#6 - SOLDIERS DETAIL WALTER REED PROBLEMS
A Pentagon review board investigating conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center heard testimony yesterday from injured soldiers and their families describing continued bureaucratic missteps and problems with patient treatment more than three weeks after such problems were disclosed in the news media. During three hours of often emotional and personal testimony in an auditorium at the hospital in Northwest Washington, a steady stream of speakers spoke of their frustrations, fears and anger as they navigate treatment at Walter Reed. "The dropping of the ball on patients is still going on to this day," said Sgt.

(DV) Gerard: Republicans Require Health Insurance for Immigrants Only
his month, Congress will consider an immigration reform bill introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). A component of the bill would require employers to provide health insurance to all workers who are registered immigrants. To be sure, immigrants who lawfully enter the country to work, and who pay taxes, should have access to health insurance. But this bill is poorly reasoned and has the potential to create tremendous problems. Although the bill will mandate that employers provide health insurance coverage to immigrants, this is a luxury that no American enjoys.

24 firms in state to offer Rx plan
a stand-alone prescription drug plan that works with traditional Medicare. The traditional Medicare option requires seniors to pay the first $250 of prescriptions in any calendar year. After that, the government pays 75 percent of the costs up to $2,250 in total drug spending. Then, a window kicks in. The next several thousand dollars in prescription drug costs are footed by the individual. Once the Medicare-eligible person has paid $3,600 out of pocket, the government pays 95 percent of the costs for additional prescriptions through the end of the year.

8 on '08: Edwards Get (Virtually) Attacked
Our weekly roundup gives you everything you need to know to navigate the cocktail parties this weekend. Without further ado, here are the top eight developments you need to know about what's happening on both sides of the presidential campaign: 1) In a campaign cycle that has seen a series of untraditional announcements-John Edwards by cell phone, Barack Obama by video, Rudy Giuliani on Larry King Live-John McCain maybe topped them all this week: He announced on David Letterman's show. It's hardly a surprise, but the fact that McCain is officially in the race quiets some speculation that his health might have delayed his formal entrance.

A Good Start: The House Health Care Reform Bills
Americans are deeply concerned about rising health care costs and the rising number of Americans who do not have health insurance, have trouble keeping it, or are unable to find affordable health care. Policymakers at the federal and state levels are concerned about how to make existing health insurance markets work better and reduce barriers to access to coverage and care, while enabling those who are chronically ill to secure the care and coverage that they need at affordable prices. The House package directly addresses these concerns.

A Response to Jonathan Cohn: Healthy Choice
In last week's TRB, Jonathan Cohn takes aim at one of the most innovative health policy proposals in recent memory: the Health Care Choice Act, a bill sponsored by Representative John Shadegg of Arizona. Currently, if you buy health insurance you are allowed only to buy a policy licensed within the state where you live. Shadegg's bill would allow you to buy a policy from anywhere in the country. States require health insurers to obtain licenses before they can do business in the state. The most basic licensing requirements include such things as solvency standards.

A time of mourning and hopes for recovery in Southern towns struck by tornadoes
ENTERPRISE, Ala. -- President Bush handed out hugs to residents who survived killer tornadoes that ripped through Alabama and Georgia and offered encouraging words Saturday at Enterprise High School where students grieved the loss of eight classmates. "Today I have walked through devastation that is hard to describe," Bush said, standing with his arm around a student who had a tear running down her face. "Our thoughts, of course, go out to the students who perished. We thank God for the hundreds who lived.

AARP Wants Congress To Provide More Low-Income Beneficiary Assistance Through Medicare Drug Benefit, Discuss Federal Government Ability To Negotiate Prices
Medicare | AARP Wants Congress To Provide More Low-Income Beneficiary Assistance Through Medicare Drug Benefit, Discuss Federal Government Ability To Negotiate Prices [Jan 30, 2006] Congress should revise the 2003 Medicare law to allow HHS to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies and revise income criteria for subsidies offered under the drug benefit, Bill Novelli, CEO of AARP, said on Friday in an overview the group's legislative agenda for 2006, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 1/27).

Actions Taken on HPV Vaccine Proposals in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia
State Politics & Policy | Actions Taken on HPV Vaccine Proposals in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia [Mar 01, 2007] The following highlights recent news of state actions on human papillomavirus vaccine proposals. Merck's HPV vaccine Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline's HPV vaccine Cervarix in clinical trials have been shown to be 100% effective in preventing infection with HPV strains 16 and 18, which together cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases.

Adolescent Care Standards and State CHIP Efforts
Although widely thought of as a health insurance program for younger children, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) also has enormous potential to expand insurance coverage, including coverage of reproductive health guidance and services, to millions of uninsured teenagers. The extent to which CHIP meets this potential will largely be determined by the individual states, which have considerable discretion in designing their own efforts and benefit packages.

Affordable Health Insurance > Bush Health Care Plan Triggers Debate
Responses to President George W. Bush's new health initiative have filled newspapers and the airwaves since his January 8 State of the Union address. While opinion leaders on both left and right have praised Bush for exposing fundamental flaws in the national tax code's treatment of health insurance, response has been chilly among some with a vested interest in the status quo - including hospitals, big employers, and some labor groups with expensive health insurance policies.

Affordable Health Insurance > Georgia State Senator Proposes Market-Based Health Insurance Reform
Reforming Health Insurance On January 11, Georgia state Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) introduced the Insuring Georgia's Families Act (S.B. 28), a bill that aims to use market-based incentives to insure at least 500,000 of the state's 1.7 million uninsured residents. The legislation, designed by Hill with assistance from former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his Georgia-based think tank, the Center for Health Transformation, is unlike reforms being implemented and debated in other states, such as Massachusetts and California. Hill's measure contains no individual or employer mandates, and it imposes no non-participation penalties.

AG finds health benefits for public authority board members illegal
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Wednesday issued a legal opinion to the New York State Housing Finance Agency and State of New York Mortgage Agency stating that these public authorities did not have the right to pay health insurance premiums for current or retired board members. The Attorney General held that past contracts entered into by the agencies that required them to pay retired board members' health insurance premiums were illegal, null and void. The agencies had requested an opinion on the legality of those contracts. HFA and SONYMA have been paying health insurance premiums of board members since 1998.

All Spin Zone Dick Cheney';s Take on the Walter Reed Mess -; Can ";CheneyBurtoned"; Make it into the Lexicon?
";There will be no excuses _ only action,"; Cheney told a gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. ";And the federal bureaucracy will not slow that action down."; So Dick Cheney won';t join other miltary and civilian bigwigs involved in apologizing for the heinous dereliction of duty that has happened at Walter Reed. He';s going to blame bureucracy, when his Administration has had over six years to clean up any problems. No, he';s not going to own problems. But maybe they should own him. Maybe, when he has some medical problems, he should go to Walter Reed instead of to George Washington University Medical Center.

Allow reasonable underwriting
Underwriting is the process whereby an insurance company assesses how much risk an applicant brings to the health insurance pool, and assists them in setting appropriate rates for their products. Several states effectively eliminated underwriting by imposing "guaranteed issue" and "community rating" laws. In every case, these laws have destroyed the state's individual health insurance market.

Analysis: Clinton bill to cover all kids
By OLGA PIERCE UPI Health Business Correspondent WASHINGTON, March 14 (UPI) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., unveiled legislation to cover all 9 million uninsured U.S. children Wednesday. "This plan is practical and fiscally responsible. It will honor our values and prevent kids from needing more costly healthcare in the future," Clinton said. The Children's Health First Act, introduced in the House and Senate, would expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which currently covers about 6 million low-income children whose families have incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid.

Army Secretary Is Ousted in Furor Over Hospital Care
WASHINGTON, March 2 — Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey was forced to resign Friday over the handling of revelations that wounded soldiers were receiving shabby and slow treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Even as the grim-faced defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, announced Mr. Harvey’s dismissal, the Army put a new general in charge of the hospital, the second change of command in two days, and a clear signal that Mr. Gates wanted a clean break from the status quo.

Army secretary ousted
Army secretary ousted By Robert Burns Associated Press Military Writer Article Last Updated: 03/02/2007 11:35:34 PM MST Army Secretary Francis Harvey meets reporters at the Pentagon in this March 23, 2005 file photo. Harvey abruptly stepped down Friday, March 2, 2007, as the Bush administration struggled to cope with the fallout from a scandal over substandard conditions for wounded Iraq soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. (AP file / Manuel Balce Ceneta) Washington - Army Secretary Francis J.

Army secretary resigns in wake of scandal at Walter Reed - USATODAY.com
WASHINGTON (AP) - It began with reports of mice and moldy plaster, but after two weeks of outrage, the scandal over poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has claimed several careers -; including the secretary of the Army's. Secretary Francis J. Harvey's abrupt dismissal Friday came under withering criticism from Pentagon chief Robert Gates, who said the Army's response to the substandard conditions for the war-wounded was defensive, and not aggressive enough. And it left the door open for more personnel changes, as investigations continue and Congress prepares for hearings next week.

Assessing COBRA

The dwindling economy of America has put a strain on people as they struggle to keep themselves insured.  With companies putting emphasis on cost efficiency schemes, layoffs have become a common practice.  This has caused an increase in the unemployment rate and those without jobs find themselves in a position without medical insurance or a health care plan.  But one option has been put in place to assist unemployed individuals without medical coverage. 
 
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) is a law allowing those who have been laid-off to purchase health coverage for 18 to 36 months. COBRA acts as a safety net and allows laid-off employees to continue their health plans as they seek new health insurance coverage through state-sponsored or private market plans or a sponsored plan from a spouse or a new employer. 
 
The economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama has allowed Congress to reduce the cost coverage of COBRA.  However, COBRA could still be expensive for most individuals and in some instances may not be a good option for some.
 
COBRA could be expensive compared with a regular sponsorship from an employer.  In some states, there are less expensive, short-term medical insurance policies offered, allowing an individual to save up to 35 percent more than other private plans.
 
Workers from companies that have cancelled their health coverage are also not entitled to the terms under COBRA.  These workers may purchase insurance from state-sponsored or private plans.
 
To fully consider COBRA, research is necessary.  One must also be aware of all insurance options, including the costs of policies.   The fact remains that an individual should always be covered and options for coverage should remain accessible

Assistance for Persons with Limited Income



Medicare has greatly improved its services and health plans; however, there are still many eligible persons who find it difficult to pay for their share of expenses, especially for prescription drugs, and even for their Medicare premium. Individuals, who only rely on their Social Security benefits, or those with a relatively low income, may not be capable of paying all the costs. For this reason, they can avail themselves of the following assistance programs: Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI), Medicaid, Medicare Savings Programs, and others.
 
Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI) is a benefit provided by the Social Security Administration office to individuals with limited income, or to those who are blind, disabled, or are aged 65 years and above. SSI benefits are given every month to cover a member’s basic needs.
 
Medicaid is a program jointly administered by the State and Federal governments. Persons who qualify for this usually have all their health care costs covered in full. Income level qualifications for this program vary depending on the state.
 
Medicare Savings Programs are state-level Medicare programs designed to assist citizens in paying for their Medicare premiums, coinsurance percentages, and deductibles. A person must have Medicare Part A to qualify for this.
 
Additionally, individuals with limited income may avail themselves of Medical Prescription drug assistance. If eligible, he or she will get financial assistance for the premium every month, the annual deductible, and some selected medication plans. For queries regarding qualifications for this program, concerned persons may contact their Social Security Administration office.


At Clinic, Hurdles to Clear Before Medicaid Care
Atop a rise on Burnside Avenue in the Bronx, the Morris Heights Health Center looms above a bustling stretch of storefronts offering arroz con pollo and cheap clothes. The clinic is a crucial medical safety net for tens of thousands of people, many of them struggling. It is a place of solace and deliverance and, just as often, futility and frustration, much of it linked to Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor. Every day, the clinic sees patients like Crystal T. Shuler, a single mother who has been a Medicaid client several times - and has seen her insurance cut off just as often, for reasons she does not grasp.

BEHIND THE PHARMACY COUNTER: PRESCRIPTION COVERAGE AND HEALTH INSURANCE

With so many different health insurance plans to choose from and so many people without any health insurance at all, prescription drugs can be expensive and difficult for many Americans to obtain.  Many people who require daily medication face financial hardship while struggling to afford their prescriptions; some even find themselves having to choose between the drugs they need and paying their bills.  No one should have to make decisions like this.  There are many options available for those who need help with the cost of their prescription medications.
Several programs help patients obtain prescriptions for free or at a discount, regardless of their health insurance coverage.  The Janssen Ortho Patient Assistance Foundation offers free prescriptions donated by a group of companies to patients who meet qualification guidelines.  The Partnership for Prescription Assistance is a clearing house that helps patients locate the best discount or free prescription programs available and assists with applications and enrollment.  Together Rx Access works directly with several pharmaceutical companies to provide discounts on many different medications.  For people aged 65 and over who qualify for Medicare, the optional Part D plan provides coverage for prescriptions.  Many states also have programs to help qualifying patients receive help with the cost of prescriptions.
Most health plans offer some form of prescription drug coverage.  If you decide to use your insurance to help with the cost of medications be sure that you understand the particular rules set out by your policy terms.  Many insurers cover only a select group of drugs, while others require co-pays for prescriptions.  These out-of-pocket expenses can vary depending on the kind of medication.  Some plans restrict or exclude medications that are not prescribed by a network provider or those not deemed medically necessary.  Consult your policy before making a decision.
Independent prescription plans are an increasingly attractive option for many people.  These programs give consumers discount cards to use when buying prescriptions.  If your health insurance does not cover a medication you have been prescribed or does not offer prescription coverage at all, purchasing one of these plans could be a good alternative to paying for medications out of pocket.  There is usually an annual fee for participation in a plan, and plans can be offered through a variety of sources including pharmaceutical companies, drug stores or pharmacies, insurance companies, and non-profit organizations.  There is a lot of variation between plans, but they are generally structured in tiers and charge fees based on a sliding scale of factors.  Discounts also vary, but generic drugs are usually much cheaper than name-brand medications.  It is very important to carefully research several different prescription plans before making a decision.  Consider what medications you need, whether you can substitute generics for name brands, and how often you purchase your prescriptions.  You may even need to participate in more than one plan if you take many different prescriptions.
Prescription medication can be expensive, especially if you require daily treatments to keep you healthy.  Consider one of these options to help you get the prescriptions you need without breaking the bank. 

Big Iron Vs. Medicaid Fraud
Erie County in New York hopes to uncover Medicaid fraud and waste with the help of on demand computing from IBM. Tapping into an IBM supercomputer running software developed for the private sector, the county aims to curb up to $80 million a year in dubious claims. The program, VerifyNY, allows the county to upload local Medicaid provider data to a supercomputer, where advanced algorithms sort through the information and flag suspicious claims. The program will soon be available to all New York counties. "It's a data mining tool that allows us to peel back the onion," said Erie County Executive Joel Giambra at Buffalo news conference.

Bush Health Care Plan Triggers Debate
While opinion leaders on both left and right have praised Bush for exposing fundamental flaws in the national tax code's treatment of health insurance, response has been chilly among some with a vested interest in the status quo--including hospitals, big employers, and some labor groups with expensive health insurance policies. But without reform, the number of people without health insurance will continue to increase, and the threat of a government-controlled health care system being imposed will grow. Outmoded System The current system of job-based insurance, designed for a post-World War II economy, isn't working in the Information Age.

Bush health insurance plan would boost government revenue, advisers estimate
WASHINGTON -; President Bush';s health insurance proposals would cost taxpayers $526 billion through 2017, according to a preliminary estimate from Congress'; Joint Committee on Taxation. One Democratic lawmaker jumped on the figure Tuesday to describe the proposal as a tax increase. The projection, which comes from the committee';s nonpartisan staff, is stunningly different from the administration';s estimates as well as those from other independent analysts.

