Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Washington, DC – The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) today took an initial step toward comprehensive federal rules that determine whether health insurance companies spend an appropriate share of premium dollars on patient care rather than profits, CEO pay, lobbying and administration. The association approved a set of disclosure forms that will be filed by health insurers. Still, much remains to be done to ensure that the NAIC’s final product and subsequent federal rules are not weakened by the health insurance industry, which has spent more than $769 million on lobbying since 2007.
Today’s vote affects how companies calculate the medical-loss ratio (MLR), which is the percentage of premium revenue spent on actual medical services. The Affordable Care Act, enacted on March 23, 2010, requires insurers to spend on patient care and quality improvement at least 80 percent of health plan premiums collected from individuals and small employers and 85 percent of premiums from large employers.
Here is a statement on today’s NAIC vote from Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now:
“Today the NAIC took a step toward ending the health insurance companies' stranglehold on our health care. The top state insurance regulators from across the nation voted to put patient care above insurance company profits. This decision moves us closer to more affordable health care for families and businesses and will help ensure that the new health care law fulfills its promise. Advocates have battled every step of the way to hold the insurance companies accountable, and we will continue to do so.
“Many challenges remain before we can declare victory in the MLR fight. Pivotal aspects of the technical rules discussed today in Seattle remain unresolved, including crucial decisions on how to treat federal taxes and agent/broker fees. The NAIC still has work to do, and it should finish its deliberations soon so the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can swiftly develop final rules that take effect on schedule for 2011 health plans.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
"Family Values" Don't Apply to Newt Gingrich...
"Family values" apparently don't apply to Newt Gingrich. Marianne Gingrich, the second of Newt's three wives, sat down for a rare interview with Esquire and talked about Newt cheating in their marriage. The article said, "When Marianne confronted Newt about his cheating, he had just returned from a speech where he spoke of the importance of family values. Yet he asked her to simply tolerate the affair. She refused, and asked him how he could give high-minded speeches while simultaneously running around on his wife. "It doesn't matter what I do," he answered. "People need to hear what I have to say."
Well, so much for family values when it comes to the Newtster. But this really raises two larger issues. First is the obvious one, that some politicians particularly on the right, believe that the end justifies the means, and will lie enthusiastically to accomplish what they think is a noble goal. The second is the issue of morality, which is where this will most seriously bite Newt in the butt.
While liberal morality usually focuses on society - we can't call ourselves a moral people if there are hungry among us, homeless among us, or sick among us - Conservative morality usually focuses on the individual. Because conservatives are more interested in, and worried about, who's is sleeping with whom, and how, and when, Newt's conservative bas - which largely doesn't give a damn about the hungry, homeless, or sick among us - will probably be quite upset that he cheated on both his ex-wives while giving high brow speeches about family values and lead the prosecution of Bill Clinton for having sex in the White House.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Do you want fries with that?
The Commerce Department said yesterday, that personal incomes took a dive across the U.S. last year except in areas with high volumes of federal government and military jobs. This comes on the heels of an article in the Financial Times, where Edward Luce picked apart the American Dream, reporting, "The annual incomes of the bottom 90% of U.S. families have been essentially flat since 1973 -- having risen by only 10% in real terms over the past 37 years. That means most Americans have been treading water for more than a generation. Over the same period the incomes of the top 1% have tripled. In 1973, chief executives were on average paid 26 times the median income. Now the multiple is above 300." The simple reality is that while every industrialized country in the world has a solid safety social safety net, made up of robust programs like social security, medicare, unemployment benefits, and welfare for those unable to work, the historic social safety net for the United States - because these programs are quite minimal in the US - has been a well paying, unionized, manufacturing job. But 30 years of Reaganomics, Clintonomics, and Tom Friedman, Flat Earth insanity has moved those jobs to China, Vietnam and India, leaving American workers to say, "Welcome to Wal-Mart" and "Do you want Fries with that?" Until we bring our jobs home and re-empower our unions we are left with a frayed and largely ineffective social safety net - and even that safety net itself is under attack from conservatives and big business. This is why the average American working family is one paycheck away from living on the streets.