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Topic Summary

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 21, 2019, 06:08:12 pm »

On January 15, 2019, the Democratic Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to elect Congresswoman Eshoo as the first woman ever to serve as Chair of the Health Subcommittee.


I signed up for Congresswoman Anna Eshoo's e-mail "Updates from Anna". She is well versed on the issue of Medicare costs and the Supplemental Plans issue, so it may be useful to you to sign up for her updates too.

I found this brief document at her web site with a link to an explanation of the prescription drug Coverage Gap (i.e. "Donut Hole"). I've never spent more than a pittance on prescription drugs so this has never impacted me in any way. I don't have Medicare Part D and have no plans to get it. If you are interessted in how that coverage gap is gradually closing, the document has graphs and some good info.

In regard to your search for a good quality Medicare Supplemental Plan, her web site has a "How Can Anna Help You?" section, which includes the topic of Medicare where you can write to her asking for info and/or advice.

Rep. Eshoo was born in New Britain, Connecticut, of Assyrian and Armenian heritage. She is the proud mother of two children, Karen and Paul.

Since she is the one that has identified many of these ("Medicare" ::) Part C) plans as "JUNK PLANS" (see Thom Hartmann video in the previous post on this thread), her office should have a list of the good, bad and the very ugly providers in your neck of the woods. This could save you a lot of time, money and more importantly, grief. 

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 21, 2019, 04:58:58 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: I am reposting this here so we can discuss Medicare Supplemental Health Care plans in this thread as time goes by.

AG, this is a brilliant letter and quite specific in answering the question they posed. Of course, as you already know, they have no interest in the answer. Only in being able to say they asked the question, in best bureaucratese passive voice. ("To the question, 'How Can We Improve This site,' we received 416 response which are tabulated in Exhibit A by subject, then ranked in order of usefulness...")

This is right on time as I just signed up for Part B and am trying to assess which way to go for Supplemental. My wife is 10 years younger and doesn't qualify yet. Any wisdom you can impart from. your searches is appreciated.

Thank you.

My wife is also ten years younger, so we are in the same health insurance boat, so to speak. I'll pass along to you any supplemental plan info I find that can help keep your premiums down as much as possible. I know you are in Virginia and not a retired Federal aparatchik like me ;D, but the info on the plans I have access to may be of use to you.

In regard to that, as soon as I got on Medicare, my Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) plan became supplemental for me, and continued to be primary for my wife.

I saved some money a couple of years ago when the Federal Government forced them to start the "Self Plus One" plans with the same coverage as "Self and Family", but a lower monthly premium. Always look for the "Self Plus One" 🧐 plan option in your favored supplemental plan, if it is available.

BCBS FEHB (Federal Employees Health Benefits) have had the "Standard" and the "Basic" plans for decades. The "Standard" costs more but allows you to go outside of "Preferred Providers" (PPO) for care and still be covered. If you are in an area where most of the doctors are PPO, like here, the "Basic" plan is a better deal.

I was on the "Standard" for a many years, but switched to the less costly "Basic" plan five or six years ago.

BCBS FEHB initiated a new health insurance plan last year called "Blue Focus". The "Blue Focus" plan is $140 cheaper than "Basic" (monthly premiums for 2020) BUT, it has $1000 deductible (Self Plus One - $500 per person) up front. And that ain't all. It gets worse. It also gets rather ugly as to out-of-pocket expenses if a hospitalization beyond Medicare coverage limits is required (YOU PAY 30% of "whatever BCBS allows the 😈 hospital to say the cost of this or that is".).

Yeah, the old 30% trick happens in the "Basic" plan too, but not on hospitalization. I have no plans to be hospitalized, but having the 30% of hellspital 😈 hospital costs Sword of Damocles hanging over one's head is unwise for anyone, not just the penny pinching frugal poor folks like me.   

BCBS in Virginia apparently calls themselves ANTHEM. I don't know a thing about them except what I found on a brief search today using the Ashburn, Virginia (Loudon County) 20147 zip code: Anthem Health Plans of Virginia, Inc.. I don't know if that is where you reside but it is probably close enough to give you a good idea of what is available from them in your area.

They ask a bunch of questions to allegedly help you find the "best" plan for you. Their job is, of course, to suck you in. You are an old hand at dealing with people trying to game you, so I'm sure you will know what to do to get all the information you need from them without giving them information about you that they have no business knowing.

Rather than a short brochure with a plan summary, I prefer to view a detailed brochure/document, on each health insurance plan I am considering contracting for, so I can wade through it to learn about what is and what is not covered, in addition to copays, deductibles, doctor access and so on. In my cursory search I did not see anything but short summaries of the supplemental plans. I'm sure you can get the detailed versions, but I guess it takes some digging.

Here's the rassle dazzle quicky BCBS FEHB 2020 "BENEFITS AT A GLANCE" comparison.

This is the 2019 "Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® Service Benefit Plan" document covering the "Standard" and "Basic" plans (They won't publish the detailed 2020 info until around the 10th of November when "Open Season" starts). That kind of detail is what I want to know about to make sure I know the dollars and cents score, even if I admittedly suffer from glazed over eyes when wading though this behemoth.

Here's a more general list of Medicare supplemental plans from various Health Insurance providers for the same zip code.

By the way, there is an excellent brief video by Thom Hartmann explaining how Shrub got the "supplemental Medicare" gravy train for Health Insurance greedballs going. Trump is, as expected, following in Shrub's Republican 'squeeze the poor and middle class to further enrich the thieving rich' footsteps.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo 👍 is trying to get a law passed forcing the Medicare Supplemental Plan Providers to clearly state what is NOT covered (which unfortunately will be DOA under Moscow Mitch  >:(). You can see why, when I did my cursory search, I did not find what is NOT covered. It's all part of the SCAM that Shrub started.   

Will Medicare Ever Be Expanded? (w/ Congresswoman Anna Eshoo)
Oct 15, 2019

Thom Hartmann Program
185K subscribers

While conservatives, Donald Trump and the rich are calling for the end of medicare, Congressoman Anna Eshoo out of California's 18th district is fighting to expand Medicare

Do you want to see medicare expanded?

►Join our Membership and Support the Channel ➜ https://www.youtube.com/user/thomhart...

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Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 20, 2019, 10:35:04 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: Surly, I was at the MyMedicare.gov web site looking over supplemental plans and costs. I have Medicare part A and B. I also have Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Self Plus One health insurance, so Carmen and I are pretty well covered.
That said, BCBS raises their premium much more than the U.S. Government published inflation rate every single year. So, around this time each year, I check to see if there is a way I can pay less per month.

I went through the costs of various hospital episodes a Medicare participant might have to go through and pay through the nose for. I was not happy with their numbers, even if they are far below the mind traumatizing $100,000 plus charges some people have incurred from brief hospital stays.

They asked me to take a survey and I did. The web site is satisfactory in that you can find, without much effort, the answers they provide to coverage specifics. However, it has a serious flaw.

At the end of the survey they asked about what they could do to improve. So, I told them, in my typical polite way.


"How can we improve Medicare.gov?"

Ocrober 20, 2019

Educate people about the average costs a person on Medicare must pay out of pocket for ER visits and/or inpatient hospital stays. IOW, be dollars and cents explicit about costs NOT covered by Medicare.

Anyone can see that supplemental health insurance must be paid in advance to keep a person on Medicare, who is increasingly subject to hospitalization, out of the poorhouse.

You need to be very specific about what those supplemental plans (e.g. Medigap, etc.) cover in comparison to the premiums they charge. Your boilerplate explanation of who pays what for a $24,000 heart attack episode at a hospital, along with the average total cost for heart failure, hip or knee replacement and so on, is not specific enough. I'm sure the lawyers like it (and probably crafted it for you), which means it is useless for a person on Medicare trying to estimate hospitalization costs not covered.   

I suggest you give examples of a 10, 20 30, on up to 120 day stay in a hospital detailing the costs of what Medicare covers and what the most common supplemental health insurance plans cover, item by hospital accounting department listed item. You have that detailed information. It is high time you started sharing it. 

The way this program is set up now, instead of putting the responsibility for costs on the hospital when a person exceeds Medicare coverage limits, a patient hospitalized beyond the arbitrary coverage limits is facing bankruptcy. The hospital has an INCENTIVE (see: moral hazard) to keep a patient there as long as possible, instead of striving to get them healthy as soon as possible. This is WRONG. Hospitals are supposed to be about taking care of people, not gouging them for extra profit. On top of the physical trauma a person hospitalized has, they and their loved ones are being arbitrarily saddled with the mental trauma of potentially skyrocketing hospital costs.

Don't tell me the hospital administrators, accountants, assorted bean counters, doctors, nurses, drug companies and "health" insurance corporations are "suffering" from high hospital costs. Medicare participants are the ones suffering from hospital greed, not hospital "needs". The government should be cracking down on "administrative" costs corruption in hospitals, instead of looking the other way as they raise their "costs" annually at MULTIPLES of the U.S. Government published inflation rate. 

It is not your job to champion supplemental health insurance plans that exist for the specific purpose of profiting off of elderly Medicare participants frightened into paying for them, often by sacrificing adequate nutrition. Yes, that is exactly what you are doing when you calmly throw a cost figure like $24,000 for a brief hospitalization at the average American.

Your job is let people know, in no uncertain terms, what those supplemental plans will cost them COMPARED, dollar for dollar, with the coverage they provide.

PLease do your job. 
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 17, 2019, 08:01:15 pm »

Worker Begs Rep. Pocan To Take His Private Healthcare Away
2,353 views•Oct 16, 2019

Thom Hartmann Program
185K subscribers

Although the media would have you believe that workers are trying to keep their private healthcare when Medicare for all passes, one of the many workers who WANTS the government to come in and take his healthcare joins the Thom Hartmann program and begs congressman Mark Pocan to take away his private healthcare in exchange for medicare for all.

►Join our Membership and Support the Channel ➜ https://www.youtube.com/user/thomhart...

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Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 16, 2019, 08:53:35 pm »

Will Medicare Ever Be Expanded? (w/ Congresswoman Anna Eshoo)
833 views•Oct 15, 2019

Thom Hartmann Program
185K subscribers

While conservatives, Donald Trump and the rich are calling for the end of medicare, Congressoman Anna Eshoo out of California's 18th district is fighting to expand Medicare

Do you want to see medicare expanded?

►Join our Membership and Support the Channel ➜ https://www.youtube.com/user/thomhart...

➡️ Subscribe to Our Channel ➜ https://www.youtube.com/user/thomhart...
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: September 08, 2019, 02:36:10 pm »

Hospitals  Are Charging Up to 10x the Going Rate for This

Some  hospitals will charge five to 10 times the going rate for services, then 😈 sue patients who cannot afford the padded bills - and use the court system as their collection agency, forcing many into bankruptcy. Here are the traps to watch out for.

What broke American health care and how to fix it


► Dr. Marty Makary’s book, “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care — and How to Fix It,” reveals the  money games in the U.S. health care system, and what every American should know

► New science is revealing that indications to treat should be narrower then previously recognized. Overall 21% of medical treatments have been deemed unnecessary, contributing to our cost crisis

► Over the past 150 years, the focus of most hospitals has shifted from serving the community to 👹💵🎩generating profits, and these two aims are frequently at odds

► Predatory pricing practices are crushing everyday Americans. Some hospitals will charge five to 10 times the going rate for services and then sue patients who cannot afford the padded bills

► Investigations reveal there’s no correlation between high prices and quality of care. Nor is there a correlation between high prices and charity care

► Another egregious example of predatory pricing is that of ambulance transport. Unless you’re seriously injured, consider taking an Uber to the hospital as the bill for an ambulance transport can run into the thousands. For helicopter transport, it could be as high as half a million dollars

Full article:

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: September 06, 2019, 05:37:10 pm »

Surprise 😈 Billing  is Bankrupting Americans!

Thom Hartmann Program
Published on Sep 4, 2019

The 😈 hospital, the 😈 doctor and the 😈 insurance companies are making money  off surprise billing a practice where patients can be charged for out of network machines and personel they may have never been aware of at all.

The only cure, Medicare for all!

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Category News & Politics
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: August 10, 2019, 01:38:22 pm »

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US


► In 2012, Armstrong, aged 82, underwent heart surgery at Mercy Health Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. He died two weeks later. His two sons insisted his death was caused by medical error

► An anonymous source leaked documents to the press showing the hospital paid the Armstrong family a $6 million malpractice settlement. The sender hoped bringing the information to light might help save lives

When nurses removed the wires for Armstrong’s temporary pacemaker, he began to bleed. Armstrong was brought into the catheterization lab for evaluation rather than straight to the operating room — a nonstandard decision that cost him his life

► Armstrong’s case is a perfect example of the indiscriminate nature of lethal medical errors; 19% of elderly patients are injured by medical care in the U.S., and those injured have nearly double the death rate compared to those who receive proper treatment

July 20, 2019, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. In a riveting three-part documentary series, PBS explores the space race that led to American astronauts becoming the first men to set foot on the moon

How to safeguard your life while hospitalized

Full Story:


July 20, 2019, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. In a riveting three-part documentary series, PBS explores the space race that led to American astronauts becoming the first men to set foot on the moon.

Chasing the Moon

A snippet of Part 1 is embedded above. The full series, totaling six hours, can be found on PBS.org.4 For those of you who are old enough to remember watching the moon landing on TV back in 1969, this documentary will reignite the awe felt that day.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: August 02, 2019, 09:36:12 pm »

Debate: Should Healthcare & Education Be Free From 👹 Profit Seeking Parasites?

Thom Hartmann Program
Published on Aug 1, 2019

Should the profit motive be involved in things that we need to survive, like healthcare?

😈 Grover Norquist thinks that the profit motive needs to be a part of every part of life

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The Thom Hartmann Program is the leading progressive political talk radio show for political news and comments about Government politics, be it Liberal or Conservative, plus special guests and callers


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Category News & Politics
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: August 02, 2019, 06:35:16 pm »




The so-called “standard of care.”

This kind of gangsterism applies to many diseases, not just Lyme.

If the government wants to hide the source of an illness, they can punish doctors for talking about it.

If Big Pharma wants to kill competition by safer, more effective alternatives, they can arrange for doctors to be punished for even talking about them.

It’s total corruption.

Trying to make a disease – and treatments for it – go away by 😈 bureaucratic decree.

Click here to support: The Real Food Channel

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 28, 2019, 09:13:58 pm »

PUBLISHED July 28, 2019

Senate Finance Committee Deals Blow to Big Pharma

BY Karl Evers-Hillstrom & Jessica Piper, Center for Responsive Politics

The Senate Finance Committee advanced a blockbuster drug pricing bill to the Senate floor Thursday while shooting down amendments supported by the pharmaceutical companies, dealing an unlikely blow to the influential industry. The bill aims to reduce drug prices for seniors and save taxpayers billions on government-run health care programs.

Read the Article →

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 24, 2019, 10:11:38 pm »



“Racketeering in Medicine”, the title of a 1993 book by an MD and professor of public health at Tulane University.

He makes the case that medicine is a criminal enterprise better than I can.

An MD with a PhD in Public Health and a professorship a major school of Public Health.

We don’t see books like this by MDs any more.

It’s good that books can’t be vaporized by Facebook, Amazon, or Google, isn’t it?

Click here to support: The Real Food Channel

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 15, 2019, 09:36:43 pm »




NBC didn’t like the way this mother healed her child…

So they collaborated with online trolls and an ex-husband who abandoned his autistic son to try to goad the local police into arresting her got poisoning her children.

Thankfully, the police had the common sense and saw through the NBC-Troll-Dirtbag Ex-Husband BS. 

(Not enough for NBC which shamed the police in a headline for not “doing something.”)

In addition to the trauma of having police show up at her door, the mother has had to stop the treatment which was having a miraculous effect on her adult autistic son.

Laurel Austin 🕊, the mother in this story, is an outspoken autism safety advocate and a Christian.

Why do you think the trolls and NBC picked her of the thousands of mothers who have helped and in some cases completely healed the suffering of their autistic children to target?

It’s pretty transparent, isn’t it?

The message is clear: If you dare to question vaccine safety – even after it has damaged your children – and you treat your children with anything that works (instead of psych meds) you will be attacked.

By the way, the attacks included numerous deaths threats generated by the trolls and the NBC article.

Yes, these people really are that sick.

The complete interview:
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 28, 2019, 06:25:58 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: Hat tip to Surly ✨ for alerting me to this and other pertinent news:

If you smell some health insurance corporation greed based projection from WAPO, you understand what is going on with the WAPO water carriers for Wall Street (i.e. What can politicans DO for Wall Street!). 

By Julie Hollar, Fair.org

June 27, 2019 


According to the Post‘s expert ;) sources:

The debate is not going to be 2008 or ’16 over again. It’s going to be about the price of insulin, hospital charges and insurance premiums, with, “What are you going to do about them for me?”


Full article:

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 18, 2019, 05:50:04 pm »

Scandals Show How Lack of Oversight Make US Healthcare the Most Expensive in the World

The Real News Network

Published on Jun 18, 2019

Lucrative inside deals and seven-figure salaries at a publicly funded hospital reveal how self-enrichment drives up healthcare costs, not providing care for patients

Subscribe to our page and support our work at https://therealnews.com/donate.

Category News & Politics
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 10, 2019, 01:24:37 pm »

What's wrong with American medicine?

Is it an issue of access? Of excessive costs? Or the need for new technology and cures?
The problem is far more fundamental and sinister - and all it's hidden in plain site.

The participants in the system are the classic "Good Germans."

They're just following orders.

If those orders results in the unnecessary death, disability and suffering of millions of people every year, they're fine with that.

Protecting their own careers is as important to them as profits at any cost to Big Pharma.

Like attracts like.

The needs of the people they earn their livings supposedly caring for come dead last.

A Brasscheck original - and you won't see anything put together like this anywhere else.

Video: 👍👍👍

Click here to support: Next World TV

We recommend these books as a foundation for educating yourself about health in the 21st Century:

An MD tells the truth: A huge percentage of illnesses come from environmental and food factors...and you can do something about that.

Clean, Green, and Lean
A medical approach to treating the countless illnesses created by 21st century living.

Honest Health
Little-known treatments your doctor probably doesn't know anything about - written by the daughter of a skeptical doctor.

Books by Sherry Rogers MD
How modern medicine is killing you and what you can do about it.

Is Your Cardiologist Killing You?

The Environmental Illness Syndrome

Tired or Toxic?

The Cholesterol Hoax

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 09, 2019, 04:47:41 pm »



Why I Worry About the Health Care Merger Craze

An Appalachian physician explains how just five insurance powers control most of the market and what that means for patients.
By Raymond Feierabend 


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 15, 2019, 04:08:14 pm »

Medical Insurance  Companies Can Decide Who Lives and Dies – RAI with Wendell Potter (4/7)
May 15, 2019

Whistleblower Wendell Potter says the death of a young woman denied care by the insurance company he worked for was a turning point in his life; he says these practices are still taking place under the Affordable Care Act - on Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 12, 2019, 07:20:22 pm »

The Making of a Medical Insurance Spin Doctor – RAI with Wendell Potter 👍 (3/7)

May 10, 2019

Wendell Potter, author of ‘Deadly Spin: How Corporate PR is Killing Healthcare and Deceiving Americans’, traces his life from growing up poor and Republican in Tennessee, to radicalization during the Vietnam War, to cynical journalist who just wanted to make money - on Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 01, 2019, 10:35:04 pm »

Measles - before the insanity

You might even be old enough to remember.

Make sure young people see this 👀

Before Big Pharma figured out how to make billions - risk-free - from compulsory measles vaccines...

This is what was true about measles.

You might even be old enough to remember.

Make sure young people see this.

I wonder how the pro-vaccine industry shills will explain this?

Were TV producers in the 1950s and 1960s anti-vaxxers?

To date $4.1 billion paid out for vaccine injuries by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) - but vaccines are safe . Go back to sleep.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 01, 2019, 02:09:09 pm »

My Personal Story

Ady Barkan cpd@populardemocracy.org via predictiveresponse.net

May 1, 2019
Dear friend,

Yesterday, I testified at the historic, first-ever congressional hearing on Medicare for All. Though ALS has stolen my ability to speak aloud, special software which tracks my eye movements allowed me to deliver my testimony and answer the committee members’ questions with an automated voice. You can read my full testimony here and watch the full hearing here.
I carried with me the thousands of stories I’ve heard since starting Be A Hero last summer. I am so grateful to all the heroes standing up right now to demand a transformation in our healthcare system. And we’re winning! Before yesterday’s hearing was over, it was announced that Medicare for All would have a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee, the first major committee of jurisdiction for this legislation.
I don’t have time on my side. Americans who are dealing with the everyday realities of their healthcare don’t have time on their side. I can't believe we've come this far. But we have much further to go still.
What drives me?
I’ve written a memoir about the struggles for social justice that I have been involved with and about my personal struggle with ALS. The book will be published in September (with a foreword by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!) but we are announcing it publicly and released presales earlier this month.

The book is called Eyes to the Wind: A Memoir of Love and Death, Hope and Resistance, and you can preorder a copy here right now.

I have poured my heart into this book, in the hopes of leaving a beautiful legacy for my son Carl and our progressive movement.

In it, I write about some of my proudest social justice work from before Jeff Flake rudely confronted me on that airplane and about some of the work you and I have done since then, together, in resistance.

