Many Americans going without health care as private insurance companies continue to jack up premiums to pay for exorbitant CEO salaries and lobbyists.
Ottawa (23 Aug. 2010) - Here's another reminder of how lucky we are to live in Canada and have a national publicly-funded health care system.
While many working Americans cannot afford health care, and wait for the minimal reforms passed by Congress earlier this year to take effect, big insurance CEOs continue to fatten their already-bloated pay cheques and to raise health insurance premiums.
Between 2007 and 2009, which includes the global financial meltdown, more than 25% of Americans reduced their use of health care, a rate two to five times higher than in Britain, Canada, France and Germany, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Here’s one big reason why: nearly 15% of Americans are uninsured while the other countries have near-universal coverage. Read this report, The Economic Crisis and Medical Care Usage.
Yet while Americans are forced to cut back on care, the insurance companies go on jacking up premiums to finance the lavish salaries of CEOs and fund their shameless lobbyists they hire to cajole regulators into softening rules so that they can make even more money.
CEOs of the U.S. health care companies made nearly $1 billion last year — enough to allow every resident of Philadelphia, Dallas and Minneapolis combined to visit a doctor, according to a report by Health Care for America NOW (HCAN).
Since 2007, the insurance industry has spent at least $769 million to lobby policymakers and elected officials to influence health care legislation and regulation. Now, it's training its sights on the state regulators who are considering important rules setting minimum levels of insurance company spending on patient care. The new rules could rein in profits, CEO pay, lobbying costs and administrative expenses.
So when more than 1,000 lobbyists and health care executives swarmed all over the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) meeting in Seattle recently, some 150 activists from the Washington State HCAN and their supporters fought back.
They demonstrated outside and then went inside the conference center to deliver “lobbyist disinfectant kits” to the regulators so they could defend themselves against the lobbyists.
The kits included face masks to prevent the inhalation of lobbists’ airborne lies, hand sanitizer for frequent clean ups and deodorant soap for anyone whose encounters with these enablers of corporate greed felt like they needed a shower. They even set up a triage center at the picket line to treat those most heavily exposed to lobbyists’ dirty tricks.
Yet again we should thank our lucky stars for the public Medicare system we have in Canada.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE