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The Business of Healthcare With Habanero: Those Dirty Rats at Aetna

By Habanero

So many people like to talk about what a disaster the ACA (aka ObamaCare) was, however, it seems that people forget a few key points.  First, it wasn’t implemented as designed.  There were many detrimental compromises included and many partisan roadblocks thrown up. 

And it seems that many people have also forgotten that the insurance companies are for-profit entities, responsible not to the ACA, not to their providers, not to patients.  They are beholden to their shareholders.  All the other stuff – laws to follow, people to satisfy, all come as side dishes to the primary objective – profit. 

Aetna recently made a controversial decision that put profit before patient care, though few were able to hear about it in a news media so enthralled with the new president.  These stories show just how important profit is to the insurance industry. 

The stories:

“How Aetna frittered away $1.8 billion on a merger destined to fail”.  http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-aetna-merger-20170214-story.html

“U.S. judge finds that Aetna deceived the public about its reasons for quitting Obamacare” http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-aetna-merger-20170214-story.html

You can read them yourself, but the Cliff Notes version is this:

Aetna is a powerful force in the health insurance market and has been for decades.  Many people on the east coast are likely familiar with the name.  Humana is another giant, with more of a southern and western presence.  In the modern spirit of “bigger is better,” these two behemoths had been working on a merger.  Of course, they touted this as a benefit to consumers, although you know they wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t truly a benefit to themselves.

But the Justice Department was concerned about this merger and the impact it would have on costs and competition.

Aetna pulled a super sneaky stunt and got caught. 

It turns out Aetna had threatened the Justice Department that if the merger wasn’t approved, the company would pull out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This is a big deal because Aetna is such a big player, and the ACA was still in the fragile early years of a new program. 

Well, the Justice Department was not going to be bullied.  They opposed the merger.

After Aetna had pulled out of the ACA, Justice did some investigation of their own and learned that there were so many deceitful actions by Aetna that the presiding judge cited malfeasance. 

This was an expensive strong arm tactic that backfired on the insurer.  I would expect the shareholders to be pretty unhappy about the whole incident.

The Business of Healthcare With Habanero airs alternating Fridays at 1:30 pm

Sunny Sweeney Hands Country Music Fans a Real Prize with Trophy

by Trevor Christian, host of Country Pocket

Just about every song has multiple layers and meaning on Trophy, the latest from Sunny Sweeney, which turns name calling, regrets, and even gossip into country gems.

Trophy is the fourth record and second independent release for Sweeney, who became a Texas country favorite with 2014’s Provoked. The album’s title comes from a track that turns an attempted insult into an opportunity to brag. Sweeney delivers the lyrics with a taunting swagger: “Yeah, he’s got a trophy now/For putting up with you.”

“I heard that one of my husband’s exes was calling me names and I thought it would be funny to write a song about it instead of getting mad,” Sweeney said in a phone conversation for the March 20th episode of Country Pocket.

Sweeney teamed up with the influential Lori McKenna on that track and three others, including the uncharacteristically sentimental “Grow Old With Me,” which covers Sweeney’s relationship with her second husband.

“I don’t ever have love songs, but I really liked that one for some reason.”

Sweeney is one of the few songwriters who regularly acknowledges in her music that her husband is not her first.

“I think people don’t want to talk about their first relationships failing. They kind of pretend that it didn’t happen, but it did, and you wouldn’t be where you are if it didn’t.”

Sweeney captures the same energy as she did on her Texas radio number one hit “Bad Girl Phase” with “Better Bad Idea,” a rare song made better by a lack of detail. Wine and weed are specifically mentioned, but for the most part, the singer is only playing up her potential to be wild and challenging her companion to come up with the details. It’s as much a statement of rebellion as it is an over the top act of seduction.

“Unsaid” also leaves a few words out for emotional impact, this time while conveying the pain of being on bad terms with someone who unexpectedly passes away. The first three lines mention church bells and headlights in describing a funeral procession. We hear about a name written in stone early on, but the word “heaven” doesn't appear until after the second refrain. It’s a strong indicator that the singer is struggling to accept the death, just as the decision to end the song by leaving out the third note of a repeated three-note guitar part had the effect of conveying the suddenness of the tragedy. It's also Sweeney's strongest vocal to date.

“Pass the Pain” and the Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay penned “Pills” play around with the idea of judgment and self-awareness in satisfying ways. “Nothing Wrong With Texas,” which came from Sweeney’s move to New York City, is most notable for its fiddle work and the impressive rhyme scheme of perspective/respect is/Texas. The Jerry Jeff Walker cover “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight” uses the title as a great double entendre.

“I’ve always wanted to record that song. I think it’s one of the greatest country songs ever written.” Sweeney said of the cover song.

“Bottle By My Bed” takes on even more meanings. The risky track is on its face about wanting a child, but also about reaching a new stage of maturity. Underneath is a feeling that perhaps a deeper, more heartbreaking problem exists for the singer. She says she only calls her husband baby “because I like the word” and describes watching the news at night alone with some beers while he suggests waiting to have a child. Her friends are all busy raising kids, so it’s easy to get the sense the singer feels little in the way of support and companionship.

It’s hard to imagine this review isn’t missing at least one layer of meaning on even the songs described in depth. As enjoyable as these songs are to listen to, Trophy is an album best thought about deeply and played repeatedly. Sweeney’s songwriting will undoubtedly hold up to that level of examination.

Aloe Blacc, Maya Jupiter and Tony-Award Winning Actor, Bill Irwin, on Tom Needham’s the Sounds of Film

THURSDAY, MARCH 16, 2017
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM EDT

International Superstar Aloe Blacc, wife Maya Jupiter and legendary actor, Bill Irwin, will be Tom Needham’s special guests
this Thursday at 6 P.M. on WUSB’s the Sounds of Film.

For more information, visit: http://www.longisland.com/news/03-14-17/aloe-blacc-bill-irwin-interview-sounds-of-film.html

Port Jeff Documentary Series Spotlight on Jazz On The Air

This Sunday, March 12, Mr. Edison will not only be celebrating women in jazz who've done incredible things but also women in our neighborhood who do incredible things..

Some of the ladies who help run the Port Jefferson Documentary Series will be showing up on the show to talk about the latest season of engaging fact based films, the kinds of films that got the Port Jefferson Documentary Series named Long Island's Best Film Festival despite being out promoted and out spent by various other film festivals here.

Jazz On The Air airs 3:00-6:00 p.m. (interview will be around the 5:00 mark)

For more information about the Port Jefferson Documentary Series, visit http://www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com/

“The Zookeeper’s Wife’s” Efrat Dor & “Marathon: the Patriot’s Day Bombing” Directors on Tom Needham's the Sounds of Film

THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2017
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Israeli superstar, Efrat Dor, documentary filmmakers Rikki Stern and Annie Sundberg, and Long Island director, Patricia Shih, will be Tom Needham’s special guests this Thursday at 6 P.M. on the Sounds of Film on WUSB.

For more information, visit http://www.longisland.com/news/03-07-17/efrat-dor-rikki-stern-annie-sund...