Thursday, April 30, 2009

What does health-care reform mean?

How the U.K. sold universal health care
Via What is Health Care Insurance?

Over the past few days, I've been discussing health reform on Twitter with various advocates. It's hard to actually discuss anything in 140 characters, but I've been trying to understand the positions of the various factions, and Twitter does give you access you might not get otherwise.

I'm particularly mystified by the antipathy between single-payer advocates and Health Care for America Now. The latter supports a public option, but doesn't believe a single-payer plan can pass. I haven't personally seen anywhere HCAN has said single-payer should be off the table, but clearly many single-payer advocates believe they've said so. I think HCAN's position is second-best by a long shot, but I see them — however half-hearted — as an ally in the reform fight. I hope they're not standing in the way of single-payer, but I confess I don't know.

I really find all the rhetoric flying around confusing — and I'm somebody with a strong interest in the subject. I can't imagine what people who haven't been paying much attention to the topic think. Therefore, I find the video above, made to promote the United Kingdom's National Health Service Act in the 1940s, fascinating.

I remain with the same question posed on Twitter by @Fortitude1913 during Pres. Obama's "100 Days" press conference yesterday:
"I still really want to know what 'health care reform' means. Will it mean that I as a self-employed/unemployed person can get some?"

Monday, April 27, 2009

If you catch swine flu, sneeze on a Republican

Relenza anti-flu inhalant
The United States yesterday announced a health emergency due to the swine flu outbreak.

The announcement had to be made by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, instead of the Secretary of Health and Human Services or the head of the Centers for Disease Control, because we have no HHS secretary or CDC chief. Last week — when the news of swine flu had already broken — Senate Republicans delayed a vote to confirm Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas as HHS secretary, and the HHS secretary appoints the CDC director.

John Nicols, meanwhile, reminds us that the GOP fought to cut funding for pandemic preparedness from the emergency stimulus bill, ridiculing the idea, just as they continue to use misinformation to fight reform efforts that would open government health programs to the general public. Clearly, the Republican Party has no interest in protecting the health of Americans.

It's too early to tell whether this Mexican flu bug will become a pandemic or even spread widely in the United States. The concern expressed by experts worldwide scares me, though. Given the high level of travel between Chicago and Mexico, I'm surprised no cases of swine flu have yet been found here.

I'm particularly nervous because I wonder — since the disease has been so virulent and deadly in Mexico, a country recently embarked on universal health care — what will it be like if it really hits the U.S., with all our uninsured and under-insured millions?

The flu is not, for most people, a disease you go to the doctor for, particularly if you don't have health insurance or have only a catastrophic-coverage policy. The American ethic says that you're supposed to soldier on, toughing it out at work as long as you can, suffering silently. Especially if you don't get much — or any — sick time from your job.

The recent emergence of anti-flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, which need to be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, no doubt has sent some of the well-covered to seek early treatment, but most folks, even with insurance, likely wait till they feel absolutely miserable before considering visiting a doctor — too late for such medicines to be effective.

Each of those drugs costs between $60 and $100, maybe more, even with prescription coverage, plus the price of the doctor visit to get a script, not to mention the time off work to go and be seen — that's a lot of money just for the flu. In the announcements about making the anti-flu drugs available in the current outbreak, I haven't heard anything about making them available free.

If there should be a swine-flu epidemic, what are the uninsured and those with high insurance deductibles likely to do? They're going to get sick, and they're going to spread a deadly disease, because they can't afford to do anything else.

The GOP succeeded in stopping preparation for a possible flu pandemic, and we may all suffer for it. Don't let them stop health-care reform. Too many of us are suffering already.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

'Small-group insurance market is simply not working for small business'

David Borris, owner of Hel's kitchen catering in Northbrook, testified April 22 at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on his experiences with group insurance: "I will pay approximately the same amount of money to insure half of my full-time staff as I do in rent in 2009. Surely this is deeply broken. There must be a better way.

"The small-group insurance market is simply not working for small business."

Here's Borris's complete testimony:


Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services released The Bottom Line: Health Reform and Small Business. The report's key findings include:
  • Nearly one-third of the uninsured — 13 million people — are employees of firms with less than 100 workers.

