ACA Repeal: “Follow the money.”

mark bertolini

Above, Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna. Bertolini, speaking three weeks ago at the Wall Street Journal’s “Future of Healthcare” symposium, said “Obamacare is in a death spiral.”  The Washington Post reported: Bertolini’s remarks…came a day after the official end of his company’s proposed merger with the health insurer Humana — a divorce that will cost Aetna a $1 billion breakup fee. It also came a day after Humana announced that it would pull out of all of its remaining ACA exchanges for 2018, arguing that the risk pool was unbalanced because not enough healthy people were signing up for insurance compared with the number of sick people.”

We who are lifelong, devoted Watergate fans — I still read from the full transcripts of the Oval Office tapes — believe in the wisdom of Deep Throat.

Speaking with reporters in the underground garage, the secret source who revealed the machinations of Nixonian deplorables deflected the reporters’ irrelevant or wayward questions with the admonition: “Follow the money.”

And so, the first line of analyzing the GOP’s “repeal and replace” health care plan, is to ask “who benefits?” (Eternal skeptics, like me, will never answer “the people.”) For example, read this December news report from Bloomberg that gives the insurance companies’ wish list — it’s basically the plan that was released yesterday by the GOP.

Business columnist Michael Hiltzik, writing in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, gives us some of the clues [bold emphases are mine]:

Concealed within the 123 pages of legislative verbiage and dense boilerplate of the House Republican bill repealing the Affordable Care Act are not a few hard-to-find nuggets. Here’s one crying out for exposure: The bill encourages health insurance companies to pay their top executives more.

It does so by removing the ACA’s limit on corporate tax deductions for executive pay. The cost to the American taxpayer of eliminating this provision: well in excess of $70 million a year. In the reckoning of the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank that analyzed the limitation in 2014, that would have been enough that year to buy dental insurance under the ACA for 262,000 Americans, or pay the silver plan deductibles for 28,000… .

Read the full story here.

Now, Job Two is to connect the dots between the Citizens United decision that declared corporations, as “people,” could make political contributions — and see who in Congress dutifully repays his patrons. (Bertolini received a total compensation of $10.6 million in 2011 and $13.2 million in 2012. In 2013, Bertolini received $30.7 million in compensation. Check out the neck rope. He’s stylin’. )

For starters, here’s a story from last spring about Aetna/Anthem/Humana political contributions. You get the idea.

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