Obama Proposal To See Federal Government Block Health Insurance Rate Hikes

Tyler Durden's picture

It's good that the rest of the economy is humming along, and the whole record unemployment thing is under control, cause we were wondering when the president would refocus his efforts on such mission critical things as having the government determine health insurance rates. Apparently the answer to the last question is tomorrow. According to the NYT, "Obama will propose on Monday giving the federal government new power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies, as he rolls out comprehensive legislation to revamp the nation’s health care system, White House officials said."

This whole thing is just getting way out of hand:

By focusing on the effort to tighten regulation of insurance costs, a
new element not included in either the House or Senate bills, Mr. Obama
is seizing on outrage over recent premium increases of up to 39 percent
announced by Anthem Blue Cross of California and moving to portray the
Democrats’ health overhaul as a way to protect Americans from predatory

And yes, just when you thought government couldn't get any more socialist, er, pardon, bigger, here's Johnny:

The president’s bill would grant the federal health and human
services secretary new authority to review, and to block, premium
increases by private insurers, potentially superseding state insurance
regulators. The bill would create a new Health Insurance Rate
Authority, comprised of health industry experts that would issue an
annual report setting the parameters for reasonable rate increases
based on conditions in the market.

Officials said they envisioned the provision taking effect immediately after the health care bill is signed into law.

legislation would call on the secretary of health and human services to
work with state regulators to develop an annual review of rate
increases, and if increases are deemed “unjustified” the secretary or
the state could block the increase, order the insurer to change it, or
even issue a rebate to beneficiaries.

In this vein, how long before we get a "Credit Card Rate Authority", a "Bid Offer Spread Arbitrage Authority" and, just jokingly (not really), a "Thank God There Is A PPT So Pay The Government A Tenth Of Your AUM Authority"? Yes, we are serious. And we are even more confused how [Lenin|Stalin|Khrushchev|Brezhnev|Chernenko] did not think of all these things when they had the chance... Oh wait, they did.


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Lou629's picture

Wish they'd find a way to block the one i got handed retro-active to the beginning of just this year.  I carry my own blue cross and i've seen at least a 10% increase in my premium every January, (never mind that that's like 4+ times the rate of inflation) for the past 6 years.  I don't know how they'd pay for it, (run the printer faster?) but health insurance premiums are out of control, and have been for some time imo.

Bear's picture

I had an individual plan with Blue Shield of CA (5000 deduct) ... 1500 / month ... moved to Hawaii got HMO (0 deduct) ... 700 / month.

rubearish10's picture

Maybe not everyone could do what you did bud...

Bear's picture

I understand but this is why national potability is so critical ... competition will contain cost increases. Right now it's a big shill game with the Administration encouraging abuses with one hand (to encourage rage) and calling for the curbing of government policy increases with the other. If enacted, he can then point to the government plan and say everyone should be 'allowed' to have a plan that effectively contains costs. Three Card Monte 101.

He lies!

rubearish10's picture

You mean that GOP Congressman was right during the State of the Union speech last January? Yeah, we're in dire straits under current rule but I'm worried about gridlock putting us in deeper shit than just healthcare. Your points are well taken and someday Hawaii may be the solution for many more unless AYS, there's a major breakthrough in how things work in Washington (& the states). I'm just not confident that would happen without more catostophic events such as currency devaluation and lost American leadership.....

Bear's picture

Gridlock ... hey bring it on ... the best thing that could happen to us would be that nothing gets done. Again, I come from Ca where, so many things got done in the last five years they it is now a failed state and the only hope is that a bankruptcy judge orders a halt to new legislation ... send the ear-mark grease monkeys home and pray for Gridlock.  

Anonymous's picture

Can they form a commission to stop unconscionable tax increases by federal, state and local gov'ts?

Gold...Bitches's picture

i've seen at least a 10% increase in my premium every January, (never mind that that's like 4+ times the rate of inflation) for the past 6 years.  

Only if you use the govt inflation stats. 

Lou629's picture

Perhaps it's worse where you live than where i am.  Or maybe it's just that i'm old enough that i remember it being a lot worse.  For example back in the 70s & 80s the price for gasoline & heating oil (and damned near everything else) only seemed to go one way, up.  Now, gas & fuel oil prices seem to swing both ways regularly.  The prices of most other things seem to have remained relatively stable in my area in the past couple of years.

When compared to those thrilling days of yester-year mentioned above, i haven't really noticed a great deal of inflation on a day-to-day basis like i did back in the day, except in terms of my health care costs (insurance premiums, doctor bills, medicine & everything else related) in the past few years.

aldousd's picture

Rent control anyone? Gas rations... no takers? History for 200 Alex.

dark pools of soros's picture

...just saw this popup on turbo tax....  for a second i thought we only got our refund in saving bonds now!   (no i didnt even buy one.. so i will most likely get audited or shot)



Putting Your Refund on U.S. Series I Savings Bonds

This year, the IRS has a new program that allows you to use all or part of your tax refund to buy U.S. Series I savings bonds.

