Archive for September, 2009

Bitch Slap of the Week: Humana and Iran Tie

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on September 27, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

Today is the first installmnet of Bitch Slap of the Week. As the name suggests, this is a designation given to the person, group, or entity that basically knocked humanity back down a notch during the week. These bitch slap recipients need some hard, stinging truth that will hopefully make them realize their misdeeds to the majority. Probably not, but you can’t blame us for trying.

This week is a tie between Humana and Iran. One is an internal threat and one is an external threat. Let’s start with Iran.

Bitch Slapping that Nuclear Facility Right Out of Iran’s Hand

Alright, already UN. This week news broke that Iran had a nuclear facility that had remained a secret up until now. But they’re just doing peaceful nuclear power building, right? The evidence of this nuclear facility suggests otherwise.

Iran is blatantly defying the UN and lying about their operations to inspectors. They need to be made an example of and fast. If the UN keeps allowing countries to break the rules then the rules don’t really apply, even those pertaining to uranium enrichment in a country that already begrudes the UN’s involvement in their country’s affairs.

Nuclear proliferation is a serious concern in this world, a concern the UN is supposed to be easing. But the recent actions of both North Korea and Iran serve as an example of the UN’s unraveling influenece. This is the time the UN needs to take back control and make some tough decisions.

Iran needs to listen up: the rest of us don’t think your secret nuclear facility is cool at all and we want some answers. Once we have those answers Iran can then expect serious reprecussions for trying to screw the rest of us over. Kind of how they screwed over their own citizens with a fradulent election.

Adding to the urgency is the fact that Iran is now testing short range missiles along with medium range missiles that have the ability to hit Europe and American military bases in the Middle East.

UPDDATE: The Associated Press just reported Iran has responded to concerns over their secret nuclear facility. Iran states that the nuclear facility was built to protect their nuclear production and avoid disrupting activities in case of an attack. However, as pointed out in the link above the size of that nuclear facility would not support production of nuclear power  for the country.

What’s more is it is located right next to a military base – again they say to protect their nuclear program. Um, yeah it makes sense that if you were creating a nuclear weapon you’d want to have it near an operable of the Iranian Revolutionary guard and you’d want to protect it if you’re attacked because that would be some powerful retaliation.

Of course, at this point everything is hypothetical until the UN inspectors get in their to do their thing, which Iran says it will work to do “soon”.

Moving on:

Humana’s Medicare Misinformation Scare

When some people shouted “Get the government out of my Medicare!” at town hall meetings about health care reform in August I thought it was a joke. Then I was sad, sad that someone could be that misinformed about their Medicare that they didn’t understand it was government program and always has been.

But it’s now been made clear some of those to blame for spreading misinformation among Medicare recipients are the health insurers that provide Medicare plans.

News broke less than a week ago that Humana had blasted an email campaign to all the senior citizens that have plans with them. The email was centered around the health care reform debate and suggesting to seniors that the health care reform proposals being debated could very well lead to a loss in Medicare services and benefits.

I’m glad to hear that the Department of Health and Human Services as well as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are already on Humana’s ass and making an example of them. We have got to put an end to big businesses taking advantage of the general public, especially our seniors. The  CMS already halted Humana email campaign and also sent a warning to other Medicare providers.

The Humana email included the following:

 

 

 

Members just like you want to know what these reforms might mean for their Medicare health plan and how they can get involved to help protect Medicare Advantage. We are working diligently to ensure that our nation’s leaders understand how proposed reforms might affect you.

 

 

 

Congress is considering significant cuts to Medicare Advantage now, and your Members of Congress will want to know why this program is valuable to you because these cuts could mean higher costs and benefit reductions to many on Medicare Advantage.

We’ve made it easy for you to have your voice heard. Just call (877) 698-9228 (toll-free) or visit http://www.humanapartners.com for additional infonnation about this issue and how you can offer helpful input to your elected officials.

Leading health reform proposals being considered in Washington, D.C., this summer include billions in Medicare Advantage funding cuts, as well as spending reductions to original Medicare and Medicaid. While these programs need to be made more efficient, if the proposed funding cut levels become law, millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable.

Amazing! Somehow Humana must have created a time travel machine to go forward in time and find out what will be in the final health care reform bill and have somehow discovered a reduction in Medicare and Medicade services that isn’t in the bills currently being debated.

 Legislators must slip that in when everyone else isn’t looking. If you’d like to read the entire Humana email here you go.

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Head of FreedomWorks Has Public Health Care – Why Shouldn’t You?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , on September 20, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

Cracker jack reporter Bill Moyers has been shedding more light on the issue of health care reform. This time he’s exposing some of the leaders of the protests for what they really are – recipients of the same public health care they say isn’t a good option for the rest of America.

Dick Armey is a chairman of FreedomWorks, one of the key orchestrators of the Tea Party bus that went across the country and also the 9/12 march on Washington – all done in the name of stopping health care reform and letting angry voters (i.e. McCain / Palin supporters) repeat the misleading information that Armey and others have told them in hopes that the ideas would somehow catch on with the less angry, more rational population.

Bill Moyer has done a good job at pointing out how flawed and hypocritical Armey’s message has been:

Armey Also Wants to Privatize Medicare – But He Doesn’t Want Medicare Himself

If you watched the video you’ll note that Dick Armey liked his publicly supplied, tax payer supported health care so much he didn’t want to have to switch to Medicare, he wanted to stay on it. But at the moment he legally can’t so I assume he’s having to cover his own health insurance.

One thing Moyer didn’t mention is that Armey is trying to take this very same health care that many seniors do find to be their best option and turn it over to the private sector. Ah, hello that’s why the government stepped in and created Medicare, because private, for-profit health insurance providers didn’t provide an affordable option that covered the needs of seniors.

However, Armey does profit nicely to promote those ideas even if privatizing Medicare is better for the health insurers than American citizens.

But hey, as a lobbyist against health care reform we were just paying for his health care not his salary of hundreds of thousands a year to keep us from having what he’s now fighting to get back for himself – publicly provided health care.

Oh and BTW – the lobbying firm that Armey was a partner of until last month, DLA Piper, it worked for:

  • AIG
  • Lehman Brothers
  • Merrill Lynch

All big recipients of TARP funds which Armey now criticizes as a government hand out and has used as an example of out of control government spending. Even worse is his ignoring that it was the Bush administration who administered that government spending, not the current administration.

For-Profit Health Insurance Companies Have No Business Being in the Health Care Industry

Posted in 1 with tags , , on September 9, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

When it comes to someone turning a buck off of shipping a package or mailing a certified letter – okay. But when someone is making a PROFIT off of the health care they provide you there’s a real conflict of interest. A serious, sometimes life or death conflict of interest.

Just as FedEx or UPS is going to look at your packages in terms of revenue, expenses and profits, so the private, for-profit health insurance companies will look at your health care needs. It’s a shame that FedEx and UPS probably do so more ethically at times.

We have to ask ourselves, what is the driving force behind the decisions of private, for-profit health insurers at the end of the day?

How Much Could We Save if We Cut Out Their Profits

During a recent interview between NPR’s Steve Inskeep and Angela Brawling, CEO of health insurance company Wellpoint, there were some enlightening moments.

They worked out how much it actually is that private health insurers make in profit. Turns out they don’t make 1% in profit as many large for-profit insurers have lead people to believe. Yes, if you count all providers of health care – including the non-profit health care providers (medicare- government, medicade – government, non-profit health insurance groups, co-ops) then the total as a whole is only 1%.

However, private, for-profit insurance companies like Wellpoint currently make roughly 4% in profits.

Still doesn’t sound like too much, right? Then why the talk of 1%? Consider this: the top 10 private health insurance companies profits increased 428% between 2000 and 2001 while people’s premiums have risen at least 78% in that same time frame.

To put that in real perspective, profits went from $2.4 billion to $12.7 billion. That’s a nice chunk of money that could go towards covering the yearly cost of the proposed health care reform.

How Health Insurers Are Getting Their Profits and Why 2008 Doesn’t Count

Now, some in the health care reform opposition will point out that in 2008 there was a drop in profits. However, the drop in earnings is a poor argument to make. The explanation for the decrease in profits is partly due to the fact that the economy tanked in the last quarter of 2008.

That also led to more people losing their jobs and their insurance. It is worth noting that the number of insured increased in 2000-2007 from 38.4 million to 45.7 million. However that’s only a 19% improvement, which makes their profits during that time even more impressive. But that could be due to health insurers using less of our premiums for actual health care.

As Wendell Baker, former PR CEO for Cigna, points out on the Rachael Maddow show in 1993 roughly 95% of the premiums we pay went towards covering medical claims. Now that number is down to around 80%. So as our premiums have went up 78% the money going towards our health care has decreased approximately 15%.

They’ve also been weeding out competition, something they’ve been accusing the government of trying to do with a public health care option. There are approx. 1300 health care providers now in 2009.

A study on competition in the health insurance industry conducted by the American Medical Association, found that since 2000 the largest health insurers have been absorbing their competition.

“Over the five years since the AMA’s first study, the country’s largest health insurers have continued to pursue aggressive acquisition strategies. The largest insurer, WellPoint Inc. (formed from the merger of Anthem Inc. and WellPoint Health Networks), has acquired 11 health insurers since 2000. The second-largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group (United) has also acquired 11 health insurers since 2000.

To put this in perspective, in 2000, the two largest health insurers, Aetna and United, had a total membership of 32 million lives. As a result of mergers and acquisitions since 2000, the top two insurers today, WellPoint and United, each have memberships, respectively, of 34 million and 33 million, totaling more than 67 million covered lives. Together, WellPoint and United control 36 percent of the national market for commercial health insurance.”

It’s good to know that as some people strain and even buckle under the rising cost of health care the insurance companies’ bank accounts have gotten bigger by providing less coverage and reducing people’s options.

Why a Public, Non-Profit Option Would Be Great

You know what would be super cool about public health care from the government that’s not an option with private insurers, if we really didn’t like it we would be able to vote and have it changed by way of the people we elect.

We don’t have that luxury with private health care. Not unless you’re a shareholder of your insurance company, and a major shareholder at that.

Now the counter for this would be that you have the freedom of choice and you can just take your business elsewhere in the private market. The thing is, if a dispute has arisen that has caused you to change health insurers you most likely have a medical issue. If you approach another insurer they’ll see what caused all the fuss and base your denial or premiums accordingly.

You get screwed over when you need health care the most and there’s nothing you can do about it if you don’t have the funds to pay for it.

Same goes for if you lose your job and the employer-paid health insurance that goes along with it. Having to pay the full price on your own may prove burdensome to those who aren’t use to carrying the full cost and no longer have income coming in.

For more facts on why health insurance companies need an extreme overhaul (i.e. no for-profit companies that gouge us for money for basic health care.) visit the National Coalition on Health Care.

Education Controversies Are a New Low for Conservatives

Posted in 1 with tags , , on September 4, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

It’s time for the general public to say enough is enough with the fear mongering from the staunch conservatives.  The latest claim that Obama is trying to coerce America’s youth with his speech to schools across the country is not only ridiculous, it’s hypocritical.

But the attacking of ‘liberal’ teaching in our education system doesn’t stop there. This morning on Fox News Tucker Carlson leveraged the controversy to report that some textbooks are now teaching the history of Columbus differently than they use to.

Right Wing Extremists Want to Ignore Historical Accuracy in Education

They are teaching students THE TRUTH about Columbus’s journey and conquest in the new world. But somehow Carlson interpreted teaching students about the wrongs of unethically dominating another culture, taking their resources and land without giving anything in return and correcting the inaccuracies of stating that Columbus “discovered” America as anti-American.

Anyone can look at a number of historical accounts and find that what is now being taught about Columbus and the beginning of American history is correct. So, Mr. are you saying we should not be teaching history as it really happened? That instead we should put a spin on it and tell our youth only what we want them to hear and believe, and mask what the truth is?

