Read ’em and Leave

Couple of Three interesting writes to usher in the weekend. First is proof I can work the public health insurance option into ANY story. From Bloomberg:

Obama health overhaul may be death knell for small insurers

(I know you’re thinking,’What does that title have to do with the public health insurance option?’ Just watch…)

More than 260 contractors offer Medicare Advantage plans, said Joseph Kuchler, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in an e-mail.

Perhaps half of private insurance plans depend on Medicare Advantage for most of their revenue and may be pushed out of the market if the U.S. eliminates the extra payments they get, Keckley said.

“It’s conceivable in 10 years you could be down to 70 plans nationwide,” he said.

The possibility is another argument in favor of creating a government-backed health plan to compete with private insurers, said Jacki Schechner, a spokeswoman for Health Care for America Now, a Washington-based nonprofit supporting Obama’s efforts.

The group released a report last month that said most areas of the country meet the Justice Department’s antitrust definition for a “highly concentrated” insurance market. The report cited a 2008 American Medical Association survey that found two insurers held at least half the market share in 29 states.

A public plan “would increase competition in a marketplace that is seeing total concentration already,” said Schechner, whose organization is backed by labor unions including the AFL- CIO and the Service Employees International Union.

She shoots. She scores.

The second article is about Sebelius’ support for the public health insurance option. She references the HCAN report about market consolidation without ever mentioning the actual report. Good enough. I’ll take it. From the WSJ:

The government needs to create a public health insurance plan because many parts of the country are monopolized by a single private health insurer, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday in an interview.

Ms. Sebelius told The Wall Street Journal that a new public health insurance plan would benefit consumers by providing more competition in the market and holding down costs. Whether to create such a plan has become one of the most contentious aspects of sweeping legislation lawmakers are crafting to fix the nation’s health system.

In “many areas in the country, the private market is monopolized by one carrier,” Ms. Sebelius said. “You don’t have a choice for consumers. And what we know in any kind of market is a monopoly doesn’t give much incentive for other innovation or for cost-effective strategies.”

Finally, Matt Bai’s NYT Magazine piece about the White House and health care reform is now online. I haven’t read it yet. I’ll be doing that now.

Then I am off for the weekend. Hopefully, it will dry out sooner rather than later. Soggy is not a good look for me.

I’ll check in if there’s news. Otherwise, have a good one.

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