Told You: You Will Cover Those Unpaid Power Bills.

By Steve Haner

If the Virginia General Assembly orders Dominion Energy Virginia to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars in “excess profits” to cover unpaid family utility bills, who is really paying?  We all are, of course.  Don’t say you were not warned.

That apparently is the latest approach to help folks behind on their bills, as reported in this morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch by Associated Press.  Governor Ralph Northam is proposing a budget amendment to raid the presumed excess cash at Dominion, after legislative efforts to capture it were defeated in the special session.

Legislative manipulation of the regulatory process, bypassing the independent State Corporation Commission, created the opportunity for Virginia’s dominant electric utility to pile up a possible half billion dollars in excess profit.  But the money came from every Dominion customer, a large portion of it from the giant industrial consumers.  Only a small part came from those now behind on their monthly bills.

Some legislators see your electric bill as just another tax to be spent on their priorities, not yours.  Now they want to use it to pay electric bills for customers who have fallen behind due to a recession (again, a recession in part of the government’s making.) 

Frankly, a full $500 million might not cover the tab for all the families that have fallen behind on their utility bills after being told they could not be disconnected. It certainly won’t cover the bills for all Virginians, including those who are not on Dominion’s service, and Dominion is the only utility with this particular piggy bank to raid.  Will Dominion funds be transferred to other utilities?

It is hard to write calmly about this insanity.  That such an idea is even under consideration demonstrates total ignorance of the regulatory realities.  This is a taking.  If the legislature can tax us through this underhanded method, it is a bad idea that will take deep root.  Here is what they are ignoring:

Until Dominion’s books are examined and audited in a full rate review, nobody is sure whether or not there is a surplus of that size.  The estimates, including one put out just two weeks ago, are based on a fairly cursory accounting.  It could be $500 million, or less or more once that audit is done.

If there is a major surplus, there are three ways to deal with it.  One – which Dominion will never agree to – is an actual cut in base rates.  Another would be refunds, but based on actual customer usage, not economic stress.

The third – Dominion’s preferred method – would be to spend that surplus on all the Green New Deal wind and solar that the legislature has foolishly ordered up.  If that is done, it saves customers money over the next 30 years because there is less money needed for those projects from equity or debt.

None of this is scheduled to be examined until 2021, and then decided about one year from now.  The other major power company, Appalachian Power, is undergoing its rate case now.  Under the normal course of business, if the SCC were to order refunds from Dominion, they would be showing up on bills in late 2021 or early 2022.

But, of course, the utility and rent payment crisis precipitated by the deep recession is here now.  As of June 30, about three months into the moratorium, the unpaid bills had mounted to $184 million, with the peak of the summer cooling season still ahead.  Initially the plan was to continue the payment moratorium well into 2021. By then the unpaid tab could approach $1 billion.

Let’s watch, but there is no real reason for Dominion to refuse this idea.  It will be made whole.  Why would it care whether it pays out $500 million in refunds to everybody later or only to a few now?  This way it collects those dollars and spends them internally, instead of their customers getting the money for some other use.  As the man said, winning!

And if the $500 million is not invested in the wind or solar projects, that is $500 million more in equity needed to build them – equity subject to massive annual profit margins for decades!  The stockholders will cheer, and you will pay.

Leadership in both the State Senate and the House of Delegates turned back bills introduced in the special session to change the rules on the coming Dominion rate review.  The folks at Clean Virginia went into a near fit when the House balked on the bill, claiming it would provide $400 million in economic relief, a claim with no basis in reality.  There was no guarantee in that bill that $1 would flow back to customers.

Understand this:  These same people are behind the Green New Deal remake of Virginia’s economy which will skyrocket the cost of electricity, natural gas and eventually gasoline.  They don’t give a tinker’s dam about what it will cost you.  Some drink the Kool-Aid and think costs will go down, but the higher prices for energy are inevitable and intentional.  Any doubt that they understand that should be dispelled by the plan to create a new electricity welfare program, funded with a tax on all ratepayers.

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88 responses to “Told You: You Will Cover Those Unpaid Power Bills.

  1. “These same people are behind the Green New Deal remake of Virginia’s economy which will skyrocket the cost of electricity, natural gas and eventually gasoline. ”

    Well then, wouldn’t that make the green in the Green New Deal appear even greener? Of course, with that much tinting, remember to stop athe the brown lights.

  2. When politics and social justice runs the power company, bad things happen. Consider Puerto Rico.

    Below is an excerpt from Douglas Holtz-Eakin’s testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources in 2019.

    Prior to Hurricane Maria, PREPA owed more than $9 billion, making up the largest portion of Puerto Rico’s over $70 billion of debt.[4] This debt was no doubt exacerbated by the utility’s $250 million of annual subsidies to customers, including for-profit businesses.[5] Even before Hurricane Maria, the utility was $4 billion behind in necessary upkeep.[6] These problems are not recent or transitory. In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security audited PREPA’s use of FEMA funds after Hurricane Georges in 1998. The findings were that almost $17 million of PREPA’s costs were questionable, due to duplicated charges, losses already covered by insurance, undocumented charges, and even $40,000 missing on account of “mathematical error.”

  3. I share your outrage.

    Democrats are turning electric utilities into wealth-transfer mechanisms. It won’t be long before electric rates are overtly and permanently means tested.

    • “Democrats are turning electric utilities into wealth-transfer mechanisms.”

      Uh, as if they weren’t before? They very nicely transferred your wealth into shareholder qualified dividends at, what, a guaranteed yield?

      • When a company issues a dividend, that does not technically constitute a transfer of wealth from one owner to another. Prior to the dividend, all assets of the company are already the property its owners, which in this case is the shareholders.

        Dividend Changes and Security Prices
        J. Randall Woolridge

        • It was a joke. I believe the SCC allows consideration the dividend yield as part of the rate setting, no? Thus effectively transferring wealth from the rate-payer to the shareholder while divorcing management from the task of worrying about really being profitable.

          • Paying for products or services rendered does not constitute the transfer of wealth either. If the rates are set appropriately, the customer receives $100 worth of power for the $100 paid to the power company.

            But a transfer of wealth does occur when a customer receives $100 worth of electricity for which he or she pays nothing.

          • Aye, there’s the rub. But, the question has become, “Can you, we, withold a necessity from those who cannot afford it? Water, say. Or, air? Then comes the issue of what has, or will, become a necessity?”

            I think we have come to a cusp, hurried by COV2. We are in a reevaluation. Will we decide that housing, warming, feeding and providing for the healthcare of the poor is better for our society, and us individually, than stepping over their fly-infested corpses? An exaggeration? Perhaps. But it has happened elsewhere, so it can happen here.

          • And a transfer of wealth does occur when a customer receives $100 worth of electricity for which he or she pays $137.

          • Nancy – Way to keep changing the subject.

            First we discussed the ideal that dividends to shareholders were a transfer of wealth. They are not.

            Then it was suggested that paying for services rendered was a transfer of wealth. It is not.

            Now, it’s suggested that anyone who disagrees with changing the meaning of words and phrases wants people to die, and will callously step over their “fly-infested corpses.”

            I believe and support charity for those in need.

          • Wayne – That’s fine, but make your case. Just saying you are paying $137 for $100 worth of power doesn’t establish that as a fact.

          • I absolutely did NOT say that I am paying $37 for $100 worth of electricity. I pulled the number out of the air, just like you did with your $100 worth of electricity for nothing. Make it $101.86 if you’d rather, or $217.06. It doesn’t matter.

            There’s no “case” to be made. Paying ANY more than $100 for $100 worth of electricity is technically redistributing the bill payer’s wealth to someone else who didn’t earn it. If somebody is paying nothing for $100 worth of electricity then somebody else has to be paying more than $100 for $100 worth of electricity. The wealth has to be transferred from somewhere.

          • Darn it! Should have been …$137 for $100 worth…

            Maybe some day I’ll learn to type.

          • Nope. Subject is still right there. Broadened the FOV, maybe, but did not change the subject. The subject is the poor and paying for their necessities.

            Mind you, it’s those who cannot afford, not those who will not pay. One needs help. The other is a thief.

          • WayneS – I think that was the original point of the article. If we pay more for our power than we rightfully should in order to subsidize others, that is an involuntary transfer of wealth. If that was your point, then I agree. Sorry if I misunderstood.

    • Yes, as I said earlier, many American institutions of governance, education, and health are being converted into money and power laundering machines that hand out public favors and money to private interests, in the name of social justice, crony greed and power mongering, including by so called non profits. It is the maintenance of political and social power by deceit and theft and coverup.

      • Hasn’t government served this purpose for a long time? It seems that it’s just a different set of folks who will benefit from that system now than before. It’s just as corrupted.

    • Of course the Dems will try to turn us into Taxaginia, and will shift taxes to anywhere they can. For me, it goes without saying Virginia is quite tax-friendly to lower incomes….perhaps among the most tax friendly states to lower incomes already. I personally view this as a characteristic of Virginia related to the having rural Repubs in charge so long.

      On the other hand, many feel (probably even oil majors/Warren Buffet) there some merit to subsidizing lower incomes for surcharges for reducing carbon use. It was never clear exactly how to do that however.

    • Well, Jim, it was the Rs who were in charge of things when both the Electric Restructuing Act was passed purportedly to de-regulate electricity in Virginia in the late 90s and when the Electric Re-regulation Act was passed in 2007. The former mandated that Virginia electrics join PJM and the latter enacted the various “rate adjustment clauses” (RACs) one of which mandated that all costs passed along by PJM were “just and reasonable” and could not be challenged by the SCC. The latter bill also incentivized new power plant construction in Virginia by awarding “bonus” return on equity for DEV to build new gas, coal, nuclear and renewable generation—bonuses for all power plant construction ABOVE whatever the Commission determined to be the fair return on equity (ROE). Plus, just to make doubly sure that our utilities could “compete” for investment dollars against the likes of Duke and Southern Company owned electrics, the law prescribed a floor that the Commission has to recognize when determining DEV and Apco ROEs. That floor comprises and average of the earned (not regulatorily authorized) ROEs for the identified Southeastern utilities, none of which face any competition in their states. Plus, RACs to guarantee automatic recovery of these outsized profit margins. No management experience necessary! What fun!!

      That’s where the hundreds of millions in overcharges arose. Just ask Steve.

  4. I think COVID is helping the Virginia utilitie$, due to so much electricity use at home, and whereas home owners pay the most $$$ for electricity.

    At the start of the COVID crisis, Jim Cramer on his Mad Money show had an interview with a utility CEO of, Appalachian if I recall correctly. The CEO basically said COVID was NOT going to be any $$ problem whatsoever, because the captive home owners pay the highest rates for electricity, so any shift from business use, to at-home use, would pay off like a slot machine for the Utilities.

    That’s when it first hit me, that businesses demand renewables in part because they know the homeowners are the one who have to pay most of the costs of it.

    So when you say above business pays more to Dominion, if true, that is simply because they use lots more electricity, and darn well should pay for it! Why do I have to subsidize, for example, giving Cloud computing companies cheap power? Because the whole world is using that resource. Still growing like hot cakes, by the way, they said on the radio yesterday 70% of global cloud growth is in Virginia (if I heard that right).

    It was a little strange last night that Dominion cut off my A/C as part of their Cooling Rewards Program. Since I am their highest rate paying customer, they really try hard to minimize outages on hot days. Yesterday was not that hot of a day, so homeowner electric use must be extraordinary here in stay-at-home COVID days.

