Healthcare Industry Mergers Lead to Skyrocketing Premiums: Bust up the Monopolies?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,539
    Likes Received:
    1
    an·ti·trust (ān'tē-trŭst', ān'tī-)
    adj. Opposing or intended to regulate business monopolies, such as trusts or cartels, especially in the interest of promoting competition.


    Senate Democrats Launch Attack On Insurer Anti-Trust Exemption



    It's funny. No matter what angle you look at this problem from (unless you work for one of the corporate healthcare insurance companies), the U.S. is screaming out for a good, strong competitive public option.

    Why was the healthcare insurance industry given an "antitrust exemption" in the first place? Somebody please fill me in.

    I would really like to use this forum as an opportunity to learn why we have rampant corporate mega-mergers. I thought the concept was anti-american and anti-small business, anti-competition. I remember reading about the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. As explained by the U.S. Supreme Court:

    "The purpose of the [Sherman] Act is not to protect businesses from the working of the market; it is to protect the public from the failure of the market. The law directs itself not against conduct which is competitive, even severely so, but against conduct which unfairly tends to destroy competition itself."

    It seems to me that there's a whole "too-big-to-fail" corporate mega-merger hierarchy structure that needs to be broken up.

    ----------

    Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday called for an amendment to the health care reform bill that would remove the long-standing antitrust exemption for insurers, echoing a push by other Democrats to crack down on the industry.


    “The health insurance’s antitrust exemption is one of the worst accidents of American history," Schumer said. "It deserves a lot of the blame for the huge rise in premiums that has made health insurance so unaffordable. It is time to end this special status and bring true competition to the health insurance industry."


    Harry Reid on the insurance companies:
    “There isn’t anything we could do to satisfy them in this health care bill. Nothing,” Reid said. “They are so anti-competitive. Why? Because they make more money than any other business in America today. . . .What a sweet deal they have.”


    The exemption, known as McCarran-Ferguson, cedes regulatory control of the industry, on the business side, to individual states. But repealing the antitrust exemption would give the federal government more authority to oversee the business side of health insurance companies — something states now have the sole authority to monitor.


    Democrats launch attack on insurer exemption - Patrick O'Connor and Carrie Budoff Brown - POLITICO.com
     
  2. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,539
    Likes Received:
    1
    Greenspan Says U.S. Should Consider Breaking Up Large Banks


    Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. regulators should consider breaking up large financial institutions considered “too big to fail,” former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said.

    Those banks have an implicit subsidy allowing them to borrow at lower cost because lenders believe the government will always step in to guarantee their obligations. That squeezes out competition and creates a danger to the financial system, Greenspan told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

    “If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big,” Greenspan said today. “In 1911 we broke up Standard Oil -- so what happened? The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that’s what we need to do.”

    Bloomberg.com: News

    ------------------

    Why is it not obvious that we need to bust up all the mega-corporate too-big-to-fail institutions (whether healthcare insurance or mega-banks or oil, etc) --- it will help capitalism, it will help socialism, there seems to be no downside. Only a very tiny sliver of people at the very, very utmost top of the food chain will consider this a downside.


    We need to remake the societies over - forge a new society that's more economically equitable for the majority of its citizens.
     
  3. Zeuhl34

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Messages:
    2,104
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    40
    Gender:
    Male
    I'm all for busting up those large conglomerates
     
  4. ZOS23xy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Messages:
    5,073
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    directly above the center of the earth
    Like Walmart's?

    I'm for that. Over 50 percent of their store stock is from China.
     
  5. Flashy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Messages:
    8,097
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    at home
     
  6. B_VinylBoy

    B_VinylBoy New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2007
    Messages:
    10,516
    Likes Received:
    7
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Boston, MA / New York, NY
    I'm just going to walk away from this thread... because I seriously hope we don't have people trying to defend some of the destructive practices of big business. Our Government is there to assist everyone, not just the wealthy or large corporations who now find themselves "too big to fail" due to their own excessive & irresponsible practices to expand and make profit. Capitalism is a double edged sword. Swing it around too much and you're eventually going to get cut. Be prepared to heal your own wounds, or stand there and bleed to death.

    And if you ask for someone to give you a band-aid in the process... then so much for beating your chest for Capitalism. :rolleyes:
     
  7. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,539
    Likes Received:
    1
    Senate Health Care Bill Will Get Every Democrat's Vote, Says Baucus



    WASHINGTON — When it comes time to vote, every Democrat in the Senate – and perhaps more than one Republican – will support legislation overhauling the nation's health care system, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee predicted Thursday.

    That assertion by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., was a notable show of confidence coming in the midst of negotiations with Majority Leader Harry Reid and White House officials to finalize legislation that can satisfy liberal Democrats without alienating moderates – and get the 60 votes needed to advance in the 100-seat Senate.

    Baucus told reporters that lawmakers have a moral obligation to repair the health care system to rein in costs and extend coverage to millions of the uninsured.

    "And that is why we are going to pass health care reform legislation this year, and it is why every Democrat will vote for it, and it is why there will be at least one Republican and maybe a couple more who also will vote for it," Baucus said.

    "Every Democrat will vote for national health care reform," Baucus emphasized.


