20 September, 2009

Your Daily Dose of Health Care Reform Stupidity

Before we get started, let me just ask something: why, when 45,000 Americans die every year due to lack of health insurance, are we allowing Cons to tell the country we don't need meaningful reform?

And why do Cons and might-as-well-be-Cons Dems think that private insurers don't need competition, regulation, or criminal indictment when the following qualify as "pre-existing conditions"?

Consumer Watchdog has released internal industry “underwriting” guidelines showing some other “pre-existing conditions” that insurers have used to either deny people outright or charge exorbitant fees for coverage:

Steve Benen unpacks this further:
In general, when we think about Americans who can't get health care coverage due to a pre-existing condition, we tend to think of someone with a debilitating disease.

From time to time, it's important to remember that a much broader understanding of the phrase is more accurate.

A proposal to make preexisting health conditions irrelevant in the sale of insurance policies could help not just the seriously ill but also people who might consider themselves healthy, documents released Friday by a California-based advocacy group illustrate.

Health insurers have issued guidelines saying they could deny coverage to people suffering from such conditions as acne, hemorrhoids and bunions.

One big insurer refused to issue individual policies to police officers and firefighters, along with people in other hazardous occupations.


One of the documents released yesterday was published in 2003 by an insurer called PacifiCare, which has since been bought by United Healthcare, which mandated "automatic rejection" for all kinds of interesting reasons, including being an "expectant father." There was also this more general disqualifier: "currently experiencing/experienced within the last 12 months symptoms for which a physician has not been consulted."

A spokesperson for the parent company said the materials are "outdated." Asked to provide current underwriting documents, United Healthcare refused. Imagine that.

Also released were materials from a different insurer that denied coverage or charged higher premiums if someone received treatment for toenail fungus. Blue Cross of California guidelines from 2004 included "varicose veins" as a possible disqualifier for insurance.

Those who don't think we need reform, or want to make reform a big wet sloppy kiss to the insurance companies, have never had to find insurance on the private market. They also believe a) they'll always be employed and b) their employer will continue to provide health insurance. Fantasy worlds are always nicer than the real world, aren't they?

In light of the above, someone might want to inform Max Baucus that allowing insurers to skirt state regulations that they don't like is not the most brilliant part of his bullshit plan.

On the health care reform opponent front, Rolling Stone did some digging and discovered just who Betsy McCaughey killed reform for back in the '90s: Big Tobacco. Charming, eh?

Rep. Sue Myrick's turn at delivering the weekly Con address resulted in "a striking lie-to-claim ratio." Amazing how many lies Cons can pack into 369 words, innit? And to think some folks think these fucktards can be negotiated with.

For once, someone in the media really, truly spanked a Con fucktard hard. Heather at C&L captured the exchange:

Blakeman: Well Dylan as we approach and get closer to the election, you’re going to hear more nuts and bolts of what the Republicans stand for and what they will do. (crosstalk)

Ratigan: Why are you going to wait until the election? Because is that the only thing Republicans care about, getting elected because they could care less about actually creating efficient health care systems, solving too big to fail, dealing with energy… why do we have to wait until an election to hear what these people think Brad?

Blakeman: Because we’re not in power. (crosstalk)

Ratigan: We’re paying taxes. Why do we have to wait until an election?

Blakeman: Because we’re not in power. We can come up with the best solutions and the Democrats would throw us to the side. They have not included…

Ratigan: Oh, nonsense. (crosstalk) Either step up and deal with the problems as a party or get out of the building.

Blakeman: We don’t have the votes!

Ratigan: I don’t care about the votes. This is a debate about ideas. Believe me if you are capable of (crosstalk) ideas, I guarantee you there are Democrats and Republicans who are persuadable to rational thought if you actually care about America and you actually want to solve (crosstalk)… you don’t care about America unless you care to be constructive to the conversation and if all you care for is personal destruction and personal assignation, whether it’s fear from the right or guilt from the left you are all eating this country from the gut, and it’s got to come to a conclusion….

More of this, please.

And, finally, I am proud to note that one of my Senators, Maria Cantwell, introduced the second-best public option amendment to the Baucus Bullshit. Sen. Rockefeller's amendment edged her out for first prize, but I'm proud nonetheless.

At least there's some hope.

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