Nitwit Politicians (Part 8 of 8)

Meet Tom MacArthur.  MacArthur’s a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he represents New Jersey’s third congressional district, which includes The Curmudgeon’s home.

MacArthur is a member of what is known in the House of Representatives as the Tuesday Group.  It’s a group of about 50 “moderate” Republican House members, many of whom were so displeased with the Trumpcare bill in late March that the bill was withdrawn without a vote.  The Curmudgeon places “moderate” in quotation marks because by any reasonable standards MacArthur is in no way moderate; he is a serious, serious conservative, but the degrees of conservativism in the House are so fine and so many and so constantly changing these days that today he comes across as somewhere in the middle of the lunatic fringe and is slapped with a “moderate” label that in no way does him justice.

As co-chair of the Tuesday Group, MacArthur worked with another member of the House, Mark Meadows, who was acting in his capacity as leader of the House Freedom Caucus, the farthest of the far right of the lunatic fringe, to broker a deal to make enough changes in the failed bill to make it acceptable, if not exactly loved or even liked, for it to pass in the House, as it did a few weeks ago.  It’s the passage of this bill that has unleashed the current wave of protests that spilled over into recent town hall meetings members of the House have held in their districts.

MacArthur held such a town hall meeting a few weeks ago.

The Curmudgeon’s invitation must’ve gotten lost in the mail.

Before continuing, allow The Curmudgeon to say a few things.

First, he doesn’t care for the bill the House passed, both because it would throw about 24 million Americans who currently have health insurance into the ranks of the uninsured over the next nine years and because it would jeopardize access to care for those with so-called pre-existing conditions – surely you understand how that term makes The Curmudgeon cringe – and it just so happens that The Curmudgeon, who is one of the healthiest fifty-nine-year-olds you will ever encounter, is a member of that pre-existing condition group because of a medical problem he successfully overcame nearly a decade ago but that will remain on his permanent record until the day he dies (sort of like that class you cut in tenth grade).

Second, The Curmudgeon believes MacArthur has every right to take whatever position he chooses on this issue.  He does not expect his elected officials to mirror his own views on every single issue they confront.

Third, The Curmudgeon respects that unlike many of his peers, who didn’t hold town hall meetings at all or who conducted them by telephone, MacArthur stood on a stage and faced his angry constituents and attempted to engage them on this subject.  (And rest assured that it pains The Curmudgeon to give this guy credit for anything.)

And fourth, any human being, MacArthur included, deserves better than how his constituents treated him and spoke to him.  Do a web search:  it was appalling and disgusting.  The Curmudgeon is ashamed of his neighbors.

But…

In his defense of the changes in the health care law that the new bill proposes – a bill, it should be noted, that has zero chance of passing in its current form in the Senate – MacArthur declared that

I am watching an insurance industry collapsing.

Let us consider this statement for a moment by looking at the top five health insurers in the country.

United Healthcare has 133 million members “world-wide;” The Curmudgeon isn’t exactly sure what that means, but he thinks it means the company insures a lot of people.  Its 2016 revenue was $185 billion, an increase of 18 percent from the previous year, operating earnings rose 20 percent, and net earnings rose 24 percent.

Number two insurer Anthem had 2016 revenue of $85 billion from insuring 40 million people.  Its 2016 gross profit was $18 billion and its net income $2.5 billion.

Next comes Aetna, with 2016 revenue of $15.7 billion and net income of $139 million.  In its financial disclosures Aetna notes that this net income is down significantly but it attributes this decline to “restructuring costs” and not Obamacare losses.  Aetna has 23 million members.

After Aetna comes CIGNA and its $39.7 billion in revenue, up five percent from the previous year.  Aetna’s financial disclosures note that it expects to add between 300,000 and 500,000 new members in 2017 – not bad for a company that already boasts of “15 million global medical customers.”

And last but not least in the top five of health insurers is Humana, with 2016 revenue of $54 billion, pre-tax income of $1.7 billion, and after-tax income of $614 million.  As of the end of 2015, Humana had 14.2 million U.S. health insurance customers.

Doesn’t exactly sound like a “collapsing” industry, does it?  In fact, it sounds more like a license to print money.

MacArthur has special expertise in this area, and certainly a special interest in this industry:  he’s a former health insurance industry executive himself, serving for eleven years as president and CEO of a company that, as his own web site describes, “…provided insurance and managed care services, and operated mutual insurers and a reinsurer.”

MacArthur’s not a public official whom The Curmudgeon will ever like and that’s not going to change, and again, he gives him credit for his willingness to stand up for what he believes in the face of the kind of treatment from his constituents that no public official deserves.  But for standing in front of constituents who were sharing their deep-seated fears with him, who were pouring out their hearts to him, and who were asking for his help, and then choosing at such a time to move beyond those worries and instead show his concern for the insurance industry – for the insurance industry rather than the people that industry insures – MacArthur really, really distinguished himself.

Tom MacArthur is a nitwit.

 

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