NEWS OF: 5/25/2006

DirigoChoice: Reform or No Reform

A couple of bills to rework the DirigoChoice insurance program have been rejected in the legislature but Gov. Baldacci, supporter of the bills, threw in a reform of his own, saying he will appoint a 15-member commission to study DirigoChoice funding and structure and report back by January.

First of the bills RJ’ed would have reduced payments made by commercial insurers. The other bill would have allowed the agency to self-insure, instead of contracting with Anthem.

In the meantime, it’s business as usual for DirigoChoice. See Press Herald

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NEWS OF: 5/2/2006

Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act is Neither

VIEW ALL: Health Insurance

S.1955 is a piece of legislation that would deregulate the health insurance industry and eliminate state patient protection laws. Currently covered procedures like mammograms and prenatal care would no longer be covered.

It’s republican name is “Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act” or HIMMA. What it boils down to is this: insurance coverage is purchased through non-profit organizations on behalf of member businesses, which sounds reasonable enough, until you realize that this plan preempts state insurance laws. Those offering health insurance would decide what benefits you or your family need.

To keep costs low, they would offer less coverage. The price might initially be lower, but would inevitable creep up to be just as unaffordable as ever. The cycle repeats with more items being dropped from the list of covered benefits.

Against? The American Cancer Society and Tom Allen, among others. Mainers? Here’s the list of what you lose. It’s extensive. Sponsor of this bill? Wyoming Republican Senator Michael Enzi - the senator willing to protect a piece of cloth printed with stars and stripes with a constitutional amendment, but has little interest in the civil rights of humans.

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NEWS OF: 4/26/2006

ChoicePlus: A 33-Gallon Trash Bag and a Loaded Gun

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41% of working adults earning up to $40,000 a year were uninsured for at least part of last year according to a survey of 4,350 people conducted by a New York research group. That’s up from 28% the year before. The discovery that just under half of the middle class has slipped into the flaming-oil-barrel-and-a-shopping-cart column is “worrisome” according to researchers.

As health insurance costs increase individuals are opting for higher deductibles and catastrophic coverage only. My insurance company deductible is so high that the plan comes with the larger Town of Gorham trash bag and a gun with a single bullet in the chamber.

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NEWS OF: 3/2/2006

Welcome to Wal*Mart, May I Work You to Death?

Large employers like Wal*Mart do provide health insurance for employees — or at least those few employees that (a.) work enough hours to qualify, (b.) have at least two years seniority to be eligible, and (c.) make enough money working whatever other full-time job they have to be able to afford the cost-prohibitive co-payment.

Wal*Mart (and other bling-encrusted-smock-sweat-shops) get to smile, palms up, and claim “we’re doing the best we can.” But are they?

Beth Edmonds is backing a bill that would require the state to compile annual statistics on Maine workers who are on Medicaid. It also would force every employer with 1,000 or more employees to tell the state Department of Labor by Dec. 1 how much the company is spending on health care coverage for its workers, as a percentage of total payroll.

Peter Gore of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, said, “Doing business in Maine is hard enough without penalizing businesses that fail to meet state-imposed insurance standards.”

But when businesses thrive and flourish year after year on the equivalent of immigrant labor, they do even greater damage to Maine. See Press Herald

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NEWS OF: 2/2/2006

$40 Billion Reasons for Deadbeat Dads to Rejoice

There’s good news for deadbeat dads who will no longer be dogged by the state to support their children thanks to Congress approval of a $40 billion spending cuts package. It costs too much to chase you down, so those state programs will be shut down. This could force more women into welfare, but don’t worry, those women will be working even more hours for fewer bucks thanks to the same package so they won’t have time to come after your sorry ass either.

Your deadbeat kids, should they survive the system and make it to college? They’ll be paying higher interest rates on their loans.

Medicaid recipients will be paying more for everything: co-payments, deductibles, prescription drugs, etc. And seniors deemed as “more affluent” will find it harder to get Medicaid to cover their nursing care. It passed the House despite the fact that virtually no Democrat supported the bill. See

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NEWS OF: 1/26/2006

Support the Troops?

More than 260,000 veterans applied to receive health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in fiscal year 2005 but were turned away because of the Bush Administration’s cost-cutting decision to limit veterans’ access to VA hospitals, clinics and medications. See Michaud.

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NEWS OF: 1/17/2006

Tonight’s Word: Laughter

VIEW ALL: Health Insurance

First, reports indicate that seniors who exercise at least three times a week have a better chance of preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Now, combine this with another report that researchers have found a spell of “hearty laughter” causes the tissue that forms the inner lining of the blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate, increasing blood flow in the same way as a bout of aerobic exercise, thereby protecting your heart. What we end up with a prescription for humor at least three times a week. We suggest the Daily Show with a Colbert Report chaser. And that’s the word.

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NEWS OF: 8/31/2005

Dirigo Make Good Choices

No one can agree on how to fund Dirigo Choice. The state says the Dirigo Health Program is cutting health care costs thereby saving insurance companies and employers money.
But at a Monday meeting, payers told the board the state must demonstrate a clear cause-and-effect relationship between Dirigo initiatives and health care savings before they willingly agree to fund the plan. In the meantime, more of Maine’s children than ever are living in poverty and we’re facing a winter with skyrocketing heating costs. Good times. See BDN

NEWS OF: 7/27/2005

Still Think There’s an “Island”?

Couple of rants on health care. First Tom Allen and then Mike Michaud. The haiku version?

System lacking,
Sick go packing
$40 Tylenol
Association Health Plans
Your only hope is the lottery

NEWS OF: 6/7/2005

Sick of Families

Beth Edmond’s bill (LD 1044: An Act to Care for Families) requiring employers with 15 employees or more to allow workers to use up to five days a year of accrued paid leave to care for a sick child, spouse or parent has received initial support from the House and Senate. See: Morning Sentinel

NEWS OF: 3/2/2005

Health Insurance for Retirees

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) is cosponsoring legislation that would increase access to health insurance for federal retirees and members and retired members of the uniformed services by giving them access to those premium conversion plans, that allow participants to pay for health insurance with pre-tax dollars. See Collins Press Release

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