Thursday, August 18, 2016

"This is what corporate control of our government looks like."

That was a tweet from Bernie Sanders about the Aetna's proposed merger with Humana and its threat to pull out of ACA if denied.

Aetna blackmail: No merger, no ACA

Here's some of the report at commondreams.org.

Healthcare giant Aetna directly threatened the federal government by vowing to pull out of Obamacare if its proposed merger to Humana was not approved, revealed a letter by the company's CEO sent in July and reported on Wednesday.

The letter, obtained by the Huffington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, proves what many observers have suspected and what the company has been denying: that its decision to pull out of most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health exchanges was a bargaining chip in its effort to achieve the controversial merger.

Aetna's threatening letter was authored by Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, who would have "personally [made] up to $131 million" if the Humana merger had gone through, as International Business Times reporter David Sirota observed last month.

The Justice Department sued to block the merger last month.

And all that is why ...

... we need a single-payer health plan

Robert Reich explains.

The best argument for a single-payer health plan is the recent decision by giant health insurer Aetna to bail out next year from 11 of the 15 states where it sells Obamacare plans.

Aetna’s decision follows similar moves by UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest insurer, and Humana, one of the other giants.

All claim they’re not making enough money because too many people with serious health problems are using the Obamacare exchanges, and not enough healthy people are signing up.

The problem isn’t Obamacare per se. It’s in the structure of private markets for health insurance – which creates powerful incentives to avoid sick people and attract healthy ones. Obamacare is just making the structural problem more obvious.

...

So health insurers spend lots of time, effort, and money trying to attract people who have high odds of staying healthy (the young and the fit) while doing whatever they can to fend off those who have high odds of getting sick (the older, infirm, and the unfit).

As a result we end up with the most bizarre health-insurance system imaginable: One ever more carefully designed to avoid sick people.

If this weren’t enough to convince rational people to do what most other advanced nations have done and create a single-payer system, consider that America’s giant health insurers are now busily consolidating into ever-larger behemoths. UnitedHealth is already humongous. Aetna, meanwhile, is trying to buy Humana.

Insurers say they’re doing this in order to reap economies of scale, but there’s little evidence that large size generates cost savings.

In reality, they’re becoming very big to get more bargaining leverage over everyone they do business with – hospitals, doctors, employers, the government, and consumers. That way they make even bigger profits.

But these bigger profits come at the expense of hospitals, doctors, employers, the government, and, ultimately, taxpayers and consumers.

So the real choice in the future is becoming clear. Obamacare is only smoking it out. One alternative is a public single-payer system. The other is a hugely-expensive for-profit oligopoly with the market power to charge high prices even to healthy people – and to charge sick people (or those likely to be sick) an arm and a leg.

We need Clinton and we need lots of pressure from everyone claiming to be a progressive to get this done.

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