Will Radical Leftist Joe Biden Destroy Private Insurance?

The “progressive elite,” which now inexplicably includes Joe Biden, are plotting to give Americans more affordable healthcare. They might kill the profits of lowly private insurers in the process.

Apparently Joe Biden has gone too far to the left, according to a recent article in Forbes. The author is concerned because Biden created several policy task forces last month to bring the progressive and centrist wings of the party together. The “progressive elite,” as the author describes them, include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. Not only is Biden now listening to more progressive voices in the party, his “centrism has always been a facade,” apparently.

The author of this article, Sally Pipes, is completely disconnected from reality. I can only assume she’s been locked in the basement at Blue Cross Blue Shield for the last few decades and fed nothing but healthcare industry propaganda. Here’s how she describes a public option for healthcare: “A public option would not need to take in premiums sufficient to cover its costs.” Is that not the point? To provide healthcare to lower-income folks that can’t afford it for less than what it actually costs, and make up the difference through taxes on wealthier Americans? 

She continues on: “Plus, the public option will effectively have the ability to dictate what it will pay healthcare providers.” Oh, no. OH, NO! Does this mean that the government will have the ability to negotiate lower prices? C-c-could this mean less profit for the healthcare industry?! Nooooooo!!! She continues on: “Most public option proposals envision paying slightly more [to healthcare providers] than Medicare. For comparison, private plans pay about 241% of Medicare's rates, according to research from the RAND Corporation.” 

Astonishing. She’s basically saying (my words, not hers), “If we have a public option, the gravy train is going to stop rolling, because the government will actually work to negotiate lower healthcare costs; it can’t just overcharge members like private insurers.” Ms. Pipes is upset that a public option would save Americans money, lamenting over how terrible it would be for Americans to have affordable healthcare, and she is very disturbed by the potential tragedy of private insurers making less money.

Here’s the worst part of all: “Add these two factors up, and the public option could easily underprice its private competitors.” Riddle me this: in a free, capitalistic market, how can the government come in and easily underprice private competitors? Shouldn’t the private healthcare industry, I don’t know, already be negotiating lower prices on behalf of their members? It’s almost as if the entire healthcare industry, from big pharma to insurers to hospitals, have a financial interest in keeping prices high. All parties involved in the healthcare industry are complicit. You know how I know? Remove just one element, private insurers, and replace it with the government, which doesn’t care about turning a profit, and the whole system collapses like a house of cards.

Ms. Pipes, god bless her, provided us with a classic example of healthcare industry propaganda. It’s not even good propaganda, either; it makes me wonder if her day job is as a lobbyist for a big insurer and at night she goes home, lights some candles, slips in the tub, and pulls up some “Best Of” Bernie Sanders debate moments on YouTube. I mean whose side is she on? Her argument against a public option is that it will cost Americans less and will probably put private insurers out of business. Besides health insurance executives, who could possibly think that’s a bad thing?

The absolute absurdity of this article made me realize that the healthcare industry doesn’t have a leg left to stand on. When your argument is, “Yeah Americans will save money, but that means we’ll make less money, and that’s bad,” you’ve lost the argument. And if you think Joe Biden is too radical, you’re probably going to be in for a rude awakening over the next 10 to 20 years.

Who is Sally Pipes and what is the Pacific Research Institute?

As I read this article, I couldn’t help but wonder if Sally Pipes has some biases or financial incentives influencing her beliefs. I hate to call into question the journalistic integrity of a writer for a prestigious publication like Forbes, but something about this article felt a little off.

According to her bio, Sally C. Pipes (what a name) is “president, CEO, and the Thomas W. Smith fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute.” So she’s an expert at an institute, that sounds pretty fancy and official to me, sorry for questioning your integrity, Ms. Pipes. Out of curiosity, though, let’s see what this Pacific Research Institute is all about.

Although the Pacific Research Institute, or PRI, describes itself as a “non-partisan, non-profit think tank,” they clearly have a conservative bias. A quick glance at their photo gallery from past events reveals they’ve presented awards to Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s troubled lawyer, and Tucker Carlson, talk show host on Fox News. Trump memorabilia can be seen in another photo. To be clear, I don’t care what their political leanings are, but PRI presents itself as a non-biased, apolitical source of information, which clearly isn’t true, and they call themselves a “research institute.” PRI intentionally masquerades as a legitimate source of information to deceive the American public and line the pockets of their corporate overlords.

In 2016, PRI was called out by a group of senators for blocking action on climate change. PRI, along with several dozen other organizations, was called “a grim shadow over our democracy...that spends hundreds of millions of dollars in a single election cycle and threatens any Republican who steps up to address the global threat of climate change.” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who led the effort to expose these organizations, later said, “[I]t is long past time we shed some light on the perpetrators of this web of denial and expose their filthy grip on our political process. It is a disgrace, and our grandchildren will look back at this as a dirty time in America’s political history because of their work.” Yikes. That does not sound good. I’m sure it’s just an isolated incident, though, right?

Through 2016, PRI received $1,376,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. That’s so nice, a small family foundation supporting a little research institute to make the world a better place. It warms my heart. I wonder what that money was used for. Probably to cure childhood cancer or something. Here’s what Bradley Foundation staff had to say about what the money was for: “The Center, led by Sally Pipes, is expected to continue its “fight” against the Affordable Care Act.” Oh dear. That doesn’t sound very good. It looks like PRI and Sally Pipes do have an agenda, and a financial incentive to dislike affordable healthcare. Who would’ve thought.

