Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekly Address: Investing in a Clean Energy Future

Speaking from a factory in Virginia, President Obama talks about how companies are creating more jobs in the United States, making better products than ever before, and how many are developing new technologies that are reducing our dependence on foreign oil and saving families money at the pump.

Newsy Now: Latest Headlines

Kofi Annan goes to Syria on peace mission; Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza Strip; Anti-Putin protests continue; DSK met by protesters.

By Nathan Bryne
Anchor: Nathan Bryne
Link courtesy of

States Consider Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

More than 20 states are discussing legislation that would require welfare recipients to submit to drug tests in order to receive assistance.

By Logan Tittle
Anchor: Logan Tittle
Link courtesy of

Pakistan Names New Spy Chief

Pakistan's prime minister has appointed a new head of intelligence to replace the retiring chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

By Tatiana Darie
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link courtesy of

Friday, March 9, 2012

Oval Office Chat Session: Obama and Putin

Leaders Discuss Upcoming G-8 Summit, Trade and Investment

President Obama called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate him on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election. 

President Obama highlighted achievements in U.S.-Russia relations over the past three years with President Medvedev, including cooperation on Afghanistan, the conclusion and ratification of the START agreement, Russia’s recent invitation to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and cooperation on Iran. 

President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed that the successful reset in relations should be built upon during the coming years. 

The President said that he looked forward to hosting President-Elect Putin at the G-8 Summit in May at Camp David. 

The two leaders outlined areas for future cooperation, including strengthening trade and investment relations arising out of Russia’s pending accession to the WTO. 

President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed to continue discussions on areas where the United States and Russia have differed, including Syria and missile defense.

President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed to continue their efforts to find common ground and remove obstacles to better relations. 

West Wing Week: 03/09/12

First Lady Michelle Obama Honors International Women of Courage

Park Appointed Assistant to President, U.S. CTO

Served as CTO of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama appointed Todd Park as Assistant to the President and U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO), filling a vacancy created by last month’s departure of Aneesh Chopra, the Nation’s first CTO. Park has served as CTO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) since August 2009, where he has been an agent for change.

Hired as the department’s “entrepreneur-in-residence,” Park has been helping HHS harness the power of data, technology, and innovation to improve the health of all Americans.

The President has asked him to bring that same approach to a broader mission – helping to replicate those and other best practices across government and bring them to scale.

President Obama created the position of U.S. Chief Technology Officer on his first day in office, noting that corporate leaders have long recognized the value of having a person responsible for ensuring that technology is being used as effectively as possible to gain operational efficiencies and ensure internal coordination and communication. 

The U.S. CTO is responsible for ensuring the adoption of innovative technologies to support Administration priorities, including job creation, broader access to affordable health care, enhanced energy efficiency, a more open government, and national and homeland security.

“Todd Park has demonstrated a remarkable talent for enlisting innovative technologies to modernize government, reduce waste, and make government information more accessible to the public,” said President Obama.

“In his new position he will bring those skills to the entire Federal enterprise, ensuring that government will serve all Americans fairly, effectively, and efficiently.”   

In his work at HHS, Park led the successful execution of an array of breakthrough initiatives, including the creation of, the first website to provide consumers with a comprehensive inventory of public and private health insurance plans available across the Nation by zip code in a single, easy-to-use tool; the development and launch of the Health Data Initiative, which is making vast amounts of information from the vaults of HHS easily downloadable by the public and third-party apps developers via; and HHSinnovates, an awards program that identifies and recognizes innovators across HHS who have improved Department operations. 

In 2010, he was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business for his work as HHS CTO.        

The U.S. CTO’s office is situated within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), where Park will work closely with U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications Tom Power.

OSTP Director and Presidential science advisor John P. Holdren announced today that Power will perform the duties of OSTP’s Associate Director for Technology—a position previously held by Chopra in conjunction with his role as U.S. CTO—while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement.

President, Vice President Reflect on Japan's 3/11 Anniversary

Statement by President Obama

As we mark one year since the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in Japan, Michelle and I join all Americans in honoring the memory of the 19,000 victims lost or missing. We continue to be inspired by the Japanese people, who faced unimaginable loss with extraordinary fortitude. Their resilience and determination to rebuild stronger than before is an example for us all.

Since the first moments of the disaster, the United States mobilized to help our friends in Japan.  At the peak of Operation Tomodachi—our single, largest bilateral military operation with Japan ever—the Department of Defense had 24,000 personnel, 190 aircraft, and 24 Navy ships supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.  One year later, we remain committed to assist the people of Japan to rebuild. This effort, led by the Japanese government, has benefitted from the compassion of the American people, who in difficult economic times have given generously to help. Today, U.S. experts continue to support Japan’s ongoing efforts to deal with the challenges associated with Fukushima, and the TOMODACHI public-private partnership is investing in the next generation to strengthen cultural and economic ties.  We are grateful for the contributions of Americans, civilian and military, who have joined with people from around the world to support Japan’s recovery.

