Letters from our Readers: Launch an investigation of insurers’ huge profits 

Anthem Blue Cross, owned by WellPoint Inc., plans to raise California health insurance rates up to 39 percent while making $2.9 billion in the last quarter of 2009. A recent report found that the combined profit for the five largest health care providers — WellPoint, UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Humana and Cigna — increased 56 percent from 2008 to 2009.

These obscene profits should raise antitrust concerns and exploration of regulating health insurance rates. Insurance companies are exempt from the federal antitrust laws because of the McCarran-Ferguson Act, but not exempt from California’s antitrust laws, as far as I know.

Ralph E. Stone, San Francisco

Changing of the guard

The surprise news that 54-year-old Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh will not seek Senate re-election is a stunning rebuke to his party leaders. Bayh’s call for Democrats to reorient toward a more centrist agenda went unheeded, as he urged his party to place an emphasis on jobs and fiscal responsibility over health care and cap-and-trade.

Bayh’s decision is a dramatic “no confidence” vote in his party’s leadership, and reflects continuing moderate and independent voter defections. The Indiana Senate seat is now expected to go to the GOP, along with Obama and Biden’s former Senate seats in Illinois and Delaware, respectively.

Jim Hartman, Berkeley

Cell phones are private

My cell phone is a database and record-keeping system, aside from its primary use as a communication device. The police cannot access my laptop computer nor my desktop computer without a proper search warrant. In what way is the personal data in my cellular telephone any different than a diary, laptop computer or any other personal records?

I say the San Mateo County prosecutor is out of order (Examiner, Feb. 14), and the California Supreme Court does not need to make a decision that has already been made.

G.L. Damiano, San Francisco

Stripping people of power

Recently, the five conservatives on the Supreme Court agreed with the national ACLU that piles of notarized paper — aka corporations — should have the same rights as human beings to spend unlimited amounts of money on electoral campaigns. Naturally, this will tilt the balance of power even more toward corporate lobbyists and corporate media.

You’d think conservatives would be in favor of conserving the rights of human beings in a land where voters, at least for the moment, are required to be flesh and blood humans.

Mike Caggiano, San Mateo

Let’s make Muni free

I have long been a proponent of a free Muni, run in an efficient, public-serving manner. The idea is to create a tourist mecca with free public transit as its anchor. The “experts” tell us that a no-fare Muni is not only impossible, but ridiculous.

Who among us, after reading The Examiner’s Feb. 14 list of Muni’s $67.7 million costs, can’t suspect tremendous fraud and waste? At the very least, there is a budget process that encourages other city departments to make up inflated numbers.

Paul Burton, San Francisco

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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