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No decision ‘til December on whether Idahoans can keep non-complying insurance plans

Idaho's state Department of Insurance says no decision will come before December on whether Idaho will allow residents to keep existing insurance policies had initially been due for cancellation under President Obama's health care overhaul, the AP reports. Details on how health insurance companies would calculate rates for extended plans still aren't clear, the department said. Last Thursday, Obama said he'd allow insurance companies to keep selling these existing plans for another year, even if they do not meet certain Affordable Care Act criteria for coverage; the move followed criticism that he'd promised nobody would be forced out of their existing policy under the 2010 overhaul. But the decision requires state approval. Idaho is among numerous states still considering whether to follow Obama's lead.

Catholic nonsense

I have a button on my purse that reads “I STAND WITH THE SISTERS,” referring to the grand inquisition of the women religious in North America by the Vatican.

The whole episode is so ridiculous that I know of no one who supports this investigation. Literally, no one.

The clerical nonsense continues.  New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes about the battle between our political system which seeks to provide birth control coverage for all women who work or go to college at Catholic institutions and Catholic leaders who protest this effort by President Obama. 

Most Catholics think that birth control is acceptable. Gallup poll results released Tuesday tell readers that 82 percent of U.S. Catholics believe that birth control is morally acceptable.

“The church insists it’s an argument about religious freedom, not birth control. But, really, it’s about birth control, and women’s lower caste in the church”, Dowd says.

Perhaps I need to revise my button to include not only the amazing nuns, but my Catholic lay-women friends, too: “I STAND WITH ALL MY SISTERS!”

Solon Targets Birth Control Coverage

Rep. Carlos Bilbao (pictured), R-Emmett, took up the issue that consumed Washington, D.C., last week proposing an Idaho law to prohibit requiring insurance policies to cover contraception, sterilization and "abortifacients," or abortion-inducing drugs. Bilbao presented his House Bill 530 to the House Health & Welfare Committee Thursday, saying he was responding to the Obama administration's controversial policy regarding contraception services. "It is an attack on my rights of conscience," said Bilbao, a Catholic. "It is an affront to my religious freedoms…It is not right that we have to bow down and take something that is against our moral beliefs." The measure was opposed by Hannah Brass, legislative director of Planned Parenthood of Idaho/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Agree/disagree?

Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/02/16/idahopolitics/idaho_lawmaker_proposes_state_ban_requiring_insurers_cover_contr#storylink=cpy

Police pension group OKs hypnosis

A retired Spokane police officer will have his hypnosis weight-loss therapy paid for by city tax money.

Members of the Spokane Police Pension and Relief Board unanimously approved the unusual claim from board member Gary Gow at its meeting Thursday.

Gow, who retired from the Spokane Police Department in 1985 after 20 years of service, abstained from voting. He’s been a member of the pension board for 21 years.

Read the rest of my story here.

The story was posted on LawOfficer.com's Facebook page today. The comments are quite interesting.

The faces of the faceless bureaucrats…

Good morning, Netizens…


Now that I have arrived in the throes of Social Insecurity, and having waded my way through all the garbage it takes to acquire health care insurance on such a feeble premise as the government says is the future of Social Security for people old enough to retire, I believe I have a better platform from which to view this morning's David Horsey cartoon on how the government may change health care. However, as Horsey suggests, if the Republicans have their way, won't we be substituting one group of faceless, uncaring bureaucrats for another?


Dealing with the insurance companies is no piece of cake, as my past experiences have rather brutally shown me. If we collectively allow them to rule our lives, they can deny us protection at any time of their choosing, and there is very little you or I can do about it. Of course, as any veteran can quickly tell you, dealing with the stream of endless bureaucrats at the VA is not a lot better, despite what the government solicitiously says about how it treats veterans.


Of course, I am also quick to point out dealing with the State of Washington entails just about the same number and diversity of faceless, uncaring bureaucrats.


Given the choice between dealing with the bureaucrats of the government or the bureaucrats of the insurance mega-corporations, which would you rather deal with? It does seem to be an interesting question, doesn't it? David Horsey may actually have this one pegged. Of course, your results may differ depending upon when and how you have sought and needed health care.



“Selling insurance by the mile”

Sightline has a a great report on a new bill introduced by state senator Phil Rockefeller in Washington that will “eliminate existing regulatory barriers to mileage-based automobile insurance policies, to expressly authorize the insurance commissioner to approve the offering of such policies, and to ensure that insurers, at a minimum, offer a discount for low-mileage drivers.” Call it the green car insurance bill.

