Conservatives sometimes try to rally progressives to oppose the Senate health care bill by characterizing the legislation as a give away to private insurers. But this morning, retiring Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) took this manufactured outrage to new heights, telling MSNBC’s David Schuster that the bill would give insurers “exactly what they want”:
SHADEGG: The reality is this bill is going to reward for-profit companies that have done a disservice. This bill mandates, with the IRS executing the penalty if you don’t go along, that you and I buy health insurance plans from for-profit companies. That’s an outrage. It’s the same for profit health care companies that have done a lousy job of taking care of this. And yet this bill gives them exactly what they wanted. The insurance industry, the for-profit insurance industry wanted an individual mandate and that’s what they are getting out of this bill. The for-profit insurance industry did not want a public option because they don’t like competition. And guess what? They are getting that. This bill is giving to the for-profit insurance companies and I happen to believe that Dennis is making this point, it’s giving the for-profit insurance companies exactly what they want.
When Schuster pressed Shadegg on whether he would support a “government-run medicare expansion,” Shadegg described his personal health care proposal which, ironically, would go a lot further towards pleasing the insurance industry than the Senate bill. Shadegg’s plan would allow insurers to continue providing completely unregulated insurance policies to cheap-to-cover younger Americans and push older more expensive Americans into tax payer funded high risk pools. Shadegg takes some preliminary steps towards limiting premium growth, but it’s unlikely that these programs will offer affordable or even adequate coverage.
Nationwide, high-risk pools can afford to cover fewer than 200,000 people. States grapple with the high cost of insuring a large pool of very sick people by charging higher premiums, denying benefits for treatments related to their preexisting conditions and limiting eligibility. In fact, according to the Tax Policy Center, subsidizing sick people by grouping them together into a single risk pool could cost as much as $1 trillion over ten years.