Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review: Mitch Albom's Have A Little Faith

Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom

By Mitch Albom
Published by: Hyperion
Publication Date: September, 2009
Price: $23.99
254 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-7868-6872-8
Four Star Rating ****

“Will you do my eulogy?”
I don’t understand, I said.
“My eulogy?” The old man asked again. “When I’m gone.” His eyes blinked from behind his glasses. His neatly trimmed beard was grey, and he stood slightly stooped.
“Are you dying?” I asked.
“Not yet.” He said, grinning.
Then why-
“Because I think you would be a good choice. And I think when the time comes, you will know what to say.”
Picture the most pious man you know. Your priest. Your pastor. You rabbi. Your imam. Now picture him tapping you on the shoulder and asking you to say good-bye to the world on his behalf.
Picture the man who sends people off to heaven, asking you for his send-off to heaven.
“So?” he said. Would you be comfortable with that?”


“In the beginning, there was another question.
“Will you save me Jesus?”
The man was holding a shotgun. He hid behind trash cans in front of a Brooklyn row house. It was late at night. His wife and baby daughter were crying. He watched for cars coming down his block, certain the next set of headlights would be his killers.
“Will you save me, Jesus? He asked, trembling. “If I promise to give myself to you, will you save me tonight?”
Picture the most pious man you know. Your priest. Your pastor. You rabbi. Your imam. Now picture him in dirty clothes, a shotgun in his hand, begging for salvation from behind a set of trash cans.
Picture the man who sends people off to heaven, begging not to be sent to hell.
“Please, Lord, “he whispered. “If I promise. . .”’ Have a Little Faith, pp. 1-2.

Mitch Albom writes emotionally powerful little books that always leave you wanting to read more. A sportswriter from Detroit, Michigan, his heart tugging books are a surprise to those of us who have read his cold, calculating sports articles or seen his razor sharp analysis of sporting events on ESPN. The author of For One More Day, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Fab Five and Bo, he is best known for his masterpiece in human studies and the philosophy of death with his book, Tuesdays With Morrie. Tuesdays is thought to be his best work; well it was until this recent best selling true story was published, Have a Little Faith. By far and away this is the most fascinating prose that Albom has penned; a pure page turning joy from the first page to the last page. He covers the stories of two uniquely religious men; Albert Lewis, his old Jewish Rabbi and Henry Covington, a Detroit Evangelist, who is a convict gone good. The two story lines are separate but as Albom points out there are parallels in the nature of belief and the sacrifices these men make in serving their flocks.

Lewis is a Rabbi that is a master performer on Sundays; a man who can deliver a message with gusto; a happy, well-adjusted man who while Albom was a child, was the dominant figure in his synagogue. He has requested that Mitch write his eulogy and in return the two agree that meetings and discussions will be necessary. Albom’s meetings turn into masterful insights into the psyche of a deeply spiritual, singing, well-adjusted man who has moved seamlessly into the background of his group without loosing his kind and gentle nature. Beyond a writing assignment, a friendship develops, and fortunately for us as readers a deep vision into the soul of a man who at one time was asked to leave the seminary, but became a visionary due to his ability to communicate and make a difference. This affectionate tale of his unique ability to communicate, accept, and by his father like faith, overcome obstacles, and ultimately reinforce the faith of his congregation is a moving, inspirational tale. Albom’s book is a true tribute to man who as Albom says makes you feel like you are “in love with hope.” Albom’s ability to probe the human condition and find answers like with Morrie are razor-sharp here: “I laughed and he laughed, and he bounced his palms on his thighs and our noise filled the house. And I think, at that moment, we could have been anywhere, anybody, any culture, any faith- a teacher and a student exploring what life is all about and delighting in the discovery.”

A book about Lewis alone would have cemented Albom’s reputation as a great psychological writer; a book that contrasts religious leaders and emphasizes the tremendous faith they have in their interactions with others makes Little Faith a truly remarkable book. Covington, on the other hand took a radically different path to becoming a religious leader. A drug dealer and substance abuser, his initial conversion came while he was in prison. His prayers to be ‘saved’ are answered on several occasions in this book before it finally takes. His conversion is a sufficiently interesting saga in itself; his ministry is the stuff that Albom turns into magic. He runs a church in downtown Detroit, called the I Am My Brother’s Keeper Ministry. His flock is a group of homeless people and his church is an old dilapidated building, with no heat or lights and a huge whole in the roof. Nonetheless, Henry continues to minister to his group of converts. Albom does what any good investigative reporter does; he checks this guy and his group out. Persuaded that they are legit, he begins to write about Henry and his group, the old church and the hole in the roof, the blue tarp covering the hole. Albom’s writing leads to donations and the book makes a point of telling us the effect that this has on this group of people. This seems to be an outgrowth of Albom’s experience with his beloved Reb, the gift of teaching and motivating people to act and do the right thing.

This is a great book and a natural Christmas gift. Albom’s continual exploration into the human condition and the positive results he gets are a testament to his first rate skills as a writer. If this book does not move you, check your pulse; you may be dead. I love Mitch’s books. Better pick up two at the store: one to give as a gift, and one for you. Whoever you buy this book for is not going to lend it back to you to read.



Monday, September 7, 2009

Your Health Insurer Will Screw You

The Huffington Post
September 7, 2009
Peter J. Ognibene

Got health insurance? Think you're sitting pretty? Think again.

Health insurance companies fatten their bottom line not by helping people but by screwing them.

For-profit companies make money three ways:
First, they use medical underwriting, which is industry shorthand for finding ways to reject those applicants most likely to need care. Not only people with serious illness are denied insurance; so are individuals who may be 20 pounds overweight as well as those with acne or an old athletic injury.

Second, health insurers routinely weasel out of, or delay for months -- even years -- making payments for valid medical and hospital claims.

Third, they look for plausible reasons to reverse payments they have already made on your behalf. These reversals can occur one or more years after you thought your bill had been paid. And when a physician or hospital has to refund a payment, guess who gets the bill. You.
And it doesn't stop there. Investigative units routinely look at individuals who have been seriously ill to see if there's anything in their medical or prescription history they can use as a pretext to terminate their insurance. The industry term is "rescission."

Many large organizations -- municipal agencies, major corporations and labor unions -- have the negotiating power to eliminate exclusions of so-called pre-existing conditions from their employees' health insurance policies.

Small companies often do not. Worse still, individuals who lack the negotiating leverage that organizations exercise on behalf of their members wind up paying the highest rates for coverage and then are left to hope they won't get trapped by one of their policy's many exclusions or loopholes. When such individuals have the audacity to incur a major illness, you can bet the companies will look for ways to screw them -- with delays, payment reversals or outright rescission of their insurance.

Many who work for health insurers quickly learn that the surest way to get ahead is to screw as many policyholders as they can.

Recent documents obtained by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce indicated, for example, that Blue Cross of California awarded a perfect evaluation score to an employee whose efforts to rescind the insurance of thousands of policyholders saved the company nearly $10 million that would otherwise have paid their doctor and hospital bills.

This is no isolated case. If you get cancer or need expensive surgery, your insurance company is likely to investigate every medical claim ever filed on your behalf, the prescriptions you have taken at various points in your life and any lifestyle elements that might give them a pretext to reverse a payment or rescind your insurance.

In recent testimony before the same House committee, Karen Pollitz, Research Professor at Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, pointed out:

Representatives of the insurance industry have testified that rescission is rare and occurs in less than one percent of policies. Even if this estimate is accurate, it is not necessarily comforting. One percent of the population accounts for one-quarter of all medical bills. The sickest individuals may be small in number, but they are the most vulnerable and most in need of coverage.

Most individuals who have a job get health insurance through their employer. Yet, employer-based health insurance makes no sense in the modern world. It is an artifact of World War II when companies were desperate to attract and hire workers but were bound by federal wage and price controls from writing higher paychecks. So, companies competed for workers in other ways, including health insurance.

Two years ago, the Congressional Research Service issued a report, "U.S. Health Care Spending: Comparison with Other OECD Countries," which found:

The United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD consists of 30 democracies, most of which are considered the most economically advanced countries in the world. According to OECD data, the United States spent $6,102 per capita on health care in 2004 -- more than double the OECD average and 19.9% more than Luxembourg, the second-highest spending country. In 2004, 15.3% of the U.S. economy was devoted to health care, compared with 8.9% in the average OECD country and 11.6% in second-placed Switzerland. In assessing what drives the difference between U.S. health care spending and the rest of the world, some leading health economists responded this way: "It's the prices, stupid." Put more formally, a report from the OECD declared that "there is no doubt that U.S. prices for medical care commodities and services are significantly higher than in other countries and serve as a key determinant of higher overall spending."

Though Americans are paying ever higher premiums, they are not getting better health care for their dollar. Current projections suggest that the average annual cost for employer-sponsored health insurance for a family of four will rise from $13,000 to nearly $25,000 by 2018.

Appearing recently on Morning Joe, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D, NY), a leading advocate in the House for publicly financed health care, made these observations:

I have heard people say, repeatedly, 'well, if the public option is too muscular, the insurance companies won't be able to compete.' Well, if they can't compete, then they're not gonna get customers. They're not gonna get patients coming to them. Isn't that what we want? To give people that choice?

The problem that we have here is we're trying to jerry-rig this system so that insurance companies still continue to make healthy profits. Why? [They] don't do a single checkup; they don't do a single exam; they don't perform an operation.

Medicare has a four-percent overhead rate. The insurance companies take about $230 billion out of the system every year in profits and overhead. The real question is: why we have a private plan?

These costs drive up the insurance premiums of everyone with private health insurance. With universal health care, these costs will disappear. Even the insurance industry knows that.
In recent testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about the rescission of individual health insurance policies, Don Hamm, the president of Assurant Health, admitted: "If a system can be created where coverage is available to everyone and all Americans are required to participate - the process we are addressing today -- rescission -- becomes unnecessary because risk is shared among all."

What Obama will say in his address

What Obama will say in his address
By: Mike Allen and Carrie Budoff Brown
September 5, 2009 12:36 PM EST

President Barack Obama plans to reach out to Republicans and reassure — rather than confront — his liberal supporters when he addresses an extraordinary joint session of Congress at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday.

But he will warn lawmakers against seeking a perfect plan and then winding up doing nothing, as happened to the last Democratic president back in 1994.

The high-stake speech makes sense because Obama is such a gifted orator. But it is also risky because if poll numbers on health-care reform don’t improve after he speaks, it will be clear that the problem isn’t in the packaging, but in the proposal itself.

The contents of the speech were still being debated over the weekend. But here is what POLTIICO gleaned from conversations with top aides:

1) Obama will lay out a specific “President’s Plan,” even if he doesn’t call it that. He will make clear what’s on the table, and what he thinks warrants further debate, such as how to pay for the overhaul.

2) He will not confront or scold the left. “This is a case for bold action, not a stick in the eye to our supporters,” said an official involved in speech preparation. “That’s not how President Obama thinks. The politics of triangulation don’t live in this White House.”

3) He will make an overture to Republicans. “He will lay out his vision for health reform – taking the best ideas from both parties, make the case for why as a nation we must act now, and dispel the myths and confusion that are affecting public opinion,” the aide said.

4) He will make it clear that it’s better to get something done than nothing done. White House aides are reminding fellow Democrats that the party lost Congress in 1994 by failing to do any health reforms at all after Congress balked at the original plan by President Bill Clinton. “The lesson of 1994 is not that tackling health reform is politically perilous. It’s that failing to act could be devastating,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House deputy communications director.

5) Obama will try to reassure the left about his commitment to a public option, or government insurance plan. Aides said they are rethinking what he will say about this. He wants to thread the needle of voicing support for a public option, without promising to kill health reform to get it. But liberal congressional leaders were unyielding in their support for it on a conference call he held from Camp David yesterday, and he's going to meet with them at the White House early next week.

The White House line has been: “We have been saying all along that the most important part of this debate is not the public option, but rather ensuring choice and competition. There are lots of different ways to get there.” But now he’s going to step on the gas a little harder. One top official gave this formulation: “He has consistently said that he thinks the public option is an important way to make sure that there is both cost and competition control. He’s also said consistently that if someone can show him a better way or another way to get there, he’d be happy to look at it. But he’s never committed to going with another way. He’s always said he’d be happy to look at any proposal that gets to these goals, but that he thinks this is probably the best better way to do it.”

The speech was very much in flux over the weekend, because key decisions are being hashed out. Even the length is not yet set.

“He has not made any final decisions about the ultimate form of his package,” said a top official guiding speech preparation. “Anyone that tells you that he has is misinformed or extrapolating from conversations. He’s going to talk to a lot of people between now and next Wednesday. The president is in the process of deciding what his ultimate proposal will look like."

Also undecided: whether to follow up with nitty-gritty legislative language. “He has not made decisions about how he’s going to move this thing forward,” said a top West Wing aide.

Obama’s speechwriters were on the West Coast over the weekend for the wedding of Ben Rhodes, the deputy director of speechwriting. So the West Wing is coordinating the speech over a three-hour time difference.

On Tuesday or Wednesday, the leaders of the four liberal House caucuses will meet Obama at the White House. The meeting pledge came a day after progressives urged him in a letter to stand firmly behind the public insurance option.

Obama spoke by phone Friday with the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“Caucus leaders expressed absolute commitment to the idea of a robust public option, and said they expect it to be part of any health care reform legislation,” the groups said in a statement. “The president listened, asked many questions, and suggested that the dialogue should continue.”

© 2009 Capitol News Company, LLC

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Move On.Org video of people who cannot wait for health care reform

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Here is a link to write to the White House. Please write in support of the Public Option and Let the President know he should avoid the 'trigger' option.

Friday, September 4, 2009

This is a petition to the President to support the Public Option. Please read and sign.

This is a petition to the President to support the Public Option. Please read and sign.

PETITION TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: "We worked so hard for real change. President Obama, please demand a strong public health insurance option in your speech to Congress. Letting the insurance companies win would not be change we can believe in."

"We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. It will only grow louder. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story of America, there’s never been anything false about hope." -- Barack Obama

Saturday, August 29, 2009

RNC’s “Bill of Rights” is full of Holes-FactCheck.Org

RNC’s “Bill of Rights”
Republicans' rundown is a mix of false, true and misleading claims.
August 26, 2009

The Republican National Committee this week posted a “Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors,” which RNC Chairman Michael Steele and others have taken to the airwaves to publicize. It contains a number of claims we’ve seen and criticized before, but also contains one new one that has some truth to it, and another fresh one that has very little.
• The RNC says that cuts proposed by Democrats "threaten millions of seniors with being forced from their current Medicare Advantage plans." That’s certainly possible. Ratcheting down payments to the private insurance plans in Medicare Advantage would likely cause them to reduce benefits or even withdraw from the market. That might force an unknown number of beneficiaries to find new plans or go back to the traditional system, which still covers 78 percent of the Medicare population.
• Another new wrinkle in the RNC’s "Bill of Rights" is a claim that Democrats have proposed raising TRICARE insurance costs for retired military and their families. This one is false. It was actually the Bush administration that most recently proposed changes in TRICARE, which the hospital industry said would cost hospitals $458 million in its first year.
The RNC "Bill of Rights" document also recycles claims that Democrats are proposing $500 million in Medicare cuts without mentioning that much of that is offset by proposed Medicare increases. It falsely says that a comparative effectiveness research panel set up earlier this year could limit care based on a patient’s age, when in fact the law expressly prohibits the council from issuing such mandates. And the RNC implies, wrongly, that seniors who meet with their doctors to discuss end-of-life care could have their treatment cut off involuntarily. In fact, these discussions would be voluntary and any directives limiting treatment would have to come from the patient.
At this particular point in the health care debate, we’re finding that there’s not much new under the sun when it comes to false claims being made about the overhaul proposals. But just in case pretty new packaging threatens to rope unwary citizens into believing some of these misrepresentations, we stand at the ready, and it is in that spirit that we tackle the Republican National Committee’s new "Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors." RNC Chairman Michael Steele and others in his party have been touting the document all week; Steele penned an op-ed that ran in The Washington Post, and did interviews on National Public Radio, ABC’s Good Morning America, and Fox News Channel, among other outlets. Here’s what he said in the Post:
Steele, Washington Post, Aug. 24: The Democrats’ plan will hurt American families, small businesses and health-care providers by raising care costs, increasing the deficit, and not allowing patients to keep a doctor or insurance plan of their choice. Furthermore, under the Democrats’ plan, senior citizens will pay a steeper price and will have their treatment options reduced or rationed.
Republicans want reform that should, first, do no harm, especially to our seniors. That is why Republicans support a Seniors’ Health Care Bill of Rights, which we are introducing today, to ensure that our greatest generation will receive access to quality health care.
We’ll take the particulars of the "Health Care Bill of Rights" in the order they are presented.
Raiding Medicare?
RNC: PROTECT MEDICARE AND NOT CUT IT IN THE NAME OF HEALTH CARE REFORM: President Obama and Congressional Democrats are promoting a government-run health care experiment that will cut over $500 billion from Medicare to be used to pay for their plan. Medicare should not be raided to pay for another entitlement. As we noted in our article More ‘Senior Scare,’ the bill that’s currently pending in the House would indeed "cut" $500 billion or so from Medicare, but it would also increase expenditures in some areas. The net amount that would be taken from the program would be about $219 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s a 10-year figure, by the way. And any implication that seniors’ Medicare benefits would be cut is false. Rather, the bill calls for holding down payments to hospitals and other providers, other than physicians.
As we’ve noted before, Republicans are accusing Democrats of pretty much the same thing that Obama wrongly accused John McCain of doing last year, when the GOP nominee proposed to pay for part of his own health care measure with "savings" in Medicare. We called it a false scare tactic when Obama’s TV ads said benefit levels would be reduced. The RNC document doesn’t go quite that far, but fails to make clear that what Democrats are proposing isn’t a cut in benefits.
Government Boards and Rationing by Age?
RNC: PROHIBIT GOVERNMENT FROM GETTING BETWEEN SENIORS AND THEIR DOCTORS: The Democrats’ government-run health care experiment will give patients less power to control their own medical decisions, and create government boards that would decide what treatments would or wouldn’t be funded. Republicans believe in patient-centered reforms that put the priorities of seniors before government.
PROHIBIT EFFORTS TO RATION HEALTH CARE BASED ON AGE: The Democrats’ government-run health care experiment would set up a "comparative effectiveness research commission" where health care treatment decisions could be limited based on a patient’s age. Republicans believe that health care decisions are best left up to seniors and their doctors. Both of these claims have their root in fundamental miscastings of the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, a body created by the economic stimulus bill signed into law in February. The council isn’t an "effort to ration health care based on age," nor would it get "between seniors and their doctors." As we’ve explained repeatedly, the council was created to monitor government research on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of various treatments, and to help get the findings out to practitioners. But the stimulus legislation even specifies that no dictates would come from this body regarding coverage of or reimbursement for any treatments: "Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the Council to mandate coverage, reimbursement, or other policies for any public or private payer. … None of the reports submitted under this section or recommendations made by the Council shall be construed as mandates or clinical guidelines for payment, coverage, or treatment." And just in case that wasn’t clear enough, the House Energy and Commerce Committee adopted an amendment to the House health care bill expressly prohibiting the comparative effectiveness research from being used to "deny or ration" care.
According to the RNC, the first claim also refers to something called the Independent Medicare Advisory Council, which the administration wants to create and imbue with the power to make an annual package of changes in what Medicare pays doctors. The President could only block them by rejectiing the entire package, and Congress could only do so by means of a congressional resolution. The idea is to take politics out of these decisions, which could indeed ease the way for unpopular cost-cutting measures and possibly for reductions in some future benefit levels. But IMAC is not a part of the pending bills.
Operative Word: Optional
RNC: PREVENT GOVERNMENT FROM INTERFERING WITH END-OF-LIFE CARE DISCUSSIONS: The Democrats’ government-run health care experiment would have seniors meet with a doctor to discuss end-of-life care that could mean limiting treatment. Republicans believe that government should not interfere with end-of-life care discussions between a patient and a doctor. This is a somewhat milder version of the claim that was going around in a chain email that the Democrats wanted to require seniors to undergo counseling every five years on how to end their lives sooner. Former New York Lieutenant Gov. Betsy McCaughey furthered the myth, and in former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s interpretation it took the form of so-called "death panels" that would decide whether elderly Americans are "worthy of care." We dealt with that in our piece False Euthanasia Claims as well as in Palin vs. Obama: Death Panels. It’s simply not true. What the bill would do is allow seniors to have counseling sessions on end-of-life care issues with their doctors, which Medicare would pay for once every five years. The sessions would be voluntary, and the discussions would only involve "limiting treatment" if that’s the sort of directive that a senior wanted to give, say, in a living will.
Medicare’s Private Plans
RNC: ENSURE SENIORS CAN KEEP THEIR CURRENT COVERAGE: As Democrats continue to propose steep cuts to Medicare in order to pay for their government-run health care experiment, these cuts threaten millions of seniors with being forced from their current Medicare Advantage plans. Republicans believe that seniors should not be targeted by a government-run health care bill and forced out of their current Medicare coverage. The vast majority of Medicare recipients would see little change in their interactions with the health care system under the bills currently pending. But it’s probable that some unknown number of the 22 percent of seniors, or more than 10 million individuals, who participate in Medicare Advantage programs would indeed need to pay more out of pocket, change plans, or face reduced benefits – though never less than participants in traditional Medicare receive.
A little background: Medicare recipients since the 1970’s have been able to choose to receive their benefits through private health plans, rather than through the traditional, government-run, fee-for-service form of Medicare. Medicare Advantage is the most recent incarnation of this alternative. Republicans have generally favored these private options more than Democrats, and in 2003 the GOP Congress and president increased the amount Medicare paid to the plans to handle Medicare beneficiaries.
At this point, government payments to Medicare Advantage plans are 114 percent higher per enrollee, on average, than the cost of traditional fee-for-service in a given geographical area, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. What do the plans do with the additional money? Often they use at least some of it to reduce premiums or cost-sharing for recipients. In some cases, though not all, seniors have been able to save money by signing up for a Medicare Advantage program.
But according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee, which is an an independent congressional agency, the additional spending for Medicare Advantage programs – which adds up to billions each year – is hastening the depletion of the Medicare trust fund. It has also meant higher premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries, according to the Government Accountability Office, another nonpartisan arm of Congress. As GAO put it, "beneficiaries covered under Medicare FFS
are subsidizing the additional benefits and lower costs that MA beneficiaries receive."
Long recognized as a possible source of savings – and mentioned as such by Obama during the presidential campaign – payments to Medicare Advantage programs under the House bill would be reduced over several years until they are equal to the costs of traditional Medicare. (Medicare payments are calculated by county). The measure would reduce the growth of future Medicare spending by $156 billion over 10 years. The result, based on prior experience with tinkering with the payment formulas, could be that some plans decide to withdraw from the Advantage program, said Brian Biles of George Washington University’s Department of Health Policy in a telephone interview, leaving them to choose from surviving Medicare Advantage plans or return to the traditional Medicare fee for service program that currently covers the other 78 percent of beneficiaries.
Riling the Vets, Too
RNC: PROTECT VETERANS BY PRESERVING TRICARE AND OTHER BENEFIT PROGRAMS FOR MILITARY FAMILIES: Democrats recently proposed raising veterans’ costs for the Tricare For Life program that many veterans rely on for treatment. Republicans oppose increasing the burden on our veterans and believe America should honor our promises to them. The RNC tells us this refers to a budget proposal floated last spring by the Obama administration that would have allowed the Department of Veterans Affairs to bill vets’ private insurance companies for the cost of treating combat-related injuries. But as we noted earlier this year, the idea was quickly dropped and never made it into the president’s budget, due in part to protests from veterans. But more to the point, it had nothing to do with TRICARE, which is the Department of Defense health program covering active duty and retired military members and their families, or TRICARE for Life, which is for military retirees or family members who are 65 or over or otherwise eligible for Medicare.
In attempting to back up this claim, the RNC also cites a series of budget-cutting options issued by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last January. The ideas included raising out-of-pocket costs and other fees for veterans in TRICARE. But that was just one of 115 ideas for cutting costs or otherwise changing federal health care programs, and CBO made clear that "the report makes no recommendations." The TRICARE isea does not appear in the pending health care overhaul bills.
And in fact, one of the news articles the RNC cites in support of this claim mentions that it was the Bush administration that most recently proposed TRICARE cuts, which were protested by many hospitals. The news item speculated that "Obama also might follow the lead of his predecessor" and seek higher TRICARE fees, but so far Obama has not done so.
–by Viveca Novak
U.S. House. "H.R. 3200."
Obama, Barack and Joe Biden. “Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Plan to Lower Health Care Costs and Ensure Affordable, Accessible Health Care Coverage for All.” Accessed 28 Aug 2009.
Philpott, Tom. “Obama Drops Vet Insurance Plan.” 19 March 2009, accessed 28 Aug 2009.
Rucker, Philip. “Obama’s Turnabout on Vets Highlights Budgeting Nuances.” The Washington Post. 21 March 2009.
Morgan, Paulette. “Medicare Advantage.” Congressional Research Service. 3 March 2009.
Steele, Michael. “Protecting Our Seniors.” The Washington Post. 24 Aug 2009.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. “Medicare Advantage.” April 2009.
Biles, Brian, Jonah Pozen and Stuart Guterman. “The Continuing Cost of Privatization: Extra Payments to Medicare Advantage Plans Jump to $11.4 Billion in 2009.” The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief. May 2009.
U.S. Government Accountability Office. “Medicare Advantage: Higher spending relative to Medicare fee-for-service may not ensure lower out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.” Statement of James Cosgrove. 28 Feb 2008.
Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. “Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy.” March 2009.
Posted by Viveca Novak on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 10:43 pm
Filed under Articles • Tagged with health care, medicare, Republican National Committee, RNC