Healther Skelter: The Intimidation Won't Work
Okay, so we're currently living in a climate of fear. I personally understand that I will be audited by the IRS next year because there's no chance someone didn't report me to email@example.com, but at least I know I'll be in good company. Thank God for H&R Block, though.
Of course, individual activists will probably not be subject to an X-Files-movie esque FEMA guided roundup and subsequent declaration of martial law. The government never does anything that overt. Plus, other than the possibility of spending the rest of my life having my ear chewed off by Glenn Beck, the possibility of living in a camp (no rent, three square meals, no telemarketers) doesn't strike me as that bad. Its too bad, really. Insurance companies, on the other hand, had better watch their backs.
In a move some fear is a reprisal for opposing President Obama’s health care plan, Democrats sent 52 letters to health insurers requesting financial records for a House committee’s investigation.
Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Bart Stupak, D-Mich., sent a letter warning health insurers that the House Energy and Commerce Committee is “examining executive compensation and other business practices of the health industry...”
I know we’re supposed to hate the evil insurance companies for providing Americans with a service they need/want at prices they can afford. And I’m also not going to pretend as though insurance companies are completely innocent when it comes to lobbying for policy maneuvering that best impacts their bottom line. But the ruling political party putting the insurance industry in the cross hairs for daring to oppose their policy agenda?
Feel. The. Fear. Its coming. And worse than being merely fear, its fear that comes with a hideous Henry Waxman 70's porn star style mustache. I'm trembling.
But okay, lets do what we're supposed to do here and reel the whole thing back a bit with the help of Open Secrets and the Sunlight Foundation. After all, we have nothing to fear from the government (aside from its existence, but that's an entirely different discussion).
Are insurance companies pumping millions of dollars of lobbying money into the system? Yes. Its DC. Everyone is pumping millions of dollars into lobbying everything. They have to send low level staffers out to guard the cars for Pete's sake. According to the Sunlight foundation, the amount of money expended by the insurance industry wooing Congressmen is in the tens of millions, and that's not even counting the amount of money they spend wooing YOU, the consumer with flashy ads, PACs and 527s. According to Open Secrets, last year, the health sector as a whole spent over $150 million dollars trying to win the love of our elected leaders. And thanks to the possibility of health care reform this year, they're well on their way to breaking their own 2008 record.
So who gets the money? Well being a Republicanish type voter (depending on the weather and whether John McCain is within a ten thousand mile radius), I'm not proud to admit that we're the go-to guys for corporate donations. Those greedy greedy capitalists! Heck, even The Hill is trying to report that the insurance companies are so far up the pipes of the Republican machine that they're paying for people to turn up at healthcare townhalls and scream uselessly into the faces of stricken Congressmen. Right? Right?
Well, no. For one, I've met more than my share of the people turning up at town hall meetings and as of yet, none of them have received a check, and last I checked they made their own signs. You can tell. Big corporations don't misspell things.
But I could go on all day with reality. Lets check the facts on who's benefiting most from health insurance dollars, shall we?
It turns out that, last year (2008), according to Open Secrets, contributions to Democratic representatives eclipsed contributions to Republican representatives by about $15 million overall. Obama himself brought in a whopping $20 million from health special intersts, FAR surpassing his Republican opponent John McCain (Approx $7 million). In the first three months of 2009, the difference between Ds and Rs became even clearer, with 60% of all health service lobby money going to Democrats.
And the worst offenders, individually? Quite a few are Democrats. At least one is a former Presidential candidate. And as far as I'm concerned, you can have Orrin Hatch.
Maybe the question you're now asking yourself isn't so much what's going as as "why?" It doesn't make sense. If Republican logic is to be believed, the public option will put private insurance out of business. After all, with a public option that is free to taxpayers (in a manner of speaking), why would any employer choose to purchase private insurance, and when its the government competing, well, you really can't compete. They own you, after all. It only makes sense that insurance companies would be falling all over themselves to stir up trouble for the Democrats.
Well, there might be things the insurance companies fear more than socialized medicine. Right now, insurance companies don't have to compete. As Ann Coulter so elegantly put it (don't get your shorts in a knot, I just like her prose ON THIS POINT), "U.S. health insurance companies are often imperious, unresponsive consumer hellholes because they’re a partial monopoly, protected from competition by government regulation. In some states, one big insurer will control 80 percent of the market. (Guess which party these big insurance companies favor? Big companies love big government.)" Quite a bit of this problem could be solved by lifting the federal law that keeps insurance companies from competing across state lines. But a very select group of people prooooobably don't want that.
Why not? Because if you don't end up liking your coverage with one insurance company, have your benefits declined or payment is refused, you can tell your current insurance company to take a hike and find a new one. And that's probably just the first in a long line of examples.
Personally, the thought of government involvement in health care gives me the willies. I grew up in Michigan with neighbors who escaped the Canadian system so they could get treatment for the wife's breast cancer before she died. Another friend of mine moved here because, in Canada, they make you wait two years to treat an autistic child, and even then, you have to have a diagnosis practically as the child is leaving the womb, because if they aren't aged 3-5 years when they begin treatment, they won't begin treatment at all. Its not hard to see why, and the rationale is totally understandable: the people who pay the bills make the decisions and when government pays your bills, government makes the decisions.
I prefer the freedom to choose for myself. But that's just me.