September 4 2009 show notes

  • Guests:
  • Topics:
    • "Brunch with Bernie" from the UK today.
    • News under the radar.
    • Straw poll: in his speech on Wednesday will President Obama support a strong public option or will he sell out to big business?
    • 'Anything goes' Friday
  • Bumper Music:
  • Today's newsletter has details of today's guests and links to the major stories and alerts that Thom covered in the show, plus lots more. If you haven't signed up for the free newsletter yet, please do. If you missed today's newsletter, it is in the archive.
  • Article: State HMOs deny 1 in 5 claims, analysis shows By Lisa Girion.
    "California HMOs reject one out of five medical claims, according to an analysis by the California Nurses Assn. of data the companies submit to the state.

    The analysis -- the first of its kind based on state government-collected data -- concluded that from 2002 through June 30, 2009, five of the largest insurers in the state rejected 31.2 million claims for medical care, or 21% of all claims.

    The denial rates ranged from a low for Aetna of 6.5% to a high for PacifiCare of 39.6%, for the first half of 2009. Anthem Blue Cross, the state's largest for-profit health plan, and Kaiser, the state's largest nonprofit plan, each rejected 28% of claims during the first six months of this year, according to the study. And Cigna denied 33%.

    "Every claim that is denied represents a real patient enduring pain and suffering," said Deborah Burger, co-president of the organization. "Every denial has real, sometimes fatal, consequences."

  • Article: Pfizer agrees record fraud fine.
    "US drugmaker Pfizer has agreed to pay $2.3bn (£1.4bn) in the largest healthcare fraud settlement in the history of the Department of Justice.

    It comes after the firm was found to have illegally promoted four drugs for uses which had not been approved by medical regulators.

    A subsidiary of the firm pleaded guilty to misbranding drugs "with the intent to defraud or mislead".

  • Article: Global Warming Could Forestall Ice Age by Andrew C. Revkin.
    "The human-driven buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere appears to have ended a slide, many millenniums in the making, toward cooler summer temperatures in the Arctic, the authors of a new study report."
  • "President's Speech: The Bellevue School District curriculum department has decided to tape President Obama’s September 8 speech. Following this, the Social Studies department will review the presentation to determine whether there are any relevant components that could be integrated into the Social Studies curriculum. We are not suggesting schools show this video and/or have students participate in the activities on the 8th."
    Bellevue School District.
  • Book: "Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future", William A. Bunch.
  • Article: Low-Wage Workers Are Often Cheated, Study Says By Steven Greenhouse.
    "Low-wage workers are routinely denied proper overtime pay and are often paid less than the minimum wage, according to a new study based on a survey of workers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

    The study, the most comprehensive examination of wage-law violations in a decade, also found that 68 percent of the workers interviewed had experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week.

    “We were all surprised by the high prevalence rate,” said Ruth Milkman, one of the study’s authors and a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the City University of New York. The study, to be released on Wednesday, was financed by the Ford, Joyce, Haynes and Russell Sage Foundations.

  • Article: FDA test confirms animal was in man's soda can (AP).
    "An FDA test shows that either a frog or a toad was in a Florida man's soda can. The Food and Drug Administration test confirmed that the remains of an animal were in Fred Denegri's can of Diet Pepsi. ...

    A Pepsi spokesman said the company is aware of the FDA testing and stands by its manufacturing process. The can was traced back to a plant in Orlando, which runs about 1,250 cans a minute on the production line. The spokesman says the speed of the production lines and the rigor of its quality control make it virtually impossible for a frog or toad to get into a can.

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