  • In the past two years, more than half of small businesses that offered coverage reported switching to plans with higher out-of-pocket costs in response to rising premiums. Another third switched to a plan that covered fewer services, and 12 percent dropped coverage entirely.

  • Among small businesses that offer coverage, 40 percent report spending more than 10 percent of their payroll on health care costs.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Why conservatives want to save the status quo

The state of health care is no joke. But this is pretty funny. (Not family friendly, though.)

Bert Busch, "Health Care"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why does the insurance industry deserve a 'level playing field'?

20/20 reports on how AIG spends big on executive perks while denying claims for the injured. How can anyone defend this industry's practices?

Why does anyone think this industry should be preserved? Yes, this report is about disability insurance, but AIG also sells health coverage.

Even if I didn't think a single-payer plan was the best program to cover the millions of uninsured Americans, I'd welcome it as a means for getting rid of the insidious insurance industry. We shouldn't be bailing them out. We should be wiping them out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stop the health-reform cat fight!

Health-reform cat fight |
There once were two cats of Kilkenny.
Each thought there was one cat too many.
So they fought and they hit
And they scratched and they bit
Till (excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails)
Instead of two cats there weren't any!
Ellen Beth Gill provides the first account I've seen of yesterday's Chicago health-care reform rally and the face-off between single-payer proponents and public-option advocates.

Ellen describes it as a family squabble. Those, often, are the very worst kind.

In case you haven't been following along, the clan of health-reform cats all agree that the current system is broken, that insurance companies are greedy and deceitful and that something must be done to cover the millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans. It's when it comes to the plan that the hissing starts.
  • Single payer: The single-payer side of the family, represented by such groups as Physicians for a National Health Program, the Chicago Single Payer Action Network and — last and least — me, believes that the best plan is a government-run health-care payment program, essentially extending the umbrella of Medicare to cover everyone, as proposed in legislation such as Medicare for All and the American Health Security Act. Proponents like this plan because it spreads the cost of health coverage across the entire nation; it eliminates unscrupulous, profit-making insurance companies; and it would cover everyone. Alas, some of our cats are sourpusses intent on perpetuating the family feud instead of trying to win the others' support.

  • Public option: The public-option cousins, such as Health Care for America Now!, deprecate the health-insurance industry at the same time they say we should preserve it as a "choice." They say Medicare or something like it should be extended to cover people who aren't insured now, but that private insurance should continue alongside it, as in the Healthy Americans Act. These ’fraidy cats really want single-payer, but they so fear its opponents, they're not even going to try.
(There are also fat cats like the American Medical Association, who give lip service to reform, but prescribe Band-Aids on the status quo, with an added focus on such self-serving ideas as increasing doctor visits through preventative care, tort reform to limit malpractice suits and dismantling anti-trust laws so they can cuddle up to insurance networks and increase doctors' profits without government oversight. Like so many rich relatives, they only look out for themselves.)

While the reform family has its cat fight, the insurance lobby stands by purring, using every sneaky trick it can to derail real change. "Eschewing any pretense that their primary concern is for medical consumers and taxpayers," as Timothy Noah writes, "they focus on the harm health care reform might bring to private health insurers." They know that, if they defeat extensive health-care reform now, as Drew Altman shows graphically, it might be 20 years till it resurfaces.

Health reform's Kilkenny cats must clan together to fight for universal health care now!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Follow me @illil on Twitter!

Twitter logoI'm now posting to Twitter. You can follow me there @illil, or see the updates in the sidebar here.

For tweets relating to the health-care crisis, I'm using the hashtag #healthreform. I hope you will, too.

This could be a great tool for activists. I'm not seeing health-reform proponents make as much use of social media as they could be.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Insurance lobby resorts to dirty tricks

As if we needed more proof that the health-insurance lobby are lying scum, comes this from the North Andover, Mass., Eagle Tribune:
Elderly used as front in letter-writing campaign
'Grass-roots' effort looks more like Astroturf

By Ken Johnson

Across Massachusetts, senior citizens are writing letters to newspapers demanding that their representatives in Congress protect a form of health insurance called Medicare Advantage.

At least that's what newspaper editors are supposed to think.

Some of those seniors are unaware that they have sent any such letters to newspapers. Some of them hadn't even heard of Medicare Advantage.

"I did not write a letter to the editor. It's not from me," said Gloria Gosselin, 75, of Lawrence....
That's right. In their efforts to scuttle health-care reform, insurance companies have resorted to forging letters to the editor from senior citizens.

Caught in the act, the dirty tricksters responsible then try to paint the elderly people whose names they attached to the bogus letters as too senile to remember writing them! On top of that, they have the bald-faced nerve to call their campaign "a transparent, honest and truthful effort"!

Why on earth would anyone want to protect this immoral industry?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why can't the uninsured and their advocates get it together?

Universal Health Care Now
AP— "If the uninsured were a political lobbying group, they'd have more members than AARP. The National Mall couldn't hold them if they decided to march on Washington.

"But going without health insurance is still seen as a personal issue, a misfortune for many and a choice for some. People who lose coverage often struggle alone instead of turning their frustration into political action...."
A group of 46 million ought to have more clout. Alas, too many of us are too poor, too downtrodden and too ill to mix much on the political scene.

Starting this blog was as much as I could do, and getting any attention for it has been a struggle. To date, not one political-action or health-care activists' site has linked to it, as far as I can tell. That's fine — I'm nobody important — but what gets me is that they mostly don't seem to connect to each other, either. I've tried to assemble a sort of "one-stop shopping" collection of links to prominent sites on health-care reform, particularly those with local connections, but it took some searching.

Of course, part of the problem is that the reformers don't all agree with each other. In fact, it looks like they're getting ready to rumble this Saturday, April 18, at St. Augustine College, when two disparate groups, HCAN-IL and CSPAN, will rally. The Illinois chapter of Health Care for America Now! favors a government-run "public option" system to compete with private insurance, while the Chicago Single-Payer Action Network wants to do away with private insurance and have a single government-run health-care plan for everyone.

Loyal readers will know I lean toward the latter plan, although I can see retaining private insurance under certain conditions. To me, it makes the most sense to push for the most drastic change and be prepared to compromise, rather than asking for crumbs at the outset. Yet I can't help wishing that everybody who wants to do away with the current system could come to some consensus.

I won't be up to attending Saturday's rally. But I hope there's a big turn out and that it ends by bringing the factions closer against the common enemy of the status quo.

Together we stand.

Monday, April 13, 2009

'Legal patient dumping' at local hospitals

Lutheran General patient dumping: 'Please follow up at Stroger Hospital'

My discharge paperwork from Lutheran General, referring me to Stroger Hospital.

The Chicago Tribune delved into one reason the emergency room at Stroger Hospital is so crowded:
"Indigent and under-insured patients are turning to Cook County's Stroger Hospital after not getting fully treated at non-profit hospitals, swamping the cash-strapped public facility while fueling the county's sky-high sales tax, a Tribune investigation found.

"Some of these patients arrive at Stroger's emergency room bearing discharge slips, prescriptions, even Yahoo and Google maps from non-profit hospitals, according to documents obtained by the Tribune....

"Non-profit hospitals, meanwhile, reap millions of dollars in property and sales tax breaks from the county, based largely on the promise that they'll help the uninsured....

"'This is basically legalized patient dumping,' said Dr. Jesse Pines, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine...."
The Trib's account mirrors my experience at Lutheran General, which is part of the nonprofit Advocate Health Care system.

The story underscores an important point about the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires most hospitals to treat patients at emergency rooms regardless of ability to pay: All the hospital must to do is diagnose and stabilize you. They don't actually have to treat what's wrong with you.

For most uninsured patients, emergency-room treatment is little more than basic first aid, not health care.

Chicago Health Matters notes that 75 percent of Illinois hospitals report higher numbers of uninsured patients. Stroger is barely able to cope as it is. Patients already wait months for followup care. The county's nonprofits, despite the tax breaks they get, aren't taking on their fair share.

Nonprofit hospitals don't pay taxes. They don't pay stockholders. They receive tax-free grants and donations (and the donors get tax breaks, too). So, as The Wall Street Journal reported last year, they rake in huge revenues.

For example, in its 2007 annual report, Advocate recorded $3.5 billion in gross revenues. The hospital claims that it spent about 7.6 percent of that on "charity care and other uncompensated costs" but that number includes what it calls the "unreimbursed costs of Medicare, Medicaid and other government-sponsored programs." So it's counting as "charity" the difference between what the U.S. government has determined is fair payment and whatever arbitrary rates the hospital charges patients paying out of pocket. And nearly half of the figure is bad debt, grudging "charity" at best.

Advocate's net revenues in excess of expenses for 2007 were $260 million. That's after the "charity" care and after they pay out whopping salaries like CEO James Skogsbergh's — $2.2 million a year plus another $1.35 million in benefits, according to 2007 IRS filings. (Other folks on the payroll do pretty well, too. Bruce Campbell, president of Lutheran General, takes home $1.5 million in wages and benefits. Surgeon Leonard Kranzler makes some $1.6 million from Advocate, plus whatever he nets from his private practice.)

For the tax breaks they get, shouldn't nonprofit hospitals take on a much bigger share of caring for the poor and the uninsured?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Economy dooms uninsured cancer patients

"I don't want to die. I shouldn't have to die. This is a county hospital. This is for people that, like me, many people have lost their insurance, have not any other resources. I mean, I was a responsible person. I bought my house. I put money away. I raised my two children. And now I have nothing. You know my house isn't worth anything. I have no money. And I said 'What do I do? But what do all these other people do after me?' And they said, 'We don't know.'"
Counting my blessings. I have my troubles, but I'm not one of the thousands of uninsured cancer patients in Nevada who've lost their lifeline. This 60 Minutes story is terrifying.

Via American Patients United

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Health is not a 'lifestyle choice'

Fight the Plague of Insurance Companies |

Uninsured Myths No. 3: "Doing without health insurance is a lifestyle choice." FALSE.

The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2007 that nearly one in five Americans were doing without needed health care because of costs. "In 2005, more than 40 million adults did not receive 'needed services' because they could not afford them," the report said. "Nearly 15 million adults did not obtain eyeglasses, 25 million did not get dental care, 19 million did not get needed prescribed medicine, and 15 million did not get needed medical care due to cost."

Apologists for the status quo scoff. They like to tell you that people "choose" to go without health coverage and care. Those who say they can't afford it, these generous folks claim, are wastrels and spendthrifts. According to their judgmental thinking, unless you live in a SRO, eat only homemade gruel, get around by public transit and spend all your spare time trying to better yourself, you are frittering away funds that you ought to be spending to enrich insurance companies and the medical establishment. If you have a car, internet access or a cell phone, but no health insurance, they believe you have made poor financial choices.

Typically they have unrealistic ideas about the cost of health insurance and medical expenses vs. these so-called luxuries and uncompassionate attitudes toward the underemployed and the sick.

An upstanding Dayton, Ohio, citizen, responded to a woman who said she had insurance but worried that she would not be able to meet her co-pay should she become seriously ill:
"So because of your economic lifestyle choices you think it's proper to force the rest of us to pay for you? Socialism at it's [sic] ugly best. You are no different than the welfare queens with their multiple children fathered by multiple absent men with their hands out for public assistance.

"You need to give up some non-essential items and save for the possibility of a large medical co-pay. Cell phone and cable tv would be a good start. That's probably over $1500 per year you could save."
Talk about ugly. And $1,500 would cover what? Perhaps, one C-T scan?

Louise, a Colorado insurance broker, often has reasonable things to say on health-care issues, despite her vested interests, but sometimes she lapses into specious self-righteousness: How can people balk at the cost of doctor visits when most of the cars she sees on the streets are less than 10 years old? Louise asks. They must be choosing new automobiles over medical care, she reasons.

Huh? How do you know, Louise, that all those shiny cars aren't being driven by insurance executives, pharmaceutical big-wigs, high-priced doctors and for-profit medical administrators?

Newish cars on the highway say nothing about the circumstances of people who find it hard to cough up high medical fees. Not even if they were the ones behind the wheels. If you had to choose between reliable transportation so you could get to work every day, and money for a doctor you might never need, which would you choose? Most people don't expect to get sick, and few of us are handy enough with a wrench to keep an old beater going. There comes a time when putting more money into auto repairs isn't reasonable.

Computers are another target of the health-care scrooges, who apparently don't shop around for theirs. Haven't you heard of eBay? And I don't know where you are, but our internet service costs $20 a month. For job seekers, these are necessities. (To the nitwit who thinks I must have "means" since I have a blog — Blogger is a free service.)

