Tuesday, October 20, 2009

  • Congress Considers Revoking Health Insurance Industry’s Exemption from Antitrust Laws


    Democrats say the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 has granted the insurance industry a captive market with no curbs on price fixing and other anti-competitive practices. Last week the Justice Department’s top antitrust regulator, Christine Varney, voiced support for a repeal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are also backing a repeal, and New York Senator Charles Schumer has called for including it as part of the healthcare reform bill. The House Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the issue on Wednesday. [includes rush transcript]

  • In His Mother’s Footsteps: California Man Jailed for Five Days After Sit-In at Blue Cross Office in Los Angeles


    On Thursday, Sam Pullen was arrested at the Los Angeles offices of the insurance giant Blue Cross. He refused to give his information to police and vowed to remain in prison until Blue Cross agreed to hear demands that it stop denying doctor-recommended medical treatment to seriously ill patients. Despite his resistance, Pullen was finally ordered released from jail on Monday, against his will. In protesting Blue Shield, Sam Pullen was following in the footsteps of his late mother, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was a teenager. Leanna Bell staged a one-person sit-in in front of Blue Cross after the company denied her coverage for a bone marrow transplant. Blue Cross gave in, and the transplant helped extend her life for several years. [includes rush transcript]

  • The Yes Men Pull Off Prank Claiming US Chamber of Commerce Had Changed Its Stance on Climate Change


    The business community got a shock on Monday when its leading advocacy group appeared to make a startling announcement. A statement purporting to come from the Chamber of Commerce said the group had dropped its opposition to congressional climate change legislation and would now even support taxing carbon emissions. The news wires quickly picked up the story, and within minutes it was being reported on the websites of outlets including the New York Times and Washington Post. It also made its way onto cable news, including the Fox Business Network. It was all a prank pulled off by the Yes Men. [includes rush transcript]

  • PR Executive James Hoggan on "Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming"


    The Yes Men aren’t the only group accused of pulling off a hoax in the debate over climate change legislation. In August, the American Petroleum Institute — the oil industry’s top lobbying group — was found to have asked member oil companies to help recruit employees, retirees and contractors for anti-climate bill rallies around the country. Critics said the API was trying to fake a grassroots movement to give a false impression of widespread public opposition to tackling global warming. Our next guest, James Hoggan, has just published a new book on corporate efforts to mislead the public on human-driven climate change. It’s called Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming. [includes rush transcript]