Consumer Group Alleges Big Insurer WellPoint Is Gaming New Healthcare Reform Law

WellPoint Inc., one of the nation’s top five private health insurers, is looking for loopholes and play corporate games to keep corporate profits high, a consumer group charges. The group, Consumer Watchdog, is calling for the Obama administration to launch an investigation of WellPoint, which is the parent firm of Anthem Blue Cross, a California insurer that recently sought to jack up rates nearly 40 percent even in the face of soaring profits. That increase raised the ire of California state officials, as well as federal lawmakers, both from California and beyond. Consumer Watchdog cites a message to investors sent via Dow Jones newswires as describing how it would simply re-label administrative costs as “medical care” in response to the … Continue reading

Specter Opposes EFCA, But Pa. AFL-CIO Picks Him Over Sestak In Senate Primary Battle

The members of Pennsylvania’s AFL-CIO are endorsing longtime incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter over Rep. Joe Sestak in that state’s contested May 18 Democratic primary election, despite the fact that Specter opposes one of the labor union’s biggest legislative priorities. “In our opinion Senator Arlen Specter is the strongest advocate and supporter for good jobs, fair trade policies, workers’ rights and quality affordable healthcare for all. He is a proven leader who has stood with working families when the chips are down, especially his key role in passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment [Act] of 2009 which has protected jobs, helped unemployed workers, and prevented this nation from sinking into another great depression,” Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Bill George says. Specter was … Continue reading

Secret Webcam Surveillance Of Pa. Students Leads To Call For Stronger Privacy Law

Allegations that school officials in Pennsylvania secretly watched students at home via webcams installed on school-issued laptop computers proves that Congress must update federal eavesdropping laws to cover unauthorized video surveillance, an attorney representing an Internet freedom organization told senators. Kevin Bankston delivered his message to members of a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee in the same Philadelphia courthouse where the parents of high school student Blake Robbins filed a class action lawsuit alleging that school administrators secretly used Internet-enabled cameras installed on student laptops to spy on the students within their own homes. Federal surveilliance protection hasn’t been updated since the the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, otherwise known simply as the Wiretap Act, says Bankston, senior staff attorney … Continue reading

Senate On Recess, Thousands To Begin Losing Unemployment Benefits, Labor Secretary Warns

About 38,000 out-of-work Americans will begin losing their unemployment benefits starting in the second week of April because the Senate recessed through April 12 without approving a needed extension of those benefits, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis warns. The Senate adjourned for its annual Easter recess Friday, failing once again to extend unemployment insurance payments and COBRA benefits for jobless Americans. Last week, action on the matter was blocked by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Just weeks ago, another Republican, Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, blocked such an extension. “I am deeply disappointed that the Senate was prevented from taking action on legislation to extend funding for unemployment insurance and the COBRA subsidy. There is no room for partisan roadblocks when Americans … Continue reading

April Fools Came Early This Year

The fools in this case being our national media. “victim” NotSoBreitbart Listen to Joseph Pulitzer: “A free press should always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice and corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy for the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare,” — Joseph Pulitzer (That “prize” guy.) I guess that one’s been tossed overboard. The reporting on this event is DREADFUL. Worse, it’s propaganda and snake oil, and any halfway competent journalist wouldn’t accept ANY of this stuff at face value, but, instead, our corporate shills for the oligarchy swallow it hook, line and sinker. But first, I need to … Continue reading

ANALYSIS: In Bay State’s Political Odd Couple, Republican Scott Brown Is The Odd Man Out

Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation ended last week, dominated by the enactment of healthcare reform as it was, by gathering at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center on Friday afternoon. But in a vivid illustration of just how the political reality of its has changed, just one of the Bay State’s U.S. senators, Democrat John Kerry, came to talk to reporters about how Massachusetts will benefit from the new law that make the lives of those in the state “demonstrably, undeniably better.” Meanwhile, Kerry’s new Senate colleague, Republican Scott Brown was very much elsewhere, releasing a statement attacking the very health reform legislation that Kerry had helped pass. “I am strongly opposed to the trillions of dollars in spending, … Continue reading

Saying ‘America’s Established Social Safety Net’ At Risk, Judiciary Chairman Defends Healthcare Reform Against State Lawsuits

Citing the oath the president and members of Congress take to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee defended the new healthcare reform law from mushrooming court challenges that seek to overturn the hard-fought legislative victory. More than a dozen conservative state attorneys general, including those in Virginia and Utah, are filing suit in an attempt to prevent the reform legislation President Obama signed into law this week from taking effect. Obama’s signature comes after a year or so of struggle for Democrats who have long wanted to rein in private insurers and provide coverage for millions of uninsured Americans. At issue in these lawsuits, and in measures in about … Continue reading