Often when comedians have a career crisis, they turn to hosting game shows. Instead, Al Franken accepted an invitation from our DFL to become a US Senator. The same jokers who had given us such hits as “Failed Senator Dayton” and would later give us the horrifying sequel “Failed Governor Dayton”, elected the Unfunny Comic to represent us. However, the arc of history is undeniable and New York’s Third Senator has taken on a new role in addition to pretending to represent Minnesota. He’s started a game show I like to call, “Al Franken’s $127 Pyramid. Here’s how you play.
From the Star Tribune, April 27, 2012, ‘Health care rebates will top $1 billion,’ by AP’s Ricardo Alfonso-Zaldivar:
“More than 3 million health insurance policyholders and thousands of employers will share $1.3 billion in rebates this year, thanks to President Obama's health care law, a nonpartisan research group said Thursday.
The rebates should average $127 for the people who get them, and Democrats are hoping they'll send an election-year message that Obama's much-criticized health care overhaul is starting to pay dividends for consumers. Critics of the law call that wishful thinking.
The measure -- co-sponsored by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. -- requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on medical care and quality improvement or return the difference to consumers and employers. Although many large employer plans already meet that standard, it's the first time the government has imposed such a requirement on the entire health insurance industry.”
You see, Franken cares about you and your health care burdens. He is offering you fabulous prizes that may be as much as $127! For that outstanding amount of money, he is proposing you support forcing health insurance companies into a business model he thinks is sustainable. Franken, “legal expert” per VP Joe Biden, and “policy wonk” per former Enron advisor Paul Krugman, believes making insurance companies spend most of their premiums on care will save people money and slow the rise of health care costs. How will this this feat be accomplished?
Well, the nonpartisan Democratic Party-friendly Kaiser Family Foundation explains:
"The presence of these thresholds and the corresponding rebate requirement have provided an incentive for insurers to seek lower premium increases than they would have otherwise," the report said. "This 'sentinel' effect on premiums has likely produced more savings for consumers and employers than the rebates themselves."
In other words, the social shame of providing rebates to customers will “make” insurance companies more efficient. Certainly the free market and profit motive wouldn’t do that, right? No, Franken’s proposed ‘sentinel’ law would use arbitrary government force to make insurance companies less viable. This works neatly into Franken’s plans because in order to establish a single-payer governmental system, you must bankrupt the current companies and then “fix” it so everyone gets the same coverage. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The health insurance industry is rightly alarmed and explains this will do nothing to decrease the cost of health care in this country. In fact, such an idiotic proposal will only make things worse.
“And the insurance industry said premiums are likely to go up overall as a result of new benefits and other requirements of the law.
"The net of all the requirements will be an increase in costs for consumers," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group.”
The Obamacare mandates, as advocated and passed by both Franken and Sen. Klobuchar, are making insurance plans offer all kinds of coverage we may or may not need. For example, Obamacare demands expanded mental health coverage, health maintenance coverage, coverage for abortifacients, sterilization and birth control. Like it or not. Coming soon, you may be paying for yoga mats, coloring books, organic arugula, salt substitutes and any other health fad that comes along. These mandates being promulgated by the HHS would be a cornucopia of costs that need to be paid for by someone. That will increase the prices for health insurance.
But Emcee Franken thinks huge buckets of money are sitting around just waiting for health insurance companies to dip into and pay for this madness. He’ll use any means necessary to embarrass the industry and bankrupt it eventually. What does he care? It won’t affect him. He’s a wealthy game show host and make-believe US senator.
So what is the benefit to this expansive and moronic experiment on the health care industry? What are you gonna get for using government levers and pulleys to ‘adjust’ our system to their liking?
“More than 3 million individual policyholders will reap rebates of $426 million, averaging $127 apiece. These are consumers who buy their policy directly. Consumers in Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Arizona are most likely to be eligible.
In Minnesota, 103,383 people will get about $14.6 million in rebates, an average of $146, the report said. About 80,000 of those getting rebates are with HealthPartners, based in Bloomington, and are covered by some contracts covering 100 or more employees.”
Woo Hoo! So, Franken’s grand scheme will net a possible $146 for a few Minnesotans and most of that will go to the employers anyway. On an average, individual policyholders could win fabulous prizes of around $127. Wow. All for a chance to leverage health insurance companies into lowering costs. Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Sebelius will keep adding on the bennies and forcing us to pay for coverage we don’t want or need. Costs will continue to rise. Care will suffer due to scarcity of money for necessary medical care. When Franken’s plan fails, he will just blame the mean insurance companies who were the subject of his mad scientist experiment. We will have higher costs, less actual care, and stymied medical advances. Franken games the system and plays the fool.
And we are the ones getting “The Gong Show” prizes.