PRI has numerous ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC is described as “a corporate bill mill” where “corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line.” PRI is also in cahoots with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. The Franklin Center’s funding is “100% anonymous,” according to their director of communications, but IRS records reveal that 95% of their 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust. DonorsTrust has been called “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement” by Mother Jones. Philip Morris, the gigantic tobacco company, has also funded PRI and described themselves as “long-time donors.”

Sally Pipes has been peddling healthcare industry propaganda since around 1991, when she moved to the U.S. (from Canada) to “run a free-market think tank.” Pipes says one of the major reasons she moved was “to live and work in a country where there was still some belief in the concept of private health care.” Despite living in the country with the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world, Ms. Pipes astonishingly still believes our healthcare system is second to none.

PRI has received millions of dollars from Koch family foundations and Koch conduits. They’ve also received money from Exxon Mobil, Pfizer (the world’s largest pharmaceuticals corporation), and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, one of the biggest and most influential lobbyist groups in Washington.

Beware of propaganda

Articles like this should be required to be labeled as propaganda. On the surface, Ms. Pipes appears to be an expert on healthcare at a credible “research institute.” The goal of the article is to convince readers (voters) that affordable healthcare and Joe Biden are bad for this country because private insurers could make less money and go out of business. If it wasn’t so poorly written, I’d be worried about the article winning people over, but as it is, I think it makes the case for a public option more effectively than it makes the case against.

Not all propaganda is as bad as this Forbes article, though; much of it is really sophisticated, and unless you know what you’re looking for, you could find that your opinions and beliefs have been influenced by corporate money. 

How many of you have read or heard about recent donations made by corporations and wealthy individuals to the Black Lives Matter movement? While the money may be going to a good cause, most big money donors could care less about Black lives; they’re donating money to alter your perception of their brand or company. Younger people especially want corporations to show some level of social consciousness, which is all well and good; if corporations can be pushed into making the world a better place in order to increase their profits, I’m all for it.

That’s not what’s happening, though. As Judd Legum has recently reported in his newsletter Popular Information, the same corporations that are publicly showing support for Black lives are also donating to and amplifying voices that spread hate. Big corporations, like Disney, Papa John’s, and T-Mobile, have all publicly declared their support for Black lives, but all have sponsored Tucker Carlson, recipient of a treasured PRI award. In recent weeks, Carlson has told his viewers they are not “required to be upset” about George Floyd’s murder, and called protestors “thugs.” He has called white supremacy a “hoax” and “conspiracy theory.” Disney and T-Mobile have recently said they will stop advertising on Tucker Carlson’s show, but only after it became known to the public and threatened their profits.

Several other companies, including Verizon, Comcast, and Walmart, have all publicly shown support of Black lives but have (or had, in Verizon’s case) lobbyist Matt Schlapp on the payroll. Schlapp has described Black Lives Matter as “hostile to families, capitalism, cops, unborn life and gender.” During the Kavanaugh hearings, Schlapp retweeted a picture of three Democratic senators, who were all persons of color, and added the comment “Look at this photo conservative voters in WV, ND, IN, FL, MO, MT, MI, TN, AZ, NV.” Apparently Schlapp is not a huge fan of diversity in Congress, and several conservatives called him out on his remarks, one calling it “a straight-up appeal to bigotry” and another wondering “what it is about this photo Schlapp finds so alarming.”

A company’s money often disagrees with their public positions, as with the Black Lives Matter movement, but there are countless other examples. Remember, corporations don’t have your best interests or the best interests of the country at heart. They exist to make money, as much money as possible, and most of them will do anything to make it. All of the information we consume, through articles, TV, or even from friends, has bias behind it. The truth is often obfuscated and unclear, but if you look hard enough you can find it. Even blatant propaganda pieces, like this Forbes article, tell some truth.

Sometimes propaganda brings good news

Reading between the lines of Ms. Pipes’s article, you can see just how scared private insurers are. Their argument for continued existence is that they should be able to make a lot of money, and Americans don’t deserve affordable healthcare. Ms. Pipes offers no defense for her large financial backers because there is none; healthcare costs for Americans will be more affordable under a public option, which she openly admits. She is hoping that her readers will be brainwashed enough to believe that the profits of megacorporations are more important than the well-being of poor and middle class Americans. Yes, this is what it has come to!

To me, this article is a sign that Medicare for All, or a public option, is winning. Ms. Pipes’s argument collapses under any amount of scrutiny. Americans will not accept the high costs of private insurance for much longer, and our country will have a public option for everyone in the near future.

The radical leftist Joe Biden might just be the man that kills private insurance for good (at least that’s what the healthcare industry is afraid of). Their fears are not unfounded; Joe Biden gladly accepts large donations from outside groups, but big donations are mostly from the finance and real estate sector, not the healthcare industry. Unlike other Democratic candidates, his resistance to Medicare for All at debates seemed to come more from a love for Obamacare (the man just lives and breathes everything Obama) than a strange affinity for private insurance (yes, I’m looking at you, Mayor Pete). Progressives may be able to push Joe Biden far enough to introduce a public option, which could (that’s a huge “could”) lead to the demise of private insurance, an event that would be good for everyone. That is, everyone except healthcare executives and many wealthy Americans that may pay more in taxes.

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