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Oklahoma Insurance Department to return nearly $1M in federal funds

From: NewsOK

Federal officials have acknowledged receiving a letter from the Oklahoma Insurance Department stating that the state agency is returning nearly $1 million to conduct health insurance premium rate reviews.

“We’re waiting for them to physically take the money back at this point,” agency spokesman Shawn Ashley said Tuesday.

Insurance Commissioner John Doak said the federal money was returned because “the majority of Oklahomans do not want the federal government making decisions about their health care.” Doak last month said he would return the funds, on the same day Gov. Mary Fallin declared that the state would not accept a $54.6 million federal grant for setting up a system where Oklahomans could shop for health insurance.

A Dutch model for Medicare

From: The Washington Post

By Richard B. Saltman

The debate over Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed changes for Medicare — replacing guaranteed payment for services with a voucher for most of the cost of purchasing private insurance — is generating a lot of heat. The Dutch might be able to shed a little light.

In 2006, the Netherlands shifted its entire population — elderly and sick as well as young and healthy — to a premium-support-based arrangement. The complex, multi-payment approach had three basic elements.

Americans Favor Free Market Approach to Health Care

From: WeeklyStandard.com

Jeffrey H. AndersonMay 5, 2011 2:21 PM

Likely voters’ responses to two questions in a recent Rasmussen poll highlight both the challenge that Paul Ryan and the House Republicans face in persuading Americans to support their proposed budget, and why it’s likely that they will ultimately prevail. Rasmussen asked likely voters what they think of Ryan’s proposed Medicare reforms, without explaining at all what those reforms entail.  The question and the answers were as follows:

4. Do you favor or oppose the plan for changing Medicare that is included in the Ryan budget proposal? 

Illinois Insurance Chief Sees Market Becoming More Concentrated — The KHN Intervew

From: Kaiser Health News

By J. Duncan Moore, Jr.

Apr 27, 2011

Michael T. McRaith, the Illinois director of insurance since 2005, was named last month by the Obama administration to become the country’s first director of the Federal Insurance Office, a post created through the Dodd-Frank financial reform act passed last year to protect against another financial meltdown.

McRaith was for many years an attorney in private practice, working at the intersection of financial services, insurance and consumer protection. He used his tenure with the state to beef up consumer safeguards in Illinois and to prepare the way for the health care overhaul. He will remain in his Illinois post until the end of the May.

The Other Medicare Cutters

From: Wall Street Journal/Review & Outlook

Obama’s plan relies on a politically insulated board of experts.

The debate over Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform ideas has largely been healthy, even amid the liberal distortions. But why has there been so little scrutiny of President Obama’s new Medicare proposal? Anyone worrying about more individual choice and responsibility in health care might be interested to learn that the alternative is turning every one of these decisions over to a 15-member central committee.