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Union Leaders Hope To Restore Relevance In Push For Health Reform

The Associated Press : "The man expected to become the AFL-CIO's next president said Monday that lawmakers would pay a political price if they abandon a government-run option in any health care overhaul. 'We need to be a labor movement that stands by our friends, punishes its enemies and challenges those who, well, can't seem to decide which side they're on, ' said Richard Trumka, currently the AFL-CIO's secretary-treasurer." He spoke at the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress. Trumka said: "I think [lawmakers] need to understand that that you can have a bill that guarantees quality, affordable health care for every American, or you can have a bill the Republicans will vote forā But you can't have both" (Hananel, 8/31).

Lawmakers, Constituents Continue Talking About Health Overhaul

Lawmakers from both parties are continuing town hall health care conversations. Las Vegas Sun : "Before taking the stage as the keynote speaker at a pro-health care reform rally Monday night at UNLV, Sen. Harry Reid had made his message clear, and he tried to drive it home with the first words out of his mouth. 'Health care is a moral issue, ' Reid said." At the private rally, Reid, the majority leader, said, "The sooner we fix it, the sooner we will all benefit from increased access and lower costs. It's not only the right thing to do, it's the economically smart thing to do" (Twitchell, 9/1). The Associated Press : In Allentown, Pa.

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White House: Key GOP Senator Has 'Walked Away' From Negotiations

The Obama administration struck back at Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi's Saturday remarks that proposed health reforms "will actually make our nation's finances sicker without saving you money, " Bloomberg/The Washington Post reports. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the remarks "tremendously unfortunate but in some ways illuminating." Enzi is one of three Senate Republicans currently working to negotiate a deal in the Finance Committee. He's clearly "turned over his cards on bipartisanship and decided that it's time to walk away from the table, " Gibbs said. Gibbs also accused Republicans of "repeatingā talking points" they know are not accurate (9/1).

California's Real Death Panels: Insurers Deny 21 Of Claims

More than one of every five requests for medical claims for insured patients, even when recommended by a patient's physician, are rejected by California's largest private insurers, amounting to very real death panels in practice daily in the nation's biggest state, according to data released today by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. CNA/NNOC researchers analyzed data reported by the insurers to the California Department of Managed Care. From 2002 through June 30, 2009, the five largest insurers operating in California rejected 31.2 million claims for care -- 21 percent of all claims. The data will be presented by Don DeMoro, director of CNA/NNOC's research arm, the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, at CNA/NNOC's biennial convention next Tuesday, Sept.

Wellness Program Helps Company Control Health Care Costs

CNN reports on Quest Diagnostics' wellness program: "Healthy Quest is designed to focus on health issues that 'drive a lot of costs, and drive a lot of lost productivity, ' like obesity, smoking and stress, [Steve Burton, vice president of health and wellness services at Quest Diagnostics] said." Since its inception, "the company has benefited from lower health care costs, fewer sick days and more satisfied employees, he said. ... The success of programs like Healthy Quest has also caught the attention of lawmakers working to pass a health care reform bill." The measure approved by the Senate HELP Committee in July "includes provisions for a marketing campaign to 'make employers .

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How To Make The Most Of Expiring Health Coverage

The Associated Press/The Houston Chronicle : "Job loss or the fear of it has pushed more people to use their employer-sponsored health insurance before they lose it. Major health insurers have seen their medical costs rise in recent quarters, in part because people covered by employer-sponsored plans have rushed to use services before their benefits are cut off." AP provides a list of things to consider when trying to make the most of coverage: have a routine physical to assess your general health, "invest in preventive medicine, " such as flu shots, colon cancer screenings and mammograms, ask your doctor whether they might have discounts or special payment plans, plan ahead for your prescriptions and consider using COBRA to extend your benefits" (Murphy, 9/2).

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