, though we have not, that the federal health law, the ACA, is a 'step in the right direction' or a 'step towards single payer.' Our analysis is that the ACA is a step in the wrong direction because it further entrenches and empowers the private health insurance industry. Since its passage in 2010, the ACA has led to greater privatization of our public insurances Medicaid and Medicare and greater consolidation of health insurers and health facilities. As you will read in the article below, we are moving in the direction of a single payer health system, but one in which the single payer (or perhaps there will be a few payers) are the private health insurance industry. In this system, the costs of health care will continue to sky rocket and those who cannot afford care will go without it.
On Wednesday, December 17, the governor called a statehouse press conference to make a “major announcement.” That turned out to be good news for single payer foes locally and nationally—and bad news for campaigners to make “health care a human right.” Shumlin declared that “now is not the right time” to proceed with any fundamental overhaul of health care financing and delivery in Vermont. He claimed that the latest cost estimates for what’s known locally as Green Mountain Care (GMC) were higher than the $2 billion originally projected. GMC would create an “enormous” additional tax burden and high “risk of economic shock,” in a period when a “slower recovery from the great recession has tightened our state budget.” The governor has framed his push for Green Mountain Care, quite conservatively, as a boon for business, declaring at a re-election rally in September that “we are moving forward on the nation’s first single payer health care system that contains costs, takes the burden off of employers, and simplifies the system for all Vermonters.” Later that month, he sounded a bit more tentative, telling a radio audience: “If we come up with a financing plan that doesn’t grow jobs, economic opportunity, and make Vermont more prosperous, trust me, we’re not gonna do it.” In the same interview, he declared himself to be “one of the most pro-business, anti-tax governors that you’ve seen in a long time.”
Recently, Dr. Margaret Flowers initiated an online petition declaring herself a consciences objector to the Affordable Care Act and asking others to send a message to President Obama that the ACA is a scam. Dr. Margaret Flowers (MFlowers8) is a pediatrician from Baltimore who is an organizer at PopularResistance.org, co-directs ItsOurEconomy.us and co-hosts Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio. She is adviser to the board of Physicians for a National Health Program and is on the steering committee of the Maryland Health Care is a Human Right campaign.