….is that sometimes real weeds might sneak in and mess up the nice green carpeting you’re laying down.
To wit, here’s an exchange between an SEIU member and AHIP President Karen Ignagni at the AHIP astroturf meeting in Ohio. When asked why Wellpoint’s CEO is still talking about profitability (and going off message to the political world when going on message to Wall Street), Ignagni starts off about “No Margin, No Mission”.
Err … Karen, that’s the line used by non-profits that (theoretically) have a mission to do some social good. The mission of investor-owned companies like Wellpoint, Healthnet, Aetna, United, et al is to make a profit. Your opponents can show you lots of “insurance companies” that do a pretty good job (or at least as good as your members and usually better) and don’t make a profit. Hint: one’s called Medicare, another is the VA.
And at another astroturf forum a different AHIP spokesman also showed a lack of comprehension of basic economics when he apparently said that it is necessary for the insurance industry to make profits to cover costs. Err no, you have to cover your costs to cover your costs — profit is on top of that!
Then, Ignagni starts talking about the role of health plans in social
responsibility — as if it’s something that health insurers have had
anything to do with. I suggested a while back the options AHIP has,
and instead of doing anything real, they’ve clearly decided to play
defense all the way to try to run out the clock and hope no reform
But with that obfuscating answer in Ohio, I’m now sure Ignagni is
earning her $1.3 million salary. On the other hand given Wellpoint’s
recent stock performance and the $9m payday she’s on, by the standards
by which she wants to be measured (those of Wall Street not of “social
responsibility”) I’m not sure Angela Braly is earning hers.
CODA: And on the topic of a social responsibility and government intervention, blogger Michael Steinberg on the stock pages of Yahoo may be the first to mention the words “Health Plans” and “Fannie & Freddie Mac” in the same sentence.
Categories: Matthew Holt