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Tester on 83% health insurance premium hike

by: Matt Singer

Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 13:39:07 PM MST

Jon Tester just killed it on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Rural school districts are seeing health insurance rates rise by as much as 83%.

Watch the video or read the remarks below the fold:

Matt Singer :: Tester on 83% health insurance premium hike
Mr. President, I rise today with some startling news from my state.  It's news that drives home the need to get a handle on America's health care problem.

Being Senator is a tough job.  But it isn't the toughest job I've ever had.  The toughest job I had was serving on the school board back in Big Sandy, Montana.

I'm a former teacher.  So I appreciate the long, hard-and often thankless-hours our teachers put in.  And to say they're not the highest-paid profession would be an understatement.

So I was shocked, Mr. President, when I heard about the bad news hitting school employees all across Montana.

This week, my staff and I spoke to folks like the ones at Elysian School District in Billings, Montana.  Employees there just received word that their health insurance rates are going up.  Way up.

Normally, a big rate hike might be something like 10 or 20 percent.  Sometimes we hear about folks getting slammed with 30 or 40 percent increases.  But the folks at Elysian?  Their rates are skyrocketing by 69 percent.

Think that's bad?  Talk to the folks in Hinsdale, or Saco Montana.  They just found out their rates are going up, too.  By more than 70 percent.

In Montana's Nashua School District - rates are going up 72 percent.  And the rate given to those employees who purchase family insurance?  It's going up by 83 percent.

Let me repeat that, Mr. President.  Health insurance rates.  Going up.  By 83 percent.

These aren't just numbers, Mr. President.  These are people.  People whose lives and livelihoods are on the line.

One of those people is Melissa Sanders.  Myssie is a 3rd grade math teacher in Lambert, Montana, and she has three children.  For her, right now, the bill comes to $895.00 for insurance for her and her family.  But under the proposed increase?  Myssie would pay  almost 16-hundred dollars every month.

Subtract that from Myssie's paycheck, and she'd be left with around $75 dollars every month.

For those in Congress who think nothing is the best option when it comes to health care reform, I have one question: What is Myssie supposed to do?  How much more of their paychecks are Montanans supposed to fork over before Congress finally reforms our broken health care system?

The folks I'm talking about don't belong to any big nationwide corporate insurance system.  They're not paying for anyone's big million-dollar salaries or lobbyists or advertisements.  It's just the cost of health care-going through the roof-that is breaking these Montana families.

And it's not just school employees.  Montana's largest insurance company says it's raising rates up to 19 percent this year.  Another insurer is reportedly raising rates up to 21 percent.   Up.  Up.  Up.   And some people in Congress say Americans don't want or need reform.

Let them talk to the folks I've talked to.  Like the teachers seeing these rate increases.  Like the Montanans being forced to sell their family farms and ranches because of medical bills.  Like the Montana small business owners who can't afford to insure their employees.

On Christmas Eve, I stood in this chamber and cast a vote to keep the government out of our health care decisions, cut the national deficit, hold insurance companies accountable, strengthen Medicare, and slow the rise of health care costs.  I'm proud of that vote.

Now, this week, after months of listening, debating and voting, Congress has a chance to work together and get something done.

If Congress does nothing, we know what will happen.  Medicare will go bust.  Costs will continue breaking Montana families.  No one will hold insurance companies accountable.

And year after year, hardworking Montanans will continue seeing more of their hard-earned paychecks eaten up by health care costs.

I'm NOT in the do-nothing camp.  Especially when hardworking Montana families are trying to make ends meet with 83 percent rate hikes.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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It's time. (0.00 / 0)
Enough of this messing around.  ALL state teachers should be ALL on the same pay grade and IN the same insurance pool!  THAT'S why their insurance is going up! Statewide pay scale and statewide insurance pool.  THAT will save you some money, AND equalize equal pay for equal work!  It's time!  Teachers in rural areas are NOT second class teachers, yet they recieve second class pay.  And if they're in a small insurance pooly, a couple'a good castastrophics and THERE GOES YOUR RATES!  One good liver transplant ought'a bout  do it!  Sure, the big city teachers will scream like stuck pigs 'cause they're cuttin' a fat hog in the ass 'cause they're big hogs at the trough. But it just ain't fair.

OK, big city teachers, START YOU WHININ'!

Write today (0.00 / 0)
Nice job, Jon...Thank you.

I sent along one more letter to the Senators and to Rehberg yesterday. We have got to get this done.  

Recently, I've had two good friends, both in their 50's,  die  due to lack of health care insurance.  They both waited too long because they knew a trip to the hospital would cost a lot of money that they didn't have.  By the time they went, it was too late.  

I know someone who is dragging a leg right now who can't go to the hospital because she is afraid of losing her house. She lost her health insurance when her former county job was privatized. She works taking care of home-based elderly folks and barely makes more than minimum wage, no benefits. She is in a 2 week waiting period on an application for assistance to help her get the care she needs.  No one knows what is causing this - a leaky blood vessel on her brain? Very likely her care will be more expensive when and if she finally goes because she had to wait.  

And, my own personal story - we were denied coverage when my employer submitted a form that showed an old address for us.  This clerical error caused us to be placed in a new program which came with a whole new deductible, mid-year.  It took us 6 months to sort out why payments to our doctors stopped, since we were just continuing a treatment plan and hadn't changed anything.  The insurance company didn't budge on the issue, and despite the fact we pay more than $7,000 a year in premiums (with increases in the 40%+ range anticipated for next year - that's just two non-smoking adults here...), we got soaked for that extra $3,000 not covered. If I could have, I would have switched companies...looking for one that had more customer friendly policies.  But, of course, I have no choice.  

It's time...people's lives and livelihood are at stake.  

ars longa - vita brevis

the obvious solution (0.00 / 0)
is public option. anything else is just forking over our future to the insurance parasites.

montana's two senators could push for a public option if either one of them really cared about helping us or their careers.

i am not sure what it will take to get someone with courage to really lead this country out of this stupidity of paying the crawloff & die consortiums to bet against our health care in this country.

perhaps a governor of a state who aspires to be president some day will have an answer once this balderdash is finished?frankly,  i don't care if it passes or not. it does next to nothing in solving the massive growing problems with health care in this country and everyone who is not a politician or a lobbyist knows this.

the last poll is saw is 73% of the coffee party wants a public option if they are going to be required to buy insurance. there is the constituency for any governor who has the courage and foresight to enact a decent health care option in this country. and whichever state proposes and passes this first will have as much economic development as it ever wanted or dreamed of.    

Is there (0.00 / 0)
anything in the bill Congress is about to pass that will keep health care costs from rising?

Some would say that is (0.00 / 0)
even the wrong discussion when talking about health care reform: http://www.aolhealth.com/2010/...


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Purely Hypothetical, of course, but - The best candidate for the Republicans for US Senate is:
Corey Stapleton
Dennis Rehberg
Marc Racicot
Champ Edmunds
Steve Daines
Harris Himes
Kreyton Kerns


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