One of the reasons I left my job as a PR executive for the health insurance industry was because I could not in good conscience be a pitchman for the sort of fabulously profitable benefit plan that often provides little more than the illusion of coverage.
Is the health care reform law a good deal for Americans, or is it so badly flawed that Congress should repeal it? Now that the measure is one year old -- President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to law on March 23, 2010 -- I humbly suggest we attempt an unbiased assessment of what the law really means to us, and where we need to go from here.
To do that in a meaningful way, we must remind ourselves why reform was necessary in the first place. I believe the heated rhetoric we've been exposed to since the reform debate began has obscured the harsh realities of a health care system that failed to meet the needs of an ever-growing number of Americans.
"Death panels" are back in the news and Congress is turning its attention to them once again. The problem is, lawmakers are looking in all the wrong places.
The proposed provision would have allowed Medicare to pay doctors to counsel patients about their end-of-life medical wishes. That idea originally had bipartisan support, but when the provision was brought to Sarah Palin's attention, she accused Democrats of wanting to create "death panels" that would decide when to pull the plug on granny and grandpa. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, now headed by Republicans, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week demanding to know how a controversial provision that was excised from last year's health reform bill wound up -- briefly -- in a government "rule" on physician reimbursement.
In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau delivered the troubling but hardly shocking news that almost 51 million Americans -- nearly one out of every six of us -- had fallen into the ranks of the uninsured.
A little-known bill making its way through Arizona's legislature would make it illegal for local governments to restrict the use of toy giveaways to promote fast-food, like McDonalds' Happy Meals. Fast-food companies are behind the measure, HB 2490, which was approved in Arizona's House Commerce Committee by a vote of 6-2. Now it is headed for a full vote in the House. The Arizona Restaurant Association, which lobbies for fast food interests, is backing the bill. San Francisco recently passed a measure restricing such toy giveaways, but the law doesn't ban "Happy Meals." Rather, it prevents restaurants from using toys to attract children to meals that have particularly low nutritional value and excessive amounts of fat or sugar. Arizona recently ranked among the top "10 States with the Deadliest Eating Habits", and the state has the second-fewest grocery stores per person, which results in more people buying fast food. As a result, Arizona ranks fourth in per capita expenditures on fast food. The effort by fast-food companies to pass the measure comes on the heels of studies that show fast food chains have been significantly [p://www.prwatch.org/node/9587 increasing] their marketing targeted at children in the last few years.
Scientists, politicians and Nobel laureates lauded billionaire David H. Koch at an event on March 4, 2011 for donating hundreds of millions of dollars to cancer research. Koch decided to put money towards cancer research after he contracted prostate cancer in 1992.
Chances are you've never heard of Peter Shumlin, who last month was sworn in as the 81st governor or Vermont. That's about to change.
Connecticut residents who believe their state should be the first in the nation to set up a public health insurance option to compete with private insurers should brace themselves for what will be a beautifully packaged, seemingly well-researched study from the insurance industry to convince them otherwise.
America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a big Washington-based lobbying group, last week told Connecticut lawmakers (pdf) that -- surprise, surprise -- they would be making a very big mistake if they approved funding to get the public option, called SustiNet, up and running. AHIP said it had hired "a well-known consulting firm" to produce a study that would support the conclusions the industry had already reached about SustiNet. AHIP even had the audacity to claim that said study would be an "objective analysis."
As Congressional Republicans seek ways to starve the new health care reform law of necessary funding -- and Democrats try to keep that from happening -- it's easy to lose sight of the reasons why reform was pursued in the first place.
For a reminder, lawmakers might want to spend a few hours in Nashville this weekend. I'm betting they would behave differently when they got back to Washington on Monday.
If they arrived in Nashville by Friday afternoon, those legislators would see an ever-growing line of cars and trucks outside a locked gate at McGavock High School. At midnight, the gate will be opened, enabling the occupants of those cars and trucks to camp out in the parking lot for hours, maybe even days. Many of these folks will have driven hundreds of miles to receive care from doctors and nurses and other caregivers volunteering their time to treat as many people as possible before they all pack up and go home Sunday evening.
The NFL threatened Toyota to get the auto maker to modify a television commercial that highlighted the problem of the brain damage football players suffer from repeated concussions. In the original version of Toyota's ad which aired last November, a mother says she worries about her son playing football as viewers are shown two young players colliding head to head. The scene is enhanced with crashing sounds, as animated force lines ripple from the player's helmeted heads. The mother says Toyota's decision to share crash research with scientists who study football concussions makes her feel more comfortable about her son playing football. The ad bore no NFL trademarks or team names, but the NFL threatened to end the car maker's ability to advertise its products during games if it didn't modify the ad to downplay football as a cause of traumatic brain injury. Toyota capitulated, and in the new version of the ad, the helmet collision has been removed and the mother now worries about "my son playing sports," instead of "playing football."