The public has until Wednesday to comment on a plan to open up 85 percent of the state of New York to the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." In 2010, a moratorium on this form of "natural" gas and oil extraction in the state was put in place, but a plan to lift it, advanced by Governor Andrew Cuomo, could change this.
Let's say you have a Ford and decide to replace everything under the hood with Hyundai parts, including the engine and transmission. Could you still honestly market your car as a Ford?
That question gets at the heart of the controversy over who is being more forthright about GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to "save" Medicare, Republicans or Democrats.
If you overhaul the Medicare system like you did your Ford and tell the public it's still Medicare, are you doing so honestly?
It was four years ago today that I received a phone call from a Los Angeles TV reporter that would change my life, although I certainly didn't realize it at the time.
The reporter said she had been told that CIGNA, the big health insurer I worked for back then, was refusing to pay for a liver transplant for a 17-year-old girl, even though her doctors at UCLA believed it would save her life and her family's policy covered transplants.
I didn't pay much attention to the call at first, because as chief spokesman for the company, I had received many calls over the years from reporters seeking comment about benefit denials. We took them seriously, but usually didn't have to do more than tell the inquiring reporters we couldn't comment substantively because of patient confidentiality restrictions. If pressed, we'd email a statement to the reporter briefly noting that we covered procedures deemed medically necessary and that patients and their doctors could appeal a denial if they disagreed with a coverage decision.
The money that patients' rights advocates have to spend trying to convince the Obama administration that Americans should have decent health care benefits pales in comparison to the boatloads of cash insurers and their corporate allies have on hand to do largely the opposite. But at least the advocates are now in the game.
Last week a broad coalition of patient-focused groups launched its "I Am Essential" campaign in an effort to make sure that when all of us have to buy health insurance in 2014, we will be getting good value.
I did exactly what the doctor told me to do. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling a bit better. Maybe even a little worse.
Last week, Dr. Michael C. Burgess, tweeted this directive: "Mark your calendars: Rick Perry will join Health Caucus' Thought Leaders Series next Wednesday, December 7 @ 5 p.m."
Eager to hear what thought leadership the Texas governor and presidential candidate would be imparting, I marked my calendar as Dr. Burgess prescribed. Imagine my dismay when I learned yesterday morning that Perry would be sharing his thoughts behind closed doors. The media and public, it turns out, had been disinvited.
An American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) member is defying Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules limiting the sale of rat poisons that pose dangers to children and the ecosystem. ALEC representatives say that kids eating rat poison is an "acceptable risk" that does not justify government intervention in the market.
If you wonder why the health insurance industry has to set up front groups and secretly funnel cash to industry-funded coalitions to influence public policy, take a look at the most recent results of the Kaiser Family Foundation's (KFF) monthly Health Tracking Poll.
In its November poll, KFF added a few new survey questions to find out exactly which parts of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare are the most popular and which are the least popular. Insurers were no doubt annoyed to see that the provision of the law they want most -- the requirement that all of us will have to buy coverage from them if we're not eligible for a public program like Medicare -- continues to be the single most hated part of the law. More than 60 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of that mandate.
The Obama Administration will be making some important decisions over the coming weeks that will determine to a large extent whether consumers or health insurers will be the biggest beneficiaries of health care reform.
Every October's push for "breast cancer awareness" brings another example of egregious pinkwashing, and this year was no exception. As if pink toasters, pink beer pong tables and even a pink Smith and Wesson handgun weren't enough, October, 2011 brought us pink, breast cancer awareness 12-gauge shotgun ammo, courtesy of Federal Ammunition.
A little more than a year ago, on the day after the GOP regained control of the House of Representatives, Speaker-to-be John Boehner said one of the first orders of business after he took charge would be the repeal of health care reform.