Saturday, October 17, 2009

Is this a battle yet?

The insurance industry had been making nice noise since it became clear that the Obama administration was taking a hard look at its practices. Had been making nice noise. And then, early this week, the industry returned to form by releasing a  PricewaterhouseCoopers report (which it had commissioned) claiming that Americans can't afford to reform our current health care system.

I think in images, and the image that arose when I read about this report was of a very big battleship bristling with guns abruptly running down fake friendly colors, running up a Jolly Roger, and then, with no warning, firing a broadside at President Obama and Congress. Reading reaction to the PwC report in a wide variety of sources has lead me to believe that a number of people might be having the same image. For example, Jordan DiPietro of Motley Fool, writing for msnbc.

Today, President Obama shot back in his weekly radio/internet address, "Taking the Insurance Companies on Down the Stretch."  Quite far along in the 6-minute speech was something The New York Times considered worth a front page article, "Obama Threatens Insurers' Anti-Trust Exemption," which said that Obama's
. . . signal of support for reviewing the industry’s anti-trust exemption put him in league with Democratic leaders in Congress pushing for repeal or revision of the McCarran-Ferguson Act, which was passed in 1945 to keep regulation of insurers in the hands of the states. Legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to partially or completely overturn the law.
If that isn't a return broadside aimed at the insurance industry, then I don't know what a broadside is. So, it seems to me (if you'll forgive a cliche or two) the gloves are off, the battle has been joined.

Ben Tillet (1860-1943), British socialist, trade union leader and politician, once said that "capitalism is capitalism as a tiger is a tiger and both are savage and pitiless toward the weak"

Somehow Mr. Tillet's words came to mind this week whenever I read or thought about anyone's effort to reform health care. What we have in America is the tiger of capitalism caged by representative government.


1 comment:

  1. Great metaphor at the end there, Martha. But I am struck by something I did not know and should perhaps be ashamed of not knowing. Namely, that insurers are regulated by the states. I guess, actually, if I'd thought about it more, I'd have guessed, but I suppose I just assumed they were like banks and had to adhere to a few basic federal mandates. In any event, it explains why my Blue Cross/Blue Shield in PA was SO MUCH BETTER than it is in VA. Both my husband and I have been shocked at how complex, inscrutable, and stingy Anthem is. We pay so much out of pocket on a yearly basis for healthcare that we never saw a bill for in PA. And there is no way to properly understand what is covered and what is not by referring to Anthem's handbook or by calling a representative. There's always something that is unexplained, unrevealed. That's a sure sign that there needs to be much more regulation in this state.