BCBSNC Blowback

A sizable number of legislators are asking for a probe of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s efforts against the public option.

As a corporation that claims to deliver innovative health care products and services to its members, BlueCross BlueShield appears to be engaging in a blatant political campaign utilizing the premiums paid by their customers. Even if there is no apparent violation of existing statutes, we think this is bad public policy that deserves further scrutiny.

In addition to mailings and robo calls, you may remember this WaPo story on a planned TV campaign.
Talking Points Memo gets confirmation of an inquiry.

But the probe the lawmakers are calling for appears to be underway already. “We received an inquiry from the AG’s office a couple weeks ago,” about whether the campaign violated laws, Lew Borman, a spokesman for BCBS of North Carolina, told TPMmuckraker. “We don’t believe we broke any laws,” Borman added.

Facing South has a wrap up and some backstory.

Text of the letter after the jump Read more

Water soon to be not wet

Yes. Lying is now so acceptable that hot is not just cold, it’s the coldest evah.

In three separate instances over two weeks, Sean Hannity has baselessly asserted that “this is one of the coldest years on record” to claim that climate change is a “hoax” or not “real.” In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), and Britain’s Met Office have stated that to date, 2009 is among the warmest years on record.

UNC revamps citizen soldier effort

After a review of the program prompted by complaints to Sue Myrick’s office and an eye-opening story that questioned its efficacy, UNC has announced a restructuring of its Citizen Soldier program. Here’s the release:

Goodale to lead Citizen-Soldier program restructuring focusing on behavioral health

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is significantly restructuring the Citizen-Soldier Support Program to focus primarily on the behavioral health needs of returning combat veterans and their families.

Bob Goodale, a retired grocery executive and state commerce official, will lead these efforts as director of the Citizen-Soldier Support Program, based in the University’s Howard Odum Institute for Research in Social Science. He has directed the Citizen-Soldier program’s behavioral health initiative since 2007.

The Citizen-Soldier program, a demonstration project, develops approaches for engaging communities to support National Guard and Reserve members and their families before, during and after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. It has received several federal appropriations totaling about $9.8 million since 2004. The University has been reviewing the program since early this year after Congresswoman Sue Myrick received a complaint about its effectiveness.

“Behavioral health is Citizen-Soldier’s most successful component, so we’ll focus on that strength in providing assistance to soldiers coming back from active duty along with their families,” said Dr. Tony Waldrop, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “Taking this step, under Bob Goodale’s leadership, is consistent with the recommendations emerging from an internal review and guidance from the program’s National Advisory Council.”

Starting Monday (Nov. 16), Goodale, a retired Harris Teeter chief executive officer and former deputy secretary of the State Department of Commerce, will succeed Peter Leousis, who will continue as deputy director of the Odum institute.

Waldrop said the Citizen-Solider program is expanding the behavioral health initiative to further develop a network of civilian behavioral health providers. So far, the program has trained more than 2,000 providers to work with returning combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury and their families. He said the program’s behavioral health efforts have benefitted from collaborations with the Area Health Education Centers, based at the University’s School of Medicine that works with nine regional centers to bring health sciences faculty and students to North Carolina communities to provide care and services.

Next year, nearly 4,500 National Guard soldiers from North Carolina’s 30th Heavy Combat Brigade will return from deployment in Iraq. The Citizen-Soldier program’s goal is to put in place a statewide behavioral health “safety net” before they return home, Waldrop said. A Web-based, searchable database of civilian behavioral health providers is scheduled to launch in January.

As part of the restructuring, Waldrop said the Citizen-Soldier program also would:

· Phase out its own “Building Community Partnership” efforts and redirect that funding to expanding the behavioral health initiative.

· Move a training program for the Army OneSource initiative, “Building Community Partnerships,” to the Jordan Institute for Families in the UNC School of Social Work under the leadership of Dr. Gary Bowen, Kenan Distinguished Professor. That shift leverages existing strengths in the social work school and follows a recommendation from the internal review committee.

· Reduce several staff positions and re-engage its National Advisory Council in support of the program’s work.

The changes follow a report by Chancellor Holden Thorp to the University’s Board of Trustees in September, as well as recommendations and ongoing deliberations of an internal review committee created by Waldrop earlier this year. The review committee, which initially worked for six months in producing its report, and a financial audit by the University were prompted by the complaint received by Myrick.

The internal review committee was reactivated in August and continued to deliberate about the program into last month. Committee members included two retired military officers who were familiar with the program and its goals, as well as administrators from UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC General Administration.

Background: http://www.citizensoldiersupport.org/

The speaker’s skillz

Had a discussion late night about the Health Care Reform bill and Nancy Pelosi’s role in getting it through.
Not a lot of people seem to know her background. This WaPo story from when she became speaker is a good backgrounder.

Critics deride Pelosi, 66, for a presumed lightweight liberalism they attribute to her latter-day home in San Francisco. But her liberalism — and the keen political instincts and skill at the inside parry of the game — can be traced more deeply and more precisely back to Albemarle Street, to the political empire that grew there when her father held court through decades of an intensely political life.

Some folks not happy with Larry Kissell

Has NC gone to the dogs. You know, the blue dogs. There was some hope that that at least some of the people the netroots rallied around would play nice, but those hopes seem to be fading.
Larry Kissell has been taking some heat from people who backed him in both races over his reluctance on health care.
Howie Klein puts it rather bluntly in Have We Been Stabbed in the Back By Larry Kissell?

Next year, Kissell– who has a reputation as an abysmal fundraiser, and won’t get a dime from the netroots ever again– is being challenged by retired Army Col. Lou Huddleston. Huddleston and GOP front groups will call Kissell a Nancy Pelosi clone no matter how he votes and no matter what he does. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh fans are not going to vote for Larry Kissell. And if he follows through with his threats to vote against health care reform, neither will Democrats, just the way they didn’t come out to vote for Deeds in Virginia.

Tony Rand resigns

This from the Speaker’s office:

Speaker Hackney statement on resignation of Sen. Tony Rand
“Sen. Rand served the people of Cumberland County and the state with great distinction in the Senate and he will continue to do so as a member of the parole board. He has dedicated many years of his life to making North Carolina better, most especially by working to provide quality and affordable higher education to all.”

EEEEEEElection Day

It’s GOTV time. Vote. Vote. Vote.
– Here in the Piedmont we’re holding municipal and school board elections (the sb’s vary from county to county);
– Elsewhere there are some big races the results of which will either be reported by our very liberal media as a sign of doom for the Democrats or are, as always, good for the GOP.
– In addition to the regular races, there a few irregs on the ballot as well.
– Oh, and Virginia Foxx is still the person representing the Fifth U.S. Congressional District of the State of North Carolina