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DOJ: Attorney General Holder and HHS Secretary Sebelius Announce New Interagency Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Team
Attorney General Holder and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the creation of a new interagency effort, the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), to combat Medicare fraud. Holder and Sebelius also announced the expansion of Strike Force team operations to Detroit and Houston. Medicare Fraud Strike Forces, currently in operation in South Florida and Los Angeles, fight Medicare fraud on a targeted local level.
New Report Casts Exclusion of Single Payer Option as a Question of Democracy and Human Rights | Press Release
NEW YORK - May 28 - At a critical moment for health care reform in the United States, The National Economic & Social Rights Initiative has published an in-depth assessment of single payer proposals, finding that a single payer system goes further towards meeting key human rights principles than market-based plans.
The question of whether national leaders will consider a single payer system as an option for health care reform has become a question of basic democracy. Despite most Americans supporting a single payer solution, the Obama Administration and congressional leaders have denied it consideration. Key stakeholders such as health care professionals, patients and single payer advocates have been excluded from hearings regarding health reform, prompting courageous civil disobedience actions by health care advocates. One of the protesters at the recent Senate Finance Hearings, Dr Margaret Flowers of PNHP Maryland, said: "We have entered a new phase in the movement for health care as a human right: acts of civil disobedience. It is time to directly challenge corporate interests. History has shown that in order to gain human rights, we must be willing to speak out and risk arrest".
In a recent article, Donna Smith of the California Nurses Association critically suggests that any health care reform bill that comes out of Washington will be falsely advertised as a "human rights victory". But what would a true human rights victory look like? NESRI's report addresses that question.
The report analyzes four bills (Conyers HR676, Sanders S703/McDermott HR1200, Vermont S99/H100 and Minnesota SF118/HF135) against key human rights principles such as universality, equity, affordability and comprehensiveness. It shows that if health care reformers are serious about achieving a system that respects human rights, single payer proposals must be given consideration as they would vastly increase access to quality care for all individuals and secure long-term financial sustainability.
NESRI's report is intended to support the efforts of human right to health care advocates by providing a serious analysis of the benefits of a single payer plan. Cathy Albisa, co-founder of NESRI, said: "We have a fundamental choice to make as a country; we can either be guided by human rights that reflect our founding values or we can continue down the path of special corporate interests. The kind of health care system our government puts in place and what weight is given to the opinion of the American people in the upcoming debate is an important barometer of the health of our democracy and our ability to move towards a more equitable society."
"A Human Rights Assessment of Single Payer Plans" is available for download (PDF).
By Susie Madrak
I have a friend who's working in D.C. on health care reform, and she added some context to that "people are happy with the insurance they have" claim that's bandied about. She says their focus groups show that when people say that, they mean they don't want to have to fill out a lot of paperwork the way their parents have to do with Medicare - ever since the pharmaceutical companies took control a few years ago. (As someone who's watched her mother struggle with the Plan D paperwork, I know exactly what they mean.)
They're saying given a choice between what they already have and know, and some unknown plan that requires a lot of paperwork, they'll stick with the devil they know. It means they want a simple, easy-to-use benefit - in other words, single payer. It certainly doesn't mean they're "happy" with their insurance, as this exchange from yesterday shows (h/t DC Blogger):
From Washington Stakeout
From Single Payer Action:
UnitedHealth Group is America’s largest insurance corporation.
Today, at a press briefing at UnitedHealth’s Washington, D.C.
headquarters, the company released a report titled “Federal Health Care Cost Containment — How in Practice Can it Be Done?”
The report lists 15 options.
Incentivize members to use high quality providers.
Reduce avoidable and inappropriate care.
Incentivize physicians to encourage high quality care.
Apply evidence-based standards to reimbursement policies.
What did not make the list?
Get rid of the hundreds of health insurance companies.
Replace them with one single payer.
Save $400 billion a year in overheard costs and profits.
No more bills, co-pays, deductibles.
No more 60 Americans dying every day from lack of health insurance.
Why didn’t single payer make UnitedHealth’s list of options?
President Obama has gone to extraordinary lengths to suppress advocates of single-payer health care. He has choreographed a grand theater of faux-change, in which he "seeks to create a façade of unity along lines that do not threaten corporate power." The goal is to "sidetrack, possibly for decades, the most broadly supported idea in American politics, today." This "requires elaborate reconstructions of reality," starting with "methodically erasing single-payer advocates from the picture, with the enthusiastic collaboration of the corporate media." Thus, Obama and compliant Democrats on The Hill stage "summits" and "public roundtable discussions" on health care from which majority U.S. opinion is totally excluded.
Bill Moyers' Journal once again just covered a position backed by the majority of Americans but shut out by Congress (with NO more filibuster excuse for the Democrats) and by the corporate media. In this case: single-payer healthcare and the rallies, protests, and forums on behalf of single-payer documented here.
Donna Smith of CNA and PDA was absolutely terrific! Get her on Youtube and send it everywhere!
(But why keep calling Baucus the Democrat who's taken the most money from health insurance and health corporations when Obama's taken so much more?)
David Himmelstein and Sidney Wolfe were wonderful as well. Get them on Youtube!
Watch the whole show at Bill Moyer's Journal.
At a health care briefing in the House Rayburn Office Building, on May 20, 2009, Dr. Carol A. Paris of Leonardtown, MD, shared her feelings about her role as a member of “The Baucus Eight,” and its importance to the cause of Single Payer. She added: “Single Payer is...Medicare Expanded!” Dr. Paris was arrested on May 5, 2009, for challenging the current rigged health care system at a hearing in the Senate Dirksen Office Building. On that date, Single Payer advocates were barred from having their voices heard by the very undemocratic Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, one Max Baucus (D-MT). Only the “Fat Cats” from the HMOs, Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industries were welcomed at Sen. Baucus’ table.
Click "Read more."
Bill Moyers' Journal
Friday, May 22, 9:00pm
Why single-payer health care isn't among the health-care reform plans under consideration. Guests include Donna Smith (California Nurses Association), Dr. Sidney Wolfe (Public Citizen) and Dr. David Himmelstein (Physicians for a National Health Program).
President Obama's mission to keep the U.S. health care system safe for the profiteering classes got waylaid last week by - the profiteers, themselves. The health care industry "refused to corroborate Obama's claim that they had agreed to reduce health care spending by $2 trillion dollars over ten years." Worse, some of them pointed out that, in point of fact, Obama doesn't have a fully developed health plan. The president's business allies' failure to back up his fiction means Obama will have to pick another occasion to proclaim that the private sector has made sacrifices, and it's time to take the axe to "entitlements."
Please go right now and vote for the "Will You Fight for Single Payer?" question. The following is from Congress Matters:
Got a question for Congress?
Tue May 19, 2009 at 07:14:25 PM PDT
Here's an idea: Use Internet technology to enable an improved level of two-way communications between the public and Members of Congress.
What do you think?
Yeah, yeah, we're already sort of doing that with blogs. But this is more specific. You'll like this. It's the Feedback Forum of ProgressiveCongress.org.
You go there, and you answer this question:
In response to what she described as an enormous amount of feedback/flak she got on her so-called comprehensive program about the health care/insurance situation, Diahn Rehm is devoting this hour (10-11 this morning) entirely to single payer.
Adrienne Campbell of Dearborn, MI, was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 22. Her insurer denied coverage for a highly suspect legal reason. Ms. Campbell went $8,000 in debt to cover the cost of her treatment. At age 26, and uninsured, she developed ovarian cancer.
Hospitals and insurance companies said Thursday that President Obama had substantially overstated their promise earlier this week to reduce the growth of health spending.
Mr. Obama invited health industry leaders to the White House on Monday to trumpet their cost-control commitments. But three days later, confusion swirled in Washington as the companies’ trade associations raced to tamp down angst among members around the country.
After meeting with six major health care organizations, Mr. Obama hailed their cost-cutting promise as historic.
Note: Baucus has taken money from health insurance companies as well as pharmaceuticals, but very little compared to Obama! Don't believe much of what Obama says. He ignores the question and talks about how healthcare costs too much -- blames it for the military-created national debt even! -- but avoids the fact that single-payer would reduce costs. When the crowd repeatedly cheers for single-payer Obama calls them "the little single-payer advocates".
Washington is abuzz with news from the Senate Finance Committee's recent Health Care Roundtable Discussions and President Obama's announcement on Monday that he supports proposed voluntary action by the insurance industry and its allies to cut health care cost inflation by 1.5% per year.
However, as the National Coalition on Health Care points out, health care costs are actually rising at a rate of more than 6%.
“Since the first days of his administration, Obama has methodically erased single-payer advocates from the picture.”
The president feigns amazement at popular demands for a change in the industrial world’s most expensive and dysfunctional health care system. "We're doing some stuff on health care because I think the country is geared up, businesses are geared up, families are geared up to go ahead and start solving some our extraordinary health care system problems," Obama fairly gushed, as if his own corporate-friendly proposals accurately reflect the public will. In reality, the Administration is engaged in an elaborate charade designed to sidetrack, possibly for decades, the most broadly supported idea in American politics, today: single-payer health care.
Obama has gone to extraordinary lengths to suppress advocates of a single-payer or “Medicare for all” system, which polls have consistently shown to be favored by at least six in ten Americans, including majorities of doctors and other health care professionals. HMOs, insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations rank among the most despised institutions in the land – causing Obama to take on the mission of saving them from the public’s wrath. As the reigning impresario of theatrical faux-change, Obama choreographed last weekend’s parade of industry troglodytes (and one very wayward union) promising to “save” the homeland from their predatory selves to the tune of $2 trillion over the next ten years by reducing the growth of the percentage they gouge from the economy.
We’ve Lit a Fire, Now We Need to Fan It
A Populist Health Care Rebellion is Brewing
By Kevin Zeese | Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics
Last week when I was one of the Baucus Eight, so-named because eight of us were arrested before Sen. Baucus, I hopped others would join us. Yesterday, they did. And, the single payer movement grew stronger.
Before the hearing I joined nearly 50 people in a spirited protest outside the U.S. senate letting all who entered know we wanted a single payer national health care plan.
And, inside there were a series of protests.
As the hearing began, and Sen. Baucus was speaking a group of about 30 nurses, dressed in their red hospital uniforms, stood up and turned their backs on Baucus. They had pinned to their backs: “Nurses Say: Stop AHIP. Pass Single Payer.” (AHIP is America’s Health Insurance Plans – the health insurance industry lobby.)
MASH's Mike Farrell, Actress Mimi Kennedy & PDA Director Tim Carpenter Speak on Single-Payer Health Insurance
One of the speakers at a Capitol Hill rally, on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, advocating for a Single Payer Healthcare System was actor Mike Farrell. Mr. Farrell is a long time champion of progressive causes and a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
At a press conference, on Capitol Hill, on May 13, 2009, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) spoke out strongly for a single payer healthcare system. He said: “Healthcare is a Civil Right!”
This actually made it onto NPR (and of course includes lengthy nonsensical opposition to single-payer): Listen here.
By David Swanson
Dr. Margaret Flowers, who was arrested along with seven others at the first Senate Finance Committee hearing on healthcare, just phoned me from the second one. As Chairman Max Baucus called the hearing to order, about 20 members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) stood and turned their backs on the committee. Pasted on their backs were signs reading: "Nurses Say: Patients First," "Stop AHIP," (referring to health insurance lobbyists), "Pass Single Payer."
Tuesday morning, Max Baucus's Senate Finance Committee will again hear from healthcare "stake holders," among whom there will not be a single supporter of single-payer healthcare. Among the non-stakeholders, including the American people, things could be better:
Here are the US rankings out of the 30 OECD countries (1 is best; 30 is worst -- worst as in Somalia-like). The names of the countries even more Somalian than the US appear in parens.
Infant Deaths: 28 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey).
Life Expectancy: 24 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Czech & Slovak Republics).
Health Expenditures: 1 out of 30.
Poverty Rates: 28 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey).
Child Poverty: 27 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Poland).
Income Inequality: 27 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Portugal).
Obesity: 30 out of 30.
Incarceration: 30 out of 30.
Work Hours (ranked in ascending order): 30 out of 30.
Height (women): 25 out of 30 (Mexico, Turkey, Korea, Portugal, Japan).
Height (men): 24 out of 30 (Italy, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Korea, Japan).
Max Baucus Should Not Be Deciding Health Care for America
The “Senator for K Street” is Putting Campaign Donor Profits Ahead of the Basic Needs of the People
By Kevin Zeese | ProsperityAgenda.US
Senator Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee are too corrupted by corporate health industry profiteers donations to give America the health care policy it needs.
Health care is 15% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Health care costs have been rising rapidly for several years. U.S. health care expenditures surpassed $2.4 trillion in 2007, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990. The cost of health care is projected to reach $4.4 trillion by 2018. There is a lot of room for corporate profiteering in the increasing cost of health care. So, the millions the health care industry has invested in Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee could turn out to be a very profitable one.
All Out Effort: Put Single-payer Healthcare “On the Table”
It's National Nurses Week, and we’re joining the California Nurses Association in Washington, D.C. to promote single-payer healthcare. We need your help!
Please make 2 calls TODAY to get single-payer experts into the Senate Finance Committee Roundtable discussion!
This Tuesday, May 12, the Senate Finance Subcommittee is holding its final roundtable on healthcare reform. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee has issued a request to include Roseann Demoro, Executive Director of CNA/NNOC and longtime leader in the single-payer movement. PNHP has formally submitted the names of two outstanding physicians, Drs. Marcia Angell and Steffie Woolhandler, to testify as expert witnesses.
Please call Sen. Baucus' office in Washington at 202-224-2651, or fax him at (202) 224-9412, and urge him to extend the invitations.