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Health Insurance Whistle-Blower Knows Where the Bodies Are Buried

Posted on Jul 14, 2009

By Amy Goodman

  Wendell Potter is the health insurance industry’s worst nightmare. He’s a whistle-blower. Potter, the former chief spokesperson for insurance giant CIGNA, recently testified before Congress, “I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick—all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.”

  Potter was deeply involved in CIGNA and industrywide strategies for maintaining their profitable grip on U.S. health care. He told me: “The thing they fear most is a single-payer plan. They fear even the public insurance option being proposed; they’ll pull out all the stops they can to defeat that to try to scare people into thinking that embracing a public health insurance option would lead down the slippery slope toward socialism ... putting a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor. They’ve used those talking points for years, and they’ve always worked.”

  In 2007, CIGNA denied a California teenager, Nataline Sarkisyan, coverage for a liver transplant. Her family went to the media. The California Nurses Association joined in. Under mounting pressure, CIGNA finally granted coverage for the procedure. But it was too late. Two hours later, Nataline died.

  While visiting family in Tennessee, Potter stopped at a “medical expedition” in Wise, Va. People drove hours for free care from temporary clinics set up in animal stalls at the local fairground. Potter told me that weeks later, flying on a CIGNA corporate jet with the CEO: “I realized that someone’s premiums were helping me to travel that way ... paying for my lunch on gold-trimmed china. I thought about those men and women I had seen in Wise County ... not having any idea [how] insurance executives lived.” He decided he couldn’t be an industry PR hack anymore.

  Insurance executives and their Wall Street investors are addicted to massive profits and double-digit annual rate increases. To squeeze more profit, Potter says, if a person makes a major claim for coverage, the insurer will often scrutinize the person’s original application, looking for any error that would allow it to cancel the policy. Likewise, if a small company’s employees make too many claims, the insurer, Potter says, “very likely will jack up the rates so much that your employer has no alternative but to leave you and your co-workers without insurance.”


Square, Site wide

  This week, as the House and Senate introduce their health care bills, Potter warns, “One thing to remember is that the health insurance industry has been anticipating this debate on health care for many years ... they’ve been positioning themselves to get very close to influential members of Congress in both parties.” Montana Sen. Max Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee, key for health care reform. Potter went on, “[T]he insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry and others in health care have donated ... millions of dollars to his campaigns over the past few years. But aside from money, it’s relationships that count ... the insurance industry has hired scores and scores of lobbyists, many of whom have worked for members of Congress, and some who are former members of Congress.”

  The insurance industry and other health care interests are lobbying hard against a government-sponsored, nonprofit, public health insurance option, and are spending, according to The Washington Post, up to $1.4 million per day to sway Congress and public opinion.

  Don’t be fooled. Profit-driven insurance claim denials actually kill people, and Wendell Potter knows where the bodies are buried. His whistle-blowing may be just what’s needed to dump what’s sick in our health care system.
  Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
  Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times,” recently released in paperback.

  © 2009 Amy Goodman

  Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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By Personal Injury Claims, July 13, 2011 at 12:26 am Link to this comment

It’s a shame, especially the ruthless fashion in which some of these companies maintain their bottom line, but the ‘executive glam our lifestyle’ is not the culprit here. Or, if it is a contributor to the overall problem it is a system-wide issue, A capitalist system-wide issue. Like it or not executives will go to where the perks are greatest, no matter the industry.

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By auto insurance discounters, June 29, 2011 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

yah this is a major problem.. thanks to the whistle blowers for bringing this to light.

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By Professional Indemnity Insurance, December 14, 2010 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

This was a tough call by Mr. Potter. Although we shake our heads in shame of the actions of others, and for the sadness, that someone like Potter had the courage to bring this to the forefront. Yet, does it change anything, I suspect not. Is Mr. Potter safe, I suggest not.

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By Dirk Augustine, November 25, 2010 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

There was a case about a young boy who had cancer and the insurance company turned him down, because this wasn’t in their clauses, apparently. I don’t recall if it was a cheap life insurance, but the kid sued the company and he won. So there is still hope, even if you have to go to the court to see it.

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By Dirk Augustine, November 19, 2010 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

This article about Wendell Potter really made me smile, it was both well written and well documented. It’s sad when insurance companies forget they are dealing with humans and not with numbers, and I talk about Nataline. It reminded me of what Stalin used to say: “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic”.
Dirk Augustine - Get Car Insurance Quotes

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By Joan Petty, July 28, 2009 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Inherit The Wind: Any one can file a Civil RICO Complaint with Criminal elements. It can be filed in a Federal Court for damages and when there is criminal elements there is no Statute of limitations. Also the United States Attorney General or any Prosecuting attorney can inter into the case and prosecute on behalf of the public’s interest. This is the Federal Law. RICO is Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organization. Merck and the 3 CEO’s did fraud,and Conspire to racketeer as a enterprise within an enterprise, causing body harm and death for profit. For damages of such action is treble the damages.The Conspirators/perpatrators can be sentenced to life in prison or 10 years for each count. Any money acquired from the enterprise does not have to be paid back such as stocks.This is a Federal Law and is an Act of Congress created to prosecute the mafia, amended in 1970 to include “White Collar crimes’ and Domestic Terrorism under the Patriot Act. Title 18 U.S.C. RICO Act.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 28, 2009 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment

Joan Petty:

I agree that Merck should be held responsible and you’ve probably been shafted. (don’t forget who is on the USSC).

But with ALL that legal experience and advice, don’t you KNOW you can’t sue Congresscritters and Senators for the legislation they enact, no matter HOW unconstitutional it is?  You can challenge the LAWS they create but no court will EVER hold them PERSONALLY liable.  The courts will all tell you we have another mechanism—voting.

