Are Seniors Paying Attention to Paul Ryan’s Plan for Medicare?

Tea Party members who railed against health care reform because of the spin they were sold about how “Obamacare” would affect Medicare played a big role in returning the House of Representatives to Republican control.

I’m betting that many of them, if they’re paying attention to what Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wants to do to the Medicare program, are having some serious buyer’s remorse. If Democrats are wise, they’re already drafting a strategy to remind Medicare beneficiaries, including card-carrying Tea

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Pay Much Attention to the Insurers Behind the Curtain

Democrats who think Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues have foolishly wrapped their arms around the third rail of American politics by proposing to hand the Medicare program to private insurers will themselves look foolish if they take for granted that the public will always be on their side.

Rep. Ryan’s budget proposal would radically reshape both the Medicare and Medicaid programs. It would turn Medicaid into a block grant, which would give states more discretion over benefits and eligibility. …

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Lone Star State ‘Reform’ a Texas-Sized Distortion

When Republicans talk about how the American health care system should be reformed, they typically mention two things: allowing insurance firms to sell policies across state lines, which I wrote about Tuesday; and malpractice reform.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is considering another run for the White House, has touted malpractice reform as one of the primary “solutions” he would pursue if elected president. He claimed during a GOP-sponsored panel last week that malpractice reform would nearly eliminate unnecessary …

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Insurers’ Cynical Calculations on the Cost of Doing Business

Since you likely don’t pay as much attention to the behavior of insurance companies as I do, you probably are not aware that CIGNA, my last employer, was fined $600,000 by the North Carolina Department of Insurance earlier this week for, among other things, not charging its customers correctly.

In addition to the fine CIGNA has been ordered to pay, the company will have to shell out several hundred thousand dollars in refunds to North Carolina employers whom regulators say …

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The False Promise and Big Profits of ‘Mini-Med’ Health Plans

One of the reasons I left my job as a PR executive for the health insurance industry was because I could not in good conscience be a pitchman for the sort of fabulously profitable benefit plan that often provides little more than the illusion of coverage.

Known as “mini-meds,” these plans have become popular among businesses like fast-food chains that have many low-wage employees. The common features of these plans: high deductibles, modest benefits and low annual caps on medical …

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One Year Later: Health Care Reform a Law Worth Keeping

Is the health care reform law a good deal for Americans or is it so badly flawed that Congress should repeal it? Now that the measure is one year old — President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to law on March 23, 2010 — I humbly suggest we attempt an unbiased assessment of what the law really means to us and where we need to go from here.

To do that in a meaningful way, we …

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Death Panels, Fact and Fiction

“Death panels” are back in the news and Congress is turning its attention to them once again. The problem is, lawmakers are looking in all the wrong places.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, now headed by Republicans, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week demanding to know how a controversial provision that was excised from last year’s health reform bill wound up — briefly — in a government “rule” on physician reimbursement.

The …

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NHS Reform; ‘Don’t Follow the US Example.’

As the Coalition pursues its plans for fundamental reform of the NHS, Wendell Potter warns that Britain must be careful not to follow America too far down the road of the profit motive.

As someone who knows firsthand how the profit motive can wreck a healthcare system – leaving millions of people without coverage and millions of others unable to pay for care even if they do have insurance – I was alarmed to learn about the reforms to the

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Insurers Lobbying on the Fine Print May Erase Consumer Protections

One of the provisions of the health reform law that insurers hate most requires that they spend at least 80 percent of what we pay them in premiums for actual medical care. That provision alone is a major reason why insurance companies and their allies invested so heavily in Republican candidates last year.

The insurers knew that if their candidates won—and most of them did—they would have a better than even chance of getting Congress to weaken that provision to …

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A Canadian-Style Single-Payer Health System in Vermont?

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Chances are you’ve never heard of Peter Shumlin, who last month was sworn in as the 81st governor or Vermont. That’s about to change. If Shumlin makes good on a signature campaign promise, he might end up as well-known and beloved in the United States as Tommy Douglas is in Canada.

OK, maybe you’ve never heard of Tommy Douglas, either. A former Baptist preacher and member of the Canadian parliament, Douglas is considered the father of Canada’s …

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