Employer Health Benefits May Go Bye-Bye

May 7, 2010

By Yul

You probably thought it was just a crazy cat’s raving when I suggested that Obama ban employers from providing health insurance to level the playing field. Well, dropping their health benefits is EXACTLY what Big Business is considering.

Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, got steamed at employers for allegedly inflating health reform’s bottom-line effect. He demanded to see all their documentation and summoned the big-wigs to a hearing.

Waxman discovered in internal dirt from AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar, and Deere that they had all concluded paying fines would be a MUCH lower and predictable expense than their time-consuming, never-ending crap game with insurance companies.

Waxman canceled his hearing and dummied up. So much for Obama’s foolish promise that “you can keep the insurance you like.”

What employers giveth, employers can taketh away.

The country will be better off if they follow through. Companies will have billions more for R&D and hiring. Without Fortune 500 companies to bilk, insurance companies won’t be posting 51% quarterly net income increases.

People who had employer benefits will get a much-needed reality check when they experience the absurdity of 50 inconsistent state insurance exchanges, and the country will be a few steps closer to universal healthcare and making a dent in the deficit.

On another front, WellPoint/Anthem and other insurers have suddenly gone all altruistic, claiming they’ll immediately stop rescinding coverage on the sick, unless the person committed fraud in applying.

Fraud cancellations are about to rise off the charts, and people can go bankrupt twice as fast — paying their own medical bills and the lawyers they’ll need to defend their integrity.

For the insurers, it’s nothing but a set-up to justify obscene 2011 rate hikes. (“We’re covering more sick people now!”) WellPoint was recently forced to back off that 39% increase in California as unwarranted, so they’re going to make everyone else pay. Just you wait.


Passing the Kennedy Torch: Who’s Next?

August 30, 2009

By Yul

Cats Working has been mourning the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. He was a dog person and behind getting Bo into the White House, but Karen asked me to write a Yulology, because any friend of Obama is a friend of mine.

I hope in Ted’s honor Obama grows a spine on healthcare and helps Ted posthumously realize his lifelong dream of affordable access for all Americans.

Kennedy always sided with the little guy, marched to the beat of progress, and tried to make the world a fairer place for everybody, even when Republicans made empathy and generosity seem like sins.

He never got discouraged or distracted by the nuts who kept screaming, “Oh yeah? But what about Chappaquiddick?” to derail anything he tried to accomplish. If Ted had one thing in spades, it was perseverance.

Ted’s generation was raised to embrace public service, but it didn’t trickle down so well to the next one — probably because they saw a father and an uncle get mowed down in their primes for trying to do some good.

At Ted’s services, in that mob of Kennedys, I didn’t see anyone reaching to pick up his torch. Sure, Caroline half-heartedly vied for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, only to reveal she’s not cut out for public office.

The next liberal “lion of the Senate” won’t be a Kennedy. It will be John Kerry, who is now Massachusetts’ senior senator. Like Ted, he doesn’t have to worry anymore about running for president. I predict he’ll be the one who lights a fire under Obama on healthcare.

Remember, you read it here first.

Cats Working welcomes Senator Kennedy to Virginia, where he’ll be spending eternity at Arlington National Cemetery. Rest in peace, Teddy.


Washington Set on Botching Healthcare Reform

June 12, 2009

By Karen

Our legislators reject single-payer healthcare as “too drastic” a change for the country (Translation: Too simple and ethical for them to make a buck from), so growing numbers of single-payer advocates are yelling “Foul!”

One word explains why any plan continuing to be based on private health insurance won’t work:

Profit

Every penny wasted on insurance company overhead and bureaucratic requirements doesn’t go to medical care.

To preserve the status quo, insurers recently offered to forgo $2 TRILLION in future profits. That’s chump change to them. They’re admitting they’re already rolling in dough by cherry-picking, charging extortionist rates, and denying claims.

Two single-payer bills, HR 676 and S 703, languish in Congress while our representatives sit mesmerized by insurance industry snakes promising “fixes.”