BTW, I didn’t know a private citizen could file a RICO charge. I thought ALL criminal charges must be filed by a prosecutor.

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By Joan Petty, July 28, 2009 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Inherit the Wind: I already did that, That is how I found out that the Courts are controlled by Merck & Co. I filed a RICO Complaint and went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States and my writ was denied. I even produced evidence of the criminal acts and produced the documents to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. I have enough evidence to lock their doors and put their CEO’s in prison but the Courts deny my claims and ignore me. The Justice Department sent Merck a letter telling them they are under investigation for criminal actions with Vioxx. Merck announced a voluntary settlement in Nov. 2007 to settle out of court the damages for the Thousands of Claimants. I have a settlement attorney who is representing me in the product liability case but in the RICO case I filed it myself and filed it in the Federal Court that was transfered to Louisiana and Judge Fallon, He also has the class action suits. I was jerked around with the RICO and ignored by Merck. How many RICO complaints do you know of that is ignored in a Court of law that produces the evidence of criminal actions? The RICO has standing in the courts but Merck refuse to respond. Judge Fallon ordered them to respond 5 months later. Not 30 days or 45 days but it was 5 months. Then he dismissed it. I went to the appeals court and again Merck refused to respond and when I filed a Judgment against them They responded. Again the Court denied me redress and access to the court. I filed a writ in the United States Supreme Court and was denied. I am not stupid and have had legal training over the years I have written Federal and States grants and retired as the Comptroller for United Paper Corp. I have worked as a political advisor for a State Senator. I am not a professional Attorney but I have 4 lawyers in my family and one who is a States Attorney General that is a prosecutor for a state. I also found out during the many months of pleadings the news media is also controlled by Merck & Co. as well as several State legislators and Federal Congress members. Congress members have received contributions, trips, paid vacations. I have tracked Merck & Co.Inc. financial and stocks, I know how they got away without paying Income tax, They got caught laundering money and have been paying off the Courts and the legal system to avoid prosecution. They pay a fine for the cost of doing business and with all the high powered attorneys they have they can go from one crime to another buying protection from our Legislators and Courts. Just like the mafia.Corruption at its worst. Who do you know that can intentionally kill 88,000 Americans and injure 169,000 for profit and get away without standing trial or being prosecuted in a Court of Law?

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By Inherit The Wind, July 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment


I figured your “pill” was Vioxx.  But, still your legal recourse is to sue Merck or the FDA, but not Congress.  Suing Congress will get you nowhere.

I’m sure there’s a class-action suit in progress against Merck, but it’s true that the Bush-era Republicans were VERY interested in insuring that corporate liability, even when it’s blatant, is hard to prove.

Still, good luck.

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By Joan Petty, July 27, 2009 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

M Currey, Insurance companies do not kill, It is the prescription drugs that the Consumers are taking all in the name of Good healthcare. History will tell you that our country is not a Democracy but we are a Republic. When you pledge to the flag you do not pledge to the Democracy but to the Republic for which it stands. In 1962 Congress omitted any remedy for a person who is injured or killed by a defective Prescription drug. There is NO LAW, No Federal law and No State Law to prosecute or make any drug manufacturing company accountable. Merck created a toxic pill called Vioxx that killed 88,000 consumers and injured 169,000 with heart attacks and strokes. Merck is a German Family owned company that is located in Germany, Their Corporate office is located in New Jersey and their manufacturing company is located in PA. They are the largest manufacturing company of vaccines in the world and they have thousands of class action suits against them for the experimenting and injury and even killing.They are immune from prosecution and protected by a shield of protection called preemption of the law that congress did and has intentionally deleted and ommitted product liability for defective prescription drugs and Medical devises. Merck is so powerful they can buy Judges, Congressmen and even the news media. Their Lobbiest pay the legislators thousands of dollars in payments to keep the shield of protection on.

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By Joan Petty, July 27, 2009 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Inherit The Wind: I think you ask a honest question, How did I get injured? My injury is that I was nearly killed by a toxic pill that was manufactured by a legal Drug manufacturing company that knew it was going to kill thousands of consumers before they put it on the market. The company knew there is no law to prosecute them and they are protected by congress. This Company left the killer pill on the market for 5 years and promoted it. Fraudulently produced documents submitted to the FDA for fast track approval. Ignored the regulations of the FDA and knew it was killing and injuring. Congress has had years to correct the Law but ignored the issues and even admitted their guilt they intentionally removed by deleting the FDAAA amendment to correct the wrong. Instead the Committee for Health and Human services deleted Product Liability for defective prescription drugs and Medical Devises. Congress has been mis-led for 70 years by these Committees that claim to be expert Legislators. The truth shall prevail. I have spent 10 years investigating I have lots of medical proof along with many others.You may be right about it getting dismissed because of the corruption.  I am not done yet. As Patrick Henry said, “I have just begun to fight!”

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By Inherit The Wind, July 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

Good Luck, Joan!

What YOU don’t realize is I am sympathetic to your issue.

However, you don’t seem to realize that the questions I raised are the ones YOU will face from judges and defendants as you go forward with your suit.  Since many of these questions have already been answered in other cases, your desire for a new and different answer is likely to be shot down. 

YOU may say you are “the injured party” but the Courts will ask “how were you, personally, Joan Petty, injured?”  You may like your answer, but the judge has to agree or it will be summarily dismissed, with prejudice.  (That means you can’t refile it)

In America, anyone can sue anyone for anything.  But actually get past the first few hurdles is where they stumble and fail.

