All posts by Its OUR Healthcare

Thousands Files Complaints Against Blue Cross

(Dude must have been hot in that suit. – promoted by Julia Rosen)

In Los Angeles yesterday, Blue Cross was brought before the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) following 4,100 calls and complaints in the last three years. The Sick of Blue Cross petition drive turned in more than 1,600 in only one week’s time.

The hearing gave Californians a great opportunity to hold the state’s largest for-profit health insurer accountable for dangerous business practices such as only covering the healthy and denying coverage to the sick. Blue Cross is also notorious for raising rates however and whenever it chooses.

Find out more and see pictures of Mr. Sick of Blue Cross below the fold…

For years, Blue Cross has treated California like an ATM machine and recently shipped $950 million in profits to its corporate parent, WellPoint, based in Indiana.

Mr. Sick of Blue Cross

But yesterday’s hearing is just the beginning – and there’s still much more work to do to get Blue Cross to clean up its act because these practices are simply unacceptable.

Health advocates gathered outside with signs and placards saying “I’m sick of Blue Cross” and repeating chants of “Hey Blue Cross you can’t hide — we can see your greedy side.” (Check out video courtesy of NBC-TV San Diego.)

Once inside, past and present Blue Cross policyholders told their stories of premiums going up and benefits going down, rejected claims and denied coverage — all this conducted by a health provider that claims it supports “access to all Californians.

Now our work shifts from the Los Angeles hearing room to the Capitol in Sacramento, where the Assembly and Senate must keep their promise to enact meaningful healthcare reform when they return later this month.

Blue Cross is leading the opposition to healthcare reform in California – and we’re going to need your continued help to fight back and pass real reform this year. Earlier this year, Blue Cross committed $2 million for a campaign to stop healthcare reform in California under the auspices of “responsible” reform. This campaign to stifle change already includes print and radio ads criticizing reform efforts, using fear-mongering tactics to make Californians afraid of change in the healthcare system.

Sick of Blue Cross is a project of the It’s OUR Healthcare! coalition

Health Advocates Take on Blue Cross

Tell Blue Cross to Clean Up Its Act

Next week, the State of California will drag Blue Cross into a public hearing and investigate thousands of complaints from policyholders about premium increases, benefit cuts, canceled policies and other practices.

If you had a bad experience with Blue Cross, you are strongly encouraged to submit a public comment. Or, you can sign our petition that will be delivered to the hearing in Los Angeles on August 7.

Blue Cross raked in nearly a $1 billion in profits last year and shipped it off to parent company, WellPoint, based in Indiana. Blue Cross is able to amass such profits because it relies on business practices that harm millions of Californians, such as:

* Spending less of California’s premium dollars on patient care than other larger insurers
* Denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and instead seeking to insure only the healthy
* Selling insurance designed to provide limited benefits, coupled with high deductibles and co-pays
* Raising rates however and whenever it chooses

These business practices are unacceptable (yet completely legal!) — and it’s time for us to put a stop to them.

At Sick of Blue Cross, we launched a petition to urge the state to order Blue Cross to return our money and to pass healthcare legislation to prevent Blue Cross from gouging us and start providing real healthcare.

Blue Cross is not only a leader in health insurance practices that need to be reformed, it is also a leader in the opposition to reform. Blue Cross has already committed $2 million for a campaign to stop health care reform this year in California — and Blue Cross has already run print and radio ads criticizing reform efforts and trying to make Californians afraid of change in the healthcare system.

It’s time for Blue Cross to clean up its act!

We’ll deliver this petition to the August 7th hearing in Los Angeles — and we want your name to be on it.

Sign our petition now — so together we can demand reform and get Blue Cross to clean up its act and return its excessive profits to California!

Liveblogging from the Senate Health Committee

(I love me some liveblogging. Just so everyone is clear: SB 840 is Keuhl’s single payer bill and AB 8 is the Nunez/Perata bill that stays within the private insurance model. – promoted by juls)

Things are about to get underway as It’s OUR Healthcare! will be liveblogging from the John L. Burton Hearing Room where the Senate Health Committee chaired by SB 840 author, State Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), will meet at 1:30pm.

Senator Kuehl is setting the ground rules for the hearing. (No cheering, clapping or booing.)

Scheduled to speak are the Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland).

Check for updates below the fold.

Speaker Nunez has just arrived and will start the discussion on AB 8. Senate Pro Tem seated right beside him.

In front of Senator Kuehl is a white sign with black text: “DO NO HARM.”

Speaker Nunez says that he and Perata are pleased to be here to make a major step in ailing a system that is broken.

Nunez: [Kuehl] You are a champion of healthcare for all Californians.

Nunez: AB 8 built on the idea of shared responsibility between employers, government and individuals. These measures will not fix the entire healthcare market, but improve it. This is a rare opportunity to fundamentally improve our healthcare system. We need to act now; take advantage of this opportunity.

Nunez: All of the uninsured children in California will be covered by this legislation. It will move 3.4 million (of the 6.5 million) under coverage.