Imagine if state law made it difficult for pizza joints to sell by the slice. You’d have to buy—and eat—a lot of pizza when you got a hankering. Either that, or you’d have to give up on pizza entirely. By-the-slice pizza lets light eaters save money without giving up pie entirely.

The car insurance market is like a no-slices pizza world. You have to buy a lot of insurance, even if you only drive a little. Or you have to give up driving – or drive illegally without insurance.

The equivalent of by-the-slice pizza is by-the-mile auto insurance. It gives families a new way to save money, by driving less. It also lets low-income drivers buy just a little insurance at a time. So promising is this idea that public agencies have been contributing to a pilot project in Washington.



A simple health care system…

Good morning, Netizens…

David Horsey’s cartoon yesterday submits an efficiency in health care design that is sorely-missing from every design submitted thus far.

The only problem is what do you do when you cannot pay the hospital bills?

The logic is impeccable. If you cannot pay for long-term medical care, emergency medical care or expensive pharmacy prescriptions you do not deserve to have any tangible assets, such as a house, car, motorboat or other possessions. You deserve to be dirt broke until you can pay for health care costs.

We need to fix our health care system.


Who stands to gain or lose?

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Once again cartoonist David Horsey takes a look at the Health Care System, at least as it is sometimes presented to us. While I only know a very few people who fit into the category of the woman on the left, I presume she must either be a government employee of some kind (including elected positions), a person retired from such companies as Burlington Northern, certain union employees (although those numbers have been steadily dropping in recent years) or gifted with exceptional health and wealth. In short, she is probably not representative of anyone we know personally.

What is not in the picture are the escalating numbers of people who have no insurance whatsoever, because they cannot afford it, or it is one of the faceless population that, because they have no health insurance, have lost their homes and life savings because of unexpected medical expenses. What seems so tragic is no one else in the picture, perhaps even including President Obama, have ever found themselves in such dire circumstances.

They all have health insurance. If they all lost medical insurance coverage, we might have a chance of passing Universal Health Care Insurance into law. Otherwise, nobody in the picture probably gives a damn about the uninsured.


What is insurance for?

I just read a list serve comment by a woman who had an insurance issue over the cost of her son’s physical exam for high school football. The details aren’t important.

My question is as follows:

Hypothetically, an insurance policy provides one free physical exam every year.  The cost is spread out among all the policy holders, all of whom are entitled to one physical every year.

They won’t all avail themselves of that, but if they did, the insurer would theoretically pay out the same as it collected in premiums, less copays or deductibles, wherein it would realize a profit. Since many people won’t take the physicals, the profit will go up…and maybe the premiums would even be adjusted downward slightly once the state insurance commissioner weighed in.

Still, individual policy holders would, at worst, break even if they just paid for the physical out of pocket. Then might even save money by removing the insurance company profit from the calculation.

So why are such routine and predictable things part of a health insurance policy? Shouldn’t insurance be to spread the risk around over things that can’t be anticipated, like being attacked by a Grizzly? 

Murray on VA changes: DOA

Sen. Patty Murray had some harsh words for a proposal being floated by the Obama Administration that would change health care benefits for veterans.

You can listen to her opening statement here

and her questioning of former Gen. Shinseki, the VA secretary, here

or go inside the blog to read about the issue and join in a new commentary thread.

Spokane worker sparks change in organ-transplant law…

From the printed paper:

OLYMPIA – Fred Watley’s need for a liver is changing state law.

A year ago, the Spokane man nearly died while waiting for an insurance-law loophole to expire so he could get the liver transplant he desperately needed. His insurer finally relented.

On Thursday, Watley – with a new liver – urged state lawmakers to close the loophole so that people no longer have to risk their lives waiting.

The near-tragedy prompted newly elected state Rep. John Driscoll, D-Spokane, to sponsor House Bill 1308, which would reduce the wait in such cases.

“I wasn’t planning to make history. I just wanted to save his life for our 11-year-old son,” said Watley’s wife, LiAnne.

The change is backed by Watley’s health insurer, Group Health, and other major health insurers in the state.

“It’s a loophole that needed to be cleared,” said state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who said he was stunned to learn that when employers switch health plans it restarts the waiting period of at least six months allowed for organ transplants.