Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Health News for the Holidays

While we were off enjoying the yuletide holidays the world of health care did not sit still. Since it has been a few days since we've been able to provide you with informative reading material, it is time for another quick roundup of some interesting and important stories from the past few days.

First stop: Melville, New York. Kathleen Kerr over at Newsday brings us tidings of the decade-old MDNY Healthcare, an HMO, which has just announced that it is going out of business. As she points out, this is the latest in a string of ill news for the group:

In 1999, the insurance plan announced its withdrawal from the western New York marketplace, citing steep operating costs and $1 million in losses. A year later, MDNY was among 21 health insurers fined by the state Insurance Department for failure to pay claims promptly - the company paid $5,000.

Next comes a brilliant bit of holiday marketing from Highmark (you might remember that we wrote about these guys awhile ago) as they offer their new health care gift cards to the first newborns of the year in the company's home state of Pennsylvania (News Release). Notable is the fact that nowhere in their news release does it specify how many of the state's newborns will be gifted with the cards.

No news roundup would be complete without taking a quick glance at the contenders for U. S. President. In this arena the Democrats are still the ones dominating the news, mostly due to the growing venom between Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. If you have been reading our posts here on Health Care Reform Now! you will find no surprises. To mandate or not to mandate, that is the question.

David Nitikin's article for the Baltimore Sun brings us a nice breakdown of the mandate issue along with the the latest (familiar sounding) quotes:
Clinton mailed a letter to Iowa voters, over the signature of former Gov. Tom Vilsack, which says "Mr. Obama threw back talking points worthy of Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney" when questioned about "flaws" in his plan.

In response, Obama distributed a piece in New Hampshire that defended his health proposals and urged voters to "remind Hillary Clinton" that the Jan. 8 primary "won't be won by launching misleading, negative attacks."

SCHIP continues to be in the news over the holidays. Conservative blogger Jeff Emanual (Director of, a widely read right wing blog) waxes almost gleeful at the defeat of the Democrat driven initiative to expand the program. This morning he shares that glee in a piece on
Even more impressive than the majority party’s public surrender on SCHIP expansion was the speed and completeness of it. Less than a week after falling victim to Bush’s veto pen for a second time, the Senate had passed the fifteen-month extension by unanimous consent, and the House had approved it by a 411-3 vote.

The hysterical tenor of some floor speeches showed the Democrats’ desperation. “How many children will be dead” if the President were to veto the SCHIP expansion? asked Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).
Last, but very far from least is the ongoing saga of California's struggle to enact health care reforms. Rather than point you toward a single article, here is a link to the Google News results page on the subject. A wide variety of opinions and perspectives for your home researching pleasure.

SOURCE: "Melville HMO going out of business" 12/26/07
SOURCE: "Press Release: Highmark to Present State's Newest Residents with Healthcare Gift Cards " 12/24/07
SOURCE: "Clinton, Obama clashing on health
Democrats debate requiring people to buy coverage" 12/26/07

SOURCE: "SCHIP Expansion: Congressional Majority Surrenders Completely" 12/26/07
SOURCE: "Google News: California Health Care" 12/26/07
photo courtesy of bobcat rock, used under this Creative Commons license

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