Bush's health care proposal would increase tax revenues by $526 billion through 2017
President Bush's health insurance proposals for the tax code would increase tax revenues by $526 billion through 2017, according to a preliminary estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation that "is stunningly different from the administration's estimates as well as those from other independent analysts," the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Joint Committee on Taxation's analysis found that the president's plans initially would reduce federal revenue if they went into effect in 2009 as Bush has proposed.

Bushto Americans: 'Help the folks down here' - CNN.com
AMERICUS, Georgia (CNN) -- President Bush assured tornado victims Saturday that help is on the way as he toured towns in Alabama and Georgia that were among the hardest hit by Thursday's storms. Bush called the devastation "hard to describe" as he visited with officials in Americus, Georgia, where the storms had claimed two lives and shut down Sumter Regional Hospital as doctors cared for victims. Sumter is one of six Georgia counties that Gov. Sonny Perdue has declared in a state of emergency. Earlier Saturday, Bush was in Enterprise, Alabama -- where nine people, including eight students in a high school, were killed. He told Gov.

Calif. lawmaker reintroduces universal care bill
by Joanne Wojcik Posted on Feb. 28, 2007 1:21 PM CST Print this Article E-mail this Article Write to Editors Discuss Article Online SACRAMENTO, Calif.-Calling California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's health care reform proposal a giveaway to insurers, state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, has introduced single-payer health care legislation for the third time. The measure, which passed both houses of the California Assembly last year and was vetoed by Gov.

California Senator Reintroduces Single-Payer Health System Legislation
California Senator Reintroduces Single-Payer Health System Legislation 02 Mar 2007 California state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D) on Tuesday for the third time introduced legislation (SB 840) that would eliminate health insurers and create a state-run, single-payer health insurance system, the Los Angeles Times reports. The system would be funded by payroll and income taxes. A 2004 study by the Lewin Group found that a single-payer system in California would expand insurance coverage to 6.5 million uninsured residents and reduce the state's health care spending by about $8 billion.

California State Assembly Republican Caucus
Republican Caucus Media Releases Business Owners Invited To Weigh In On Proposed Health Care Reform Assemblyman Bob Huff posts online survey to collect information 2/28/2007For Immediate Release CONTACT: Jennifer Vitela (909) 860-5560 SACRAMENTO - In an attempt to develop feasible solutions to California's health care problems, Assemblyman Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, has created an online survey to solicit information from local businesses. Business owners are invited to discuss the difficulties of balancing affording health care for their employees while staying in business.

Capitalizing on the Flu
Washington, D.C. - President Bush's vague plan for coping with a serious outbreak of bird flu is based largely on fear and greed. There is no secret about this. He seeks to get people's attention by scaring the citizenry with visions of millions of people dying from a pandemic so bad it leads to martial law, mass quarantines, restrictions on travel, and so on. He wants to encourage private business to meet the crisis by producing more of existing drugs such as Tamiflu to combat a flu plague and entice the drug companies to work harder and faster to make a vaccine by ensuring its profitability.

CDC updating disease-control rules affecting travelers
Nov 22, 2005 (CIDRAP News) - Federal health officials today proposed rule changes to make it easier for public health authorities to keep travelers from bringing infectious diseases into the United States or spreading them between states. The changes would require airlines and ship operators to report passengers who have certain signs of illness and to keep lists of passengers for at least 60 days after arrival, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced.

Children's Defense Fund: Email - CDF NEWS: CDF Unveils Fictional Presidential Campaign to Address Child Health Crisis
CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND UNVEILS FICTIONAL PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN TO ADDRESS CHILD HEALTH CRISIS One Child Stands Up for the 9 Million Children in the U.S. Without Health Insurance Washington, DC-;There are more than nine million children in the United States who are currently without health insurance, and the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) believes some of our elected officials are not doing enough to solve the problem. As a result, CDF today is announcing the launch of "Elect Susie," an integrated marketing campaign designed to build awareness for its legislative plan to provide all children in America with health insurance.

COBRA COVERAGE: A RELIABLE SAFETY NET FOR THE RECENTLY UNEMPLOYED

As unemployment rates continue to climb, more Americans who were previously insured through an employer or union suddenly find themselves without health coverage.  For these people, short term health insurance is an affordable option that can provide a much-needed temporary safety net.  A product of the Congressional Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985—COBRA—is one of these options.
The idea behind COBRA health coverage is fairly simple.  The plan allows workers who have been laid-off to continue to purchase health insurance from their former employer for a set period of time following their dismissal.  The term of a COBRA policy is generally 18 to 36 months, and the plan is meant to protect workers while they search for another job or consider alternative options for health care coverage.  Employers are required by federal law to provide information about COBRA plans to laid-off workers, but COBRA is not always a good fit.  In fact, the majority of laid-off workers choose to forego COBRA coverage altogether in favor of more viable options.
While COBRA coverage is intended to provide care for healthy people who have recently lost their jobs and to act as added security in an unsteady job market, it can be cost-prohibitive for newly laid-off workers who have lost their source of income, and may be impossible to obtain for those with serious medical conditions or health risk factors.  COBRA policy premiums are more expensive, as workers who purchase the policy are required to take on the added cost of the portion of the premium that their employer once paid.  So workers are paying more for the same coverage.  For people with serious medical concerns the cost of care and treatment, even with a COBRA plan, could put coverage completely out of reach.  Furthermore, COBRA is not always offered by employers.  For example, when a company chooses to drop group medical coverage for existing employees or has filed for bankruptcy, it is not required to extend COBRA to laid-off workers.
Recent federal legislation tied to President Obama’s economic stimulus package has provided some relief for workers considering COBRA.  Under Obama’s plan, laid-off workers who purchase COBRA coverage can receive government subsidies for up to nine months that cover about 65 percent of COBRA premiums.  The subsidies are offered to workers who involuntarily lost their jobs between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009.  This has made COBRA health plans a much more realistic option for many unemployed people.  There are restrictions, however:  Individuals with annual income over $125,000 and married couples with annual income over $250,000 are not eligible for the program. 
Even with this help from the federal government, COBRA may not be the most affordable health insurance coverage available for laid-off workers.  It certainly pays to do some research into alternatives such as short-term major medical plans, state-sponsored programs, or a spouse or partner’s employer-sponsored coverage.  Researching these other options before necessity sets in is wise, as it allows workers the luxury of time and the opportunity to consider all factors before making an informed choice.            
 

Comptroller: RX Drug Bill A Fiscal Disaster. Yeah, Like That';s A Shock.
It';s times like this when I really wish I had access to the Crushkerry.com archives. Because then I could go back and point out how I (and pretty much every other thinking person) realized that one of the biggest betrayals of conservative principles, as well as the current and future taxpayers of this country was the Prescription Drug Bill that the GOP passed in 2003. The saddest part for me was that in pointing this out I had to pillor Tom DeLay, who for years was one of the most courageous conservatives out there who refused to cower in fear of the usual Democrat ";you';re going to make seniors eat dog food"; attacks.

Congress created health savings accounts (HSAs) to help people cover medical costs but some state regulations are keeping them from consumers, say observers...
Congress created health savings accounts (HSAs) to help people cover medical costs but some state regulations are keeping them from consumers, says the Wall Street Journal. These accounts allow people to save or invest money to pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance, all free from federal taxes. And while consumers in most places have been able to set them up, some states have yet to get with the program. For example: By law, an HSA must be paired with a high-deductible insurance policy, but six states require coverage of certain benefits below the deductible amounts specified in the HSA rules.

Congress Gives Two-Year Review To AIDS Program
By Andrew Tully Two years ago, U.S. President George W. Bush signed a bill giving his country a leading role in fighting the world's three most devastating diseases: malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. Yesterday the House of Representatives' International Relations Committee held a hearing to review the progress of the program, focusing on the five-year, $15 billion U.S. initiative against AIDS in Africa. The chief witness was Randall Tobias, Bush's global AIDS coordinator. Washington, 14 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Tobias began his testimony with a positive report on the status of the AIDS initiative.

Connecticut Lawmakers Propose Universal Health Insurance Plan
A group of Connecticut lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a $900 million plan to achieve universal health care in the state, the Hartford Courant reports. The Democratic proposal, called the Connecticut Healthy Steps Program, would address specific areas of the health care system rather than overhaul the entire system, according to state House Deputy Majority Leader Michael Christ (D).

Connecticut sees advance in universal health care

Lawmakers in Connecticut are moving forward with their plans to establish universal health care, as there has been no federal legislation on the issue. This move follows Massachusetts’ pioneering law.
 
Currently, President Barack Obama’s administration and the Democrats in Congress are struggling to rally support for a plan to provide health care for a large number of Americans. Connecticut is part of a small minority of states that are planning to create universal health care independently. The state is aiming to improve the system that has caused more than 40 million Americans to be left uninsured.
 
On Monday, Republican Connecticut governor Jodi Rell’s veto was overridden by the state legislature, which is controlled by Democrats. A board composed of nine members will be created to develop a system for universal health care in the state. On January 1, 2011, this board will be giving lawmakers recommendations for the health care plan. Called SustiNet, the plan will cover almost all of the 3.5 million residents of Connecticut, including the 350,000 residents of the state who do not have coverage.
 
In 2006, Massachusetts enacted a law that made health coverage compulsory. It was the first state to do so in the U.S., and it brought health coverage within the reach of people who cannot afford it by providing subsidies and by reforming the industry. Maine and Vermont are also in the process of advancing their health care reforms.
 
Connecticut will be building a system around a health insurance pool that includes employees of the state and Medicaid participants. The pool would eventually be expanded to include private employers and residents who require individual health insurance.

Contraception coverage case affirms role of modern women
THOMAS EASTERLING GUEST COLUMNIST A district court in Nebraska recently ruled that Union Pacific Railroad's exclusion of prescription contraception coverage from its employee health plan violates the nation's foremost law against race and sex discrimination in employment -- Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the company did cover other preventive care such as immunizations, cancer screening for men and women, treatment for tobacco and alcohol addiction and, in some cases, treatment of erectile dysfunction, they argued that pregnancy was a natural condition.

Cooperation on health care: 11/ 27/ 2005
You're going along fine. Eating your green vegetables and getting plenty of exercise. But one day, you or someone you love is diagnosed with breast cancer or prostate cancer. The first thing you realize is that you're going to need help from doctors to fight this one. The next thing you realize is how thankful you are that you have good health insurance through your employer, your labor union, MassHealth, Medicare or some other group. For the last five years, the numbers of Massachusetts residents who don't have any health insurance has grown at a troubling rate from an estimated 360,000 in 2000 to nearly a half-million today.

Coos Bay - The World News Story
Using Health Saving Accounts to your advantage Health care consumers may realize significant benefits from health savings accounts. Created under the 2003 Medicare Act, an HSA is a tax-favored savings plan offered by many banks, insurance companies, brokerages, and other financial institutions and that can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. According to the Oregon Society of CPAs, Health Savings Accounts offer significant tax benefits to individuals who qualify. Eligibility: To establish an HSA, you must have coverage under a high deductible health plan.

Council on Affordable Health Insurance News Story
tax credits for the uninsured - Workers with employer-provided health insurance don't pay taxes on the money their employers spend on premiums. And the self-employed get a 100 percent tax deduction. But workers without employer-provided coverage get no help at all. The Fair Care for the Uninsured Act (H.R.765), which is very similar to President Bush's tax credit proposal, would provide a $1,000 refundable tax credit per adult, and up to $3,000 per family, to use toward the purchase of a health insurance policy. As a result, millions of uninsured Americans could afford to buy their own health coverage.

Council on Affordable Health Insurance News Story
The Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI) is a research and advocacy association of insurance carriers active in the individual, small group, HSA and senior markets. CAHI's membership includes insurance companies, small businesses, providers, nonprofit associations, actuaries, insurance brokers and individuals. Since 1992, CAHI has been an active advocate for market-oriented solutions to the problems in America's health care system. What We Do One of the challenges that we as a nation face is the development of a health care system that enables all citizens to have access to affordable, quality health care.

Council Praises Congress For Focus On Health Care, Urges Efforts To Promote Flexibility And Choice
Press release: Council Praises Congress For Focus On Health Care, Urges Efforts To Promote Flexibility And Choice Issued by: American Benefits Council Date: Thursday, July 28, 2005 WASHINGTON, DC -- The American Benefits Council today applauded Republican members of the House of Representatives for their "Health Care Week" initiative and lent its support (view the letter of support, [click here]) for the "Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2005" (H.R. 5).

COUNTY BUDGET
Walker said the county's ongoing budget squeeze and the fact that no state law mandates the safety-net General Assistance Medical Program explains his consideration of reducing the county's $13.7 million tax-levy support by $1 million to $5 million, or phasing it out entirely. Walker said he sees value in providing the care but said saving the health program, which attracts $32 million in state and federal funds, might be possible only if the area's major hospital systems agree to help the county's bottom line by subsidizing other county social service programs.

Deficit reduction on backs of poor
Washington -- Millions of poor people would have to pay more for health care under a budget bill worked out by Congress, and some of them would forgo care or drop out of Medicaid because of the higher co-payments and premiums, the Congressional Budget Office says in a new report. The Senate has approved the measure -- called the Deficit Reduction Act -- the first major effort to rein in federal benefit programs in eight years, and the House is expected to vote Wednesday, clearing the bill for President Bush. Overall, the bill is estimated to save $38.8 billion in the next five years and $99.

Democratic senators propose government-run insurance option, cheaper cost for health care bill
Key Democratic senators are pushing for a government-managed insurance policy to provide alternatives that will compete with private health plans. This proposal, which aims to help President Obama’s health care reform, will also require large companies that do not provide insurance to their employees to pay an annual fee of $750 per worker. Democratic Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said that the modified proposal would be cheaper compared to its previous version. The revised proposal aims to cover up to 97 percent of the American population.Two weeks ago, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of the previous proposal at $1 trillion over 10 years. The revised proposal on the other hand will cost around $611.4 billion. This modification on the actual cost of the proposal also “virtually eliminates” the earlier prediction that many companies would be forced to drop health insurance coverage for their employees.On Wednesday, the two senators wrote to the members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in anticipation of the return from vacation of lawmakers to the Capitol.As early as next week, the Health Committee could finish its version of the bill. A party-line vote is virtually guaranteed because of the proposed government-run health insurance alternative.On the other end, the Senate Finance Committee is working separately towards a companion measure that aims to achieve a bipartisan concession. At the end of the month, the three House committees working on the legislation are expected to arrive at a vote that is sure to include the proposed insurance option from the government.  Obama is pressing for Congress to pass legislation within the year. Author: Van Kelsey

Democrats pursue new health plan

President Barack Obama and other Democrats in Congress are pursuing a new health insurance plan. According to nonpartisan budget experts, this health plan would work with private insurance companies without forcing them to shut their doors.
 
Good news for Democratic ears, the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate comes as officials pushed for progress on the health care reform before the recess in August.
 
Democrats had a meeting on Monday afternoon with their allies in the House, and, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a floor vote may still be pushed through in the coming days. Meanwhile, negotiations between a small number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers resumed in order to find a compromise.
 
Democratic dissension has slowed the progress of legislative work from the President’s strict timetable.
 
Two weeks ago, Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf infuriated congressional Democrats and the White House with his statement in Congress about the House bill’s inability to control health care costs due to lack of mechanisms.
 
In order to disprove allegations that their proposal would make way for a federal takeover of the commercial and private health insurance industry, Democrats are now backing a suggestion from the budget office for a government insurance option that will not harm private insurance companies.
 
Given the unclear projections about how an actual reformed health care system would work, the controversy has yet to have an end in sight.
 
Poll results show that Americans favor a public coverage option as a component of the health care system reform. However, both employer groups and the insurance industry fear that a government-run insurance option will destroy private insurers.

Democrats reveal health care overhaul plans

House democrats unveiled an extensive plan for a bold reform of the nation’s health care system. Contained in the 1,018-page bill are provisions on regulating the health insurance market, formation of a new health insurance option run by the government, and other steps for implementing universal health coverage.
 
The bill sets out initiatives for reducing health care costs, which are expected to rise to $2.5 trillion this year. In addition, the cost of the legislation, which is estimated at $1 trillion, will be offset with a new tax to be imposed on wealthy Americans.
 
The proposal, which is considered one of the most liberal in revamping the system, was criticized by Republicans and 30 leading business groups, although many of these also showed support for some aspects.
 
If implemented, employers will either provide medical insurance to their workers or pay the government a fee based on their payroll. Small businesses with an income below $250,000 will be exempt from paying the fees. Also included in the plan are regulations prohibiting insurance companies from denying Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. This is to ensure more affordable options for everyone. 
 
All low income Americans will also become eligible for Medicaid, and private insurance companies will be offering a standard universal benefit package designed by the government.
 
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 97% of Americans, including legal immigrants, will have health coverage by 2019. Furthermore, the CBO estimates that nearly 162 million people will have continued employer-provided insurance and 30 million people will avail themselves of health coverage through the new health insurance exchange. Nine million of those who would avail themselves of the new exchange are expected to choose the new health program run by the government. 

Details Missing on Coalition Plan for Calif. Uninsured
Written By: Aricka Flowers Published In: Health Care News Publication Date: April 1, 2007 Publisher: The Heartland Institute In January, a group of the nation's top health care organizations forged a coalition, the Health Coverage Coalition for the Uninsured (HCCU), proposing a plan to provide insurance coverage to all Americans, starting with California. But unlike Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposed plan to accomplish that task, the coalition would use incentives, not mandates.

Dial L for Legislation
It is a chilling experience that everyone has faced or heard about. Somebody was wailing for urgent medical care and you were clueless on whose door to knock seeking help. There was no easy-to-remember number that you could recall. Crucial time was lost trying to hunt down the number of the family physician. Now, if you were in London, all you had to do was dial 999 and within minutes medical aid would have reached you. Estimates say a sound EMS system reduces mortality rate of emergency cases to one third. India, which witnesses 142 deaths for every 10,000 vehicles - the highest in the world - stands as a paradox.

Dispatch Online - Your premier Eastern Cape news site
THE Department of Health is under fire for going ahead with a R9billion plan that, it is believed, will leave the two million people in Mdantsane and other communities without hospitals with specialist services. Mike Basopu, chairperson of the Health portfolio committee, and Democratic Nursing Association of South Africa (Denosa) shop steward Edward Maseti complained that they have not been consulted about the department's plans to implement the major changes. The department has so far kept details of its plan - scheduled to be in place by the end of May - a secret.

Doctors Take Fewer Medicaid Patients
WASHINGTON -- Many people who rely on government health insurance for the poor have to search harder to find a doctor and increasingly are going to large practices, a study shows. Officials say Medicaid's reimbursement rate is the biggest reason that it is getting more difficult to locate doctors who take new patients under the program. On average, reimbursements are 69 percent of what Medicare pays and even lower compared with what private insurers pay. Doctors frequently complain about the administrative hassles. For example, physicians often have to get approval before prescribing medicine or conducting tests.

Easley says Senate meetings aren't a good fit
That's the explanation he gave during an interview with PBS talk show host Charlie Rose that aired Wednesday night. After talking about education, the National Guard and free trade, Rose said that if he were in politics, he'd rather be governor than hold any other office. Easley agreed. "You can go out and grab a problem by the throat and wrestle it down and do something, and you don`t have to sit around and convince 99 other people or 59 other people to go along with you," Easley said. Rose, a North Carolina native, asked if that meant Easley wasn't planning on running for the Senate in 2008 against incumbent Republican Sen.

ekathimerini.com | Commentaries
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou emerged from several weeks of inertia looking fine. Greeks who have been asking "Is the young man slipping?" had their worst fears banished on Saturday as he addressed his party's national council conference. It was a noteworthy speech unveilinghis wide-ranging policy platform and the sources of funding his party will tap to pay for its program if elected to government. As if it indicated a good omen of sorts, the moon that evening turned shades of yellowish-brown and pink as it passed behind the Earth's shadow. It was the first total lunar eclipse in three years.

Element Of Medicare Trustees' Report Could Spell Trouble For Beneficiaries In Future Years, Rev 3/25/05
The report that the Social Security and Medicare trustees issued March 23 on the state of Medicare's finances contains a "finding" that may draw considerable attention. The Medicare drug law enacted in 2003 requires the trustees to estimate in each of their annual reports the point at which general revenues will finance at least 45 percent of Medicare costs.

Eliminate state mandates
Over the last 30 years, state and federal governments have enacted legislation requiring that health insurers provide coverage, or offer to provide coverage, for specific providers or procedures. The number of health insurance mandates has swelled to over 1,800 nationwide. Health insurance mandates are laws requiring that a health insurance policy or health plan cover (or offer to cover) specific providers or procedures. While mandates make health insurance more comprehensive, they also make it more expensive because insurers are required to pay for care consumers previously funded out of their own pocket.

European Primary Immunodeficiencies Consensus Statement
EU PID Consensus Conference 2006 Executive Summary On 19-20 June 2006, the International Patient Organisation for Primary Immunodeficiencies (IPOPI), the European Society for Immunodeficiencies (ESID), the International Nurses Group for Immunodeficiencies (INGID) and the European Federation for Immunological Societies (EFIS) in partnership with the European Commission, held a two-day Consensus Conference on Primary Immunodeficiencies (PIDs) at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut in Langen, Germany.

FDA won't ban diet drug
FDA won't ban diet drug Meridia but watching heart risk WASHINGTON (AP) - The government won't ban the prescription diet drug Meridia but, faced with reports of deaths, says it will closely monitor a European study designed to better assess the pill's heart risks. The consumer group Public Citizen had petitioned the Food and Drug Administration for a ban, citing Meridia users who died of heart problems as young as their 20s and 30s. Even before Meridia was approved for sale, the FDA knew it could increase users' blood pressure, the group contended. The FDA denied Public Citizen's request for a ban in a ruling issued Aug.

Federal Health Reform being Pushed in the US

The bill that will merge with H.R. 3200, or the America's Affordable Health Choices Act, has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee with a 31-28 vote.
 
H.R. 3200 is a version that was passed by the House Ways and Means and Education and Labor committees and was approved on August 3. On September 8, it will be voted on by Congress after its summer recess.
 
The passing of H.R. 3200 was not favored by many employers, insurers and the public. Protests have been staged by conservative voters and America's Health Plans at town hall meetings held by members of Congress.
 
The reform on said act has, however, been postponed by the senate until September. The version from the Senate Finance Committee is expected to be more conservative than the version put forth by Congress.
 
“We're still waiting for the Finance Committee to take action. That really is what folks are waiting for now,” said the senior counsel on health policy, Kathryn Wilber, at the American Benefits Council in Washington.
 
H.R. 3200 creates a health insurance program that competes with private insurers. The Senate’s version is expected to widen the options with the inclusion of nonprofit and state-sponsored cooperatives.
 
Advocates of the public plan, the Obama administration and most Democrats, have been taking into consideration the benefits to the citizens who will subscribe to health insurance plans. The pros firmly believe that the public program will give rise to greater competition among insurers.
 
According to Watson Wyatt Worldwide’s senior consultant, Steve Raetzman, the Senate Finance Committee is considering proposals that do not appeal at all to employers, but the hope is that an improved version will eventually receive bipartisan support.
 


Fetal Personhood/Unborn Victims Legislation
UVVA would amend the federal criminal code and Uniform Code of Military Justice to create a separate offense if, during the commission of certain federal crimes, an individual causes the death of, or bodily injury to, what sponsors of the bill call a "child in utero" or "unborn child." Because the bill defines "unborn child" and "child in utero" as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb," UVVA would be the first federal law to recognize a fertilized egg as a crime "victim," independent of the pregnant woman who suffers the physical injury.

Five Reasons Why I Oppose the Governor';s Health Care Reform
There are many reasons to oppose Gov. Schwarzenegger';s flawed plan to ‘reform'; California';s health care system. Below are my top 5. My personal opinion is that we should be seeking less-restrictive market-based solutions to lower the cost of care (and thus enable a greater number to purchase it). 1. ";Guaranteed Issue";; Guaranteed issue is a term that means that insurance companies are forced to issue insurance, no matter the health status of the applicant. Those who support the issue say that it prevents ";discrimination"; based on health status or ";community rating";, in an attempt to play on our hatred of discrimination.

Flu Shots Supply: So Far, So Good
Manufacturing problems have been fixed at the factory that caused shortages last year, although it will produce less vaccine than previously projected. A new vaccine has also been approved for sale this year. There is also an inhaled vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that don't cause the flu, approved for use in healthy people five years to 49-years-old who aren't pregnant. Until Monday, flu shots were restricted this season to high-risk groups, to make sure there was enough for those people who need them most. But Monday is the day health officials are lifting those restrictions, so everyone who wants a shot can get one.

Forces Gather to Push for Change in New Medicare Drug Benefit
What are the chances of the new Medicare drug benefit being improved before the law goes into effect in January 2006, thus making it more attractive to older Americans who must decide whether to sign up for it? That question is shaping up as a major battle in this election year, as Republicans seek to claim credit for having finally enacted a drug benefit and Democrats seek to show that it falls short of what many beneficiaries expected or need. Usually, when a bill is signed into law, "the curtain comes down, the actors go off and enter another play," says Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute and an expert on Medicare.

Friday, February 23, 2007
The following Bill was inadvertently omitted from the Second Reading Bills in the Journal of Thursday, February 22, 2007. The corrected entry should read as follows: SECOND READING BILL The following Bill, having been read the second time, was ordered placed on the Third Reading Calendar: S.

Getting Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs Information For State And County Legislators
This fact sheet is designed to provide you with background information concerning Social Security’s role in the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA). Beginning January 1, 2006, a new program will provide prescription drug coverage under Medicare. People who have limited income and resources may be able to get help paying for monthly premiums, deductibles and co-payments under this prescription drug program. Congress has given Social Security the responsibility to help the public understand that they may be eligible for extra help with their prescription drug costs under this program.

GINA | GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY | GUYANA
Guyana to be Leprosy free by 2015 - Minister Ramsammy Georgetown, GINA, January 29, 2007 Hansen's disease, commonly referred to as Leprosy, one of the many diseases identified by Minister of Health as neglected, will be eliminated in Guyana by the year 2015. Minister Ramsammy gave this assurance while delivering his World Leprosy Day message on January 28, when Guyana joined the rest of the world to observe the anniversary under the theme “Give Hope.” World Leprosy Day is celebrating 54 years in existence and Guyana is hosting a week of activities.

GMHC: Life After Disability
As new treatments offer newfound health and a new sense of hope that AIDS will become a chronic but manageable disease, many people with HIV who have been on disability are considering making the transition to work. If you are one of the many people contemplating making the transition to work, you know that there are a lot of uncertainties affecting your decision. This brochure will attempt to answer some of the legal, financial and practical questions that may be arising for you as you consider whether and how to reenter the workforce.

Going the Distance
A 29-foot recreational vehicle is bringing free health screenings to rural communities as part of the National Kidney Foundation of South Carolina's Kidney Early Evaluation Program. Orangeburg was one of nine cities through which the kidney mobile traveled during an introductory test run through the state which began March 6. KEEP is a free kidney health screening program designed to educate high-risk individuals and provide free testing and education to prevent or delay kidney disease. An estimated one in four people in Orangeburg County have chronic kidney disease.

Gov. Blagojevich Launches "Illinois Covered" Web Site - Government Technology
Underscoring the need for healthcare reform, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich yesterday launched a new Web site, www.illinoiscovered.com. At this site, the public can learn about the healthcare crisis and its impact here in Illinois. Calling health insurance for all a "fundamental civil right," Blagojevich has made healthcare his top priority. "The healthcare crisis in the United States is very real and very far-reaching. It's not just low-income families that have trouble getting or keeping health coverage; it's middle-class families, hard-working entrepreneurs, and small businesses.

Government's Senior Health Site Adds Smell and Taste Information
Aug. 10, 2005 - The latest additions to the health Website maintained by the National Institutes of Health for senior citizens are pages about smell and taste. Two out of three Americans over age 80 and three of ten between 70 and 80 have problems with the sense of smell. Problems with taste are less common but the sense of taste does also decline with age. Because smell and taste are closely linked in the brain, many people mistakenly believe they have a problem with taste, when they are really experiencing a problem with their sense of smell.

Governor Rick Perry - Press Release - March 9, 2005
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today helped launch a new program that will allow many Texans who have no prescription drug benefits to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year on their prescription medicines. “Together Rx Access,” a program sponsored by 10 pharmaceutical companies, makes prescription medication available at a discount of 25 to 40 percent. Enrollment in the program is limited to legal residents of Texas who are not eligible for Medicare, who have no public or private prescription drug benefits, and who have incomes below at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

Governor, legislative leaders at odds over Catamount fund
MONTPELIER - The administration of Gov. James Douglas is dipping into the fund set up for the state's new insurance program for those without coverage in order to pay for other state health care commitments, legislative leaders said Wednesday. That could jeopardize the far-reaching Catamount Health insurance program that has gotten attention from around the country before it has even begun, and damage trust between the Legislature and governor, lawmakers said. But administration officials said the use of the money for other health care programs is completely appropriate and fits into the broader goals of last year's reform measures.

Greenspan Recommends 'Significant Adjustments' To Medicare
Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, who will retire at the end of next month, on Friday said that Congress must make "significant adjustments" to Medicare and Social Security to address the federal budget deficit, CQ HealthBeat reports. In taped comments for a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Greenspan said that "economic growth alone is unlikely" to compensate for the "soaring cost of medical care for an aging population." He said, "Technological innovations can greatly improve the quality of medical care and can, in some instances, reduce the costs of existing treatments.

Gregoire calls state's rising health care costs a 'crisis'
OLYMPIA -- Gov. Christine Gregoire announced a new strategy to control health care costs yesterday while several dozen people outside the state Capitol protested proposed budget cuts in health and human services for the poor. "We face a crisis in the state of Washington with the dramatic rise in health care costs," Gregoire said. "It is eating away our ability to pay for essential services." Still, she said, "Controlling health care costs does not mean cutting people's health care.

Group Calls For More Research On Sexual Violence
Though sexual violence affects millions around the world every year, deeply entrenched cultural taboos and a lack of political leadership have historically left the issue largely unrecognised in government boardrooms, health ministries, and scientific research. But that may change, as an emerging global initiative argues sexual violence is a legitimate public health and human rights issue that warrants its own research, prevention, and interventions. The Pretoria-based Sexual Violence Research Initiative, or SVRI, was developed in 2000 by a cadre of researchers who saw sexual violence as an issue in urgent need of research and resources.

Growth measures don't exactly measure up
After last year's bruising campaign season in which Maine's economy was described by partisans either as on the verge of ruin or on the verge of greatness, it's a relief to get an unbiased economic analysis to help guide our thinking about the state's future. That analysis came out of the Maine Development Foundation this week, in a report that is prepared annually for the Maine Economic Growth Council, a bipartisan group of business, political and community leaders in the state.

HCFA analysis
MA Health Reform& Health Care Market03 Mar 2007 07:21 pm The Bids Are In, II: So What Does This All Mean? For the vast majority who don';t follow MA health reform closely, the significance of the release of today';s new about the first round of bids for ";Commonwealth Choice"; non-subsidized insurance policies may be hard to grasp. Insurers will begin marketing these plans in early May for coverage that takes effect starting July 1 2007. So let';s take a shot at the importance of this, as well as some related observations.

Health Care Insurance for the Unemployed

Access to health insurance usually requires a steady income. Most insurance plans in the United States are provided by employers through group insurance plans and as a result unemployed Americans are frequently at a disadvantage with regards to obtaining affordable health insurance.
 
Thanks to some federal programs and numerous private insurance companies, unemployed Americans and their families can now get short-term medical insurance. Among the federal programs that offer subsidies to employees who wish to continue their health insurance after losing their job is the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA).
 