I also share the profound joys of building a life and a family with my wife Rachael and the pain and poignancy that ALS has imposed on us.

From fighting to save the Affordable Care Act to preserving the integrity of the Supreme Court, you have been with me each step of the way. I hope this book will provoke and entertain you, and most of all, I hope it will move you. I would be deeply honored if you were to order a copy (or three! It'll make the perfect holiday present).

If you're on social media, it'd be great if you could share this news on social media with your friends and family to get the word out.

Again, here is the link to preorder the book.

In solidarity and gratitude,

Ady Barkan 👍👍👍

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: May 01, 2019, 01:33:29 pm »

Riveting Testimony at Historic Hearing on Medicare for All – RAI with Wendell Potter (2/7)
May 1, 2019

The House Rules Committee heard powerful testimony about the urgency of passing Medicare for All from Ady Barkan, who is in late stages of ALS. Wendell Potter on Reality Asserts Itself hosted by Paul Jay

Story Transcript

PAUL JAY In a historic first, Medicare for All actually got a hearing on the Hill. During that hearing, Ady Barkan, in advanced stages of ALS disease, spoke. Here’s a segment of that.

ADY BARKAN [CLIP] Never before have I given a speech without my natural voice. Never before have I had to rely on a synthetic voice to lay out my arguments, convey my most passionately held beliefs, tell the details of my personal story.

Medicare for all is the only system [that’s efficient]. Over the past three years, I have seen firsthand how the current system creates absurdly wasteful cost-shifting, delays, billing disputes, rationing and worry. Administrative waste is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

Some people argue that while medicare for all is a great idea, we need to move slowly … I needed it yesterday. Million of people need it today. The time to pass this law is now.


PAUL JAY Welcome back to Reality Asserts Itself on The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay. That was a hearing of the Rules Committee. As I said in the beginning, it’s the first time Medicare for All actually got a hearing in front of a committee in Congress. And now joining us to continue our discussions about health care and more about the American political system is Wendell Potter. Thanks for joining us, Wendell.


PAUL JAY Wendell is a former health insurance executive. He served as head of corporate communications for Cigna before leaving in 2008 with what he describes as a crisis of conscience. He’s the author of the book Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out, and How Corporate PR Is Killing Healthare and Deceiving Americans. He’s also the founder of Tarbell.org, that does investigative journalism into health care issues, and money and politics. Thanks for joining us.


PAUL JAY So, you watched that hearing this morning. First of all, talk about the significance of the hearing.

WENDELL POTTER Well, it just–It’s significant in that just 10 years ago, advocates for moving to a Medicare for All type of health care system were not given a seat at the table at all. In fact there were advocates who were literally thrown out of the Senate hearing when they were protesting the fact that no one was there on the, at the committee level to even testify about Medicare for All.

PAUL JAY So just to place people, this is the hearings under President Obama’s administration. He gets Senator Baucus to chair the hearings, and there’s nobody at this eight, nine person table representing Medicare for All, single payer. There’s every other variety of representative, but nobody doing that.

WENDELL POTTER Yeah. And the insurance industry, the drug companies, the hospital companies, they all had a seat at the table.

PAUL JAY And one should say, also, SEIU, the union had a seat at the table. But they didn’t advocate it, either.

WENDELL POTTER They didn’t, because it was just something that was considered too much pie in the sky. Can never happen in this country. So that just indicates how far we’ve come. And one of the reasons is because we’ve realized as a nation, and certainly a lot of policymakers have, that the Affordable Care Act, while it did some good, didn’t go nearly far enough. We still have nearly 30 million people who don’t have insurance in this country, and a very rapidly growing number of people who are underinsured. They have insurance, they’re paying premiums every month, but they’re not able to use their policies in many cases because the deductibles are so high.

So we’ve seen deductibles increase dramatically since the Affordable Care Act was passed. We’ve seen that a lot of the practices of the insurance industry have continued. And one of the consequences of this law is that the entrenched special interests have continue to make a lot of money. A lot of money. But more and more people in the real world are being disadvantaged.

PAUL JAY As you watched Ady Barkan’s testimony, how did you feel? You’ve been fighting this fight for quite a few years.

WENDELL POTTER You know, it was somewhat emotional to watch him, because his his testimony was incredibly emotional. He has ALS. He realizes he doesn’t have a lot longer to live. And he was talking about his being diagnosed and the struggles that he and his family have faced paying for the care that he needs. And they have insurance. They have pretty decent insurance.

It was a real world example of what people–what can happen to people. We have this belief in the United States that if you’ve got employer-sponsored health care, if you’ve got insurance, that it’s going to be there when you need it. But he was living proof, with very compelling testimony, that that’s not the case.

PAUL JAY Well, what happened to him? I mean, I think most people think once you’ve paid your deductible, you’re covered.

WENDELL POTTER But it doesn’t necessarily–that’s not the way it really is in this country. There are there a lot of things that–In the private health insurance system you have bureaucrats, an insurance company, that really is calling the shots. It often is–your doctor might recommend a treatment or a medication, but there’s someone at an insurance company that will be the final decider as to whether or not you get that. And in some cases the decisions are that you’re not going to get the coverage. And as he said in his testimony, he wants to stay at home as long as he can, to stay with his family. But he’s–to do that he’s essentially had to raise money from supporters to be able to to pay for the care that, you know, to help-

PAUL JAY Because he would need breathing equipment and other kinds of things at home.

