Opinion

Insurers Deliberately Confuse Policyholders and Dump the Sick

A couple of years ago, when Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia asked me to testify about little-known health insurance industry practices at a hearing of his Senate Commerce Committee, I initially was reluctant. I knew that if I was completely honest, my life would change forever.

What he was asking me to do was to disclose practices that have contributed to the growing number of Americans without insurance, the even faster growing number of us who are underinsured, and the phenomenal increase in insurance industry profits over the years, even as the ranks of those without coverage swelled.

Morello Returns to Union Town

Throughout the winter protests against Governor Scott Walker's labor-bashing agenda, the halls of the Wisconsin Capitol were alive with the sounds of steel drums, cowbells, and daily sing-a-longs. Eventually, a muse would emerge to channel Madison's musical energy into a powerful new protest song.

With lyrics like, "When they put the governor on trial, I will be in the front row" and "...the kids locked in the capital are fighting till the end," Tom Morello's "Union Town" became the de facto anthem for the thousands of protesters fighting the Walker agenda, who heard it almost every morning on local radio stations. On September 5th, the Rage Against the Machine frontman and labor rights advocate, will return to Madison with Tim Mcilrath of Rise Against and Wayne Kramer of Detroit's MC5 as part of their recurring Justice Tour, with all profits from their show benefitting nonprofit media center The Nation Institute.

CMD Urges EPA to More Closely Regulate Nanoscale Materials in Pesticides

DNA modifiedThe Center for Media and Democracy has joined a coalition of environmental, consumer and worker's groups in signing onto a letter of concern about nanotechnology.  The comment, drafted by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), supports the plan of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to obtain information about the presence of nanoscale materials in pesticide products.

Corporations are People, My Friend, and So are States, Say GOPers

While on the campaign trail in Iowa, former corporate executive and Republican governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney shot back at hecklers who were challenging his stance that it would be unfair and unwise to raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations to reduce the deficit.

Corporations are people"Corporations are people, my friend," Romney said. "Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? People's pockets! Human beings, my friend."

Democrats were quick to pounce.

ALEC: Facilitating Corporate Influence Behind Closed Doors

Closed meetingThrough the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), corporations pay to bring state legislators to one place, sit them down for a sales pitch on policies that benefit the corporate bottom line, then push "model bills" for legislators to make law in their states. Corporations also vote behind closed doors alongside politicians on this wish-list legislation through ALEC task forces. Notably absent were the real people who would actually be affected by many of those bills and policies.

With legislators concentrated in one city, lobbyists descend on the conference to wine-and-dine elected officials after-hours, a process simplified by legislators' schedules being freed from home and family responsibilities. Multiple Wisconsin lobbyists for Koch Industries, the American Bail Coalition, Competitive Wisconsin, State Farm, Pfizer, and Wal Mart were in New Orleans, as were lobbyists for Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, Alliant Energy, and Johnson & Johnson. Corporations also sponsor invitation-only events like the Reynolds American tobacco company's cigar reception, attended by several Wisconsin legislators including Health & Human Services chair Leah Vukmir.

Recall Walker? It's Up to Feingold

Popular T-shirts in WisconsinFor the first time in the state's history, Wisconsin recalled two sitting state senators simultaneously. While it was a difficult and historic achievement in two districts that voted for Scott Walker in 2010, it fell short of the three seats needed to flip the Senate from Republican to Democratic control and put the brakes on Governor Scott Walker's radical agenda.

While Walker's collective bargaining bill sparked the recalls, voters were also worried about the state budgetary moves which cut $800 million from local schools while giving out $200 million in tax breaks for big corporations. No jobs plan (other than tax breaks) has been proposed and, contrary to spin from the Governor, joblessness is growing in this state at twice the rate of the federal level.

To Save Billions, the Government Should Pay Doctors to Make House Calls

Dr. Bruce Kinosian still makes house calls, and he's proud of it. In fact, he introduces himself as a physician who goes to see his patients in their homes rather than insisting that they come to see him at his office.

Independence at HomeHe's convinced that if more doctors did what he does, we could eliminate billions of dollars we currently spend in this country in an often-futile -- and almost always incredibly expensive -- effort to get people well.

Much of that savings, he says, would accrue to the Medicare program, making it unnecessary for Congress to even consider eliminating benefits or raising the eligibility age.

Kinosian, associate professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, is a leading advocate of the Independence at Home (IAH) program, which quietly has been saving the Department of Veteran's Affairs (and taxpayers) lots of money -- and improving the quality of life for thousands of veterans -- for nearly three decades.

ALEC Exposed: Protecting Factory Farms and Sewage Sludge?

As suburbs engulfed the rural landscape in the boom following World War II, many family farmers found themselves with new neighbors who were annoyed by the sound of crowing roosters, the smell of animal manure, or the rumble of farming equipment. In defense of family farming, Massachusetts passed the first "Right to Farm" law in 1979, to protect these farmers against their new suburban neighbors filing illegitimate nuisance lawsuits against them when, in fact, the farms were there first. Since then, every state has passed some kind of protection for family farms, which are pillars of our communities and the backbone of a sensible system of sustainable agriculture.

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