No one can forget the tragic images of disaster in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, or the heartbreak of friends who lost homes, belongings, and, most importantly, loved ones. Even as it works to rebuild its devastated northeastern region, Japan has never wavered from its steadfast commitment to help other countries around the world. So on this day when our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people in remembrance of the hardship faced one year ago, let us also celebrate the recovery underway in Japan and pay tribute to Japan’s unflagging dedication to bettering the lives of others throughout the world.  The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable and, going forward, the people of Japan will continue to have an enduring partner in the United States.

Statement by Vice President Biden

On Sunday we will mark the first anniversary of the terrible disaster that shook an island, surged an ocean and cracked a reactor in the Tohoku region of Japan. As we remember the nearly 16,000 lives that were lost and the 3,000 still missing, we also honor the Japanese people, who over the past year have reminded the world that the human spirit is as formidable as the forces of nature, particularly when we join together in trying times.

I had the privilege of visiting Japan five months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.  The survivors I met in Natori and Sendai made clear to me that the disaster met its match in the resilience and fortitude of the Japanese people. While struck by the scale of the devastation, I also witnessed remarkable and inspiring progress in rebuilding homes, schools, and workplaces. 

The American people were proud and honored to assist Japan, just as Japan has done for countless others around the world, in their times of need.  Within hours of the disaster, we launched an unprecedented civilian and military relief effort – Operation Tomodachi. In Sendai, I visited an airport that had been flooded and later became a home to more than 1,000 weary survivors with nowhere else to go. A week after the tsunami, Japanese and American forces reopened a runway, allowing the arrival of hundreds of relief workers and more than two million tons of humanitarian supplies. 

We are proud to have continued our support over the past year. As Japan rebuilds, America will stand with them as long as it takes. We join the Japanese people today in honoring the memories of those lost as they continue to work for a better future.

President Obama photo source: The White House
Author: Pete Souza
Permission: Public Domain

'The Monthly Employment and Unemployment Numbers Can be Volatile'

Statement on the Employment Situation in February
WASHINGTON, DC – Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in February. 
Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007, including measures to help the sectors that were most severely harmed by the bubble economy that misdirected investment and created too few durable jobs.

After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 429,000 manufacturing jobs in the past two years. For the first time since the 1990s, the manufacturing sector is adding jobs. To support a revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs.

Private sector payrolls increased by 233,000 jobs and overall payroll employment rose by 227,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3%. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage point over the last 6 months.

There was an increase in the size of the labor force last month of 476,000. Importantly, the increase in the labor force last month was due in large part to a reduction in the number of workers who exited the labor force between January and February.

Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 24 straight months, for a total of more than 3.9 million payroll jobs over that period. In the last 12 months, 2.2 million private sector jobs were added on net. In the last 6 months, 1.3 million private sector jobs were added, the most of any 6 month period in nearly 6 years.

Sectors with net job increases included health care and social assistance (+61,100), temporary help services (+45,200), leisure and hospitality (+44,000), and manufacturing (+31,000). Construction lost 13,000 jobs, reflecting a loss of 15,400 specialty trade contractor jobs. Employment in the Federal government fell by 7,000 jobs.

The monthly employment and unemployment numbers can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report; nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign.

The Power of the Pen: Bills Signed into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 347

On Thursday, March 8, 2012, the President signed into law:

H.R. 347, the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011,” which makes it a Federal crime to enter or remain knowingly in any restricted area of the White House, the Vice President’s official residence, or their respective grounds without lawful authority. 

Newsy Now: Latest Headlines

US to hand over detention facility to Karzai administration; Syria fighters reject call for dialogue; Greece close to debt swap; botched hostage raid.

By Steven Sparkman and Harumendhah Helmy
Anchor: Blake Hanson
Link courtesy of

Calls for a Gingrich Drop-Out Mount

Rick Santorum supporters are making a strong push for a two candidate race, while the media questions how much longer Newt Gingrich can survive.

By Allie Spillyards
Anchor: Allie Spillyards
Link courtesy of

China Curbs Police Power to Secretly Imprison Suspects

Under the new proposal, police must inform families within 24 hours instead of six months.

By Regina C. Wang
Anchor: Emily Spain
Link courtesy of

Election Year Posturing in Israel-Iran Conflict?

Runaway rhetoric is rampant on the tensions between Israel and Iran, but is it an actual crisis, or just election year posturing?

By Christina Hartman
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Bin Laden’s Widows in Custody

As Osama Bin Laden’s widows are charged with immigration offenses, further information emerges about the Saudi terrorist’s time in hiding.

