Health Care Excuses And The Reality Of Lost Coverage

Paul Krugman’s column lists some of the common excuses conservatives use to argue against taking action against the problem of millions of Americans being unable to obtain health care coverage. They use a variety of arguments to deny there is a problem. Most who use such arguments probably currently have what they believe is good coverage and therefore they do not see a problem.

There is a word for many people who believed they had good health care coverage before they became seriously ill and required insurance coverage. That word is bankrupt. Many people who become ill receive coverage without problems, but unfortunately many others do not. The Los Angeles Times looks at how one health insurer paid bonuses to employees for dropping the coverage of those who filed expensive claims:

One of the state’s largest health insurers set goals and paid bonuses based in part on how many individual policyholders were dropped and how much money was saved.

Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc. avoided paying $35.5 million in medical expenses by rescinding about 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006. During that period, it paid its senior analyst in charge of cancellations more than $20,000 in bonuses based in part on her meeting or exceeding annual targets for revoking policies, documents disclosed Thursday showed.

The revelation that the health plan had cancellation goals and bonuses comes amid a storm of controversy over the industry-wide but long-hidden practice of rescinding coverage after expensive medical treatments have been authorized.

These cancellations have been the recent focus of intense scrutiny by lawmakers, state regulators and consumer advocates. Although these “rescissions” are only a small portion of the companies’ overall business, they typically leave sick patients with crushing medical bills and no way to obtain needed treatment.

SciFi Friday: WGA Strike Edition

With nobody knowing how long the WGA strike will last I’m sure much of this is subject to change but we are starting to get an idea as to how the strike will affect many of the shows. The good news is that you’ll have a lot more time to read your favorite blogs.

Lost has only filmed eight episodes but has decided to go ahead and show them starting in February. If they are unable to complete the season, the eighth episode ends in a cliff hanger which will serve as a season finale.

24 was already delayed by the California fires, and has additional problems with Jack Bower Kiefer Sutherland having to serve time in a Chinese prison in jail following a DUI arrest. As of now the season is canceled.

The Heroes Origins spin off has been canceled and Heroes might come to an early end this December. In the meantime, we finally get an explanation as to what happened following the conclusion of last season on Monday’s episode. It’s a shame the season might be ending as Tim Kring appears to have figured out what he has done wrong. In an interview in Entertainment Weekly, Kring acknowledges that the pace has been too slow this season and that Hiro spent too much time in Japan. Is there anyone who didn’t guess that Hiro would wind up doing the good deeds attributed to Takezo Kensei and that David Anders would turn out to be a bad guy who survived to present time? I never did trust Sark.

Pushing Daisies will end after the ninth episode which was rewritten to serve as a season finale. If I knew it might only last nine episodes this year I might have stuck with it longer, but I gave up on it after the second, questioning how long the gimmick of bringing people back to life would work. (The idea did work well for Torchwood when they brought it back only one time following the series premiere in the episode broadcast on HDNet this week, They Keep Killing Suzie).

Many sitcoms are also shutting down early, including Big Bang Theory. This show was a pleasant surprise for the season. Episodes often include jokes which those who watch the shows regularly discussed here will appreciate. CBS is putting together a string of comedies on Monday nights to rival the classic “must see” Thursday lineups from NBC. Last I heard, How I Met Your Mother has remained in production but Rules of Engagement has been shut down.

Jon Robin Baitz, creator of Brothers and Sisters, wrote a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger requesting that he intervene in the strike which is up at Huffington Post. It just might take a killer cyborg to get the writers off the picket line and back to work.

JJ Abrams has stated he will honor the strike and not do any rewrites, but filming for the upcoming Star Trek movie began this week as scheduled. In casting news since my last update Bruce Greenwood will play Captain Christopher Pike, who preceded James T. Kirk in commanding the USS Enterprise. The most surprising addition to the cast was Winona Ryder as Spock’s mother Amanda. Some early pictures from the filming have been posted on line. In other Star Trek news, The Times of London has a feature on Patrick Stewart. Armin Shimmerman (Quark) and Lawrence Krauss are teaching students at Arizona State University about The Science of Star Trek.

At least Doctor Who won’t be affected by the strike. Alice Cooper is now discussing a guest appearance next season.

The comic books are also unaffected by the strike (other than for the many potential movie versions still to be made).The American Prospect has a story on how the comics are becoming increasingly political.

Obama vs. Edwards

The Washington Post and The National Journal feature interviews with Barack Obama which include his views on the other major candidates. There’s still far less specifics than I would like on the issues, but a comparison between candidates of any type is far better than the usual horse race articles. I bet that the comments on Clinton will receive most of the coverage but I also found the interviews significant for his comments on Edwards. John Edwards often gets a free ride on his limited experience, which is far less than Obama’s, and for the considerable change in his positions compared to when he last ran for president. Obama responded to recent attacks from Edwards:

Edwards, who has staked his candidacy on winning the Iowa caucuses, has turned his attention to Obama recently, arguing that the Illinois senator would be too willing to compromise with special interests as president. The former North Carolina senator has said the next president must be willing to fight those interests.

Obama suggested Edwards had reconstituted himself since his last campaign. “John wasn’t this raging populist four years ago when he ran” for the previous Democratic nomination, he said. “He certainly wasn’t when he ran for the U.S. Senate. He was in the U.S. Senate for six years, and as far as I can tell wasn’t taking on the lobbyists and special interests. It’s a matter of, do you walk the walk that you talk?”

Obama also said he stacks up favorably against Edwards when their earlier records are compared. “Let me put it this way,” he said. “If John wants to make the comparison between the work I did as a community organizer — or as a civil rights attorney or as a state senator taking on special interests — to him working as a trial lawyer making millions of dollars, I’m happy to have that discussion.”

Campaign Briefs

Maybe there’s a reason why Edwards’ campaign has been such a fiasco. Jeff Denilli floats a theory that Joe Trippi is really working for Barack Obama. This year Edwards is playing Dick Gephardt to Hillary Clinton’s Howard Dean front runner status. Once the dust clears from Edwards’ attacks on Clinton, will Obama walk away from Iowa as the winner like Kerry did in 2004?

At the last Democratic debate Bill Richardson chastised the other candidates for criticizing Hillary Clinton. Maybe he now realizes that taking down the front runner is necessary for the underdogs to win, as he is now questioning Clinton’s electability. At least we know she tips well, despite earlier reports to the contrary.

Ron Paul got to finally take on his arch enemy.