Posts Tagged ‘ health care ’
filed under: Women |
BY Beth Comery
March is International Women’s History month and while Nero’s consort Poppaea may not exactly be the type of woman organizers had in mind, this is the time of year when the awesome movie Quo Vadis sometimes comes on television and it’s the best of the Easter movies and one of the best movies ever actually. But what can you do besides watch television?
Ocean State Action has two events coming up.
Wednesday — ‘Drinking Liberally’ at the Wild Colonial Tavern at 250 South Water Street.
Please join us in raising our glasses in honor of leading ladies from around Rhode Island. Special guest speakers will include Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, State Representative Grace Diaz, Women’s Fund of RI Executive Director Dr. Marcia Coné and RI NOW President Carolyn Mark. We hope you can join us on Wednesday, March 28, at Wild Colonial, from 7pm to 9pm.
Thursday — ‘Lobby for Women’s Health Day’ in the State House rotunda.
Join activists from all across Rhode Island to lobby in support of women’s healthcare. Let’s show legislators that Rhode Islanders support women. Arrive at the Rhode Island State House on Smith Street and check in at our table at 3pm. We will provide you with talking points, a brief training and accompany you to find your legislators. Thursday, March 29, 3pm to 5pm.
BY Beth Comery
On May 14th Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts (Chairwoman of the Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission) wrote a column for the Providence Journal trying to explain how millions of dollars in federal grants resulting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 has benefited Rhode Islanders so far. Four days later the Journal ran the column Roberts should have written “Health-insurance firms raking it in” by Barbara Shelley of the Kansas City Star editorial board.
Shelley finds it interesting that America’s highest paid Chief Executive Officer is “Stephen J. Hemsley, 58, CEO of UnitedHealth Group, whose one-year compensation package is almost $102 million, Forbes reports, plus $111 million in company stock.” She turns to the excellent Wendell Potter, a former insurance-industry executive turned critic and watchdog, for further analysis of the situation (quite familiar to the unrepresented direct payers in the individual insurance market).
“To make this kind of money, insurance companies have to spend far less paying their policyholders’ medical claims than anyone thought possible,” he wrote. “They’ve been able to do that so far this year, despite the new health-care-reform law, by shifting many policyholders into plans that force them to spend more from their own pockets before coverage kicks in. Insurance firms also fatten their bottom lines by denying more claims.”
I know this routine well. I got shifted into a new plan (not a rate hike, mind you) by Blue Cross Blue Shield, and my premiums jumped, along with all my out-of-pocket expenses. Their reimbursement to labs and imaging companies has clearly plummeted. Meanwhile Roberts is excited about using $530,000 to “help educate Rhode Islanders about their insurance options” (what options). Further, we have “$1 million to plan a health-benefit exchange” — an exchange that doesn’t come online until 2014 — so, lots of money for lots of planners. But the out-of-pocket cap promised for 2014 looks pretty far away to Rhode Islanders whose expenses are skyrocketing now.
So while everyone in the pool can expect three more years of this shakedown, as an individual payer, I thank you Barbara Shelley and Wendell Potter for speaking out on our behalf. We are currently the rented mules in the health insurance equation, with no representation and no bargaining power. (And an additional note to the Blue Cross marketing department; please stop running those egregious and expensive TV spots about how some agent or other helped grandpa with his diet. We all know the insurance industry trots out these “wellness” initiatives to make it look like we’re all in this together and they are complete horseshit.)
filed under: Side Blog |
This evening on your way home from work, join local “Nap-tavists” at Providence Community Acupuncture for a celebration.
HERE’S WHAT WE’RE CELEBRATING:
When: Today, Friday February 18th from 3 to 6 p.m.
What: free acupuncture, refreshments and live local sounds provided by: Steve Jobe, Kate Katzberg, Chris Monti, the Extraordinary Rendition Band, and the What Cheer? Brigade.
What else?: The event kicks off a month long food-driveand the start of a 5% week to benefit the RI Community Food Bank
Where: Providence Community Acupuncture 22 Parsonage Street, Providence 02903 401-272-2288
BY Beth Comery
I’ll give you a second to catch your breath. According to The Providence Journal, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island CEO James Purcell will ask the state to approve premium rate increases* in May, citing rising costs and increased use. But that new office building downtown? Nope, that was a cost-saving measure.
Purcell said financial analysts determined it would be cheaper in the long term to have everyone working in one location.
Purcell takes hospitals to task for the reimbursement increases, that they negotiated for in 2009, “‘Hospital CEOs need to understand that this is a different environment,” he said’. That sound you hear is emergency room doors slamming shut. (Mr. Purcell, you may need one of these some day.)
The state’s referee? gatekeeper? brake pad? in these matters is supposed to be the Rhode Island Health Insurance Commissioner. But what good is it to knock down the requested rate increase in March, only to have a new request for double-digit increases two months later? The value of this agency eludes me completely. And it seems certain that a few more employers will be dropping the Blue Cross program altogether.
*This request is for large and small group rates. Direct payers have had at least five rate hikes in as many years.
filed under: insurance |
BY Libby Kimzey
That’s the dream of Ocean State Action and 23 other labor, community, environmental, student and religious groups. Wednesday at 4 pm — Rally at the Soldiers and Sailors monument in Kennedy Plaza, right across from the Providence City Hall. Join us to call for urgent action from Congress to create more jobs for Rhode Islanders, reduce damaging state budget cuts by sending federal money to the state, and finish the job on health insurance reform. We encourage you to come bearing posters and decked out in hard hats, white coats, suits or jeans.
- The JOBS FOR MAIN STREET Act to help reduce the Rhode Island budget deficit and to extend unemployment and COBRA for unemployed workers,
- NATIONAL HEALTH CARE REFORM to control costs, extend coverage to everyone and make sure insurers are treating consumers fairly,
- and the PUT AMERICA TO WORK Act to create jobs for unemployed workers in urban core communities and meet community needs.
