Moyers w Angell & Potter on Health Reform

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Oh I missed it again last night, but I did catch part of it. Thank goodness it’s all online. The full transcipt is here. And the link to the video is here.


(for Nada Lemming)

MARCIA ANGELL: And what do you think they’re going to do? If you were an insurance company, you would say, “Well, thank you, Santa Claus. I’ve got all of these captive customers. Young ones are healthy. They probably won’t even use the insurance. There’s nothing to stop me from raising my premiums. I have all of these subsidies coming in.” Don’t you think that the prices would go up? I think it would be remarkable if they didn’t.

h/t edger for the embed code!!

Bill Moyers Journal – PBS – March 5, 2010
Interview on Health Care with Dr. Marcia Angell

Transcript here

BILL MOYERS: Are there any, you know, three or four things that could be changed in the next month that would make you change your mind and vote for this if you were in the Senate?

MARCIA ANGELL: No, I don’t think so.


MARCIA ANGELL: That could be–

BILL MOYERS: If they took out the mandate–

MARCIA ANGELL: –that realistically–

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, realistic.

MARCIA ANGELL: No, no. If you take out the mandate, then the private insurance industry says, “No, we’re out of here.” This Congress will do what the private insurance industry wants it to do. If you look at the money that has flowed into Congress over the last year, and particular to people who were crafting this bill, you can see that the pay masters get what they want.

Shorter: Follow the money.

Moyers also sat down with Wendell Potter.  Transcript here and video here.  Summary:

Potter believes that profits drove the most recent rate increases, “Well, these companies are for-profit companies, and they think first and foremost about their shareholders. That’s the first stakeholder that they consider. And they know that they have to meet those expectations or their stock prices will suffer.”

As for the seemingly bad timing, Potter thinks the insurance companies aren’t concerned, knowing that they’ve invested millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions to members of Congress. With that kind of influence, says Potter, “They do this because they know they can. And they’re willing to take whatever lumps they might take in the public and before Congress.”

Because they can.

WENDELL POTTER: They do this because they know they can. And they’re willing to sacrifice or they’re willing to take whatever lumps they might take in the public and before Congress. And you can rest assured that she was well prepared before she went before Congress.

BILL MOYERS: She’s not alone, by the way. Look at this list of the total compensation for the top ten healthcare CEOs in 2008. Aetna, 24 million. CIGNA, your old company, 12 million. WellPoint, nine million. That’s her. Coventry Health, nine million. Centene, eight million. Amerigroup, five million. Humana, four million. Health Net, four million. Universal American, three million. UnitedHealth Group, compensation, three million. Their profits come from the difference between– what we pay in premiums and what they pay for our health care, right?

WENDELL POTTER: That’s right.

BILL MOYERS: So they have this incentive you talk about to deny health care as often as possible.

WENDELL POTTER: Oh, absolutely. And they deny health care. And the reason why we have so many people who are uninsured and a growing number of people who are underinsured is precisely because of that. They are actually running business away– they want to get rid of unprofitable customers. They’ve been doing that for a long time, and Congress is just now catching onto that. Yeah, one of the reasons why they’ve had to jack up the rates so much in the individual market to make money, is that they have put more people into that market by running off small businesses, for example. They’re purging small businesses.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, I noticed in the story just at the middle of this week that these rate increases are aimed at individuals who can’t get coverage through the workplace. They have to buy this on their own, as individuals, and at small businesses. Up to 50 employees. I mean, they have to know, as the Congressman said, that a lot of people cannot afford health insurance. So, what do they expect to happen?

WENDELL POTTER: Well, they don’t care, number one, that a lot of people don’t– can’t afford insurance. It’s highly unlikely that those CEOs that you mentioned have spent much time talking to people who really are in dire straits, who have lost their insurance or have been denied coverage. I was in that boat. It was a revelation to me to come face to face with a lot of those people, and most of those CEOs take great care to be able to make sure that they’re not in that kind of a position.

BILL MOYERS: Excuse my growing cynicism at this age and stage, but could this be the briar patch strategy? In other words, they want to get people angry enough to– for Congress to pass that health care reform with the mandate that delivers millions of new customers to them under penalty of law.

WENDELL POTTER: Well, the way the legislation is structured, this will give them a lot of new business. And millions and millions, billions of dollars in new revenue, and much of it coming from taxpayers in the form of subsidies over ten years– about half a trillion dollars will come from the US government to help cover the premiums, for people who otherwise couldn’t afford to pay those premiums. So yeah, they will win. There’s no doubt. They don’t like a lot of this legislation. There’s much they’re trying to kill. And they could live without this bill being passed.

BILL MOYERS: Well, they’re doing pretty well as it is.

WENDELL POTTER: Oh, absolutely.

Lots more at the PBS site.

I know this is really nothing new to most of us who have been paying attention.

I have thrown up my hands and given up (trying to pay attention) so many times I lost count. It’s messy. It’s complicated. It’s fucked up. I’ve tried to tip and rec and support slinkerwink and nyceve and TomP over at the Giant Orange Patch in their efforts to yell louder for real reform, but…. I wonder sometimes why even bother. This is just David & Goliath…. deja vu all over again. They will win. Again.

America’s Health Plan won’t change: Don’t get sick. And if you do, die quickly. (Grayson). Actually… well, here I go again. Wander along with me if you dare.

Way back when I was a caseworker for the county (mental health, childrens dept) in the 80’s… I didn’t know squat but I did my best. What I learned, well one of the things I learned, was that most of my clients’ parents already knew how to work the system. They taught me. The ones who had trouble were the folks who were new to public services, i.e. (mostly white) middle class. They came to us because their lifetime coverage for their kid’s MH needs had maxed out or a number of other reasons. (One 30 day in-patient stretch in a psych hospital can easily take you to that max.)

And what they, and I discovered was… you’re better off Poor. Just go and be all the way Poor. Forget about all the common sense practical stuff your WWII era parents taught you, like save for college or retirement, and just hide your money (whatever you can eek out after paying the bills) in your mattress. Abandon the banks. Go under the radar. And lie. Through your teeth. They want you to lie. They expect you to lie. They set you up to where the only way you can win at all is if you lie. And by “win” I mean live.

And my Poor clients knew that. One of the more difficult challenges I had in that job was trying to figure out how to share that information with those middle class families without getting caught.

I don’t know. Keep fighting, sure. But …. hide your money.

Sigh. Happy Saturday y’all.  


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  1. Health Care Pictures, Images and Photos

    • Edger on March 6, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    You have mail…

  2. … for the politicians who profit off this whole deal to vote for a bad plan.  It’s wrong, but it’s at least comprehensible.

    What I can’t ever wrap my mind around is that the cheerleader citizens, who have nothing to gain and much to lose, are urging folks to support a vote for a bad plan.  It truly is adding insult to injury (pun intended).

    I’ve already seen the laundry list of all the “great stuff” in the Senate plan, just great stuff!  None of it is guaranteed, no enforcement seems even possible given the corruption in government and the lobbyists’ victory in having the bill be written as they wish.

    Plouffe has been called in to sell this list to the American public.

    Again insult added to injury — Obama’s Administration will sign any plan they can get – if there’s mandates and excise tax and no public option, not only will folks suffer from poor or no health care (as opposed to insurance) but they will be bombarded with public messages from the WH on why they should be grateful.

    The only constructive thing that has come out of this process is that now we know in detail the game our government is playing.  We need, imo, to underline that in our own minds so that when the next legislative task comes up (and it may well be immigration reform) we don’t waste time arguing over bullshit.

    Great essay, LL … this bears repeating:

    They want you to lie. They expect you to lie. They set you up to where the only way you can win at all is if you lie. And by “win” I mean live.

  3. Drag me through the mud all you want so long as I can shower off at the end of the day in my gold and marble bathroom that is bigger than anything you will ever dream of owning.

    All these revelations are just wasted on this bunch so long as our own government allows them to play this uniquely American game of eat the little people.

    Happy Saturday.

    • Xanthe on March 6, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I worry about my home and my high supplemental insurance, which I have to give up in a few months.  Why do I worry – If I sell the house – I won’t get much but I can try to hide it and what Medicare doesn’t cover – figure out how to use the system.  I am killing myself with worry about the future – it’s foolish – I’ve done my part –

    That looks like our future – the wealthy and the crumbs they will throw the rest of us on welfare – but I’d like to save some of what I have –

    I’d have to give up my garden and my young animals are a problem but why should I turn sleepless every night over things I can’t fix.  Learn to use the system – do they have classes somewhere.

    What I was taught – be honorable – pay your bills, work hard.  No – these are the fools (including me) who make it work for the financial elites.  You’re right but it’s damn hard to give up ethics you used to believe in.

  4. it will be 16 years before they try again.  In that amount of time hundreds of thousands to millions of people will die.

    And I’m sorry, but until I see it, I don’t believe one word of the pass it now fix it later philosophy.  If it hurts the for profit insurance companies, it won’t work, government wise.

    In this worst case scenario (which I believe is coming closer and closer to fruition every day) .. it’s not good for the Democratic Party (feh!) but it is a vacuum into which must step .. something.  Maybe it will be our communities.  Maybe it is the progressive calling for the next 16 years while the politicians fiddle.

    If they have a mandate, then we’re going to have to figure out how to step around the system and the people are going to have to pick up the ball.  We’re going to have to figure out a way to fund basic health care for everybody.  And it’s going to have to be insurance-like, but non-profit where the memes are reversed .. they get paid for wellness, not denying care.

    Maybe it can start small .. a system of clinics.

  5. heres the AP/Yahoo news buzz piece today.

    Obama is pleading with Democrats to overcome divisions to seize a historic moment to remake the health care system during this election year. The White House wants to pass a health care overhaul and then campaign on it. Voters will pick candidates to serve 34 Senate seats; the entire House is up for re-election.

    White House officials hope the immediate changes in the health overhaul would be enough to satisfy voters’ expectations – and Democratic lawmakers who were hardly unified in support of the plan.

    If Democrats pass the plan, voters would find greater consumer protections and a ban on discriminating against customers with previous ailments. Small businesses would receive a tax credit this year, insurance companies would no longer be able to drop patients’ coverage if they become sick, and plans would be required to offer free preventive care to customers.


    • banger on March 7, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Within what you said:

    They want you to lie. They expect you to lie. They set you up to where the only way you can win at all is if you lie. And by “win” I mean live.

    But this isn’t true just for HC or gov’t benefits — it’s for nearly everything. The most dramatic part of this is the fact that the intelligentia and the MSM all do everything they can to pretend that this system is somehow honest. These are the same people that are shocked that Tiger Woods had affairs and Bill Clinton liked getting head from young women or whatever scandal de jour comes out. The main reason I’m fairly discouraged about the future in this country is that Americans just can’t face the truth about anything so their media and their politicians and bureaucrats give them nothing but lies. And the main reason I’m not over-the-top discouraged is because there are so many truth-tellers exploding out of the woodworks.

  6. Fill in the bubble.  Listen to the instructions and STFU. The age of questioning is over. Be happy, you don’t have to think any longer. Yes indeed, in God We Trust.

  7. great alternative to the Sunday Morning Blab on TV.

  8. Stick him in the same room with a tag team of Dr. Marcia Angell and Elizabeth Warren.

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