WENDELL POTTER Yeah. And otherwise he’d have to go into a nursing facility and be away from his family. And so he’s having to raise money. As he said, it’s ridiculous. And in this country you have to resort to Go Fund Me campaigns to pay for your health care even if you’ve got insurance.

So that’s kind of the state of where we are in this country. A lot of people have insurance. They in many cases have this false belief that it’s going to be there when they need it. They don’t really understand the role that private insurance companies play, how they have inserted themselves between doctors and patients, and how much they are able to avoid paying for the care that we get.

PAUL JAY Well, we’re going to dig into all this in more detail in our future segments. But talk about–the hearing, to a large extent, was about the bill proposed by Pramila Jayapal. And what is the gist of her bill, and how would that change things?

WENDELL POTTER It would create an improved Medicare for All. It would expand the current Medicare program, which covers people who are 65 and older, and people who have certain disabilities. It would expand that to include everybody. It would also improve it to cover more. In our current Medicare program it doesn’t cover vision and dental, for example, or long term care. So that would be covered.

And it’s also structured to eliminate these deductibles that I just spoke about to make health care more affordable. We have a system in which a lot of people, as I said, they have insurance but they can’t use it. They’re foregoing the care that they need. They’re often not going to the doctor because of the financial obligations they have to make before their insurance kicks in. That would all be ended. And it would be universal. It would be everybody in the country would be enrolled in Medicare, and it would ultimately a lot more efficiently operate. We spend about $3.5 trillion on health care in this country now, and about a third of that goes to administrative functions and profits. Much of that could be eliminated.

It’s a very important and very major bill that would restructure how we finance health care. Health care would still be privately delivered. Doctors and hospitals would still be private and independent. But we’d be restructuring how we finance care.

PAUL JAY Now, that’s a pretty important question. In Canada, where there is often given as the example of, you know, the kind of system that could be in the United States, almost all hospitals are publicly owned. And it’s one of the ways they control costs. And I think Bernie Sanders’ proposal, and Jayapal’s proposal, as you said, the hospitals remain what they are. Either they’re private nonprofits, or private or state owned. But a lot of big hospitals are not publicly owned. That’s right. But isn’t that an important feature in making this whole thing affordable?

WENDELL POTTER It’s an important component of making it workable. But like, you know, it’s different from the system in the United Kingdom, for example, in which the National Health Service actually owns most of the hospitals, and employs most of the doctors. Under the Jayapal bill and the Sanders bill you would have a means of making the health care, certainly at the–let’s take hospitals first, for example. The Jayapal bill would establish global budgets. It would determine a budget for each hospital in the country, and based on the patient mix, the demographics of a particular community, what the hospital–what services it offers. And that would be one way of getting our arms around the health care costs in this country. And the same–it would be a similar approach in the Sanders bill. And the the way we pay for drugs would be changed significantly. The Medicare program would be able to negotiate directly with drug companies, which it cannot do now.

PAUL JAY Now, one of the significance of this hearing is that it gets heard. But the overall agenda of the House is going to be set by Nancy Pelosi to a large extent, and a lot of the Democrats, some people call corporate Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi in that, are not a fan of Medicare for All. They want improved Affordable Health Care Act. And how easy is it going to be? Or I should say, how difficult is it going to be to really have this heard properly? Medicare for All heard properly on the Hill?

WENDELL POTTER Well, it’s not going to be a walk in the park, for sure. But on the other hand, there are members in other committees that have signed on as sponsors of this legislation. In fact, it has about 108 co-sponsors, which is a significant percentage of the Democratic caucus in the house. So a lot of members have signed on to this bill through other committees of–so-called committees of jurisdiction, like the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Budget Committee. They’re all expected to hold hearings at some point. Now, the one that was just health was in the Rules Committee. So there are a lot of committees that have some jurisdiction over this legislation. There will be others. But that’s also historic, as well. We have the promise and expectation that at some point these other committees will also hold hearings. So it’s being discussed in ways it never has before.

PAUL JAY And this is going to have a real effect on the Democratic Party primary. I mean, they can’t pass this legislation in Congress, because the Senate–there’s no way the Senate’s going to vote for Medicare for All.

WENDELL POTTER Right. McConnell has said that. He’s not going to have a hearing in the Senate.

PAUL JAY So the first real practical effect of this is how it might influence the primary, because some of the people running for president, like Bernie Sanders, are for Medicare for All. I don’t think Joe Biden is. I think he’s for a stronger ACA. So the hearings are going to have a lot to do with how this debate plays in a real fight for the leadership to become the representative of the party in the election.

WENDELL POTTER Right. And I can’t overestimate the importance of today’s hearings. And there were some because of Speaker Pelosi’s ambivalence, I guess you would say, at best toward this legislation, that it would be kind of stacked against those who support Medicare for All. But it actually turned out to be a very good hearing for Medicare for All advocates. I think at the end of the day they were pretty happy with the way it went. And this is going to be encouraging to advocates around the country that this, first of all, that it was held at all. And, secondly, that it got a good hearing.

Clearly there were critics. The Republicans always got a chance to have those, you know, their friends at the witness table. And they were there. I refer to them as ‘friends of the industry,’ as well, too. There was a couple of think tank representatives there, and both of them have gotten money from industry, from corporations. So they’re kind of the usual suspects that you typically see at these hearings but the witnesses invited the Democrats largely were supportive or made the case for moving forward. And certainly moving beyond where we are now because you can’t look at where we are and not realize that the Affordable Care Act falls far short of getting us to where we need to be in so many ways.

OK. In the next segments of our interview we’re going to talk about how Wendell Potter got to be a whistleblower on the industry that he had become a senior executive in. And we’ll get to the hearings where he blew the whistle on what he knew about as an insider what he knew about how insurance companies were essentially deciding issues of life, who would live and who would die, and how it brought him to what he called a crisis of conscience to come to Congress and expose all of this. And then we’ll talk further about the issues of the day.

So please join us for the continuation of Reality Asserts Itself with Wendell Potter on The Real News Network.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 26, 2019, 09:26:39 pm »

PODCAST   04.16.2019

The Potter Report Podcast

Why do we believe the things we do? Whistleblower, New York Times best selling author and Tarbell.org founder Wendell Potter, along with millennial co-host Joey Rettino, are joined by politicians, activists, journalists and pretty much everybody to figure it out.

By Joey Rettino, Wendell Potter
EP 12 – Health care journalism in the heartland with Trudy Lieberman

On this
🔊 episode, Wendell and Joey discuss health care reform, rural America and the state of health care journalism with past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists and Tarbell.org contributor, Trudy Lieberman.


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 18, 2019, 08:41:18 pm »

Is 💵🎩😈 For-Profit Healthcare is Bankrupting You? - Medicare for All?

Thom Hartmann Program
Published on Apr 17, 2019

Americans are going broke from lack of access to healthcare, and much worse.

At the same time, United Healthcare and other private health insurance companies are making mind-boggling profits. 

When are Americans going to stop healthcare companies from sabotaging Medicare for All and controlling our politics?

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News & Politics
Posted by: Surly1
« on: April 17, 2019, 05:06:59 am »

This is a winning issue for Sanders. Corpadems on the Big Pharma payroll hate it!
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 16, 2019, 11:29:05 pm »

Medicare for All Divides Democrats but Might Unite the Nation
April 15, 2019

Michael Lighty speaks on Sanders' Medicare for All bill, the corporate-fueled war inside the Democratic Party, and the battle for American minds

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 13, 2019, 07:56:49 pm »

Insurance Industry Whistleblower Exposes Effort to Crush Medicare for All


In an effort to inform the public about the corporate forces working to crush Medicare for All, an employee at the insurance giant UnitedHealthcare leaked a video of his boss bragging about the company's campaign to preserve America's for-profit healthcare system. The remarks were leaked just days after Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his improved Medicare for All bill.

Read the Article →
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 09, 2019, 10:35:56 pm »

BY Karen Garcia, Sardonicky

PUBLISHED April 9, 2019

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 07, 2019, 04:39:07 pm »


Democrats on the take: New DCCC Chair is a best friend of health insurers
How health insurance cash forms opinions on Medicare for All.

By Wendell Potter
Here’s a headline you can bet my former colleagues in the health insurance business were thrilled to see last week: “DCCC chief: Medicare for All price tag ‘a little scary.’”

That headline topped the lead story in the March 6 edition of The Hill, a newspaper widely read by Congressional staff and lobbyists and others in the influence-peddling business in Washington. You’ll see ads in The Hill by big corporations and special interests you won’t see anywhere else—like the full-page “we’re-not-a-bad-guy” ad on page 2 by opioid maker Purdue Pharma and the two full-page “we’re-part-of the-solution” ads a bit deeper inside by Eli Lilly.

I mentioned  Bustos in a story I wrote on June 25, the day before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned party honchos with her upset victory over longtime incumbent Joe Crowley in the New York Democratic primary. Crowley, as I pointed out, was one of a handful of House Democrats who received campaign contributions from the political action committees of all five of the biggest for-profit health insurers—Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group. But Crowley wasn’t those PACs’ favorite Democrat in Congress. That distinction at the time went to none other than Cheri Bustos.

So it came as no surprise to see Bustos pouring a big bucket of ice-cold water on the very idea that Congress would give serious consideration to improving and expanding the Medicare program to cover every American, which polls show a big majority of Democratic voters—and even a sizable percentage of Republican voters—favor. When Medicare covers all of us, there will be no need for health insurers as we know them—and we know them increasingly as barriers to getting the care we need. To delay for as long as possible the day Medicare covers everybody, the insurance industry and its allies are showering Democrats with campaign cash and providing their friends in high places—including Cheri Bustos—with talking points designed to scare the daylights out of people. >:(

(video at article link) Produced by Joey Rettino

Bustos and I have a lot in common. We both were journalists in our first career: She was a reporter for the Quad City Times in Davenport, Iowa; I was a reporter for Scripps-Howard newspapers in Tennessee and Washington. She left journalism to go work for a big hospital system in Iowa; I went to work for a big hospital system in Tennessee (and from there to Humana and Cigna). She and I even had the same title at the end of our corporate careers—Vice President of Corporate Communications—and we both were paid handsomely. The Quad City Times reported that Bustos was making north of $300,000 when she quit to run for Congress. She took a sizable pay cut when she was sworn into office to represent Illinois’ 17th congressional district in 2013. I took an even deeper pay cut when I left my corporate job and blew the whistle on my former employers. I have written about politicians on the take; she is one of those politicians.

Bustos was a proven fundraiser from the start. Since 2011, when she launched her first campaign, she has raised nearly $13 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Even though she was widely favored to win reelection last year (she beat her Republican opponent by more than 24 points), she still raised $4.5 million, much of which she didn’t need or spend. That big pile of Benjamins was considerably more than the average raised by other House members.

And there’s this: Nearly 85 percent of what her campaign took in came from corporate and special interest PACs and large individual contributions. Less than 13 percent came from small individual contributions.

