MSNBC host: Congress defends ‘corporate communism’ in health care
MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan says the efforts of some congresspeople to kill the public health care option and limit access to the proposed health care exchange system is a sign that Congress is defending the “corporate communism” of the health care industry.
On MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, Ratigan pointed to the fact that health insurers are exempt from anti-trust laws as proof of the “communist” nature of the health care industry.
Anti-trust laws were enacted to prevent companies from forming market monopolies. Health care companies are exempt from these laws, which is why, for example, BlueCross BlueShield is able to control 83 percent of Alabama’s health insurance market, and why WellPoint is able to control 78 percent of the market in Maine. (See the complete chart here.)
“If you’re looking for choice in your own health care or competition to break up the corporate communism that burdens our country at this point and prevents any of us from finding work — no no, your Senate is not working for you, there will be no competition, nor will there be any choice,” Ratigan said.
Ratigan said the interplay between the health industry near-monopolies and their protectors in Congress amounts to “a cancer on our nation.”
Ratigan was referring to an amendment proposed by Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden that would have allowed anyone with health insurance from an employer or a labor union to shop for health care on a so-called health insurance exchange. Wyden withdrew that amendment last week after heavy pressure from business and labor leaders, meaning the health reform bill being debated in the Senate will allow only those without such insurance policies to use the exchange, rendering it useless for a majority of Americans.
Ratigan said the move to restrict the exchange was “a great tactic. It protected health insurers from having any real competition, perpetuating their corporate communism. … These are literally people who are paying off our government to make sure they don’t have to compete, whether it’s the too-big-to-fail banks or in this case the health insurance companies.”
To prove his point, Ratigan drew attention to the Max Baucus Wheel of Health Care Contributions, a chart designed by the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics that shows Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus — the author of the current health care bill before Congress — took on average 3.5 times as much money from the health care industry as the average senator.
Last week, RAW STORY reported on the Wheel of Contributions and the discovery by political watchdogs that politicians are receiving more money from the health insurance industry because of the existence of “contribution clusters” — political donations from lobbyists whose clients had already donated directly to the politician.
“This research puts a fine point on the connections — how the lobbyist contributions really complement and echo those of their clients,” Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics told Ratigan. “But it isn’t a smoking gun, however … there is no proof of coordination just because there are all of these contributions coming from all of these sources.”
“The more I learn and see this, the more I suspect that we don’t have a two-party system, we have a one-party system where it’s those who have the money who control the Democrats and Republicans to ensure they don’t have to compete,” Ratigan said. “And everybody else gets screwed.”
This video is from MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, broadcast Oct. 5, 2009.