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Originally Posted by Lawrence

And we couldn't find such appalling behaviour in US hospitals?

The fact is, perversion of health care happens in your hospitals as much as ours, and while our socialised systems may suffer terrible mismanagement, yours will suffer other types of problems.

As many 'government studies' as StuartK can cite 'supporting' the case against the NHS, there will be just as many supporting it. What seems to matter more is the experience of the people. And while I don't doubt that some people have been hurt by the NHS, there are countless thousands more whose experience of the NHS is routine, positive, and quietly taken for granted.

The anti-healthcare lobby can and will cite numerous studies, I'm sure, but these studies will not be of a health system that I - and I will guess uncountable others - will recognise.

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I for one as a Catholic Christian believes everyone and I underline everyone should have access to affordable health care. . .


We probably won't reach that point with our current political system where the lobbying of powerful interests gets more voice than the people who are supposedly "served." When the drug industry can block the ability of people to import medicines from toehr countries where they are cheaper and the insurance lobby can block the ability of people to buy health insurance outside their geographical or political division, we'll never have the type of system where things will be affordable. On ther other hand, anything that government has injected itself into has always become far more costly than it would otherwise have been.

BOB

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Originally Posted by Stephanos I
John that was my point and sentiment exactly!
And I for one as a Catholic Christian believes everyone and I underline everyone should have access to affordable health care, but definitely NOT a government run program.
Stephanos I

May I be allowed to chime in as someone who lives in a country
with a comprehensive and tax-funded health care system.

There seems little point that I should have any continuing involvement in this
debate since people here are arguing it on American premises and not Christian ones.

I am speaking as an outsider, as one who is not American, and while you have
the notion that your principles on these matters are grounded in
Christianity, they are not. They are grounded in the mindset and ideas
peculiar to your local culture. What you write has no necessary connection
with Catholicism or Christianity. It has every connection with the American mindset.

That is not meant to be an affront to you or to any other Americans on list.
After all, my own ideas on this are themselves grounded in my own New
Zealand culture which is derived from that of Great Britain, but I would
contend that my country's way of dealing with issues of poverty and the like
is a much better outworking of Christianity than the American way. In other
words Christian principles are more deeply embedded in New Zealand's social
and political structures than they are in the US.


This country, and other Commonwealth countries, is orientated towards the
common weal. We see the duty of Government as primarily that of managing
the country for the common good of the entire populace. In order to achieve
this common weal we cheerfully hand over our taxes. And while there is
nothing to prevent a man becoming immensely rich there is, thank God, a
government policy which protects a man from becoming obscenely poor.

But this is *not* the view of American government, at least among those who
hold to the original founding of the US. Your Declaration of Independence
specifically states, "...Governments are instituted among men to preserve
these rights..." In other words, you did *not* see government as managing
the country or imposing a blue print for the common well-being of all citizens;
you saw it as the means to guarantee people liberty. It is a very different
concept.

Neither concept of government is in and of itself Christian, but I would
argue that government established for the common weal is more Christian than
government focused on personal liberty.

It is a major mistake however to assume that the American abhorrence of
Government involvement (whether in general or for poverty relief) has anything
to do with Christian principles, and it is really very distressing to find people
looking for scriptural and patristic argumentation to justify their own
culturally conditioned attitudes towards it. Perhaps a meditation on Romans
13 and Saint Paul's teaching on taxation would be useful?

Now the NZ and Canadian approach is all based on a legacy of English church/state
established relationships with a dollop of 19th century Methodist good works
thrown in and this has spread out to the Commonwealth. But I can see how the
American culture of separation of Church and State with the pot of wholesome
libertarianism thrown in can be horrified by the thought of actively putting
someone on welfare.

But for us social security provision as a safety net to help the most needy,
and a free health care system for all is a Christian response and a
Christian use of our taxes.

Now as Church and State drift further apart it remains to be seen if that
partnership will continue but I still argue that we in New Zealand (and
perhaps slightly less now in the UK) enjoy a culture where people have
invested into the state the outworking of its Christian principles as
the basis of its law and care for its citizens.

In my experience, the people who extol the dignity and sense of self-worth
to be found in grinding labour for miserable pay, no health care
and no future have themselves experienced none of those things.

For days now people have been locked in this debate about economics,health,
welfare and the poor. But, as this is a site dedicated to Christian
spirituality, I think both sides should make more reference to Scriptural
and traditional moral teaching on the topic. Do the principles and values
advocated by the Neo-classical Capitalists here (self-reliance,
entrepreneurship, success as the achievement of wealth, etc.) mesh with what
we read in Scripture, the Fathers of the Church and the Saints? Or do they
contradict the sources of our faith?

Can one be a true Christian and a social Darwinist?

Fr Ambrose
New Zealand


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When the drug industry can block the ability of people to import medicines from toehr countries where they are cheaper and the insurance lobby can block the ability of people to buy health insurance outside their geographical or political division, we'll never have the type of system where things will be affordable.

You are conflating two different issues, I think. With regard to the ability to buy health insurance across state lines, it is not the insurance industry that is in opposition, but rather the various state governments, which like the control this gives them over insurance mandates in their state (whether these actually benefit people is another issue). The insurance companies would love to be able to sell health insurance across state lines. This, and tort reform (something else you are not likely to see come out of the current health care debate) would do more than anything else to bring down the cost of health care access in the United States.

Drug reimportation is totally different. It's actually two distinct problems. First, there is the question of reimportation of brand name drugs from other countries (e.g., Canada), where they are sold at a steep discount because the government of those countries has monopoly purchasing power. In return for buying a guaranteed very large quantity of a drug from the manufacturer, the government gets a knock-down price. The alternative for the drug company is foregoing that market entirely.

In order to compensate for the discount given to that country, the drug company raises its prices in places where the drug's price is not controlled. Thus, American citizens have been subsidizing the drugs bought by Canadian citizens. When those drugs are reimported, it further erodes the drug company's profit margins, it violates the spirit (if not necessarily the letter) of the contract with the foreign country, and it also reduces the amount of the drug available in that country. It is not merely the pharmaceutical companies that complain about this practice, but also foreign governments, who see their inventories of popular drugs compromised by reimportation; i.e., if Americans buy too much of a drug from Canada, there may not be enough for Canadians.

The other issue is importation of generic drugs from third countries where, let's face it, quality control may not be such a high priority. The FDA has no oversight of the manufacturing processes, purity and strength of these drugs. Caveat emptor! As was seen with recent product adulteration scandals involving Chinese products (including foodstuffs and over-the-counter medicines), this can have serious, even deadly consequences. With the globalization of markets, there is no way to tell whether a product imported from one country originated in that country, or was exported from a very low cost (and low quality) country to a second country, via third country before ending up in your medicine cabinet. There are good reasons to keep drug quality under stringent control, and when you or any other American can simply fill a prescription by mail or over the internet from a low-cost foreign source, it puts all of us at risk.

For instance, suppose you doctor prescribes a particular antibiotic to treat a staph infection, and you fill it from a low-cost internet pharmacy. The drugs you get come directly from that pharmacy to you, without inspection. They may be the right one, at the right strength and dosage, or they may not (cutting with sugar stretches the profits of unscrupulous pharmacists as well as your neighborhood heroin dealer). So, you take all the pills, but you don't get better, because the antibiotics are not the right strength. Your doctor will probably put you on another, stronger drug, but the damage has been done: the bacterial strain you had is now resistant to the diluted antibiotics you had been taking the first time around, which means that antibiotic will soon be ineffective against that strain of bacteria.

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Originally Posted by Administrator
Originally Posted by Job
Unfortunately, that is the problem with the debate in America! Those opposed to Healthcare reform will continue to ignore those (the majority) in other countries who do not have a problem with their healthcare system and continue to bash it...soundbites work better than reality at times...
And Job misstates. Few in America are opposed to health care reform. The majority are opposed to reform that means more socialism. There are plenty of ways to provide better health care for more people at lower cost then with socialism. Market reforms are the way to go.

John, please give some "Market reforms" that can be addressed. The republican plans have been nothing more than "window dressing" to cover up their message of "NO". The only "market reform" that I see that could work is regulation of the Insurance companies like we regulate utilities. (Profits are capped so as not to allow for gouging.) Although, we know that would not fly with Republicans either.

I believe it was John Stewart who said, it's like asking for sunlight, but not having the brightness or warmth. It's impossible.

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Quote
This country, and other Commonwealth countries, is orientated towards the
common weal. We see the duty of Government as primarily that of managing
the country for the common good of the entire populace. In order to achieve
this common weal we cheerfully hand over our taxes. And while there is
nothing to prevent a man becoming immensely rich there is, thank God, a
government policy which protects a man from becoming obscenely poor.

But this is *not* the view of American government, at least among those who
hold to the original founding of the US. Your Declaration of Independence
specifically states, "...Governments are instituted among men to preserve
these rights..." In other words, you did *not* see government as managing
the country or imposing a blue print for the common well-being of all citizens;
you saw it as the means to guarantee people liberty. It is a very different
concept.

Neither concept of government is in and of itself Christian, but I would
argue that government established for the common weal is more Christian than
government focused on personal liberty.


Thank you for your post Fr. Ambrose! I think that one of the things that is often missed amongst Orthodox and Catholic (read in communion with Rome) Christians is that some of the founding fathers in the USA had a "christian" backgroud which was based in protestantism, branches of which, believed (and many still do) that God's favor is expressed through the wealth of a person. No thought given to the absurdity of this or the morality that is used (or not used) in obtaining that wealth.

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Originally Posted by Job
John, please give some "Market reforms" that can be addressed. The republican plans have been nothing more than "window dressing" to cover up their message of "NO". The only "market reform" that I see that could work is regulation of the Insurance companies like we regulate utilities. (Profits are capped so as not to allow for gouging.) Although, we know that would not fly with Republicans either.
Job,

Thanks for the post.

Here are a few easy market reforms:

1. Allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines. A family of four purchasing insurance in Massachusetts pays almost twice as much for coverage than a family in Texas does. The issue here is that states over regulate insurance, forcing private companies to provide coverage for things that most people don’t want (which raises the cost). Assuming the law is written to allow various levels of coverage (like auto insurance does) people would be able to pick and choose from thousands of companies rather than from the handful their states may currently allow.

2. Let individuals join together to get group rates, the same way labor unions and big companies do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying health insurance from the Knights of Columbus or the Lions (or whoever wishes to sell it to you). Almost all state governments prohibit this.

3. Modest tort reform. Right now many doctors order all kinds of tests, more to cover themselves in case of lawsuit then are actually needed. There is a balance here. People harmed have a right to compensation but doctors need not fear a lawsuit for a legitimate action that goes wrong.

4. Get the federal government out of health care management and delivery. If you wish to subsidize health care do so through tax credits and outright grants. The levels of fraud and abuse and waste in the current government run systems (Medicare / Medicaid / CHIPS) are incredible. The private market (with proper regulation that stimulates and not stifles) is far better at delivering quality and efficiency then is the government (governments just cannot be efficient). The private market is also better at getting rid of companies that fail to provide a quality product at a fair price.

I don’t know the details of the various Republican plans that have been put forth (I’ve seen references in the news to three major plans they’ve put forth). For the most part Congress has not allowed them to come to the floor for discussion. It’s perfectly acceptable and moral for them to say “No” to any proposed legislation if they think that it is wrong. Doing the wrong thing is worse than doing nothing right now.

Come to think about it, even the Democrats like Dick Durbin (a high ranking member of the committee) have not seen the details of the current legislation and the other day the Majority broke hundreds of years of precedent by stopping the public reading of an amendment.

In the long term cradle-to-grave socialized health care is not sustainable financially. We can look at countries with such systems and see that they pay a much higher cost than we do for a much poor quality of care. Another part of the fix is for people to directly pay part of their own health care costs. When things appear free they are abused. When you see the costs and are responsible for them you demand quality and economy. [But I’d also do away with withholding and ask taxpayers to write an actual check each month for the taxes they owe – it would work wonders to reduce fraudulent spending on pork projects.]

As to health care company profits, they are for the most part in line with the profits other companies make (an investor purchasing stock in a publicly-traded health care company has a legitimate expectation of a reasonable, market-based return on his investment). If a health care company chooses to gouge its subscribers it will not remain in business very long. [But right now government regulations prevent market forces from forcing bad insurance companies out of business.]

In the end I would invite everyone to examine the facts about the socialist health care systems and capitalist ones. The old saying holds true: “Capitalism is not perfect for there is an unequal distribution of wealth but in socialism there is a equal distribution of poverty.” That wealthy people from countries everywhere flock to America (and other places with capitalist health care) for their health care (despite having free socialized medicine in their home countries) should speak to everyone.

BTW, there are more market reforms, but I've limited it to just four major ones for now. Numbers 1 and 2 above should be relatively easy to accomplish. Number 3 would be difficult since there are so many lawyers in Congress who are ambulance-chasers. Number 4 would be even more difficult. While I'd work at all of them I'd be happy if numbers 1 & 2 were enacted now in place of all the current proposals. Then let it run for a few years and let the market work.

John

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How ironic that the countries I hear of extolled as more Christian than the United States (UK, Sweden, Denmark) by some here and on many other forums, are in reality some of the most unChristian countries on the planet.

America is getting a bad rap lately over healthcare reform from everyone from Christians to out and out reds, but I'll take my country and it's so called Protestant origins, and it's unsurpassed record for helping those in need, over any nominally Catholic country in the World.

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Especially curious since most Americans are quite happy with their health care, and the actual number of Americans who want some form of health insurance who do not have access to it is only a small fraction of the widely bandied "47 million" (or was it 37 million, or perhaps 25 million?).

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Health care is great in the U.S....but for those many Americans who are unemployed, or employed but without being able to afford insurance because it is not offered, etc., it is simply unaffordable.

You would not believe the difference our friends tell us of the out of pocket costs of certain state of the art tests in the U.S. vs. Greece. The machinery is presently (being a full member of the EU) second to none there.

You would also not believe the difference in the cost of private health insurance (offered by American companies in many cases) premiums in Greece vs. the U.S.!!!!

The cost differential in all of this is truly unbelievable, and I believe that much of it is because of the high cost of medical malpractice insurance which is not an issue in any other country around the world.

The concern of doctors and their bedside manner in the U.S., compared to Greece, is far superior though.

Those private doctors I have gone to in the past (lucky me having gotten sick on vacation!!) in London were also excellent too, though not cheap.

In the words of a British friend of ours, America is a litigious society, period.

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Bless, Fr Ambrose,

I appreciate your post; you have reminded us of the spiritual danger of the heresy "Americanism."

Health care IS a human right, if not a civic right. Our system has weaknesses and those who can afford to "waste" our health care resources (cosmetic surgery, abuse of antibiotics, diet drugs, sex drugs, emergency care abuse, prescribed duplicate testing and overuse of drugs) screams for reform. The greed of lawyers who get rich from peoples misfortunes is a horrible abuse of resources.

That being said THIS HEALTHCARE PROPOSAL must be defeated! It proposes that many things which the Catholic Church opposes will become mandatory. At the start of the Obama administration pro-abortionists were delighted in the prospect of passing FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act.) This would remove the pitifully few restrictions on abortions which were passed by pro-life states. It would remove the "conscience clause" which allows health care workers and facilities to refuse to participate in abortion and euthanasia. It could mandate all universities to REQUIRE medical students to perform abortions as part of their training. It would provide funding and personnel to abortion facilities like Planned Parenthood. The overwhelming objections of American citizens effectively killed this proposal.

But all the above pro-abortion provisions are possible with the current healthcare proposal; there are not at all restricted, but are authorized by the Health & Human Services Secretary Sebelius, A STRONGLY PRO-ABORTION FEMINIST.

Its extremely clear that any proposal the Obama administration puts forth will be actively or potential pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia and pro-Gnostic.

I believe the anti-socialist views presented on this forum are signs that a large plurality of Christians are distrustful of President Obama and most Democrats in Congress. The capitalist system of health care which we Americans have may be unfair, and generally based upon ability to pay. But it won't and CAN'T mandate participation in abortion and euthanasia.

Until we can trust our government there can be no advocacy of a Federal governance of health care.

May your preparations to welcome the Incarnate God be blessed!

Fr Deacon Paul

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In reply to Lawrence's previous post.how can an abortion go wrong? there is only one desired outcome. My sister and I spent at least 60% of our childhood years in hospitals hooked up to machines and if I had lived in America at that time God knows what would have happened to us because of the immense debt we would now be under.


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Health care is great in the U.S....but for those many Americans who are unemployed, or employed but without being able to afford insurance because it is not offered, etc., it is simply unaffordable.

Not quite true. The vast majority of Americans have access to affordable health care through a variety of means, but not every American cares to avail himself of this, or simply is not aware of his eligibility for programs that already exist--many of which are undersubscribed. The actual number of people who want but have no access to health care at all is quite small. It could be made smaller still through some relatively minor tweaks, but the purpose of the wholesale expropriation of the healthcare system has nothing to do with providing affordable healthcare to the indigent.

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John, Thank you for your thoughtful reply...Let me address one by one...

Quote
1. Allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines. A family of four purchasing insurance in Massachusetts pays almost twice as much for coverage than a family in Texas does. The issue here is that states over regulate insurance, forcing private companies to provide coverage for things that most people don’t want (which raises the cost). Assuming the law is written to allow various levels of coverage (like auto insurance does) people would be able to pick and choose from thousands of companies rather than from the handful their states may currently allow.


I'm glad this is the first suggested one mentioned since I believe it is the WORST one. Having worked in the insurance industry for almost a decade both as an agent working with individuals and small businesses then working at the Long-Term Care Home Office for MetLife, I can confidently say that you are correct some states do over regulate (Florida is a great example of that.) However there are more states that under regulate and allow for clauses that average people would not be aware of such as (refering to Health Care policies) If you have ever been a victim of domestic abuse, that is a pre-existing condition. Essentially some states have cheaper policies...because they are cheap, clauses which make it extremely difficult to collect...

Quote
2. Let individuals join together to get group rates, the same way labor unions and big companies do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying health insurance from the Knights of Columbus or the Lions (or whoever wishes to sell it to you). Almost all state governments prohibit this.


I'll agree with this...that's what the "Health Care Exchange" is in the congressional bills. It would allow individuals to purchase at group rates and if it was national it would allow purchasing "over state lines" but would set up minimum standards...

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3. Modest tort reform. Right now many doctors order all kinds of tests, more to cover themselves in case of lawsuit then are actually needed. There is a balance here. People harmed have a right to compensation but doctors need not fear a lawsuit for a legitimate action that goes wrong.


Nobody in their right mind would argue against modest tort reform. Actually president Obama advocated it in his address for congress. The definition of "modest tort reform" however, is more difficult than Healthcare reform. So it's really, in my opinion something that should be addressed but due to complexites it should be dealt with seperately.

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4. Get the federal government out of health care management and delivery.


From a liberal perspective, the government is not really in the health care delivery business. If they were the doctors would be salaried. Which would be paid for by a single payer system.

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the other day the Majority broke hundreds of years of precedent by stopping the public reading of an amendment.


I believe this is in reference to Sen Bernie Sanders amendment. If I recall after allowing for approximately 3 hours the amendment to be read, Sen. Sanders dropped the amendment from asking for a vote on it so there really was no reason to have it read. It was kind of like reading the phone book on the senate floor, it no longer had any relevance.

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As to health care company profits, they are for the most part in line with the profits other companies make (an investor purchasing stock in a publicly-traded health care company has a legitimate expectation of a reasonable, market-based return on his investment). If a health care company chooses to gouge its subscribers it will not remain in business very long. [But right now government regulations prevent market forces from forcing bad insurance companies out of business.]


Absolutely, an investor has a legitimate expectation of a REASONABLE, market-based return on his/her investment! However, I believe you are off base in that companies can "pick and choose" who they will offer policies to. I know I recently had a conversation with a CEO of a small business that operates in 5 states (I believe the number was 5) They looked at Health-Care coverage for their full time employees, and do offer it...one of the carriers he mentioned he specifically wanted a quote from was Blue Cross/Blue Shield...This company with approximately 100 employees was "too small" BC/BS would not even quote them.

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I'm glad this is the first suggested one mentioned since I believe it is the WORST one.

Really? If New Yorkers could buy their health insurance in Connecticut, they would see an immediate 40% drop in their premiums, due to New York's mandating of coverage that most people do not want and do not need, but which do drive up costs significantly. In every sector of insurance, cross-state competition has driven down costs. What makes you think health insurance is any different?

There is a corollary to this, which is allowing the young and healthy to purchase high deductable/low premium policies that only provide insurance against catastrophic illness or injury. Most of the people who do not have insurance are in fact the healthy young, who make a rational judgment that, at their stage in life, health insurance is not a high priority. You may disagree, and the government may disagree, but who are you to make this decision for them?

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I'll agree with this...that's what the "Health Care Exchange" is in the congressional bills.

Actually, it is not, since the government would determine who and what could be in the exchange. At the end of the day, its an attempt to get the government to control health insurance. And again, who are you to say what "minimum standards" are or ought to be? That choice is rightly left to the individual, whose circumstances are unique to him.

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Nobody in their right mind would argue against modest tort reform. Actually president Obama advocated it in his address for congress.

Tort reform is off the table. Leading Democrats have stated quite frankly that they have no intention of antagonizing the Plaintiff's Bar--one of their leading campaign cash cows.

But in Texas, where tort reform was implemented a couple of years ago, medical malpractice premiums dropped by a whopping 21%, and there was a large influx of physicians from out of state, many of whom decided to open practices in underserved areas.

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From a liberal perspective, the government is not really in the health care delivery business. If they were the doctors would be salaried. Which would be paid for by a single payer system.

When the government establishes large insurance programs that set rates, when the government decides what constitutes established practices and makes them mandatory for reimbursible services, then government is, in effect, setting physician salaries. There are many ways to skin a cat. This is just one of them.

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I believe this is in reference to Sen Bernie Sanders amendment.

Still a breach of Senate rules, which state that once an amendment is being read, the reading cannot be interrupted for any reason. Then there was Senator Stuart Smalley cutting off Joseph Lieberman's request for two minutes to complete his remarks--a complete breach of Senate comity which outraged quite a few members of "the worlds greatest deliberative body".

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As to health care company profits, they are for the most part in line with the profits other companies make (an investor purchasing stock in a publicly-traded health care company has a legitimate expectation of a reasonable, market-based return on his investment).

Medicare fraud totaled some $60 billion last year. The profits of the top ten health insurance companies totaled $8 billion. Which number is more "obscene"?

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Absolutely, an investor has a legitimate expectation of a REASONABLE, market-based return on his/her investment!

And the market decides that. Not you, not the government.

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However, I believe you are off base in that companies can "pick and choose" who they will offer policies to.

But the government can decide who and what they will cover? Interesting double standard. If I am dissatisfied with my insurance company, I can get another one. If I am dissatisfied with my government, I'm pretty much screwed. Or, at least, that was the outcome of the "Recent Unpleasantness", as we call the War of Yankee Aggression down here.

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