Thursday, February 25, 2010

Billy Kennedy on Health-Insurance Reform

Follow-up on the last post immediately below: DownWithTyranny has a blow-by-blow of the Republican obstructionism yesterday, followed by their complete capitulation on the anti-trust exemption for the insurance industry.

It happens that the DownWithTyranny blogger got in touch with candidate Billy Kennedy here in Watauga to get his take on the insurance industry (comments which we are reproducing at length here):
The insurance companies spend most of their waking hours trying to figure out how to avoid paying for people's medical expenses so they can boost their profit margins. They get away with massive premium price increases and benefits cutting because they have virtually no competition. This is because they enjoy an anti-trust exemption which allows them to engage in price fixing and collusive activity.

The result? By 2008, according to the American Medical Association, a single health insurer controlled 30% or more of the health insurance market in 90% of the metropolitan markets in the country. And, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health premiums have gone up by 131% for family coverage from 1999 to 2009.

If we are serious about promoting competition among insurance companies to hold down costs, the repeal of the anti-trust exemption is a no-brainer.

Apparently, judging by her vote on the final bill, Virginia Foxx actually agrees with Billy Kennedy. Not.

Turns out this is not the first time Billy Kennedy has appeared recently on DownWithTyranny with a statement on health-insurance reform. In a posting on Tuesday of this week, "How Worthwhile Is Obama's Healthcare Bill?" (the answer: not very, since it contains no public-option competition for profit-gouging private insurance corps), the DownWithTyranny blogger got in touch with a number of Democratic candidates for Congress for their opinions. Among them was Billy Kennedy, and his response (again reproduced here at length) is very instructive:
I am an independent person and will be an independent candidate and office holder as well. I am not beholden to, and will not put myself in the position of becoming beholden to, the corporate interests of the insurance and the pharmaceutical industries over the interests of working Americans. I, like the majority of Americans, am a strong supporter of a public option in any health care reform proposal, but would consider an optional Medicare buy-in in its place. I believe such a buy-in, if well constructed, would get us started on the path of providing competition and cost controls for a greater number of Americans. While there are some good beginning reforms outlined in the President's proposed bill, there is little to nothing in the bill to control costs or drive them down, and there is no proposed Public option or Medicare buy-in. There is no anti-trust exemption repeal, and there is no national exchange. Furthermore, Americans will be mandated to purchase insurance policies they can't afford from for-profit companies subsidized with tax-payer dollars to for-profit companies without some competitive agent (like a public option and/or a Medicare buy-in). In other words, we're a long way from true reform. The good news, however, is it appears the President and the Senate Democrats appear ready to pass health care reform through reconciliation (and it's about time). The unfortunate reality is that the President is not going to push for a public option or Medicare buy in, so that means those of us who believe so strongly that this is essential to any reform must find another means to deliver to Americans what they have strongly supported from the get go: strong non-profit competition to insurance companies. At the time I'm writing this, 20 Senators have signed onto a pledge to vote for a public option through Senate reconciliation. It seems to clear to me at this time, this is where we must apply pressure and demand accountability.

Those words clearly set Kennedy apart from Madam Foxx, who has spent the past year attacking all Democratic ideas for insurance reform and believes, anyway, that "There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare" (July 24, 2009, in a Capitol Hill press conference).


BikerBard said...

I heard Billy talk in person yeaterday, and we have an outstanding candidate to unseat Foxx!

Opinionated said...

DARN, BB, I was there and saw you without registering it was you!  I'da come over and said, "Hey!"  See you Sunday?

BikerBard said...

Yes. See you there.