Archive for October 26th, 2009

Dems Demonize Insurance Companies, Lie About Profits

Monday, October 26th, 2009

True to form, Obama and his Democrat cronies will lie about health care when the truth would sound better. This time it’s their attempt to demonize the insurance companies over “excessive profits”, when the facts tell a completely different truth.

WASHINGTON — In the health care debate, Democrats and their allies have gone after insurance companies as rapacious profiteers making “immoral” and “obscene” returns while “the bodies pile up.”

But in pillorying insurers over profits, the critics are on shaky ground. Ledgers tell a different reality.

Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That’s anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.

Profits barely exceeded 2 percent of revenues in the latest annual measure. This partly explains why the credit ratings of some of the largest insurers were downgraded to negative from stable heading into this year, as investors were warned of a stagnant if not shrinking market for private plans.

Insurers are an expedient target for leaders who want a government-run plan in the marketplace. Such a public option would force private insurers to trim profits and restrain premiums to compete, the argument goes. This would “keep insurance companies honest,” says President Obama.

The debate is loaded with intimations that insurers are less than straight, when they are not flatly accused of malfeasance.

The insurers may not have helped their case by commissioning a report that looked primarily at the elements of health care legislation that might drive consumer costs up while ignoring elements aimed at bringing costs down. Few in the debate seem interested in a true balance sheet.

A look at some claims, and the numbers:

THE CLAIMS:

–“I’m very pleased that (Democratic leaders) will be talking, too, about the immoral profits being made by the insurance industry and how those profits have increased in the Bush years.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who also welcomed the attention being drawn to insurers’ “obscene profits.”

–“Keeping the status quo may be what the insurance industry wants. Their premiums have more than doubled in the last decade and their profits have skyrocketed.” Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, member of the Democratic leadership.

–“Health insurance companies are willing to let the bodies pile up as long as their profits are safe.” A MoveOn.org ad.

THE NUMBERS:

Health insurers posted a 2.2 percent profit margin last year, placing them 35th on the Fortune 500 list of top industries. As is typical, other health sectors did much better — drugs and medical products and services were both in the top 10.

The railroads brought in a 12.6 percent profit margin. Leading the list: network and other communications equipment, at 20.4 percent.

HealthSpring, the best performer in the health insurance industry, posted 5.4 percent. That’s a less profitable margin than was achieved by the makers of Tupperware, Clorox bleach and Molson and Coors beers.

The star among the health insurance companies did, however, nose out Jack in the Box restaurants, which only achieved a 4 percent margin.

UnitedHealth Group, reporting third quarter results last week, saw fortunes improve. It managed a 5 percent profit margin on an 8 percent growth in revenue.

Van Hollen is right that premiums have more than doubled in a decade, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study that found a 131 percent increase.

But were the Bush years golden ones for health insurers?

Not judging by profit margins, profit growth or returns to shareholders. The industry’s overall profits grew only 8.8 percent from 2003 to 2008, and its margins year to year, from 2005 forward, never cracked 8 percent.

The latest annual profit margins of a selection of products, services and industries: Tupperware Brands, 7.5 percent; Yahoo, 5.9 percent; Hershey, 6.1 percent; Clorox, 8.7 percent; Molson Coors Brewing, 8.1 percent; construction and farm machinery, 5 percent; Yum Brands (think KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), 8.5 percent.

Original Link.

White House Likes News Reported Its Way

Monday, October 26th, 2009

A conservative media watchdog says it has become increasingly apparent that the only legitimate media coverage — according to the Obama administration — is news that praises the president.

Last week the Obama administration attempted to isolate and exclude the Fox News Channel by telling the White House media pool that it would make “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg available for interviews to every member except Fox News. But according to Fox News, the Washington bureau chiefs of the five TV networks consulted and decided that none of their reporters would interview Feinberg unless Fox was included.

The administration eventually relented, making Feinberg available for all five pool members and Bloomberg TV. Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, is pleased to see some backbone in the media.

Read the rest of the article here.

Pali Muslim Leaders Cause Riot at Temple Mount

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Typical behavior of the Pali terrorist. Always remember, Koran 47:36 says “Therefore do not falter or sue for peace when you have gained the upper hand.”

JERUSALEM — Israeli forces stormed Jerusalem’s holiest shrine Sunday, firing stun grenades to disperse hundreds of stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in a fresh eruption of violence at the most volatile spot in the Holy Land.

A wall of Israeli riot police behind plexiglass shields closed in on the crowd, sending many protesters — overwhelmingly young men — running for cover into the black-domed Al-Aqsa mosque. The mosque is one part of the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Dozens of protesters remained holed up inside the mosque for several hours, occasionally opening shuttered doors to throw objects at police. The Israeli forces did not enter the building, and the protesters eventually left peacefully and the compound was closed, police said. There were no serious injuries.

Religious and nationalist sentiment connected with the site have made it a flashpoint for violence in the past. A visit in 2000 by Ariel Sharon, then an Israeli opposition leader, helped ignite deadly clashes that escalated into violence that engulfed Israel and the Palestinian territories for several years. Sharon was subsequently elected prime minister.

Sunday’s clashes were the most intense in the past month of unrest around the compound. Frictions in recent weeks have stemmed largely from rumors among Palestinians about Israeli plans to allows Jews to pray at the site or to dig under the compound and harm the Muslim buildings there.

Israel has carried out numerous archaeological digs in nearby areas, but says the work does not threaten the compound. Two weeks ago, Netanyahu angrily dismissed accusations that Israel is trying to sabotage Muslim holy sites as “baseless” lies.

Muslim leaders had urged their followers to gather at the compound early Sunday in response to what they said was a planned “Jewish conquest.”

The disputing claims to the hilltop compound in Jerusalem’s Old City lie at the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is revered as the holiest site in Judaism, home to the biblical Temples.

It also is the third-holiest site in Islam, after the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina, and believed to be the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. At the center of the compound is the famous golden cap of the Dome of the Rock.

The site has been under Israeli control since 1967, but is administered by a Muslim religious body known as the Waqf. The compound is opened for several hours a day to allow tourists and Jews to visit, though only Muslims are allowed to pray there.

The Palestinians seek to make east Jerusalem — including the holy compound — the capital of a future independent state, while Netanyahu says he will never share control of the holy city.

Original Link.

Christians on High Alert Over Hate Crimes Passage

Monday, October 26th, 2009

This is a very important aspect of the bill.

“There is a very weak exemption in [the bill] which is totally illusory, and a religious exemption is not going to protect pastors,” says [Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel]. “Renegade prosecutors and politically correct leftists in positions of authority can subjectively determine what is or is not a hate crime.” And then move on to prosecution, he adds.

I believe it will be used to silence people who stand against the homosexual lifestyle.

[Matt Barber of Liberty Counse] views the legislation as something akin to a muzzle. “Unfortunately, it places Christians — people of faith, people who have traditional values relative to sexual immorality…in an untenable position,” says the attorney.

He notes that several years ago, a similar law in Pennsylvania resulted in the arrest of 11 Christians who were presenting the gospel at a Philadelphia homosexual rally. Barber goes on to say that the federal bill “will chill religious liberty and free speech — and that is its intended purpose, not to protect anybody from hate crimes.”

And as for pastors? “There is a very weak exemption in [the bill] which is totally illusory, and a religious exemption is not going to protect pastors,” responds Barber. “Renegade prosecutors and politically correct leftists in positions of authority can subjectively determine what is or is not a hate crime.” And then move on to prosecution, he adds.

Original Link.

Senate on Verge of Health Bill With ‘Public’ Plan

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Well, against the will of the majority of Americans, the Dems are almost ready to pass Obama Care with the public option. They just don’t get it at all. OK then. Let the chips fall where they will.

WASHINGTON — Top Senate Democrats are close to finalizing their health bill and could unveil a measure as soon as early this week that would include stiffer penalties on employers who fail to provide health coverage.

Senate leaders plan to submit the bill to the Congressional Budget Office for a cost estimate as soon as Monday, and make the legislation public as soon as Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Details of the legislation could change, but its broad outlines are becoming clear. Employers with more than 50 workers wouldn’t be required to provide health insurance, but they would face fines of up to $750 per employee if even part of their work force received a government subsidy to buy health insurance, this person said. A bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee had a lower fine of up to $400 per employee.

The bill to be brought to the Senate floor would create a new public health-insurance plan, but would give states the choice of opting out of participating in it, a proposal that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada backed last week.

The bill is expected to expand health coverage to tens of millions of Americans by giving low- and middle-income Americans subsidies to offset the cost of insurance, and expanding the Medicaid federal-state insurance program to cover a broader swath of the poor. Most people would be required to buy insurance or pay a fine, though exceptions would be made for those deemed unable to afford it.

Also expected are new rules on insurers to prevent them from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions and from dropping customers’ insurance once they become ill.

Original Link.