Aetna CEO, Chairman and President Mark Bertolini praised the Affordable Care Act during the HIMSS12 Conference in Las Vegas this week, arguing that while the new law and its regulations have “pulled [the insurance industry] through the crucible” and “reshaped” the health care market, ?For most of what has already been implemented, it has been a pretty good thing”:
So what will the health insurers look like in the future? Bertolini offered a strong endorsement of the accountable health organization model, positioning health insurers as uniquely suited to usher in an era of coordinated care. ?We need to move the system from underwriting risk to managing populations,? he said. ?We want to have a different relationship with the providers, physicians and the hospitals we do business with.? [...]
Pondering the future of the health care exchanges, Bertolini foresees the brands of health systems superceding those of health insurers. ?We want to leverage or technologies and capabilities to allow you to be the face in marketplace,? he said.
Indeed, Bertolini says this new arrangement makes great sense from the perspective of the customer. The lack of coordination inherent in the current system stems largely from the various stakeholders acting rationally in their own self-interest. ?For the patient it?s a nightmare. Think of a hockey game where everybody has their own puck.?
The Aetna chief also “discounted the prospect that the results of the 2012 presidential election or a Supreme Court decision striking down aspects of the ACA would deter the change,” noting, “Reform is not going to stop. It won?t go away.?
Insurers have generally accepted the inevitability of the ACA and have worked to shape its implementation to meet their needs. For instance, health lobbyists are pressuring Congress to repeal taxes on the industry, and have urged the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt exchange regulations that would allow almost all private insurers to participate in the new marketplaces and provide greater leeway for plans to design the standard essential health benefits package that will be offered in 2014. Insurers have also lobbied conservative governors to establish health care exchanges.
At the same time, the industry is preparing for the expansion of new customers. Last September, Cigna ? one of the nation?s largest health insurers ? kicked off a $25 million ad campaign designed to attract the individual consumers who will begin shopping for their own policies and the industry joined forces with health care and consumer groups to form the ?Enroll America? campaign, an effort to ?encourage states to make it easy for people to sign up for coverage, by providing model regulations? and ?get the word out among the uninsured, through advertising and community outreach.?
Cindy McCain ? the wife of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and a supporter of marriage equality ? does not believe that the Republican party is on the “wrong side of history” for opposing same-sex marriage. During an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett ahead of Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate in Arizona, McCain claimed that members of the GOP have “diverse opinions” on the issue and blamed the media for portraying the party as anti-gay:
BURNETT: Do you find it frustrating that there’s a perception among the voting public, and maybe it’s a wrong perception, but there’s a perception that to be a play-by-the-rules Republican, you can’t be friendly to gay marriage, you can’t be friendly to abortion. All of these things, that social issues still define the party.
C. MCCAIN: I disagree with that. I think the media portrays that. I think being a Republican, being part of the party for — as many years as I have and knowing the Republicans the way I do that is not the case and that’s not the bulk of Republicans that believe in that, at all. The vocal ones, maybe the ones that are on the far right side of the issue, but I — certainly in the state of Arizona –
C. MCCAIN: — we are open-minded Republicans and believe in equality for all.
It was depressing, for a number of reasons, to hear about a comedy that ABC is putting into production called The Smart One. I love Portia di Rossi, whose wonderful comedic talent has languished since Arrested Development and Better Off Ted went off the air. But this is not an enlightening premise: “The show follows two sisters: de Rossi’s smart one and [Malin] Akerman’s dumb one. De Rossi’s character goes to work for her dimmer, but more popular sister who is a former beauty queen currently serving as the mayor of a city.” It’s especially irritating to see ABC doubling down on dumb-but-pretty stereotypes because television is actually doing a nice job with female politicians?nicer, perhaps, than our politics at large, where women remain underrepresented.
I feel like I don’t even have to spend time discussing the foremost example of this trend, Leslie Knope, the civil servant who’s running for Pawnee, Indiana City Council on Parks and Recreation. But I will say this, anyway: whatever long-time fans of the show think of Parks and Recreation’s tonal and plot problems this season, the fact that they’ve got a woman on television running for office, and are taking her anxieties about that process seriously and generally respectfully, is kind of remarkable. Leslie may make hilarious miscalculations, and things may go wrong in her campaign, but the show’s never questioned the idea that Leslie’s desire to serve is deep and genuine, and that she’d make an absolutely fantastic member of City Council. Parks and Recreation‘s contempt for the laziness, entitlement and incompetence of Bobby Newport, the vastly wealthy heir to a destructive company who is trying to buy the seat Leslie’s running for, is particularly bracing given the role that billionaires are playing in supporting the various Republican candidates in this year’s primary campaign.
By contrast, Mel Burke, the city councilwoman Melissa Joan Heart plays on ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey, is essentially Leslie Knope for the non-hipster comedy set. Like Leslie, she’s blonde, fiercely devoted to her small city, somewhat awkward with the press, and prone to lingering sexual tension, though in this case with Joey, the manny she’s hired to take care of her niece and nephew, who are living with her after her brother went to jail for a massive Ponzi scheme. A multi-camera sitcom, Melissa & Joey spends much more time in Mel’s house than in her office, and the wacky antics have more to do with the fact that she has a hunky former banker living in her basement rather than her overwhelming devotion to public service. But that doesn’t mean the show doesn’t have at least some of Parks and Recreation‘s zany sense of politics: in the first-season episode “Seoul Man,” an illegal-domestic-help scandal hit Toledo’s public servants, and it turned out Joey was born in Korea and was having trouble locating the papers establishing his citizenship. It’s nothing revolutionary, but Parks and Recreation and Melissa & Joey share a nice commitment to celebrating women in public life, and to portraying them as more competent and dedicated than the people around them even though they have more burdens and obligations to balance.
There’s no question that the new crop of political shows will have a more varied take on women in politics, and that’s a good thing. Female politicians do misspeak and get themselves int turf wars, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character on Veep does. Inconvenient romances happen in Washington in real life as they do?though perhaps not to the same extent?as they will on ABC’s other political show debuting this spring, Scandal. But it’s one thing to give women in politics complexity and texture. And quite another to have it be hilarious that they’re only there because they’re hot, and voters are too dumb to care that they have no other qualifications.
Today, the Taliban called on Afghans to attack “foreign troops.” It may be a coincidence, though it hardly matters, because an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on U.S. troops killing two. Pres. Obama had already sent a letter of apology to[...]
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The National Park Service won't even issue its first cherry blossom forecast until March 1, but it's February 23 and the trees in Falls Church are already starting to bloom. Who's ready for an earlier allergy season fueled by global warming? Tree pollen is already considered high.
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Sorry, GOP. This is the face of the GOP. (Sarah Conard/Reuters)Now that the extreme agenda of the Republican party is under real media scrutiny because of the presidential race, GOP establishment types are starting to express some concern about it, says Politico.
In 2008, after Republicans were routed in the presidential and congressional elections, there was widespread consensus within elite GOP circles about the party?s structural problems: The Republican voter base was too old, too white, too male and too strident for the party to prosper long term in a country growing ever more diverse.They apparently haven't been paying attention to what the Republican House has been doing since January 2011, when they regained control. Because it hasn't had a lot to do with the "workaday concerns" of American voters from day one. It's all been about trying to repeal the health care law, defund Planned Parenthood, gutting the EPA, redifining rape, pretty much everything but creating jobs and boosting the economy. Which makes this bit particularly ironic:
Four years later, many of the same GOP leaders are watching with rising dismay as the 2012 presidential campaign has featured excursions into social issues like contraception and a sprint by the candidates to strike the toughest stance against illegal immigration, issues they say are far removed from the workaday concerns of the independent voters Republicans need to evict Barack Obama from the White House.
?It?s important that voters see a Republican Party that is inclusive and is not exclusive,? agreed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).The problem for the GOP goes far, far beyond the tone of the presidential primary. It's only shining a brighter light on exactly what the Republican party has become since it let the tea party and the American Taliban take over. And no, it's not popular.
Cantor said the right approach is not to avoid social issues or immigration but to recognize that, for many of the voters the GOP needs most, ?jobs and the economy? are preoccupying concerns. ?Independent voters,? he added, ?will give you credit? when addressing divisive issues ?by trying to find a way to bridge differences.?
Rick Santorum holds a small three point lead in the Michigan GOP primary according to the latest Detroit Free Press poll.[...]
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Emailed excerpts from that article in Time (which still exists, surprisingly):
Pollsters in both parties believe that just softening the tone could move GOP numbers dramatically. Most Latinos still point to bread-and-butter issues like jobs and the economy as chief concerns, and on the specifics of how immigration policies should be reformed, there is a diversity of Latino opinion. ? Obama still faces his own climb back with many Latino voters. After promising to implement immigration reform in his first year in office?and winning 67% of the Latino vote in 2008?Obama opted instead to push health care reform and global-warming bills. At the same time, he has overseen a dramatic increase in deportations. ? [A] January poll by Univision and Latino Decisions found that 37% of Hispanics said Democrats did not care about their vote and 9% characterized Democrats as hostile.?It's true that there is a great deal of disenchantment among Latinos for President Barack Obama and his administration. The lack of progress on comprehensive immigration reform grates, but nothing like the bragging by Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security about the record number of deportations the last several years.
Now in campaign mode, Obama has taken some steps to ease those deportations, but people aren't forgetting that easily.
However, anyone interpreting that discontent as an opening for Republicans is seriously kidding themselves. Nine percent of Latinos are hostile to the administration? Heavens! Of course, those are Cubans in Miami, who live to hate on Democrats, so big freakin' deal. Fact is, Latinos continue to give Obama some of his best numbers.
More below the fold.
Under the tax plans for the Republican presidential candidates, the debt will explode.
As Kevin Drum points out, Rick Santorum is proof positive that the mainstream of the GOP is near indistinguishable from its fringe.
?The problem is there is no way to say that,? Gruber said. ?Because they?re the same fucking bill. He just can?t have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know, it?s the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he?s just lying.?
This Nightline special on Apple and Foxconn was very good, and you should watch it.
Here is an awesome, two minute and twenty eight second look at Pixar?s Brave:
Mitt Romney today, trying to capitalize on Rick Santorum's admission last night that he voted for No Child Left Behind even though "it was against the principles [he] believed in" because it was Bush's top priority and sometimes you "take one for the team, for the leader."
"I don?t know if I had ever seen a politician explain in so many ways why he voted against his principles," Romney added.Mitt Romney in 2005, explaining why he governed as a pro-choice Republican even though supporting abortion rights violated his own principles:
Because Massachusetts is decidedly prochoice, I have respected the state's democratically held view. I have not attempted to impose my own views on the prochoice majority.Moral of the story? Mitt Romney thinks Rick Santorum is as principled as Mitt Romney.