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By Joan Petty, July 27, 2009 at 8:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Inherit The Wind: seems to think the Claim for Unconstitutinality will be dismissed because of lack of standing. Well, 1. I am one of the injured parties.2. This suit involves an Act of Congress. 3. This involves the best interest of the United States of America. This is not about regulation but about Law. Public Law that has intentionally omitted in order to protect the Drug Manufacturing Companies allowing a Shield of Preemption of the Law to give immunity to drug companies who are responsible for killing thousands of consumers with out any remedy for prosecution or punitive damges. Equal protection of the law. When Congress takes their Oath to support the Constitution of the United States does not give them the right to abuse the right by allowing a drug manufacturing company to kill thousands of American Consumers by keeping a preemption on the Law that protects these companies with immunity from prosecution. If you make a batch of cookies and put poison in them and kill a lot of people. What happens to You? You go to jail. Why is the law good for one and not the others? What happened to Equal Protection under the color of Law?

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By kiers, July 26, 2009 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

dan ketter, you have a point. but don’t forget the whole system is corrupt. I mean millions of people with disabilities (eg. RA) have to struggle with opening aspirin bottles because some stoopid mom let her kids OD on aspirin back in the 70s and rather than mourn her own lack of care, she, with shyster help, institutionalized her guilt onto everyone else. Yet this same “justice” system does NOTHING about wall street scams, lobbying, arms deal kickbacks…absolutely NOTHING.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 24, 2009 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

Joan Petty, July 23 at 9:08 am #
(Unregistered commenter)

On July 6, 2009 I filed a Claim for Unconstitutionality on 22 U.S. Senators for intentionally neglect, malfeasance in office and violation of their Oath of Office. These Congressmen and Women have misled Congress over the years while under the pretense of Amending the Health bills and Public Law FDA and FDCA Act. Intentionally omittted the Product Liability for defective prescription drugs and Medical devises. Over the years this has caused thousands of consumers to loose their lives and/or be injured for life. This act has allowed the drug companies immunity from prosecution for any killing or injury. Congress has put a shield of protection on the drug companies and left the public at risk. This case is filed in the U.S. Federal Court in Florida. Docket No. 09-12445.

Yeah?  And it hasn’t been dismissed “with prejudice” yet?

That’s a good one: Suing US Senators for not writing the legislation you think they should.  And…what part of the Constitution says that Congress can NOT regulate commerce in ANY way they want?

Actually, just the opposite is true: It’s called the “Commerce Clause” of the Constitution and it it’s in Article 1 Section 8 and it reads:

“The Congress shall have Power
To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises,
to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

So if you don’t like legislation, get better people elected!

If you challenge the Constitutionality of a law, you must show that in the ENFORCEMENT of that law, YOU, as a citizen, are injured IN VIOLATION of the Constitution.

Suing Congress for enacting a law you don’t like is going to be seen as a frivolous lawsuit.  I’m no lawyer but I don’t think you can establish that
a) you have legal standing
b) Congressman can legitimately be sued for legislation, or
c) that this legislation is OUTSIDE the Commerce Claus.

Good luck with it!  Don’t get smacked on the downswing by any windmills.

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By shane mcdonald, July 23, 2009 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree that kneecaps should be smashed
Sept 21 seems like good day to converge on washington demanding single payer healthcare for all. One demand one v oice 10 million uninsured need to show up.
I am in. Are you ?

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By Joan Petty, July 23, 2009 at 6:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

On July 6, 2009 I filed a Claim for Unconstitutionality on 22 U.S. Senators for intentionally neglect, malfeasance in office and violation of their Oath of Office. These Congressmen and Women have misled Congress over the years while under the pretense of Amending the Health bills and Public Law FDA and FDCA Act. Intentionally omittted the Product Liability for defective prescription drugs and Medical devises. Over the years this has caused thousands of consumers to loose their lives and/or be injured for life. This act has allowed the drug companies immunity from prosecution for any killing or injury. Congress has put a shield of protection on the drug companies and left the public at risk. This case is filed in the U.S. Federal Court in Florida. Docket No. 09-12445.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

The first step is to teach kids to separate fact from analysis, and fact from unsupported supposition.
This means teaching them to question authority. It doesn’t have to be nasty or rude, just questioning anything that just does not jibe.

Once they have the bones of fact, they can try fitting the flesh of analysis on the bones and see if they fit—and ash-canning what does not.  I don’t care if you are applying this to history, analysis of literature, or science.

It’s just common sense.

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By kiers, July 19, 2009 at 3:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

it’s interesting to see that as the US goes through post modern withdrawal from its private insurance health model where the customer of healht care (the patient) is different and has no control over the payer (CIGNA) and also has no control over teh solution/service provider (the doctor), INDIA is beginning to follow the US model of private healthcare for the (M)ASSES! some people never learn…..

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By christian96, July 18, 2009 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment

Inherit the Wind—-I taught Educational Psychology
at major universities and served as School Psychologist for public shcool systems in more than
one state.  I tried on numerous occassions to influence curriculum locally and statewide all to no
avail.  I hate to sound parnaoid but I’ve come to
the conclusion that those in control of our legislators, business, banking, entertainment
industries also carry heavy influence on what is
taught in universities and public schools.  I imagine
by your comment you mean we haven’t started to teach
REAL influences upon American History.  I agreed
wholeheartedly but just how do we go about doing it?
Perhaps, teaching History courses online which students can receive credit for.  Then, you have to
have some type of check and balance system in place
to make sure the curriculum courses online reflect
REAL motives and behaviors behind those motives.
Perhaps, it can be done.  Perhaps, there is another
way of accomplishing the same objective.  It’s obvious it isn’t going to happen to those currently
writing history text books.  As for critical thinking
most children think concretely until about the age
range of 10 to 13 when their brains develop the
capacity for abstract thinking.  I would say that
concrete reasoning could be taught from kindergarten
through fourth grade and then begin to introduce
abstract reasoning concepts from fifth grade through
12th grade.  It can be done but believe me the road
will not be easy.

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By Inherit The Wind, July 18, 2009 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment


We can’t quit what we haven’t started. It’s time to START teaching history and critical thinking in our schools.  We’ve never done it.

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By christian96, July 18, 2009 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

The congresspeople and corporate leaders who have
driven this train headed for a giant fall from the
bridge all have one thing in common.  They are all
college graduates.  It is obvious they didn’t learn
anything about “morality” in college.  With God having been kicked out of schools and society by a
Godless unelected supreme court composed of lawyers
where do our leaders learn morality?  From Hollywood’s movies and TV programs, along with violent Godless computer games. I hadn’t been to a
movie theatre in years until I let a lady talk me
into going to see “Transformers.”  After the movie
she asked what I thought to which I responded,  “Too
much spectacle and not enough substance.”  I will not waste anymore money on the Hollywood ghouls.
Our country is riding a fast train soon to fall
off a high bridge and plummet into the abyss below.
America didn’t last long as a world super-power.
We didn’t learn from the previous super-powers that
rode the same train.  We might as well quit teaching
history in our public schools.  It’s quite obvious
we don’t learn from history.

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By KDelphi, July 18, 2009 at 1:04 am Link to this comment

Well, I guess my “Baucus step down” petition will never get enough signature, now that the Dem Party has banned it and blocked me from varius Dem Party sites. Do they really think that such actions will help them?

Can a “good Dem” please tell me again why I should support Democrats?

At least now, when the HR 3200 crashes under its own bureacratic weight, there will be states “experimenting” (thanks to Kucinich’s Amend 18) with single payer to lead the way.

Or, we could have just asked Germany or Denmark…thanks for offering MeHere…I just do not understand Democrats…

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By Jamal, July 17, 2009 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That would be a great day when America would have health care for all. This would be the first nail in the coffin of American version of capitalism. After achieving this the people should think of creating a multi-party democracy replacing its one-party democracy.

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By Mestizo Warrior, July 17, 2009 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

Wendall Potter is indeed a courageous man. Unlike some, I doubt that most corporate healthcare people will ever change! Remember what the good book says? “The love of money is the root of all evil?”
It frustrates me to no end that the media, the Congressional hearings, the so-called reformers all fail to mention that the real culprit to our healthcare woes are the HMOs and other corporate healthcare parasites! It is their greed and total disregard for the well being of the people that has caused so much chaos, inconsistency and injustice!
Single payer healthcare is the only viable solution to the problem! Most people polled including most physicians and nurses support single payer!
HEALTHCARE IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT, NOT A COMMODITY OR A PRIVILEGE! The U.S. needs to get onboard with the rest of the world!

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By Inherit The Wind, July 17, 2009 at 5:01 am Link to this comment

The best health care analyst on Wall Street tells me Wendell Potter is the real deal—and the health insurance companies’ worst nightmare.

HMOs are not insurance companies and don’t want to be insurance companies yet they ARE insurance companies—so they seek to deny treatment to save money.

One company literally stopped liberal applications of flu shots to its seniors because their morbidity rate was too low.  So the next year they had a “shortage” of flu vaccines so more old people would get sick and die from the ful—and they wouldn’t have to pay for their expensive long-term care.

Murder. Literally pre-meditated murder.  But the statutes don’t allow for such charges to be brought.

As long as as health care is based on an insurance system where the incentive is to NOT treat sick people because it costs “too much”, our system will continue to fail and get worse.  Already we require the vultures that Ayn Rand disdainfully called “de-freezers” to help us navigate the system, just like we require “de-freezers” to navigate the income-tax system.

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By Gezelda, July 16, 2009 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Before we get into a knock-down drag-out fight for adequate, universal, national health care coverage, lets get brave guys like Wendell Potter to explain in detail what changed him for a Cigna PR guy into an articulate and committed advocate of healthcare reform.  If he could change, so could others in the corporate world—provided we understood how to create conditions that cause people to choose empathy and compassion over greed and cruelty. Nothing is more important than to understand men and women like Wendell Potter.

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By KDelphi, July 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

MeHere—I will, thanks! I need to re-write it…

Here is an email I got from Cal Nurses Assoc. (ie Kucinich Amendment)

From: “Deborah Burger, CNA/NNOC co-President” <>
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2009 7:04:18 AM
Subject: Critical Calls Needed to Congress Today


House Vote on State Option TODAY
for Single-Payer Healthcare

Congress member Dennis Kucinich of Ohio will be introducing an important single-payer amendment today, Thursday - the House healthcare reform bill.

The Kucinich amendment which gives states the right to pass and implement state-based single payer plans and will ensure the federal rules waivers required to allow that innovation. It will benefit millions of Americans - from California to Pennsylvania to Illinois to New York and beyond.
While not stepping away from our shared fight for HR676 and national single-payer reform, this is a chance for nurses and patients to help Rep. Kucinich to press the single payer fight forward during this legislative session.
Please make your call immediately as a vote is expected to be held today.

We have built strong support in California for state single-payer reform, having passed it in the legislature twice, and in other states including Pennsylvania and Illinois so we can win going through the states.

Single payer remains the best way to provide healthcare for all - and the most effective way to improve quality of care and control costs.

Now is the time for us to contact Democratic members of the House Education and Labor Committee to support the Kucinich amendment. Please call now. 

Call the Chair of the Committee, George Miller, at: (202) 225-3725

Calls are also needed to five of the key Democratic members of the Education and Labor Committee where Rep. Kucinich will offer his amendment, especially if you are a resident of their district or state.

Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan: (202) 225-3611
Rep. Susan Davis of California: (202) 225-2040
Rep. David Wu of Oregon: (202) 225-0855
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York: (202) 225-5516
Rep. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii: (202) 225-4906

If you are a resident of their Congressional district, be sure to say that as well.