And how can anyone believe, in 2009, that a cell phone is a luxury item? When was the last time you saw a pay phone?

If you have a 9-to-5 job and regular routines or are on welfare, maybe you can live today without a cell phone. If — like so many of the underemployed and uninsured — you move in the underground economy of temping, on-call gigs, entrepreneurial hustling and day labor, you need to be reachable all the time.

In Chicago, you can get a Blackberry with all the bells and whistles for less than $100 a month and a basic phone for $30. Nobody sells health insurance for that.

What's more, many folks who use cell phones but worry about doctor bills have given up their landlines to save money. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six adults lives in a wireless-only household, and the percentage of people without health insurance is twice as high among that group as those with wired phones. In Illinois, the CDC estimates, 16.5 percent of households use only cell phones.

Cell-phone use is highest among young adults, with more than one in three Americans aged 25–29 years and nearly 31 percent of those aged 18–24 years living in households with only wireless telephones.

The anti-reform lobby also likes to make much of the fact that some 29 percent of the uninsured are young people, claiming they're frittering away their incomes instead of making sacrifices to buy insurance. It's unclear how many fall into the category the insurance industry calls "young invincibles" — people in their 20s who gamble on staying healthy — vs. those who truly have no choice. Even if it were true that these young folks choose to buy good times instead of insuring their health, everybody makes dumb decisions in their youth. That's why we don't let people drink till they're 21 or run for the Senate until they're 30. Isn't this another area where America should protect its future?

You'd think the sanctimoniously well-insured would have a little interest in their own well being. Stop worrying about what covering the uninsured might do to your wallet and instead think about what not covering them might do to your own health. Having good health insurance won't stop you from catching a contagious disease.

Large numbers of uninsured people increase America's risk of epidemics (not to mention its vulnerability to biological attacks, such as the anthrax letters of 2001). When the uninsured get sick, they avoid or delay seeking treatment, and just try to go about their business, thereby spreading infection. That uninsured waiter, hairdresser or store clerk could give you strep throat, influenza and tuberculosis.

No one chooses to get sick. But our current health-care system limits millions of Americans' choices when it comes to staying healthy.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Can you say irony? Or, nurses have no sense of humor

Be a nurse
A brilliantly funny post on The Health Care Blog skewers the pending Nursing Relief Act, a peculiar GOP health-care reform idea that proposes — despite rising unemployment — to deal with the nursing shortage not by training more RNs or by increasing wages and benefits to make nursing a more sought-after profession, but by providing visas to hundreds of thousands of nurses from overseas:
"Incidentally, this is just the approach that was so successful in cutting the salaries earned by information technology workers about 10 years ago. Corporate profits were getting impacted by high IT costs, so our brilliant Congress increased the number of H1-B visas, and companies were able to hire cheap workers from India and other places. Thank you, Congress! Later, many of these foreign workers returned to their homelands and brought the work with them. Now, corporate America doesn't have to pay high salaries, and they don't even have to look at the foreigners anymore — they can just write a little check to India. Bravo! Fortunately, information technology salaries have never rebounded to the levels where they were.

"But I digress. Back to nursing. Let's face it, nursing is difficult, degrading work. Nurses sometimes have to wipe feces, for Christ's sake. We're Americans and we're better that that! We can certainly find some Indians, Filipinos, or Chinese to do that work, ridding self-respecting Americans of the need to perform that dirty job...."
Alas, the comments reveal the perils of sarcasm on da internets.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Insurance companies want something for nothing

Insurance companies and other diseases |

Insurers, scrambling to prevent real health-care reform in a public insurance option, or worse, a single-payer system, have come forward with a plan in which they say they'll accept all comers in exchange for a government mandate that everyone must buy insurance.

But as David Lazarus points out, their plan lets them scale prices based on benefits. So, basically, you'll be required to buy a policy, but if you want insurance that actually covers you if you get really sick, you'll still have to spend big bucks:
"If all Americans were required to purchase health insurance from private companies, the industry would still offer as little coverage as possible for the most amount of money. These people have businesses to run, after all, and their track record speaks for itself....

"It wouldn't guarantee the best possible coverage for the public. Nor would it improve things for the millions of people who have insurance but are still one catastrophic illness away from bankruptcy.

