A story appearing in the Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal today saying that fast food giant McDonalds is planning on dropping it’s health care coverage for employees because of requirements tied to the new health care bill:
While many restaurants don't offer health coverage, McDonald's provides mini-med plans for workers at 10,500 U.S. locations, most of them franchised. A single worker can pay $14 a week for a plan that caps annual benefits at $2,000, or about $32 a week to get coverage up to $10,000 a year.
Last week, a senior McDonald's official informed the Department of Health and Human Services that the restaurant chain's insurer won't meet a 2011 requirement to spend at least 80% to 85% of its premium revenue on medical care.
McDonald's denies reports it's considering dropping health care coverage for some employees in response to a provision of the health care overhaul.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing a memo from McDonald's to federal officials, that McDonald's has warned regulators it could drop its plan for some 30,000 workers unless the government waives a new requirement in the health care overhaul.
The company says in a statement Thursday it has been speaking with federal agencies to understand the law.
Just received this breaking news alert from the Washington Post:
President Obama signed an order Thursday night requiring hospitals to allow gays and lesbians to have non-family visitors and to grant their partners medical power of attorney.
The president ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation. The memo is scheduled to be made public Friday morning, according to an administration official and another source familiar with the White House decision.
An official said the new rule will affect any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding.
That’s a step in the right direction, but I can’t wait to hear the response from the Catholic hospitals. I’m sure that’s going to be very interesting.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today will release a new report showing more dramatic health insurance premium increases are proposed in Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
To calculate the 2009 poverty guidelines, do you use a projection of what the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) will be for 2009?
No. ASPE does not project price changes for the current year; instead, we issue guidelines based on price changes through the most recent completed year. Accordingly, the 2009 poverty guidelines, issued in January 2009, reflect actual price changes through calendar year 2008.
Now going by this method I found that something doesn’t add up. Let’s compare 1980 to 2009. Going by the explanation above we would use the CPI-U for 1979 and 2008 respectfully. I found the historical charts here and will do a quick calculation:
1979 average CPI-U: 72.6
2008 average CPI-U: 215.3
Going by those numbers we can quickly calculate that the CPI-U has gone up 2.93 times since 1979.
Again a quick calculation and we can see that this number has gone up only 2.52 times. So why the difference?
Let’s do another quick calculation. What if the $4,284 FPL was increased the same rate as the CPI-U was, or by 2.93 times? Well that would give us a new FPL of $12,552 – or an additional $1,722 for a single person. That also seems like a much more realistic number when you consider how much things cost in 1980 compared to today.
The GOP strategist had been joking about the upcoming presidential election and giving his humorous assessments of the candidates. Then he suddenly cut out the schtick and got scary serious. "Let me tell you something, if Democrats take the White House and pass a big-government healthcare plan, that's it. Game over. Government will dominate the economy like it does in Europe. Conservatives will spend the rest of their lives trying to turn things around and they will fail."
And it turns out that the fearsome harbinger of free-market doom is the mild-mannered ex-U.S. senator with the little, red glasses, Tom Daschle. He'll be the guy shepherding President Barack Obama's healthcare plan through Congress via his probable role as secretary of health and human services. At the core of Daschle's thinking on the subject is the creation of a "Federal Health Board that would resemble our current Federal Reserve Board" and ensure "harmonization across public programs of health-care protocols, benefits, and transparency." (Forget secretary of state, Hillary Clinton should shoot for chairman of Fed Health and run one seventh of the U.S. economy.) And the subject of that "harmonization" would be a $100 billion to $150 billion a year plan that would let individuals (and small businesses) buy insurance from private companies or from a government plan.
Ironically conservatives always pull out the “oh bad Europe” model when discussing the direction of America. That fact is that Europe is doing a lot better than the U.S. right now. But what really strikes me is how conservatives gawk over a $100 to $150 billion a year plan. They sure had no problem dumping that kind of money into a totally useless war. They sure don’t complain when the Pentagon continues to ask for more and more money every year. Yet when it comes to something that can provide a healthy and more productive workforce, they complain? Why do conservatives hate the American economy so much?
Healthcare costs are costing our economy business and jobs. That’s a proven fact. When companies have to fork out millions to insure their employees, that gives them less to pay their employees and cuts into the bottom line. In the manufacturing and service sector, those costs are also passed onto the consumer. Benefit costs actually account for close to 30% of compensation costs. Almost double that in Canada, where there is universal healthcare. And to rub salt into that wound, U.S. companies that move to Canada end up being able to pay their employees more, because they are saving so much money. That means that compensation costs are actually less to the north. Even GM CEO Rick Wagoner admits that healthcare alone adds about $1,500 to the cost of every car.
The Senate blocked legislation on Wednesday that would let the government negotiate Medicare drug prices. Democrats couldn't muster the 60 votes needed to bring the bill up for a vote.
Under the Medicare drug benefit, private insurance plans negotiate with drug makers over the price of medicine for their customers. About 22 million seniors and the disabled are enrolled in such plans. Some lawmakers, mostly Democrats, contend the government could use its leverage to drive a better bargain than individual insurers, which would lower the cost of the program for taxpayers and seniors.
But Republicans countered Wednesday that the program is costing much less than expected precisely because it's the private sector, not the secretary of Health and Human Services, conducting the negotiations. They successfully blocked a motion to proceed to the bill. The tally was 55-42, five short of the votes needed to move ahead
So we get to stick with the current program as is. Let's see how that works.
A senior picks a program before January 1 because that program's formulary contains their prescription drugs. Come February, the program decides to change the formulary and drop this person's drugs. That person is now stuck with needed drugs not being covered for the rest of the year. They can not change programs again until first of the year.
I know people will say this is the extreme and to them I say you are flat out wrong. This happens on a daily basis. I know of countless seniors that had to stop taking drugs or weren't able to pay for other things such as electric because of this screwed up system.
The head of the federal office responsible for providing women with access to contraceptives and counseling to prevent pregnancy resigned unexpectedly Thursday after Medicaid officials took action against him in Massachusetts.
The Health and Human Services Department provided no details about the nature of the Massachusetts action that led to Dr. Eric Keroack's resignation.
Just five months ago, Keroack was chosen by President Bush to oversee HHS' Office of Population Affairs and its $283 million annual budget. The pick angered Planned Parenthood and other groups that support abortion rights, which viewed him as opposed to birth control and comprehensive sex education. Keroack had worked for an organization that opposes contraception.
"Yesterday, Dr. Eric Keroack alerted us to an action taken against him by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Office of Medicaid. As a result of this action I accepted his resignation," Dr. John Agwunobi, assistant secretary for health, said in a terse statement Thursday evening.
There is no word yet as to the action taken against Keroack or any details of it. This could become interesting. We have seen Bush officials resign before only to get in hotter water later.
Remember the Medicare debacle that plagued seniors the first of the year? Well Bush is still wanting to mess with Medicare, and this time his target is the actual doctors and hospitals:
The Bush administration says it plans sweeping changes in Medicare payments to hospitals that could cut payments by 20 percent to 30 percent for many complex treatments and new technologies.
The changes, the biggest since the current payment system was adopted in 1983, are meant to improve the accuracy of payment rates. But doctors, hospitals and patient groups say the effects could be devastating.
Federal officials said that biases and distortions in the current system had created financial incentives for hospitals to treat certain patients, on whom they could make money, and to avoid others, who were less profitable.
Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, said the new system would be more accurate because payments would be based on hospital costs, rather than on charges, and would be adjusted to reflect the severity of a patient’s illness. A hospital now receives the same amount for a patient with a particular condition, like pneumonia, regardless of whether the illness is mild or severe
While the plan may sound great, in the end the people who really pay will be the patients. Current Medicare covers 80% of medical bills, so a typical one day stay in a hospital with no extra tests generally cost a patient between $200-$300. This will result in higher charges to the patients and most greater chances of patients being released from hospitals pre-maturely.
Tom Delay appeared this morning on Stephanopoulos and he has not lost his touch when it comes to lying. Besides accusing Democrats of being more corrupt than Republicans, he made one assertion that is a flat out lie. Rough Transcript:
Delay: The Democrats are going back to their constituents and urging them not to sign up for the new Medicare-D. This means these people are not eligible for free medication.
Wrong Tom. Let's see how this really works. Prior to the January 1 start up of the new Medicare-D program the drug manufacturers offered a program to low income families that did supply them free programs. Of course Health and Human Services decided that this program would be illegal under the new Medicare program so the drug companies were forced to drop the programs.
A couple weeks ago the decision that the free drug programs were illegal was reversed. I first reported on it here.
In a legal opinion that could help many thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, drug manufacturers were told Tuesday that they can continue giving free medicine to poor people even if they’re enrolled for the new drug benefit.
Each year, large drug companies routinely give millions of free prescriptions to the poor. However, most of the drug companies had said they would discontinue this practice for senior citizens now that they could get coverage through Medicare.
In particular, the drug companies had concerns that continuing to operate their patient assistance programs for Medicare beneficiaries would violate federal anti-kickback laws. Conceivably, they could use the programs to steer patients to a particular drug and reduce the patients’ incentive to locate and use less expensive drugs. Such steering could also raise the costs of the program for taxpayers and participants.
Health and Human Services Inspector General Dan Levinson clarified his position on Tuesday that "lawful avenues exist for pharmaceutical manufacturers to give assistance to financially needy patients, including Medicare beneficiaries."
The more I read this story and think about it, the more pissed off I get.
Last week the House passed the tax cuts to extend them to 2010. The tax cuts
pertain mainly to capital gains and dividends, meaning that they affect the
upper-middle and upper classes of this country.
Yesterday the House took this action:
WASHINGTON -- Congressional Republicans made progress on twin tracks
Wednesday toward their end-of-year budget goals, passing a bill freezing or
cutting back spending on medical research and education and nearing
agreement on cuts to the Medicaid health care program for the poor.
The first measure, a $602 billion bill funding a wide variety of health,
education and labor programs, passed the House on a 215-213 vote. It would
cut federal aid to education for the first time in a decade, and spread
about $1.4 billion in cuts across the departments of Labor, Health and Human
Services, and Education.
This congress has once again proven they don't give a damn about the middle
and lower classes of this country. We have heard over the years that America is
changing and its work force must be trained for that change. What a better way
to prepare the country for that than to cut education and labor programs.
Congress is doing everything within its power to further separate the upper
class from the middle and lower classes. With the cost of campaigns rising to
over $30 million a seat, this action is destroying our democracy. In other
words, the Republicans in Congress have squashed the "American dream" and
destroyed our nation even more. All this in the name of greed.
Washington Post is reporting that the Silver Ring Thing abstinence program
lost its federal funding yesterday. The funding was pulled because it appeared
it was going to a religious program
In order for the group to receive funding again, they must submit a
corrective action plan to the Department of Health and Human services showing
they are truly secular. The group maintains that they are secular, but graduates
of the sign a covenant "before God almighty" then receive a ring with inscribed
bible passages to remind them of "sexual sins". Really sounds secular to me
(lots of sarcasm there)
These abstinence programs are becoming the biggest danger to the health of
our young people. Earlier this year a study was released that shows teenagers in
abstinence programs are more likely to try anal or oral sex. Talk about thinking
outside the box! We should be more worried about teaching safe and responsible
sex than teaching about no sex. Through your teen years your mind is growing and
your senses are heightened. You are a monster of curiosity and you are bound to
try things out. The point is that studies have proven abstinence programs do not
The program's funding was pulled three months after the ACLU filed a lawsuit
against the Department of Health and Human services stating it was using tax
payer dollars for a religious purpose. The ACLU is claiming a small victory in
this but will remain on watch for further illegal funding.