by Pa Rock
Frank Lautenberg, the senior senator from New Jersey, is eighty-six-years-old. He has been an important member of the United States Senate for over twenty-five years, and is perhaps best known for sponsoring the Lautenberg Amendment (1996) to the Gun Control Act of 1968. That amendment makes it a felony for those convicted of domestic violence to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition. Military service members and police are not exempt from the Lautenberg Amendment. In other words, some big macho guy who beats his wife will no longer be allowed to own or play with guns. The Lautenberg Amendment is good law.
Senator Lautenberg was admitted to the hospital a couple of days ago, and today his diagnosis became public. The following statement was released by his office:
After several days of hospitalization and testing, Senator Lautenberg's doctors have diagnosed that he has a B-Cell Lymphoma of the stomach (stomach cancer). This is a curable tumor, and will require treatment over the next few months.
That was the bad news.
The good news, of course, is that Senator Lautenberg has a very good government health care plan that allowed him to have "several days of hospitalization and testing," something that is not available to millions of Americans - some of whom will also develop potentially deadly conditions and not have the opportunity to have them diagnosed in a timely manner.
That is the state of health care in America today: the rich or the well-connected get it, those of us with good jobs and concerned employers get it, and the rest of the rubes had better damn well stay healthy, because ordinary people in the richest country on earth cannot afford to pay for most health care procedures out-of-pocket.
Congress must act to limit the crimes of insurance companies in order to insure that everyone has access to health care. Crimes? Here's an example: Anthem Blue Cross, the largest health insurer in California, just announced that they are going to have to increase their rates - which are already outrageous - by 39 percent! They have to do it because they just aren't making enough money!
Nobody believes that bullshit, but in case you do, here are some facts: WellPoint, the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross, reported a profit of $2.7 billion for the last quarter of 2009. That is damned near a billion dollars of profit per month! WellPoint, United Health Group, Cigna, Aetna, and Humana collectively reported profits in 2009 that were up 56% over 2008. These are thieving, criminal enterprises run by thieving, criminal bastards!
Angela Braly, the President and CEO of WellPoint makes a total annual compensation of $9,844,212.00. Seriously! That is a tidy $26,970 plus change per day - including Sundays and holidays! Does anyone really need to make $26,970 per day? Do Californians (or the rest of us for that matter) need to face criminal rate increases so that Ms. Braly can park her tush on a solid gold crapper?
America needs an affordable health care option, a government sponsored plan - exactly like the one that Frank Lautenberg has - a plan that is fair and reasonable and can serve as an alternative to the crap-for-plans that WellPoint and the other insurance criminal enterprises routinely foist upon the public - the public that has no other option.
WellPoint through Anthem Blue Cross showed its cards this week, and it has a winning hand. Without serious competition they can and will charge whatever they damn well please. Competition won't come from the other insurance companies - it never has! They are all hogs at the trough robbing the rubes. It is going to take a strong government plan to make the system honest. The public option is a must!