I’ll hand it to the Minnesota GOP. The conservatives that run the shop over there have come up with some pretty goofy games in the past–putting an asterisk behind an elected senator’s name.. HILARIOUS– but this one is just the tops. Seriously. This whole thing with the $2,500 to stand in line for "Obama Care" is a nice visual, the cameras love it, and whew, it’s a laugh riot. I’m going to run down to the people who just got kicked off of GAMC and tell them about it, they’ll totally love it.
Over at MNPublius, Jeff Rosenberg also noted this little stunt, and how much money the MNGOP is throwing at it, which got me thinking. In the grand scheme of health care, is $2,500 for a publicity stunt really that much money? What else is going on in the health care scene while the Republican’s are busy playing little games for the press?
First, lets see how much money the insurance companies have spent lobbying Congress to block real reform. From the Washington Post, we get that the insurance companies are spending about $1.4 million a day lobbying. Take that multiplied by the two days that folks have been participating in this media stunt, and you get $2.8 million spent blocking the reform that American’s want (health care question is #23).
Next, lets take a look at insurance company profits. Looking at the top five insurance companies alone–UnitedHealth Group, WellPoint, Aetna, Humana, and Cigna–the profits from their Fortune 500 profiles comes to $7,790,800,000 for the year. Back to the MS Paint math board:
That’s over $42 million in profits for only the top five insurance companies during the two days the GOP has been putting on plays for the media.
Finally, lets look at how many people have lost their insurance during the GOP’s little game thus far. I mean the insurance companies are making boat loads of cash and spending it like crazy on lobbying, people shouldn’t be losing their coverage then, right? Unless they’re in the business of denying people coverage to lower their costs, this should be straight forward, right? The current system is the best in the world, right?
But…from the Center for American Progress’ study on the rate of people losing insurance from earlier this year, we know that up to 14,000 people per day are losing their insurance. The study was fact-checked by Politifact, and they actually say the number is a little low, but with COBRA being extended through the stimulus… we’ll stay on the safe side and go with the low number. Anyway, take that rate times the two days the "contest" has been running so far and we have 28,000 people who have lost their health insurance during the Minnesota GOP’s media stunt. 28,000 people is the city of Brooklyn Center, losing it’s health insurance.
With the $2,500 that the Minnesota Republican Party is using to get a newstory, they could give the newly uninsured around 9 cents each. Now that’s a start to some compassionate conservatism.
Folks, the current state of health care is a lot scarier than any media stunt that the Minnesota GOP can think of. The $2,500 they are offering wouldn’t even cover the out of pocket costs of a family of four for 1 month if we continue on the path that we’re on. The real crisis is the status quo. The crisis is insurance companies protecting their bottom line by denying people the coverage that they need. The crisis is politicians that have raked in the money from insurance lobbyists using scare tactics and lies to demand that any real reform by crushed. The crisis is happening right now, and only an option provided by the American people can bring choice and competition back to this broken industry. We need real reform, but I guess the Minnesota GOP thought we just needed more political theater. I’ll keep a running total of these numbers during the contest so the Minnesota GOP can see what working families were dealing with while they were busy trying to score political points.