Congressman Keith Ellison of the United States House of Representatives told a well-attended Town Hall forum in North Minneapolis that the aim of President Obama’s health-care reform is to lower costs, create greater choice and improve quality of services as well as provide cover to the uninsured.
Speaking to an emotionally charged audience at the North Point Health and Wellness Center on August 1st, Congressman Ellison said the only beneficiaries of a broken health system are the CEOs of insurance companies who make huge incomes while 47 million Americans remain without health insurance cover.
Quoting statistics of 2008, he said compensation to CEOs of insurance companies was as high as $ 85.4 million, their lobbying expenditure was $ 62.5 million, campaign contributions totaled $ 28 million and their profits were $ 8.4 billion. Other beneficiaries of the broken health system are pharmaceutical companies who spent $ 233.7 million on lobbying last year.
Congressman Ellison cited the CEO of United Health Group Stephen J. Hemsley as receiving a salary of $ 3.2 million per year, while his counterpart of Well Point, Angela Braly earns annually $ 9.8 million. The CEO of AETNA, Ronald A. Williams pockets annually U$D 24.3 million, while his counterpart of CIGNA CORP, Edward Hanway earns $ 12.2 million annually.
Congressman Ellison lamented that “for too long our nation’s policies favored short-term corporate profits over long-term prosperity for all Americans.”
Commenting on the ‘The Good Care Act of 2009’ he recently introduced to the Congress, he said the goal was to ensure that premiums go to patient care.
In an earlier Press Release from the US House of Representatives, it explains: “President Obama and Congressional leaders are proposing the creation of a health insurance exchange – a market where uninsured Americans can one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices and choose a plan that’s best for them. Government subsidies will be provided for uninsured individuals to purchase plans in this insurance exchange.”
Congressman Ellison said Minnesota was “a national leader in health care” and urged health care plans across the country to follow Minnesota’s lead so as “to ensure that our precious health care dollars are used to fund actual health services.”
Various actors in the health care delivery system spoke about the health care disparities in the African American communities and how the existing arrangement discriminates against those who are most vulnerable as private insurance firms deny benefits to people with preexisting conditions.
In what looked like a win-win situation for all, Congressman Ellison said the main goal for health care reform is to create a plan that is administered by the federal government to compete on a level playing field with private insurers. He said holders of insurance policies can keep their current policies if they are happy with them.
Dissenting voices in the forum argued that socializing healthcare is un-American and would escalate costs and lead to higher taxes and add to the nation’s deficit while taking away individual freedoms. They also objected to having private health records exposed in a government-controlled data base as this would violate their right to privacy.
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