Nunez: This is not a perfect plan, but will help pave the way for “real healthcare reform.”

Senator Perata now at the podium.

Perata: “[Bills merged because] we got tired talking to each other. We wanted to talk to the Governor.” Says we should have a national healthcare program. “Scandalous” that the U.S. is “woeful” on healthcare. California must provide the leadership [for the country].

Kuehl: In MA, they just added “affordable” to the name.

Witness: (Speaking of SB 840 support) “It seems like Kuehl’s gang were all over the place.” Kuehl replied jokingly, “Kuehl’s angels, we call them,” and the room chuckled.

Angie Wei, California Labor Fed acknowledged the huge number of IOH supporters that have traveled from across the state today. Provisions supported: Creation of statewide purchasing pool; establishment minimum of healthcare spending requirement; subsidies and discounts for families below 300% poverty level.

Concerns: issue of cost containment (union members have been able to hold on to their healthcare but pay a dear price for that; early retirees face risk of losing their healthcare; current system is unsustainable); affordability (we need to protect families from maximum exposure out of pocket).

Beth Capell, Health Access California: [Legislators] have been receiving healthcare Stories of the Day. Retells her own personal healthcare story involving her husband. “Never once did we worry we whether we could pay for his care. It should be that way for everyone.”

Number of studies released today on employer-based coverage. AB 8 would have a modest, yet positive, impact on California’s economy and not cost jobs.

Capell: We can do something this year that will improve the economy and help with people’s care.

Witness: AB 8 would improve healthcare for low-income Californians.

Mary Hernandez, SEIU: We support AB 8 if amended to control healthcare costs.

Gary Passmore, Congress of California Seniors: Add amendments on two issues for support; truly a work in progress; “we like what we see”

Consumers Union: support if amended; transparency a must;

AFSCME: We want to make sure this bill includes cost controls.

California Medical Association: support if amended; refinement of cost control efforts; inclusion of fiscal transparency

CNA voiced opposition to AB 8, instead favoring SB 840.

Senator Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) suggested to the Speaker that he work with the chair, put a hold on the bill and work on it through the fall.

Kuehl: “I don’t like your bill as much as I like my bill.” (The assembled crowd laughed.)

Kuehl: If we had the right Governor, we’d have it (SB 840). But my responsibility, is to now. Responsibility to push as hard as I can to hammer on the issues at hand. I am going to support this bill today (AB 8). It must keep moving to have a vehicle better than the Governor’s plan.

Nunez: Your bill (SB 840) is not only a bill that I not only support, but enthusiastically support. AB 8 is not perfect but will help a lot of people — 3.4 million.

Kuehl voted in favor of AB 8, vote is currently still open.

Sick of Blue Cross? We Are

(Cool new site, even though the graphics make my eyes freak out. – promoted by juls)

For far too long, Blue Cross of California’s standard operating procedures of policy cancellation and denial of coverage have gone on unchecked and unregulated. With healthcare reform a top priority in Sacramento, Blue Cross dropped $2 million on an astroturf “coalition of one” to stifle necessary reform this year.

Today, It’s OUR Healthcare, a coalition of consumer advocates, seniors, health advocates, communities of faith, and labor comprising more than 10 million, says no more and is asking Californians everywhere to stand up and fight back.

We are launching an aggressive online, public information campaign to uncover the real Blue Cross at

From our press release this morning:

It’s OUR Healthcare! has been advocating for a number of reforms that would fundamentally change the way Blue Cross and the healthcare industry do business in California:

* Banning the practice of denying coverage for “pre-existing conditions,” including minor conditions such as yeast infections, ear infections and seasonal hay fever.

* Requiring that a fair percentage of every premium dollar be spent on healthcare. There’s no minimum now, and a proposed requirement that at least 85% of every dollar charged be spent on healthcare, would be a radical shift (and increase) for Blue Cross.

* Requiring approval and justification for rate hikes. Because uncontrolled increases in the cost of health insurance have hit businesses and families hard in California.

Blue Cross sent nearly $1 billion in profits back to their corporate headquarters in Indiana last May. Their “coalition of one” — Blue Cross — are using scare tactics with their radio and print ads.

Blue Cross is putting money into stopping reform this year, because real reforms are on the table. It’s OUR Healthcare! and legislative leaders are taking a hard look at how our healthcare needs to be fixed, and those changes will force Blue Cross to make serious changes to its business model, which relies on:

* Spending hundreds of millions of dollars that Californians pay for health insurance each year on high salaries, slick marketing and “dividends” to out-of-state corporate headquarters

* Cherry-picking: denying coverage for pre-existing conditions  and instead seeking to insure only the healthy

* Selling insurance designed to provide limited benefits, coupled with high deductibles and co-pays

* Raising rates however and whenever it chooses

Their slogan says, “Get the power of Blue working for you.” The fact is that it ain’t working and they want to keep it that way.

Don’t let them. Stand up.