Thursday, August 20, 2009

Question/Answer about My Senior Advantage

Below is correspondence I had with my health provider about the benefits of Senior Advantage which one can join at age 65 with some insurance carriers i.e. Kaiser Permanente which is my health care provder. I am happy with my coverage at Kaiser but wondered about what I get for joining Senior Advantage. Obama says the government could save money by eliminating that program. What is left out to be fair is what alternative the President or Congress would provide, if anything, for those of us who prefer something other than basic Medicare plus Medigap coverage. Obviously it is in Kaiser's interest to keep Senior Advantage. Any ideas on this one? By the way, my question was answered within a very short time so this advice forum for Kaiser members is quite helpful.

Name: Sharon Raphael
State: CA
Question: I am on Senior Advantage and am a Kaiser Group Member. I work at CSUDH as a ferper, retired faculty. Obama says he want to get rid of Senior Advantage because it costs the government 14% more than straight medicare. I don't understand why this is so. What advantages am I getting from Senior Advantage and if this were changed what would I lose? I want universal health care to pass but I don't necessarily want to lose my senior advantage unless you can make some sense out of this for me. Thanks. Sharon Raphael, Long Beach


Under a Medicare Advantage plan, like the one you have with Kaiser, the federal government pays your insurance carrier a monthly fee for assuming the responsibility of your health care expenses. This amount, according to statistics, is 14% higher than the claims incurred by Medicare Part A and Part B recipients, for which Medicare is fully liable. So, the government is suggesting that by eliminating Advantage plans, and not contracting with insurance carriers to assume claims liabilities, they will save money. Part of the reason why claims are less on Medicare A and B is because the covered benefits are limited. You can visit, where they provide a comprehensive comparison of which benefits are offered under Medicare Part A and Part B. You will see that there are substantial sacrifices in coverage from what you have now on your Advantage plan. Medicare Part A is standard coverage, Medicare Part B will cost you a $96.40 a month. But, if you want prescription drug coverage, you will also need to purchase Medicare Part D. Combined, these Medicare programs will fall short of your current benefits and will include things like hospital deductibles and gaps in prescription drug benefits. If you have Medicare, you can still purchase additional Medigap coverage, but these plans can be quite costly and may still not equal the comprehensive coverage you receive under your Advantage plan.

Best Regards,
Health Insurance Advice Forum

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gay Men Targeted in Iraq; article from Washington Post

Gay Men Targeted In Iraq, Report Says
Militias Blamed for Scores of Killings


By Ernesto LondoƱo
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, August 17, 2009
BAGHDAD, Aug. 16 -- Human Rights Watch will urge in a report to be released Monday that the Iraqi government do more to protect gay men, saying militiamen have killed and tortured scores in recent months as part of a social cleansing campaign.

Iraq May Hold Vote On U.S. Withdrawal
U.S. Moves to Counter Violence in Northern Iraq
Gay Men Targeted In Iraq, Report Says
View All Items in This Story
Although the scope of the problem remains unclear, hundreds of gay men may have been killed this year in predominantly Shiite Muslim areas, the report's authors said, basing their conclusion on interviews with gay Iraqi men, hospital officials and an unnamed United Nations official in Baghdad.

"The government has done absolutely nothing to respond," said Scott Long, director of the gay rights program at Human Rights Watch. "So far there has been pretty much a stone wall."

Homosexuality was tacitly accepted during the last years of Saddam Hussein's rule, but Iraqis have long viewed it as taboo and shameful.

Iraq's human rights minister, Wijdan Salim, has expressed concern about the reported slayings, but few other government officials have addressed the issue publicly or indicated that they are disturbed by the reports.

A senior police official in Baghdad said authorities could not effectively protect gay men because they often do not report crimes.

"To protect someone, you have to know who he is and his location," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the issue. "It's very easy for the militiamen to find them and harm them, and it's very difficult for our forces to protect them."

Reports of slayings targeting gay men began circulating early this spring in Sadr City, a conservative Shiite district in eastern Baghdad. Gay men were also reportedly slain in Basra, Najaf and Diyala province, Human Rights Watch said.

Gay activists said militiamen loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had target lists containing the names of men suspected of being gay. Some were killed and some were tortured, they said. Human Rights Watch said a commonly reported form of torture involved injecting super glue into men's rectums.

When violence in Iraq began ebbing in 2008 and militia and insurgent leaders lost sway in several parts of the country, social norms became less strict. Women began to shed abayas -- long black robes that cover them from head to toe -- in certain formerly conservative neighborhoods. Liquor stores began selling alcohol openly. And gay men began to congregate in cafes and other venues for parties. The advent of the Internet in Iraq after the 2003 invasion also allowed gay men to form bonds and circles of friends.

The attacks on gay men appear to have coincided with a call by religious leaders in Sadr City and other Shiite communities to curb behavior that clerics called unnatural and unhealthy.

Sadr movement officials say they condemn homosexuality, but have denied participating in violence targeting gay men.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Support Ezra Nawl

Ezra Nawi's sentencing hearing took place yesterday (Sunday), and Jewish Voice for Peace was there with over 20,000 of your signatures. The judge will render her sentence on September 21st, 2009. At the hearing, Emily Schaeffer testified on behalf of
Ezra Nawl. Ezra Nawl is a Jewish farmer who was born in Iraq.
20,000 sign petition asking
to put Ezra Nawi in jail | Israel | Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Eilata Ziskind, who convicted peace activist Ezra Nawi in March of participating in a riot and assaulting a police....

(Nawl was,,," jailed for his courageous nonviolent defense of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region-under constant attack by settlers, the Israeli army and police."