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You typically kill a snake by cutting it's head off. While I find the whole lobbying concept as it exists today, whether it is in relation to health insurance or another industry, rather enraging, I don't see it as the primary problem. I'm not defending lobbying groups and I certainly wish that corporations would spend their money on worthwhile causes, but it is, after all, at least until it gets mucked up by the pols, their money to spend. The problem I see is that of the politicians, the elected “representatives”. There was a time when these individuals would serve the public and then return to private life after there term was expired. I, unfortunately, don't know the history of politicians and political life, but I perceive that some of the earliest representatives didn't make a career out of being an elected “representative”. They were statesmen (or stateswomen, today). That said, cut the snake's head (career politicians) off, and the rest of the snake (lobbyists – since they are dependent demand) dies. I'm not going to get into a greater opinion piece, but I think maybe you can assume where I'm going. Change, in regard to the lobbyists and their influence on politicians, that you mention, needs to start further upstream and needs to be pretty significant.
Regarding The Lewin Group and others. I fully agree with you. However, I will also state, that nearly all entities cherry pick or spin study results in their favor. Therefore, I don't find any one entity who is that “pure” from which one can draw conclusions on that data alone. Even some vetting must be done on some of the non-profit or non-partisan organizations. This also ties into the comments you made about NBC and their sister channels (broadcast networks...another example of oligopolies, as mentioned shortly). Digressing for a moment...there was a chart I had (lost in hard drive crash) that showed how something like 90% or more of either the media here in the States or possibly the world is owned by something like five or seven corporate entities. Ridiculous! If I can find it again, I'll PM you with it as it may be of interest. Back on track...again, I don't disagree with you about the lies, deceptions, and misinformation pushed out by the mainstream media. I also find it sad that people are so disengaged or complacent on such an important issue such as their health insurance that they readily believe everything they see from a single media source without further investigation or research. It occurs to me that the vast majority of the citizens of this country would have no problem being taken care of by the government as long as they can sit on their keesters, eat their chips, drink their soda pop and watch Jerry Springer, Oprah, or Family Guy and be oblivious. That, in my opinion, is scary.
I don't see these health insurance organizations as monopolies. They seem to better fit the definition of an oligopoly in my opinion. I suppose opinions vary. I think of monopolies as the former Standard Oil, the former Bell Telephone, or the current SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Monopolies aren't just limited to the private sector. Witness Amtrak (intercity passenger rail) and USPS (letter deliver to my letter box...why not open that up to FedEx, UPS, others?). I suppose one could make an argument that health insurance is monopolistic in the fact that if you are rejected by one company for a pre-existing condition, there is a good chance that you will be rejected by the others. Although, one insurer may decide you are worth the risk and sell you a policy anyway. However, there seems to be multiple choices in nearly every state (I think I applied to four or six here in Georgia although I was denied). They all verify their information from a shared information clearinghouse (MIB), therefore I don't know how that doesn't somehow amount to collusion. It also seems to me that if the federal government gets into the health insurance business (another business in which they have no business), it may create competition for a period of time, but eventually all private industry firms will be put down and the only choice anyone will have is the federal government and that may very well be an inadequate choice when all is said and done.
While I'm an advocate of state's rights, it appears that the federal government shot the consumer in the foot with McCarren-Ferguson legislation (hey...shoot the citizen in the foot and get an airport named after you...have you ever flown into McCarren Airport in Las Vegas?). It appears on the surface that having this legislation repealed would be a very good thing and would foster COMPETITION! Currently, folks are screaming that they want the same entity (federal government) that passed this legislation to define and maybe administer our health care nationally. Seems a bit perverted to me.
There's a lot more that needs to be done/be changed than just creating competition that would lower prices for some consumers. These are heady issues (covering those with pre-existing illnesses, adequate coverage for citizens of lesser economic means, greater accountability of physicians, altering medical bankruptcy laws). I don't see the entire solution coming from the federal government. They have a role. However, I see their role as a facilitator, not a health insurer. That's just my opinion.
Kind Regards, Jay
Almost all of us long for peace and freedom; but very few of us have much enthusiasm for the thoughts, feelings, and actions that make for peace and freedom. - Aldous Huxley
Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now. - Thomas Jefferson