Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

Blue Shield of California Announces Independent Review of Rates, Possible Refunds, But Then Takes It Back

Friday, January 14th, 2011

[UPDATE: Not sure why Blue Cross pulled and then re-issued this press release. Some background on the rate increases here.]

I don’t know, here’s the release that Blue Shield of California sent out this AM, which wouldn’t be all that interesting excepting for the fact that they just went and called it back, they’re saying right now they want you to disregard it.

The Blue Shield, they want a Mulligan on this one looks like, but they don’t say why so that’s bad cricket, IMO.

I can’t decide that for you. You’re going to have to choose whether you wish to avert you gaze or not. Starting…. now!

As seen at AT&T Park during that whole Icer Air ski jump thing back in ought -seven. That’s a Blue Shield, right?

Blue Shield of California Agrees to Independent Actuarial Review of Rates. Company will make refunds to policyholders if rates are unsound

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 14, 2011 — Responding to concerns raised about rising individual health insurance rates, Blue Shield of California announced today that it will voluntarily subject its rates to an independent actuarial review and make refunds to policyholders if the actuary finds that the rates are unsound. David Axene, the respected actuary who discovered errors in other California rate filings last year, will conduct the independent review of the not-for-profit health plan’s rates.

Approximately 194,000 Blue Shield of California Life and Health Insurance Company members recently received notices of rate increases that averaged 15% annually. Due to a variety of factors, some members received increases much higher than the average.

“We regret that our members have received significant rate increases in recent months and want to be absolutely certain that the rates reflect our actual cost of providing medical care,” said Blue Shield Chairman and CEO Bruce Bodaken. “To establish trust and confidence in our rate-setting process, we have taken the unprecedented step of agreeing to be bound by the conclusions of an independent third party. If this independent review finds that the rates are not sound, we will hold our members harmless by refunding the difference with interest.”

Mr. Axene is president of Axene Health Partners LLC, and has worked as a professional actuary since 1971. Last year, he conducted independent reviews of individual rate filings for the California Department of Insurance, where he found errors that, when corrected, resulted in lower rates for hundreds of thousands of consumers.

Mr. Axene will be free to confer with the Department of Insurance on his review, which he hopes to complete in 30-45 days. He will evaluate Blue Shield’s rate filing to determine if its calculations are accurate and its assumptions are sound. He will determine if the rates are “excessive, unjustified, or unfairly discriminatory,” which is the standard suggested by recently proposed federal rate review regulations. Whatever conclusions he reaches, his report will be made available to the public.

Despite Blue Shield’s recent rate increases, the company expects to lose $10-20 million on its individual health plan business in 2010 and another $20-30 million in 2011. Blue Shield’s total costs for hospitals, physicians and prescription drugs have risen by an average of 15% annually for each of the past three years.

“Our premiums are rising because of the rapid increase in healthcare expenses for our members,” said Bodaken. “Reducing medical costs must be an urgent national priority for health coverage to be affordable for the vast majority of Americans.”

About Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan with 3.3 million members, 4,800 employees, and one of the largest provider networks in California. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California offers a wide range of commercial and government products throughout the state. The company has contributed more than $125 million over the past four years to the Blue Shield of California Foundation–which was named one of BusinessWeek’s 20 most generous corporate foundations. Contact your local agent or broker for more information about Blue Shield products and services, or visit the Blue Shield website at www.blueshieldca.com.

Strategist Nate Ballard Takes a Victory Lap in the New York Times over Jeff Adachi’s Proposition B Going Down in Flames

Friday, November 5th, 2010

San Francisco’s Nate Ballard is being celebrated today in the New York Times. Check it:

“’Like it or not, unions are still the most potent political force in California,’” said Nathan Ballard, a Democratic strategist and former Gavin Newsom aide who once worked for the California Labor Federation. Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for governor, ‘persistently demonized the unions,’ Mr. Ballard said. ‘It was a miscalculation on her part. She greatly underestimated their influence.’”

So it would seem. A few months back, I certainly thought that Prop B would do a lot better than it did.

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Proposition B‘s lopsided defeat will make people think twice before creating other initiatives that affect organized labor in the 415, it would seem.

RAND Corporation Study: Older Americans are Less Healthy than Older English People, But Americans Live Longer

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Here’s some news from our RAND Corporation:

“Older Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts, but they live as long or even longer than their English peers, according to a new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.

Researchers found that while Americans aged 55 to 64 have higher rates of chronic diseases than their peers in England, they died at about the same rate. And Americans age 65 and older — while still sicker than their English peers — had a lower death rate than similar people in England, according to findings published in the journal Demography.

The paper was co-authored by James Banks and Alastair Muriel of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and James P. Smith, distinguished chair in labor markets and demographic studies at RAND.

If you get sick at older ages, you will die sooner in England than in the United States,” Smith said. “It appears that at least in terms of survival at older ages with chronic disease, the medical system in the United States may be better than the system in England.”

Mmmm…

iconRead Article at muse.jhu.edu
iconPopulation and Aging Research Area

The Biggest Mobilization Yet Against Prop B – “Bad Medicine” in GGP – “How Would Prop. B Change Health Costs?”

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Read below to get the deets on today’s big anti-Prop B mobilization at the east end of the Golden Gate Park Panhandle.

So maybe somebody will give you a novelty pill bottle today – this is the reason why.

Now, the Bay Citizen‘s Elizabeth Lesly Stevens and Tasneem Raja have been all over the Prop B recently. Check out their recent efforts along with lively commentary from readers:

How much more would city employees pay for health care under Prop. B?

Bay Citizen Analysis: How Would Prop. B Change Health Costs?

And, from the pro-B people, here’s something they put together that didn’t cost a dime:

San Francisco City Workers are Overpaid

(Actually, I didn’t know that these free text-to-computer voice characters could be made to dance.)

(Or maybe the Prop B people spent $20k on it – I can’t really tell.)

O.K., back to today’s event.

This is a big deal covering many supervisorial districts. See?

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Thank Gaia the Hawaiian Surfers Union was there as well:

And here are your Prop B props:

All the deets:

“Hundreds Of Anti-Prop B Volunteers To Mobilize Saturday After Panhandle Gathering, “Pill Bottle” Giveaway In S.F. Neighborhoods

Massive mobilization of hundreds of volunteers against Proposition B, which will double the cost of children’s health care. Throughout the day, volunteers will be tabling in neighborhoods with “pill bottle” giveaways to symbolize that Prop B is “bad medicine.” Other volunteers will spread out around the city and knock on doors to educate voters about the bad effects of Prop B.”

Nate Ballard Thinks Jeff Adachi is a Wolf – Senator Leland Yee to Appear at Anti-Prop B Rally Tomorrow

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

I’ll tell you, the last time I saw Proposition B, it was tumbling end over end smack dab between and ten yards above the electoral uprights, just like in this video at :04

IOW, Prop B is a lock to win, IMO. The only mystery is how B will affect the rest of the ballot, AFAIAC.

But, who knows, a lot can happen before November. Like this Anti-B / Anti-Jeff Adachi rally in the Inner Sunset starring Leland Yee, California’s Fightingest Senator. 

Here’s the best part, as promised by Nate Ballard:

“****Special Appearance By A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing****”

Now, I haven’t seen this kind of public mockery and demonization in the Inner Sunset since, I don’t know, the extremely unfunny anti-Craigslist / Craig “Newpimp” rally a few months back.

Just look at this black-and-white graphic the anti-B folks are sending out:

All the deets:

Prop B: A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Proposition B’s backers call it “pension reform” but Prop B is actually a massive increase in health care costs for working families that doubles the cost of health care for kids. Don’t be fooled by this wolf in sheep’s clothing.
 
Who: Opponents of Proposition B including Senator Leland Yee, Asian Firefighters Association, nurses, teachers, and other community leaders
 
What: Senator Yee and Prop B opponents campaign against Prop B
 
Where: Ninth and Irving, San Francisco
 
When: TOMORROW, Wednesday, September 22, 10:00 AM
 
Why: To campaign against Prop B, distribute No on B signs and literature to neighborhood merchants, and talk to voters about the health care impacts of Prop B

See you there!

Straddle the line in discord and rhyme
Jeff’s on the hunt, Jeff’s after you.
Mouth is alive with juices like wine
And Jeff’s hungry like the wolf

Noe Valley Whole Foods Showdown – Andrew S. Ross Reveals the Order of Battle

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

[UPDATE: Whoops, apparently the Chronicle has two Andrew Rosses covering similar beats? Oh noes! Well, all the better. Speaking of mistakes, what are the odds that I’ll see a lit up snowflake on Market Street tonight? About 100%, based on the past two weeks’ observation. Oh well. Good thing those snowflakes don’t use petroleum-based electricity, huh?]

You see, normally the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Andrew S. Ross is lumped together with PhilMatier, thusly:

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But sometimes they let him run wild and unchained, all by his lonesome, thusly:

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As here, where Andrew Ross gives his take on the order of battle of this morning’s Whole Foods Showdown: Six Flags Over Noe Valley, Don’t Mess With Texas. See what Andrew did there? He fleshed things out, he gave more detail, he added to the story.

Que bueno!

(Now, you give those limited column inches to somebody like C.W. Nevius to check in with 24th Street and what would you get? Well, maybe vitriol and emotion, and maybe that would be it. Oh well.)

Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with M&R together (a quarter mil. we have to pay for horrible, soon-to-be-cancelled Trauma, where the average worker, we’re talking median and mode here, makes rock-bottom minimum wage?), but they should let Andrew out of the bizness ghetto and allow him to run wild over any and all subjects of the day

And that’s the The Bottom Line.

[UPDATE: Whole Foods has started to construct a defensive wall made of pumpkins, but how strong could it be? We’ll find out soon enough.]

[UPDATE 2, Electric Boogaloo: War Reporter Andy Wright has extensive coverage from the field of battle]

The Noe Valley Whole Foods Boycott Begins Tomorrow, September 30th at 9:45 AM

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Oh, it’s going to be on tomorrow morning at the Grand Opening of the new Whole Foods at 3950 24th Street in The Valley. San Francisco’s fifth WF will start the sacred Bread Baking Ceremony at the same time protesters arrive to raise a ruckus about health care reform and CEO John Mackey, mkay?

Everyone is welcome to the store and the protest – highly unlike the invite-only events Whole Foods has recently held for the fearsome neighborhood groups. It’s called outreach or something. Whole Foods just ought to put these neighborhood associations on the payroll the way Sutro Tower, Inc. pays money to neighborhood groups around Mount Sutro to shut them up. A little payola (or granola in a huge goodie bag) can go a long way when you’re trying to placate the NIMBYs, of course.

Anywho, be there at 9:45 AM tomorrow to see San Francisco’s upscale version of Harlan County, USA

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And just think, after the boycott, “You’ll feel proud to come in and get food to serve to your family, friends, and neighbors.” Remember how embarrassed you were serving up that slop from the old Bell Market? Those days are over, soon as the boycott ends.

And if you’re not boycotting, sign up for the store tour on Tuesday, October 6th:

Tuesday Tours: A Taste of Whole Foods Market

10-11am Please sign up in advance, but the tour is FREE and limited in size. | Details

Both seasoned shoppers and new customers can benefit from a guided store tour, especially with so many unique choices available! In this tour, we’ll showcase what we mean when we say we offer all-natural, real food, at the best possible price. This is your chance to ask, listen and learn everything you want to know about our market. Please sign up in advance, but the tour is FREE and limited in size.

And here’s the bacchanalia you were excluded from:

“We are eagerly awaiting our opening next week on Wednesday, September 30th ! We have been working hard and are so delighted that we’re almost there! Further, we feel incredibly grateful for the support, well wishes, humor, smiles and hospitality that our new community has shown us! As a very small token of our thanks, we’d like to invite you to join us at our very own “Whole Foods Market Tapas Truck” on Saturday, September 26th from 11a-2p (really it’s a Taco Truck, but we’ll be serving Spanish Tapas—but you can’t miss it in our parking lot.)
Marketing Team Leader
Whole Foods Market, Noe Valley”

This is a special invitation ONLY event for our neighbors in the associations that we have been working with.

Have a look at the attached & either print a copy of this to bring with you or contact me so that I can get you printed copies that I have here at the store.

Any question, please ask—we’ll see you very soon!

Best regards,

Jennifer Dobrowolski”

Choose your side and get on out there!

Dead and wounded on either side/
You know it’s only a matter of time

ABC News, Princess Diana and the Health Care Debate – Point /Counterpoint

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Here’s the headline and the first sentence from a recent ABC News bit:

Princess Diana’s Death Offers Lessons for Health Care Debate, 12 Years Later. In Britain’s Beloved Royal’s Death, Experts Find Guidance in French Health System”

“The Mercedes 600 carrying Princess Dianaand her companion Dodi Fayed was traveling more than 85 miles per hour when it hit a concrete pillar head-on in the Place D’Alma underpass, crumbling like an accordion.”

diana_paristunnel_wideweb__470x362,0

1. No, the car was not a “Mercedes 600,” (which was called the Dictator’s Mercedes, used since 1963 by the likes of Nicolae Ceauşescu, Josip Broz-Tito, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Leonid Brezhnev, Kim Il-sung,  Idi Amin Dada, and Ferdinand Marcos), nor was it the extended wheelbase, armored Mercedes S600 that Diana was using earlier in the day. It was a Mercedes S280 (or S 280, or 280 S, with a W140 body, registration 688LTV75) actually, one that allegedly wasn’t fixed properly after being stolen for parts earlier in the year. In fact, the S600 in question was used as a decoy to try to befuddle the paparazzi.

This is not the writer making a typo, it’s an error that tells you that Diana is merely being used a hook to get a convo going about the issue du jour, health care.

