In case you missed Ezra Klein’s "I feel for Karen" memo yesterday, today is "Hug Your Health Insurance Company Day."
So, the New York Times hands over a front page "news" article to urge its readers to be more sympathetic to the health insurance industry and in particular recognize what a nice lady Karen Ignani, head of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is for being so cooperative about health care reform.
The title of Reed Abelson’s column, For Health Insurer’s Lobbyist, Good Will Is Tested, tells the story. AHIP, the Times tell us, has already voluntarily offered to change its most egregious practices, like excluding previously sick people, and to stop fraudulently rescinding polices when people get sick. How magnanimous.
And in return for these unilateral concessions, the Times tells its readers that the industry obtained . . . uh, nothing as far as Mr. Abelson knows.
Apparently the clueless Abelson doesn’t know, and the Times editors and fact checkers cannot recall, their own reporting that AHIP’s "concessions" agreeing to stop screwing the American people were offered in exchange for the following modest concessions. . . .
1. We would not displace the bloated insurance companies with a single-payer system; indeed, we wouldn’t even allow that policy approach to be considered;
2. We would enlarge the market for AHIP, by requiring all individuals to acquire, and most employers to offer, (with some hardship exceptions) private health insurance from AHIP members;
3. The federal government would raise taxes to provide subsidies to low- to middle-income Americans, to help pay for the insurance company premiums, without further regulating the amount of the premiums;
4. The reform bills would delay the end of the most egregious insurance practices for several years, at least until 2013 and grandfather existing policies until 2018.
In the meantime, AHIP was left free to spend literally millions each week to buy Congressional votes to stop any effort to force AHIP members to compete against a Medicare-like public insurance plan, which might require them to lower rates, abide by the new prohibitions, or lose market share.
As part of its "cooperation" in health care reform, AHIP lobbyists have done everything they can to delete the public option, and failing that to replace it with an ineffective co-op, and failing that to weaken any public-based competition, delay it, and restrict access to it.
But informing its readers is apparently not the goal of the Time’s editors on Hug AHIP Day, let alone the task of the clueless Abelson. Instead, Times editors knowingly hide all of these well-documented facts while delivering a tongue bath to Karen Ignani and AHIP, while telling us how unfair it is for Nancy Pelosi to call the industry a bunch of "villains." Mean Pelosi apparently watches Bill Moyers’ Journal.
Each year, some 20,000 Americans die because they couldn’t afford health insurance or thought they had insurance but their insurers refused to cover them when they got sick. A million people will go bankrupt because they can’t afford insurance or because our private insurance system won’t pay their medical bills.