"To solve these problems, we'd need clear criteria from the government as to what should be covered and at what prices. And if we're going that far, I have to wonder why private insurers even need to be part of the equation...."
What he said.

Is there anybody — anybody not connected to the insurance industry, that is — who sees a plus in what insurance companies bring to health care?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Universal health-care rally, Monday, Federal Plaza

A call to action from Health Care for All Illinois / Physicians for A National Health Program / National Nurses Organizing Committee:

Tell President Obama and Congress:

Put single-payer health care on the table!
Don't let the insurance companies dictate health reform

HR 676 & HB 311 NOW!

Rally on Monday, April 6, Noon–1 p.m.
Federal Building Plaza (Adams and Dearborn), Chicago

With Dr. Quentin Young

Bring Your Single-Payer Signs and Gear!

For Questions or to Endorse the Rally: / 312-782-6006

A news report this week says the heads of five congressional committees have reached consensus about the broad outlines of new health care legislation — and that under the new law, the wasteful, for-profit health insurance industry will remain at the heart of our system.

This would be a disaster. Our nation simply can't afford to keep the big insurance companies in the health care mix. Their skyrocketing premiums, co-pays, deductibles, claim denials, top-heavy bureaucracy and notorious profit-taking are the problem with our present system, not the answer. The economic crisis has only made things worse, much worse.

By moving to a single-payer national health insurance program — an expanded and improved Medicare for All — our country would save $400 billion in administrative costs annually, allowing us to provide comprehensive, quality care for everyone who presently lacks insurance and to eliminate all co-pays and deductibles. Everyone could receive care for with no overall increase in U.S. health spending.

Polls show two-thirds of Americans support such an approach, as do 59 percent of U.S. physicians. A bill in Congress, H.R. 676, the U.S. National Health Care Act, would achieve such a system.

Yet top political leaders say this approach is "not feasible." That's what many — including the health insurers — said about Medicare.

Could the view of these "realistic" political leaders be the result of the millions of dollars they receive in campaign contributions by the big insurance and drug companies?

Call the White House and Congress at (202) 224-3121: It's time to break the stranglehold of the private, for-profit insurance industry on our health care system. Put single-payer health reform on the table. Don't cave in to the insurance and drug lobbies!

Sicko on Showtime through April 25

I don't have cable TV. I don't often miss it, but I wish I could tune in to Showtime this month to see Michael Moore's documentary on the health-care industry, Sicko.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wonking it out of the park

Anthony Wright at Health Access Weblog is on the ball this week with Health Wonk Review, pondering health-care reform as Yogi Berra might have seen it. It's an eclectic selection of perspectives, including my own post, Lutheran General: Pay First and We'll Put a Band-Aid on It," an example of why access to emergency-room treatment isn't the same as access to health care.

Take a look. As Berra said, "You can observe a lot by watching."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My electrifying health-reform plan

22,000 uninsured sentenced to die! |

Despite bills in the House, and now the Senate for a single-payer, government-run health-care system, such as is implemented in most other first-world countries, there's no evidence the Obama administration is taking the idea seriously. Sadly, the White House, seems bent on cozying up to stakeholders and distancing itself from meaningful reform efforts.

If we can't cut out the cancer of insurance companies as middlemen between patients and doctors, what's the best cure we can come up with?

My proposal
  • Everybody in. Nobody out. No one will be refused coverage.

  • No policy can be terminated for any health-related reason.

  • Full coverage for individuals at rates on a sliding scale no higher than Medicare's.

  • All care deemed necessary by a patient's doctor covered — no exclusions, no lifetime caps on expenses.

How to pay for it
  • Cap salaries for insurance executives at the default pay for a member of Congress ($174,000), with no bonuses and no health-care benefits allowed.

    Surely what we pay people to run our country ought to be enough for people who just crunch numbers and shuffle paperwork? Especially since it will be so much easier once they no longer have to devote their time to thinking up ways to deny claims and refuse applicants.

  • Require health insurance companies to be not-for-profits. No stockholders to pay removes one more layer of expense.


Obviously, implementing such drastic changes will take time. Yet some 22,000 Americans annually — more than 60 per day — die just for lack of health coverage. So to give the insurance industry an incentive not to drag their feet on taking action....
  • For every preventable death due to lack of health coverage until the plan is in place, an insurance executive goes to the electric chair.

Happy April Fool's Day!