Wednesday, May 27, 2009

PEEYOO! What's that smell leaking from the NC Dem Party re: Capstrat handling BCBSNC adds WHEN CAPSTRAT'S BOSS WAS THE NC DEM PARTY CHAIRMAN?

As a Dem, I feel distinctly smelly, and I'm not talking pleasantly fragrant-----like someone w/ a bad stink just ran thru the room.

So, Eudy, who was BCBSNC's CEO's best man at a recent wedding of his, was also the Chair of the NC Dem Party----and Capstrat is the public relations firm behind trying to sink the Obama health plan or any health plan, really, that would allow citizens to choose a public health insurarnce---like Medicare----which will actually make available reimburseable screening colonoscopies or mammograms----you know---the BASICS or preventive health care.

"...Blue's rise in recent years has also coincided with a similar rise of Capstrat - the state's most high-powered Democratic Party-connected public relations firm. Over the past several years, Capstrat has parlayed its connections with Democratic establishment to win a bevy of extremely lucrative contracts with Blue as well as various government and government-funded entities. Ken Eudy, Capstrat's founder and CEO, is the former head of the state Democratic Party and was apparently even the best man at the wedding of Blue's grand poobah, Bob Greczyn.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tough Love for BCBSNC since they can't compete w/ Medicare: 15%administrative costs vs Medicare's 2%

Blue Cross Millionaires are Scared to Compete With a Public Plan
May 25, 2009 by Dean Baker

".....Specifically, the administrative expenses of a public plan like Medicare are far lower than the expenses for Blue Cross of North Carolina. According to its Annual Report, Blue Cross of North Carolina spent almost 15 percent of its premiums on administrative expenses in 2008. That came to more than $1.8 billion. This money would have been enough to cover the costs of insuring almost 600,000 kids through the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Just five years earlier, Blue Cross of North Carolina spent more than 22 percent of premiums on administrative expenses.

By comparison, Medicare spends only about 2 percent of its revenue on administrative expenses. Unlike Blue Cross of North Carolina, Medicare doesn't earn profits and doesn't pay high salaries to its top executives. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, Robert J. Greczyn Jr., the chief executive of Blue Cross of North Carolina, earned $3.2 million in 2007. That's enough to pay for a year's worth of SCHIP for 1,000 kids. Other top executives also drew salaries well in excess of $1 million, a pay range that exceeds the top levels in the public sector by an order of magnitude.

Given the high salaries that Blue Cross of North Carolina pays its top executives and the other administrative expenses that it bears as a result of being a private sector plan with high overhead, it is not surprising that it would be afraid of a public plan. A public plan would likely charge much lower prices, thereby pulling away a large share of Blue Cross of North Carolina's business. Insofar as it was able to hold on to its patients, Blue Cross of North Carolina would probably be forced to lower its prices - slashing its profit margins - in order to be able to compete. This is not a happy picture for any business: fewer customers and lower profit margins.

The answer, of course, is tough love. We just have to tell Blue Cross of North Carolina than it will have to learn to compete. If it can't beat out a public plan in market competition, then the public and the economy would be better served if it went into another line of business. ..."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Innoculate yourself: BCBSNC is going to try and scare you out of government sponsored health insurance e.g., Medicare

Health scare

Health care reform needs thorough discussion of different approaches, but not ads mainly meant to frighten.

Published: Fri, May. 22, 2009

Does Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina really want to participate in a constructive debate over how to provide accessible, affordable and quality health care for all Americans? A strategy for videos in the planning stages for the company, as reported by The News & Observer, indicates it prefers more of the same old tactics used to thwart health-care reform in the past.

Those tactics include simply trying to scare people. At least, that's one way of looking at plans for commercials that would, for example, have a receptionist telling a caller that under a government health care plan, an appointment with a doctor would be more than two months in coming. In another instance voice-overs would talk about "rising premiums" and warn, "a lot like Medicare" (not that Medicare isn't well-regarded by most of its elderly beneficiaries).

The plans were leaked to Adam Searing, healthcare access director for the N.C. Justice Center, and he shared "story boards" for the videos with The N&O. The videos are being created by Capstrat, a Raleigh public relations firm.

When asked about the videos, Blue Cross promised that "positive information" would be included. But the insurance industry is standing firmly against suggestions from the Obama administration that one part of health-care reform might be a government-sponsored plan that would compete with private insurers. That, the private companies say, would be disastrous....."

I wanted to invite all who are concerned about this to comment at the Raleigh News Observer----an excellent paper w/ provocative investigative reporting. Not difficult to register.

Just as psychologist Phil Zimbardo outlined the fear mongering tactics associated with the levels of warning which served a purpose of scaring Americans, thus inviting a loss of yet more civil rights and freedoms: see:

The Threat Level Is Elevated! The Threat Level Is Elevated!

July 01, 2003 — CSO — In his treatise on the psychology of terrorist alarms, Philip G. Zimbardo, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, outlines what he calls the "Paul Revere paradigm for successful dissemination of public alarms." He bases his theory on four reasons for the success of Revere's famous ride to alert the colonials of the British approach.

Revere was known to be a credible communicator.
His alarm was focused on a specific event.
It was designed to spur citizens to act.
It called for a concrete set of actions in response.
This is gonna be a fight to the death, I think, this matter of getting access to government sponsored health insurance e.g., Medicare.

APA's in a unique position to influence this matter but I would bet my bottom dollar that they wouldn't touch it w/ a ten foot pole. Its no different than the matter of the confounding matter of the Division of Military Psychology / the PENS committee being stacked w/ military psychologists and the storm which continues to crank ever higher re: what psychologists should be able to do who are members of the military.

I'd suggest that the Division of Independent Practice is gonna have to really crank things and is in a unique position to do so----if the Board members don't wimp out.

I'd appreciate info on that. Or I'll assume that this is just another instance of 'we can't kick up a fuss.' ---same old tired story.

marsha v. hammond, phd, asheville, NC

Raleigh's flim flam Capstrat PR Firm works for BCBSNC and against public health insurance:'We help corporations advance regulatory interests'

Every so often you get a glimpse of the machinations behind the curtain and this is one of those pieces of investigative reporting. You GO Raleigh News Observer.

See it shine here, detail after detail re: this Mr. Eudy, co-owner of Capstrat & supporter of Obama. Listen to the low hum of those big wheels as they make mincemeat of the common person's desires for their government...... winding up his advertising merry-go-round, sneaking around the periphery of Obama's universal health care initiative-----in his sheep's clothing----all the while doing the work for BCBSNC, his boss-man.

This is all you need to know about Mr. Eudy:

"We help corporations advance regulatory interests"

"Eudy was the best man at the wedding of Bob Greczyn (CEO BCBSNC)"

"CAPSTRAT'S LARGEST CORPORATE CLIENTS: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina"

"Ken Eudy is one of Barack Obama's key supporters in North Carolina."


Couple that to this week's WaPo article outlining how BCBSNC is using the ill gotten gains from not paying for patient care (as a BCBSNC Advanta insured member, in a 3 member healthy family, I cannot get reimbursed screening colonoscopies or mammograms; and there is no mental health parity tho a law was passed last year: BCBSNC was allowed by state legislature to OPT OUT) and this is what you got:

'North Carolina's Blue Cross Blue Shield Trying to Kill Key Plank of Obama Plan.'

"......the company has hired an outside PR company to make a series of videos sounding the alarm about a government-sponsored health insurance option, known as the public plan...."


Marsha V. Hammond, PhD Lic Psychologist, NC

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WaPo: NOW we know why BCBSNC was stockpiling all that money: THEY'RE TRYING TO KILL ACCESS TO PUBLIC HEALTH INSURANCE

Godalmighty: get me away from this vicious company: we need PUBLIC INSURANCE as a possibility---CAN YOU SAY: MEDICARE WILL GIVE ME ACCESS TO SCREENING COLONOSCOPIES? BCBSNC is in the top 5 wealthiest Blues in the US (out of 28 Blues) and they have been stockpiling YOUR money and MY money in order to undo us as re: having access to government sponsored health insurance:

"North Carolina's Blue Cross Blue Shield Trying to Kill Key Plank of Obama Plan

By Ceci Connolly

One week after the nation's health insurance lobby pledged to President Obama to do what it can to constrain rising health costs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is putting the finishing touches on a public message campaign aimed at killing a key plank in Obama's reform platform.

As part of what it calls an "informational website," the company has hired an outside PR company to make a series of videos sounding the alarm about a government-sponsored health insurance option, known as the public plan. Obama has consistently maintained that a government-run plan, absent high-paid executives and the need for profits, could be a more affordable option for Americans who have trouble purchasing private insurance. The industry argues that creating a public insurance program will undermine the marketplace and eventually lead to a single-payer style system.

In three 30-second videos, the insurer paints a picture of a future system in which patients wait months for appointments and can't choose their own doctors, according to storyboards of the videos obtained by the Washington Post.

One video titled "Waiting" shows a receptionist fielding a request from a patient enrolled in the new program.
"The government plan. Okay hold on...let me see what's available," the woman says into the telephone. On the screen, with the caller on hold, the receptionist rearranges items on her desk, looks at a wide- open calendar and then fibs: "It looks like the first time we can fit you in is in two-and-a-half months."

Another spot in the series, being developed by Capstrat media in Raleigh, shows a woman and child wandering down a darkened hospital doorway "as if they're starting to realize that they've lost their way," according to sketches of the video. "We can do a lot better than a government-run health care system," the narrator concludes.

Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesman Lew Borman said the videos are still in the draft stage. On the question of creating a public option to compete with private insurers, he said: "We believe an unchecked government-run plan would lower payment to doctors and hospitals, forcing them to attempt to charge private insurers more and thus further eliminate private insurers' ability to compete against the government."

On its Web site, Capstrat touts its "agility in turning complex issues into simple, powerful and persuasive stories." Company president Karen Albritton declined to comment.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has 3.7 million members and processed more than $10.7 billion in medical claims last year. Get a first look at the video storyboards here."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

NEJM editors: runaway hlth care costs due to administrative overhead & excessive use of expensive technology

We don't need a BCBSNC that has millions of dollars 'in escrow' (read: padding the pockets of investors and CEO's and managers) if we're going to have an efficient health care system.

Take your pick: one or the other.

From the NYT:

David Leonhardt, in his May 13 column (“Health Care, a Lesson in Pain,” Economic Scene), is quite right that “the only way to have a sustainable universal health care system is to control costs.” But in analyzing the experts’ testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on how to pay for health care, he did not mention a solution that neither the experts nor the committee wants to consider: major reform of the system.

Runaway costs are due largely to high overhead expenses throughout the system, and to the excessive use of expensive technology. Both of these result from a health care system that is organized like a profit-seeking industry instead of a social service.

If we want health care to be a universal entitlement, it cannot be controlled by market forces and the financial interests of insurers and providers (and the investors who own such a large part of the system).

Some kind of government-regulated single-payer insurance plan and a reorganized nonprofit medical care delivery system may be “off the table” for policy makers right now, but we will never achieve affordable universal coverage without major reform that deals with the real causes of medical inflation.

We don’t need more money; we need a new system.

Arnold S. RelmanMarcia Angell Cambridge, Mass., May 14, 2009

The writers, medical doctors, are former editors in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine.