Letter to the editor, Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico

January 6, 2010

H. Edward Hanway, the chairman and CEO of Cigna Corporation, one of the largest private insurance companies, has a great deal to be thankful for this holiday season. Cigna, which had a profit of over $1 billion in 2007 and paid Hanway $30.16 million in 2008, has fared quite well in both the House and Senate health reform plans.

Rather than eliminating this and other administrative waste, not a dime of which goes for patient care, from the health system, Congress is bailing them out with billions of our tax dollars. In fact, the state will use its power to force people, both employers and employees, to purchase health insurance from Cigna or one of its small group of competitors. If they don’t they will face steep fines.

And the insurance that they are forced to purchase will only cover 60 percent of medical costs, meaning that millions of Americans will still continue to face bankruptcy for unpaid medical bills. The booming insurance stock prices on Wall Street are their reward for investing hundreds of millions of dollars for lobbying Congress. …

From the very beginning of this corrupt process, when the Democratic leadership declared that single-payer — a not-for-profit health payment system used in other countries that would eliminate private health insurers — was “off the table,” it has been obvious where this race to the bottom was headed.

The health care system should be run solely for the benefit of patients. The most ardent supporters of this legislation are the insurance companies and pharmaceutical industries, not the majority of patients, doctors and nurses who polls show support a single-payer, improved Medicare-for-All national health plan.

These congressional health bills are a boondoggle for the private insurance industry and a despicable sell-out of women’s reproductive health rights. Congress should start again from scratch — this time with single-payer at the table.


Bruce Trigg, M.D.