When two health insurance trade associations announced they’d agree to cover everybody regardless of pre-existing conditions if the Big O required everybody to get coverage, some sensed Big Insurance had become worried it couldn’t squash health reform as it did—with help—in ’93.
In the month since, health care reform has acquired an aura of inevitability and Big Insurance is backpeddling faster than Ali in the Thrilla in Manila.
In fact when Big O supporters hold their tea, arugula and health-reform parties this week, they can expect Big Insurance types to show up in droves.
That’s what the health insurance companies are telling their supporters to do, in what amounts to a complete capitulation to the Big O and his ground-up health reform process.
There will be roughly 4,000 such meetings around the country. Attendees don’t have to disclose their affiliations or employers.
Big Insurance has a problem with the Big O’s plan to create a new public insurance program that would compete, unfairly it fears, with none other than Big Insurance.
Then there’s that promise he made to cut the Medicare payments they receive in return for providing care to Medicare beneficiaries.
After tea is served, Big Insurance wants its supporters to assert that like Medicare and Medicaid, the new public program will stiff providers.
How honorable to stick up for providers like that, but providers and anyone with a pulse knows the Big O will print money if that’s what’s necessary to keep the ball rolling.
So Big Insurance better come up with something else quick.
“Why do you need a new public program?” offers Alissa Fox, vice president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Because “public plans…do a better job of controlling costs,” retorts Richard J. Kirsch, the national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now.
“Private insurers are always looking for ways to avoid paying claims or covering sick people. Their mission is not to provide health care, but to increase shareholders’ profits,” he added.
We hope zingers like that don’t spoil dessert.