Thursday, December 27, 2012

ALEC History is Important

Some people tell me that history isn’t very important when it comes to ALEC – that I need to focus on what is happening today.  But what is happening today is directly related to what happened in the ALEC past – cause ALEC’s past is ALEC’s present. 

The “model legislation” ALEC wrote in the 1990’s – they are still trying to pass in some form.  So from my viewpoint, it is important to understand that ALEC history.  For ALEC - there is really nothing new - it is just the same old same old - with a different name.

From Sourcewatch:
The following is the list of "Private Enterprise Board" members from ALEC's 2002 Form 990, reflective of mid-2003:[14]J. Patrick Rooney (Chairman Emeritus, Golden Rule Insurance Company)

You may ask – why is this important to know?

Well – for over two decades Golden Rule Insurance has been active in ALEC – not only on their board of directors but also serving on the ALEC Health Care Task Force.

You may ask – why is this important to know?

Hopefully will help you better understand the progression of nastiness promulgated by profit sector members of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Some snips:

As the GOP's plan to dismantle Medicare has moved forward, no other corporation has lobbied as effectively, nor positioned itself as well to reap big dividends from the Republican legislation, as Golden Rule.
Now remember this was written in 1996.

Golden Rule is an intensely political company, from its patriarchal chairman, J. Patrick Rooney, down to its most junior employee.
And ALEC is the perfect fit for them to get their dirty work done.

Since the start of the decade, Golden Rule has funneled a staggering amount of cash into the GOP's campaign coffers--including nearly $1 million in the last election cycle alone--to win hearts and minds for Rooney's pet project, Medical Savings Accounts, a kind of medical IRA that heavily benefits the healthy and affluent.

Important to know that ALEC was very supportive of Golden Rules efforts as noted on an ALEC history webpage
By 1987, the newly-formed Civil Justice Task Force developed the first comprehensive response to the nation’s frivolous litigation explosion; the Health Care Task Force had developed policies on medical savings accounts, a concerted strategy for reassessing mandated coverage, and a comprehensive response to the growing AIDS crisis.
Maybe some of that "staggering amount of cash" went into ALEC coffers.

And the 1996 article from Mother Jones article continues to connect the dots for us:
Rooney himself has led Golden Rule's political and free-market jihad in Washington, jetting to the capital almost weekly for meetings with key members of Congress--including House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the top recipient of Golden Rule's largesse.   
 Gingrich – an ALEC Alum

And while the “MSA” has been sidelined – the concept, the "nuts and bolts" of the MSA policy is still alive and well - no thanks to ALEC legislators.
More significantly, early last year the Republican leadership seized the opportunity to include MSAs as the "free-market" option in its plan to dismantle Medicare. Under current Medicare rules, Golden Rule cannot sell health insurance to Medicare recipients. But under the changes proposed by Gingrich & Co., Golden Rule would get a crack at millions of Medicare recipients, on whose behalf the government spends more than $100 billion each year. Under the Republicans' new "Medicare Plus" program, the federal government would put money into MSAs for seniors who opt for them, and would also foot the bill for the accompanying Golden Rule catastrophic insurance policies.
MSA’s – vouchers – the concept is similar, the words have only changed.
And this definitely does not come up in the current conversation regarding Medicare.

What the Republican leadership doesn't mention is that allowing Medicare recipients to choose MSAs could bankrupt Medicare.

Even the Republicans' own Congressional Budget Office found recently that not only would MSAs fail to reduce Medicare savings, they would actually increase costs to taxpayers "by about $4 billion over seven years."
Remember this article is from 1996 and the Republicons are still hanging on to this.  Different phrases – basically same plan.

"Rooney is nothing if not impatient and single-minded," says a former lobbyist. "He doesn't take no for an answer. He drives people hard and he wants results."

