Friday, June 05, 2009

Deregulation Betrays Consumers

In his op-ed today, Dr. Paul Krugman points out that without regulation, the insurance industry has done to health care what the Wall Street jugglers have done to the financial sector. It is counter-intuitive that when an industry works so hard against regulations, its' intentions are obvious. The insurers, like the money jugglers, want to steal more than they can make by honest business.

The past years, beginning with the Reagan destruction of functional government, have seen even the working community sold on the concept that business is self-regulating and will go overseas if it has to obey the laws. That threat was converted into reality, but not by the strain on business of conforming to laws. By eliminating laws in the public interest, corporations served themselves, and sent jobs overseas because they had gotten laws that rewarded them for doing just that.

Insurance interests are trying to wriggle into the writing of regulations for the very same reason. If they write the laws, the public will suffer and the insurance industry will be free to abuse its powers. As Dr. Krugman points out, the insurance industry insists it knows best how to keep the public healthy, though to date it's done nothing to that effect. Just as the bankers insist they will turn a new face and keep our economy viable, they're trying to get in on the ground floor when protections are written.

Be warned, however. The insurance industry will do everything it can to avoid being held accountable.

At first the insurance lobby’s foot soldiers in Congress tried to shout down the public option with the old slogans: private enterprise good, government bad.

At this point, however, they’re trying to kill the public option in more subtle ways. The most recent ruse is the proposal for a “trigger” — the public option will only become available if private insurers fail to meet certain performance criteria. The idea, of course, is to choose those criteria to ensure that the trigger is never pulled.

And here’s the thing. Without an effective public option, the Obama health care reform will be simply a national version of the health care reform in Massachusetts: a system that is a lot better than nothing but has done little to address the fundamental problem of a fragmented system, and as a result has done little to control rising health care costs.

Right now the health insurers are promising to deliver major cost savings. But history shows that such promises can’t be trusted. As President Obama said in his letter, we need a serious, real public option to keep the insurance companies honest.

Without regulations, health costs have grown into a mammoth problem, with now 60% of all bankruptcies caused by out of control charges for health care.

The public, long burdened by the right wingers with taking on industry without protections, will have to assert its rights or be enslaved. This is the time, and we can't be diverted with the usual horse and pony show the insurers will put on.

Harry and Louise were hired to sell you downriver, so turn them off. The public will not get health care if it doesn't demand it, loudly, now.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

"honest business"

the quintessential kapitalist oxymoron.

business is exactly as honest as the traffic will bear.

the 'real' money--for which most entrepreneurs are in bidness--doesn't come to the 'honest' business the way it comes to the other kind. The "REAL" money is at the margins, speculating, away from petty, troublesome supervision and regulation.

I heard the other day that the banks that got the trillions in bail-outs are gaming the fungibility of finance to use the money to speculate in oil futures, and driving up the price thereby.

In the corpoRat era--the last 30 years--federal oversight of key, phenomenally profitable industries has become a joke. As the profits rose, oversight declined proportionally.

As the first tea-partiers rallied to "No Taxation Without Representation!," so should we now uphold the banner, "No Speculation Without Regulation!"

11:26 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Ya know, when even Alan Greenspan admits he was wrong to deregulate on the conviction that business would recognize its own self-interest in preserving the economy, we all need to take notice, or arms ... well maybe not all that much.

11:48 AM  

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