Opinion

For-Profit Health Insurance: Where the Real Death Panels Lie

Remembering Nataline SarkisyanOn behalf of Grigor and Hilda Sarkisyan, I would like to invite Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia to attend the 21st birthday celebration of the Sarkisyans' only daughter, Nataline, this coming Saturday, July 9, in Calabasas, California.

Gingrey could consider it a legitimate, reimbursable fact-finding mission. He clearly needs to have more facts about the U.S. health care system before he starts talking about death panels again.

Gingrey seems determined to keep alive the lie that the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., Obamacare) will create government-run death panels in the Medicare program.

Sarah Palin started the death panel fabrication when she claimed during the health care reform debate that a proposal to allow Medicare to reimburse doctors for talking to their patients about advance directives would be tantamount to establishing death panels deep in the federal bureaucracy. So many people believed her lie that Democrats felt they had no choice but to strip that provision from the final bill.

Ohio, Wisconsin Reach For Progressive Era Tools To Fight Modern Robber Barons

On the same day that Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee law takes effect in Wisconsin, public workers in Ohio can celebrate a victory in the battle for democracy.

We Are Ohio, the group leading the effort to repeal Ohio Senate Bill 5, the anti-collective bargaining bill, delivered a record number of nearly 1.3 million signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State today, backed by a "Million Signature March" parade of more than 6,000 people, retired fire trucks, motorcycles, a drum line and bagpipes.

"This is the people's parade," said We Are Ohio spokesperson Melissa Fazekas in a news conference after the parade. "You are truly one in a million."

Insurers Spend Big Fighting Regulations, Paying CEOs Huge Salaries

Nowhere are health insurers working harder to thwart reforms that could save consumers billions of dollars than in California. One measure they are especially determined to kill is a bill that would give state regulators the authority to reject rate increases that are excessive or discriminatory.

The California Assembly passed a bill to do just that earlier this month over the intense opposition of insurers, including the state's biggest supposedly nonprofit health plans: Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente.

What Happened to Media Coverage of Fukushima?

Nebraska's Ft. Calhoun Nuclear plantWhile the U.S. media has been occupied with Anthony Weiner, the Republican presidential candidates and Bristol Palin's memoir, coverage of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has practically fallen off the map. Poor mainstream media coverage of Japan's now months-long struggle to gain control over the Fukushima disaster has deprived Americans of crucial information about the risks of nuclear power following natural disasters. After a few weeks of covering the early aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. media moved on, leaving behind the crisis at Fukushima which continues to unfold. U.S. politicians, like Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, have made disappointing and misleading statements about the relative safety of nuclear power and have vowed to stick by our nuclear program, while other countries, like Germany and Italy, have taken serious steps to address the obvious risks of nuclear power -- risks that the Fukushima disaster made painfully evident, at least to the rest of the world.

Employment-Based Health Insurance Fails America

If you haven't gotten much of a raise lately, it's probably because the extra money that might have been put in your paycheck instead went to your health insurer if you are enrolled in an employer-sponsored plan.

Many Americans haven't seen a pay increase of any kind because their employers can't both increase their wages and continue offering decent health care coverage. It has become an either-or for people like Zeke Zalaski, a factory worker in Bristol, Connecticut, who hasn't had a raise in years.

The Decline of Employer-Based Health Insurance

The global consulting firm McKinsey & Company set off a firestorm when it released a report last week suggesting that 30 percent of U.S. businesses will stop offering health care benefits to their employees after most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect in 2014.

The White House was quick to challenge the validity of the report, noting that McKinsey has so far refused to provide any details of the methodology used to reach its conclusion. All McKinsey will say is that its report was based on a survey of 1,300 employers and "other proprietary research."

White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle, who previously headed the president's office of health care reform, called it an "outlier" and cited other studies predicting that few if any employers would drop coverage because of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Feingold urges Netroots Nation crowd to fight the special interests

Russ FeingoldMINNEAPOLIS — In his first-ever Netroots Nation appearance, former Democratic Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold asked the crowd to take back the Democratic Party and the U.S. government.

"I fear the Democratic Party is in danger of losing its identity," Feingold said, asking the Netroots crowd to redouble its efforts.

Feingold decried shady strategies such as Priorities USA Action, a Democratic Super PAC that does not disclose all of its donors, telling the audience "we can win without selling our soul" and urging transparency.

Much of Feingold's speech focused on his fight to overturn the Citizens United decision, which he referred to as "lawless."

"Speech doesn't corrupt," Feingold said. "Money corrupts, and money isn't speech."

Pages

Subscribe to Opinion