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Posts Tagged ‘healthcare reform’

36-1Blue Cross has just announced that it’s immediately raising premiums charged to hundreds of thousands of individual customers by as much as 39%—even though their parent company’s profits soared to a record $4.7 billion last year.2

Even worse, the insurer has so far refused to explain why they’re increasing their rates, and warned that they might do so again this year without warning.

The Obama administration is demanding answers from Anthem Blue Cross, and Congress has opened an investigation.3 But Blue Cross is only going to respond if this story becomes a major public-relations problem for them.

So it’s time to turn up the heat. Let’s join the growing call for an explanation and send a powerful public message that these abuses by Big Insurance are unacceptable.

http://pol.moveon.org/bluecross/?rc=taf_kicker&id=18943-11381997-P6nhw_x&t=3

The petition says: “Anthem Blue Cross must provide a detailed explanation for their exorbitant rate increases, or else roll them back immediately.”

These latest rate increases in California—reportedly the largest ever by Blue Cross for individual policyholders in the state—are yet another powerful example of how badly broken our health care system is and how desperately we need to hold Big Insurance accountable for exploiting their customers.

Anthem Blue Cross’s parent company made record profits last year despite losing 1.4 million customers—increasing their profit margins by cherrypicking the healthiest people to insure.4

Then they can turn around and dramatically increase the rates they charge to the customers they’ve kept, because there are almost no rules governing rate increases. In fact, the company doesn’t even have to publicly reveal how many customers’ rates they’ve increased, or by how much.

The good news is that Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, is already publicly demanding answers from the company. And the House Energy and Commerce Committee has announced plans to hold hearings to investigate.

But to get Anthem to clean up their act—and show politicians and the media that we can’t afford any more abuses by Big Insurance—we all need to lend our voices. Will you sign the petition?

http://pol.moveon.org/bluecross/?rc=taf_kicker&id=18943-11381997-P6nhw_x&t=4

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Hi little girl, it’s me – don’t you know who I am?health
I met you last summer when I came up to stay with my Gram
I’m the guy-uy-uy who left you with tears in his eyes
You didn’t answer my letters, so I figured it was just a li-i-i-i-ie

“Girl Don’t Tell Me” – The Beach Boys


The health care debate has so many moving parts that it’s hard for anybody to keep them straight. So we decided to put together an overview of where we’re at—both good and bad—and what we’re all going to need to keep fighting for.

Neither of these bills is close to perfect. But we’re entering the home stretch where we risk losing a lot of what’s good in these bills and where we have a huge opportunity to strengthen the parts that need work.

Here’s where we are:

The House of Representatives passed their bill last month. The Senate is aiming to pass its version before Christmas.

Overall, both pieces of legislation would do four major things:

* Create a “Health Insurance Exchange.” The bills create a one-stop marketplace where people can choose from various insurance plans, including the public option. The details aren’t set yet, but initially the Exchange would likely be open to the self-employed, people without insurance at work, and small businesses.1 The key with the Exchange is that it brings “the bargaining power and scale that’s generally accessible only to large employers” to individuals—and with that, lower costs and better options.2

* Provide insurance to over 30 million more people. The House bill would expand coverage to 36 million people by 2019. The Senate bill extends coverage to 31 million.3

* Outlaw discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and gender. Insurance companies will have to stop denying coverage to people with “pre-existing conditions.” And they won’t be allowed to charge women more than men for the same coverage.4

* Eliminate coverage limits and price-gouging. The bills differ on some details, but in general would place limits on how much people have to pay for health care beyond their premiums. They both cap out-of-pocket costs and ban insurance companies from setting limits on how much health care they’ll cover for a person each year.5

batgirl

Of course, the devil is in the details, and much in these bills still needs work.

Here’s what still needs to be fixed:

* Both bills leave millions uninsured. The House bill leaves 18 million without insurance in 2019; the Senate bill, 24 million. Neither comes close to the vision for universal coverage so many of us fought for for years. We’ll all need to fight to continue to expand coverage in the bills this year, and in the years to come.6

* The Senate public option is weak, and conservatives are pushing to make it weaker. The public option is a core piece of reform that will create real accountability and competition for private insurance—and that’s why it’s at the center of such a huge fight. While the House bill creates a national public option, the Senate lets states opt out, denying their residents access to it. Plus, conservatives are working to weaken it even more. We’re all going to have to fight hard for the strongest version possible.7

* Many reforms don’t start quickly enough. While some pieces of reform go into effect right away, the larger structural changes are not scheduled to go into effect until 2013 (House bill) or 2014 (Senate bill). This includes the Exchange, the public option, and subsidies—the major ways coverage will be expanded.8

* Required insurance could still be too expensive for many. Both bills require virtually all Americans to have insurance. But the caps on how much we’re expected to pay are way too high, and the subsidies are way too low. Many progressives are working to fix this, but it’s going to be a significant fight.9

* Reproductive rights are severely restricted in the House bill. An egregious anti-choice amendment in the bill virtually prohibits anyone purchasing insurance in the Exchange from buying a plan that covers abortion—even if paid for with their own money. We need to make sure the final bill doesn’t include this rollback of reproductive rights.10

* The Senate bill could discriminate against lower income workers. The current Senate legislation retains a version of what’s called the “free rider” provision, which essentially penalizes employers for hiring lower income workers. This provision needs to be fixed before the bill is finalized.11

There’s a lot going on in these bills, and we’re all going to need to be vigilant to ensure the good pieces end up in the final bill, and the bad ones are fixed. It’s going to be a rocky ride. But if we fight together, we’ll come out stronger in the end.

Sources:

1. “A Health Insurance Exchange: The Fine Print,” The New York Times, August 20, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85241&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=3

“Health Reform at a Glance: The Health Insurance Exchange,” House Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor, July 14, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85665&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=4

2. “Health Insurance Exchanges: The Most Important, Undernoticed Part of Health Reform,” The Washington Post, June 16, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85664&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=5

3. “H.R. 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act,” Congressional Budget Office, November 20, 2009

http://cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=10741

“Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Congressional Budget Office, November 18, 2009

http://cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=10731

4. “Top 10 Ways Health Insurance Reform Works for You,” The Speaker of the House, October 29, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85669&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=6

“How Health Insurance Reform Will Help Your Family,” Senate Democratic Policy Committee

http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcdoc-responsiblereform.cfm

“Meeting Women’s Health Care Needs,” The Speaker of the House

http://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/legislation?id=0327

“Reports on Health Insurance Reform—Women,” Senate Democratic Policy Committee

http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcdoc-responsiblereform.cfm

5. “Top 10 Ways Health Insurance Reform Works for You,” The Speaker of the House, October 29, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85669&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=7

“How Health Insurance Reform Will Help Your Family,” Senate Democratic Policy Committee

http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcdoc-responsiblereform.cfm

6. “H.R. 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act,” Congressional Budget Office, November 20, 2009

http://cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=10741

“Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Congressional Budget Office, November 18, 2009

http://cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=10731

“REPORT: How the Senate Bill Compares to Other Reform Legislation,” Think Progress, November 19, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85670&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=8

7. “Sen. Reid Announces ‘Opt Out’ Public Plan,” The New York Times, October 26, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85673&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=9

“Carper: Conservative Democrats Not Likely To Support Senate Public Option,” Talking Points Memo, November 17, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85675&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=10

8. “Top 14 Provisions That Take Effect Immediately,” The Speaker of the House

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85676&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=11

“What happens before 2014?” The Washington Post, November 19, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85677&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=12

“Senate, House Democratic health bills compared,” The Associated Press, November 18, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85667&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=13

9. “The Details of The New Merged Senate Bill,” Think Progress, November 18, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85668&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=14

