Friday, July 17, 2009

Rep. Paul D. Ryan Worried Sick About Survival Of Private Health Insurance

Representative Paul D. Ryan (R) of Wisconsin shares the same concern expressed by Senator Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine, Senator Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska and columnist George Will: a public health care option will drive the private insurance industry out of business:

In the Ways and Means session, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, who offered the amendment to kill the government plan, said it would have unfair advantages over private insurers.

“It is impossible for the private sector to compete fairly with government, with all its muscle and all its tools,” Mr. Ryan said. He predicted that many employers who now provided health benefits would “dump their employees into the public plan.”

How is it that Ryan is so concerned about the fate of the private health insurance industry, which profits by denying coverage? Is this insurance industry more important than the 47 million without coverage or the fact that half of those who declare bankruptcy do so because of illness or medical bills, according to a Harvard University study? Does Ryan's constituency believe that he is standing up for them by shilling for this industry? How can Ryan's concern about this industry be accepted as normal political discourse and not as outrageously misplaced priorities?

One indication of the derivation of Ryan's priorities comes from Ryan received campaign contributions from the following: Health Net, America's Health Insurance Plans, Wellpoint, Medco Health Solutions, Humana, AflacAssurant Health and UnitedHealth.

Two of the organizations,  United Health and America's Health Insurance Plans, were mentioned in an article in entitled "UnitedHealth, Allies Seek To Block Public Health Insurance":

A recent NBC/WSJ poll found that more than three out of four Americans support having a public or government health insurance option.

UnitedHealth Group's leadership is apparently not among that group.

The Wall Street Journal reports a group called America's Health Insurance Plans, which represents UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Humana and other large insurers, has fired off a letter to Congress warning of the "devastating consequences" public health insurance would have on its members.

Congressional Democrats say the plans they are working on would compete on a "level playing field" with private plans, but the insurers organization said there would be adverse affects "no matter how it is initially structured."

Is it quite clear now why, with such contributors, Representative Ryan is worried sick about the survival of the private health insurance industry? 

President Obama posed the most concise argument against the objections raised by Ryan:

"If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they're offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That's not logical."

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