Because it seems that that is what Carlson is supporting with those arguments, and interestingly enough altering history books to purposely cover up facts to paint your country and government in a better light is what a number of Communist countries do.

Back to the Issue of Obama Brainwashing Children’s Feeble Minds

As far as Obama’s school speech goes – anyone who says this is an attempt to promote the president’s agenda is a fool, which they will probably feel like come Tuesday.  Basically because one sentence was worded in a way that could be negatively misinterpreted (How can you help the president?) the right wing extremists want to keep their kids from school so they aren’t brainwashed by the speech that they have the OPTION of watching.

Keeping your kids out of school will really helped our high drop-out rates and our falling ranking among the world’s education systems. (Based on what’s being measured out school systems rank between 7th and 18th in the world, about 20 years ago we were number 1.)

That is precisely what Obama will be talking to the students about – how they can help improve our education in this country by working hard in school and setting goals and sticking to them. How is it possible for anyone with any inkling of sense who isn’t trying to get reelected in 2010 and is just pandering to voters going to honestly say this going to derail our children with ideas of socialism?

Especially when you consider that a number of presidents have done the exact same thing. Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan both gave speeches to the youth of America that was then broadcast to schools across the country. And Reagan talked for a long spell about the importance of supporting lower taxes.

So, was it fine for Bush Sr. and Reagan to address schools in the U.S. but not for Obama to do it? And if so, what reason the reasoning behind thinking that?

The Obama Administration Needs to Take a Stronger Stand Against Muckrakers

The Obama administration really needs to start delving into the reasoning behind these fear tactics and misinformation and who is responsible for it, then they need to publically call them out on it. These types of claims are actually believed by some people as crazy as it may seem.

In an unsettling time people are already stressed out and some in the media and politics are taking advantage of that.  In the past these peddlers of lies would have been tarred and feathered by the people they duped.

They’re banking on the fact that Obama is above the muckraking that they wallow in.

Politech: Obama Isn’t Going to Eat Your Internet Lunch

Posted in obama, Tech with tags , , , on September 2, 2009 by jwilhelmy

Last Friday, Declan McCullagh whipped the internet up in a frenzy about a proposed bill that would allow the President to disconnect private sector computer from the internet. Reporting for CNET news, McCullagh asserts that S. 773 will give the White House the ability to declare a national security emergency relating to cyber security.

In which, the President would then be able to basically flip a switch to shut down the internet. This is, indeed, a very scary proposition. Scary enough to prompt Faux News to say this bill would be used by the administration to choke off industry and civil liberties.

We know that those dems are up to something bad when the Drudge Report fires up the warning siren. You may remember McCullagh from around ten years ago when he spread the false rumor that Al Gore claimed to be the inventor of the internet.

So where is this magical switch that would somehow shut down the internet? There isn’t one. A majority of the internet backbone is owned and operated by just a few large telco’s and we already know how willing they are to bend over backwards for the White House.

Considering that they’ll hand over your call records without a warrant, do you think that they’ll think twice about turning off your Facebook for a while? That’s right, the Government already has this power and what this bill is talking about doing is setting up a procedure that can be followed in a situation where our national security has been compromised via the internet. That’s a good thing, it’s called preparedness.

We only need to look back to CNET to tell us why we’re so vulnerable to attacks from the internet. Back in April, they reported about how much more at risk our nation has become since a large portion of our electrical grid is now managed online.

The truth is that shutting down electric service (or water, gas, etc) is a much more enticing proposition for the nasties of the world since you can touch most everyone in our country by interrupting those services.

And not only could they interrupt those services, but imagine if they were bent on releasing the flood gates on the damn upstream of your children’s school.

Or perhaps someone wants to log onto the controls of the nuclear power plant and overload the reactor and cause a meltdown, putting a procedure in place to halt these attacks doesn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore. But, if we want to talk about taking power away from the President, let’s talk about his ability to wipe out humanity with the nuclear weapons he controls.