“REPORT: How the Senate Bill Compares to Other Reform Legislation,” Think Progress, November 19, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85670&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=15

“Analysis: How the Senate health care bill stacks up with the House health care bill,” Think Progress, November 19, 2009

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/11/19/senate-house-comparison/

10. “The Ban on Abortion Coverage,” The New York Times, November 9, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/opinion/10tue1.html

11. “The noxious ‘free rider’ provision,” The Washington Post, November 25, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85671&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=16

“Senate Health Bill Improves Employer Responsibility Provision,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, November 19, 2009

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3003

“The Baucus Bill: The Worst Policy in the Bill, and Possibly in the World,” The Washington Post, September 16, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85672&id=18172-11381997-6Gfo9tx&t=17

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tn_supe-vs-captmarvelThis is where the rubber meets the road. After months of delay, the full Senate is about to debate and vote on landmark health care legislation. But first, Senator Harry Reid and Democratic leaders have a big decision to make:

Will the Senate consider real health care reform with a public health insurance option, or a watered-down compromise full of giveaways to Big Insurance?

This is a hugely important decision. Progressive champions in Congress are standing strong for the public option and Sen. Reid himself has expressed support—but he’s under immense pressure from a few conservative obstructionists who oppose it.

We need to send a loud signal: If Sen. Reid leads on the public option, we’ll be there to get his back. Can you sign our petition asking him to include a strong public health insurance option in the Senate’s bill?

Clicking here will add your name:

http://pol.moveon.org/harryreid/o.pl?id=17554-11381997-ilUAiGx&t=3

The petition reads: “Senator Reid, real health care reform must include a strong public health insurance option. Please include the public option in the bill you bring to the Senate floor.”

The headlines today are about a flawed bill without a public option that a few conservative Democrats managed to push through the Senate Finance Committee.

But the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress continue to support the public option—as does President Obama, and two-thirds of the American public.1 And just last week 30 Democratic senators wrote to Sen. Reid urging him to include the public option.2

nvreidReid has been supportive: earlier this month, he said “I believe the public option is so vitally important to create a level playing field and prevent the insurance companies from taking advantage of us.”3

In other words, we’re closer than ever to winning real health care reform. But we’ve got to raise our voices now to make sure the public option gets through the Senate.

Click here to add your name to the petition:

http://pol.moveon.org/harryreid/o.pl?id=17554-11381997-ilUAiGx&t=4

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217pxMartianManhunterRossAlex

OK, this is amazing: More people believe in UFOs than oppose the public health insurance option.1

Seriously, it’s easier to find someone who thinks aliens are landing spaceships in our cornfields than someone who thinks we shouldn’t create a public option to keep the insurance companies honest.

The insurance companies are basically the only ones who don’t like the public option—which is probably why their industry is spending nearly $5 million per week trying to fight off health care reform in Congress.2

We need to remind our senators that everyday Americans—not space aliens, and not profit-driven insurance executives—support the public health insurance option. Click here to send a free fax about the public option to Senators Arlen Specter and Robert Casey:

http://pol.moveon.org/fax?tg=FSPA_1.FSPA_2&cp_id=1125&id=17382-11381997-rQnuHmx&t=3

Outside of the Senate, insurance company boardrooms, and Area 51, the support for the public option is overwhelming.

At least two thirds of Americans want the choice of a public plan.3 Fully 73% of doctors, the people who see the moral and medical need up close every day, want a public option.4 And a majority of small-business owners, who know firsthand the economic case for health care reform, back it.517

Yet the health insurance companies—and some subset of the people who believe they’ve seen flying saucers—oppose it. And somehow, ridiculously, that’s put the public option in danger in the Senate.