BY Annie Messier
I’m not all political like some of you Dose folks, so I’ve only just discovered PolitiFact, a project of the St. Petersburg Times that fact-checks statements by the White House, Congress, lobbyists and interest groups.
While others have listed the years’s top music albums or best-selling books, PolitiFact polled the top eight lies told by politicians in ‘09.
Beating out Glenn Beck’s assertion that President Obama’s science czar proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population, Sarah Palin took top slot with her statements that the government would set up “death panel” boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care:
“The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
The other runners-up include Barack Obama, Joe Wilson, Joe Biden, and birther Orly Taitz.
Now I’m curious what a Rhode Island liar poll would look like…
BY Beth Comery
ProJo columnist Edward Fitzpatrick casts a gimlet eye on the new biodegradable/compostable/recyclable Blue Cross office building and sees right through to the fancy new offices, cafeteria and gym with their sweeping views of Waterplace Park and beyond. The costs of this new building are apparently to be borne by the direct payers, subscribers with no leverage to oppose the newly proposed 10.2% rate hike. Mr. Fitzpatrick also mentions the $15 being offered to entice people to fill out a “member satisfaction survey”. The official line from RIBCBS is that,
it’s common to pay a “small stipend” to participate in surveys, and this survey is “designed to better understand our members’ health care experiences” as the insurer undergoes “a business transformation designed to help improve the health of Rhode Islanders and moderate long-term health-care costs.”
These ’surveys’ are worded and crafted in such a way that there is no way Blue Cross won’t come up with huge satisfaction numbers — everybody loves us!
How about this anyway — you guys are always talking about ‘wellness’ — let the direct payers use that gym.
HealthAccessRI (which David Segal wrote about here) is the nation’s first primary care subscription program, homegrown right here in Rhode Island. Essentially, it’s a network of primary care doctors offering affordable primary care to patients who lack health insurance or have high-deductible insurance. And HealthAccessRI is launching a campaign to grow to a total of 10,000 members by December of 2010.
This is quite an ambitious goal, considering that HealthAccessRI only has 500 members now, and is therefore hoping to increase its membership by twenty-fold in one year. But should it reach this goal, it will have the leverage to convince a big insurer (like Blue Cross Blue Shield, or perhaps somebody new) to sell inexpensive high-deductible major medical insurance in Rhode Island. The combination of primary care from HealthAccessRI and high-deductible insurance would give Rhode Islanders the health care we need — world-class primary care from our family doctors in our neighborhoods, and financial protection in case of illness or injury.
But about the dancing — Saturday, December 12th is destined to be quite a night. Not only will we be dancing to the music of the illustrious DJ duo Micah Jackson in the beautiful 28 Wolcott Space (sustainably designed by Providence’s John Jacobson) and doing all of the above for free, but (as if you needed more incentive) we’re gonna be doing it to kickoff the HealthAccessRI 10,000 by December 2010 campaign. To keep up with the campaign, fan HealthAccessRI on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.
Free, Saturday, December 12th, 28 Wolcott Space, doors open at 9pm, speaker at 10pm, DJ all night
filed under: Activism |
BY Annie Messier
Ah, modesty: a Providence Daily Dose co-founder avoiding mention of his appearance in a video (uploaded to YouTube by RI Future) of an anti-greed Brown protest that’s been lighting up my Facebook feed. Hide no more, Representative.
BY Joe Roch
Two days ago Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posted a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece criticizing Obama’s proposed health-care reforms, and the internet backlash has been swift and fierce.
Personally, I find any argument that opens with a Margaret Thatcher quotation to be about as articulate and well-informed as, say, a comparison between Obama and Hitler*; but I’m curious, fellow Rhode Islanders: will Mackey’s remarks affect where you shop? Comment away, Dosers, comment away.
filed under: health care |
BY Daily Dose
Peter Asen, associate director of Ocean State Action, appears this Sunday with Edward Quinlan of The Hospital Association of Rhode Island on ‘10 News Conference’ with Jim Taricani for a discussion of health care reform. The segment can be viewed now at the turnto10 website (Health Care Reform — August 2).
7:30am, Sunday, 10 News Conference, Channel 10
BY Beth Comery
Attention individual payers — starting on April 1st many of you will have more disposable income. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island is requesting an increase in premium rates for the Direct Pay Class (natch) and many of you will be forced to drop out completely. In a way, this means more money in your pocket. Just don’t get sick. This particular group is the usual target of rate hikes for the obvious reason that BCBS will not have to face any organized opposition. Hearings were held on January 14th and 15th and according to a report on Channel 10 News, there were two witnesses speaking out in opposition. That’s okay, we have the Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC) watching our backs. What exactly is the mandate of this agency (just formed in 2004)?
filed under: WTF? |
BY Beth Comery
Am I the only one who saw ‘Sicko’? Why is everybody wetting themselves over this new “landmark mental health bill”? It’s just another useless little band-aid. Bush and Patrick Kennedy are probably picking out china by now. Thursday’s lovefest/ceremonial signing featured a special leather-bound copy of the bill, and the pen… ooh the special pen. (Bush is going to put it in his liberry.) The Providence Journal featured this story with a huge above-the-fold headline, as if this really accomplishes anything.
Mr. Bush engaged the legislators on the details of their long struggle for mental health parity — the requirement that mental illness, including alcoholism and drug addiction, be insured on a par with the coverage for physical illness and injury.
So what can we expect from this mandate? The insurance companies will raise the premiums to cover the increased costs. More people will be forced to drop their coverage because they can’t afford it. They will become depressed and start drinking…