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Consumers Rights Consumed by Big Business and the Insurance Industry

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Each day I get up at 5:45 a.m. and head off to the gym. As I mount up the stairmaster with my paper in front of me I read the local and national news perusing story after story about how the quality of medical care is getting worse, how overmedication and prescription errors are on the rise, how workplace safety has been relaxed, how defective products are causing death and catostrophic injury to consumers and how the environment is being contaminated by industy as a result of diminished regulation and oversight. I then turn to the business section and look at soaring profits in the insurance industry, CEO multi-million dollar salaries, and report after report of employee pensions being abandoned, health insurance benefits being cut for workers, and layoffs.

I certainly do not begrudge an industrious executive for making a substantial salary or bonus when his or her company does well, however, I cannot help to think that what this country is enduring is the sacrifice of the rights, benefits and prosperity of the American worker for the benefit of the wealthy and big business. I can say with confidence that while a company may show profits, diminishing the benefits, pay, retirement and available work for employees is not a reflection of a company doing well, no matter what the stock price. I do however take issue with big business and the insurance industry throwing our citizens under the bus.

As one example, when the insurance industry lost its money in the stock market after 911, the first order of business was to raise insurance premiums and then to covertly push for legislation to restrict the rights of injured claimants in an effort to maximize profits and minimize payouts, all in the shadow of this national tragedy. Someday someone will have to explain to me how the citizens of this country allowed insurance companies to hoodwink the American people into serving up their rights on a silver platter. I will never understand the rational of how a 25 year old housewife with 2 children can lose her legs as the result of another’s admitted negligence and be capped at a $250,000 lifetime recovery in any attempt to pursue a claim for injury; but that is what it has come to. Why a company that is in the business of insuring the safety and future well being of citizens injured through no fault of their own should be permitted to cap its responsibility and shift the burden of loss on to an injured victim is beyond me.

What we know for sure is that the Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry has spent millions of dollars on elections and in lobbying to assure that such legislation would be passed in essense guarenteeing their profits for now and into the future. So….as long as we continue to elect minions of big business and the pawns of the insurance industry and we allow the million dollar PR campaigns of misinformation to go unchallenged, our rights as citizens will continue to be trampled by the wealthy and powerful and the effect will be felt for years to come.