FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Insurance Execs Target William Hsiao

Harvard Professor William Hsiao is a single payer supporter.

Twenty years ago, he helped push through a single payer system for Taiwan.

And now, he wants to do something similar in Vermont.

Over the past couple of months, Hsiao has been working feverishly ? with a team of 20 researchers ? to finish a report to the Vermont legislature on how to best implement a single payer system for the state.

Yesterday, he delivered his 132-page report.

And at the beginning of his one hour presentation to the legislature in Montpelier, he made it clear that “what I’m going to present is not necessarily popular for everyone.”

“Recently I was talking to an insurance executive,” Hsiao said.

“And I asked him if he was in favor of spending $50 billion to manufacture a new shuttle to the moon.”

“And he says ? yes, if you will go.”

That got a chuckle out of the gathered legislators.

But clearly, the insurance industry is not at all pleased with Hsiao.

They are watching events in Vermont carefully.

The newly elected Governor ? Peter Shumlin ? ran on a single payer platform.

Shumlin said that in his first conversation with Hsiao last year, Hsiao told him that he had “given up on America.”

“I told him we are Vermonters,” Shumlin said. “We think independently. We take care of each other, and we do things that others dare not do.”

The Vermont legislature tasked Hsiao with putting forth and analyzing three proposals.

A pure single payer government run system.

The current system with a public option.

And Hsiao’s preferred system ? a single payer system run by an independent board.

While Hsiao is not explicit about this in his report, the bottom line is clear ? under Hsiao’s single payer proposals, the private health insurers in Vermont would be out of the business of marketing and selling basic health insurance.

That’s why the insurance industry would prefer to see Hsiao headed to the moon than on the ground speaking before the Vermont state legislature.

“Our analysis of the three health insurance companies with significant operations in Vermont ? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, MVP, and Cigna ? was much more limited than our analysis of other groups, partly because much of Act 128 has fairly clear implications for those companies,” Hsiao writes in his report.

“It is reasonably safe to assume that health insurance companies would oppose any major health system reform that reduces their autonomy in financing and paying for health care, increases government’s role, and/or introduces new competitors to their market.”

“However, given Vermont’s history with reforms such as guaranteed-issue, community-rating, and the Blueprint program, it must be noted that the remaining health insurers in Vermont ? especially those run as non-profits ? are likely more accustomed and potentially more open than insurers elsewhere to working with state-led regulations. In addition, a continued market for supplementary insurance would generate ongoing opportunities for private insurance in the state.”

“It is possible that one or more companies may be interested in partnering with the state and substantially reforming their business model in order to continue to operate in Vermont.”

And in fact, Vermont’s largest insurer ? Blue Cross Blue Shield ? with 75 percent of the state’s health insurance business ? signaled yesterday that it might be interested in taking Hsiao at his word.

“If there’s a single payer system, we’d like to be the single payer,” Leigh Tofferi, the Blue Cross-Blue Shield lobbyist in Vermont told vtdigger.org.

But Hsiao warned of another possible insurance industry reaction.

“Of course, the opposite is also possible ? that an industry with deep pockets nationally will oppose reforms due to the threats they pose to the Vermont market and other markets that could follow Vermont’s lead,” Hsiao wrote.

There’s not a mention of the report in today’s big three newspapers ? the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post.

Early indications are that supporters of a pure government run single payer system are willing to accept Hsiao’s public/private compromise.

Physicians for a National Health Program’s (PNHP) Deb Richter told vtdigger.org that while a government administered system “makes the most sense in terms of good policy,” the system doesn’t have to be controlled by the government to be effective.

And PNHP’s Don McCanne said that “although advocates of the pure single payer model will find some problems with this report on a reform proposal for Vermont, there is very good news in this analysis. The report emphatically confirms the superiority of the single payer model in ensuring that everyone is included while containing health care costs.”

“One very serious deficiency is that they decided to leave in place Medicare and Medicaid, primarily because of existing barriers to move them into a single payer system,” McCanne wrote. “Thus their proposal is not a single payer system. Leaving these programs in place sacrifices some of the important single payer efficiencies.”

“Within the next couple of days, we’ll have a clearer concept of where the single payer community should be on this report. Tentatively, it seems that it deserves our support, but support that is qualified by strong advocacy to make it right by such measures as including comprehensive benefits, and rolling in and eliminating Medicare and Medicaid,” McCanne said.

Governor Shumlin’s office is reportedly drafting legislation that will be introduced soon.

Clearly, Shumlin hasn’t given up on America.

Or at least on Vermont.

RUSSELL MOKHIBER edits Single Payer Action.

 

More articles by:

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

April 26, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
As Trump Berates Iran, His Options are Limited
Daniel Warner
From May 1968 to May 2018: Politics and Student Strikes
Simone Chun – Kevin Martin
Diplomacy in Korea and the Hope It Inspires
George Wuerthner
The Attack on Wilderness From Environmentalists
CJ Hopkins
The League of Assad-Loving Conspiracy Theorists
Richard Schuberth
“MeToo” and the Liberation of Sex
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Sacred Assemblies in Baghdad
Dean Baker
Exonerating Bad Economic Policy for Trump’s Win
Vern Loomis
The 17 Gun Salute
Gary Leupp
What It Means When the U.S. President Conspicuously and Publicly Removes a Speck of Dandruff from the French President’s Lapel
Robby Sherwin
The Hat
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail