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Posts published in “Day: March 9, 2011”

Evidence: Med rate hikes can be limited

This is from an email (received a while back; this post is a bit belated) from the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, which tracks and contends with a range of consumer and other interests in Oregon. One of those is the ballooning increase in medical insurance rates - and here OSPIRG scored a win last month, helping get a proposed massive rate increase significantly scaled back.

The email is worth quoting at some length.

Last December, we submitted comments to the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) Oregon Insurance Division, questioning the underpinnings of United HealthCare’s proposal to raise policyholders’ rates by 16.8%.

On Thursday, DCBS announced that they approved a lower increase of 10%, which according to their analysis will save consumers $4 million a year.

You can read the rate decision and the DCBS response to OSPIRG’s comments here:

For more about the original rate hike proposal and OSPIRG’s comments on the OSPIRG website at:

The reduction was due to two factors. First, United HealthCare provided updated data that suggested that their medical costs were lower than their initial filing had anticipated. Second, we had raised questions about United’s administrative costs, including the insurer’s practice of paying brokers a commission based on a percentage of enrollees’ premiums. Since premiums increase much faster than general inflation or wages, this practice can artificially inflate administrative costs.

DCBS agreed with us that theses costs were too high, and in response, United HealthCare will now pay its brokers a commission based on the number of members they sign up, rather than paying them a flat percentage of enrollees’ premiums. This change will create significant savings for consumers. (more…)

Carlson: Remembering Jim McClure

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

By now there have been many fine salutes written and spoken about former Idaho Senator James Albertus McClure, who died recently at the age of 86. I have read many, agreed with all and wondered what I could add about this fine and distinguished public servant.

I first met McClure when he was a Member of Congress representing Idaho’s First Congressional district in 1970. I was a rookie reporter in Washington, D.C. working in a news bureau serving some 25 newspaper clients in the Pacific Northwest.

McClure was always a good interview. He was patient, tolerant of ignorant questions young reporters often ask, logical in his answers, spoke to the point and always had a keen sense of humor. He enjoyed conveying his thoughts on issues and could do so intelligently and articulately. He avoided can't and ideological bromides, those cute sound bites on which television media thrive.

He was conservative to his core (indeed, he supported the right wing Liberty Lobby agenda when first elected to Idaho’s state senate), but he was always a compassionate conservative who cared about people and knew government had a proper role as the place of last resort for those unable to help themselves. He knew that God loved children regardless of the circumstances they were born into or the shortcomings of parents.

In short, he had a wonderful capacity to grow in office, and in each he held that was indeed what happened. He may have started as an ideologue, he definitely finished as a true statesman.

Jim McClure loved working on the solutions to vexing challenges and issues. He could and did work with his hands, rewiring his home and wiring his cabin in McCall. He loved to backpack and was a fine fly fisherman. He especially enjoyed hiking in the Seven Devils above Hells Canyon.

Hence, when Governor Cecil D. Andrus and he got down on their hands and knees to draw the logical boundaries of the proposed Hells Canyon Recreation Area in the mid-70’s, both instinctively followed hydrological divides because they had spent time on the ground learning the lay of the land. (more…)