Can you send this free fax to your senators, Arlen Specter and Robert Casey, to make sure they know just how popular the public option is?

http://pol.moveon.org/fax?tg=FSPA_1.FSPA_2&cp_id=1125&id=17382-11381997-rQnuHmx&t=4

P.S. Remember last week’s email “from” the public option? Well, it turns out the public option now has its own Twitter feed—@im_publicoption—for important updates and miscellaneous observations on the state of the health care fight. Check it out here:

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=84785&rc=tw&id=17382-11381997-rQnuHmx&t=5

Sources:

1. “More Americans Believe In UFOs Than Oppose A Public Option,” Media Matters, September 29, 2009

http://mediamattersaction.org/blog/200909290001

2. “Insurance and HMO Industries Spend Nearly $700,000 Per Day to Kill Health Care Reform Measures,” Public Campaign Action Fund, September 15, 2009.

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=84720&id=17382-11381997-rQnuHmx&t=6

3. “In Poll, Public Wary of Obama on War and Health,” The New York Times, September 24, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/us/politics/25poll.html

4. “Poll Finds Most Doctors Support Public Option,” National Public Radio, September 14, 2009

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=84786&id=17382-11381997-rQnuHmx&t=7

5.”Small Business Owners Say Cutting Health Care Costs, Need for Reform are Top Concerns,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, December 3, 2008

http://www.rwjf.org/pr/product.jsp?id=36550

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ObamaPlanHeader

More Security and Stability

If You Have Health Insurance, the Obama Plan:

* Ends discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.

* Limits premium discrimination based on gender and age.

* Prevents insurance companies from dropping coverage when people are sick and need it most.

* Caps out-of-pocket expenses so people don’t go broke when they get sick.

* Eliminates extra charges for preventive care like mammograms, flu shots and diabetes tests to improve health and save money.

* Protects Medicare for seniors.

* Eliminates the “donut-hole” gap in coverage for prescription drugs.

Quality, Affordable Choices

If You Don’t Have Insurance, the Obama Plan:

* Creates a new insurance marketplace — the Exchange — that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices.

* Provides new tax credits to help people buy insurance.

* Provides small businesses tax credits and affordable options for covering employees.

* Offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can’t find affordable coverage with a real choice.

* Immediately offers new, low-cost coverage through a national “high risk” pool to protect people with preexisting conditions from financial ruin until the new Exchange is created.

Reins in the Cost of Health Care

For All Americans, the Obama Plan:WTF_Robot_Superman1

* Won’t add a dime to the deficit and is paid for upfront.

* Requires additional cuts if savings are not realized.

* Implements a number of delivery system reforms that begin to rein in health care costs and align incentives for hospitals, physicians, and others to improve quality.

* Creates an independent commission of doctors and medical experts to identify waste, fraud and abuse in the health care system.

* Orders immediate medical malpractice reform projects that could help doctors focus on putting their patients first, not on practicing defensive medicine.

* Requires large employers to cover their employees and individuals who can afford it to buy insurance so everyone shares in the responsibility of reform.

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bizarrocode

Many small businesses are suffering at the hands of big insurance companies who charge sky-high premiums but often deny care when it’s needed the most.

As part of our campaign to win real health care reform, we’re taking on big insurance companies—and we want to highlight the voices of small-business leaders like you.

You can help out by taking a short survey.

To get started, click to let us know: Does your small business provide health insurance for you or your employees?

click on the answers below. crimson8

 

 

 

 

Yes, my business pays some or all employee health insurance costs.

No, I can’t afford to provide health insurance.

Health care is something that has been postponed for decades.

We can’t afford to wait.

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oracle_1

Last week Move.On asked members to share photos showing how they and their loved ones are suffering under our broken health care system.

The responses simply blew them away. They showed the photos to recording artists R.E.M., and together they produced this incredibly powerful video.

Watch the video and share it with your friends today.

With the news that some in the White House are considering a “trigger”1—a delay tactic designed to kill the public option—it’s more important than ever to get the word out that we simply can’t afford to wait for real reform.

Click here to watch the video and send it to your friends today: http://pol.moveon.org/healthcare_cantwait/?id=17196-11381997-5xE1rKx&t=3

2rbtqgpmvh

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