Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hey, Private Sector, Get Away From My Health Care

Torinus is at it again.

The public sector can't do health care right and is at fault for high costs, yet the private sector (as usual) is a bastion of efficiency.

Just a curious aside ... Has Torinus ever mentioned Serigraph's lack of paying taxes in his column? As I have noted in an earlier post, "He is the chairman of Serigraph Inc., which paid nothing in Wisconsin corporate taxes in 2003 and 2004. He is also a board member of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (the lobby for Wisconsin big business), an organization where even when it's members pay no taxes at all still feel taxation is too high." Anyways...

The ever-increasing cost of health care has nothing to do with inflated Medicare charges by private insurers? Nor does it have anything to do with the ridiculous gouged prices charged by pharmaceutical companies? As I expanded upon previously (here and here), "Medicare is a quandary, but not because of it’s entitlement issue. It’s because of managed care and the pharmaceutical industries skyrocketing profits. Seniors consume the most medical care and prescriptions -- private companies are gouging the government through Medicare reimbursement with inflated charges (yet another, in essence, subsidy to big business). We don’t even use our numbers to negotiate prescription drug-price deals for buying in volume (in fact, this was strictly prohibited in Bush’s Medicare bill)."

Public sector costs do not, as Torinus implies, "demonstrate the inability of public sector payers to purchase health care effectively." The public sector tries to pay the cost rather than passing it onto it's employees or making them go without, which happens to be the private model. So much for actually respecting and valuing your workforce.

Nowhere does he mention the overcharges and fraud taking place at the Medicare/caid systems expense (private insurers falsifying documents to steal from the government). Nowhere does he mention the inflated charges the pharmaceutical companies demand and how this inflates our overall medical costs. Both of these factors add billions to the cost of our medical care each year.

Torinus, regarding the private sector, states, "...employees are offered plans with high deductibles and offsetting personal accounts by employers. It becomes their money." This is the grand ole trick - it's your money (except when it's needed to bailout AIG, Citibank, et al). Employers are going to pay less and cover you less, but you can use your money to find health care, and because we're so nice we've gathered a few options for you to choose from. Again, by extension, playing up the ownership society and pretending every American is an actuarial/investment wizard, which is delusional. This is similar to the arguments we've heard about privatizing Social Security. The same thing that would happend to retirees 401Ks during a bust in the market is exactly the type of care we could expect from this private sector model.

And, for Torinus to have this holier-than-thou preachy tone about the efficiency and accountability of the corporate community and the private sector is laughable. These guys just drove the economy off a cliff, and now they have the audacity to try and tell us how to put things back together. Since we've adopted managed care, medical costs have exploded. Since we've adopted defined-contribution (rather then defined-benefit) retirements plans, our retirements have become more volatile.

The private sector is based on profits. They make those profits by only insuring the healthiest people and denying care to the others. Health care is a right not something to be rationed by the dictates of monied interests. We should not be moving toward a caste system of health care in America.

Until federal restrictions cap cost growth, until the government reestablishes its control over the health care system, more money will be needed. Making workers pay more or going without can hardly be considered sound management.

We have deregulated and privatized up the wazoo in this country. It hasn't worked. It's time to have some other motives driving our public policy rather than just profit and greed by private companies.

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