Ethics

Insurers are Recycling a Front Group to Cheat Us Out of Benefits

The special interests seeking to gut those portions of the health reform law that would be of greatest benefit to consumers clearly believe there is no such thing as historical memory in Washington.

Fear handleWhy else would they bring one of their old front groups out of the storage locker, with just a single new word added to its name? A front group designed to persuade Americans that what they might have thought was in their best interests really isn't after all.

CMD's Quick Guide to the Mark Block "Blocktopus"

by Brendan Fischer and Sara Jerving

The Center for Media and Democracy filed a letter this week requesting that the Internal Revenue Service investigate Prosperity USA, a charity founded by Herman Cain's Chief of Staff Mark Block, for potentially violating the Internal Revenue Code by fronting tens of thousands of dollars worth of Mr. Cain's campaign travel expenses. But Prosperity USA is only one node in a network of charities and nonprofit organizations associated with Mr. Block, the former head of the Wisconsin arm of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity.

CMD Requests IRS Investigate Charity Accused of Fronting Private Jets for Presidential Campaign

PRESS RELEASE, NOVEMBER 7, 2011

CONTACT: NIKOLINA LAZIC (312) 731-1292

Madison -- Today, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed a letter requesting that the Internal Revenue Service investigate a charity operated by Wisconsin political veteran Mark Block that spent over $40,000 of tax-exempt donations to pay for private jets, travel, and computers for Herman Cain's presidential bid. CMD also requested an examination of other Mark Block-related groups sharing the same address or other commonalities. Mr. Cain, who has denied knowing who paid for his various travels, is not the target of these requests to the IRS.

Insurers Want Obama to Defy Law So They Can Continue Keeping You In The Dark

Fox and chickIf you have no idea what you're paying good money for when you enroll in a health insurance plan, there's a good reason for that: insurers profit from your ignorance. And they're waging an intense, behind-the-scenes campaign to keep you in the dark.

In my first appearance before Congress after leaving the insurance industry, I told members of the Senate Commerce Committee that insurers intentionally make it all but impossible for consumers to find out in advance of buying a policy exactly what is covered and what isn't, and how much they'll be on the hook for if they get sick or injured. Insurers are quite willing to provide you with slick marketing materials about their policies, but those materials are notoriously skimpy when it comes to useful information. And the documents they provide after you enroll are so dense that few of us can understand them.

Don't Buy Insurers' Junk -- Or Let Them Keep Selling It

Members of Congress and the Obama administration have assured us that on January 1, 2014, junk health insurance plans -- which offer only the illusion of adequate coverage to the millions of Americans enrolled in them -- will become a thing of the past.

Fake health insurance signAmong those who clearly don't believe those plans are headed for extinction are the insurance companies that market these highly profitable plans, and the employers that buy them -- primarily restaurant chains and retailers with high employee turnover.

If I were President Obama, I would send one of my aides to the Chicago suburbs later this week to see first-hand just how determined these companies are to continue selling these plans -- which are euphemistically called "mini-med" and "limited-benefit policies" -- long past 2014.

ALEC Ties Bring Down British Defense Secretary, Threaten Prime Minister David Cameron

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox has stepped down in the midst of an escalating scandal tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The ALEC connections have led opposition party leaders and the British press to question whether British Prime Minister David Cameron has been "allowing a secret rightwing agenda to flourish at the heart of the Conservative party."

The Battle Between O'Dwyer and PRSA

Jack O'DwyerThe Public Relations Society of America, the trade group for the American public relations industry, and Jack O'Dwyer, who has specialized in reporting on the PR industry for over 40 years, are at war, and the battle is getting heated -- and harmful for PRSA.

Why should people care about this obscure fight? Because the conflict is a microcosm of the battle against the unethical and harmful PR trends that are hurting this country.

Health Care Reform Opponents Winning the PR War

The Kaiser Family Foundation just released the findings of its annual survey of businesses to determine how much the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage has gone up. There were some unexpected findings.

Expensive health careOne was that the average cost of annual premiums for family coverage is now more than $15,000. The 9 percent increase in the cost of health insurance over last year caught many people by surprise because it represented a bigger hike in premiums than in recent years.

Health Care Front Group Provides New Clothes for GOP Medicare Privatization Plan

Wolf in sheep's clothingIf you think Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare is dead, think again.

Last week, the insurance industry and its allies began what I predict will be a massive campaign to sell the public and policymakers on the idea of moving forward with the Ryan plan -- albeit with a few tweaks and new a new sales pitch to make it seem more consumer-friendly.

An outfit called the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) announced in a press release a scheme that could be called Ryan-lite, but don't be fooled: the plan would -- to use a favorite industry term -- take us down the "slippery slope" toward a complete corporate takeover of the Medicare program. (Insurers and their allies for years have warned Americans that enacting sweeping health care reforms they don't like would lead us down the slippery slope toward socialism.)

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