"The new health care legislation is a step toward elimination, by slow strangulation, of private health insurance and establishment of government as the 'single payer.'" - George Will, in his weekly newspaper column, Sunday, July 11, 2010
Everyone loves to pick on the Affordable Care Act, and well they should. This 2,000-page contraption, this heap of handouts to the special interest lobbyists with a few shiny baubles thrown in to placate the common folk, was not only written by the for-profit health insurance industry but now will be implemented by former WellPoint/Anthem Vice President Liz Fowler, who actually penned much of the law in her role as Max Baucus' chief healthcare staff person for the Senate Finance Committee.
You don’t have to make this stuff up, as Sam Stein reported in a July 16, 2010, story in the Huffington Post titled “Obama Administration Defends Hiring Of Ex-Health Insurance Exec To Oversee Reform.”
But what about George Will's fine whine that the insurance industry faces strangling regulation? Robert Pear wrote on Aug. 2, in the New York Times that the new law will lead to more regulation of the industry, and "the transition is full of risks and uncertainty for all involved." If the Obama administration is going to "regulate the industry for the benefit of consumers," he noted, then "they can't help but destabilize or disrupt the existing market."
"When employees realize the high costs of the health care exchanges, they will demand a nationalized health care system." - Newt Gingrich, Republican presidential candidate
Wall Street doesn't like uncertainty. It detests being destabilized. And stock analysts are not missing out on this. According to an Aug. 2, 2010, Reuters story, the brokerage firm Edward Jones "downgraded the ratings on the stocks of the three health insurers it covers -- UnitedHealth Group, WellPoint and Aetna -- to "sell" from "hold" late on Friday, July 30. Those companies are the three largest U.S. health insurers."
This new blow comes, as the Indianapolis Business Journal reported on May 18, 2010, that legendary investor Warren Buffett pulled the plug on WellPoint, selling all Berkshire Hathaway's holdings in the insurance giant during the first quarter of 2010.
Speaking in Virginia, former House Speaker and presumed presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said on May 14, 2010, "The employer-based system will collapse because [the Affordable Care Act] encourages businesses to drop health care coverage and incur the fine. When employees realize the high costs of the health care exchanges, they will demand a nationalized health care system," according to the Washington Post.
It only gets worse, or better, depending on your perspective. According to Gingrich, the business community is going to lead the call for single-payer Medicare for All.
And well they should. On May 6, 2010, CNN Money released documents showing that "many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government. ... AT&T revealed that it spends $2.4 billion a year on coverage for its almost 300,000 active employees, a number that would fall to $600 million if AT&T stopped providing health care coverage and paid the penalty option."
The Affordable Care Act looks unaffordable. On July 29, 2010, U.S. Representatives Dennis Kucinich, (D-Ohio) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued a statement for Medicare's birthday that said, "We believe that Medicare for All is inevitable in the United States. It is up to all of us to determine when the inevitable becomes the reality."
If you're not inclined to believe George and Newt, then how about Dennis, John and Bernie: "It is up to all of us to determine when the inevitable becomes the reality."
Dr. Rob Stone can be reached at .