MSNBC host berates Democratic lawmaker over soaring insurance stocks

By David Edwards
Friday, December 18, 2009 12:12 EDT
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Dylan RatiganMSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan shouted down Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) after she couldn’t answer why insurance stocks have increased since major reforms have been stripped from health care legislation.

The health care reform bill “does very little to bring real choice and competition to the insurance market place,” explained Ratigan. “It does very little to reform the insurance monopolies. It does very little to create more choices for everybody in America for their health care but at the same time it mandates that everybody in America face penalties if they don’t buy health care.”

“The result of that has been the following,” continued Ratigan. “You know the monopoly scenario. I want you to take a look at the insurance stocks in this country on news of the creation of millions of new customers but the bill doesn’t reform the monopoly structure.”

WellPoint stocks are up 12.6% since November 17. United Health Group, Aetna and Humana are also up significantly.

Ratigan continued his rant, demanding an explanation for the increased stock prices.

“Those health insurance companies are up because being an unreformed oligopoly monopoly and having now the benefit of a government who is assigning the expense of covering the uninsured to the taxpayer without reforming the monopoly. It basically allows the taxpayer to take the hit for the uninsured but does not deal with the underlying symptom of why there are so many uninsured which is we have an unreformed private insurance monopoly in this country that is now being guaranteed more customers by the government,” said Ratigan. “Why is that a good thing for America?” he asked.

“Dylan, when this bill passes and becomes law, life in America for insurance companies is going to be very different than it is today,” said Wasserman Schultz.

Ratigan interrupted, “Apparently so. Apparently it’s worth another 10% [in their stock price.]”

“Why are the stocks up?” he continued to demand.

“I’d love an opportunity to answer your question,” Wasserman Schultz implored.

“Go nuts,” said Ratigan.

“Because we are going to shift the insurance company focus health care reform system to a consumer focus system,” Wasserman Schultz explained.

But that explanation wasn’t good enough for Ratigan. “Hold on. How is it a consumer focus system for you to mandate by law that people buy health insurance without giving them more choices? That is business driven.”

“If I can pass a law to force everyone to watch my TV show and not let them change — and have the government make it so you can’t change the channel. That’s what we’re doing with health insurance,” said Ratigan.

This video is from MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, broadcast Dec. 18, 2009.

Download video via RawReplay.com

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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