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My salary is $1.1 million. I received stock compensation with a value of $8.5 million, and last year an annual incentive payment of $73,000.

Well, of course it makes sense that you would need a big rate increase.

And of course she was being quite facetious there. Is that going to stop?

Well, actually, Kyra, that's -- that's sort of the tip of the iceberg. That's a modest salary compared to a number of the top CEOs who are making up to $24 million each.

The top five insurance companies in 2009 had $12.2 billion worth of profits between the companies. Fifty percent higher profit statements than a year earlier. So the enormous rate increases, staggering rate increases, don't match the profit statements. There's a real disconnect.

And too many Americans are really in a life-or-death situation, they desperately need the coverage. They don't have a large employer to negotiate on their behalf, and yet they're being kicked out of the marketplace because they simply don't have thousands of dollars extra to put on the table.

Secretary Sebelius, a lot of people will say, well, look, when you talk about tip of the iceberg, it's not just insurance companies. It may be hospitals. It may be manufacturers of a lot of supplies that are used in hospitals.

There are a lot of different organizations, groups, people who contribute to health care costs. Are you going to be going after all these folks? I mean there are companies that are posting huge profits that make supplies for hospitals? How about that?

Well, I think definitely a part of the underlying health reform is really to pay a more reasonable rate for the products that are delivered. And we want to go to competitive bidding on durable medical equipment. That in and of itself just making companies bid and not sort of fixing a price.

We want to insert some market strategies in Medicare programs so that we actually can lower cost over time. There's a lot we're overpaying for, we are subsidizing the so-called Medicare advantage plans, 12 percent more, and 80 percent of seniors are paying those higher rates for issues that don't really add to health outcomes for seniors.

So we want to be smart about what we're spending but actually lower the cost over time. Pay for quality, pay for outcomes, and stop overpaying for everything in the medical system, which is driving up costs.

That's all part of the reform bills that passed both the House and the Senate.

 


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