Tuesday, November 25, 2014

[Daily Bleed]: 11/25 BA JIN

The river I have under my tongue,   
    Unimaginable water, my little boat,   
    And curtains lowered, let's speak.

    — Paul Eluard 1895-1952, "The River"

Daily Bleed web page,

Leading Chinese novelist of 20th-century independence, lifelong
revolutionist, anarchist.

Purged during the Cultural Revolution.
Nominated for the 1975 & 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature.

        The 2001 nomination letter notes,

        "Ba Jin has made great efforts in fighting for man's freedom,
        democracy,   man's psychic liberation; his in-depth exploration
        about human nature & man's esteem has been recorded in the
        history of Chinese culture."




        England: CATHERNING DAY: traditionally, young women make merry today.

 1871 -- Japanese socialist, writer & historian Toshihiko Sakai lives (d.1933). Best
known for his translation work with Shūsui Kōtoku, with whom he co-founded Heimin
(Common Peoples' Newspaper). They were the first to translate The
Communist Manifesto
into Japanese before Kōtoku became an anarchist.

1904 -- Ba Jin (aka Pa Chin [pseud. of Li Feigan]) lives (1904-2005).
Chinese novelist, discovered anarchism with the reading of Peter Kropotkin
& Emma Goldman & created his pseudonym Ba (from Bakunin ) & Jin (from
Kropotkin). Cruelly persecuted, but finally, in the decade of Deng Xiao-ping's
reforms, he was elected honorary chairman of Chinese Writers' Association.
Elected a contender for the 2001 Nobel Prize.

     Ba Jin was constantly harassed by the Communists, & in 1949, was forced
     to rewrite his stories, removing or replacing all anarchist references with
     Communist ones.

     & in 1966 he was again in disgrace, branded

      "A great poisonous weed"

      & his writings condemned as seditious.


1921 -- Novelist & radical Nathanael West flunks out of Tufts, where
he got in by falsifying his high school transcripts. Befriended many
struggling writers & artists as a hotel clerk. Wrote Day of the Locust,Miss Lonelyhearts, A Cool Million.

1947 -- US: The Hollywood Ten is blacklisted.

1957 -- Radical Mexican muralist Diego Rivera dies, México City, Mexico.

1968 -- US: American socialist, novelist, politician, Upton Sinclair dies.

1974 -- England: Nick Drake is no longer a stranger among us, dies
after eating his corn flakes, a possible suicide.

     “Fame is but a fruit tree —
     So very unsound.
     It can never flourish
     Till its stalk is in the ground.
     So men of fame
     Can never find a way
     Till time has flown
     Far from their dying day.”

2001 -- US: No anarchy club in Kanawha County Schools! Katie Sierra,
a 15-year-old tenth grader at Sissonville High School in Charleston, West
Virginia is suspended for anti-war sentiments & her desire to start a
student anarchist club.

2005 -- France: Colloque d'Histoire, « la Charte d’Amiens a 100 ans » lieu
de naissance de Victor Griffuelhes, secrétaire général de la CGT en 1906
et rédacteur de la Charte avec Émile Pouget. (November 25-26).


“We can comprehend this world only by contesting it as a whole ...

The root of the prevailing lack of imagination cannot be grasped unless
one is able to imagine what is lacking, that is, what is missing, hidden,
forbidden, & yet possible, in modern life.”

                                                  — Situationist International

---auntie copyright 1997-2014

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER, Sustainability Action Network, 25 November 2014

"Europeans and Indians would live together in peace as long as the creeks and rivers run and while the sun, moon, and stars endure" - Chief Tamanend, Delaware Indians, 1863
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The mid-term elections means party time for Big Energy. Republicans and the Tea Party want to remove all restraints from tapping North American fossil fuels. Approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline will be among the first measures "we're very likely to be voting on", said soon-to-be Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. But Keystone XL is only one of their plans to exploit oil, coal, and natural gas reserves. They want to remove any "obstacles" to the construction of any border-crossing pipelines, prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from placing carbon restrictions on coal, ban federal oversight of fracking, open up more off-shore drilling, and promote oil and liquefied natural gas exports.

There are apparently two major motives for the fossil Republicans, that of bolstering national power and prestige, and that of maximizing resource through-put to maximize profits for their billionaire benefactors. Klare points out that "The giant energy firms are among the leading sources of campaign financing. Most of their money has, in recent years, gone to Republicans who espouse a pro-carbon agenda".

Most of the world along with the U.N. recognize the need to cut back dramatically on burning fossil fuels. And President Obama may take executive action on climate issues such as the recent climate deal with China. But Klare is concerned that "for each modest step forward on climate stabilization, the latest election ensures that Americans are destined to march several steps backward when it comes to reliance on climate-altering fossil fuels". Learn more at -Fossil-Fueled Republicanism : Michael Klare.


Between the release dates of the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), it became clear that the State Department and their hired contractor had gamed the system with flawed conclusions by the consultant, ERM, Inc. Over 100,000 citizens have signed a "pledge of resistance". Each person committed to risk arrest if necessary to stop Keystone XL, and President Obama has felt pressure in a way he never had before. It is thought his decision may occur unannounced, so protectors of the land and air need to be ready when the time comes.

With over 400 volunteer action leaders trained in 25 cities nationwide, the local sit-in actions will be deployed when and if the Obama Administration recommends approval of Keystone XL. Chances are there's one near you. To stop Keystone XL, you can take the next step and sign up with your local pledge action. You can Find your nearest Pledge of Resistance action and sign up to be part of it. The passive resistance actions will be at places like the State Department, EPA and Federal offices, oil industry contractor ERM offices, and branches of TD Bank. If you click the above link and plug in your zip code, you will learn where the nearest action is to you.

Listen at KKFI-FM 90.1, or web-streaming at http://www.kkfi.org/
(courtesy Mike Murphy, KKFI Programming Committee)

Friday, 28 November 2014, 9:30am - Bioneers Radio Series
Bioneers presents "Why the World Doesn't End: Recreation Myths of Nature and Culture". "When the culture collapses, what's left are the the people that kept close to the Earth who continue to tell the stories. I call them the recreation stories." Mythologist, author and storyteller, Michael Meade, reminds us that the word "apocalypse" (epoc-collapse) actually means an unveiling, not an end. It's the beginning of a new story, a new beginning to the old story.

Monday, 1 December 2014, 6:00pm - locally produced Eco-Radio KC
This week's EcoRadioKC will have have another of their ecologically minded shows.

Friday, 28 November 2014

For more than 20 years, Adbusters have admonished us through Buy Nothing Day to consume less - for the sake of our ecological life-support base, our fiscal solvency, our community health, and the hole in our soul that we try to fill with stuff. Adbusters advocate that on "Black Friday" 28 November, we stop buying for 24 hours, and shut off our lights, televisions and other nonessential appliances, park our cars, turn off our phones and log off of our computers for the day. Adbusters was the initial inspiration for Occupy Wall Street.

In Lawrence there are several opportunities to take your money from the big box consumer mills that are undermining our local economy, and instead buy from local producers and craftspersons, and fair-trade providers.

Friday-Saturday, 28-29 November 2014, 5:00-9:00pm Fri., 9:00am-5:00pm Sat.
Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St., Lawrence KS 66044

Hundreds of local artists of unusual stripes will be selling their unique creations in this annual art fair. Types of items range from clothing to painting and sculpture to toys to household, and more. There will be local food and performances by local musicians. Bizarre Bazarre.

Saturday, 29 November 2014, 6:45-10:00pm
Van Go Arts, 715 New Jersey St., Lawrence KS 66044

Van Go, Inc. is an arts-based social service agency that provides year-round after-school and summer job-training programs to high-needs and under-served youth. The Adornment Show is one of their fund raisers that offers personal adornment art made locally by their program participants. For more info go to - http://www.van-go.org/

Saturday, 6 December 2014, 12noon-4:00pm
Prairie Moon Waldorf School, 1853 E. 1600 Road, Lawrence KS 66044 (1/2 mile E. of airport)
This is a delightful annual sale of lovingly crafted toys and crafts made entirely from natural materials. A silent auction will feature special items in the faire. There also will be hard to find books on Waldorf education, child rearing, biodynamic agriculture, Anthroposophy, and Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education. There will be local food and performances by local musicians. Prairie Moon Waldorf School.

Saturday, 6 December 2014, 10:00am-5:00pm
Lawrence Art Center, 940 New Hampshire St., Lawrence KS 66044

A local tradition for over 30 years, the Lawrence Art Guild's annual Holiday Art Fair is a good place to find unique creative gifts this holiday season. This year's fair features over 30 Kansas artists, and live music from area musicians.

Saturday, 13 December 2014, 9:00am-5:00pm
Lawrence Holidome, McDonald Drive at 2nd Street, Lawrence KS 66044

The Lawrence Farmers Market Annual Holiday Market features local producers and craftspersons, and fair-trade providers. Artisan foods, seasonal produce, holiday crafts, etc. are available at the Holiday Market, a local alternative to the big box consumer mills that are undermining our local economy. Lawrence Holiday Market.


Peal oil deniers claim that world oil extraction decline has been averted, or else the only real problem worth worrying about is climate disruption. Consider Richard Heinberg's observations: "oil is essential to the functioning of the modern industrial world. We use it for just about all transportation, which is key to trade. It's also the fuel for construction, resource extraction (mining, fishing, forestry), and agriculture. Together, these sectors form the backbone of the real, physical economy of industrialized nations."

Whether or not there's actually an abundance of geological petroleum in some form, the cost of extracting and delivering it is rising ten percent per year, and that's the real problem. The conundrum is: if the price at the pump is too high, it stifles travel and trade and therefore the economy; but without a high retail price, producers can't afford the extreme extraction technologies such as fracked oil, Arctic oil, ultra-deepwater oil, and bitumen.

Meanwhile, climate champions claim the solution is low-carbon energy sources of solar and wind electricity, electric transportation, and energy efficiency. Heinberg responds: "Transitioning the electricity sector is a huge task [involving] soaring costs for energy storage, capacity redundancy, and grid upgrades. Even the most advanced batteries do a poor job of storing energy when compared to oil. That's why we're unlikely ever to see electric airplanes, tractors, ships, 18-wheel trucks, or bulldozers. And at the end of the day, efficiency is subject to the law of diminishing returns. We can't simply unplug a coal plant, plug in a solar panel, and go on expanding population and consumption. Peak oil and climate change are two sides of the same coin. [They both] demand that we reduce our fossil fuel dependency as rapidly as possible."

Again Heinberg: "Oil is stubbornly hard to substitute. This effectively spells the end of the historic period of rapid economic growth that began shortly after World War II. There is no way out. Inevitably, society will become less mobile and - this should be cause for much greater concern - it will either produce less food, or produce it in more labor-intensive ways. The end of growth will almost certainly entail financial and political turbulence with real human casualties. But from the standpoint of diagnosis and treatment, it simplifies everything marvelously. If our impending crises stem from fossil-fueled expansion of population and consumption, their resolution surely starts with a coordinated, planned, and managed program of decarbonization and degrowth.We must reduce population and energy consumption from fossil fuels, while minimizing the human and environmental impacts.

Read Heinberg's Muse Letter #268 in full at - Why Peak Oil Refuses to Die | Heinberg Museletter 268.

(courtesy of Cole Cottin & Linda Cottin)

New season, new markets, new hours - find what's new this year. In order to find any of dozens of farmers' markets in Kansas and Missouri, use these searchable data bases for both states. They are - Kansas Farmers' Market Search by Location, Missouri Farmers' Market Search by Location, and Missouri Farmers' Market Search by Map. Wherever you are, there is probably a market nearby!

Sunday, 7 December 2014, 1:00pm - $
Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, 1263 North 1100 Rd., Lawrence KS 66047
(courtesy Thad Holcombe)

The film chronicles the climate-change activism of seminary student Tim DeChristopher, who derailed a widely-protested federal oil and gas land sale, bidding millions of dollars to save thousands of pristine acres surrounding U.S. National Parks with no intention of paying. Tim served two years in prison for this act of civil disobedience. Sponsored by the Unitarian Fellowship, Kansas Interfaith Power & Light, and Lawrence Ecological Teams United in Sustainability. For info contact Daniel Bontempo deb193@gmail.com, and watch a trailer at http://www.bidder70film.com/#!trailer/cxbx.

10 December 2014, 4:00-6:00pm
Mid America Regional Council, Rivergate Center 2nd floor, 600 Broadway, KC MO

The Environmental Management Commission promotes environmental awareness and resource efficiency to the City's leaders and staff, to assist the progress of Kansas City toward sustainability. The General public is encouraged to attend and observe meetings and to join and participate in its efforts. More information is at KC Environmental Management Commission.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014, 5:30pm
Public Works Conference Room, City Hall ground floor, 6 East 6th St., Lawrence KS 66044

November agenda is not yet available. The S.A.B. meets monthly to discuss any and all aspects of furthering sustainability policies and practices by the City of Lawrence government and private persons. The public is welcome. Minutes are finalized in about a month after each meeting - http://www.lawrenceks.org/sustainability/sab.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014, 7:00pm
Carnegie Building Conference Room, 200 West 9th St., Lawrence KS 66044

The December agenda is not yet available. The Lawrence Pedestrian Coalition is a joint effort of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods and the League of Women Voters. Monthly meetings are open to the public. For more info go toLawrence Pedestrian Coalition, or contact Mike Dupont com>.


U.S. Wind electricity is tops for October, nuclear is last
According to the latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, wind power provided over two-thirds (68.41%) of new U.S. electrical generating capacity in October. And of all new installed capacity for 2014, wind accounted for 2,189 MW (22.10%), followed by solar at 1,801 MW (18.19%), 241 MW of biomass (2.43%), 141 MW of hydropower (1.42%), and 32 MW geothermal (0.32%). Also, natural gas provided 5,373 MW (54.26%), and oil 47 MW (0.47%). There has been no new coal capacity added thus far in 2014. New capacity from renewable sources in 2014 is more than 37 times that from oil, coal, and nuclear combined.
We suggest readers avail themselves of the following sources for news on the nuclear demise: Japan for Sustainability - http://www.japanfs.org/;Japan Focus - http://japanfocus.org/;Fukushima Update - http://fukushimaupdate.com/; and Fairewinds Energy Education - http://www.fairewinds.com/.

Thursday, 11 December 2014, 6:30pm
Lawrence Public Library, Meeting Room A (lower level), 7th & Vermont St.
, Lawrence KS 66044
Local Solutions for Transition to a Sustainable Economy

Possible discussion topics:
  • Sustainability Action 2015 budget
  • Sustainability Action 2015 Annual Meeting
  • 2015 Board officer nominating committee
  • Board member recruitment
Everyone is welcome -http://www.sustainabilityaction.net/

Monday, 15 December 2014, 7:00pm
location TBA, Lawrence KS 66047

The Food Policy Council seeks to identify the benefits, challenges and opportunities for a successful, sustainable local food system. By advising the Douglas County Commission on public policies that will support local producers, preserve local agricultural resources and land, and create more local jobs, the F.P.C. hopes to improve the community's access to a local food supply and distribution networks. For more info go to Dg County Food Policy Council.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014, 5:00pm
Parks & Rec Conference Room, 1141 Massachusetts St., Lawrence KS 66044

The December agenda will most likely include the Public Works 2015 street maintenance plans, which often involve modifications for bicycle lanes. The Bicycle Advisory Committee works to improve bicycle safety and awareness through education of motorists and non-motorists, develops bicycle plans and maps, and advises the City and County Commissions on bicycle priorities and needs. The agenda and information can be downloaded atBicycle Advisory Comm | agendas.
Saturday, 20 December 2014, 10:00am-3:00pm
838 Garfield St., Lawrence KS 66044
The Lawrence Fruit Tree Project will have a work day to smother and sheet-mulch the Bermuda grass with layers of cardboard and wood chips. Grass makes for a mostly bacterial soil which is not conducive to tree growth. Wood chips make for a mostly fungal soil which is what trees thrive in, as in a forest. They ask you to bring corrugated cardboard that is no smaller than 2ft by 3ft. Cardboard can be found in green cardboard recycling dumpsters throughout the city. As always, bring water and sun screen. Walking and bicycling to the orchard are encouraged. Please park cars on Delaware street.

We welcome suggestions for Newsletter items. Please send items to.

Join the Sustainability Action Network by clicking this link - Become a Sustainability Action Member - and follow the instructions.The Sustainability Action mission is to bring awareness of the global crisis caused by climate change, energy vulnerability and economic instability to communities in the Kansas River bioregion, and the tools needed to re-skill and re-localize our economy and create a more socially just and ecologically sustainable world.

Sustainability Action Programs include:
1) Food Sovereignty & Permaculture -local control of food, permaculture workshops, tours, and crop mobs.

2) Bicycles & Alternative Transportation - promoting bicycles, complete streets, ride sharing, and electric vehicles, including infrastructure and pro-active regulations - Bicycle Transportation Funding: Lawrence 2015 Budget

3) Local Community Currency- fostering money literacy, and implementing a local currency, either cash or electronic or both, that will transition to a sustainable local economy and weather global economic instability.

4) Sustainability Action Newsletter- informing and encouraging people to be active in the Sustainability Action Network, or other action-driven groups.

5) Energy Conservation & Renewables - reducing our carbon footprint by promoting a carbon diet, an energy diet, conservation, and decentralized renewable energy.
6) Prime Farmland Preservation - protecting Capability I & II farmland from urban development and industrial land uses.

7) Water Rights and Watersheds - protecting the water commons from privatization and contamination, and restoring watersheds.
8) Collaboration with sister organizations - building synergy with the combined talents and creativity of like-minded groups to achieve a transition to sustainable local economies. Groups such as: Films for Action; The Light Center eco-village; churches and civic groups; Kaw River Valley Food System farm-based economic development; Cultivate Kansas City; Kansas River Valley Growers fighting for local water rights; the National Sustainable Energy Network; the Kansas City Food Circle, and more.

ustainability Action sponsored organizations:
1) Lawrence Creates - local tool sharing, recycling, and community shared innovation incubator - Lawrence Creates

2) Lawrence Fruit Tree Project - educating and inspiring the community to grow and steward perennial food plants and increase local food sovereignty - Lawrence Fruit Tree Project

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Medicare Advantage Warning- Move Over to Traditional Medicare While You Can by Larry Weigel

I just received a phone call from an 80 year old client who is very upset and distraught with her United Health Care Medicare Advantage plan.  The plan, called “Medicare Complete” dropped three of her doctors out of their network in September, and now her doctors are working with her to help pay for her medical treatments the remainder of the year.  She said her doctors were all unaware of being dropped and told her other physicians are being dropped out of networks throughout the country.

Her doctor said the Advantage plan is turning into an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) to reduce costs for the insurance providers. Fewer doctors’ sign up for HMO’s which limits medical treatment options for seniors. And most seniors don’t want an HMO.  I have a single payer fee for service Medicare Traditional Federal plan which I can use anywhere in the country.  I don’t need a permission slip from an insurance company to tell me which doctors I can use.

This is an example of what would happen if Congress approves the Health Care Compact bill signed into law in Kansas by Governor Brownback in April 2014.  There is a movement in Congress and within our legislature in Kansas to privatize Medicare and change the peace of mind Single Payer fee for service plan (Traditional Medicare) into an insurance sales market called Medicare Advantage.  The politician’s surely must know the insurance companies have made billions of dollars in profits from the Advantage plans.

Those who want to repeal Obamacare are basically saying let’s give back the generous tax payer subsidies to the insurance companies so they can continue to make their guaranteed profits.  President Obama’s Affordable Care Act legislation reallocated about $156 billion in federal tax payer dollars by stopping the corporate welfare gravy train, and he is being nailed to the cross for doing it.

By the way I am a registered Republican so this is not a political statement at all.  It’s about doing the right thing for the seniors I represent. Medicare folks have no voice or no vote and that’s why I am passionate about what I bring to the table for them as their Medicare coach.  I work for them not the insurance industry.

I just saw a T.V. clip a few days ago where Mitch McConnell called in to a Kentucky sports show and said we need to completely strip and repeal Obamacare because Obama took $700 billion out of Medicare. (Now someone just sent me a video on twitter  blasting Obama’s 700 billion alleged theft from Medicare which is a total lie.. and we traced it back to the ruthless and notorious mis- information group called the Heritage Foundation.)  Obama reallocated $156 billion out of the pockets of the insurance companies. The next time you hear a politician tell you I will repeal Obamacare, ask about the $156 billion going back to the insurance industry.

More than $282 billion of tax payer subsidies have been given to insurance companies between the years 1985-2010 unnecessarily simply because some members of Congress want to privatize Medicare. But there is no evidence it provides better care but considerable evidence that during these years tax payers have been fleeced because the private programs cost more to administer and provide no savings as well.   Enough already. 

As a Medicare Coach I support all of the benefits granted to the Medicare folks under Obamacare. I repeat.  I support all of the Medicare benefits granted to the people I represent under Obamacare.  Seniors, please, practice this statement and don’t be afraid to say it out loud and in public. Saying it is your only voice in the matter and maybe those politicians who say they represent you might hear it.  But if you remain silent, you have no voice or no vote.

For all the 450,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Kansas, repeal of Obamacare takes away all those enhanced benefits like closing the donut hole which has already saved seniors billions of dollars.  It’s time to speak up and tell those politicians who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it is not going to happen, so please shut up- because talk like that only threatens the enhanced benefits we have already received, and you are trying to take them away from us.

WARNING:  If you are on a Medicare Advantage plan, I recommend you move back to Traditional Medicare fee for service.  This is what my 80 year old client is doing and I told her I would share her story so others don’t get into the mess she is in.  She was sold a Medicare Advantage product and got a real sales pitch, and now that the Affordable Care Act reallocated the billions of subsidies, the insurance providers who sell Advantage plans are pulling the rug out under their members because there is no one in Congress stopping them.

If you are thinking of buying a Medicare Advantage plan in Kansas think again, because Medicare Advantage is not a fit for a rural state like Kansas.  We no longer recommend anyone buying a Medicare Advantage plan because what we have predicted is now coming home to roost.

Once the tax payer gravy train pipeline was shut down with the Affordable Care Act, the companies are dropping doctors, pharmacies and many of their plans to guarantee stockholder share values won’t drop and profits will remain high.

Wait until I tell you what is happening with the Prescription plan renewals.  Only about 13 percent of Medicare members change plans or even look to see if there is a better plan out there.  Insurance companies are dropping pharmacies (I had a client call yesterday from a client almost in tears) to tell me her plan dropped her pharmacy.  Another called to say a real expensive drug I was taking is now no longer available to me.  Formularies change each year, and premiums change. Where there is confusion there is profit.

We have 500 members who renewed their member fee with us and already my assistant is saving our members thousands of dollars. She did an annual Part D prescription review this morning and saved a couple (age 86) more than $1500 dollars. 

So if you are on Medicare have someone review your prescription plan.  The Area Agencies on Aging can help as well as SHICK.  We do much of the same for a first time fee of $295 per person, but we are able to enroll and change plans for our clients on line and do all the follow up and then are here when you need us throughout the year.  A renewal member pays $125, and on average we can save them around $400.  I paid a guy $300 last year to rake my leaves.

We can also move clients out of Medicare Advantage plans which I suspect will be many as more Advantage members learn about changes in their plans.  I hope this helps all Medicare folks and adult children who can relate to the situation my 80 year old client is now facing if it was your mother.   It causes unnecessary stress and worry.

Seniors are drowning in Medicare information and screaming for knowledge. That’s where we can help.

Larry Weigel
1011 Poyntz Ave
Manhattan, KS 66502

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Larry Weigel: "Private Medicare Advantage Carriers Stand between the Patient and Their Doctors -Not the Federal Government" @ Medicare Coach

So often we hear opponents of the Single Payer Federal Medicare program say: “Don’t Let the Federal Government Stand between You and Your Doctor.”  Or, “get government out of the way and let the private sector handle Medicare.”

But, in 2003, when Congress created Medicare Advantage it took away the oversight power from state regulators, and their legal authority to impose sanctions on Medicare Advantage carriers when abuses occur.

This lack of state supervision has allowed insurance companies to expand their role as gatekeepers between the patient and their doctors including overbilling of providers.  The Center for Public Integrity investigation published in June of 2014, “found as much as $70 billion of improper payments to Medicare advantage plans from 2008 through last year.”

Congress granted the oversight authority of Medicare Advantage plans to the understaffed and underfunded government run Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services organization (CMS), but the agency cannot keep up with the demand for audits.

In March of 2014, CMS officials said they were “constrained in the number of program audits we can conduct each year due to limited resources.”  According to the Center for Public Integrity’s August 2014 report, “The agency is only able to audit about 30 Medicare Advantage companies a year, about one in ten of the 300 operating.”

Recently, we received a call from a Medicare Advantage beneficiary in Kansas City telling us her doctor would not accept her Advantage plan.  Then she scheduled an appointment at the Cleveland clinic, and her Medicare Advantage carrier said they won’t pay because the clinic is an out of network facility.

Traditional Medicare (the government kind) will pay anywhere in the United States wherever a medical provider accepts Traditional Medicare.

More benefit payment problems with private Advantage plans are now occurring around the country because lack of state regulation. 
The Center for Public Integrity reported in an August 19, 2014 article, “When Minnesota retiree Doug Morphew needed surgery last year, he expected his Humana Medicare Advantage plan to step up and pay the lion’s share of the bill.”

Morphew said, “The health plan had told him over the phone he would owe just $450 for the two days he spent in a St. Paul hospital recovering from the operation to repair an aortic aneurysm.”

“Less than a month later, Humana hit him with a bill for $6,461.66 claiming the surgery was not covered because the hospital was “out of network,” the article stated. 

In an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, Morphew said, “Humana paid the bill, but only after several months of fighting with them after he filed an affidavit with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office last year.”

“It was a nightmare,” Morphew said.

This is just one example of why, our Kansans to Preserve Medicare group opposes The Health Care Compact bill passed by the Kansas legislature in April of 2014, to grant private insurance companies the authority to take away the management of Medicare from the Federal government for the 450,000 Medicare beneficiaries living in Kansas.

Any politician advocating this non-sense of removing Kansas from the Federal Medicare program must be challenged. Every Medicare beneficiary should stand up and be counted to protect their guaranteed Medicare benefits already in place.

Even though we have very few of our 500 coach members on Medicare Advantage plans, we will no longer recommend these plans for any of our new members because insurance companies along with some members of Congress advocating these Advantage plans,  have now turned the private side of Medicare into a Medicare Advantage insurance market.

It is a product sale that provides a substantial source of income for the carriers. Membership is growing in these plans because of generous tax payer subsidies provided to the insurance carriers which allow them to attract new members with additional benefits not provided to those enrolled in Traditional Medicare plans.

Some members of Congress who want to privatize Medicare are looking the other way, and allowing lobby pressure to cloud their judgment, but fill their campaign coffers with lobby contributions, as they continue to offer generous tax payer subsidies to Medicare Advantage providers without addressing the fairness issue for Traditional Medicare members who do not receive these extra overpayments and extra benefit perks.

Buyers beware as you watch the “Too Good to be true” Medicare Advantage commercials on T.V. coming soon.   Medicare Advantage plans do have maximum out of pocket risks of up to $6700.

If you want to lower your premiums, you can get a Medicare Supplement high deductible insurance plan for $35 per month under Traditional Medicare with a maximum out of pocket risk of $2140, and avoid the “out of network” provision, and go to any doctor of your choice in America who accepts Medicare.

Larry Weigel
1011 Poyntz Ave
Manhattan, KS 66502

To receive blog update alerts, send your email address to larryw@keatinginc.com   We have partnered with the Kansans to Preserve Medicare group and now their list has grown to more than 550 members.  Very few Medicare members are aware of the Health Care Compact Bill and need to know, so please forward these email updates to your Medicare friends and encourage them to get involved.  Or, go to our website www.mymedicarecoach.com to read past posts about Medicare issues affecting Kansans and Medicare beneficiaries living in the other eight states who are part of the compact group. (Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia.)