Health Insurance Refunds USA & Internet Medium! April 19/12
No tax refund this year? Well, we dug around and found health insurance companies could owe consumers big refunds this summer, thanks to the new healthcare law!
One Aetna company is estimated to owe $46 million to customers nationwide. That's real money back in your pockets.
Savings are adding up in states too. A WellPoint insurer in Missouri may pay out $29 million to individual and small-business policyholders. And Florida small-businesses using Blue Cross Blue Shield are expecting $45 million in refunds a boost to struggling entrepeneurs.
But lobbyists are still trying to undermine this law. Next week House members will take up a bill that will scale back rate cuts and refunds. And your state Insurance Commissioner who helps enforce the law is under pressure to back off as well.
Let the law work! Tell your leaders to support insurance rate cuts and refunds.
Getting a handle on insurance costs is critical for our nation. Insurers now can¹t spend more than 20 percent of your premium on their administrative costs, CEO salaries and excessive profits. Spend more, and they must lower rates or refund the difference.
Our early analysis found this incentive is working. Countless insurance companies are spending more of your dollars on needed medical care and less on their overhead. And we're discovering more expected refunds and savings each day.
Unfortunately, these savings are under attack right now! Take action now.
Insurance companies hate the idea of giving your money back. Make sure they¹re held to it by having your friends and family join you in taking action. Refunds are due this summer. It's your money, fight for it!
DeAnn Friedholm, YourHealthSecurity.org
Consumers Union, policy and action from Consumer Reports
506 W. 14th St., Suite A
"Our illnesses are not necessarily programmed in our genes, but they are responses to the way we perceive our environment" -Bruce Lipton, Ph.D
Internet Medium in Government April 19/12
Officials study futurology of EU parliament
THE INTERNET CUTS OUT THE MIDDLE MAN
April 16, 2012 By Honor Mahony
BRUSSELS - While MEPs continue to relish the extent of the European Parliament new powers in making EU laws, officials at the heart of the institution are looking into how the world's biggest transnational assembly is being transformed by the internet, new forms of governance and advances in IT. Klaus Welle, the Secretary General of the parliament, is drawing up what might be described as the parliament's very own existential handbook. It seeks to lay out how parliament will have changed by 2025. Part of the self-assessment will come through 200 questions. Unanswered, they are supposed to provoke thought and debate.
Many of them centre around the role of the internet and practical and political effects of fast-changing technology. A recent example of the power of the internet for deputies was the mobilising effect it had on opponents of Acta - a controversial international anti-counterfeit treaty. The parliament - due to decide whether to reject the agreement in summer - was recently the subject of a global 2-million strong petition against Acta.
"The internet cuts out the middle man. This is a challenge for parliament because parliamentarians are traditional middle men," said Welle at a recent conference. "So how can we equip MEPs so that under completely different competitive conditions they are still credible middle men towards the citizens, and they are not cut out of the system."
Other issues are more prosaic. Machine translation, for example, is steadily improving. But this has important implications for the parliament's 1,300 translators.
The EU's relations with other powers also have a profound effect on the workings of the assembly. In 2010, it opened its first ever office abroad - in Washington .
As relations with the US are increasingly defined by legislation and regulation in a series of areas of mutual interest - such as security and financial services - the theatre of power has shifted from the executives to law-making bodies.
The parliament's office in Washington colour-codes all legislation being made by US law-makers. Green means both sides are on the same line while red means "collision course."
Being opponents on various legislative issues is not necessarily a bad thing, said Welle, but "we should know about it advance." EU parliamentary delegations will soon explore setting up closer ties with national assemblies in Brazil and India .
Other aspects of today's world are a greater challenge. Discussions and decisions are more often being taken in multillateral arenas such as the G8 or G20 groups of industrialised countries. But this raises important questions about democratic oversight. And the parliament has its own particular EU challenge when it comes to parliamentary scrutiny. It is increasingly fretful about the role of the European Council, the forum for EU leaders to meet and take decisions.
But while the multipolar nature of global relations is forcing the parliament to change, so too is the greater power of Brussels over national economic decisions, and the parliament's recent boost in law-making powers.
It has created 500 new policy support posts - adding to the legal services, deputies' assistants and committee staff. The powerful economic and monetary affairs committee - taking care of all the financial services and economic oversight legislation - previously had just seven administrators. This has been upped to 12.
For parliament these past two years, defined both the eurozone crisis and the new Lisbon Treaty rules, have represented something of a coming of age for the institution, which only a short decade ago was routinely dismissed as a talking shop.
MEPs notice the change in the balance of power. National politicians coming to Brussels for ministerials often meet deputies to discuss upcoming policy decisions.
It has practical door-opening effects for those behind the scenes too.
Welle noted that he now has monthly meetings with his counterpart in the council to discuss issues on the agenda and that last year for the first time he was asked to meet all the director generals of the European Commission.
"Five years ago this was unimaginable. It shows we are respecting each other as equal partners."