As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why We Need Hearings On Insurance Industry Practices

Some weak-kneed Democrats aren't so keen on seeing Henry Waxman grill the insurance industry over their immoral policies of denying care. They probably don't want to jeopardize their campaign contributions. But Waxman and others aren't listening to them, and will move forward.

“It’s completely fair to talk about profits and reserves and compensation and how they make their decisions,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a leader of the Progressive Caucus. “Let them come and make their case.” [...]

Regardless, Waxman and the House Energy and Commerce Committee appear to be heading forward.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the Investigations subcommittee, said Tuesday that most of the nation’s 52 largest insurance companies met Monday’s deadline to submit documents on their profits and compensation to executives and board members. He also said a hearing is being put together.

“We will be doing hearings on different aspects of the insurance industry, including this,” Stupak said. “I hope that by the end of this week we’ll have a schedule set … I’d like to do another one of these, at least one or two, this month.” [...] “Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is the insurer of last resort in Michigan, they’re raising their rates 22 to 40 percent,” Stupak said. “How do you justify that when inflation is basically zero? Where is the money going? Is it going for healthcare? Or executive compensation?”

“I think it’s part of the mix, in that our committee needs to look at it,” said Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas). “I remember a quote from Sen. [Charles] Schumer [D-N.Y.] sometime this year … he said that some of those healthcare CEOs’ packages would even make Exxon-Mobil blush.”

Just so it's clear, here are the types of policies that Blue Dog Dems would rather not have discussed publicly in Congress in the middle of a debate over health insurance reform:

• The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered Assurant to pay 10 million dollars for rescinding the policy of a 17 year-old after he tested positive for HIV.

• Several insurance companies in the individual market consider pregnancy optional and don't cover maternity care. What's more, others refuse to cover any woman who has had a Caesarian section, considering it a "pre-existing condition".

That's really the tip of the iceberg. The stories of runaway profits, lavish lifestyles for CEOs and denials of care causing suffering and death have been chronicled over and over at Sick For Profit. The public ought to know about them, at least as much as they think they do about death panels, and if Congress can find a way to raise attention, all the better.

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