It is no secret that Blue Cross and Blue Shield stands to benefit greatly from federal health care reforms under Obamacare, but not everyone is happy about just how that is going down… Americans for Prosperity Florida state director Slade O’Brien in particular.
O’Brien is protesting today in front of the Florida’s BCBS headquarters in Jacksonville to bring attention to the mega-insurer’s role in directing the efforts of Enroll America, the non-profit created to funnel Americans into health care policies through federally created exchanges.
Using Enroll America’s tax exempt status, BCBS and other board members are able to contribute to the entity receiving a tax deduction, while using the entity to sell their own products for a profit. And in BCBS’s case, this is not small potatoes profit.
As discussed previously in this SPB column, BCBS is hoping to capture the lion’s share of new health plan enrollees through state and federal exchanges, and will succeed at least in part due to the growing reluctance of other major insurers to jump in. While various other insurers such as UnitedHealth Group and Aetna have scaled back their expected participation in exchanges due to growing reluctance, and even declined to join a closed White House meeting with President Obama in April, BCBS is getting aggressive in its efforts to capture what the industry refers to as “lives”. They will participate in nearly every state exchange, are doubling the number of call center employees and opening retail centers and storefronts in key neighborhoods, and are taking a “get out the vote” approach to enrollment.
While there are some problematic features of this process (such as the lack of actual variety being offered between and within insurer plans), BCBS’s outreach isn’t on its own the problem.
Instead, according to O’Brien, the concern is with how BCBS is going about its advocacy.
“As a board member, Blue Cross and Blue Shield is running an organization that is advocating for people to buy a product they sell. That’s called inurment and it’s not only unacceptable, it’s illegal,” O’Brien said in a statement. “Blue Cross and Blue Shield will pad their pockets with new taxpayer-subsidized insurance policies, while citizens lose jobs and businesses are unable to hire and expand. This is just one more example of the disastrous effects of the President’s signature healthcare law on Florida’s families.”
To Americans for Prosperity, this is “the epitome of a big business-big government partnership designed to grow private business profits through government force, all under the guise of a non-profit.”
Consider what the reaction from the left would be if a Republican administration set up a program in which Big Insurance was to profit so largely while getting tax breaks to do so, specifically if the American public were as disapproving of the program as they are of ObamaCare.
Public opinion polls have shown growing distrust of federalized hearth care, and this certainly won’t improve any time soon if people get the sense that the administration is complicit in a multi-billion dollar shell game played on the backs of Americans.
Slade will be available for comment from noon til 1:00 p.m. on Friday outside the Main Gate of BCBS corporate offices, located at 4800 Deerwood Campus Parkway in Jacksonville.
Karen Cyphers, PhD, is a public policy consultant, researcher, and mother to three daughters. She can be reached at email@example.com.