    --------------------

    This is a good sign. Getting the damn legislation out of Max's Senate Finance Committee was the biggest hurdle.

    The two bills in the Senate have to be merged now (one of these contains a "public option").

    Three healthcare bills in the House have to be merged into one (ALL of them contain a public option).


    This is looking good. The votes seem to be there, even from blue dogs.


    As a back-up, senate leaders have indicated that if something breaks down, if the votes suddenly dematerialize, they have what's called a "nuclear option": they can treat the final bill as a finance bill only -- which merely requires a simple majority of votes for passage.


    What a fight this has been. But a fight worth fighting. Republicans have been obstructing every step of the way. You wouldn't think giving every american access to adequate healthcare would be so controversial.
     
  8. JTalbain

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Messages:
    1,812
    Likes Received:
    5
    I think that this is actually the reason why antitrust laws are important. The government is supposed to try to make the country fair for everyone. Maybe not equitable, but at least everyone has the same set of rules. Big corporations have such a huge voice that they can manipulate government to their own benefit. They may not have the power to declare war, but they can indirectly cause it to happen. After all, when a significant amount of your nation's GDP is tied up in a few big companies, it's fairly easy to steer public policy in that direction by stating "economic interests".
     
  9. MercyfulFate

    MercyfulFate New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,204
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Yep, but the free-marketeers would have you believe 0 government regulation is the best way to go. That these companies will police themselves for example.

    Yeah, right. Wall Street's manipulation over the past I don't know, FOREVER, shows that would never ever happen.
     
  10. Flashy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Messages:
    8,097
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    at home
    giving every american access to adequate healthcare is not controversial.

    *ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO PAY FOR IT AND NOT AFFECTING THE QUALITY CARE THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE COVERAGE IS*

    you are utterly clueless.

    these certainly would be great bills...too bad you, like most people in this country and its irresponsible government, are happy to just throw even more on the national credit card...which is already maxed out.
     
  11. Flashy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Messages:
    8,097
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    at home
    no matter what the corporations are claimed to be able to do, ultimately, an informed citizenry, can *VOTE* out anyone in and out of office.

    an informed citizenry would have demanded meaningful campaign finance reform ages ago, and they could have threatend every elected official with being thrown out of office for not enacting it *IMMEDIATELY*...but nobody cares.

    instead of demanding accountability, people just keep voting for the same shitty people, then blame the corporations when those same shitty people accept that corporate money.

    you cannot blame corporations for acting in their own interests.

    blame the citizens for being dumb enough to allow the people with real power, the congress, to completely allow the situation as it is.

    you want change?

    threaten every congressman and senator with immediate unemployment unless they pass immediate campaign finance reform, no more of this partisan bullshit about PAC's, soft money, etc.

    no more money, no more access. this government and its representatives cannot be trusted.

    you want better government? demand a law that all campaigns be financed by the public, and nothing else. demand free TV and Radio time for all candidates.

    no more fundraising competition, no more PAC's, no more "soft" money.

    both parties are as guilty as sin.

    i swear i am so sick of hearing whining about evil corporations. They are not breaking the law.

    you want change? change campaign finance.

    stop whining about corporate america.

    at least the majority of corporate america is *PROFITABLE* unlike our government.

    a corporation is responsible to its shareholders...if you keep failing, you will be out on your ass.

    a government's shareholders are its citizens...yet none of the governments shareholders give a shit about the ultimate corrupt, incompetent corporation there is, that cannot keep from spending itself into bankruptcy.

    *CITIZENS* need to do what SHAREHOLDERS do to a failed corporate administration...

    *FIRE THEM*




     
  12. B_Enough_for_Me

    B_Enough_for_Me New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    439
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Prove it.


    On top of that, whats wrong with it?
     
    #12 B_Enough_for_Me, Oct 17, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
  13. B_Enough_for_Me

    B_Enough_for_Me New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    439
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    I'm sure you don't intentionally post non-sense, but you did this time.

    Wall Street has never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever operated without the government forcing it's big greedy hand into the dealings of every business man and women there. Not once. So, don't claim that history disproves the free market. Further, more manipulation of Wall Street comes from the White House than the board room. The fed controls every aspect of a business mans day. If we removed the government we would have much lower insurance prices. Just like we'd have lower housing prices, and lower unemployment, but hey, it's easier just to post the non-sense socialist line.
     
  14. ZOS23xy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Messages:
    5,073
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    directly above the center of the earth

    American jobs, for one. And that Walmart is not exactly helping small businesses nationwide by undermining their sales. It is exceptionally hard for an individual to open up their own business anymore. When Walmarts has moved into a county, Mom and Pop stores close up.
     
  15. MercyfulFate

    MercyfulFate New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,204
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    I post non-sense and you say this? I didn't say history disproved the free market (although those who espouse it's virtues like Milton Friedman destroy nations with a corrupt version, hello Augusto Pinochet!) I said it simply would never work, much like communism.

    Prove to me we'd have lower costs and prices with a free market system. History doesn't disprove the free market, then it also can't back it up.
     
  16. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2004
    Messages:
    10,576
    Likes Received:
    25
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Warwick, NY, USA
    Sorry Flashy but corporate failure doesn't mean you're out on your ass. When the corporations control government policy via the PACs and soft money, there's no way the individual can compete. They even managed to get the GOP, once regarded as the champions of free marketism, to bail-out the corporations who were too big to fail.

    There is no such thing as a free market in the US. We're quite highly regulated compared to most other industrialized countries. Because of this, we're not dealing with a situation where the playing field is level. I agree that the mantra of vote the bums out is appealing but it doesn't solve problems as the next bums you vote in are subject to the same situation. You can say we should give candidates free air time and press, but who is going to pay for that? Candidates for federal office need big money to get elected and the average little voter won't be able to make enough of a contribution to do it. That's why big money talks and that's a very capitalist way of doing things.

    I'd like to point out that many of the companies you list have laid-off numerous Americans to offshore their operations. They operate not for the benefit of society but for their own and that's not always in the shareholder's best interest either. These days the big shareholders are investment banks which hold enormous blocs of stock. They trade companies in and out of portfolios based upon profitability and the individual shareholders themselves usually have no clue what is in their portfolios or not because they're all in mutual funds. There is no oversight of corporate action.

    It's not a good situation. The monetary and finance system of this country are rapacious, have economic and political privilege, engage in illegal and unethical actions constantly, and really have nothing to show for it. With all these economic busts a few token people (like Madoff) lose their heads but the rest in the trenches see no change at all and they don't worry. Unlike the hundreds of thousands of average Americans they will fuck out of a job, these guys have made enough money so that if they were fired tomorrow, they'd never need to work again and show little to no loss of lifestyle for it.

    I think your rhetoric does not reflect reality so well. I know quite a few investment bankers (present and past) who work at all these places and what goes on in them makes Mad Men look like a Carmelite cloister. You cannot work in the industry and keep your soul unless you are completely devoted to profit being the ultimate social good.
     
  17. D_Tully Tunnelrat

    D_Tully Tunnelrat New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2004
    Messages:
    1,168
    Likes Received:
    1
    Health insurers are profitable because they are able to deny, or cancel coverage, rather re-price risk, which is what a truly capitalistic system would mandate. It may not be affordable, but coverage should have to be available for purchase. The people/gov. can then decide if they want to subsidize the premiums, or publicly re-rate the health risk premium (as the Swiss do), and thus re-price the cost of the risk.

    Last fall, big banks became socialist. How many bailout $$ went to the big banks, who already own the Federal Reserve? Right now banks can borrow from the Fed discount window at .50% and re-sell that money as a loan at 3.25% for their best customers. Poor customers, like credit card holders, are charged 23.99%. I don't want to calculate the profit margin, because it's going to be obscene. Rates are in turn driven down for savers, as you might get a measly .10% in your checking account, and .50% in your savings. That's a massively subsidized business model if there ever was one.

    Banks should be able to make money, and allowed to merge, as needed, but not so they become so big as to become a systemic risk to the rest of our society. We need to bring back many parts of Glass-Steagall Act. Maybe health insurers need their own version of it...
     
  18. MercyfulFate

    MercyfulFate New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,204
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    :eek: I had to brush up on the Glass-Steagall Act because of this post, but thank you.

    Overall there are problems with many of the largest investment and banking firms. Goldman Sachs for example along with others manipulated the market numerous times, and that's even scarier with many former heads in the White House cabinet now.

    They also along with the Fed and Secretary Paulson destroyed their competition, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stears by short selling stocks in the companies. What's worse is the SEC isn't even looking into it, although they officially claim they are. Some unknown party bet nearly 2 million dollars on options that Bear Stearn's stock price would plummet in under 2 weeks. And it did.

    That's insider trading, yet no one seems to care. Add to that the numerous golden parachutes to AIG execs and others, and it shows how criminally corrupt our system has become. Rising unemployment and homelessness is a stark contrast towards someone getting millions when they leave a company.

    It's depressing. I recommend Matt Taibbi's article from Rolling Stone to people who'd rather the story be easier to read. It's been a while since I was deep into finance and economics as well, so it being in plain english helps.

    Wall Street's Naked Swindle : Rolling Stone
     
  19. B_Enough_for_Me

    B_Enough_for_Me New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    439
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    1) Prove that "over 50% of Wal-Marts stock is from China"

    2) While 'evil' Wal-Mart was rising to power, and allegedly selling mostly foreign products, America had some of the highest employment rates on Earth; consistently lower than socialist European countries.

    Small businesses are starting at the same historic rate they always have. Don't take my word for it, look at the data yourself: http://www.sba.gov/advo/research/dyn_b_d8906.pdf

    Yes, that says 95% of all firm starts have fewer than 20 employees. That hasn't changed. It won't change. Simple-minded Wal-Mart hatred be damned.

    Here is a nice resource for you: Should Small Businesses Fear Wal-Mart? - US News and World Report

    You might also want to watch Penn & Teller's episode of Bullshit! called Wal-Mart Hatred.
     
  20. MercyfulFate

    MercyfulFate New Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,204
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Oddly enough that's one of the few Bullshit episodes I didn't agree with.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted