|Progressive Calendar 01.11.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 23:16:24 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.11.07 1. Surge out now! 1.12 4:30pm 2. Kristen Olson 1.12 6pm 3. Iwo Jima/film 1.12 4. Alt/violence 1.12 5. Warming/MN water 1.13 10am 6. Colombia/US 1.13 10am 7. EJAM/env justice 1.13 10:30am 8. Janitors/SEIU 1.13 11am 9. NW N4P vigil 1.13 11am 10. Northtown vigil 1.13 1pm 11. Islam 1.13 2pm 12. Ceili 1.13 7pm 13. Cindy Sheehan - Insanity surge 14. Kip Sullivan - Scam! Your tax dollars and the HMOs 15. Gilman/Sullivan - Lourey, health insurance, Leg session --------1 of 15-------- From: wamm <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Surge out now! 1.12 4:30pm Protest & Picket Line: Surge Out Now! Friday, January 12, 4:30 p.m. Federal Building, Third Avenue, Fourth Street, Minneapolis. The Bush administration is preparing for a major escalation of the war on Iraq. This escalation is expected to include a so-called "surge" of thousands of additional U.S. troops into Iraq. This escalation can only lead to more deaths of Iraqis and U.S. military personnel. Polls have shown that the majority of people in the U.S., as well as in Iraq, want the U.S troops to leave that country. Neither U.S. citizens nor Iraqis support a surge of troops into Iraq; they are calling for a withdrawal of U.S. troops. Say "No to an escalation of the war on Iraq! Say No to the "Surge" of Troops! Organizations around the country are calling to stop the surge. This is an opportunity for Minnesotans to turn out in numbers to let our continued opposition be clearly known. The people have spoken and will not stop speaking until the troops are home. Initiated by: Iraq Peace Action Coalition. WAMM is a member. --- Call Congress. Let Them Know Voicing Opposition Isn't Enough. They must act! Today and until they act! Voicing their opposition to the surge (aka escalation) to the United States war on Iraq is not enough! Passing non-binding resolutions is not enough. That will not bring the troops home. The argument that cutting off funding is not supporting the troops is bogus. That money was already allocated to support the troops who are there. If congress really wants to support the troops, they will ACT to get them out of harm's way and bring them home now! If U.S. troops are not removed, more of them will be killed or maimed (already 3,000 dead and 21,000 physically wounded, plus many psychological issues which will need to be dealt with); more Iraqis will be killed and maimed (An estimated 655,000+ dead, countless wounded and suffering in a country with no security and with an infrastructure that has been destroyed). Of course, there are many other complex issues around the dead and wounded U.S. military and Iraqis, the destruction of Iraq and the terrible moral and financial cost to the United States and international law; restitution, reconciliation, war profiteering of U.S. and multi-national companies, oversight, investigations, regional instability, the need for diplomacy, the list goes on. It is reasonable to have funding with tight controls for use in removing U.S. troops and giving restitution to Iraqis, for fair and honest diplomacy, etc., but not for funding more troops, permanent bases and etc. (Also, while we have our eyes on Iraq, Somalia has been attacked by the U.S. Innocent civilians including children killed in a massacre of suspected terrorists, and the U.S. has been moving ships within striking distance of Iran. Tell Congress to stop military actions, attacking, threatening and inflaming the Middle East region and everywhere.) Phone the Senate and Congress at their offices in Washington, D.C. or locally. Or e-mail them. (Do not send letters by mail to Washington, D.C. They are checked for Anthrax and it takes months for them to get to their destination. If you know someone who wants to write, suggest they write to their congress person's local office; they will get the mail to them.) --------2 of 15-------- From: Krisrose02 [at] aol.com Subject: Kristen Olson 1.12 6pm KRISTEN OLSON / KERRI MARSHALL & guests sing & play mostly original story-songs As we live we weave our stories, our melodies, our lives, our music. Kristen Olson and Kerri Marshall have written and played music together for over ten years. Please join us Friday, January 12, at the Smooth Grind in Roseville, from 6 to 8 pm. Guest musicians will include Shelby Marshall, Grant Marshall, and Rose Kubiatowicz on mandolin. Most of our songs are original, though you may hear some Tracy Chapman, and Cowboy Junkies covers (and maybe some old John Denver!) Our songs have been written as stories, snapshots, illustrations of our lives and our growth in relationships, in the world, as we are and have been. We hope to see everyone there as we celebrate the new year. There is sure to be some story telling, and some political banter thrown in for good measure. The Smooth Grind is located at 2723 Lexington Ave N, one block north of Roseville City hall on Lexington. Or, call (651) 490-0490 for directions. The Smooth Grind is a locally owned coffee shop, under new ownership. It is welcoming, cozy, and is definitely the place to find the best coffee and dessert around! See you there! Kristen & Kerri --------3 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Iwo Jima/film 1.12 1/12 to 1/18, film "Letters from Iwo Jima' is companion to "Flags of Our Fathers," told from the Japanese perspective, Uptown Cinema, Hennepin & Lagoon, Uptown Mpls. 612-825-6006. --------4 of 15-------- From: barbara Vaile <barbara [at] organicconsumers.org> Subject: Alt/violence 1.12 Alternatives to Violence Project Workshop Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops consists of games, discussions, and role plays which build conflict management skills and explores non-violence as a way of life. AVP workshops have provided training "which has been used to reduce violence in Twin Cities' homes and Minnesota prisons, as well as Rwanda, Bosnia, Kenya and the US." AVP-MN sponsors workshops in prisons, high schools, and the community. Please join us at a 22 hour Basic Level workshop, sponsored by the Friends for a Non-Violent World (FNVW) in St. Paul, January 12-14, 2007 and at Walker Church in Minneapolis, February 16-18. Minnesota AVP is sponsored by FNVW. Sliding scale fee - scholarships are available. To register call 651-644-5851 seven to ten days in advance or e-mail Aaron at aaron [at] fnvw.org <mailto:aaron [at] fnvw.org>. For more information, please check out our websites: www.fnvw.org <http://www.fnvw.org/> and www.avpusa.org <http://www.avpusa.org/>. --------5 of 15-------- From: Diane J. Peterson <birch7 [at] comcast.net> From: Lisa Ledwidge Subject: Warming/MN water 1.13 10am Minnesota Metro Branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom invites you to its January 2007 COFFEE WITH Program The Effects of Global Warming on Minnesota's Water Speaker: J Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director, Fresh Energy The Earth's temperature is rising, and even Minnesota's precious water resources are at risk. How might global warming affect Minnesota fishing, snow sports, agriculture, and drinking water? Find out from climate expert J Drake Hamilton, who also will suggest ways that individuals can help solve the climate change problem. Sat. January 13 10 am to noon Van Cleve Community Center, 901 15th Ave. SE, Minneapolis FREE DISCUSSION & REFRESHMENTS--EVERYONE WELCOME Sponsored by MN Metro WILPF FFI: 651-458-7090; wilpf [at] earthlink.net; www.wilpfmn.org --------6 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Colombia/US 1.13 10am Saturday, 1/13, 10 to 11:30 am, human rights translator David Pegg speaks on "US Complicity in Colombia's Violence," Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha Ave, Mpls. www.americas.org --------7 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: EJAM/env justice 1.13 10:30am Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota 4th Annual Founders' Day Conference Environmental Justice: Bringing it home... Local and Global Solutions Saturday January 13, 2007 Registration 10:30 am Program 11:00 am -6:30 pm Minneapolis Urban League 2100 Plymouth Av. N, Mpls. FREE Event but donations welcome Featuring: Rep. Keith Ellison, US House-elect Tom Goldtooth, Director Indigenous Environmental Network Event Include: . Panel discussion of Environmental Justice active issues . Workshops on healthy homes, climate change, asthma, and more . Town Hall Forum - Open dialogue with the community . Book signing - Dr. Rose Brewer, author of "The Color of Wealth" . Dance, spoken word, art auction and awards . Light lunch and dinner Contact: Karen Monahan 612-436-5402 --- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> NOTE: Serious Greens should be at this event. It's FREE, on a SATURDAY and is organized by an environemntal group initiated by people of color (who white progressives are always asking "How can we get people of color involved with our group/issue/movement?" The answer is REACH OUT ON THEIR TURF. The movement for "environemntal justice" INTEGRATES environmental preservation and racial/economic/social justice and is critical to many issues usually defined ONLY in terms of the environment - but, that DISPROPORTIONATELY are being felt by people of color here & around the world (water theft from Indigenous in Canada, lead posioning of the poor - primarily cchildren of color, here, Indigenous in rainforests, etc). This is a chance to learn and connect that shouldn t be missed. LH --- From: Darrell Gerber <darrellgerber [at] earthlink.net> Environmental Justice: Bringing it home... Local and Global Solutions Saturday January 13, 2007 10:30-11:00 Registration, Membership, Light Lunch 11:00-11:15 Welcome, EJAM Update, Awards 11:15-11:45 Keynote, Congressman Keith Ellison, inspire us to action 11:45-12:10 Aztec Dancers 12:10-1:40 Environmental Justice - Hot Issues (7-10 min each) 1. Healthy Food in the Inner City- Angela Dawson, Northside Food Project (invited) 2. Arsenic Triangle- community member 3. Pesticides- rep from Centro Campesino 4. Youth and the pursuit of a safe environment - Hattie Bonds & young person 5. Global Climate change - Shalini Gupta 6. IEN issues- Robert Shimek 7. The Color of Wealth, Dr. Rose Brewer - announce book signing 1:40-2:00 Break and Book Signing The Color of Wealth, Dr. Rose Brewer 2:00-3:30 Town Hall Forum - Open dialogue with community members 3:30-4:30 Break Out Discussion/Information Groups A. Tips and Tools for Making Your Home Healthy (pesticides, cleaning, chemicals) - Collie Graddick, MN Dept of Agriculture - Julia Earl, Preventing Harm MN B. The Color of Wealth, Dr. Rose Brewer C. EJ and Global Climate Change, Shalini D. Open topics: break-outs in big room 4:40-5:00 Report back from small groups Continue book Signing 5:00-5:30 Dinner Buffet & Spoken Word Group 5:30-6:30 Keynote: In Defense of Mother Earth Tom Goldtooth, Director Indigenous Environmental Network 6:30 Wrap Up Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota EJAM's Mission: EJAM advocates for fair treatment and meaningful involvement of communities of color and low-income communities in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulation, and policies for the purpose of eliminating minority health disparities. EJAM's Goals: To promote healthy communities by preventing environmental hazards, that disproportionately affect low-income and communities of color. To create and enhance awareness of environmental hazards which contribute to health disparities on the basis of race and income. To promote self-advocacy, and the capacity and ability of individuals and communities to advocate on issues of environmental justice for themselves, their families and neighbors. Our founding: EJAM evolved from a 2003 Minneapolis Urban League (MUL) meeting focusing on health disparities in communities of color. This meeting served as the foundation for a coalition of community members and organizations coming together to focus on environmental justice and health disparities. Issues that came up at the meeting were coal plant pollution, need for neighborhood legal advocacy assistance, lead poisoning, and health disparities. Since then, the MUL has hosted monthly EJAM meetings to define mission, goals, and scope of the newly formed coalition, which consists of: North Minneapolis community members, MUL, NAACP, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, Metropolitan Area African American Chamber of Commerce, Institute for Agricultural & Trade Policy, Women's Cancer Resource Center, Council on Black Minnesotans, Indigenous Women's Network, African American Tobacco Network, Synergy Publishing, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, and members of area churches, public schools and the medical community. In Fall 2004 EJAM established its first 15-person Board of Directors. EJAM accomplishments so far: EJAM secured the first-ever Public Utilities Commission (PUC) hearing on energy in North Minneapolis in September 2003. With the highest turnout in the state, 150 people participated and sent a clear message - it's time to clean up the metro area coal plants. The PUC heard that message and in December 2003 approved the Metro Emissions Reduction Project (MERP), a voluntary plan to clean up three metro area coal plants. EJAM held its inaugural "Founder's Day" conference on October 11, 2003, featuring renowned environmental justice expert, Dr. Robert Bullard. Subsequently, we hosted a second Founder's Day conference on January 22, 2005, featuring renowned scientist and environmental justice advocate, Dr. Tyrone Hayes. Our third Founder's Day featured keynote presentations by Jesus Torres, a youth organizer with Centro Campesino, an Owatonna-based organization fighting for migrant farm worker rights; and Margie Richard, an award-winning grassroots organizer from Norco, Louisiana, who battled and won a just relocation agreement with Shell Chemical Co. In March 2003 several EJAM members traveled with the Sierra Club to the Chicago E.P.A. hearing on the EPA's mercury MACT rule to raise the issue of environmental justice for communities of color, low-income communities, and Indigenous Peoples. EJAM members also testified at a local community hearing at the Martin Luther King Center on the EPA's mercury plan. EJAM has hosted several accountability forums in North Minneapolis on issues of importance to the community, including environmental health concerns at a recent affordable housing development and the redesign of Broadway Avenue North. These forums brought decision-makers, scientists, and developers together with community members to address the concerns of the community. EJAM has drafted an environmental justice policy for the state of Minnesota, and has worked closely with EJAM leader Rep. Keith Ellison to pass legislation in 2005 to reduce household lead hazards offering tax incentives to pay for clean up. In addition, EJAM and Rep. Ellison are fighting to reduce the blood lead level of concern from 15 to 10 ug/dl, so that more children will receive appropriate intervention and treatment for lead poisoning. In 2006 EJAM, as a member of Mercury-Free Minnesota, advocated for the successful passage of landmark state legislation to reduce mercury emissions from Minnesota's three largest coal plants by ninety percent by 2014. Also in 2006, EJAM worked with the Minneapolis City Council to pass a comprehensive mercury reduction ordinance for the city. Arsenic Triangle - Continuing advocacy to help protect residents of South Minneapolis affected by arsenic pollution from a closed pesticide plant. --------8 of 15-------- From: DRosenstein [at] csom.umn.edu Subject: Janitors/SEIU 1.13 11am Hi all, so you may have heard that the janitors at SEIU Local 26 will be taking a strike vote this Saturday. (see http://www.workdayminnesota.org/index.php?news_6_2828) Members and staff at the local both report that everyone's trying to stay strong in the face of employer intimidation and discrimination. But in order to feel like they can really take their struggle forward, they need to know that the community will stand with them. "If activists in town have ever wondered how they can help to with the J4J campaign, now's the time. We really need a lot of people to show up at the strike vote meeting," members of the negotiating committee told me yesterday. The idea is for us to show our solidarity at the beginning of their meeting and then break off to discuss the specifics of what actions we might take as a newly formed solidarity committee. Please forward this email widely and I hope to see you there-- Deborah The details: 11 AM, Saturday January 13th, 312 Central Ave. Minneapolis (labor building) Deborah Rosenstein Program Coordinator, Labor Education Service Industrial Relations Center 321-19th Avenue South, Room 3-300 Minneapolis, MN 55455 612-626-2034 (phone) 612-624-1585 (fax) drosenstein [at] csom.umn.edu http://laboreducation.org --------9 of 15-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NW N4P vigil 1.13 11am The NW Neighbors for Peace weekly demonstrations every Saturday between 11am and noon along Vinewood, near Rockford Rd. (also known as 42nd Avenue or Cty. Rd. 9) and just east of 494. This is the entrance to Target, Rainbow, and other stores. --------10 of 15-------- From: Lennie <major18 [at] comcast.net> Subject: Northtown vigil 1.13 1pm Mounds View peace vigil EVERY SATURDAY from 1-2pm at the at the southeast corner of the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE in Blaine, which is the northwest most corner of the Northtown Mall area. This is a MUCH better location. We'll have extra signs. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. For further information, email major18 [at] comcast.net or call Lennie at 763-717-9168 --------11 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Islam 1.13 2pm Alternate Saturdays, 1/13 to 6/9, 2 to 4 pm, interfaith dialogue organization Northern Lights Society presents series Understanding Islam, 2469 University Ave, Suite 110 E. St Paul. bilgin [at] nlight.org Series includes topics the Qur'an on 1/12, virtues of prayer on 1/27, Mary on 2/10, Jesus on 2/24, Islam and Democracy on 3/10, necessity of interfaith dialogue on 3/24, farewell sermon of prophet Muhammad on 4/14, terror and suicide attacks on 4/28, other faiths according to Islam on 5/12, diversity in Islam on 5/26 and Islamic art on 9/9. RSVP to rsvp [at] nlight.org --------12 of 15-------- From: Mike Whelan <mpw4883 [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Ceili 1.13 7pm The Irish Music and Dance Association (IMDA) is hosting an Irish ceili dance and celebration honoring the contributions of musician Martin McHugh for his years of playing in the Twin Cities community. On January 13, 2007, Martin McHugh will be the guest of honor for the 2006/2007 IMDA "Honoring our Elders" event. Martin McHugh, native of Castlereagh, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, has been a resident in St Paul since the 1960s. With his accordion, he has shared his love of Irish music and culture with countless musicians in the Twin Cities area performing for events, dances and at sessions. Martin's repertoire forms the basis for many of the tunes played in the local community. Please join us to say thank-you to Martin for all he has given us. It will be a special night featuring dancing (called by Mike Whelan) and music -- with surprise guest artists from near and far. You'll also get to meet the winners of the 2006 IMDA Educational Grant Program who will perform that evening. A full cash-bar is on the premises. Bring your favorite desert to share and help us make this a very special evening for a very special friend. The event details are: Irish Music and Dance Association Ceili and Celebration Honoring our Elders: Martin McHugh Saturday, January 13, 2007 Eagles Club, Minneapolis 2507 25th Street East Minneapolis, MN 55406 Doors open 7pm, $5 donation requested at the door --------13 of 15-------- Insanity Surge By Cindy Sheehan t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor Thursday 11 January 2007 Surge: A strong, wavelike, forward movement, rush, or sweep. Escalate: To increase, enlarge, or intensify. Bloody George, the lamest duck in US history, has announced to the nation that he will be sending 21,500 more troops into Iraq, which some call a "surge," some call an escalation, and I like to refer to as Operation Increasing Cannon Fodder. The Hypocrite in Chief has said over and over again, throughout nearly four years of his malevolent and dysfunctional occupation, that he would increase troop levels when the "generals on the ground" asked him to. I guess he never said what he would do if his generals on the ground asked him not to send new troops, but apparently one will get canned, as Generals Casey and Abizaid recently found out. We humans for peace and sanity need to descend on our Congressional offices to avert this calamity in the making. This past week, Speaker Pelosi threatened Bloody George with withholding funds for this newest venture into the abyss and WE need to make sure that she follows through with that threat. Bloody George's funds need to be cut off. He can't perpetrate any more murder or perpetuate any more hatred if the cash cow runs dry. I am tired of the warmakers making war with our children. I am tired of our tired troops being sent over to do the dirty work for mob bosses who are going to squeeze the life out of Iraq and not leave until every asset and every natural resource has been raped from the country. I am tired of seeing Iraqis burying their loved ones and hearing the reverberating screams of mothers all over our country who are being destroyed for the benefit of a very few. It seems that as Bloody George's time winds down, his incompetence surges, and it appears that impeachment is more urgent. An escalation is not acceptable. Sitting idly by and watching it happen is not acceptable either. In Search of Peace is a series of reflections on Cindy's journey toward true and lasting peace. Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Bush's war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and the Camp Casey Peace Institute. She is the author of three books; the most recent is Peace Mom: A Mother's Journey Through Heartache to Activism. --------14 of 15-------- From: Kip Sullivan <kiprs [at] usinternet.com> Subject: Scam! Your tax dollars and the HMOs Below is another article of mine. It's in the current Pulse. It describes the sleazy process by which our state health insurance programs for low-income Minnesotans were privatized, and it lays out the evidence indicating privatization has raised, not lowered, the costs of those programs. SCAM! YOUR TAX DOLLARS AND THE HMOS BY KIP SULLIVAN The Pulse, January 10-16, 2007 www.PulseTC.com For two decades, Minnesota taxpayers have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually by letting HMOs participate in the state's three major health insurance programs - MinnesotaCare, Medical Assistance (MA, Minnesota's Medicaid program), and General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC). These losses have never been investigated by the Legislature. HMOs in Minnesota act as the middleman between the state's Department of Human Services (DHS) and the doctors, hospitals and other providers who treat low-income Minnesotans who qualify for MinnesotaCare, MA and GAMC. When this privatization "experiment" began in the mid-'80s under Reagan, the state of Minnesota promised the feds it would evaluate the experiment. That evaluation never happened, or if it did, has never been released. The HMOs have gotten what they wanted - privatization with access to the public trough without so much as a single public evaluation of whether privatization saved money. The HMOs have warded off accountability long enough. "The Legislature is now under great pressure to expand MinnesotaCare and MA to include more of the uninsured," said Lisa Nilles, MD, vice chair of the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition. "That's wonderful news. But the Legislature must fix the HMO overpayment problem before it expands the coverage of those programs. If they don't, the overpayments will get a lot worse." The way these HMO overpayments were created resembles the way the Pentagon overpaid Halliburton. Halliburton is a gigantic corporation with considerable influence in Washington, D.C.; it used that political influence to win lucrative contracts with the Pentagon for services to soldiers in Iraq (like meal preparation and transportation of gasoline) that used to be provided by military personnel at lower cost to the taxpayer. Now that evidence of the Halliburton rip-off has emerged, Halliburton is resisting audits of its books and the Pentagon is doing little to recover the overpayments. Similarly, HealthPartners, Medica and other Minnesota HMOs used their political power to get DHS to outsource the job of insuring low-income Minnesotans to the HMOs. Once this outsourcing, or privatization, had occurred, the HMOs used their political power to keep DHS and the Legislature from evaluating whether privatization saved money. Administrative costs: The rhinoceros in the room To figure out whether privatization raises or lowers the costs of MinnesotaCare, MA and GAMC, you need to calculate two numbers: The amount of money HMOs spend on overhead costs (non-medical costs like advertisements and salaries for lobbyists), and the amount they spend on medical care for patients. Those two numbers together equal total spending by HMOs. According to research, including a 2003 report by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, HMO overhead is about 20 percent of their revenues. According to other research, HMOs reduce spending on patients by about 5 percent. The net effect is about a 15 percent increase in total spending. But all the HMOs talk about is the 5 percent cut in spending on patients, allegedly achieved by making patients healthier through greater use of preventive services like mammograms, and by cutting out unnecessary services. Everyone who promoted privatization in the '80s understood HMOs were going to spend a large portion of the tax dollars funneled to them on administrative costs including sales people, marketing, arguing with doctors about whether their patients needed this or that medical service or drug, lobbying, perks and huge salaries for executives. But no one wanted to talk about it. All the HMO lobbyists talked about was the big savings that would allegedly materialize in the form of reduced medical spending if Minnesota's poor were pushed into HMOs. When forced to talk about their overhead costs, the HMOs have claimed their overhead costs are merely 10 percent of revenues. Even if that's an accurate number, the HMOs still lose the larger argument about whether they should be booted from state health insurance programs. But 10 percent is not accurate. For example, Hatch's audit of Medica, the state's second largest health insurance company in terms of market share, reported that its overhead was at least 19 percent in 2000. The Nov. 15, 2006 Wall Street Journal put it this way in a front-page story: "At Medicaid HMOs, only 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars generally go for medical care. The rest covers other costs - including executive compensation, entertainment and political contributions". The original rationale for inserting HMOs between DHS and providers was to save money. (That rationale was articulated in Minnesota's April 1982 application to the federal government for permission to force MA recipients in two "experimental" counties - Hennepin and Dakota - into HMOs for a three-year "demonstration" period, 1985 to 1988.) If HMO overhead eats up even as little as 10 percent, never mind 20 percent, of the tax dollars they receive from DHS, how were the HMOs supposed to break even during the 1985-88 "demonstration" period, much less save the state money? Minnesota's 1982 application to the feds didn't bother to address this question. There were only three possible answers: The HMOs would reduce spending on medical care by an amount at least equal to their overhead; DHS would pay the HMOs more than it would have if HMOs had never been inserted between DHS and providers; or some combination of the above. There are two ways HMOs could have cut medical spending: They could have cut the fees they paid to providers below the levels DHS was paying prior to privatization, or they could have cut the volume of medical services provided to patients. Because the fees DHS was paying to providers were already less than half those the private sector plans paid to their providers, it is extremely unlikely the HMOs were able to save money with even lower fees. In any case, there is no evidence that that happened. That leaves medical utilization rates. There is some evidence that HMOs reduced medical services delivered to MA recipients, including many necessary medical services. But the reduction in medical use rates was nowhere near enough to offset the HMOs' 20 percent overhead. Research by the Congressional Budget Office (the agency in charge of estimating the cost of bills proposed by members of Congress) indicates the typical HMO cut medical utilization by about 5 percent below the rate seen in patients treated by unmanaged providers. But 5 percent, obviously, is a lot less than the 20 percent overhead generated by the typical HMO. That leaves one explanation: DHS has been overpaying HMOs all these years by roughly 15 percent. Dancin' the night away: Your tax dollars at work The best-known type of HMO overhead or administrative cost is executive salaries and perks. Mike Hatch's 2002 audit of Medica, which at the time was part of a combined HMO-hospital-chain called Allina, painted a lurid picture of this type of overhead. Although Allina operated only in Minnesota and small slices of the Dakotas and Wisconsin, it reimbursed its executives for flights to Aruba, London, Paris, Venice, Grand Cayman, Amsterdam, Athens, Cancun, Los Cabos, Pago Pago, Puerto Vallarta, and San Juan during the period 1998-2000. During those same three years, Allina paid for over 30 trips to Hawaii, and more than 1,000 trips to California and Florida. The purpose of one of the California trips (eight Allina officials made the trip) was to attend an "ethics" seminar in Monterey designed to teach the executives how to find Allina's "moral center." Other examples of wasteful expenditures by Allina documented in Hatch's massive, six-volume report included: - a hot air balloon ride for executives over vineyards in California's Napa Valley ($1,295, champagne brunch included); - a $70,000 company party, $10,000 of which was for a "laser light show"; - $18,000 worth of season tickets to the Minnesota Timberwolves for just one executive over three years; - $1 million a year for a "turn around" specialist from California who worked at Allina only four days a week and who in turn hired more California consultants to host parties for executives at which they watched the movie "Twelve Angry Men" in order to learn about "group dynamics." But the lavish salaries and questionable perks for HMO managers constitute only a small portion of the 20 percent of revenues that HMOs spend on overhead. The bulk of HMO overhead is accounted for by: -marketing and advertising; -"managing care," or, in plain English, telling doctors what services and drugs they can offer to their patients; -claims processing; -lobbying and otherwise influencing government (such as the $306,000 over three months Allina gave to GCI Tunheim and other public relations firms to carry out a publicity campaign in 2001 to destroy Hatch's credibility); and -profit (in the case of for-profit plans) or surplus (in the case of nonprofits). Profit or surplus typically amounts to 3 to 5 percent. In case it isn't obvious, let me state the obvious: DHS spent no money on trips to Pago Pago, Timberwolves tickets and the other administrative costs HMOs incur before privatization. But after privatization, that is, after DHS started funneling tax dollars through HMOs rather than directly to providers, our tax dollars did finance trips to Pago Pago and expenditures on marketing, lobbying, etc. HMOs gag the messenger The first sign that something was very wrong with Minnesota's privatization experiment came in 1987 when the federal government refused to grant DHS's request to extend the Hennepin-Dakota demonstration project for two years beyond 1988. Judging from a vague explanation of this event in a history of the privatization project published by DHS in 1995, the feds refused to extend the demonstration project because DHS had not carried out the evaluation it had promised to conduct. Here is the sum total of DHS's explanation from its 1995 report: "Difficulty in obtaining usable service encounter data from the health plans made it difficult to evaluate the [demonstration]. In addition, delays in enrollment of recipients resulted in considerably less than three years of actual program experience." Arranging for the HMOs to deliver necessary data to DHS and getting poor people to sign up for HMOs were the two most obvious tasks DHS had to think through before it asked the feds for permission to begin the privatization experiment. Why weren't these obvious problems anticipated by DHS? Why was the privatization "experiment" allowed to continue without some assurance from DHS that these problems, especially the HMO's inability or unwillingness to deliver useful data, had been addressed? In an ideal world where state agencies do what they say they will do and where large corporations are held accountable, this should have been the end of the road for the privatization experiment. It was not. In 1989, according to the DHS history, Minnesota's legislature rewarded the HMOs by enacting legislation authorizing DHS to privatize all 87 Minnesota counties. In 1990 Congress, apparently at the request of one or several members of the Minnesota congressional delegation, voted to give Minnesota permission to continue its privatization experiment. DHS made no further attempt to determine whether privatization was working until 1993. In that year, a DHS employee named Steven Foldes sought to compare the quality and cost of care for MA recipients in Dakota and Hennepin counties with the quality and cost of care provided to MA recipients by doctors in five other metro counties that had not yet been privatized. Again the HMOs refused to deliver to DHS the necessary data. (The HMOs refused to provide any data at all on mental health services.) In his final report, Foldes noted the HMOs' failure to deliver usable data and called for more research. However, Foldes was able to draw firm conclusions about two preventive services - mammography and Pap smears. He found that doctors in the unprivatized counties (referred to as "fee-for-service" counties because doctors there were paid a fee by DHS for each medical service they provided to patients) were doing a better job of providing preventive services than the HMO doctors in Dakota and Hennepin. "[T]he health plans [referring to the HMOs] had a comparatively 5 percent higher rate of Pap smear use, but the fee-for-service setting had a comparatively 35 percent higher rate of mammogram use" said the report. Because HMOs claimed they were much better than fee-for-service doctors at delivering preventive services, these findings were profoundly embarrassing to the HMOs. It suggested that if HMOs were saving any money at all for DHS, it was not because they were doing a superior job of "health maintenance." The HMOs persuaded then-DHS assistant commissioner Helen Yates to conceal the study from the public. We know this because someone leaked word of the study to the Star Tribune, which published a front-page article about it on March 13, 1994. Under the headline, "Study shelved after HMOs complained," the article opened with these sentences: "Minnesota officials suppressed a study raising questions about HMO care for poor people .... The study was the first attempt by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to see whether the state was saving money by sending Medical Assistance patients to health-maintenance organizations." Neither the Legislature, then in the hands of Democrats, nor then-governor Arne Carlson called for hearings into the HMOs' outrageous conduct, nor did they demand that DHS take appropriate steps to force the HMOs to cooperate. DHS, which had abolished Foldes' position when it shelved his study, did not initiate a follow-up study. "The Star Tribune report was front-page news," said Charlotte Fisher, a retired St. Cloud nurse and president of the Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition. "But the Legislature didn't lift a finger to find out what happened. No calls for HMO accountability. No hearings. Nothing!" This would not be the last time the Legislature ignored reports that indicted HMOS: The Legislature ignored then-Attorney General Mike Hatch's 2001 report on the abuse of mental health patients by Blue Cross and Hatch's 2002 audit of Allina. With the deep-sixing of Foldes' report, the question of whether HMOs were robbing taxpayers sank from sight. As I reported in the Dec. 5 Pulse, former DHS commissioner Kevin Goodno stated in a December 2004 letter to former Rep. Matt Entenza (DFL-St. Paul) that even at that late date DHS still had not performed a study to determine if privatization saved money. Although the HMOs have suppressed research on whether privatization of the state programs saved money or improved quality of care, we have dozens of studies of HMO performance in the private sector, in Medicare, and in California's Medicaid program which indicate HMOs raise costs and damage quality of care. HMO-ectomy: Big business shows the way Perhaps the most compelling of these studies are those showing that when businesses "self-insure" they save money. Self-insuring means a business stops buying insurance from a health insurance company and instead acts as the health insurer of its own employees. It just sets aside money each year in a bank account to cover the estimated cost of its employees' medical bills and, when bills come in, it pays providers directly. In other words, self-insured businesses bypass the HMO middleman. Today, about 40 percent of all Minnesotans with health insurance get it through a self-insured employer. The high number of companies that choose to self-insure is a sure sign that self-insuring is a money-saver. Self-insuring cuts health insurance costs because the self-insuring company no longer pays for some or all of the administrative costs associated with running an insurance company. Take, for example, a self-insured company - call it Company X - formerly insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield. Company X still has to pay someone to process claims and negotiate contracts with providers (it might do this in house or contract with Blue Cross or another insurance company to do this), but it no longer pays for trips to Pago Pago (or wherever Blue Cross sends its execs for R and R) nor all the other overhead costs private insurers incur. By ceasing to pay for these costs, self-insuring corporations cut their health insurance costs by 10 to 20 percent. Two dozen Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Minnesota documented the value of self-insuring a decade ago. The group, known as the Business Health Care Action Group (BHCAG; today it is the Buyers Health Care Action Group), included, for example, Carlson Companies, General Mills, Land O' Lakes, Pillsbury, Super Value and 3M. The BHCAG corporations self-insured in 1993. In 1997, the group reported that self-insuring cut its health insurance costs by 11 percent. According to a January 13, 1997 report in Business Week, "a coalition of 25 Minnesota companies appears to be scoring savings ... by bypassing insurers. The Business Health Care Action Group deals directly with doctors and hospitals. Steve Wetzell, executive director of BHCAG, contends that HMOs ... waste millions on administration. By cutting them out, the coalition has reduced employers' health-coverage expenses 11 percent since 1993." The article ran under the amusing title, "Minnesota's HMO-ectomy." The Minnesota Legislature is often urged to make government act more like a business. This is one case where that advice should be followed. "If bypassing the insurance companies makes sense for big business, why can't our legislature see that it makes sense for MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance?" asks Charlotte Fisher. If sticking HMOs between large corporations and providers raises costs, it seems obvious that sticking HMOs between Medicaid and providers will also raise costs. That is what a study of California's partially privatized Medicaid program found. The study reported that counties where HMOs have been inserted between the state and providers have per capita costs 20 percent above those of counties that were never privatized (You can find this study at www.econ.umd.edu/~duggan/mcd_hmo.pdf.) This study was conducted for the National Bureau of Economic Research, a right-of-center think tank that has produced 16 of America's 31 Nobel Prize winners in economics since its founding in 1920. Just last Nov. 15, the Wall Street Journal reported that "private HMOs' are making billions off of the Medicaid programs of Illinois and other states while spending lavishly on executive salaries, executive jets and inventive forms of advertising such as buying the right to put the HMO's name on art museums and baseball stadiums. It gets worse The cost of privatization is a lot higher than just the 15 percent overpayment to HMOs. Privatization also drove up provider administrative costs, and probably drove up DHS's overhead costs. The Nov. 15 Wall Street Journal article quoted above on HMO overhead also reported that state agencies that run unprivatized Medicaid programs typically have much lower overheads than HMOs. "When states run their own Medicaid programs," the article reported, "they spend an average of 4 to 6 percent on administrative costs. The rest - 94 to 96 percent - goes to paying for medical care." That 4-to-6 percent overhead is attributable mainly to claims processing and means testing (determining whether people who apply for Medicaid are poor enough to qualify). What the Journal did not say is that there is some evidence indicating that when states privatize their Medicaid programs state overhead costs double because overseeing HMOs is so much more expensive than simply processing claims and measuring the incomes of applicants. In other words, not only does privatization force the taxpayer to pay a 15 percent overhead fee to HMOs, it also requires taxpayers to finance another 5 percent in state agency overhead, or a total of about 20 percent in new non-medical costs. Finally, the Wall Street Journal did not take note of evidence that the overhead costs of clinics and hospitals rise when Medicaid programs are privatized. Providers who have to deal with HMO middlemen must spend a lot more on getting their bills paid than they did prior to privatization. Doctors and hospitals all over America can attest to this. All the large insurers have been sued by providers for losing claim forms, altering claim forms to lower the reimbursement level, and otherwise delaying payment. Good research on the impact HMOs have had on provider overhead is sparse. But if the increase is only 5 percent of provider expenditures, that brings the total cost of privatization of state health insurance programs to 25 percent - 15 percent overpayments to HMOs, a five percent increase in state overhead costs, and another five percent increase in provider overhead costs. Of course, that last chunk of waste - the additional overhead costs providers incur - does not show up on the taxpayer's bill. Be wise, deprivatize Cutting the cost of MinnesotaCare, MA and GAMC by 20 percent is not the only benefit that would flow from "deprivatizatizing" those programs. Quality of care would also improve. Scientific research and an ocean of HMO horror stories indicate that the cost-containment tools pioneered by HMOs' "managed care" is the term applied today to these tools - have damaged quality of care, especially for the weakest and sickest patients. In short, privatization brought us the worst of all possible worlds - much higher costs and diminished quality. The HMOs have warded off accountability for two decades. Two decades is long enough. The Legislature should boot the HMOs from the state programs now - and then go on to merge the three programs into one and use this consolidated program as the centerpiece for a single-payer system that covers all Minnesotans. || Kip Sullivan is the health system analyst for the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition, which represents 13 organizations. He is the author of more than 100 articles about health policy, and of a new book entitled The Health Care Mess, available at Arise Bookstore, Amazon Books, Mayday Books, Magers and Quinn, and Orr Books in Minneapolis, Mikawbers' and Amore Coffee in St. Paul, and at authorhouse.com and muhcc.com. --------15 of 15-------- Gilman/Sullivan - Lourey, health insurance, Leg session [Becky Lourey promised in late 2005 to be the main sponsor of a deprivatization bill for better health insurance (as explained by Kip above). On that basis other legislators signed on, because they knew it would be heard. Then toward the beginning of this last (2006) session, she was unavailable to bill supporters. Then she dropped her support; followed by those depending on her; the bill was dead. This is not a profile in courage. Some think this issue is the most important one in the state, but apparently the people can't get a word in edgewise when the HMOs and insurance companies are talking. Just like almost everywhere else. There follow two reports, from Rhoda Gilman, and Kip Sullivan; Kip gives background for what is assumed in Rhoda's report: -ed] --1 From: "Rhoda Gilman" <rhodagilman [at] earthlink.net> Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2006 9:33 PM Subject: Report from the Capitol -- the last 3 weeks This will just wrap up what's been going on at the Capitol since March 3, when I reported that Becky Lourey had told me she would introduce our deprivatization bill and promised that we would get a hearing on it. In the Senate, the week of March 4-10 was mainly consumed with confusion about getting the jacket copy of our bill, which had been introduced in the House by Neva Walker, to Sen. Lourey's office. It seemed puzzling that communication was so difficult between the State Office Building and the Capitol. Early on the morning of Friday, Mar. 10, our House bill was heard before the Health Policy and Finance Committee, chaired by Fran Bradley. Kip has reported fully on that hearing, including Rep. Tom Huntley's unexpected attack, and the fact that Neva was forced into withdrawing the bill. At the end of the hearing I went to Becky Lourey's office. The jacket copy of the bill had at last made it across the street, but to my surprise and disappointment her assistant, Will Wilson, said that before Becky signed it, I would need to meet with her again. I urged speed, since I already had appointments with several prospective co-authors. The best he could do was 8:00 am on Tues. That was just after the first big snowstorm, and Becky, who had gone home to Kerrick the previous night, was delayed. What I did learn from Will that morning was that Sen. Leo Foley had signed the bill as principal author instead of Becky. The next day Sen. Solon signed as a co-author and it became clear that Sen. Moua had reconsidered and would not sign. I also learned that Sen. Solon has temporarily replaced Sen. Moua on the Health and Family Security Committee. (She is already on Sen. Berglin's Health and Human Services Budget Division Committee.) Quite by chance that afternoon, I met Becky Lourey in the hall outside a hearing room, and we had a friendly but frank talk. I told her of our disappointment that she would not carry our bill, and I asked if she intended to sign as a co-author. She said no. She had been convinced by advisors that it was not compatible with her announced health care program as a candidate for governor. I replied that I felt it was instead a step toward implementing that program, which calls for administrative costs of no more than five percent. She hesitated and said she would think it over and might change her mind. Again she assured me that in any case, the bill would have a hearing. On Thursday I found Senators Sandy Pappas and Ellen Anderson still firm in their support and willing to sign as co-authors. Neither of them, however, is on a health committee. On Friday morning, Mar. 17, I gave the bill back to Will Wilson, asking him to show it to Becky and give her a final chance to sign it if she had changed her mind. He could then "drop it in" for numbering and committee assignment. Members of the MUHCC steering committee spent the early part of this week discussing strategy and making plans for testimony at the hearing, which we learned was likely to be on Mar. 28. We felt sure that the bill could not pass the committee and that any hope for it rested with possible action on the floor of either House or Senate. Then on Wednesday Don Pylkkanen met with Sen. Foley and learned that Leo does not even want to have a hearing on it -- with or without a vote. Therefore, since the principal author will not push the bill, we feel that for this session it is essentially dead. --2 From: "Kip Sullivan" <kiprs [at] usinternet.com> Sent: Friday, March 24, 2006 6:27 AM Subject: Re: Report from the Capitol -- the last 3 weeks I'll add a little more history to Rhoda's chronology of very recent events regarding our direct purchasing (deprivatization) bill. The main point I want to make is that Becky Lourey's last minute decision not to be the chief author of our bill, or even a co-author, set off a chain of events that quickly sank our bill. I'll start by recounting some history going back to December 2004, and then add my interpretation of how Becky's reneging on her promise to author our bill affected other senators. A question that might have occurred to some of you is why we were scrambling to find authors on our bill as late as March when we knew a year ago this would be a very short session and we needed to have all our authors lined up by the start of the session. The answer is: We were waiting for a meeting with Becky to get her approval of the bill's language. Becky kept finding reasons to put off that meeting, and didn't have the gumption to call us and tell us she was not going to keep her promise to support the bill. When senators do that to you -- they tell you they'll support you and don't let you know they've changed their minds till deep into a session -- you have serious problems, especially when the senator in question chairs the key policy committee. (For those of you who are new to the legislative process, a bill has a chief author and several co-authors. Typically you line up your chief author first, which means you get the chief author's approval of bill language and you have some discussion about other topics, such as who should co-author. Typically you seek a chief author and co-authors from the policy committee with jurisdiction, in this case, the Senate health committee.) Becky told us in December 2004 she would give us a hearing in the 2005 session on our proposal to remove the HMOs from MnCare, MA, and GAMC. She didn't give us that hearing, and didn't have the courtesy to call us and tell us that. Then, late in the 2005 session (that is, about a year ago) she told Rhoda she would give us a hearing during the interim (that is, between the last day of the 2005 session and the start of the 2006 session). We were slow to call her up and ask for execution of this promise in part because it wasn't clear whether and when a special session would be called in the fall of 2005 (long after the official close of the 2005 session), and in part because we trusted Becky to carry out her promise. Becky didn't give us an interim hearing and didn't call us to tell us there would be no interim hearing. Last November or so our sister coalition, the Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition, set up a meeting with Becky in Duluth, a meeting that several MUHCC people attended (I think they were Rhoda Gilman and Don Pyllkanen). At that meeting, which occurred in December 2005 or January 2006 (can't recall now), Becky reaffirmed her willingness to author the direct purchasing (deprivatization) bill and to give it a hearing. By then we had approached Rep. Matt Entenza about this bill, and he had agreed to get it drafted. As soon as Matt got the bill drafted (which occurred in the last week of December), I set about the laborious and ultimately impossible task of getting a meeting with Becky to discuss the draft bill. If she was going to be our chief author, MUHCC and GMHCC wanted her approval of the wording. Strangely enough, getting that meeting turned out to be impossible throughout the entire first quarter of this year. On the night of January 4, when I joined a group of ten people at Becky's campaign headquarters in St. Paul to discuss the health proposal Becky should endorse as a gubernatorial candidate, Becky agreed to meet with me later to discuss the direct purchasing bill. After several phone calls and cancelled meetings stretching out over a period of six weeks, I gave up and we turned the task over to Rhoda Gilman who had volunteered (again) to spend some time acting as MUHCC's lobbyist at the capitol. By now it was early March and the session had begun. In January, I was told by a member of this list that Becky had personally told her she opposed our bill (she implied opposition by answering this person's question about our bill with another question, "But what about HMO jobs?"). I emailed a copy of that person's email to Becky's staff, and quickly received written assurance that it was not true and that Becky "supported" the direct purchasing bill. Because we had Becky's assurances she would author the bill and hear it, we relayed that information to other senators who we approached about being co-authors, including Senators Leo Foley (our single-payer chief author) and Mee Moua (both members of the health committee). I have no doubt that our statement that Becky had agreed to author our bill had a significant impact on Senators Foley and Moua, because, sad to say, we also had to tell them that Senators Berglin and Kelley (both DFLers and members of the Senate health committee) opposed our bill. Thus, it was quite a shock to learn from Rhoda on March 15, 2006 that Becky had told her (during an accidental meeting at the Capitol) that she would not support the bill. Oddly, Becky told Rhoda she would still give our bill a hearing. That information set off a chain reaction. I'm 99% sure it was the factor that caused Sen Moua to indicate she wanted to reconsider, and the factor that caused Sen. Foley (our accidental, last-minute chief author) to decide not to ask for a hearing. Senators don't mind asking for hearings on bills they know won't go anywhere if they know they have support from their party. But when your party "leaders" don't support your bill, you are understandably relunctant to ask busy colleagues to sit through a hearing on a bill that isn't going to clear that committee. Reporting this information is no fun. I personally like Becky a lot, and have appreciated her past support for our single-payer bill (she has authored it and held two hearings on it). I believe her inability to tell us what she was really thinking about our direct purchasing bill was due in part to her affection for all of us. But her attitude toward our direct purchasing bill raises questions for me about whether she continues to support single-payer. We proposed the direct purchasing bill precisely because we thought it would be easier for legislators to support than the full-blown single-payer bill and yet would raise the central issue single-payer raises, namely, Is it possible for insurance companies to be more efficient than government agencies? You have to ask, If a senator can't support our direct purchasing bill, will she do anything to irritate the HMO industry? I understand she is proposing that as governor she will support legislation requiring HMOs to get their overhead costs under 5% in order to participate in state programs. I understand that that proposal will infuriate the HMO industry. My question is, Will Becky follow through on that promise if she becomes governor? At this point, I'm very unhappy to say, I don't know what the answer to that question is. The above email is not a statement that the steering committee has approved. It's my opinion only. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments
- (no other messages in thread)
Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.