Together we can win.  Thanks for joining in this action.



Healthcare Justice!

California Nurses Association
National Nurses Organizing Committee
2000 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94612


If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for California Nurses Association. 


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By Hulk2008, July 16, 2009 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

“Rainmaker” revisited.

Anybody who has worked for a private insurer know the games they play to avoid paying ANYthing whether it’s claims or workers wages.  They take YOUR premiums and invest them and then rake in huge profits which mostly go to the senior management.  There is a built-in incentive to not only avoid paying claims but to hold onto every penney as long as possible - more reserves = bigger investments = more profits = higher CEO pay.  Hasn’t anyone seen the recurring lawsuits in the news (hospitals and doctors suing private insurers for non-payment or slow payment of claims)?

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By MeHere, July 16, 2009 at 5:21 am Link to this comment


By all means, post your petition.

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By Norris Hall, July 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Frankly my health insurance plan is the biggest consumer ripoff I can think of.
My wife and I are in our 60s. We are self employed. So we go out on the open market to look for insurance and here’s the best we can find.
With Blue Shield’s PPO 4000/8000 plan my wife an I pay 10,000 dollars a year in after tax dollars
For that we get a plan with an $8000 deductible. That’s right. In order for both my wife and I to start getting a dime of help from our insurance company we first have to pay $10000 in yearly premiums plus $8000 in deductibles.
$18,000 a year!!!!
So if I want the insurance company to pay for a single X ray or allergy medications, I’ve got to pony up $18000

With benefits like that we say “to hell” with the American medical system.
No way am I about to pay that kind of money for so little in return.

So we bite the bullet and pay the insurance company …just like a small shopkeeper in Sicily pays the mafia for protection.

But instead of spending $8000 in out of pocket medical expenses, we save up all our aches, pains and just hop on a plane each November and head to the hospitals of Thailand….where the service is wonderful….at 1/10th the cost they charge .
in the US.

If something doesn’t happen to health care in America you can kiss this country goodbye. We’ll soon be spending more on health care than all the entire federal government a few years from now.

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By KDelphi, July 15, 2009 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment

Hmmmm….arrest nurses or praise them…mustve been difficult for Dodd.

Obama’s rant on nurses was disgusting. Most nurses support universal care, which we will never get here.

I tried to start a petition to get BaucASS to step down as Chair, due to a conflict of interest…would anyone sign it if I posted it here?

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By adamssam, July 15, 2009 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

To cancel the health insurance coverage for members of the U.S. Congress and the Senate, its staff and family members, is the right place to start healthcare reform. But that assumes our representatives are elected by the people and serve the people. I’ve been thinking about buying a new pitchfork.

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By tacomawhite, July 15, 2009 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hopefully this guys conscious is eased a little my his new attitude towards health care   surley he knows he’s responsible for the needless death of sick people because he support the policies and actions of his industry, actually he was the for-profit industry, it took people to enforce the policy and people need to be responsible for their action. a pay check doesn’t cover culpability or justifies it.

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By OH, July 15, 2009 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment
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Insurance means paying tens of thousands of dollars to go bankrupt.  Going bankrupt should be free.  Guillotine the execsa is the ONLY solution.

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By empi, July 15, 2009 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am with Qunity!!!

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By dan m ketter, July 15, 2009 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

goodman is an avowed communist so consider the source. time and again the real culprit for increasing healthcare costs is being ignored Trial Lawyers.
Harvard last year publish a paper that showed that 25% of all medical tests and 15% of all hospital admissions were done as defensive medicine. Rather than treating the patient they are running scared of the ambulance chasers, John Edwards was the epitome of what is wrong with the system.
Are Insurance co profits an issue sure but unless/until tort reform becomes target number uno healthcare costs in this country will continue to skyrocket

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By Anteater, July 15, 2009 at 11:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I see Insurance companies as the bane of civilization, Ponzi Scheme extroadinaires!
I was born in 1933, and times somewhat similar to now, but insurance was not on most people’s list. When we had to see a doctor or go to the hospital, the charges were usually within ability to pay out of pocket, like: Doctor visit, $3.00, or hospital emergency, $5.00.

Then, as insurance companies came on strong, doctors would think, “Well, my patient doesn’t have to worry, just pass a little more on the bill to the insurancer.”
Then the Insurance co. would think when they got the bill, “Hmmm, doctors are charging more, so we’ll just raise the public’s insurance costs.” 

And so it has gone, except, we the people at the bottom of the barrel, are hit with all the raises, one way or another.

High Hopes Here, for you know what!!

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By Mestizo Warrior, July 15, 2009 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

As a child I was taught that no other nation was as democratic as is the U.S.A. My belief in that myth began deteriorating after the assasination of JFK and was fully confirmed with the CIA’s involvement of the coup in Chile in 1973.

I began my comment with the above, because there are still too many of us believing that we live in a democracy. The truth is that American “democracy” is the best that money can buy!

President Obama from day one has been opposed to single payer healthcare. Recently I learned that his “chief healthcare adviser”; Nancy DeParle received $2 million from the corporate healthcare interests last year! Max Baucus the senator from Montana who ejected single payer activists from the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare reform hearings has been paid off $3.4 since 2003 from the same corporate parasites! Is it any wonder that single payer was “off the table” way before the debate even began?

The point is when 2-3% of the total population can control the government, the news media, the movie industry, our school system, the economy, the churches, etc, WE HAVE NO REAL DEMOCRACY!

Think about it.

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By KDelphi, July 15, 2009 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

Obama couldve skipped the flowery rhetoric and kissing up to nurses (not most nurses, I must add) today, and left his description of the Senate Committes “health insurance reform plan”, with only two words, which he used:

“Buck up”

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By Quinty, July 15, 2009 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

Another excellent comment, or comments, Walt.

