October 3, 2009

As Keith notes, the Senators who hate the idea of a public option for health insurance sure didn't have any problem voting for a public option to protect the profits of insurance companies against too many flood claims.

OLBERMANN: The Republicans who oppose health care reform and the conservative Democrats who oppose a public option have deeply principled, philosophical objections to the concept of government insurance—except when insurance companies benefit from it, as you‘ll see in our fourth story tonight.

The big arguments against the public option have been these: that the government is incapable of running an insurance plan, that the free-market provides consumers with better choices, that socialized insurance will have unfair advantages. But as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David K. Johnston recently reported, these arguments do not stop some of the big opponents of socialized insurance for voting for socialized insurance when that insurance is not for the wellbeing of people but of property and insurance companies.

After the president gave his national speech for health care reform, Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany gave the Republican Party rebuttal targeting the public option, which Boustany calls “government-run health care.”


REP. CHARLES BOUSTANY, LOUISIANA: It‘s clear the American people want health care reform, but they want their elected leaders to get it right. Most Americans wanted to hear the president tell Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and the rest of the Congress that it‘s time to start over on a common sense, bipartisan plan, focused on lowering the cost of health care while improving quality. That‘s what I‘ve heard over the past several months in talking to thousands of my constituents. Replacing your family‘s current health care with government-run health care is not the answer. In fact, it will make health care much more expensive.


OLBERMANN: Some blue dog House Democrats led by Stephanie Herseth Sandlin also oppose a public option. And when the Senate Finance Committee voted against including the option in its version of health care reform, Republicans were joined by a handful of Democrats including the committee chair, Max Baucus, who crafted the bill after conferring for weeks with the so-called “gang of six”: fellow Democrats Jeff Bingaman and Kent Conrad, Republicans Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi and Olympia Snowe. The entire gang of six votes—casts their votes against the public option on Tuesday.

But each of them voted just last year in support of government-run insurance, that insurance however protects property. It is the National Flood Insurance Program created in 1968, because the free market decided it could not make money on that unpredictable risk called flooding. Government-run flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies but it is backed by the government and the government assumes all risk. Unlike the public option which relies on customer premiums, government flood insurance gets a subsidy—also known as a handout—from the government and it is mandatory for some people.

So given all the shouting over a public option, who could vote for mandatory taxpayer subsidized, anti- free market socialized flood insurance run by government bureaucrats? Every single politician I just named and most of Congress. Charles Boustany of Louisiana, along with 44 other Republicans, including going bipartisan on September 27th, 2007 to vote yea on the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act. Karl Max applauded.

The entire “gang of six” on May 13th last year voting yea on the same act, quote, “to restore the solvency of the National Flood Insurance Program,” but also to expand socialized insurance to other property damage, quote, “to make available multi-peril coverage for damage resulting from windstorms and floods, and for other purposes.”

In the Senate where the public option is less popular than in the House, 92 senators voted to expand socialized property insurance. Consider the communist states that get the biggest handouts from socialized property insurance. North Carolina, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, and the top socialized property insurance welfare state in the nation, “The People‘s Republic of Texas.” People‘s republic? Where 682,000 property owners have their handout for socialized property insurance, more than 36,000, scooping up $1.5 billion in claims last year alone.

Of course, it‘s not that some politicians don‘t care about the health of all Americans as much as they care about the wealth of those Americans who can‘t afford waterfront property. There is perhaps a less callous explanation: greed. It can‘t be principled because mandatory subsidized socialized property insurance is even more socialist than is the public option.

Preexisting conditions? No problem. You can get flood insurance even if you‘ve already been flooded, even if you‘ve chosen to live in a high-risk area, you can even get flood insurance after the diagnosis is in, even if you know there‘s a big rainfall or hurricane coming.

But what really matters to Congress is that insurance companies oppose the public option but they love mandatory socialized government-run property insurance.

According to the “New York Times,” Americas pay about $2.3 billion in flood premiums every year. Insurance companies get almost $1 billion out of that, almost half of it just for selling the policies, without a single dollar of their own at risk.

Congressional auditors found that private insurance companies make $327 million a year above their expenses.

So, thanks to the politicians who oppose the public option for people, we already have socialized government health care plans for the health of the insurance companies.

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