Liberals & Democrats Need to Change the Conversation: Too Much of Our Federal Medical Care Funding is Flowing to the Wealthy

By:

Dave Kingsley

Rogue Corporations Scamming the System

You may have never heard of Centene Corporation. But we need to talk about this company which derives most of its revenue from Medicaid – medical care for the poor. With revenue of $111 billion in 2020, it is 24th on the Fortune 500 ranking of corporations (by size of revenues). CEO Michael Neidorff earned $25 million last year – among the five or six highest paid executives in corporate America. Not bad for “welfare medicine.”

Compensation for the top four Centene executives and the board of directors totaled $64 million in 2020. The board includes former congressmen Tommy Thompson (also former head of HHS) and Richard Gephardt. Two very powerful former members of congress.

So, what exactly does this company do for Medicaid? It is known as a “managed care organization” or MCO. The idea underlying the MCO concept is that private, for-profit corporations can do a better and more economical job of managing government funded medical care than government employees. Evidence overwhelmingly points in the other direction but the myth nevertheless persists.

Humana, Cigna, and other corporations have jumped into the MCO business. Let’s face it, the $600 billion+ Medicaid budget has opened opportunities for corporations to rake off untold billions for wealthy investors, executives, and board members, while poor people in states that have expanded Medicaid are humiliated through character tests such as proof they aren’t taking drugs, or too lazy to look for a job. Poor people in Arkansas for instance are facing administrative road blocks and state bureaucracies that see their role as keeping people from receiving benefits.

I’m certain that wealthy executives and investors are enjoying their concierge medicine while poor people can’t get treatment for an abscessed tooth, screening for cancer, diabetes, or medical care that most of us take for granted. This is what the Democrats and liberals need to be screaming about – not means testing and making people prove they are worthy of medicine taken for granted by every citizen in most affluent countries. No doubt, progressives in the U.S. House of Representatives are doing just that. However, silence on this issue from most senators and congresspersons on the Democratic side of aisle is deafening. Forget the now cruel Republican Party. There is no hope there.

Remembering Darryl Ringer: Charismatic Farm Activist

This Thanksgiving, I can truly give thanks for having known and worked with farm activist Darryl Ringer from Quinter, Kansas.  Darryl died in a farm accident in 1993.  At the time he was killed, he had gained national stature as an activist on behalf of farmers who were losing their farms to banks in foreclosure actions.

I am proud to say that I offered my couch to Darryl as a place to sleep as he traveled the state in 1988 and worked with us on the Jesse Jackson campaign.  His charisma, intelligence, and organizing ability were phenomenal.  His death left a gaping hole in the progressive movement.

In memory of Darryl, I suggest that we support the actions of the National Farmers Union, which represents 250,000 farming and ranching families. The Farmers Union is pushing for a strong, viable, government-run, health insurance program.  Farm families are finding the cost of health care out of reach due to the nature of the insurance cartel.  For instance, 69% of health insurance policies in Nebraska are written by two insurance companies.

The other farm organization, the Farm Bureau, is opposing the bill passed in the House of Representatives.  Since the Farm Bureau represents large corporations and the agricorp industry as a whole, it opposes the provision of HR 3962 that requires employers to provide health insurance or pay some rather severe penalties.