Is America a ‘Nation on the Take’?

America stands at a historic crossroads. One path leads to a renewal of our Democratic ideal, the other to government by the few, the rich and the powerful. So argue Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman in their new book, “Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts our Democracy and What We Can do About It” (Bloomsbury).

Potter will be familiar to Center for Public Integrity readers as a former health insurance executive turned critic, Center columnist and

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How to Reduce the Absurd Amount of Money Americans Spend on Health Care? One Community at a Time

Thinking big with Esther Dyson.

If you’d like to meet someone who is truly “part of the solution,” someone who understands the problems of American health care in a way that few politicians do—and someone who is putting her money where her mouth is to get us healthier—meet Esther Dyson.

Dyson is a former journalist and angel investor whom Forbes magazine named one of the most powerful women in American business. Thirty-five years ago, Dyson founded EDventure Holdings, a pioneering …

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Presidential Candidates in Fantasy Land Over Health Care

Candidates say this and that about health care, but it’s the insurers and pharmaceutical companies that call the tune.

Presidential candidates from both parties are full of sound and fury about various aspects of the U.S. health care system, but unless we as a nation get serious about big money in politics, all the noise will ultimately amount to nothing.

Every one of the Republican candidates has pledged to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. But I’m not

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Insurers Using Lobbying Muscle, Campaign Cash to Push Mergers

Firms pulling Washington’s power levers on Capitol Hill.

The CEOs of Aetna and Anthem, the two big insurers that have offered to pay more than $90 billion to buy two competitors, Humana and Cigna, will testify before a Senate panel Tuesday, in an effort to persuade lawmakers that the deals will be good for consumers. Physician and hospital trade groups and health care advocates are among those that disagree,

Appearing before a Senate Judiciary committee that oversees antitrust issues

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Insurers Say Private Medicare Plans Are Better, But We Really Don’t Know

Firms hold tight to data, so comparing their programs with traditional Medicare not possible.

Health insurers have been telling us for years that their Medicare Advantage plans, which are federally funded but privately run alternatives to traditional fee-for-service Medicare, can provide better care—at lower cost—than the government.

One of my priorities when I worked in the industry was to perpetuate that notion. And I believed the PR, so much so that I encouraged my own parents to enroll in a

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Merger of Health Insurers Usually Leads to Big Payday for Executives

Policyholders end up paying more, according to studies.

If regulators approve the recently announced mega-deals in which Aetna, Inc. would buy Humana Inc. and Anthem Inc. would buy Cigna Corp., will consumers benefit? Or will the winners be limited primarily to the executives and shareholders of the companies involved?

If history is guide, the big winners will be — you guessed it — company executives and shareholders. The companies’ customers, on the other hand, likely will have the privilege of

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Health Insurers Working the System to Pad Their Profits

Taking advantage of Medicare Advantage.

One of the reasons the health insurance industry worked behind the scenes in 2009 and 2010 to derail Obamacare was the fear that changes mandated by the law would cut their Medicare Advantage profits. Medicare Advantage plans are federally funded but privately run alternatives to traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

Although the industry’s biggest trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, said repeatedly that insurers supported Obamacare, the group was secretly financing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s TV

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Candidates Without a Clue

GOP contenders hate Obamacare but don’t have an alternative and know nothing about health insurance.

If folks who watched Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate were expecting the candidates to tell us what they’d do to replace Obamacare if they could get rid of it, those folks would have been disappointed.

In fact, the 10 candidates who are currently leading the polls said so little about health care during their two hours on stage that one has to wonder if they’ve

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Privatizing Medicare Would Create More Problems Than it Solves

Elderly health program was created 50 years ago for a reason.

Republicans have long dreamed of finding a way to either privatize or get rid of Medicare, a program that has provided access to health care for well over 100 million Americans since it was created in 1965. As presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made clear a few days ago, that dream is still alive.

While many Democrats and Medicare beneficiaries were making plans to celebrate the

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Latest Swing of Revolving Door Puts Former Medicare Czar in Charge of Health Insurance Lobby

Tavenner appointment reveals that insurers will continue to chase federal money.

Washington’s notorious revolving door was in full swing again last week as the health insurance industry snagged another top federal official to help it get what it wants out of lawmakers and regulators.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s biggest lobbying and PR group, announced Wednesday that its new president, starting next month, will be none other than Marilyn Tavenner, who served as the chief administrator of the Centers

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