Does the writer (or editor, whomever) understand what she’s talking about? No. Did she negligently copy a mistake made by others before her? Apparently. Institutionally, would it be easy for the writer to fix her mistake at this point? No, she “knows” she’s right, because she’s a professional writer, steeped in the warm bath of the MSM. Do you think she’d poke through her numerous comments looking for new insights, or do you think she’d generally dismiss her commenters as a bunch of “crazies?” (I too might generally consider her commenters crazies as well, but it doesn’t mean they’re not right about any particular issue, of course).  

Of course the S280 didn’t have its identifying badge on the back, so that makes things a little harder  to keep straight. (You see, the Eurotrash, they tend to be sensitive about such matters, matters like not having the best S-Klasse car available.) Anyway, the goal of using a decoy at the Ritz Hotel so long ago was to confuse journalists, and that trick is still fooling them today. Oh well.

 2. Now back in the day you had cars that would get crushed “like an accordian,” but modern vehicles are designed with crumple zones so that the front third of the vehicle gets accordianed leaving the passenger compartment relatively intact. (In Diana’s particular case, she wasn’t wearing her seat belt, but it might not have helped her too much anyway.) The car was crushed exactly not like an accordian, it behaved exactly as it was designed. (Ironically, Mercedes was a pioneer with this type of safety design, with a actual patent to its credit from 1959.) I’d be hard-pressed to think of another car model that would have been better for her to be in, actually.

Which do you prefer, accuracy or a bunch of adjectives and damned similes strung together? Is that a false choice? If the “good writers” (“Oh, she’s such a good writer” or “Oh, you’re style is wonderful!”) of the MSM have their druthers, it’s generally similes first, accuracy second. Oh well.
2.1.This concludes the nitpicky part. Mind you, we just discussed part of the first sentence, complete with flagrant, correctable errors that jump out at you. Not much point in continuing that, except to ask how does the writer know that the car was going not just but “more than 85 MPH”? Sounds  a bit on the high side – I don’t believe there’s a consensus on that score. Again, oh well. If the details aren’t important, why are there in the first place? Decoration? The World Wonders.

3. Scoop and Run vs. Stay and Play. You just can’t tell if the half-assed “Franco-German” approach to emergency doctoring contributed to Diana’s death. Now, of course a homeless person in San Francisco almost certainly would have gotten better treatment in similar circumstances. The SFFD or whomever would have pried open the car’s carcass as if it were a tin can and hustled her over to S.F. General with a quickness.

But you don’t know how it would have gone. At least with Scoop and Run, you know you gave it the old college try. There have been incidents in America similar to that of Natasha Richardson, but they are rare. Why? Lawyers. I beg of you, Monsier, watch yourself. Be on guard. America is place full of lawyers, lawyers everywhere, everywhere.So that’s a drain on society, but fear of lawsuits means that EMTs and first responders tend to try harder in America. They lack the cavalier attitude some French might have. Just saying.

(And the way, “Stay and Play” is a horrible phrase. Supporters of this approach should try to think of a better name. Yish.)

4. So, why did Diana die? A drunk driver, plus a flighty princess who encouraged speeding whether she knew it or not, plus a Parisian tunnel design with exposed pillars that wouldn’t pass muster in poorest part of Alabama, plus Stay and Play (as a possible factor, I mean she certainly had traumatic injuries from a horrific accident, no argument here) – add all that up and there’s your answer. (A conspiracy-free answer, you might note).

And as far as getting rid of the “Anglo-American” emergency response doctrine, well that’s not on the table. Why? Cause the lawyers will tear apart any kind of “well, we used to Scoop and Run but that got too expensive” explanation as to why it took 100 minutes to get the E.R.

So what does Diana’s death have to do with the American health care system? Not all that much, it would seem.

Just saying.

Obama as Joker Posters Come Down as Soon as They are Put Up in San Francisco

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Read all about the way these Obama as The Joker posters have been glued up all over the Financial District and the SoMA.

Or better yet, see the culprit, Joe or Kris, one of them, in action for yourself. (In this particular case, a woman is NOT the culprit. How refreshing!)

As seen on Mission Street:

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I’d expect them to be all torn down by now…

San Francisco’s Lyndon LaRouchies Don’t Like Obama’s National Health Care

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The Lyndon LaRouche Movement of the San Francisco Bay Area is going all out against any changes to healthcare policy being forwarded by Barack Obama.

See? Click to expand.

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This is right near the Financial District on Market Street - two people, some literature, and an ironing board, that’s your Movement in the Bay Area.

So, the LaRouchies don’t don’t like George W Bush, the Queen of England, and now, President Barack Obama. Makes you wonder who they DO like (besides Lyndon LaRouche).

Don’t Stop Believin’, LaRouchies!