    • The rates paid by the various classes are fair and constantly reviewed (again, as part of those cases). You may resent the idea that the shipyard pays less per kWh but there is a sound economic basis for it, mainly the fact that the utility’s responsibility for distribution and maintenance ends at the meter, and does not extend inside the massive yard. Plenty of businesses also participate in demand reduction programs where on high demand days they get their service interrupted, just like your air conditioning. Enjoy your prejudice but you lack any facts, TBill. The politicians love to exploit those resentments so you are helping them rip you off.

      You are correct that the move to renewables will impact all this, as large industrials do NOT get a break on the fuel charges so cutting fuel costs may help them a bit more than residentials. But I’m not leading the cheerleading for that, am I? On the contrary.

      • Why are charges for utility distribution and maintenance built into the variable kwh charge? Shouldn’t they be part of the fixed charge that, with most utilities, pays for the infrastructure? (Most utilities have a fixed charge that is charged every month whether or not any electricity is used. This is charged per meter. And it’s used to pay for maintenance of the lines that bring power to the customer).

        • That’s how electricity revenues are collected, in the main, through per-kWh charges. For most, if not all, customer classes there is a fixed fee for customer meter reading and billing, and separate recovery of fuel expenses, but all O&M, overhead, salaries and return on investment is collected via per-kWh set rates.

          You are mistaken as to what the fixed charges collected by electric utilities recover.

          • Rowinguy – I thought my bill showed separate line items for electricity and transmission/distribution – no?

        • “Most utilities have a fixed charge that is charged every month whether or not any electricity is used. This is charged per meter. And it’s used to pay for maintenance of the lines that bring power to the customer).”

          E.g., what was your VNG bill in a month of 100 degree days? Mine was $14.30.

          • To reply to Larry, since you are a cooperative customer, your local supplier (REC) only has costs for transmission/distribution. It passes through what it costs to supply you with generation that it buys from ODEC.

            DEV and Apco are integrated utilities (albeit, “functionally” sepaarated) and also show costs for power supply and for distribution. All these costs are collected on a $/kWh basis.

      • Steve I hear but you are protecting shipyard interests. Admittedly I do not have that experience…I am just a concerned citizen. The possible consumer rip-off, I agree to, but I do not see how my concern about rates hurts my own cause. We do not seem to have anybody voicing homeowner consumer concerns.

        • PS- I guess re: Dominion cutting back A/C on hot days, they still get my money because after 6PM my A/C runs longer, so I am just helping shave off the peak and defer the demand to after 6PM….which I am happy to do, originally joined because I thought that could reduce need for new coal-fired plants.

          • The most viable plan for getting rid of coal-fired plants was the natural gas pipeline. Environmentalists effectively killed that, and the environment will suffer as a result. It also resulted in an enormous amount of wasted money which will impact rates.

            I tried the mechanism you are referencing but didn’t like losing AC at the most inopportune times. I got rid of it, and instead tried to do my part by making the house more energy efficient with more and better insulation.

      • BTW – I like the graphic with the wallet. That’s one reason I put mine in a front pocket. My chiropractor also recommended that.

        • I have been a natural gas advocate for some decades. But I do not know if ACP was really needed or, if so, if it was a well-conceived project? I had some technical curiosity about the very large diameter of the proposed pipeline. I always knew natural gas is a hard sell to Utilities and elected officials, so cheap to build compared to coal/off-shore wind. Less $$ to go around. Also there is the safety factor, which is manageable, except we somehow mismanage infrastructure maintenance as the base case.

          If I was West Virginia, I’d be building nat gas plants like hot cakes.

          • TBill – One might have legitimate concerns about the ACP, but the opposition and legal battle was largely dishonest.

            We couldn’t built the pipeline because of a salamander that nobody has ever seen and wouldn’t miss.

            Then we couldn’t build the pipeline because of bumblebees that would actually have better habitat because of the pipeline.