To do this, first choose an option on this screen other than to receive a check (even though you want savings bonds). Check the box next to "I would like to split my refund into more than one account". Choose the "Use my refund to buy savings bonds" option at the top of the next screen.

You can put your refund on savings bonds if you use direct deposit, regardless of whether you e-file or print and mail your return.

You can buy up to $5,000 in savings bonds, in multiples of $50. The bonds will be issued in your name, or if married filing jointly, in the names of you and your spouse.

Your savings bonds will be mailed to you at the address shown on your tax return.

For more information on Series I U.S. Savings Bonds, please visitwww.treasurydirect.gov


Anonymous's picture

Health Insurance should be a utility.

I'm all for the regualtion of profits of Utilities and if the insurance companies don't like they can get the fuck out of town.

Just last week our local behemoth announced a 50% increase in profits AND wants to raise rates by 30%. Fuck every single goddamned one of them, they are no better than the Goldman Sucks, Hank Paulsons, Joe Cassanos, and other scum of the world.

I hope they are regulated down to a 5% net income.

RickC's picture

Health insurance can be a utility when health is a commondity.  I would hate your health being interchangeable with my health.

fotokemist's picture

And I thought this man was intelligent!!

The insurance companies will simply become even more aggressinve in cost control, resulting in lower services to the insured.  Does O really think he will not get the "credit" for this outcome?

Bear's picture

He is in manic mode to demonize Health Care in advance of the 2/25 Summit, so he can point to them as the 'real' reason that the system is broken and that we must pass legislation to solve the problem ... even if by reconciliation.

Astute Investor's picture

Why don't we just bring back Nixonian wage and price controls circa 1971?  Oh, that's right...it was a monumental failure.

mouser98's picture

everything else they are doing was also a monumental failure when tried before, that doesn't seem to be a consideration

Missing_Link's picture

True.  The gargantuan failures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hasn't even given them pause when considering a government takeover of health care.

Anonymous's picture

Canada has universal helath care.
If you pay taxes in Canada you get Free health care.

RickC's picture

I don't understand how you can pay taxes and then call the product free.  By that token, we have "free" government in the US.  It just doesn't always seem so free.

chunkylover42's picture

To say nothing of our wonderful, top-notch public school system.  Or postal service.

Anonymous's picture

Dump on the Postal Service all you want, but remember that they're mandated to serve every citizen. Part of what makes them so expensive is that they have to be able to carry a postcard from Crotchrot Tennessee to Moose Balls Alaska. Try and see how much FedEx charges for that.

Also, did you know that UPS/FedEx use the Post Office for last-mile delivery in rural regions?

Pike Bishop's picture

I was wondering if there was anybody old enough to remember what a naive bellyflop that was. Even if I was a farkin' pinko, commie hippie.. I have to admit that price fixing doesn't work. We tried it. It sucked. All it does is kick-the-can down the road.

Oh, sorry,... I forgot. That's the policy we are using, rather than face up to the beatings we so richly deserve.

It's hard to say which deserves more self-loathing... the chithouse of a financial system the government and Banks built, or the massive cesspool of solutions they created to hide the chithouse and the peasants' bodies.

Retail customers should have to fill out a Suicide Watch form whenever they place a buy on an equity. If they flag positive, put the order through. At least they are choosing how they want to end it.

The rest of us can stand on the beach, and watch the government attempt to use harsh language to keep the tidal wave from hitting shore. At least we'll have satisfied our curiousity as to where the wave is going to break first.



girl money's picture

backdoor nationalized health care, here we come

Bear's picture

Sorry ... He's lookin for the front door

Anonymous's picture

Backdoor? The reality is that we already have a form of nationalized health care. Consider this: no person in need of immediate care, who turns up at a hospital, is denied care. The health care system then simply seeks payment after the fact. If the uninsured patient has assets, they go after the assets, if that patient is destitute, the go after government money. When the government pays, it pays at a bare-bones preferred rate. When the patient pays, they pay massively inflated fee-for-service rates. That's why the working poor and the uninsured with moderate assets get wiped out, leading to medical bankruptcy. This massive cost shifting is exemplified this: last summer i had an MRI, and i chatted with the clinic accountant. My PPO provider had negotiated a $600 rate, which I paid out of pocket (pre-deductable). The uninsured, by contrast, are charged $1200 for the same service. The system is ALREADY broken, and burdened by a highly flawed de facto 'socialist' cost shifting system.

merehuman's picture

2 years ago my mri cost me 3,300.00. I was at the hospital 4 hours , i paid cash and no results to show for it? Still dont know whats wrong, learned to live with more pain and a mystery i cant afford to solve. I asked to use a ultra sound on myself and found i have to go truh a circus act first.

I welcome my last day on earth with the same quiet joy i live the moment.


Anonymous's picture

Thailand's got excellent medical care at prices up to 90% less than Stateside. Even with the cost of the flight you're looking at 50-60% less.

Mad Max's picture

The backdoor involved is going to be yours, mine, and that of everyone else who makes between $50k and $10M a year.

Missing_Link's picture

Yep.  They tried that in Zimbabwe too.  Devaluing the currency while trying to hold prices fixed.  It didn't drive prices down but did drive what little industry they still had out of the country.

aldousd's picture

Just as "ronald reagan proved deficits don't matter" zimbabwe proved that currency debasement is free. Just reprint the dollars with 10 Zeros whacked off the end every couple of months and we'll be fine.

MileMarker17's picture

I wish El Jefe and his junta would just get down with it and announce that Barry will be El Emperador for life, so we can get to the point of finding out what kind of backbone is left in this God forsaken country.

Al Gorerhythm's picture

The $3000.00 x-ray came back negative. Nothing to see. Not one vertabra remains. Diagnosis..... poor.

Rusty Shorts's picture

America's backbone dissolved, right after JFK was assassinated. Well, "America" or "the United States of America", really didn't exist in 1963, FDR surrendered to the IMF in 1933, which marked the end of the Republic.

mkkby's picture

Let's see.  The health insurance bill was failing due to blowback against forcing people to buy a plan.  How convenient that the health insurers would cooperate by behaving badly at the proper timing.  Obama and the dems need to pass this to save the mid term election.  The insurers are one of their biggest benefactors.  Naw, must be a coincidence.

Anonymous's picture

If it passes it will be worse for them, not just this year for the next 20+ years. Their only hope was to quietly let it die with dignity, while choosing one or two simple ideas that had true bipartisan support (like an 80-20 Senate vote), that could have been the beginnings of a newly charted course.

Now Obama is officially flouting the will of 70% of the country's citizens.

Anonymous's picture

The only things capable of getting the kind of bipartisan support you describe in the current Senate are irrelevant fluff like the "Celebrating Grandma's Apple Pie Act". Any remotely serious policy initiative offered by the Democrats will be rejected, even by Republicans who supported it before the Democrats got onboard. And the Republicans don't seem to have much to counteroffer besides tax cuts (which, if you weren't keeping track, are their response to good times and bad times alike).

And some of that 70% number that disapproves of the current plan thinks it doesn't go far enough to straighten the system out.

monopoly's picture

I keep going over the constitution and nowhere do I see where our real countrymen said it is ok for the govt. to FORCE Americans to join a plan, health plan, any plan. I thought we still had a choice since this is America

Man, am I stupid.


Missing_Link's picture

What is this "Constitution" of which you speak, comrade?

Anonymous's picture

Isn't that one of the stats you roll for, when you're setting up your character?

Anonymous's picture

Define: Excessive.

There in lies the loophole.

aldousd's picture

Ah yes. Created or Saved. Excessive.  Don't need a lawyer to catch that one, but unfortunately so many (though not too many here, I'd imagine,) miss that crap over and again. Just like when anyone says 'The american people' or 'the common good' they're totally butt fucking your ability to be addressed as an adult.  "you are a child, and you respond to patriotic heart string tugs, so that is how we shall address you."  Which reminds me, there is this giant (though on some level laudable) movement in PA to free up beer distribution so that you can buy beer at convenience stores and such.  Someone must be running for office on the "Jay Leno goes better with a Six Pack" platform.

Al Gorerhythm's picture

Excessive is, whatever your definition of "is" is.

mouser98's picture


all the mistakes of FDR and Hoover.  its deja vu all over again.  just don't remind him about the gold stealing part.

Rusty_Shackleford's picture

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.  --Paul Johnson

rawsienna's picture

I actually think the only reason why he is proposing the idea is to make Republicans look bad - he knows that no matter how much a individual Republican Senator or Congressman wants to limit the increase in health care costs, he knows none of em will vote for government control of prices.  Until this President considers serious tort reform along with allowing interstate competition for health insurance, I will not trust his true intentions.

Anonymous's picture

Exactly. He refuses to try the free things first! It would cost exactly zero dollars to try both of those excellent ideas, and he won't do it.

Anonymous's picture

Free? But what about the lawyers and healthcare bureaucrats put out of work? How will they be able to contribute to political plans if the "free" stuff is tried?
Glad I could clear that up for you.

Anonymous's picture

Was my point. And, also that everyone sees it happening real time and knows what he's doing. He's bought and paid for by special interests. It's not a real health reform plan, it's a health control plan.

truont's picture

USGovt price caps = Shortages & Rationing.

Can we lose the multiplication captcha questions?  I can't do those in my head! :(