The other blunder Washington’s intent on making  is to keep employers involved. That’s what they mean by, “You can keep the plan you like,” because virtually no one in the individual market has coverage that’s both adequate and affordable.

Instead, employers should contribute to a national program where workers can access affordable, portable healthcare. Corporate America instantly escapes the administrative hell of dealing with insurance companies, and employees no longer have to stay in jobs they hate just for the health benefits.

Characterizing single-payer as “free” or “socialist” is deliberately ignorant.

NOBODY says it will be free. Hundreds of billions now wasted on bureaucracy and profit will be rechanneled to actual medical care.

Republicans oppose Obama’s public option to give individuals and small businesses a break because they’re afraid private insurers will languish.

Exactly. Any industry whose success depends on providing NOTHING needs to die. The only ones entitled to profit from medical care are care providers. They earn it.

Sen. Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK) outlines the Republican proposal, which sounds fine if you think 50 new state bureaucracies in bed with private insurers are better than one federal agency that isn’t.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer lays out all the players and their plans. You need to watch this issue closely because whatever Congress does when it’s finished dithering will affect you and your family — guaranteed.


Insurance Lobbyist Karen Ignagni Stops Advocating Screwing Women

May 7, 2009

By Karen

Pro-private-insurance trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans(AHIP) has dangled a new carrot before Congress, using self-employed women like me as pawns to kill any chance we’ll ever see affordable government-sponsored or single-payer healthcare.

Last November, AHIP president and CEO Karen Ignagni began trying to derail healthcare reform by offering to stop cherry-picking customers so only the healthiest and least likely to need it could qualify for individual insurance.

In March, she offered to stop charging ill people more, but quietly replaced illness with age as a reason to jack up premiums, disingenuously slipping insurers a means to hit everyone with hefty annual rate increases, ill or not.

Now, in the individual market where insurers can get away with anything, she’s admitting they typically charge women 25-50% more than men as punishment for having uteruses.

Ignagni now agrees with Senator John Kerry (D-MA) that screwing women is wrong and is offering “not to recommend continuing it.”

Senator Kerry, with all good intentions, has naïvely introduced a bill to prohibit insurance companies from using gender to set premium rates. But he’s just playing into insurers’ hands because they’ll simply increase men’s premiums to match women’s.

Can you say “Ka-Ching!”?

Congress, instead of rewarding the AHIP’s duplicity with lame “reform” that throws all Americans into the insurance pool to be devoured by these sharks, you need to recognize these tactics for what they really are:

Bold-faced admissions of an industry’s longstanding unethical practices and unconscionable discrimination for profit at any cost.

The only civilized response to “deals” like these is to shove universal healthcare bills HR.676 and S.703 down Karen Ignagni’s throat and eliminate all such double-talking, self-serving, useless leeches from the equation.

P.S. If anyone out there thinks you can scare me with “rationing,” go get yourself some individual insurance, visit a doctor, file a claim, and see how much of it, if any, gets paid. THAT’S rationing. We have it right now, thanks to the insurers Ignagni represents.


Putting Nancy Pelosi on Notice RE: Healthcare

April 30, 2009

By Karen

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outdid herself for smug ignorance at a recent Christian Science Monitor event, infuriating supporters of single-payer universal healthcare. She said…

“As our members came back from their recess, a great deal of what they heard out there was public options, public options, public options, public options. In our caucus, over and over again, we hear single payer, single payer, single payer. Well, it’s not going to be a single payer. … We had an opportunity for that awhile back, and it was not realized. And that’s not what it’s going to be. So we had to take people from a place that they see universal, affordable, quality health care available best in single payer and say this can be achieved in other ways.”

Pelosi can ignore the will of the people because she’s already got what we want — government-sponsored healthcare. Yeah, WE pay for it so she can sit in Washington and help her insurance buds screw us.

Private health insurance is based on making a profit from premiums by providing little or nothing in return. Denying claims and rescinding policies are used as employee incentives for personal bonuses and to boost the bottom line.

Because lives are on the line, it’s morally indefensible. Yet these are “the other ways” Pelosi coyly refers to.

Why is she so keen to protect health insurers? Because they’re generous campaign contributors — bribing politicians with OUR health insurance premiums. Eliminating them would mean hundreds of billions instantly freed from bureaucratic waste and political corruption for medical care.

Any politician who refuses to consider the single-payer option is really saying,

“Your healthcare expenditures should continue to be wasted or end up in my campaign coffers. To hell with you and your family’s medical needs.”

Two bills for universal single-payer care, HR.676 and S.703, now sit in the House and Senate. If one of them, or something similar, doesn’t pass, then we need to wipe Washington clean in the next election of every politician who puts insurance company profits above constituents’ health.


Health Insurance Delayed Over a Freckle

February 27, 2008

By Karen

It’s been another month without approval of my cheaper, higher-deductible health insurance, and another $488 is due on my current plan, so I called the company and learned what the hold-up is.

It has nothing to do with the mysterious Saturday-morning phone quiz they gave me weeks ago. It’s over lab work I had done in January 2007.

During my annual Pap exam, my gynecologist found a small mole ‘down there,’ checked it out, and it was nothing.

The rep asked, “So the mole was non-cancerous and your Pap smear was not abnormal?”

“That’s right,” I answered.

But I wanted to scream, “No, you idiot! I found out over a year ago that I have two types of cancer, and I did absolutely nothing. Do you see any follow-up in my records, which you already have? I’m just thrilled to die so your employer can stay in the black and give you a nice bonus for jerking me around.”

The rep asked for the stupid physician’s phone number (it’s already on my application). Apparently, the doctor described my harmless freckle as scary dysplasia. Damn her doctor-speak!

This is supposed to be the last hurdle, and my new insurance should be retroactive to February 1. They’re supposed to credit the extra $110 I was forced to pay for my current coverage.

But no matter what the amount, February has passed and I’ve been afraid to get any regular checkups, so it’s money down a rat hole.

I applaud Patsy Bates, the 52-year-old hairdresser in California who just won $9 million in a suit against Health Net for canceling her when she had breast cancer. Her chemotherapy was delayed for months until she found a charity to pay her expenses. Thank heaven she lived to get revenge, and I hope she inspires thousands of similar lawsuits.

And now that the media has effectively squashed Dennis Kucinich’s presidential hopes and sent him back to Congress, I hope he’ll tenaciously fight for HR 676. This no-nonsense bill provides comprehensive universal healthcare and would revoke the power of life and death from health insurers.


Who Needs Stinking Elections? Just Form a New Country!

December 21, 2007

By Fred

I had a WTF moment when I sat on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face – as Person of the Year on Time magazine’s cover. Apparently, I wasn’t alone, because Time has been swearing it’s no honor, just recognition of his… uh… “influence.”

 

putin-timemag.jpg

When George W. Bush looked into Putin’s eyes, he saw his soul. When I look into Putin’s eyes, I’m reminded of the shark Robert Shaw described in Jaws: “…he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes.”

Putin latest scheme to hold onto power is to merge Russia with Belarus so he can be president of a bigger, better country. The only turd in the water bowl is that Belarus already has a ruthless dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, who isn’t about to give up his own job security.

I’m worried that Dick Cheney will hear about this and start telling George, “Let’s invade Mexico and form a ‘new’ country. We could slip some fine print into the Constitution that says Congress can’t run a new country, so they’d be toast and you and I can rule as long as my pacemaker lasts.”

If that doesn’t tempt George, Cheney could add, “We’d be killing three birds with one stone. Once we’re running Mexico, all their illegal immigrants automatically become citizens and an unlimited source of cheap labor. What’s not to love about that?”

It takes a while for Bush to grasp concepts, but once he gets it, he’ll probably say, “Why stop at Mexico? Hell, let’s invade Canada! Our boys could whip those woosies in a week. Then we can say we have universal healthcare to shut up all the crybabies who think they’re too good to go to the emergency room when they get sick. Bring it on! My legacy’s looking better already!”

They’d make Genghis Khan and Atila the Hun proud.


%d bloggers like this: