Floor Statement on Health Care Insurance Reform
I thank Senator Udall. Senator Kaufman has made an excellent point. What we have seen over the last several years, actually more than a decade, is increasing costs shifted to small business. Just this year, a 15-percent increase in small business premiums is anticipated, much higher than inflation. That is because there is no real competition. Rhode Island is on that map, where two companies control 8 percent of the market. There are forces, which have been illuminated, that drive up this constant increase in cost. One is profits. That is what private companies are organized to achieve. If we were directors of those companies, we would be trying to do that. But those profits drive two things: One, shareholder return, profitability of stock, and also compensation for executives. Those two phenomena will not be in place in a public option. It will be a not-for-profit cooperative arrangement. So the response will not be to shareholders or to self-aggrandizement of executives; it will be to delivering service. That is going to be a check.
What I find ironic in this discussion is the bold proponents of free markets who believe the free market can solve it are afraid of competition. They are afraid of a public option because they say: We can't compete with the Government. Their definition of competition is any competition. They are probably worried about 80 percent shared between two companies. This is a managed environment. Year in and year out, the insurance companies do great and small business does worse and worse.