TRANSPARENT FOR WHOM?????
This is another step toward privatization as Burwell is a corporate executive wanting to see corporations profit as much as possible from another public agency!
Republicans praise reputation of Obama’s HHS secretary choice, take aim at Affordable Care
ActMay 8, 2014 at 6:16 PM EDT PBS NewsHour
JUDY WOODRUFF: The woman who will likely be the new face of the health care law testified today on Capitol Hill. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the president’s budget director, is Mr. Obama’s nominee to replace Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services.Rarely is anything on Affordable Care Act a bipartisan affair anymore in Congress, but Burwell was well-received by members on both sides of the aisle.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, R, Tenn.: Ms. Burwell, you have a reputation for competence. And I would respectfully suggest you’re going to need it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: That warning notwithstanding, Republicans, like Lamar Alexander, mostly used the hearing to take aim not at Burwell, but at the health care law.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER: Republicans would like to repair the damage that Obamacare has done. We’d like to prevent future damage as responsibly and rapidly as we can.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But Burwell didn’t concede that point. Instead, in her opening statement, she argued the effects of the law have been positive.
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, Director, Office of Management and Budget: The department’s work to ensure accessible, affordable, quality health care through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is making a difference in the lives of our families and our communities, while strengthening the economy.
HARI SREENIVASAN: If confirmed, Burwell would succeed Kathleen Sebelius, who announced her resignation last month. Republicans roundly criticized her for the botched rollout of the federal online insurance exchange last fall.
Today, South Carolina Republican Tim Scott pressed Burwell on whether she’d be an independent voice.
SEN. TIM SCOTT, R, S.C.: I would ask you simply, as secretary of HHS, will you in fact be the health and human services secretary for the American people, or will you be, as your predecessor has been, the ambassador of Obamacare?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: I’m here to serve the American people. I’m part of the president’s administration. I’m honored to be appointed. First and foremost, I serve the American people. I believe that the president and his policies are aligned with that and will work. But I am here to serve the American people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: That line of questioning drew a strong rebuke from Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, the chair of the committee.
SEN. TOM HARKIN, D, Chair, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee: It is my — my opinion, based upon the years of work with Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary Sebelius, that she performed her job admirably, and that she was a responsible and attentive secretary of health and human services, and carried out the law as we wrote it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Democrats also touted benefits of the law, and Connecticut’s Chris Murphy zeroed in on Republican governors who’ve balked at embracing key provisions, such as expanding Medicaid.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, D, Conn.: What are the ways in which we can work in a flexible manner with these states as they maybe wake up to the reality of how well the implementation is going after the initial botched rollout? What are the ways in which we can work with some of the states that haven’t done things like Connecticut to try to make this work in all 50 states, rather than just in the handful that have set up their own exchanges?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: I think there are two things, and it does come back to the point about flexibility, is one of the points. And I think what’s important is to send a signal that folks are willing to have the conversations.
As I said, it’s important, if there are fundamental principles, to articulate those in terms of the change you’re trying to get, but be willing to have the conversations and hear the ideas.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Burwell’s answers generally seemed to go down well. Some Republicans even spoke of her reputation for competence.
Before taking over at the Office of Management and Budget, she held leadership positions with the Wal-Mart Foundation and the Gates Foundation. She also served in the Clinton administration at the National Economic Council.
Richard Burr of North Carolina cited that background, saying he plans to support the nomination.
SEN. RICHARD BURR, R, N.C.: It’s because she doesn’t come with a single experience that would make her a good secretary. She comes with a portfolio of experience that would make her a tremendous asset at addressing some of the challenges that that agency specific — that agency specifically and uniquely has.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Burwell also got an outside boost, when America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, issued a statement calling her uniquely qualified. She still faces a separate confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.
GWEN IFILL: The reporter on that story, of course, was Hari Sreenivasan.
As rocky as the rollout of healthcare.gov has been, a new report says the federal exchange was a bargain compared to the state-run marketplaces, which spent twice as much per enrollee. That story is on our Rundown.
The Gates Foundation is the face of Trans Pacific Trade Pact policies regarding health and food and they are the driver of PHARMA profiteering and patented food and medicine. As a consequence---they are pushing nations involved in this treaty to stop public subsidies for health care and contain generic medicines so as to maximize Gate's PHARMA profits.
Burwell has acted in this fashion as a Gates executive and has stated publicly that she supports the republican plan of turning Medicaid to block grants and when asked at a recent confirmation if she thought Medicare would benefit from block grant status she said yes.
This structuring of Medicare and Medicaid towards being privatized now goes beyond the republican plan to build state health insurance structures to take seniors and the poor when these Federal programs end-----now with Burwell, the republicans know they have a friend that looks to block grants as a good solution for reducing the 'costs' of Medicare and Medicaid.
Melinda Gates to address the World Health Assembly:
Civil Society registers its protest
We the undersigned organizations express our strong protest against the decision of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to invite Melinda Gates (of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – BMGF) as the keynote speaker at the 67th World Health Assembly, that begun in Geneva on 19th May. This is the third time in the last 10 years that someone from the BMGF and of the family has been an invited speaker at the WHA (Melinda Gates was preceded by her husband Bill Gates, in 2005 and 2011). Ms.Melinda Gates’ credentials as a leader in public health are unclear.
It is unacceptable that the WHO, supposedly governed by sovereign nation states, should countenance that at its annual global conference, the keynote address would be delivered thrice in ten years by individuals from the same private organization, and from the same family.
The BMGF is the second largest funder of the WHO. It has come to occupy this place over the past two decades, because of the freeze on assessed contributions by member states. Currently, 80% of WHO’s finances come from voluntary contributions (including from countries and from private sources) and BMGF’s funding is ‘tied’ to projects that the foundation has an interest in funding.
BMGF’s munificence towards the WHO as well as towards many other global health causes is well known. Less well know is the Foundation’s internal policies that are clearly in conflict with global health.
BMGF’s policies and practices are in conflict with global health
Despite the strong influence the BMGF exerts on global health policies, the effect of the policies it promotes has never been evaluated. This lack of accountability is based on the false premise that private foundations are not publicly accountable. This overlooks the fact that these foundations intervene in public life through political power they exert as a result of their financial clout; are publicly subsidized through tax exemptions; and reinforce the notion that inequity can be addressed through charity.
The Foundation’s corporate stock endowment is heavily invested in food industry (many of them under scrutiny for promoting unhealthy lifestyles), directly and indirectly. The Foundation holds significant shares in McDonald’s (10 million shares -- about 4% of the Gates’ portfolio), and Coca-Cola (0.34 million shares, 14% of the Foundation’s portfolio).
Previously it invested heavily in pharmaceutical companies. In 2009 it sold extensive pharmaceutical holdings in Johnson & Johnson (2.5 million shares), Schering-Plough Corporation (14.9 million shares), Eli Lilly and Company (about 1 million shares), Merck & Co. (8.1 million shares), and Wyeth (3.7 million shares)[i] [ii]. Several people associated with the Foundation are currently or were previously members of the boards or executive branches of several major food and pharmaceutical companies, including Coca-Cola, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, General Mills and Kraft[iii].
The blurring of the boundaries between the Foundation’s objectives and its portfolio investment is evident in Foundation grants that encourage communities in developing countries to become business affiliates of Coca-Cola, in which the Foundation has substantial holdings. The Foundation held stock in Merck at a time when it developed partnerships with the African Comprehensive AIDS and Malaria Partnership and the Merck Company Foundation to test Merck products.
PHM Demands Accountability from WHO
It is not possible, given the numerous conflict of interest issues that are at stake, to view the invitation to Ms. Melinda Gates as a routine move. It would appear that the WHO Secretariat is more beholden to private donors than to the member states, that it is constitutionally mandated to serve.
We demands that:
· The WHO to draw up a transparent mechanism for inviting speakers to the WHA in future.
· The WHO clarify the criteria based on which Melinda Gates has been invited to speak at the WHA.
We also urge Member States to take the lead in developing transparent and clear norms regarding such issues, and not leave the same to the discretion of the Secretariat.
CONGRESS NO LONGER TO CONTROL MEDICARE FUNDING? THAT COULD BE THE NEXT STEP -----WHO NEEDS THAT LEGISLATIVE BODY ANYWAY?
For those that did not notice, the Affordable Care Act contains a provision that allows an executive appointee like Burwell to control cuts to Medicare without going to Congress. Think about how the Maryland Public Service Commission is the one that approves rate increases. We know when these commissions are filled with corporate types like Burwell-----the public eats the costs of doing business. Remember, the cost of Medicare is driven mostly by health industry fraud and profiteering and these cuts are allowing the very same health industry to decide how to use less money to make more profit. So, Congress cut almost a trillion dollars from Medicare a few years ago-----and the health industry cut access and quality with profits soaring. The same will happen as Burwell steps in and states that Medicare funding is growing too fast. The more Medicare funds are lost to fraud and profiteering---less access to health care and quality for seniors.
A democrat would not give control to the very industry defrauding Medicare to decide how those lost funds will be mitigated.......
consider how Medicare costs will climb as baby boomers hit the Medicare program.
No. The Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon Simply Has Not Done His Homework on How ObamaCare Works.
Why Do You Ask?
by Brad DeLong Posted on 14 April 2014 Share I confess
Nicholas Bagley: A bad reason to oppose Burwell: Michael Cannon has predicted…
… the Independent Payment Advisory Board… a pre-commitment device, one that reflects the public’s genuine desire to constrain Medicare spending even if feckless legislators can’t muster the political courage to do it themselves…. Because the Secretary can wield IPAB’s Medicare-cutting powers herself, “[t]he question confronting senators is, should Burwell be entrusted with more power than the entire Senate?”…
Under the ACA, the Secretary can only issue a proposal if the Medicare per capita growth rate exceeds a target rate…. Under the ACA, the Secretary must submit a proposal by January 25 of each year, but only if CMS’s actuary determines by April 30 of the previous year that the target was exceeded. The target won’t be exceeded this year, so there won’t be a proposal in 2015….
Burwell could submit a proposal in 2016—but only if Medicare spending exceeds the [five-year average] target by April 2015…. Last year, the five-year growth rate was 1.15%—nowhere near the current 3% target. The growth rate this year will probably be only slightly higher…. CBO’s projections suggest that the five-year per capita growth rate in 2015 will be a measly 1.17%…. Her confirmation hearings should focus on the powers she will exercise—not the ones she won’t.
There’s no point in Cato having analysts who don’t understand how the government works.
Obama's appointment of the Bill Gates Foundation executive to our Health and Human Services will be the same move at further privatizing all public health. Gates is the face of Trans Pacific Trade Pact and the push for all nations to dismantle public health and generic medicine manufacturing now that he is in the PHARMA business. So, Medicare as block grants-----is the plan for ending Medicare and this new HHS appointee is all for it!
Privatisation of the NHS:
Allyson Pollock at TEDxExeter April 29, 2014
The Health and Social Care Act of 2012 removes the universal care requirement of 1948 Act.
Here in Maryland Medicare exemptions already have Medicare fund distribution free from Federal oversight and now we are seeing our major health institutions tying themselves to private health insurers for Medicare----Medicare Advantage. MedStar is a major health chain in Maryland and has partnered with these plans and Johns Hopkins has partnered with Humana which also has Medicare Advantage any time Hopkins is ready to make the switch. If they did, most of the health market would turn to private Medicare ------GOODBYE FEDERAL MEDICARE PROGRAM.
Keep in mind that Medicare Part D-----Pharma---is already private drug coverage. Bush added this to further move Medicare into private hands.
Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage
Diffen › Finance › Personal Finance › Insurance › Health Insurance Medicare Advantage plans (sometimes called Medicare Part C) are offered by private insurance companies as an alternative to traditional Medicare. They offer the same services and coverage as traditional Medicare but may have slightly different (usually lower) costs and out-of-pocket expenses. Depending upon the plan, there may or may not be an additional premium to be paid. Access may also be more restricted i.e. you may not be able to see all providers under a Medicare Advantage plan that you can under Medicare. First-time enrollees are automatically enrolled in traditional Medicare but may choose to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan at the time of enrollment or annually after that. As of 2013, roughly 1 in 4 seniors is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
MedStar Medicare Choice
Medicare Advantage Plan
Your Part D prescription drug coverage options MedStar Medicare Choice (HMO) combines medical and Part D prescription drug coverage into one easy to use plan. Our plan includes prescription coverage with five levels of drug benefits: preferred generic, non-preferred generic, preferred-brand, non-preferred brand and specialty.
Click here to see important details about our prescription drug coverage.
Make sure your prescription drugs are covered A prescription drug formulary is a list of drugs a Medicare Advantage plan covers. The MedStar Medicare Choice formulary includes thousands of brand-name and generic medications. These drugs have been approved for coverage by the health plan and are also reviewed and approved by Medicare.
As you can guess----whenever any public agency goes private-----the fraud and corruption goes wild. We already lose 1/2 of Medicare spending to fraud and now that Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage have come----the fraud is soaring. See how the Medicare Trust is going bust?
Health insurers have their way with regulators
Billions in Medicare Advantage overcharges likely gone for good
By Fred Schulteemail 5:00 am, June 9, 2014 Updated: 9:30 am, June 9, 2014 Shutterstock
92likes103tweets2 commentsE-mailPrint Key findings:
- Federal officials have missed multiple opportunities to recoup tens of billions of dollars in Medicare Advantage overcharges tied to a government payment formula called a “risk score.”
- Six Medicare Advantage plans that federal auditors said couldn’t justify some $650 million in 2007 payments settled for pennies on the dollar.
- In 2012, federal officials gave up trying to recoup overcharges from 2008 through 2010, despite estimates of more than $32 billion in “improper” payments over that time.
- Audits are conducted at such a leisurely pace that it will take officials more than 15 years to review the hundreds of Medicare Advantage contracts now in force.
- Thomas C. Hill, Washington-based health-care lawyer
Second in a three-part series.
Four years ago, Medicare auditors came to an alarming conclusion: the federal government shouldn’t have paid a half-dozen insurance plans hundreds of millions of dollars to treat seniors in especially poor health.
The findings signaled that billing errors could be deeply rooted within private Medicare Advantage plans — which contract with the federal government to care for nearly 16 million elderly Americans — and that these abuses could be wasting taxpayer dollars at a ferocious clip.
Medicare expects to pay higher rates for legitimately sicker people who may require expensive care. But the auditors concluded that all six health plans they visited couldn’t justify the money they took in for 40 percent or more of their patients. That triggered whopping overpayments which auditors pegged at nearly $650 million for 2007 alone — just for those six plans.
One major Texas health plan was paid to care for a man it said had brain cancer. But his medical file showed he was treated for an enlarged prostate, a common ailment that didn’t merit any added payment, auditors wrote.
In Arizona, a health plan collected thousands of dollars from Medicare to treat congestive heart failure in a patient seen for knee pain, according to auditors. In Pennsylvania, a person treated for blurry vision was charted as having serious heart disease.
It took years for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general to publish those findings, and government officials have yet to pry back more than a tiny fraction of the disputed money, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.
And despite the bundle of taxpayer dollars on the line, the HHS inspector general didn’t do any more audits, and decided in 2013 to scrap similar future reviews as part of a budget cut.
Robert Trusiak, a former Department of Justice prosecutor, said that “at the very least” federal officials should have demanded refunds from the health plans and lowered the boom on any plan caught “gaming” Medicare.
“The dollars here are huge,” he said.