Late to the Game

Since the healthcare debate began, Democrats have been praying for strong opposition from the big insurance companies.  They even imagined that all the TEA Party protesters were being paid under the table by the insurance lobby.  When a million TEA Partiers showed up in DC, someone must have done the math and realized some of them were actually there of their own free will.

When making your doctor the enemy didn’t work, Democrats knew they had to come up with someone they could get you mad about in order to get you to support their reform.  If only the insurance companies would make a stand.  Bush was gone, and Republicans don’t have the votes to stop them.  That is why it was so ridiculous when Rep. Alan Grayson stood up and told us all that the Republican healthcare plan was “don’t get sick.  And if you do get sick, die quickly”.  Grayson defended his comments by accusing Republicans of creating a holocaust where people get sick and die because Obama can’t heal them.  Considering Democrats are the ones holding up the health reform bill, it really would have been quite hilarious if it wasn’t so offensive.

Finally, the night before the Senate Finance Committee vote, the Insurance industry decided to get in the game.  A new report commissioned by the insurance industry is showing that under Obama’s plan, your insurance rates could skyrocket.  And according to the CBO, 25 million people would still be left without insurance.  But this is nothing new.  I’ve been saying this for a long time now.  The Baucus bill is designed to increase insurance rates through higher taxes on healthcare providers and insurance companies.  The only reason the insurance companies haven’t spoken out until now is because until now Democrats supported severe fines and possible imprisonment for not buying insurance.

Until now, the Baucus plan has been a gift for insurance companies.  Everyone is forced to buy your product, high risk clients can be pushed off onto a taxpayer paid public option or co-op, and you share the tax burden to pay for it all with medical providers, patients, the wealthy, and people of all classes who don’t buy your product.  You can raise your rates as high as you want because people have to buy it.  You don’t have competition because there is too much regulation for new start up companies to get a foothold and people who can afford it aren’t going to settle for low quality government brand insurance.

At the beginning of this month Olympia Snowe and Chuck Schumer pled with the Senate Finance Committee to not force poor families to pay fines for not buying insurance.  The result is that as the bill stands the penalties have dropped from $1,900 to $200 starting in 2017 going up to $800 by 2019.  This means that when insurance rates double from the higher taxes and higher regulation it is going to be much easier for people to simply pay the fine than to shell out the cash for whatever the Obamacare healthcare credits don’t cover.  In addition, 2 million more people will be exempt from the mandate to buy insurance.

Without these penalties, the insurance lobbyists finally have an actual reason to oppose this bill.

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