Healthcare Reforms Begin: Holding Insurance Companies Accountable

One after another, shortly after a diagnosis of breast cancer, each of the women learned that her health insurance had been canceled… The women all paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, none had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

So began a recent story by Reuters about one of the health insurance industry’s giants, Wellpoint.

And no, the canceled polices were not a mistake.

Little did these women diagnosed with breast cancer know, but Wellpoint had deliberately targeted them, through the use of a “computer algorithm”, for automatic placement on a list to be aggressively “investigated.” And the purpose of the investigation was to find any excuse to terminate their coverage – just at the time they needed it most. Revoking policies is this way is called “rescission.”

(It should be noted that Wellpoint denies the charges in the Reuters story.)

An abusive practice? It would seem so. Nevertheless, it has basically been standard operating procedure for the industry.

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Waiting for the Wurst: NM bloggers on the Senate Health Care Reform Debate

sausagemakingAs the health care debate grinds us all down to a state of sullen apprehension, little consolation is to be had by once again citing the famous dictum, attributed to Otto von Bismarck, comparing lawmaking to the manufacture of bratwurst.

The Iron Chancellor certainly would have gotten a wry chuckle watching the United States Senate (aka “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body”) do its best to fritter away America’s best chance in over a half century to enact comprehensive reform.

From New Mexico’s highly informed blogosphere, the reaction could best be described with words like despair, disgust, outrage and revulsion.

Non-partisan investigative journalist Heath Haussamen:

Our corrupt system gives corporations and other special interests undue influence that undermines the Constitution. The ongoing health-care reform debate in Washington proves the point…. I believe both parties, and the system in general, are corrupted by corporate and other special-interest money… The ongoing health-care reform debate in Washington proves the point. This discussion has been hijacked by a Republican Party that largely doesn’t want any reform – not because individual Republicans don’t see the need for reform, but because too many elected officials from that party are in the pockets of the status-quo health-insurance industry. Certain Democrats who are also in the pocket of the industry have also hijacked the debate.

The blogging conscience of NM’s progressive movement, Barb Wold:

The folks I talked with ran the gamut — from elected officials, to party people, to activists, from fairly moderate sorts to lefties. It didn’t matter. It was like someone had kicked them in the stomach, or they had awoken from a dream, or someone had died. It occurred to me that what really had died was trust in our government, trust in our Democratic President, trust in the political process, trust in our institutions. This latest disappointment is like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Or in the words of Matt Reichbach, “progressives are pissed.”

For my part, the slow motion congressional train wreck in the making has sure dampened any holiday spirit I might have feebly mustered (Happy Festivus, anyone? Bah humbug! No health care  for you!)

As they would say in Boston, the Senate is a wicked pissah.

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It’s Time for Wealthiest 1% to Pony Up

Over the past weeks I’ve heard arguments back and forth about whether or not we’re actually addressing costs in the current versions of the healthcare bills moving through the House. I’d like to start this with a simple premise that seems to get lost in the debate.

Expanding coverage is a NECESSARY component of costs containment.

Still there remains the issue of how to fund expanded coverage, which leads to the question:

Should we institute a surtax on the wealthiest Americans to help pay for healthcare reform?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently spoke of being open to a tax that would be levied on families that have an income of over a $1 million to help pay for the price tag on healthcare reform.

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