Archive for the ‘Cost of health care’ Category

This Thanksgiving, I can truly give thanks for having known and worked with farm activist Darryl Ringer from Quinter, Kansas.  Darryl died in a farm accident in 1993.  At the time he was killed, he had gained national stature as an activist on behalf of farmers who were losing their farms to banks in foreclosure actions.

I am proud to say that I offered my couch to Darryl as a place to sleep as he traveled the state in 1988 and worked with us on the Jesse Jackson campaign.  His charisma, intelligence, and organizing ability were phenomenal.  His death left a gaping hole in the progressive movement.

In memory of Darryl, I suggest that we support the actions of the National Farmers Union, which represents 250,000 farming and ranching families. The Farmers Union is pushing for a strong, viable, government-run, health insurance program.  Farm families are finding the cost of health care out of reach due to the nature of the insurance cartel.  For instance, 69% of health insurance policies in Nebraska are written by two insurance companies.

The other farm organization, the Farm Bureau, is opposing the bill passed in the House of Representatives.  Since the Farm Bureau represents large corporations and the agricorp industry as a whole, it opposes the provision of HR 3962 that requires employers to provide health insurance or pay some rather severe penalties.

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Thanks Congressman Moore 

Today Congressman Dennis Moore (D-KS) generously gave Eric Kirkendall and me time to discuss health care reform with him.  We expressed our concerns about the public option as it is framed in HR 3962, The Affordable Health Care for Americans Act.  With only 2 billion dollars in seed money and a clause that excludes a “bailout” if the program cannot sustain solvency, the public program may be set up for failure.  Due to negotiated “fee-for-service” reimbursement to providers, a likelihood of higher risk customers, and competition with private insurance conglomerates, the public option will have an uphill battle as is.    

Also, the public option will not provide insurance until 2014 (as the bill is written).  In the meantime, the uninsured will still need to buy insurance in a high risk pool.  What will that cost?  A healthy middle aged staff member for the Congressman said that she would have to pay $500 per month with a $5000 deductible.  In other words, she would be paying $500 per month for nothing, unless she was unlucky to suffer a catastrophic illness.  A woman who has just opened up a small business in Lawrence told me she was denied insurance due to some minor surgery for endometriosis.  She was told that she would not be able to buy insurance, outside of the risk pool, unless and until she had a hysterectomy.  Her female organs, being a perceived risk for insurance companies, had to go.  She refused to do that and is buying insurance in the risk pool for $350 per month with a $10,000 deductible (per year).  Essentially, she is handing over $350 a month to an insurance company for nothing. 

The language in HR 3962 regarding state risk pools is vague.  We don’t know what will be available to the uninsured until the public option kicks in.  If a few U.S. Senators in our party (Democrats, with the exception of Joe Lieberman), succeed in destroying the public option altogether and, therefore, any meaningful health care reform, all of this will be a moot question.  However, if a public option like the one included in HR 3962 comes out of Congress in the final analysis and is signed into law, we will need to intensify our lobbying.  I think the Congressman is in a position to help us out.  We need to maintain communication with him and his staff. 

Keep lobbying at the local level and push back on K Street.

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