"There's always an undercurrent that he's called to a mission," says Carl Schramm, the former head of the Health Insurance Association of America. "He has a preset agenda. Here's a person in a company with a small voice, who has moved the national policy agenda virtually single-handed."
Well – I wouldn’t say single-handed.
It appears that he had his hand in the pocket of legislators at the state and federal level.

According to The Indianapolis Star, Golden Rule's total political donations rose from $81,000 in 1989-90, to $277,000 in 1991-92, to a sky-high $1,069,000 during 1993-94.
I wonder how much of that increase went specifically to ALEC legislators?
That would be a good question to ask because in the article they note:

Golden Rule also supports the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that provides lobbying support for MSAs. According to a council executive, Golden Rule gives between $10,000 and $20,000 a year to the group,
And that was three decades ago – just figure how much more they have spent to make sure that the legislators of the American Legislative Exchange Council pass nasty legislation that benefits their company.

As Mother Jones goes to press, President Clinton and the GOP-led congress are heading into a year-end showdown over Medicare.
Things haven’t changed since 1996.

Except that
Golden Rule Insurance Company, a UnitedHealthcare company.

UnitedHealthcare, "Chairman" level sponsor of and exhibitor at 2011 ALEC Annual Conference[16] ($50,000 in 2010)[17] and member of Louisiana Host Committee.[11] Representatives Tom McGraw, Vice President of Government Program Integrity at subsidiary OptumInsight, Wayne Neff, Senior Vice President of subsidiary OptumHealthPublic Sector, and Russell C. Petrella, Community & State President of UnitedHealthcare, also spoke at a "Medicaid Crisis in the States: Private Sector Solutions You Can Use" workshop at the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting.[117]

You may ask – why is this important to know?

This is just one example that ALEC private sector member HAVE AN AGENDA.
Over 300 private companies – writing legislation and bringing it to ALEC meetings and giving it to legislators in closed door ALEC meetings - to be introduced at the state and federal level.

Over 300 companies – using legislators to advance their agenda.
The agenda is profit – at any cost to the public.

And don’t kid yourself folks – it is all about money and profit.  Take this Texas blog entry for example – an example of the Medicare voucher plan – being currently pushed by Republicans.  They call it a voucher plan – but it is really a rehash of the MSA plan pushed by Golden Rule.

Please read it carefully and think about what she has to say and the implications to the public and the profit potential for ALEC profit sector member insurance companies.
I wandered over to United Healthcare and asked to see a healthcare plan for a 64-year-old woman in Texas who doesn’t smoke. Not one of the fancy plans, mind you. The fancy ones are far more expensive.

They showed me a plan for $880.22 a month with a $5,000 deductible. And I only qualify if I don’t have a preexisting condition, which I do. I didn’t mean to have a preexisting condition; I was just born that way.

I’m not saying they would charge more for my 68-year-old female self, but odds are they would. I can’t check that because they currently don’t offer any plans for people over 65, because we all have Medicare, thanks to Lyndon Johnson. However, I suspect that insurance executives all over America are in a back room rubbing their hands together and licking their chops at the thought of taking my mortgage money and tying me to the railroad tracks.

And Lord only knows what they’d charge for a 75-year-old woman. After all, they are in the profit-making business, and it’s not cheap to hire someone to sit around all day making good use of a denied rubber stamp. Rubber stamps aren’t free, and Scrooge is already tied up in Texas slashing children’s healthcare, so you’ll have to hire someone to do it for pay instead of just for fun.

Paul, your $6,000 might get me through July and cost me $5,000 in deductibles, plus co-pays on top of that. So, here’s my question: what would you and Ayn Rand have me do in August? Is your solution to advise me not to buy any green bananas after July?

Paul, that is not a voucher. That is a coupon.

Three hundred ALEC corporations using  ALEC legislators – past and present – state and federal to push the ALEC private sector member corporation's agenda and corporate written legislation..
Even when the general public does NOT want their agenda to go forward.

Who is your ALEC legislator representing?
YOU or UnitedHealthcare?

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