Taxes, in my opinion, are actually good.

Now that word, “taxes,” is a hot button. People jump when it’s used and think of all the negative connotations. Waste, misuse, excessively high taxes. Well, no one wants any of that, of course. Taxes should be used wisely. (And, as you say, Walt, eliminating a big MIC pork project to pay for public health services would be a better use of our money.) So why then are taxes good?

Because they buy things we need. Public education, police, fire, libraries, and yes, healthcare for the needy. Instead, the negative reaction to the word always springs up: it a given that any tax increase is bad. Republicans tell us taxation will drive away business. Well, don’t businesses want and need the services, the good things, taxes buy too, such a well educated work force? Police? Fire? All the benefits taxes bring? Or should they be allowed to receive these benefits without chipping in?

Taxes permit government to provide the services the private sector can not provide. Such as universal healthcare. That’s why they’re good. Because they buy good things, just as having some money in your pocket is good. With that money you can buy something you want or need.

But as you say, since Ronald Reagan’s time government has been seen as the “problem,” and this is often seen as a given by many Americans. No one believes in waste, but because there is waste that does not mean those essential services government provides should be eliminated. The waste should be eliminated. But the right would have us throw out the baby with the bath water.

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By walt, July 15, 2009 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

Thanks Q,

By the way couldn’t canceling the entire budget for the F-22 [anti-Soviet (!) air-to-air fighter] pay the costs of setting up a single payer health care system? Would we even need a modest increase in taxes if we started getting value for our taxes instead pork for the MIC states? It is just criminal.

Do you know why even though Europeans pay such high taxes (and while no one loves takes)  they don’t have such virulent (and soon to be violent) tax protests as we do? Because even though they pay high tax rates, every day that they wake up and walk out the door, they SEE what they get for their taxes: Health care for everyone, Security and Housing for their elderly, Protection for their environment, Safety nets everywhere, Plus a constantly updated infrastructure. It’s about the social contract. respect for one another.

We on the other hand, resent such taxation on principle. Are we convinced we will never get sick when we won’t have a job? Do we believe we won’t get old and helpless? Is it our opinion that the planet will actually be taken care of by Corporations in an unleashed market? Is it that we don’t need infrastructure in OUR gated neighborhoods? We on the other hand, don’t like one another.

I can understand the indifference of the investment class. They have to see us all as points on a graph, in order to enact their inhuman strategies. But why “We the People” drift willingly to the slaughterhouse is almost beyond comprehension. Thomas Frank doesn’t explain it.

For 30 years we’ve been told Government doesn’t work, that it IS the problem. Enough progressives believe it too. And Obama was RAISED under the era of conservative politics. There will be no serious help coming form there.

It’s too late for a real 3rd party uprising. Besides the one that springs up is likely to be headed by Sarah Palin. People are already dying for want of care. Not many I’ll admit. But how many will it take America? How many of your own are you willing to sacrifice to these uniformed ideas and, burned out ideologies?

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By tmullins, July 15, 2009 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

As a former health care giver, I am shocked and saddened to see what has become of health care in America. $ 1. 4 million is being spent per day in DC by the health care lobbyists so your elected representative is getting taken care of and has quality health care we pay for and can’t afford ourselves for our families, I know what is deemed, defended and supported in Tennessee and Virginia as quality health care and clearly profit care comes ahead of patient care. MRSA ( methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureas ) is infesting our communities because filthy, uncaring hospitals and emergency rooms are breeding them and spreading them into our schools, homes, restaurants. How many more Americans’ will be diseased or die while 74 % of Americans’ are begging for health care reform ? More people died in America last year from MRSA complications than AIDS. When MRSA and a flu bug start mixing, it won’t be pretty and we are being infected by the very health care system we depend on and trust to keep us safe and healthy.

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By Quinty, July 15, 2009 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

Walt -

Excellent comments.

Only in America would our healthcare be seen as a commercial commodity to exploit for profit. Only in America would protecting the private sector be seen as more important than providing decent healthcare for one and all. Only in America would a family spend more than a thousand dollars a month for health insurance, be dissatisfied with it, and object to exchanging this for a public system because it would mean a small hike in taxes and would be “Socialism.” Only in America would the private sector claim a public system would be tyrannical while protecting the right of private insurers to decide who and what they will cover. Only in America would millions of Americans buy this garbage.

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Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, July 15, 2009 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

“We the People” is a declaration of Socialist ideas.
This not only referred to Democratically Elected Gov’t Body, But also our Free Market.
In Merry Ol’ England only the Nobles and merchant class were given access to the market place to sell and profit from their products and Services. Serfs were relegated to being merely labor and ‘caged’ consumers. They had no resources to compete against the wealthy nobles and merchants, thus limited to the meager things they controlled (prostitution).
Our Founders Rejected this socio economic cast system and afford All Americans the Right to work the producer/provider/supplier/ vendor side of the market table. We allow groups of people to ‘incorporate’ to create a Company. So why is it not allowed for the American People as a Collective to do the same?
Our Free Market and nation has become enslaved to the modern day Family Crests we call Logos. They may lack the True Blue Blood lines as their foundation, but the mechanism to oppression and submission are exactly the same. The predatory methods of ‘Credit’ guarantees the public becomes indentured to these corps.
To Block “We the People” From hanging our healthcare Shingle up in the market square is nothing short of Economic Treason. The Poltiicians who are protecting the market For the Corps have been undermining the very foundation of Our Country. Our Founders fought a Revolutionary War to Free Us politically and Economically from Feudalistic Cast Systems of Dictatorships and Monarchies (Emblems,Symbols,crests…Logos).
“WE the People” have the Inalienable Right to be Competitors in the Market Place. Relegating US to mere labor and consumer means the Revolutionary war was fought in vain and the Great Experiment Failed.
Not only does World History clearly indicate we were founded on Socialistic ideas, Our Country’s name reinforces it “United” ( All for one and one for all). In fact it seems to me those Repugs who expect State rights to override Federal laws, Want our country to become more like the European Union.The Drum beaters for State Soverignty fail to comprehend that their Territory would have never been granted statehood had it not conceded to the guidlelines laid out in the US Constitution to begin with. Fed always Trump State, because we are The UNITED States.Otherwise our Founders would have named the loosely held conglomeration of states ‘The States of America’. I call that ideology not ony UNPatriotic, but A blantant rejection of Our Country’s Birth!Seems these folks would have preferred We remain a Colony of England. Red Suits the Repug party since they have never given up their Red Coats !

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By walt, July 15, 2009 at 5:36 am Link to this comment

When will the numbers reach high enough to activate this atomistic population? With ONLY 50 million Americans “officially” uninsured (that’s not counting those who have fallen off the grid) we still fail to act. We accept the lies and propaganda about socialized medicine that come from the AMA, the Insurance Industry and the Pharmaceutical Companies, who never have to provide a shred of evidence of what public health care would actually be like. You don’t have to visit England or Canada or watch “Sicko” … just talk to Grandma who is on Medicare. She couldn’t survive without it.

And of course, so many Americans accept the advice and counsel of their elected officials – who are by and large, ALL millionaires and even still, do not have to pay for the best health care coverage in America. You know the details: get elected for 4 years and collect PREMIUM health benefits and a large portion of your salary FOR LIFE! Then of course, there are the pundits who are full of good advice: the Savages, The Hannitys, The Limbaughs and O’Reillys who all earn in the millions a year. Do they really have the best interests of the average folks in mind? Or do they spit their lies and rage because that format still delivers BIG ad revenues?

Yet enough Americans continue to listen to these people. And Obama and the Democrats, enjoy their lives of privilege and give us little more than Hope … and that’s fading fast.

Tea Baggers screech their rage about how much in taxes we pay (not a lot btw) without EVER demanding to know what we GET for them!

So what will it take? 100 million? 200 million?  At what point will Americans react to this crisis? What will it take for us to stop saying to ourselves “At least it’s not happening to me” and start realizing that “Very soon, it could be me.”

It has to take something catastrophic because we have no culture of social solidarity. We don’t care about the hungry, the poor, the unemployed, the uninsured, the sick and dying. We just take comfort in the fact that it’s not happening to us. (And our twisted ethics continue to support the idea that their misfortune is somehow their own fault)

The blind eye we turn to human suffering in our own country among our own people is nothing short of immoral. The Insurance Execs get what they can while they can, because that’s the ethic of today’s America. They are like the Wall Street winners, who are back to awarding ungodly bonuses to themselves as they ravage the revenue generating elements of our industrial society, in favor of short term (quarterly) profits. They are like children who’ve taken control of the school and there’s no adult supervisor to stop them. Masters of the Universe? Or Lords of the Flies?

When you stop to think about it, this says something very, very grim about us: We don’t believe in the future, in our children, in ourselves. It’s all ending soon so grab all you can, while you can. This doesn’t have to be the rants of a religious fanatic talking about the Rapture, this can come from be a well-educated corporatist who believes in his heart that we are pulling the country down around ourselves and the downward momentum can’t be stopped so he may as well take care of himself before it all goes away.

We are living half-lives in front of our TVs and computer screens with blithe indifference to these impending realities, hoping I suppose that it will all turn out good in the end. Or else we’re putting all our faith in the Casinos or the Lottery.  We seem willing to do anything but accept this “real world” as anything even remotely real.

We act like there is no tomorrow and very soon there won’t be.

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By bunkerbuster, July 15, 2009 at 4:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No one approves of waste, fraud or abuse, other than the tiny portion of outright criminals, and the vast majority of those are citizens gaming the insurance system through bogus claims, not the insurance companies themselves.
  Sure, insurance companies round off corners where they can and push to control their costs. Surely they pushed too hard in the cases cited above. Nevertheless, they have a clear, compelling interest in obeying the laws and making money simply by providing a profitable service.
  I am in favor of a public option because I think it is the best way to QUICKLY ensure that the growing number of uninsured Americans have access to healthcare.
  But I do not think that that option, or a single-payer system, will eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.
  Moving the administration of health insurance from the private to the public sector will not perform a miracle. The people that deliver the care won’t change either, even though some of the more perverse incentives will be eliminated.
  Even if we get universal insurance, a decade from now, we’ll have some bureaucrat confessing before congress that his program denied or obstructed service unnecessarily, tragically and, indeed, willfully.
  The rhetoric about “murder” is over the top and unhelpful.

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By JakesTake, July 15, 2009 at 2:54 am Link to this comment

Well, this has just hit home. I’m a teacher who recently received a lay-off notice. Thanks to a new law, I’ll be able to purchase COBRA at a semi-reasonable cost. But then what? I’m a single parent of a disabled son. There isn’t a private company out there that will insure us. This insanity has to stop. Congress must be bold.

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By fin-tastic, July 15, 2009 at 12:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Profit-driven insurance claim denials actually kill people..”

Not exactly. No health care system can provide every patient with every treatment. At the margins there will always be some procedure that doesn’t make sense to the provider but that makes perfect sense to the emotionally tied family. You are forgetting the law of scarcity: Human wants are unlimited but resources are scarce. Somehow, scarce resources must be allocated toward competing ends. If it’s not the price system of the free market that does the allocating, it’s going to be the whim of bureaucrats.

That’s fine if you think bureaucrats can do a better job, but you should recognize that they will also be “killing people” by deciding who lives and who dies.

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By rockinrobin, July 14, 2009 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Monsanto/Dow/chemicals/food chains/huge Corps/ALL interchangeable with TOP POLITICIANS: in CONGRESS: they CLAIM that “exploitation” is the way DEMOCRACY is run; it is a CRIME folks! CHEMICALS are AGRESSIVELY USED for 1 single purpose: to CAUSE you to be ill; the AGENDA of the USA SINGLE POLITICAL SYSTEM IS EXPLOITATION: top POLITICIANS/CONGRESSMEN/like OCTOPUSES have their HANDS in EVERYTHING; and it is ALL for ONE PURPOSE: THEIR personal profit & gain;
Rumsfeld/asparteme/FORMALDEHYDE/one of the most TOXIC substances on earth is in the FOOD CHAIN: and in almost EVERY processed food; $ from CHEMICALS; $ when you BUY from the CORP GIANTS THEY OWN huge amounts of STOCK in; $ when you have to PAY as you are ILL; MONSANTO has a PHARMACIA as well; Rockefeller owns 93 percent of the huge PHARMA; they are getting 600,000 xs the COST of meds at $4 generic; THEY wrote the LAW that insurance companies do NOT have to pay a THING: your coverage STOPS the moment you get ill;
The PEOPLE have done NOTHING to STOP this criminally run CORRUPT GOV; they CHANGE laws when ever they FEEL like it & are BACKED UP by JUDGES more CRIMINAL than any appearing before them. THIS is why 900,000,000,000.00 is like 50 cents in their pockets folks; they have done so SUCCESSFULLY here in the USA at making folks slaves to THEM: their CORPS: thru ABUSE of power, MISUSE of laws; & NO JUSTICE: they are taking it globally.
They have KILLED OFF more folks that Hitler did: following HIS agenda: of purposely poisoning the population & global dominion thru the use of Corps: which is no suprize when you KNOW they brought him as well as other top Nazi’s over to LEARN all they could; yep: he did NOT commit suicide in a bunker; his body never found (how GULLIBLE ARE Americans?)
HE first put FLORINE in water; to POISON for PROFIT for HIM: and as “unwell” people are “easier to manage”; this is NOT a democracy at all folks; THAT is propaganda;

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By hippie4ever, July 14, 2009 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

To put a human figure on the level of corporate theft we are talking about here: nobody in a single-payer system pays more than $100 a month for coverage without deductions. What do you pay? I bet it’s more—exponentially more—and not as good. For-profit HMOs and PPOs deny lifesaving procedures every day, to further their bottom line.

These are major criminals and we’ve got to shove single-payer health care down their reactionary throats.

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By scottgreene, July 14, 2009 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

Health insurance provides medical coverage when needed.  .
But unlike businesses that provide a product to make money, health insurance companies make money for themselves when they restrict and do not pay claims.

Read the 50 pages of a health insurance contract.
Pay attention to limitations and exclusions.
People’s health is not a product that needs to be left to the whims of money motivated CEO’s.
If that is your thinking, you might as well have your police and fire dept protection based on insurance premiums you pay.
Then you can go to the police and fire protection insurance page for ‘limitations and exclusions’ on whether or not the police or fire dept would come out to your house in the event of an emergency.

The point is, you would never think of discriminating against another citizen if he was the victim of a fire or crime.
So why would you be ok with health insurance companies discriminating against fellow citizens who have pre-existing medical conditions?

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By Ralph Novy, July 14, 2009 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

Would someone please lay their hands on the AHIP “game plan” that Moyers said he had a copy of…and publish it?  I’d be very interested to see what EXACTLY was written.

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By Rodger Lemonde, July 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The base fact of insurance is that the companies are making book, yes they are bookies. What happens to a bookie that renigs or welches on a bet? If he’s lucky he gets his knee caps smashed. If not he sleeps with the fishes. Now does that sound like the sort of justice insurance companies deserve? Figuratively we should do the legislative equivalent. An individual citizen that was responsible for the number of deaths that stain insurance companies hands with blood would be a serial killer. A disease that was that fatal would be an epidemic. A company that has no regard for human life should get the corporate equivalent of the death penalty.

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By Spiritgirl, July 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

And yet our preening and postulating Congress would deny Americans the option of Universal care, even as the spew the lies of “socialized medicine”!  When did “health care” become a commodity?  When did “life” become something that can be boiled down to a dollar figure, and why have “we” as society let it!

There are certain ideas that “we” as society need to coalesce around and health care is one of them.  For those that have “health insurance” the public option would probably ensure that your premiums don’t continue to skyrocket, that your out of pocket costs don’t continue to increase, that at least half of the bankruptcies will not be due to some family member having a catastrophic illness, that your prescriptions will not take all of your money that might go to paying bills. 

At what point do we as a society stop listening to these whores in Congress.  Yes, whores and not good ones, they are selling themselves out to the highest bidder for what - cushy jobs after being in congress, jobs for relatives, money for campaigns, what and why exactly are we allowing the distracting arguments from people that have been bought and paid for by the very industry that is contributing to their very private pockets - even as that very industry is ripping off the average American!  This is about “pro-life”, the continuing healthy lives of all Americans!

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By M Currey, July 14, 2009 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The insurance companies are so tight that if you work for an insurance company you do not get much free insurance an life insurance policy as long as you work for the company.

The medicare for seniors is not taken advantage by all, I only go to the doctor when I am seriously sick not a simple cold which I doctor cannot cure.

If you are unfortunate enough to get insured on the job, insurance will allways take the stand that you are lying about pain, the HMO K**SER will also not side with you because they assume that back pain is not real, that you cannot injure your back doing office work and anything repetative can injure you.

Insurance companies are only out after themselves and the mean part is those who know nothing about the medical field make decisions that can kill people.

The murder (indirect) must stop.

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