The Mercury News Jan 29th Editorial is Correct

January 31, 2010

Part of the mission statement of a major insurance company reads as follows: “We help to improve the health of our communities, deliver better care to members and provide greater value to our customers and shareholders”.  This could very well be the mission of Kaiser Permanente and other non-profits except for the word “shareholders”, which don’t exist at non-profits.  The Obama goal is to cover as many Americans as possible to remove the serious fear of being uninsured and the increasing millions of middle age people that can’t pay their premiums.

It’s taken the insurance industry 20 years of lobbying Congress to consolidate into five mega health companies, plus deregulation and have kept their anti-trust exemption.

If Kaiser can collect premiums, hire physicians and staff, develop pensions, build hospitals and have no shareholders, plus zero pressure for equity growth, plus dividends to please Wall Street, why can’t the entire system work toward this model?

The free market paradigm does not work when those most in need and those that can’t afford premiums are excluded.

Breaking up the monopoly with a Public Option is the right thing to do.

James Hall

Annuities and Obama

January 30, 2010

This is the best article I have seen supporting annuities:

Here it is in its entirety:

January 30, 2010
Your Money

The Unloved Annuity Gets a Hug From Obama


Annuities: The official retirement vehicle of the Obama administration.

As slogans go, it’s hardly “Keep Hope Alive,” or even “Change We Can Believe In.”

But there were annuities, in a report from the administration’s Middle Class Task Force that came out this week. They are among the tools the administration is promoting as it tries to give Americans a better shot at a more secure retirement.

At its simplest, which is how the White House seems to want to keep it, an annuity is something you buy with a large pile of cash in exchange for a monthly check for the rest of your life.

If the biggest risk in retirement is running out of money, an annuity can help guarantee that you won’t. In effect, it allows you to buy the pension that your employer has probably stopped offering, and it can help pick up where Social Security leaves off. Read the rest of this entry »

Congress Public Option Wouldn’t Change Much

January 9, 2010

Blue Cross/Shield was the major very competitive non-profit healthcare insurance provider dating back over 50 years.  The slow, but orderly takeover by Wellpoint Inc. has resulted in virtually no non-profit competitive care.  Matching people’s health needs with shareholders requirements for growth and income is a bad match for patients needs.  On October 30th 2001, the demutualization of Anthem Insurance and Initial Public Offering of Anthem Inc. accelerated the merger process across state lines.  In 2004, Anthem Inc and Wellpoint Health Network Inc merged to become Wellpoint Inc. (Fortune 35 company).  In 1996, Blue Cross of California completed the conversion of all its business to for-profit status.  Policy holders had no vote.  Wellpoint Health became the parent company.  Real competition was eliminated here in California.

Wellpoint should be investigated for anti-trust violations.  They have eliminated the most important Public option competition.  A 20% reduction in Medicare payments, plus a watered down public option, will change little.  Seniors will pay more for their for-profit supplements and little will change unless a non-profit competitor is created.

James Hall

Response to Bill Moyers Journal with Mother Jones Publishers

January 9, 2010

Bill Moyers Journal

Your Friday night program was truly revealing.  Galvanizing Pres. Obama’s 13 million emailing list would be a good start.

I mentioned the name of Professor Bruce Wydick to you in the past.  His opinion, Health Care and the Free Market: Never the twain shall meet, printed in the San Jose Mercury News posted 8/22/09 was a different look for me after 50 plus years in the insurance delivery system.  The article can be seen at our blog at:  Keep the pressure up.  Someday, the Supreme Court will awaken to the fact ‘big money’ is destroying our system.  You need more exposure.  Mother Jones is great but not enough.  Check out Bruce Wydick at


James Hall

Health Care and the Free Market: Never the Twain shall Meet

January 9, 2010

This was originally published in the Mercury News on 8/21/09

By Bruce Wydick

Special to the Mercury News

Posted: 08/21/2009 05:43:11 PM PDT

Updated: 08/22/2009 06:18:04 PM PDT

One of the central arguments of those opposed to health care reform is that the free market should remain the principal mechanism through which health care is provided to Americans. This argument seems to be based on the belief that the market ought to bring the same level of efficiency and functionality to health care as it does with other goods and services. But health care has never operated under a free market, it never should and it never will.

Markets are wonderful things, and they do a marvelous job of allocating resources in the vast majority of the economy. The free market shines for goods like computers, food, clothing, books and cell phones. In markets for such goods, there is a high degree of information and accountability, consumer decisions have little impact on outsiders and there is little risk. Health care, however, is different. What the work of several recent winners of Nobel Prizes in economics has shown is that where there is an asymmetry of information between buyers and sellers, the free market breaks down. Economists have demonstrated that this problem not only affects health care, but also financial markets — another economic sore spot for our economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Interesting Prop 13 post in the SF Chronicle

January 2, 2010

The Tax Relief Act of 1997 sponsored by former Ohio Assemblyman John Rasich

January 2, 2010

To: John Fensterwald Editorial Writer – San Jose Mercury News(Sent back on May 26th, 2008

Subject: The Tax Relief Act of 1997 sponsored by former Ohio Assemblyman John Rasich

One of the primary provisions was to raise the Capital gains tax exemption to $250,000 per person up from $125,000 when selling their home with no age limitations. The legislation continues to differentiate the sale of homes from commercial property, securities, etc. He did California a favor by allowing thousands possibly millions of homeowners to sell homes free of taxable Capital gains which includes California at 9.3%. New owners paid the up-to-date market property taxes. The problem was obviously not unique to California to 1997. Speculators here in California jumped into middle-to-upper class neighborhoods which helped increase revenues as new owners moved in and moved on. However, there were thousands possibly millions of homes that had appreciated well above the $250,000 per person exemption. These are the homeowners we are discussing today… 10 years later. The higher the Capital gain obligation, the less likely they are to move on. The illustration clearly points to the problems associated with homes and commercial property. Despite the tax break, prices moved upward. For the most part the middle to upper class, well established neighborhoods are not yet affected seriously by the sub-prime problems to date. Read the rest of this entry »