            Then we couldn’t build the pipeline because the above legal battles (and others) resulted in the pipes sitting out in the sun too long and they wouldn’t hold up.

            So now we will continue to burn coal and create more acid rain, which is extremely harmful to forests. The cost of the court battles and abandonment of the project will likely need to be paid by customers.

        • Nathan, this comment responds to your statement that the most “viable plan for getting rid of coal-fired plants was the natural gas pipeline.” I presume you refer to the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) that Dominion has recently abandoned.

          During the period from about 2007-16, DEV (Vepco’s current d/b/a name) built a number new, huge natural gas fired generators (Warren, Bear Garden, Brunswick and Greensville) converted several coal or oil plants to burn gas (Bremo, Possum Point) and a number of smaller peaking stations. It has built 1 coal fired plant (Wise County) in the last 26 years, while closing 1000s of MW of coal fired production.

          Cheap gas did in coal, you are right, but all that occurred without the ACP. Air quality in Virginia has improved immensely as a result of these decisions. By the way, the parent company of DEV is on the hook for the abandonment of the ACP, not DEV customers.

  5. Government once again picking winners and losers..
    And I guarantee you many of those not paying their utility bills have money for Starbucks, cigarettes and lottery tickets etc….
    As far as promised savings from green energy, that’s the same promise democrats made about obamacare…

    • You raise an important issue. How many households are holding off paying their utility bills because the are betting on government-mandated forgiveness? Same thing with the eviction moratorium..

      • JAB – I think that is a valid question. I know multiple individuals who after the housing bubble burst, found themselves owing more on their home than it was worth. They walked away or “settled” with the bank for some amount less than the amount they owed. These were not poor people. I know of two specifically who moved out of the area because of better high paying jobs elsewhere.

        I too bought a home at the top of the housing market, and then owed more on the house than it was worth after the crash. It was my wife and I who decided to buy that house at that price, not the bank. We borrowed the money necessary, and promised the bank we would pay it back. We paid it back with interest as promised.

        Many have lost everything in this pandemic through no fault of their own. I think we should help them. Can you say “lockdown”?

        Others may try to take advantage of the situation to avoid paying what they owe. It’s human nature. I hope those individuals do not succeed.

  6. See, the way you fix this is to show a 87-year old widow getting evicted and put on the street or a mom with 3 kids. Works like a charm every time and you curmudgeons look like… well… curmudgeons…


    • Larry, in anticipation of needing to make this argument at some point, I recently sent a nice donation to Dominion’s Energy Share charity. They can use my dollars to pay her bill…

      Jim, I don’t think it is that many. I do think that a family faced with difficult choices of which bills to pay will defer the bill they think might be later adjusted, and pay that which cannot be avoided — food, etc. I don’t deny the problem faced by some of these families. I probably won’t be railing against proposals to give them a long time to pay back the bills, even interest free. Don’t like it, but like it better than this.

      There was an interesting bill on the rental issue, put in by a Republican. He proposed a tax credit of 65% for landlords who relieved tenants of rent obligation. This is also a way to pass the bill to the general public through taxes, with the landlord taking some hit. The Democrats on the Senate Committee voted it down, of course….

      • That’s because that would be the proper way to manage it Steve. Instead big Government corruptocrats prefer to “bribe” I mean handout money to voters.

        Not all parties will be made home and even as a Libertarian assistance is justifiable as long as so middle ground is found.

        As for the utility question, perhaps there needs to be a means test to see who gets assistance ( I realize that sounds very harsh, but there are plenty of well off athletics and more lecture us on assisting the poor, they can stroke a check or few). Maybe even more so the GA can create a bill allocating some money to pay some finical assistance groups to help individuals in these particular situations arrange their fiances properly if it’s warranted.

        You’ll have some that don’t take the advice and wind up in the poor situation again, but you can only lead the horse to water, as they say.

        • Matt, I don’t know what the exact language of the bill Steve discusses says, but I would be very surprised if there were not some means testing in it. One measure passed during the regular session set up something called the Percentage of Income Payment Program (PIPP) that capped the out of pocket expenses of eligible participants to 6% of monthly income for homes without electric heat and 10% for those with.

          The SCC was directed to calculate the revenues needed to be collected from customers to fund this program, which is means tested. That case is on-going. DEV has estimated it will need to collect between .02 to .11 cents per kWh to cover its expected costs. (Between two one-hundredths and 11 one-hundredth of a cent, that is.)

      • As currently proposed, SB 5118 would require utilities to allow up to a 12 month payback period, interest and penalty free, from the time the emergency is over.

        • Yes, and some are pushing for 24 months….Some of these people will be in a very deep hole if they go a full year without paying.

          BTW, the thank you note for the check to the Energy Share fund came from the United Way. I don’t have a problem with United Way, but that makes me a bit concerned just what percentage of the donation will actually be used to pay somebody’s bill in arrears…..

          • The original bill had 24 months in it, along with what effectively would have ended up being a maximum monthly payback amount of $45.50.

            RE: “…a bit concerned just what percentage of the donation will actually be used to pay somebody’s bill in arrears….”

            There are many local charities which help those in need by direct payment of bills. For instance, in my area MACAA (Monticello Area Community Action Agency) does a bit of that, along with all the other good things they do. Maybe your money would be better utilized by finding an organization in your area that operates a little closer to the actual people they are trying to help.

    • Thanks, Michael Moore.

      • I just noticed, my comment looks like a reply to Steve H when it was intended to be a reply to Larry the G. I am sure I hit the reply button next to Larry’s comment, but…

    • Evicted?! Shoot the old lady. No. Hanging. Worked in England circa 1700, now didn’t it?

      Besides, as a byproduct, you wind up with some really good literature. Ya know, like Dickens’ stuff…

  7. If charity does not come up with “enough” what then?

    Didn’t work with health insurance right?

    isn’t that a problem?

    Medicaid costs about 8.5 billion in Virginia per year – allocate that on a per taxpayer basis ( I think there are about 2.7 million in Virginia).

    If we all gave enough, we’d not need the “govt” programs, right?

    • But, if you use expressions like “transfer of wealth” you can justify the cruelty of spilling the milk of your human kindness back into your wallet.

    • LarrytheG – This leads to a larger discussion of how best to help people vs. keeping them poor and dependent (so politicians can stay in power).

      One of the most important laws is the Law of Unintended Consequences. Years ago before many of these programs, getting a raise or better job was a good thing. Now, it may result in:

      Loss of food stamps
      Loss of housing
      Loss of health care

      I think we could make more progress if we kept an open mind about how best to solve problems, rather than continually expanding the power of government.

      • we have that discussion through govt though because we do not agree as individuals about how to deal with it. Everyone has a different idea and even those who agree won’t come up with enough charity to help all that are in need.

        One of the biggest entitlement programs in the country, bar none, is Medicare – not Medicaid – Medicare. Before Medicare, older people would go broke or just die. Today, we take Medicare for granted as if it is justified more so than other government “assistance”.

        We pick and choose the govt assistance we say is justified and/or ignore the ones that we don’t want to acknowledge.

  8. Depressions suck. Maybe we shouldn’t have intentionally caused one.

    • Naw. It’s not about the recession or depression per se – it’s about the idea of the Govt “helping” people with others tax dollars.

      Don’t need no stinking recession/depression for folks to oppose the concept any time – booming economy or depression.


      • Free everything for everyone works great until the money runs out. Then when everything comes crashing down, the poor will be hurt most of all.

        Economic collapse, whether caused by malice or unbridled companion will have the same result.

        • that’s the boogeyman ….. every single developed country in the world have health care for all their people – we cry boogeyman instead.

        • well, it’s not “free”. We all pay for it. The argument is that some don’t want to pay.

          Employer-provided, BTW, is taxpayer-subsidized. THe money that pays for employer-provided is not taxed. Not FICA, not Federal and not State. And if an employer offers it – it has to offer it to everyone regardless of their age or medical conditions – and for the same premium price. Taxpayers subsidize it and younger and healthier employers subsidized the older and sicker.

          If we let the insurance companies choose who they would insure – most who were older or had conditions could not get it or it would cost so much they could not afford it.

      • “Lemme see, what does this say, uh, ‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general…’ uh, yeah, well that part’s not important yada, yada, yada. Well, let’s get to the Articles.”

        • NN – Economic collapse does not promote the general welfare. Ask the people of Venezuela about that if you have questions.

          And correctly understood, the preamble doesn’t conflict with the text of the document itself. The framers were not schizophrenic. You can play word games all you want, but the meaning of the Constitution was clear at the time it was written and adopted.

          The Constitution isn’t some mysterious ancient text discovered in a forgotten cave. We have many documents attesting to what the framers meant, and what the citizens understood about it when it was ratified.

          Just read the Federalist Papers.

          • Well then, Heavens to Betsy, let’s not have an economic collapse.

            Schizophrenic? Well, they certainly weren’t of one mind. Mildly neurotic, perhaps.

            Aaron Burr was a founding father, eh?

    • Yeah, I’ll bet more than one person regrets that vote in 2016.

  9. LarrytheG – I don’t necessarily ignore anything. Just because I don’t comment on something, doesn’t mean I’m ignoring it. I just means I am focussed on something else at the moment.

    Medicaid is a current reality and it should be fixed. That will never happen if honest attempts to do so are met with this crap.

    “This Infamous Granny-Over-The-Cliff Ad Shows How Democrats Will Destroy Paul Ryan”

    • “granny” is undoubtedly on MedicCARE – not MedicAID.

      And yes, the Republicans vociferously opposed MediCARE also!

      If the theory is that the rest of us would give enough charity to not need MedicAid or MedicAid – good luck on that idea.

      The issue is do we take tax dollars to pay for medical for older or poorer people?

      Do a majority of us support that and a minority do not and the minority want a different approach?

      • Rat’s I always get those mixed up. Sorry about that.

        Medicaid is a different thing altogether. To deal with the problem of health care, one must realize how we got here in the first place – wage restrictions during WWII which lead to employer provided health care insurance.

        • “wage restrictions during WWII which lead to employer provided health care insurance.”

          But that implies that insurance predated the wage restrictions, no? Then wage restrictions was not the cause. We got here with whatever created the insurance.

          • Look up 1942 Stabilization Act.

          • You missed my point Nate. Who buys it — Employer-paid, church-paid, government-paid — is not the important part.

            We have no honest agents in the private insurance system. Who represents YOU as the consumer in the pricing, and payment system?

            No one. You are powerless and unrepresented. The negotiations between the providers and the insurers involved their profits, not your expenses.

            If I am wrong, then who represents you? Gimme a name, a job title.

          • If who buys is not the important part, then how can the solution be “single payer”? That’s the mantra from the progressives.

            If you are saying that price transparency, cost reduction and patient choices are keys, then welcome to the conservative position.

          • Yes someone must pay, but no one should pay 10x.

            The dishonest broker: BCBS, NY, NJ, PA. They price fixed with hospitals. Patient gets minor surgery. Hospital says to BCBS, “$1800 for the proceedure plus $200 for overhead.”

            BCBS said, “Fine, bill us $10,000,” and then tell the patient, “Your 20% is $2,000.”

            They got caught.

            But don’t take my word, Google “blue cross lue shield” anti-trust. Then read.

            Do the same for MediCare.

        • “If who buys is not the important part, then how can the solution be “single payer”? That’s the mantra from the progressives.”

          Actually, Nate, that proves the point. MediCare is exactly the player in action. There is no “profit motive” for the broker. As a result, MediCare operates at something like a 3% overhead versus the maximum 20% to insuerers as provided under the ACA.

          This is irrespective of the negotiated costs. That’s 17 cents on the dollar given no negotiation at all.

          Without the profit motive for the payer, at least in theory, negotiated costs are all in favor of the patient. You don’t have the provider and the payer agreeing that the costs favor them and “to Hell with you”. That makes MediCare your honest broker.

          Now, it also could create a real bully. In an only one broker scenario, the single payer could beat the tar out of the providers, which of course, would be counterproductive.

          Hence Congress has hamstrung MediCare with limitations on bludgeoning. Sometimes too much so, for example pharmaceutical negotiations.

          • Nancy_Naive – Just because something appears to work for a percentage of market does not mean that it would work for all.

            Getting back to power for example, it might be possible for the power company to provide discounted rates, or even free power for some customers, provided they have the ability to recoup their loss by charging other customers more.

            The enormous potential savings of single payer are a facade.

            “While the average hospital profit margin on Medicare patients has been relatively steady at negative 10%, it is closer to negative 18% for the three-quarters of hospitals that lost money on their Medicare business.”


            The same goes for prescription drugs. Someone must pay the tremendous cost to develop new treatments. Once a drug reaches the market, it may only cost pennies to produce. The company can therefore offer discounted rates or free drugs for some percent of those who use it, provided they can recoup their investment by charging others more.

            But this discussion is best left for another day under an article about this subject.

  10. MEDICARE… that’s an easy one ,,, besides it being a federal, program where winners and losers are chosen by government,,, it’s UnConstitutional… just get out your pocket Constitution and look up Article 1, Section 8…. and Yes, there are a whole host ($Billions , make that several Trillion, of them) that are not Constitutional…

  11. Thank You DEMOCRATS & FDR…
    Welfare,,, the ruination of this nation and our national budget…
    Also creates a class of dependent people….

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      A class of dependent people and a class of reliable voters. The black vote is going to split this time around. For the first time since Eisenhower in 1956 and Nixon in 1960 the black vote will go Republican above 20%. Many are coming back to the party of Lincoln.

  12. Steve, to come back to your original article, do you think the SCC’s moratorium on disconnections was unsound? They have signalled it’s only being continued by them to permit the GA to act or not act and it won’t be extended unless the Legislature does the deed

    Thanks for your continuing coverage of electricity issues here on BR, by the way.

  13. Steve, I read your posts on electricity rates with great interest. A common theme is how ordinary users get hurt. Why don’t you try an advocacy post telling us what should be done to prevent this?

    • Peter and “Rowinguy” — Rather than responding here, I’ll consider further posts…I was going to link again to the piece I did for the Post on what VA needs to fix, but oddly can’t find it in a search now….

      After two years of beating my head against this wall, it takes a fairly high level outrage to stir me….I’m rather discouraged that it has made a difference. When I had that 800 pound gorilla of a shipyard behind me I could get some things done.

  14. Big news story on WTOP radio this morning about NoVA as the undisputed King of the Global Cloud network.

    NoVA doing 4x more than the next best USA place (Dallas) and 2x more than the next best global place (London). About 100 cloud data centers in NoVA, and apparently growing.

    The economic explanation for NoVA as King, they said was extraordinary tax breaks, and very low utility costs.

    Meanwhile, the Virginia New Green Deal mandates that we go hog wild on ultra expensive offshore wind, and the politicos mandate we give cheap electric to businesses, and the social justice warriors mandate cheap power for lower incomes. How can we conclude anything other than RGGI/California style high electric costs for the middle income people of Virginia?

    I will try to record or download the WTOP story.

  15. As both a Dominion and FPL stockholder I’d say just be careful what y’all wish for.

    You could live in CA and be at the mercy (… for lack of a better word) of PG&E.

  16. Per my [previous post:
    “California grid operator warns of rotating power outages in record heat wave”

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