Most of Bustos’ campaign cash last year came from people who couldn’t even vote for her. Nearly 80 percent came from outside of her district and more than half from out of state. None of the big five for-profit insurers that wrote big checks to her campaign are based in Illinois.

Bustos’ comments in the Hill story came a week after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) introduced The Medicare for All Act of 2019 with 107 cosponsors, and they tracked with talking points now flooding Washington by the health care industry’s new front group, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, which comprises health insurers, drug companies and big hospital systems like the one Bustos used to work for. It was created for the explicit purpose of scaring Democrats away from any Medicare for All legislation.

“What do we have—130 million-something Americans who get their health insurance through their work?” Bustos was quoted as saying in the Hill article. “The transition from what we have now to Medicare for all, it’s just hard to conceive how that would work. You have so many jobs attached to the health care industry. I think the $33 trillion price tag for Medicare for all is a little scary.”

Now compare that to the messaging in the Partnership’s first digital ad last month attacking Medicare for All proposals. And note, too, that that “scary” $33 trillion figure—which, by the way, covers a ten-year-period—came from a study produced by a think tank funded by the Koch Brothers, two rich guys no one would mistake for Democrats. What Bustos didn’t mention is that even that study, biased as it was, concluded that sticking with our current private insurance driven-system would cost $2 trillion more than Medicare for All. Bottom line: Medicare for All would be a bargain compared to the status quo Bustos , who thrives in the swamp that is Washington, is defending.

Bustos clearly is one of the health care industry’s reliable go-to Democrats on Capitol Hill. She’s not the only one, though, not by a long shot. In the coming days, Tarbell will be publishing a comprehensive analysis of Congressional Democrats on the take from health care special interests. Watch this space.  


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: April 07, 2019, 03:43:58 pm »


Drug company payments to doctors may influence prescription choices

By Trudy Lieberman

Recently Peggy, an Indiana woman and reader of this column, sent me a lengthy email about her 94-year-old mother who is rapidly spending down her minimal savings to pay for prescription drugs. 

Peggy didn’t hold out much hope that prices would come down before it was too late for her mom.  But she succeeded in lowering her mom’s drug costs and what she learned along the way can be helpful to others strapped by high pharmaceutical bills.

Her mother is typical of many women in old age who have only a tiny financial cushion to absorb the continual price hikes imposed by the drug makers.  She was raised during the Depression, didn’t work much outside the home, lived in a condo her son bought, and then moved to an assistant living facility almost two years ago.

The facility’s $3,100 monthly fee plus drug copays bit into her savings, which totaled about $30,000 when she moved to assisted living.  Government benefits earned by Peggy’s father who served in the Korean War, a very small pension from a former employer, and Social Security benefits cover all but about $600 of the assisted living fee. The rest comes from her savings, which now are about half of what they were in 2017.

While most of her mother’s drug copays and other out-of-pocket pharmaceutical expenses have been manageable, Peggy explained it was the $313 copay for a three-month supply of a well-known, heavily advertised blood thinner a cardiologist had ordered that was the biggest culprit causing her mother’s savings to shrink.

That was the price her mom was paying when she hit Medicare’s infamous donut hole last year.

Peggy said every time her mom visited the physician, the doctor told her she was lucky to take the expensive blood thinner instead of the other “stuff”, which he called “rat poison” implying a cheaper drug was inferior, even dangerous. Peggy said at every visit he 😈 told her that she was fortunate to be taking something better.

Then a family member discovered openpaymentsdata.cms.gov 👍👍👍, a database maintained by the Medicare program that reveals the amounts of money pharmaceutical companies pay to doctors in speaking and consulting fees, in research fees and for food and drink expenses. Her mom’s cardiologist had received nearly $80,000. 😲

Peggy had a bad feeling about the doctor and switched her mom to another physician who kept her on the high-priced drug for a couple months. Then she was diagnosed with anemia, taken off blood thinners and prescribed low-dose aspirin.

In the meantime, Peggy’s husband had a heart attack and developed a blood clot.  His doctor prescribed a low-cost blood thinner that’s been on the market for years. She said he’s doing just fine on the “rat poison” disparaged by her mother’s first doctor. His cost: a $6 copay every 30 days.

For a long time, impartial medical experts have thought that the choice of drugs and devices may be related to payments doctors receive from drug and device companies.

Since 2014 the Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires drug and device makers to report to the government the payments they make to doctors.

The Medicare database is a treasure trove of some 11 million payments  to physicians.

The online publication ProPublica found that drug and device makers gave more than one billion to doctors and hospitals from August 2013 to the end of 2016. Some of them have received payments totaling millions of dollars.

However, the drug and device database may be one of health care’s best-kept secrets. 

A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that only about 3 percent of respondents said they knew if their own doctor had received payments from the medical industry. Unlike Peggy’s family, they had no idea that Medicare’s Open Payments database existed.

Most Americans don’t readily switch doctors sometimes – even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the doctors performed badly. The Lown Institute, a Boston medical think tank, reporting on the BMJ study, concluded, “maybe we should be more open to switching doctors based on their relationship with industry.”

Peggy had some advice of her own: “Do the research. Did the doctor receive money to push the drug? Ask questions?  How much does the drug cost? Is it really a better alternative?”

Do you have an experience about health insurance you’d like to share or a question you’d like to ask? Write to Trudy at trudy.lieberman@gmail.com.

This piece was originally published as part of Rural Health News Service series, “Thinking About Health”, on 3/26/19.


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