COBRA helps pay 65% of the former worker’s insurance premium for up to nine months. COBRA provisions, however, only cover those who lost their job involuntarily. It also applies to those whose employment was terminated for a reason other than gross misconduct. Workers who are made redundant as a result of a large layoff may also obtain the subsidy. Applicants must be eligible for employer-provided health insurance the day before their last date of work.
 
COBRA is an excellent choice for those who are able to plan their resignation. However, it can be very expensive, with an average monthly payment of $700 for families. In 2003 only 7% of laid-off workers could afford COBRA.
 
For someone who is expecting to get another job soon or those who just lost their student health insurance plan, finding other short-term health insurance may be a better option. A typical short-term insurance policy offers six months of coverage, although some cover up to one year.
 
Health coverage of up to $2 million, low monthly premiums and fast approval of applications make short-term coverage a good option for anybody who is still in the transition process.
 

Health Care Reform In California, Although Urgently Needed, Is Only A Short Term "Fix" For A National Problem
By Edward D. Spurgeon, Board Member, National Senior Citizens Law Center; and Distinguished Visiting Professor and Holder of the Gordon D. Schaber Chair in Health Law and Policy, Pacific McGeorge School of law Soaring health care costs and almost 47 million uninsured (6.5 million in California alone) are economic and moral imperatives for national health care reform. By any reasonable measures-access, cost and overall health status- the system is broken and must be fixed.

HEALTH CARE/Joan Retsinas
Hogwash! Thank you, Vice-President Cheney, for re-introducing an old-fashioned word that conveys, with no hint of obscenity, the worth of a belief. Like "baloney," "hogwash" connotes preposterousness: only an idiot would believe it. Of course, I think your assertion that American troops are winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis is "hogwash;" but hogwash, like truth in this administration, may lie in the eyes of the speaker. In the health care arena, this administration has given us a few pearls. Hogwash #1: Tax deductions for health insurance will spur a major swathe of the uninsured to sign up. This is the president's promise.

Health Coverage Tax Credit
The Health Coverage Tax Credit is a federal program administered by the IRS that pay 65% of health care premiums for eligible individuals. To receive this benefit individuals must register with the IRS by phone or mail. Because registering with the IRS can take some time, Utah was awarded money to help you with your health care premium while you complete the Federal HCTC registration process. Please note that Utah's HCTC Bridge Program does not replace the need for you to register with Federal HCTC.

Health Insurance For Immigrants Only
Next month, Congress will consider an immigration reform bill introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). A component of the bill would require employers to provide health insurance to all workers who are registered immigrants. To be sure, immigrants who lawfully enter the country to work, and who pay taxes, should have access to health insurance. But this bill is poorly reasoned and has the potential to create tremendous problems. Although the bill will mandate that employers provide health insurance coverage to immigrants, this is a luxury that no American enjoys.

Health Privacy
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Submit Your Comments on the Forthcoming National Electronic Medical-Records Network by JANUARY 18, 2005! Hospital Association Urges HHS to Eliminate Citizens Right to Public Health Disclosure Information: Currently, citizens are entitled to know if their health information was disclosed to public health officials for purposes such as tracking communicable diseases or placement in a cancer or other disease registry. But HHS is considering eliminating this right to know.

Health Savings Accounts: The News Keeps Getting Better
There is good news in the world of health insurance. While premiums for traditional insurance continue to rise, premiums for one kind of insurance are decreasing. That option, the Health Savings Account, gives consumers real choice, offering a variety of plans to fit a wide range of needs and budgets. HSAs were created as part of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and offer consumers new, more affordable options in health insurance. HSAs allow their owners to save money tax-free, and their employers to contribute to those savings tax-free, when they purchase a qualified high-deductible health insurance plan.

HHS Announces $95 Million to Improve the Health of Minorities
"Our commitment to closing the health care gap among racial and ethnic minorities is unwavering," Secretary Leavitt said. "We will continue to support community-based approaches to help racial and ethnic minority populations experience the benefits of modern medicine." This new initiative, called the Community Networks Program (CNP), was developed by HHS' National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. Its aim is to reduce cancer disparities through community participation in education, research and training.

HHS Awards $30 Million to Expand Health Center Services
June 2, 2005 - Eighty-six grants totaling over $30.2 million to help community health centers increase access to health care for low-income and uninsured Americans has been announced by Health and Human Services. The list of centers receiving grants (see below) was released today. Sixty-four of the grants, worth $26.7 million, will expand medical capacity at existing health centers, helping an additional 255,000 underserved individuals receive care. The 22 additional awards, totaling $3.

HHS Secretary Says U.S. Is Laying Footing for Healthcare Efficiencies
Those seemingly simple ideas are the cornerstones of a nascent initiative by the federal government to remake the $2 trillion healthcare system. The goal is to make the healthcare system more efficient by changing the way Medicare and private health plans pay for healthcare and by changing the way people shop for it. Michael Leavitt, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is scheduled to visit Milwaukee on Wednesday to promote that change and what is being called the "Value-Driven Health Care Initiative." The initiative was launched last year.

High cost of drugs has little
High cost of drugs has little to do with innovation. For older folks enrolled in Medicare (and this writer is one) the news of late has been mostly bad. For example, Medicare's trustees estimate that out of pocket expenses for Medicare premiums, deductibles and co-pays will consume more than a third of our Social Security income by 2006. I include as bad news the prescription drug benefit that Congress enacted last year. What I find most disturbing is that the new law forbids government from using its clout to negotiate lower prices--guaranteeing that drug price inflation will continue for the foreseeable future.

HMO versus PPO

When one looks for a health insurance plan, one may have difficulty choosing between a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). The common ground on which HMOs and PPOs stand is the concept of a primary care physician (PCP), who represents the first contact for the medical care of a member. But what actual differences are there between HMOs and PPOs?
 
An HMO requires a patient to select a PCP from the HMO network. This PCP will be the one responsible for the maintenance of the patient’s health. This physician will also be the one to refer the patient to other physicians within the same HMO network for specialist care, should the need arise. A patient may not see a specialist without being referred by his or her PCP.
 
In a PPO, on the other hand, a patient may get medical care from any medical provider, even if the provider is not a member of the PPO network.
 
The advantages of an HMO are the premiums, which are usually lower, and the absence of deductibles to meet. Another advantage is that there is only one PCP responsible for the patient’s overall health maintenance. The benefit of this lies in the fact that the PCP will be very familiar with the medical background of the patient.
 
On the other hand, the advantage of a PPO is that a patient is not bound to a single doctor. Also, a patient does not need to be referred by his or her PCP should he or she wish to see a specialist.

HMOs during recession

Due to the economic crisis, a lot of companies have implemented different tactics to reduce expenditures and increase profit. Some made adjustments in their company’s marketing tactics while others, in production. However, most companies resorted to lay off, or simply removing employees from their job posts.
 
When one speaks of job loss, everything else follows. A simple employee will be ripped off the benefits he or she has received while working. One of the most important benefits is that of the HMO. The government thought of a plan to reduce the burden of those who lost their jobs and came up with COBRA or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.  Under this, the government should subsidize almost 65% of those who wish to continue to avail of a health plan, even after being fired from their jobs.
 
This system will allow the people who lost their jobs between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 to continue their group/business health insurance as they wish, provided that the cause of the termination fulfilled the guidelines of the IRS.
 
In addition, COBRA does not only cater to employees from large companies.  Those from small businesses can also be part of the said government program. If an employee comes from a company that has acquired COBRA premiums, the person will only be required to pay the remaining 35% of his or her health plan for nine months. Once the person is deemed qualified to be part of the program, he or she can use his or her Health Coverage Tax Credit to shoulder a portion of the insurance premium.

House Medicaid Proposal Is Unnecessary and Could Impede Citizens' Coverage
The House reconciliation bill, scheduled to come to the House floor on November 10, would impose a new requirement on states that U.S. citizens who apply for Medicaid must provide documentation of their citizenship status, generally by producing a birth certificate or passport.[1] This requirement would have the effect of impeding or delaying coverage for significant numbers of eligible, low-income U.S. citizens, since many low-income people do not have birth certificates or passports in their possession.

How states view the president's opening health-care bid
President Bush, in his State of the Union address, put forward two major health-care proposals. The first called for equalizing the tax treatment between families and individuals who receive employer-paid benefits and those who purchase health insurance directly; the second proposal relates to state-federal negotiations regarding Medicaid funding. Both proposals present an opportunity for states to influence the policy debate and improve the state of health care in America. To equalize tax treatment, the President proposed capping the non-taxable employer-paid component at $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families.

Human Services urging residents to join prescription drug program
ST. CROIX - The Human Services Department is encouraging senior citizens with chronic health problems to apply for admittance to the department's Senior Citizens Affairs Pharmaceutical Assistance Program. A bill to appropriate $500,000 for prescription drug assistance to senior citizens was approved Thursday by the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee. The legislation, sponsored by Senate President Lorraine Berry, Sen. Liston Davis and Sen. Adlah Donastorg Jr., must be be approved by the full Senate and signed by the governor before it becomes law.

Illinois To Unveil Subsidized Health Insurance Program
Illinois To Unveil Subsidized Health Insurance Program Washington Post ^ | 10/6/5 | Peter Slevin Posted on 10/06/2005 5:41:09 AM PDT by Crackingham Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) will unveil a proposal Thursday to subsidize health insurance for 253,000 uninsured children in Illinois, a move that specialists describe as more far-reaching than any other program in the country. Seventy-percent of the state's uninsured children belong to families that earn $40,000 to $80,000 a year -- too much to qualify for government programs but often too little to afford private insurance.

in a recent article,
There is no shortage of options. But some of these options would hit the pockets of federal employees if they were to see the light of day. The CBO has pulled together a list of options for increasing revenue and decreasing expenses. Keep in mind, these are only options. Some have been considered before and did not get very far. But, to keep up with events that could have an impact on your financial future, remember that what Congress gives, it can also take away. Here is a quick summary of some of the more significant proposals for federal employees.

In Her Own Words: Senator Kuehl on the Reintroduction of SB 840, "The California Universal Health Care Act."
Californians have been helplessly watching as their health care system just crumbles around them. Families are being forced to assume rapidly escalating cost sharing, reduced benefits, exploding premiums, and for many middle class families, the loss of health care coverage altogether. There's no question. California needs a system of truly universal health care now, more than ever. This is not the time to wait patiently for universal health care. It is time to move forward.

Increase in Social Security Benefits Will Be Offset by Higher Medicare Costs for Most
Medicare | Increase in Social Security Benefits Will Be Offset by Higher Medicare Costs for Most [Oct 17, 2005] Social Security payments will increase 4.1% for 2006, with the average retired worker receiving an additional $39 per month, the New York Times reports. However, about one-fourth of the increase for the average retired worker will go toward a more than $10 increase in the Medicare Part B premium, which covers physician and outpatient services, the Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 10/15). CMS officials last month said Medicare Part B premiums for 2006 will increase $10.30 to $88.50.

Interfaith Healthcare Coalition
Will New York Follow Other States' Leads with Health Insurance Changes? While the United States spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care--$7,129 per capita--47 million Americans have no health care insurance. In the country's mostly employer-based benefit system, companies either don't offer health insurance or pass escalating premium costs on to employees. The lack of national progress toward dealing with health insurance issues has led several states, such as Massachusetts and California, to launch initiatives for their own residents.

Is the Medicare Drug Plan Finally Working?
Has President Bush's embattled prescription drug plan turned a corner? Top Bush aides are pointing to a jump in applicants: 2 million have signed up since mid-February, a 25% increase over the previous month, bringing the total to 27 million seniors enrolled out of 42 million eligible. Competition among private insurers administering the program also has driven down average monthly premiums to $25, instead of the $37 originally projected. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now estimates that the drug program will cost $678 billion over 10 years instead of $730 billion.

It's Your Money: Countdown to retirement: Are you prepared?
Next year the oldest of America's 77 million baby boomers will become eligible for Social Security benefits. That means the biggest generation in the country's history is starting a countdown to retirement. If you are among those preparing for this highly-anticipated phase of life take these five steps now to help make sure your financial house is in order: 1. Create a plan to eliminate or restructure debt. Excessive financial obligations can put a damper on your retirement dreams. Your peak earning years offer an opportunity to take stock of outstanding debt and create a plan for managing it once you are no longer working.

Just What the Doctor Ordered
Print is terminally ill. Ask the experts, and they'll say the industry has only so many years left before everything is created, recorded, transmitted, received and stored electronically. They point to the health care market in particular, where the call for electronic records has been gathering steam. Distributors and manufacturers offer a second opinion. The health care industry is growing tremendously, and their companies are growing with it-through sales of printed products. By targeting private practices and hospitals, they've reinvigorated their business. The best part: Health care industry growth shows no sign of slowing down soon.

Kable - NHS launches chronic database - 1 September 2005
The Department of Health (DoH) has unveiled a database that it hopes to support the care of patients with long term conditions It referred to the system as "the world's most comprehensive database on the prevalence and management of common chronic diseases," in a statement issued on 31 August 2005. The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) database is part of the system that manages payments to GPs based on the correct care for patients. Payments are determined by how many points GPs score in treating patients in line with a set of indicators for the appropriate care.

Kauai Garden Island News
In praise of government Our government is often criticized as being corrupt, inept and glacial but I have had a recent experience that makes me proud to be a Hawai'i taxpayer. Last December, our HMO canceled our health insurance, without notice, claiming that our enrollment was a mistake, ";Since we don';t provide insurance on Kaua'i."; I immediately filed a complaint with the Hawai'i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Within four days our case had been reviewed, an investigator assigned and a letter sent demanding an explanation from the HMO.

Kern County Democratic Party: Senator to again push single-payer health plan
GOVERNOR'S VETO LIKELY FOR 2ND TIME SACRAMENTO - If legislative Democrats had their way, California might well be headed to a government-run health care system. Both houses of the Legislature passed a bill last year to create a so-called ``single-payer'' system, only to have Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger veto it. Undeterred and surrounded by union supporters and fellow liberal lawmakers, the leader of the single-payer movement, Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, announced Tuesday that she's trying again.

Knight: Looking to California on health care
In an appearance before a Washington, D. C., audience this week, the governor was decidedly fuzzy about exactly how he was going to achieve that goal. He said he wanted to get more money into the "risk pool" so that insurance could be offered to everyone. There are seemingly only three ways to increase funds in the insurance pool. One is to force the uninsured to pay the necessary premiums. Another is to extract the extra money from those who are already insured. The third is to use tax dollars to make up any shortfall. The first of these choices is probably unrealistic.

Labor making its voice heard
Among numerous indicators of labor's new impact on the political scene since the November elections was a federal appellate court ruling Feb. 20 ordering the Bush administration to explain why it has stalled for eight years on rules that would require companies to provide protective equipment for their workers. Also last week, the Democratic presidential candidates made strong pitches for labor support at a Nevada forum sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Former Sen. John Edwards declared, "The most important anti-poverty program is the organized labor movement.

Latest Mental Health Policy Reporter
SAMHSA Releases Solicitations for Jail Diversion Grants After passing a spate of legislation promised by members during the 2006 campaign, the 110th Congress has settled down to consider budgetary issues, current and future. In current (FY 2007) funding, programs that help people with disabilities gained a little. But they would lose if Congress were to enact the budget President Bush proffered for next year. The Bazelon Center and other advocates will watch closely as Congress considers the President's proposals and will alert you when it's time for action.

Legislative Gazette
Reproductive health bills approved by Assembly committee Printable Version By ARIANA COHN Legislative Gazette Staff Writer Mon, Mar 5, 2007 A pair of reproductive health bills were passed by the Assembly Health Committee last week, moving forward proposals to enact comprehensive sexual education and promote the availability of emergency contraceptives. The Healthy Teens Act, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, D-Manhattan, and Sen. George Winner, R,C-Elmira, was introduced in late January to establish funding for sex education program in New York State. The bill was passed unanimously in the committee last week.

Loss of Medicare bonus puts doctors in double-bind
It's enough to give even the most psychologically well-adjusted city an identity crisis. On the one hand, on Nov. 2 federal officials rejected a proposal that asserted because Sonoma County is becoming more urban and has an increasingly high cost of living, primary physicians' Medicare reimbursement rates should be increased by 8 percent.

Maddux Business Report
JOHN MCLENDON has been Bayfront Medical Center's CIO and VP since 2002. He has an MBA and more than 20 years of IT experience, 10 of those in healthcare. Prior to Bayfront in St. Petersburg, McLendon was systems director for a 30-hospital system in Phoenix. He shares his thoughts on issues affecting healthcare technology. "For many reasons, hospitals are becoming paperless and filmless," he says. Among those reasons: patient safety and satisfaction, clinical and business efficiency and cost savings. Paving the way, he says, are two technologies: Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Picture Archival and Communications System (PACS).

Making Health Care Affordable
Making Health Care Affordable Senator Stabenow is leading efforts to make health care affordable for Michigan families and businesses. The skyrocketing costs of health care are costing American jobs by making American manufacturers less competitive in a global marketplace where many of their competitors aren't responsible for health care. Rising health care costs also make health care and insurance more expensive for everyone and threaten to add to the growing number of uninsured Americans. Senator Stabenow is working to make health care more affordable.

Many Lawmakers Encounter Criticism, Confusion While Promoting Medicare Drug Benefit
The NY Times on Monday examined how, instead of "doing victory laps" about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, Republican lawmakers have been trying "to ease widespread confusion and apprehension" in meetings with beneficiaries. Some analysts say that Republicans "have clear political ownership of [the drug benefit] and whatever credit or blame it brings," the Times reports. According to the Times, congressional Republicans "have a keen political interest" in the successful implementation of the drug benefit, "which happens to begin in a highly competitive midterm election year.

Market volatility affecting the price of generics
of 2004, according to an AARP study. Then it fell to half of general inflation by the end of last year. Market researcher IMS Health reports that generic sales were up by 10% in 2005, but that last year's sales represented slower growth than in the past. That's a reflection of the industry's volatility, according to IMS officials. "Generic dollar sales [represent] a dramatic slowdown from prior years, when generic growth topped 26%," according to Ana-Maria Zaugg, IMS corporate VP. Prices were generally stable last year.

Mass. Gov. Patrick Announces Monthly Premiums 'Significantly Lower' Than Previous Estimates for Individual Basic Coverage Under State Health Insurance Law
State Watch | Mass. Gov. Patrick Announces Monthly Premiums 'Significantly Lower' Than Previous Estimates for Individual Basic Coverage Under State Health Insurance Law [Mar 05, 2007] Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) on Saturday announced that health insurers will offer basic coverage for as low as $175 per month for individuals under the state's health insurance law, the Boston Globe reports. Under state law, residents must obtain health insurance by July 1 or face penalties.

Mass. would be first to require drug coverage under proposal
Under the recommendations, which are expected to be approved by the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector board next week, individuals would be required to pay no more than $250 year on prescriptions, with insurers picking up the rest of the cost. The annual deductible for families would be $500. The coverage would add an additional $15 to $20 to monthly premiums for the lowest cost plans, according to the recommendations. A special "young adult" plan wouldn't require the drug coverage. Members of the board said they understood they were moving into uncharted territory.

MEDICAID: A BASIC GUIDE

Medicaid is a federally-sponsored health insurance plan that serves low income individuals and their families.  As the third largest provider of medical insurance in the US, the program makes it possible to get health care for those who would otherwise have to go without because of financial difficulties.
Medicaid generally covers three types of crucial protection:  insurance for low-income families with children and people with disabilities, long-term care for older Americans and those who are disabled and supplemental coverage for low-income Medicare beneficiaries to pay for services not covered by Medicare, including co-pays, deductibles, premiums and the cost of prescriptions.  No monies are paid directly to Medicaid recipients; all funds associated with care go instead to the providers offering treatment.
Each state sets its own guidelines for Medicaid.  States decide on income limits, program benefits, and which services are covered or excluded.  Some states require patients to pay a nominal fee for doctor visits and other services.  Requirements for eligibility range from state to state, as well.  However, typical factors that influence eligibility include a patient’s age, disability status, pregnancy, legal blindness, income level and financial resources such as bank accounts, property, or other assets; and citizenship or immigration status.  There are special qualification rules for those living in nursing homes and for disabled children living at home.  The program covers children provided they are US citizens or lawfully documented immigrants, even if their parents are not. Program specifics vary greatly from state to state; check with your state’s Medicaid office to find out the particular regulations for your location.
Income level is just one factor that determines a person’s eligibility for Medicaid enrollment.  Financial hardship alone is not enough to qualify someone for coverage and Medicaid does not provide coverage for all poor persons.  In order to be eligible for the program, applicants must meet income level limits and fall into one of the following categories:
-Pregnant women, married or single -Infant children of women on Medicaid -Children under age 18 -Disabled children under age 18 being treated in a 24-hour nursing facility who could be cared for at home with access to money for special services -People aged 65 and over who are blind or disabled -Patients who are terminally ill and desire hospice care -People being treated in 24-hour nursing facilities who could be cared for at home with access to money for special services -People leaving welfare programs and in need of medical coverage -Those who are pregnant, under age 18, over age 65, blind or disabled with very high existing medical bills they cannot pay.
Once Medicaid eligibility is determined, coverage is usually retroactive up to three months prior to the approval date, provided the applicant would have qualified for Medicaid during that time period.  Program eligibility stops as soon as a participant’s financial circumstances improve enough to put them over the income limit set by the state.  Each state employs several qualified caseworkers to help potential applicants determine their Medicaid eligibility status and benefits according to state regulations.

Medical Bills Go Public
Now, it's becoming easier to find information. As David Merritt, a policy analyst with the Center for Health Transformation, a research group headed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, puts it: "The price transparency train has left the station." The state of Pennsylvania, for instance, has made hospital fees publicly available. Patients can now see that a heart bypass may cost from $10,000 to $80,000 depending on the hospital. The major health insurance carriers are getting on board, increasing the amount of information they provide. Those with health savings accounts are most in need of pricing information.

Medicare - Senators To Introduce Bills To Reimburse States for Costs Related to Medicare Drug Benefit
Two groups of senators have announced plans to introduce bills on Friday that would require the federal government to reimburse states that are covering the costs of drugs for Medicare beneficiaries who have had difficulty obtaining medications under the new Medicare drug benefit, CQ Today reports (Schuler, CQ Today, 1/19). One bill -- sponsored by Sens. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) -- would require the federal government to reimburse states for drug costs plus interest (Heil, CongressDaily, 1/19).

Medicare drug benefit: cost or confusion?
In a surprise move, former Missouri Governor Bob Holden announced October 2004 that Missouri would join Illinois and Wisconsin in a new Internet program which allows people to purchase discounted drugs from Canada and Europe. The announcement seemed to please many seniors who struggle with the cost of their medications; but it also created immediate concerns for local pharmacists. At the time, local pharmacist Ronnie Ream, a pharmacist with Overturf Health Mart Drugs in Dexter said he thought the plan would hurt local pharmacies.

Medicare Says Prescription Drug Program Will Cost Less Than Expected
CMS says the price is lower than projected by "independent experts" due to "robust competition among drug plans." Senior citizens and other participants will actually get the prescription drug plans from private providers who CMS says will offer coverage at a lower cost than projected. CMS also says the total cost to the government will be about $15 less per month for each beneficiary than previously estimated, amounting to billions of dollars in reduced costs to taxpayers in the first year of the program. Beneficiaries can sign up for coverage starting Nov. 15.

MEDICARE, MEDICAID AND SCHIP: PUBLIC HEALTH INSURANCE OPTIONS EXPLAINED

For those who cannot afford private health insurance, there are several public health insurance options available.

MEDICARE: A BASIC GUIDE

Medicare is a federal health insurance plan for individuals over the age of 65, or for any disabled person under the age of 65 and any person with end-stage kidney disease.  There are four basic parts to the Medicare structure:  Part A, which covers hospital care; Part B, which is traditional medical insurance and covers doctor visits and other services; Part C, sometimes called Medicare Advantage and only offered in certain areas of the country; and Part D, which is optional prescription drug coverage.
Once a person is eligible for Medicare, there is a seven-month enrollment period.  This includes three months before the applicant’s 65th birthday, the month of the applicant’s birthday and three months after the applicant’s 65th birthday.  Program registration is automatic if the applicant is already receiving Social Security benefits or railroad retirement income, or by self-enrollment if neither of these conditions applies. 
Upon initial enrollment, all Medicare recipients are automatically covered by Part A for hospital bills.  There is no premium for this part of the program; funds come from Medicare taxes paid during an individual’s working years.  Part B coverage is optional and pays for doctor visits, outpatient procedures and other services; a monthly premium is required.  To avoid paying more for Part B coverage one must still be working and enrolled in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan at the time of Medicare eligibility, or purchase Part B coverage within eight months of the end of a group policy protection.  It is generally wise to sign up for Part B coverage upon initial Medicare enrollment, regardless of employment status at the time of eligibility.
Medicare Part D prescription coverage is also optional and available to all eligible recipients regardless of income level or health status.  Registration is required and coverage for prescription medications is provided through an approved private insurer.  Costs for prescriptions will vary depending on the plan and there are penalties if Part D enrollment is delayed upon initial Medicare registration.  The only way to avoid these penalties is to have been covered through an employer or union at the time of enrollment.
Medigap coverage, also called Medicare supplemental insurance, is an increasingly popular option for many Medicare enrollees.  This insurance, purchased through a private underwriter, helps bridge gaps in Medicare coverage.  These policies pay for things like deductibles and co-pays, while some provide additional services not offered by Medicare.  Most states require these plans to be standardized to allow consumers to compare them more easily.  Applicants have up to six months following Medicare enrollment to purchase gap insurance without penalty for pre-existing conditions or medical history.  This open enrollment period happens just once and finding coverage later on could be more difficult, as some companies deny protection for certain conditions.  Those who are still employed or covered by a spouse’s work policy can save their open enrollment until it is needed.
Contact your local Social Security office for more information about Medicare, program eligibility, enrollment procedures and coverage options.
 

Medicare: The next riddle for the ages
As President Bush and Congress try to fix Social Security, the other huge federal program for seniors faces insolvency even sooner. But when it comes to Medicare, the politicians have no prescription. The national health program for Americans 65 and older faces all the demographic difficulties that have made Social Security the president's No. 1 domestic priority: aging baby boomers, fewer workers paying taxes in the future, and a system that will soon be unable to deliver on its promises.

Medicare's Quality Roadmap
As the national debate over health care continues, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is quietly working on a number of health information technology (HIT) and quality care initiatives that, for better or worse, may help set the course for the way that U.S. health care is provided for the next few years. Most of these initiatives are required by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (Pub. L. 108-173). There is no certainty that they will improve the delivery of medical care or lower its cost.

More state and New England news briefs
BOSTON (AP) - The average uninsured Massachusetts residents could obtain health care coverage for as little as $175 a month under the state's insurance law, Gov. Deval Patrick announced Saturday as he released the results of negotiations with the state's health insurers. The lowest monthly premium is far lower than an earlier estimate of $380 a month suggested by some insurers. "This is a big improvement from the first round of bids and a big step forward for health care reform," Patrick said. "The health security that was the point of health care reform will be delivered at an affordable price.

Morgan Stanley - Perspectives
Perhaps the most challenging task, especially with elderly parents or relatives, is initiating the discussion. Some may perceive it as the first step toward giving up control over their personal affairs. To assuage this concern, we may emphasize that estate planning is about providing the estate owner more control, not less. Legal documents such as wills and trusts are tools that allow us to control the management and distribution of our assets both during life and at death. There is perhaps no way to gain greater control over our assets than to implement time-proven, legal estate planning strategies such as personal trusts.

Murphy: “America’s health care system is sick”
Rep. Chris Murphy of the 5th Congressional District of Connecticut says that America’s current health care system is sick. "I like to say we've got a disease in our health care system that's very difficult to diagnose. So the solution to that disease is going to be equally complex."Murphy stressed the need for reforms to cover the uninsured and fix the problems in the current health care system. According to the Congressman, the reforms will be centered on freedom of choice.Addressing those with individual and business health insurance, Murphy discussed the availability of choices: "If you like what you have, you get to keep it. If you're an individual or a small business that doesn't like what's available, we're going to give you options."Murphy currently works in the Health subcommittee of the House of Representatives, as well as in two other House committees, writing the health reform legislation. Also writing the reform packages are two committees from the Senate.According to Murphy, bills are often bogged down because of the number of House committees that work on the actual legislation. "We're trying in the House to have all three committees write a similar bill''Despite the complex legislation, Murphy is sure that Congress will be prepared to vote on the health care reform before July ends.The reform will require some changes in the American way of life. Everybody will be required to avail themselves of health insurance. Companies will also be compelled to either offer coverage to their employees or pay costs instead.As for the insurance industry, the reform will pave the way for a basic insurance package that will be available to all American citizens.

N.C. House Panel Advances High Risk Pool Measure
The measure won approval on Tuesday from the House Health Committee, the first of several panels that must approve the bill before it heads to the full chamber. The next stop is the Insurance Committee. A similar bill died last summer after being introduced late in the session. Sponsored by Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, the bill would create a pool to allow people with high-risk health conditions to get health insurance at more affordable rates. The pool would be funded through enrollee premiums and insurer assessments. A federal grant would get the program started and pay for operating costs.

NCPSSM: Social Security: Viewpoint
THE PRESIDENT'S FY 2008 BUDGET & ITS EFFECT ON SENIORS On February 5, 2007, President Bush submitted his Fiscal Year 2008 Budget to the Congress. In his budget, the President estimates the FY 2008 federal deficit will be $239 billion and that our accumulated publicly-held federal debt will reach a record high of $5.3 trillion. He projects that interest payments on our soaring federal debt will cost $261 billion in FY 2008 and will crowd out $1.4 trillion of other spending priorities over the next five years.

New EEOC Publication Addresses Employment of Health Care Workers with Disabilities
NEW EEOC PUBLICATION ADDRESSES EMPLOYMENT OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES Latest Q&A Fact Sheet Explains How Americans with Disabilities Act Applies to Employment in the Health Care Industry WASHINGTON - Naomi C. Earp, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced the issuance of a new question-and-answer (Q&A) fact sheet on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to job applicants and employees in the health care industry.

New Hampshire Passes Emergency Contraception Act
Under this law, pharmacists with special training will be able to initiate emergency contraception drug therapy, also known as the "morning-after pill," without a prescription. Medication will be dispensed within procedures developed by the New Hampshire Pharmacy Board and in collaboration with authorized providers with prescriptive privileges, such as nurse practitioners.

New Survey Results Reveal Ways to Ease...
CHELMSFORD, Mass., Aug. 15, 2005 - According to industry data, while the U.S. spends more money per capita on medical care than any other industrialized nation in the world, quality of care is declining while healthcare costs are rising. New survey results found that 85 percent of hospital healthcare executives believe consumers would benefit in terms of alleviating rising healthcare costs if hospitals better addressed their controllable expenses. These executives identified labor and workforce issues as their controllable costs.

New York Counties File Lawsuit Against HHS To Prevent Funding Cuts Under Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization Bill
Politics and Policy | New York Counties File Lawsuit Against HHS To Prevent Funding Cuts Under Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization Bill [Mar 01, 2007] Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York state on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against HHS to prevent funding cuts for HIV/AIDS programs under the recently passed Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization Bill (HR 6143), the Long Island Newsday reports. Under previous CARE Act allocations, the counties received $6.1 million annually in funding for services for people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Newsday.

News Release
New medical technology is likely to further inflate future Medicare costs, posing great financial risk to the program, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today. Emerging treatments such as implantable defibrillators for heart ailments or drugs to prevent Alzheimer's disease could boost spending significantly, with single treatments potentially increasing costs by as much as 70 percent, according to a series of RAND Health reports published online by the journal Health Affairs.

North Country Gazette Home Page: News - Comment - Investigative Reports
New Book "Tangled Web" Chronicles Schiavo Case What a tangled web they weave when first they practice to deceive. It's a case built on lies and self-serving hearsay. It's a case built on egregious violations of law and our Constitution. It's a case overflowing with criminal wrongdoing. It's a case built by the perpetuation of one wrong legal decision based on inadmissible evidence. It's a case of raping the public trust. It's judicial tyranny at its worst. That is the Terri Schindler-Schiavo case.

Obama network struggles in promoting health care reform

To win the White House, President Barack Obama and his associates created a wide, grass-roots network of volunteers and supporters, considered to be among the most important assets in American politics. The network’s goal after the election was to restructure itself into a ground-level force to push Obama’s health care reform.
 
But currently, as a crucial congressional break is approaching, Obama’s health care plan is facing stiff opposition. A few member of Obama’s network said the group is still thinking about how to operate. Some also said they are being slowed by several factors, including tension and disenchantment among some essential supporters.
 
In Chester, Va., Obama supporter Beth Kimbriel volunteers 40 hours a week to convince people to give their support to Obama’s health care reform. But with critics of the health plan disseminating what she calls false information, Kimbriel finds it hard to be convincing every time she presents Obama’s position.
 
Also, in Cary, N.C., Murray Silverstone, who said he is eager to pitch in on Obama’s health care battle, wonders why Obama staff people arrived late in his area. It took five weeks for Obama’s supporters to reach his area to restructure the campaign system.
 
"It wasn't clear to us why there was such a delay," said Silverstone, an astronomer who volunteers to work supporting Obama’s campaign amid his research and college teaching.
 
Even with an increasing number of people being sceptical about Obama’s plan, Democrats are still hoping the August break will give them a chance to explain the health care system overhaul to the public. But Republicans are also as determined to use the break to disrupt town hall meetings of the Democrats.

Obama prepared to “knock heads” for health care reform, says Robert Reich

Robert Reich, the labor secretary during the Clinton administration, spoke to healthcare executives on Thursday in San Francisco. Reich said that Obama must “start knocking heads” on the health reform issue if he wants a bill from Congress by this fall.
 
He also said that the president has learned from Bill Clinton’s mistakes. Unlike Clinton’s reform proposals in the 1990s, Obama did not send Congress a bill that he knew would not be passed at all.
 
Reich also said that Obama should have begun working on the issue two weeks in advance. Obama is now at risk of Congress adjourning and leaving the bill unsettled. With this, the opponents of the package will have time to plan their attacks. Reich was the speaker at the Leadership Summit that was sponsored by the American Hospital Association and Health Forum.
 
Even so, Reich said that “you will see an Obama bill.” He added that “Obama will play his cards” when a Senate and House joint committee works on the legislation. Reich is now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a regular commentator on political policy and economic issues.
 
Reich also said that the president will be adamant in adding standards to the insurance of medical malpractice. He also said that Obama as well as Obama’s allies are now more interested with HMO-style pre-paid health care and the accountable care provided by integrated systems such as the Cleveland Clinic or the Mayo Clinic. Obama and his allies are becoming aware that offering coverage to those who are uninsured is only a piece of the health reform puzzle.

Obama travels the country to rally support for health care reform

President Barack Obama currently travels the country to promote health care reform. Obama brought his campaign for the health care revamp to a public forum on Thursday near the Midwestern city of Cleveland, Ohio.
 
With the increasing number of Americans getting skeptical about his overhaul plan on the American health care system, and with the growing costs of health plans, the president has become more determined to gain support for his health care reform campaign.
 
“We can rescue our economy,” Obama said. “We can rebuild it stronger than before. We can achieve quality, affordable health care for every single American. That is what we are called upon to do. That is what we will do, with your help, Ohio.”
 
The president seeks major and bold changes in the nation’s medical care system that costs $2.4 trillion. The United States is the major industrialized nation that does not have a comprehensive health care system.
 
The president emphasized that changing the nation’s health care system can no longer wait. “We spend one of every six of our dollars on health care in America, and that is on track to double in the next three decades,” said the president.
 
But the Congress’ top Democratic lawmakers have left their plans to meet Obama’s deadline for voting on his reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said senators will not vote on Obama’s plan before their recess in August, as the president had wanted. Reid said more work is still necessary to come up with the right plan.
 
Obama stressed that there is a sense of urgency about the issue, saying “I have no problem, if I think people are really working through all these issues in making sure that we get it right. But I do not want a delay just because of politics.”

Obama: U.S. health care system revamp cannot be delayed

President Barack Obama continues to push for the overhaul of the U.S. health care system. He says that this matter cannot be delayed because it would affect “the stability of our entire economy.”
 
In Obama’s weekly Internet and radio address, he urged the Representatives from the two parties to work on laws that will decrease costs and regulate the “unwarranted giveaways to [health] insurance companies in Medicare and Medicaid,” while keeping the Americans’ health care options intact.
 
Obama added, “This is what the debate in Congress is all about: Whether we’ll keep talking and tinkering and letting this problem fester as more families and businesses go under, and more Americans lose their coverage, or whether we’ll seize this opportunity.”
 
Obama is ramping up this health insurance reform campaign, as he is set to hold two legislation events for the press this week. He will gather the Representatives to the White House for deliberations, and will hold a primetime press conference on July 22. The House and Senate are hard set to meet Obama’s August deadline, as he urges them to act on legislation before the coming congressional recess.
 
According to Obama’s recent statements, he will deny support on legislation that would add to the deficit.
 
“I don’t believe that government can or should run health care,” Obama remarked. “But I also don’t think insurance companies should have free rein to do as they please.”
 
Obama wants a final bill in about two months time, by October. Certain members of both parties criticize Obama’s action timetable for this health care overhaul campaign as “too ambitious.”
 
Jon Kyl, Arizona Senator, commented in the Republican weekly address on radio: “Something this important needs to be done right, rather than done quickly.”

Obama\'s Strategies to Amend America\'s Health Care System

A considerable amount of the American family’s budget is spent on medical insurance. The USA government alone allocates over $2.2 trillion yearly or $8,000 per person on health plans to ensure healthy workers and a productive economy. It is projected that the amount the government spends on the health care system will increase to more than $4 trillion by 2017 if no program for the reform of the system is enacted.
 
President Obama has initiated ways to modernize the system of health care in America. The Recovery Act of 2009 includes a provision for the citizens who have recently lost their jobs, which will provide a tax credit that will continue their health insurance contribution through COBRA. He also signed a law that supports health plan coverage for children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The president has also pushed for the computerization of health records in the United States in five years in order to make the system more efficient and more accurate. The government will save much money if the paper-based records, which are time-consuming and expensive, are replaced with a computer system that will deliver speedy results with minimal or no errors.
 
The government also seeks to uplift the research and development of the current health system. The Recovery Act has also allocated $1.1 billion for comparative research that details data on the effectiveness of a medical treatment or procedure. This will aid the doctors in proper diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Programs on wellness will also be promoted in the country because almost one-third of illnesses are attributed to poor lifestyle choices. This will reduce the risks of acquiring diseases, such as hypertension, cardiovascular ailments, and cancer.

On health care, Grassley faces angry crowd

The Republican Senator Charles Grassley, a key player in the controversy surrounding the health care system overhaul, faced crowds that showed little doubt that they’re unhappy with what's on the table.
 
"It seems to me that people are expressing, not just on health care, but people are just very scared about the direction the country is taking," said Grassley and accentuated that he has not signed off on anything.
 
Grassley, who is a ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has been bargaining for a compromise health plan to get some Republican votes.
 
"I don't want the government or a bureaucrat working for the government to come between you and your doctor," said Grassley. "I think the stakes are very, very high."
 
The forums arranged by several federal lawmakers have presented challenges for the administration of President Barack Obama as it struggles to win over those who are skeptical about a costly plan for health care system reform.
 
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter were among those who held raucous town hall meetings on Tuesday. On Wednesday in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Specter stated that the health care protesters are "not necessarily representative of America" but should be listened to.
 
"There's more anger out there now than I have ever seen before," the Democrat said. "And I think the anger is caused by so many people having lost their jobs and (being) worried about losing their health insurance."
 
In North Dakota, an angry crowd packed a hall in Casselton to speak to Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan, with just a few signs of support for the health care overhaul plan. A woman was booed by the crowd after saying the reform is important.

Out In The Montains : Views - HSAs Good for Gay Men
W hile the nation's attention is focused on the coming Social Security shortfall and President Bush's efforts to privatize retirement accounts, another, even greater crisis is looming: health care. This is of particular interest to adult gay men of all ages. In March, two members of the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees warned that Medicare's prospects have "deteriorated rapidly" with rising health care costs and the addition of a prescription drug benefit. The trustees predict that the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted by 2041. Medicare’s trust fund will evaporate by 2020.

Part I: The sorry state of California's health care
Editor's note: Today we take an in-depth look at the health care crisis in California. Part I discusses the problem and Part II (below) analyzes the solutions being discussed. For the past month, we have been experiencing an avalanche of media reports on the issue of health care in California. A wide range of opinions on how best to strengthen our collapsing health care structure is coming from all sides.

Patrick's "No
"Governor Deval Patrick yesterday unveiled the broad themes of a $26.7 billion spending plan for next year" (Boston Globe) . . . "In addition to the operating budget, the state has set aside $2.789 billion for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, school building assistance, and pension funding" (State House News Service). According to my math, that totals about $29 billion taxpayers' dollars proposed to be spent in the state's next fiscal year, even before we reach the "supplemental budgets" as the fiscal year progresses.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Highmark partner to expand clinical research activity in central Pennsylvania
Hershey, Pa. -- Community hospitals and health care providers will have increased access to clinical trials and translational research thanks to a $5 million investment by Highmark Inc. to expand research infrastructure throughout central Pennsylvania. The commitment by Highmark, part of a 10-year agreement with Penn State and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center announced today, will enable physicians in private practice and community hospitals to directly enroll patients in clinical trials for new therapies to combat diseases such as cancer.

Pension gap divides public and private workers - USATODAY.com
Johnnie Nichols, a civilian Defense Department employee, contributes to a federal pension that will let him retire at age 56, after 32 years of service. His wife, Kimberly, a math teacher at a private business college, has no pension after two decades of teaching and running a horse farm. Their marriage reflects the new world of retirement: government employees who have secure benefits and private workers who increasingly are on their own. "If we were both in her shoes, we'd be in a world of hurt," says Nichols, 45, an information technology manager in Middletown, Ind. "We wouldn't be able to retire until age 67.

Pharmaceutical Industry
Just four years ago 41 drug companies operating in SA sued the government over its patent laws. Activists clamoured for pharmaceutical companies to reduce the costs of essential drugs and the pharmaceutical industry argued that intellectual property rights were crucial to enable companies to innovate. The industry has come a long way since then. Pharmaceutical manufacturers have adopted a more conciliatory approach to government interference and price regulation.

Poorest to get drug co-pay aid
SEATTLE - The state of Washington will get a $14 million Medicare credit from the federal government because the cost of prescription drugs has dropped, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt announced during a weekend visit to the state. After Leavitt met with Gov. Chris Gregoire, she announced that the state would allocated the $14 million to cover the co-pays for the state's poorest residents in the new Medicare prescription-drug plan. Under the new Medicare Part D that began Jan.

Preparing For Pandemic Influenza - What You Can Do
A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza A virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population, begins to cause serious illness and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide. The federal government, states, communities and industry are taking steps to prepare for and respond to an influenza pandemic. A pandemic is likely to be a prolonged and widespread outbreak that could require temporary changes in many areas of society, such as schools, work, transportation and other public services.

President Bush Visiting New Orleans: Rating His Katrina and Rita Efforts
As the President visits New Orleans to talk education, his Gulf Coordinator Office, headed by Donald Powell which Office is under Homeland Security has released a fact sheet to highlights the efforts by the administration. After reading the “fact sheet” please comment upon whether you agree or disagree with the information or opinions in the statement by Powell's office. Also, feel free to comment upon the efforts of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor C. Ray Nagin: President Bush continues to fulfill his promise to help rebuild the Gulf Coast-a region devastated by an unprecedented natural disaster .

President Bush's Health Care Proposal Would Increase Tax Revenues by $526B Through 2017, According to Joint Committee on Taxation
Administration News | President Bush's Health Care Proposal Would Increase Tax Revenues by $526B Through 2017, According to Joint Committee on Taxation [Mar 01, 2007] President Bush's health insurance proposals for the tax code would increase tax revenues by $526 billion through 2017, according to a preliminary estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation that "is stunningly different from the administration's estimates as well as those from other independent analysts," the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Privatize Congress
It is great news, this idea of selling a House office building now that the Republicans are dissolving so many committees and firing their staffs. But I wouldn't be surprised if this is only the opening wedge for a campaign to privatize Congress. Yes, let the free market openly raise its magnificent head in the most sacred precincts of the Welfare State. The compelling reasons for privatizing Congress are perfectly evident. Everybody hates it, only slightly less than they hate the President. Everybody, that is, who talks on the radio, plus millions of the silent who only listen and hate in private.

Proposed Medicaid cuts elicit concern
As a senior social worker with Washington County Community Services, 27-year-old Sarah Amundson directs troubled families to food shelves, medical appointments "and everything in between." But as federal lawmakers prepare for final passage of a deficit-trimming budget bill next month, public case managers like Amundson have a new concern - their jobs. The budget-reduction bill approved by the U.S. House and Senate is poised to cut millions of dollars in Medicaid funding for county social workers.

Protests across the UK over NHS cuts
The national day of action was organised by NHS Together, a combination of unions and local NHS staff groups. The protests aim to highlight that services are under increasing threat from budget deficits and privatisation. NHS workers protesting in east London told libcom.org that their workplaces have already seen many cuts and that more were in the pipeline, while staff in Brighton said that on top of nearly 20% of the workforce already being cut, retiring and leaving staff are not being replaced putting pressure on remaining staff to take on extra workload to compensate.

Provide tax credits for the uninsured
There is a reason more than 45 million Americans lack health insurance at any given time: tax discrimination. Put quite simply, most uninsured individuals cannot afford health insurance. Creating tax equity would make access to quality care less of a financial burden for those who do not have health insurance through their workplace. Currently, the IRS allows employers to deduct their contributions to employee health coverage, while employees receive a "tax exclusion," which means employer money spent on health coverage is excluded from employee income.

Public's differences emerge in latest health care forum
MIDDLEBURY - A Legislature-sponsored health care forum last week was debating unsolved problems and unresolved political differences when radiologist Stephen Koller asked everyone to step back and look at the bigger picture. "The real issue is, we have developed a service we can't afford," Koller said, citing the cost of success. It was only 100 years ago, he said, that the average patient going to the average doctor began to stand more than a 5-0/50 chance of gaining any benefit from the visit. Now, instead of doctors merely consoling patients, Koller said, they cure illnesses.

Push for equity gains momentum
Rhode Island's Patrick J. Kennedy was one of two Congressmen to embark on a national tour this winter to gather testimony for legislation that would ensure health plans offer fair coverage for mental health and addiction care. Kennedy, a Democrat in the House of Representatives, and Jim Ramstad, a Republican from Minnesota, held forums in major cities across the country as part of the Campaign to Insure Mental Health and Addiction Equity. They gathered testimony from citizens who lives have been touched by mental illness and addiction.

Rate hike is political hot potato
A group of Republican lawmakers held a news conference last week, calling on the Democratic governor to take a more active role in figuring out how to bring skyrocketing electric bills back down to earth. Since they are in the minority in the House and the Senate, holding news conferences is about the only way Republicans can get their message out. Democrats don't give them many opportunities to get their legislation heard on the floor. Few issues in recent years have burned as hot as the electric rate hike debacle, which has left homeowners and small-business owners fretting over whether they can afford to keep their houses warm.

Read the latest issue >>
HHS Scrambling to Address Problems with Medicare Drug Benefit JANUARY 17, 2005 -- Seeking to get the new Medicare drug benefit on track after a week of growing complaints about its rocky start, Health and Human Services (HHS) officials outlined a variety of steps Tuesday to end interruptions that have occurred in access to medications by the poor.

Reform medical liability
There is widespread agreement that the U.S. tort system is broken. With median medical malpractice jury awards increasing 43% between 1999 and 2000, and increases that could average in the double digits in 2004, it is no surprise that malpractice premiums are going up at equally alarming rates, pricing some doctors out of the medical field entirely. Even more disturbing than communities losing critical medical providers, a 2004 report by the Pew Chartible Trust's Project on Medical Liability indicates that there is a link between liability concerns and the quality of care delivered by physicians and hospitals.

Remarks by the President at McConnell for Senate and National Republican Senatorial Committee Dinner
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thanks for coming. Please be seated. (Applause.) Thank you all. Okay, thank you, sit down, please. (Laughter.) That Kentucky whiskey still works. (Laughter.) How about being with the ultimate power couple? (Laughter.) A Secretary in my Cabinet, and a powerful United States Senator. This has got to be good for the state of Kentucky. (Applause.) I heard Elaine talk about Alben Barkley. In other words, Mitch is the second party leader in the United States Senate since -- and the first was Alben Barkley. I don't know how good Alben Barkley was -- this guy is really good for the people of this state.

Rethinking Portland: The costs of health care aren't just about money
We';ve heard the words ";health care crisis."; The health care system is broken – we';ve been told that before, too. We';ve even watched Salem legislators and lobbyists haggle over a new model for delivering health care. Everyone remembers the Oregon Health Plan, circa 1994. The Oregon Health Plan seemed like a good idea at the time, with its emphasis on prioritizing medical interventions and its intent to deliver at least basic care to everybody. But here we are, looking at a number of new models for delivering health care to Oregonians, including the nearly 600,000 uninsured.

Schiavo Sister: Every Human Life Has Equal Moral Value
KENNEWICK, WASHSuzanne Vitadamo (left), sister of Terri Schindler Schiavo (right), spoke about her family's struggle to care for her disabled sister in Kennewick on Saturday as one of the featured speakers at the 3rd Annual It's About Life Conference sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council. The disabled woman died by way of court-ordered dehydration and starvation at a Pinellas County hospice on March 31, 2005. Suzanne and her family continue to wage a battle to save other people with disabilities through the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, established by the Schindler family in 2000 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

School insurance pooling bill up in the air
The concept was simple and not entirely new. Pool all of the school districts in the state together into one insurance pool, appoint experts and those knowledgeable in insurance rates to an Oregon Educators Benefit Board that would leverage the sheer size of the pool and get better rates on insurance plans. The concept would save money statewide and allow more money to stay with each individual school district that could be redirected back into the classrooms.

Schwarzenegger';s ‘Post-Partisan'; Vision Not Yet Reality
SACRAMENTO (AP) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a splash in Washington this week by talking up ";post-partisanship"; and instructing the president to schmooze his political opponents over cigars. But the happy world of political cooperation he urged is not the one he has created at home. If it is bipartisanship, then it is of a very different sort. In California, Schwarzenegger is single-handedly striking deals with the Democratic majority, often leaving his own party on the sidelines and increasingly dejected.

Schwarzenegger's 'post-partisan' vision is not yet a reality at home - North County Times / The Californian
That may cause him serious problems this year as he seeks to pass legislation, notably health care reform, with the help of Republicans. "We're all holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya,' but I doubt that partisanship is over here," said Assemblyman Bob Huff, a Southern California Republican. Right after Schwarzenegger's re-election in November, Republicans in the state Assembly dumped their pragmatic leader for cutting deals with the governor and replaced him with a more doctrinaire conservative. Ignoring their distress, Schwarzenegger continued moving to the left.

Secretary Michael Leavitt hosts Ask the White House
Michael Leavitt Good afternoon, this is Mike Leavitt. I am the Secretary of Health and Human Services. I'm pleased to be answering questions about the Medicare part D, prescription drug benefit. This afternoon, the President kicked off our effort to provide information on the drug benefit. We will be reaching out to Seniors and persons with disabilites in many ways. For example, information is provided on our website www.medicare.gov. People can also use the telephone 1-800 medicare. For nearly a decade people have asked that Medicare be brought into the 21st century and offer drug benefits and preventive care.

Secretary of Army steps down
WASHINGTON - Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey abruptly stepped down Friday as the Bush administration struggled to cope with the fallout from a scandal over substandard conditions for wounded Iraq soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Harvey's sudden departure was the most dramatic move yet in an escalating removal of commanders with responsibilities over one of the military's highest-profile and busiest medical facilities. Hours earlier, President Bush ordered a comprehensive review of conditions at the nation's network of military and veteran hospitals in the wake of the Walter Reed disclosures.

Senator Kuehl Tells Press She is Sure Her Universal Health Care Act Will Pass Intact and Be on the Governor's Desk This Year
State Senator Sheila Kuehl formally reintroduced SB 840, her plan to provide medical treatment to all Californians in a crowded press conference n the Governor's press room. The bill has the same number as SB 840 passed last year by the legislature only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. It is called "The California Universal Health Care Act." Kuehl opened with a detailed statement on her bill which demonstrated her command of the intricate provisions of the 88 page bill and the subject area of health coverage honed from the six years of battle on this issue over three past sessions of the legislature.

Small business employers urge for health care system reform

Due to the soaring cost of health care, small businesses in Utah are now ready to embrace a health care reform, including the government-run insurance option, just to offer health care subsidy to their workers and earn a profit.
 
A recent survey reveals only 40% of the 300 randomly chosen businesses provide health care insurance to their employees, and 79% of those are struggling to subsidize their workers’ health plans. In addition, 88% of the companies that dropped their employees’ health coverage say they cannot afford to shoulder the costs anymore.
 
“What comes through loud and clear is the health crisis is huge, it’s crushing, and something needs to be done right away,” said John Arensmeyer, CEO and founder of Small Business Majority.
 
Small business owners in Utah believe a comprehensive reform on health care is an economic necessity, and that controlling the costs should be the top priority of the reform.
 
“The problem is that the cost of the health insurance is rising,” said Betsy Burton, a small bookshop owner, whose health plan cost increased by more than 20% last year. “At that rate, it is really difficult to make a profit in a business like this, with a low profit margin,” she said.
 
While almost 50% of business leaders in Utah consider themselves as Republicans and identify themselves as having conservative political views, small businesses in the state are now ready to embrace a bold health care system reform.
 
The struggle of small businesses with the rising cost of health care and their eagerness to do something to solve the problem is not really surprising, said Judi Hilman, executive director of the Utah Health Policy Project. "It is because small businesses are the first that experience the current problems in our system," she explained.

Social Policy and the welfare state
Yellow pack, Harney's public health service What is the mixed economy of welfare and why, despite Mary Harney's assurances in that, what she is doing is really in the interest of all the Irish people and not a back door method of promoting the privatisation of our health service in the interest of the doctors and consutant's who collectively and directly contribute to the demise of the same public heath service from within.

State claims it can do little to slow Medicaid cost explosion
Medicaid, the federal-state program that pays health care costs for low-income and even many middle-income Alaskans, has become a $1 billion-per-year budget-buster for the state government. The cost of the program is growing about 10 percent a year, and that's likely to continue. "It's a rate of growth we can't sustain financially," said Joel Gilbertson, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Social Services, the agency that administers Medicaid. Last year the state's spending on Medicaid increased by $101.7 million between a $46.

State House Report
The House has met its first deadline of February 22, 2007, which was the last day that all Committees had to report Bills that will be going to a second Committee. It is very important that the Legislature set up and follow a calendar of deadlines in order to avoid in a huge jam at the end of the Session! Thursday, April 12, 2007, will be another key date for the House and Senate deadlines as this is what is known as “Crossover Day.” All House Bills that have not been killed or retained must cross over to the Senate. The same is true for Senate Bills being crossed over to the House.

State saves $30M in HMO contracts

Officials of the Oklahoma Employee Benefits Council were happy to reveal that the state was successful in recent negotiations for HMO contracts that would cover 37,000 employees. The negotiated price was $30 million less than the original contract.
 
The state predicts an average cost increase of 5.86% in vision, dental, and health benefit plans in 2010, as compared to the finance office’s estimate of 12.88%, and Hewitt Associates’ projected an 11.8% average nationwide increase. But according to Brian King, a council spokesman, members of those HMOs will be subject to higher co-pay and out-of-pocket expenses.
 
In a planned statement, Chairman Bryce Fair said, “The council has a difficult balance to achieve, especially with the current economic situation. We’re determined to protect the needs of state employees and their families, while at the same time weighing the financial challenges of state agencies.”
 
Executive Director Philip K. Kraft commented, “Our contract negotiations with the HMOs are an exhaustive effort that requires many hours from the council members and staff. Without this effort, the costs would be significantly higher. We work hard to minimize the impact of rising health care costs on the employees, state agencies and taxpayers.”
 
According to council officials, the increases were lowered by means of “tireless, meticulous negotiations,” as well as the assistance of Gallagher Benefits Consulting Services.
 
Both standard and alternative plans offered by the participating HMOs are in turn offered by the Employee Benefits Council to state employees. Higher premium costs and lower co-pays are featured in standard plans, while lower premium costs and higher co-pays are typical of alternative plans. There will be an overall increase of 3.91% in standard plans and 8.69% on alternative plans.

Stop the Left's Extortion of Drug Companies!
The Left is at it again, demanding that the government “force the drug makers to reveal their [marketing] costs” so that “West Virginia can negotiate lower prescription drug prices.” Asserting that all citizens have an inherent right to the medicinal products the companies produce, the Leftist groups are demanding that the drug companies divulge their marketing costs and that they sell their products at cheaper prices. My friends, this is nothing short of extortion, using the force of the government to seize the fruits of someone else's labor.

STPNS - Fire district boundary bill awaits governor's signature, Lovell, Wyoming
LOVELL, Wyoming (STPNS) -- As the 59th legislative session winds to a close, Rep. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell, is still pursuing issues and legislation of concern to her constituents. Tuesday was the last day for bills to get a third reading before the House. Harvey was relatively certain that the bill concerning long-term care and the cancer control act would get third readings and go to the governor for his signature. However, she was less sure that the health insurance pool bill would have a clear path to passage.

STPNS - State Senators Staton, Grant pushing multiple bills, Gray, Georgia
GRAY, Georgia (STPNS) -- With the 2007 General Assembly session past midpoint, the senators representing Jones County already have success in hand with time remaining for more to come. Senator Cecil Staton co-chaired a study committee working toward a trauma network in Georgia last year, and this year sponsored SB 60 establishing a Georgia Trauma Commission to make it happen. Staton said Georgia has more than nine million people residing in the state but only four level-one trauma centers or hospitals that can treat any emergency.

Strangling the NHS | Health | SocietyGuardian.co.uk
Thousands of health workers, patients and members of the public turned out to show their support for the NHS this weekend. From Cumbria to Cornwall and Bolton to Brighton more than 100 rallies, marches and events across England focused widespread attention on the NHS Together day of action. The turnout was a testament to the growing number of people worried about the future of our NHS. There is no doubt in my mind that more NHS workers were galvanised into joining the protests as a reaction to last weeks' pitiful pay announcement for nurses and other health professionals. The government is short changing nurses by staging the 2.

Summary of Budget 2007-2008
Summary of Union Budget 2007-08 Reduction of duty on petrol and diesel, expanding the safety net for rural poor, additional one per cent cess to fund secondary and higher education and expansion of the service tax net are some of the highlights of the Union Budget 2007-08 presented by the Finance Minister Shri P Chidambaram in Lok Sabha today. On excise duty the Finance Minister has brought down the ad valorem component from 8% to 6% on petrol and diesel. The peak rate of customs duty for non-agricultural products has been slashed from 12.5% to 10%.

Support affordable health care
The House has passed legislation to require the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries. Action now moves to the Senate. Quality health care is essential for the well-being of our nation's children and families. Children's access to quality health care can impact their ability to learn and succeed in school. The number of uninsured Americans has grown significantly over the past three years, escalating from 41.2 million in 2001 to 46.6 million in 2005.

TAKING CARE OF KIDS: STATE CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAMS

State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP) were established by the federal government in the late 1990s to provide health insurance to children in families living at or below the national poverty line who do not qualify for Medicaid.  SCHIPs are meant to protect children whose working families make too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance.  The program is administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
At its inception in 1997, SCHIPs were the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage for children in the US since Medicaid began in the 1960s.  Several attempts have been made recently to expand SCHIP coverage and funding in order to reach an increasing number of uninsured children, but each measure was met with opposition by federal lawmakers.  Finally, in February 2009, President Barack Obama signed a bill extending SCHIP coverage to an additional four million children and pregnant women. This bill also eliminated the waiting period for legal immigrants to begin receiving coverage.
Every state has an SCHIP. Each state has the flexibility to design its own plans and maintain control over their state-specific eligibility requirements and kinds of coverage offered while working within broader federal guidelines.  States have several options when structuring SCHIP.  The funds can be used to expand income limits for Medicaid, which opens up public-sponsored health insurance to more children. An SCHIP can operate as a completely separate entity -- independent of Medicaid -- or states can create a program that combines these two approaches.
Eligibility requirements vary by state, but most states stipulate that uninsured children in families that earn up to twice the amount of the national poverty level qualify for SCHIP.  Some states set higher income limits, while a few states have lower limits.
SCHIP coverage also varies by state, with some states offering more comprehensive care to program participants than others.  In broadest terms, SCHIP provides necessary well-child care, regular check-ups, immunizations, dental care, and treatment of illnesses for millions of children who would otherwise go without medical care.  Studies have shown that children enrolled in SCHIP are nearly two times more likely to see a doctor and get routine dental care on a consistent basis than children who do not have any health insurance at all.
SCHIP is vitally important for the millions of American families struggling to pay for medical care.  In just the first seven years of SCHIP existence, from 1998 to 2005, the number of uninsured children dropped by nearly three million; despite the continued growth of child poverty populations and the significant decline in the number of children whose families have access to employer-sponsored health insurance.  The number of children enrolled in SCHIPs has steadily increased since the program’s inception, and the latest legislation amendments should continue these positive results.
As the current economic recession continues to drag on, SCHIPs provide some relief for working parents who cannot afford health insurance.  At the very least, their children—some of the most vulnerable victims of the healthcare crisis—can have access to quality medical and dental care through SCHIP.
 
 

The Stealth Junior Senator -; Sheldon Whitehouse
It seems worth noting that on two major issues which Senator Whitehouse spoke on the Senate floor about, there was a great deal of media attention and some immediate action. The first issue is the firing of US Attorney Iglesias, which Whitehouse spoke about on Wednesday, and which got media coverage in The New York Times and elsewhere (including on this blog) on Thursday. The second issue which Whitehouse has recently spoken forcefully about is the medical neglect of our Veterans, an issue which I also raised concerns about with Senator Jack Reed in an interview earlier this month.

This drug assistance program is first to offer generics
The Rx Outreach program, from Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services Inc. (ESSDS), is the first prescription drug assistance program for generic drugs. Through the program, begun in November 2004, more than 108 million lower-income adults and children can purchase more affordable medications. The Express Scripts mail-order program, aimed at the uninsured and the underinsured, makes available more than 50 different generic medications approved by the Food & Drug Administration for health problems such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, breast cancer, and depression.

Too Much Research
washingtonpost.com Too Much Research PostSunday, July 17, 2005; B06 TO GRASP the central crisis in the health system, consider the history of cancer drugs. In 1992 a new breast cancer medicine called Taxol was marketed at $4,000 for a year's prescription, a sum considered exorbitant at the time. Six years later, as the New York Times reported on Tuesday, another breast cancer drug called Herceptin hit the market at $20,000. Then in 2002 a colon cancer drug called Erbitux weighed in at $100,000 -- a twenty-five-fold increase in the space of 10 years.

trying to grok: GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE
GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE I've really become a big Neal Boortz fan, and his remarks about how the problems at Walter Reed will be everyone's problems if we have government health care hit home with me. We in the military have this government health care, and we truly understand the meaning of the phrase "you get what you pay for." I have never had any truly bad experiences with our health care system, but even the day-to-day dealings are what we'd all face under a nationalized plan. It takes at least six weeks to get a doctor's appointment, for anything whatsoever.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce attacks Obama’s health care reform through TV ad

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce started running its TV ad on Wednesday warning Americans that the health care overhaul would increase the deficit and raise taxes. The TV ad came after President Barack Obama emphasized that his health care plan would not add to the nation’s deficit.
 
"Washington's latest health reform idea: a trillion-dollar health plan and a government-run public option with big tax increases, even on health benefits," says a narrator in the Chamber's ad. "And the federal deficit? The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the federal deficit will grow $239 billion."
 
"Inflated taxes, swelling deficits, and expanded government control of your health --- tell Congress let's slow down, and reform health care the right way," the narrator concludes.
 
Changing the nation’s health care system to provide more health-plan options to uninsured Americans is among the top domestic priorities of Obama in his first year in office.
 
The first to accomplish markup of a bill was the Senate Health Committee. Recently, the Senate Health Committee approved a $600 billion measure created by Senator Ted Kennedy, which has a public health plan option. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Kennedy’s bill would cost $1 billion over 10 years.
 
The Republicans believe the President’s "bureaucratic takeover of health care" will affect businesses, increase deficit, and raise taxes.
 
"The creation of a new government-run insurance plan is a step in the wrong direction," the Chamber wrote. "We do not believe that the government plan will be a fair competitor. Because of the increased costs and lack of competition caused by a government plan, employers will not be able to continue offering their current plans, which cover more than 170 million Americans."

U.S. Department of Defense: Division Welcomes Newcomers
WASHINGTON, March 24, 2005 – A new health care plan, with coverage comparable to that enjoyed by federal employees under the Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance plan, will be available to eligible members of the National Guard and Reserve and their families April 25, Defense Department officials announced today at the Pentagon. The new plan, called Tricare Reserve Select, will serve as a bridge for reserve component members entering or leaving active duty who are not covered by civilian employer or other health insurance plans. It applies to all reserve component personnel who have been activated since Sept.

U.S. government provides $40M in children’s health care grants
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius disclosed Monday that local and government organizations could now avail themselves of outreach grants to enroll more children in health care insurance plans.The outreach program aims to cover 4 million children who do not have health care plans and keep 7 million children insured under the Children’s Insurance Programs and Medicaid. Sebelius said that the project prioritizes residents of “historically under-served” or rural areas.“These grants arrived just in time, when we need them the most,” Sebelius added, referring to recent news on the country’s unemployment rate, which has reached 9.5%. Sebelius also stressed that when the unemployment rate is high, the rate of uninsured individuals also rises. This is because the majority of Americans are enrolled in group health insurance plans, which are employer-provided health plans. “When parents lose their jobs, they and their children also lose health coverage,” Sebelius added.The grants, made through the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act signed by President Barack Obama and which was released in February, will be initially funded by the federal government. The outreach program will last until 2013 and will be providing a total of $100 million worth of grants.To get the most qualified applicants, Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations, advised using innovative methods, such as technology-driven or even localized and community-based initiatives. “We should think of ways that can really help us reach all qualified children in order for them to enroll with less red tape,” Mann said.Local governments, community-based or non-profit organizations, schools, and religious groups are welcome to apply. Eligible candidates may submit their applications at grants.gov until early August.

UNISON Launches Report Today: Health Cuts in Each Elected Cabinet Minister's Backyard
Just a few hours before presenting a giant prescription outside the Department of Health, the UK's largest union, has today published a new report (see below) showing that each of the 21 elected Cabinet Ministers in the Government faces severe health cuts in or affecting their own backyard. To mark the news UNISON will present a giant 'Prescription for the NHS' (see Photo Opportunity below), with ideas to remedy the problems that have recently left the public with a perception of a health service in crisis. UNISON Head of Health Karen Jennings said: "It's time to say 'if you value it, vote for it'.

Universal health ideas reappear
Universal health care push being revived COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A push for universal health coverage is being rekindled in some states by the soaring cost of health care and the lack of political support in Washington for federal changes. Advocates of a single-payer system — where the government would collect taxes and cover everyone, similar to programs in Canada and across Europe — have introduced bills in at least 18 state legislatures. Some are symbolic gestures, but heated debate is taking place in California and Vermont.

Universal Registration: Massachusetts Health Care Model
Universal Voter Registration: The Massachusetts Health Care Model The overall goal of FairVote's 100% Registration Project is to create a voter registration system under which the government shares responsibility for registration with its citizens to ensure full and accurate voter rolls. Massachusetts recently enacted bi-partisan health care reform legislation that requires residents to obtain health coverage, while providing expanded funding and assistance for coverage through the state.

University of Richmond School of Law: Faculty News and Scholarship
Timothy L. Coggins, associate dean for library and information services and professor, received the Distinguished Alumni Award from North Carolina Wesleyan College in October. In July, he received a Presidential Certificate of Merit from the American Association of Law Libraries for work with the association's government relations program. He published “Legal, Factual and Other Internet Sites for Attorneys and Others” in Richmond Journal of Law and Technology. He also conducted a statewide seminar on Internet research for the Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations.

US Gives Florida a Sweeping Right to Curb Medicaid
New York Times" -- -- WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration Wednesday approved a sweeping Medicaid plan for Florida that limits spending for many of the 2.2 million beneficiaries and gives private health plans new freedom to limit benefits. The Florida program, likely to be a model for many other states, shifts from Medicaid's traditional "defined benefit" plan to a "defined contribution" plan, under which the state sets a ceiling on spending for each Medicaid recipient. Children under the age of 21 and pregnant women will be exempt from the spending limits.

US State Department Country Report
The Yugoslavia of 1991 bears little resemblance to the one established by the 1914 Constitution that set up a Federal State comprising six republics (with two autonomous regions in the republic of Serbia) and a collective Federal Presidency as the supreme state organ. Effective civilian federal authority collapsed in 1991 as the republics and various independence movements decisively rejected that authority and escalating ethnic animosities propelled the country into a vicious armed conflict. The Federal Government?

VA Legislative Issue Brief No. 26, Dec. 2001
gubernatorial elections included in their agendas support for prescription assistance programs for the elderly. In Virginia, the Medicare-eligible population is approximately 930,000, with about 400,000 of those without any form of prescription assistance plan to help with medical costs. Approximately 530,000 Virginians have some form of prescription coverage, either through Medigap policies, managed care coverage, employer sponsored coverage, or Medicaid, but many of these policies cover only a fraction of costs.

Voluntary programs help bridge worker benefit gaps
Voluntary benefits can run the traditional route of additional insurance and financial services to more creative offerings, such as pet insurance, identity theft insurance and travel assistance. Voluntary benefits programs are available through benefit consultants or through insurance companies, medical brokers or service providers. Know your audience Most of the time, employers do not know what their employees truly want out of a benefits package. Your company has a variety of demographics at work: male and female, differences in income levels, dependent status and, for some, geographic area.

Voters reject prescription drug plans
Voters rejected both rival drug propositions that promised discounted medications to lower-income Californians Tuesday night in the most expensive initiative battle in U.S. history. Proposition 78, which was sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry, was slightly ahead of Proposition 79, which drug makers spent more than $80 million to defeat. But in both cases, the "no" votes heavily outnumbered the "yes" totals with more than half the precincts counted. Prop. 79 proponents, mainly labor and consumer groups, pointed out that they had been outspent during the campaign by about 40-1.

Wallis: just moral positions, no pushing of health plan

The supporters of the recently launched faith-based, pro-health reform campaign clarified that those involved in the campaign are not pushing for a particular health reform plan. But supporters also said they are taking a “moral position” on the health plan issue.
 
“This isn’t a political issue, it is a deeply theological issue, a biblical issue, and a moral issue,” said Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners. “So we are not going to at any time during the debate weigh in on the particulars of policy questions… [We’ll] leave the plumbing to the politicians.”
 
The “40 Days for Health Reform” campaign was launched by Wallis and other religious leaders. The campaign involves religious leaders from across America who will push Congress to submit legislation that will help offer more options for affordable health plans in America.
 
The group also sponsored television ads featuring Catholic leaders, local evangelicals, pastors, and other religious people. The group has been leading prayer rallies and events to reach 100 members of Congress.
 
National Healthcare Sermon Weekend, scheduled at the end of this month, will be observed by Christian, Jewish, and Muslim clergy who will speak about health care reform in congregations nationwide.
 
Some of the events scheduled for September include candlelight vigils and visits to Congress members.
 
Evangelical pastor John Hay, Jr., of the West Morris Street Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis, explained in a teleconference what inspired him to participate in the campaign.
 
“As pastor of an urban core church within walking distance of major hospitals, it seemed like some people in our congregation might as well have lived a 1,000 miles away from those shining institutions,” Hay said.
 
“They often put off a serious health problem until it reaches chronic stages and then make an emergency run,” he said. “This is no way for the most blessed country in the world to treat its most vulnerable citizens.”

What Is the Government's Role in U.S. Healthcare?
James Heskett is a Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School. More Working Knowledge from James HeskettJames Heskett - Faculty Research Page Healthcare will grab more and more headlines in the U.S. in the coming months. Any service that is on track to consume 40 percent of the gross national product of the world's largest economy by the year 2050 will be hard to ignore. Business management already feels the effects of healthcare costs more acutely than most consumers. Several recent studies and proposals shed light on the problem and possible solutions. They leave us with questions, too. To put things in perspective, U.S.

What Should Government Do to Reduce Obesity?
Over the past few years, obesity has become a prominent issue, prompting increasing numbers of organizations, interest groups, and government officials to propose ways of dealing with the "epidemic." Whenever governments plan changes to public policy, it is vital that (a) sound evidence showing government can actually improve the state of affairs relative to the private-market outcome supports the introduction of that policy; (b) the new policy will likely achieve its intended consequence at minimum direct and indirect costs; and (c) it is the best known policy choice available.

When Gates saw Army secretary misfire, he took aim himself
WASHINGTON (AP) -- On Thursday, when Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey fired the general in charge at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, amid outcries over poor treatment of wounded soldiers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates applauded. On Friday, when Gates learned who Harvey had chosen as the interim replacement -- another general under scrutiny for his role at Walter Reed -- Gates dumped Harvey, forcing him out without the embarrassment of a public firing. That turnabout, unfolding at a speed rarely seen in the Pentagon, tells much about Gates. Less than three months in the job, after replacing Donald H.

Why Aren't Tax Credits the Way to Go?
Tax credits can adversely impact employer-sponsored insurance (ESI). Some employers currently offering health insurance coverage to their workers may stop doing so if tax credits are available on the spurious assumption that institution of a tax credit will make such coverage in the individual market more affordable for their workers. In fact, individuals and families that are most likely to use tax credits to purchase insurance in the individual market are relatively younger and healthier. Because they typically utilize fewer health services than other groups, they cost less to insure on average.

Will health care reform really cut costs?

Despite the continuing support for President Obama’s health care reform, some of the major players in the debate are beginning to worry about the overhaul’s success. They fear it won’t be sufficient to solve the problem of runaway medical costs.
 
Some even believe that the deals the White House made with drug makers and hospitals to keep the negotiations alive could make the problem worse.
 
On Monday, there will be a closed-door meeting between labor leaders and Obama. They will discuss aggressive measures to keep health care costs from escalating. Terry O’Sullivan, head of the Laborers' International Union of North America, expressed his support of the plan to have everyone covered by medical insurance, and at the same time his concerns about the reform.
 
"We are certainly for expansion of coverage. We think every American ought to have health insurance. But if that doesn't come with making sure there is real prevention, if we're not talking about really controlling healthcare costs, this is going to be a train wreck."
 
On the other hand, business groups are urging the current administration and its allies in Congress to tackle the cost issues by making changes to the way doctors, hospitals and providers are paid.
 
According to Steve Wojcik, the National Business Group on Health’s vice-president for public policy, “Going into health reform, there was a lot of talk from the president on how controlling costs had to be on a par with expanding coverage. The priority on controlling costs seems to have fallen by the wayside."
 
Consistent survey results point to the public’s biggest health care concern: rising cost of medical bills and health plan premiums. At the core of his campaign for health care reform, Obama insists that his health care reform will provide relief.

WLBT 3 - Jackson, MS: New Prescription Plan
By Davis Brister davis@wlbt.net It's a bitter pill to swallow, but a fact nevertheless. Nearly 15% of Mississippi's population is uninsured. Dr. Randy easterling is a phyisician in Vicksburg. He says many Mississippians are paying for life preserving drugs out of their own pockets. "These individuals may have to pay 250-300 dollars a month for prescription medications, so this will go a long way to help these individuals." Easterling joined other healthcare providers Monday in touting a new partnership. It provides the uninsured with a one stop shop of sorts, an internet website and a toll free phone number.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette News
On Thursday, when Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey fired the general in charge at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, amid outcries over poor treatment of wounded soldiers, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates applauded. Yesterday, when Gates learned who Harvey had chosen as the interim replacement - another general under scrutiny for his role at Walter Reed - Gates dumped Harvey, forcing him out without the embarrassment of a public firing. That turnabout, unfolding at a speed rarely seen in the Pentagon, tells much about Gates. Less than three months in the job, after replacing Donald H.

Workers' Compensation
When the Workers' Compensation Act was passed many years ago it was probably the first true "no fault" law in this State. With some very narrow exceptions, the question of negligence (fault) is not an issue if a worker is hurt on the job. Whether or not the employer is at fault has no impact on the worth of a case. In cases involving injuries suffered in connection with employment, your lawyer will represent you without payment in advance.

Workshops Underway for Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law
Reform Law State Senator Brian Joyce calls Mitt Romney's new Health Care Reform Law "landmark legislation that is serving as a national model." It was passed ten months ago, but is just now being implemented across the state. The administration has anticipated a bit of confusion as we each go about hashing out the intricacies of making sure we're covered to the state's new standards. So the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development has teamed up with the Arts Health Care Coalition to hold free informational workshops, open to anyone, in which the process is explained.

WorldNetDaily: Slouching toward socialism
Bully for Bush. The president has achieved another milestone in his mission to bridge the philosophical gap between conservatism and left-liberalism. "The Decider" recently endorsed the socialist concept of a wealth gap and promised to do his level best to level the playing field through the familiar distribution schemes: "helping people afford health insurance and providing more money for education, including increased Pell grants for college," to quote the Wall Street Journal. Some people are richer than others. Others don't like it. It's called envy.

Would $1 trillion be enough?

The White House and the Democrats in Congress who are working hard on the health care bills to beat President Obama’s deadline, are trying to keep legislation costs to $1 trillion for 10 years. But would that be enough?
 
There is no doubt that $1 trillion would cover a lot of uninsured people. However, it will not be enough to meet the goals that the advocates initially wanted. Congress is currently working on proposals that include a $1.042 trillion bill that will be presented by Democratic leaders in the House on Tuesday. The proposals intend to provide subsidies to a smaller number of moderate-income families. They will also prevent most workers from abandoning the health plans provided by their employers.
 
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the estimated number of uninsured people will go down to 15-20 million after 10 years. As of now, around 50 million people are uninsured.
 
Last Monday, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell stated that "One of the major concerns that Americans have about health care reform is the price tag. Every proposal we've seen would cost a fortune by any standard."
 
In defense of the health care reform, President Obama says that the overhaul is a crucial investment toward fixing the nation’s dysfunctional health care system. Straightening the rough edges of the current health care system would prevent financial problems in the future.
 
Lawmakers are still trying to figure out how to finance the overhaul. According to Obama, fixing the health care system will not increase the country’s financial deficit, and to offset such a deficit there will be a need to either raise taxes or cut national spending.