By Kevin Donnellan
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Surgeon General Calls Teen Smoking an Epidemic

The US Surgeon General's office released a new report indicating that teen smoking isn't declining.

By Emily Allen
Anchor: Emily Allen
Link courtesy of

Va. Governor Signs Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Bill

Analysts and pundits chime in on the impact of the bill.

By Blake Hanson
Anchor: Blake Hanson
Link courtesy of

Thursday, March 8, 2012

President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with President Mills of Ghana

President Obama and President John Atta Mills of Ghana speak to the press after a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office.

President Obama Speaks on American Energy

President Obama talks about an all-of-the-above American energy strategy at a Daimler manufacturing plant in North Carolina that’s making trucks that run on natural gas.

Startup America: Connecting Mentors to Startups

Founding members of the Startup America Partnership board and Small Business Administrator Karen Mills discuss one of the entrepreneur-focused policy initiatives Startup America is putting in place - connecting mentors to startup business in a variety of sectors of the economy. Learn more at

Cuomo Targets Deceptive No-Fault Insurance Docs and Medical Mills

New Regulation Enables DFS to Ban Doctors from No-Fault System if Caught Cheating

A statewide initiative has been enacted to stop deceptive doctors and shut down medical mills that plague New York's no-fault insurance payment system and cost New Yorkers hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance costs.

At the Governor's direction, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) is issuing a new regulation that will enable it to ban doctors who engage in fraudulent and deceptive practices as part of the no-fault system. 

The regulation implements a 2005 law that gives DFS the power to regulate doctor participation in the no-fault system. 

Through audits as well as through information from law enforcement and insurance companies, DFS has already identified 135 medical providers whose billing practices have raised concerns regarding possible no-fault fraud. 

As part of an ongoing investigation, letters are being sent to all 135 medical providers demanding information. Failure to answer the letters may automatically lead to the medical provider being banned from the no-fault system. 

"The state has no tolerance for medical providers or doctors ripping off the system," said Governor Cuomo. 

"This affects all New Yorkers because we all pay the consequences with higher insurance premiums, and that's why I asked the Department of Financial Services to take this action. I commend Superintendent Lawsky and the team at DFS for their dedication to this investigation and look forward to bringing these health care providers to justice."

Superintendent Lawsky noted, "Rather than caring for victims of auto accidents, these doctors and other health care providers engage in scams, bilking millions of dollars from insurance companies each year. Their unlawful schemes are also directly responsible for driving up insurance premiums for everyone. We are going to call them to account and put them out of the no-fault business." 

A DFS investigation has found evidence of doctors and other practitioners providing unnecessary treatment to car accident victims as well as doctors "renting" their tax ID number to fraudulent medical practices that submit fake bills to insurance companies. Without the doctors, the scheme cannot work.

The plan will issue a new regulation enabling DFS to ban doctors who engage in fraudulent and deceptive practices from participating in the no-fault system.

It will also send letters to the already identified 135 medical providers, whose billing practices have raised concerns regarding possible no-fault fraud, and demanding information regarding their corporate structure, payment requests, and the doctor's direct participation in the practice. 

The providers are being directed to complete and return the DFS form 14 days after they receive the notice. The agency will use the answers to investigate their no-fault insurance billing practices and determine whether the providers are the true owners and operators of their businesses. 

Any provider who refuses to respond to the DFS letters may be banned from participating in the no-fault system.

The regulation says that DFS will have to send a list of any medical providers suspected of no-fault fraud to the Departments of Health (DOH) and the State Education Department (SED) for their review. DFS will then conduct hearings. 

Providers found to have violated the law will be banned from participating in the no-fault payment system. In appropriate cases, DOH and SED may revoke any medical licenses and law enforcement will decide whether criminal charges should be filed.

Rampant criminal abuse of New York's no-fault auto insurance system has driven up auto insurance premiums for consumers. Currently, New York has the fourth highest auto insurance rates in the nation. These sky high rates are due, in large part, to heavy fraud in NY's no-fault system. 

The no-fault insurance law was designed to lower insurance premiums and make it easier for accident victims to receive medical treatment, regardless of who is at fault. Usually, no-fault insurers pay medical providers directly, assuming that a licensed doctor provided the treatment and the treatment was necessary. 

"My office has seen the massive fraud and abuse stemming from our state's no-fault insurance program, which has contributed to inordinately high auto insurance rates for New Yorkers. For example, we successfully prosecuted the members of a large medical mill ring called the St. Nicholas Group, which netted millions of dollars in fraudulent claims. I thank Governor Cuomo for his work to stop criminals from taking advantage of our state's insurance program," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

Senator James L. Seward, Chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, stated, "I applaud Superintendent Lawsky and stand ready to support him in his fight to crack down on no-fault fraud and the criminals who profit from this illegal enterprise. Activating this powerful tool to decertify doctors who cheat the system is long overdue. I sponsored this reform in 2005 and am pleased the Superintendent is taking steps to implement it—helping fight fraud and get insurance rates under control. "

Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle, Chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee, commented, "Every year auto insurance fraud unnecessarily costs New Yorkers millions of dollars. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Superintendent Lawsky for their commitment to ending auto insurance fraud in our state and bringing unscrupulous medical providers to justice."

Image courtesy of

New York Selected for Federal Free School Meal Program

Pilot Program Will Provide Food to Thousands of Low-Income Children

New York is one of six states selected to participate in a federal pilot program that will allow thousands of low-income students in New York City to be given greater and faster access to school meals programs, and ensure that these students do not go hungry. 

New York will collaborate with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service on a new demonstration project to connect eligible low-income children with free school meals automatically based on information received from Medicaid. 

The new process will allow for administrative efficiencies, reduce improper payments and streamline efforts to provide access to critical nutrition for kids across the nation. Students from 353 New York City schools will participate in the program.

"New York's collaboration with USDA on this pilot project will help hundreds of thousands of low-income children in New York City receive free meals at school," said Governor Cuomo. 

"New York State has made ending child hunger a top priority, and this program will support our efforts to improve nutrition and access to healthy meals in our schools. I thank Secretary Vilsack for his leadership and hard work."

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that six states will collaborate with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, New York and Pennsylvania will begin their respective projects on July 1 for school year 2012-2013. 

"These demonstration projects are just the latest example of USDA’s ongoing efforts to modernize our services and improve the lives of kids and their families," Secretary Vilsack said in a statement. 

"By relying upon existing data, we streamline operations, reduce payment errors and improve the efficiency of operations at the federal and local level. At the same time we are ensuring that we deliver healthy meals to more eligible kids so that they have access to the nutrition they need to learn and excel."

Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, added, "New York’s participation in this essential pilot program is a win-win, which will bring more federal money into the state while feeding more hungry children. This is a great step toward reaching Governor Cuomo’s goal of ending child hunger in New York."

USDA provided the following information regarding the program:

The passage of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 marks the first time that states have been allowed to test this new process, called direct certification, with Medicaid information. USDA selected the demonstration states through a competitive application process. Under the legislation, the areas selected to participate will be expanded in future years, which will allow additional states to participate.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service will conduct a formal study to evaluate the effectiveness of the projects. The study – with the results published in reports to Congress in 2014 and 2015 – will estimate the following impacts: 

The extent to which direct certification for each demonstration category reaches children who are eligible for free school meals but are not certified to receive them; the extent to which the projects directly certify eligible children who are enrolled for free school meals based on a household application; and the effect direct certification with the Medicaid program has on federal and state costs, and on participation in the school lunch and breakfast programs.

The demonstration projects are just one of the major components of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, now implemented or under development, which will work together to reform school nutrition. In addition to the updated meal standards, unprecedented improvements to come include: the ability to take nutrition standards beyond the lunch line for the first time ever, foods and beverages sold in vending machines and other venues on school campuses will also contribute to a healthy diet; increased funding for schools – an additional 6 cents a meal is the first real increase in 30 years – tied to strong performance in serving improved meals; common-sense pricing standards for schools to ensure that revenues from non-Federal sources keep pace with the Federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs; and training and technical assistance to help schools achieve and onitor compliance.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that, in addition to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and National School Lunch Program, also include the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Summer Food Service Program. Taken together, these programs comprise America's nutrition safety net.

For more information, visit:

DFS Investigation Exposes Unexpected Medical Costs

Report Finds Overwhelming Need for More Transparency and Better Consumer Protections

The Department of Financial Services (DFS) is investigating unexpected out-of-network medical costs affecting New Yorkers across the state, many of whom cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket expenses. 

In addition, DFS released a report that finds an overwhelming need for increased transparency from insurers and medical service providers, and improved consumer protection measures to ensure that New Yorkers stop receiving unexpected bills.

The investigation was sparked by an overwhelming amount of consumer complaints. DFS found that unexpected out-of-network medical bills are one of the most common complaints received by the agency.

New Yorkers can read the report via the following link:

“The high cost of health insurance and health care are an enormous burden for most New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. 

“Our investigation shows that too many people are being hit with medical bills that are too high when they thought their care was covered by their insurance. We can’t allow that to continue. We must work with the insurance companies and medical service providers to ensure that all New Yorkers fully understand and are aware of the terms of their healthcare contracts.”

Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky said, “Our report shows that all too often people who try their hardest to stay in network still get stuck with the most unwelcome surprise -- a big out of network bill. We need to reform our system now to protect middle class New Yorkers who can least afford these additional burdensome costs."

"This is a widespread problem that particularly plagues cancer patients. New Yorkers who are dealing with the stress and anxiety of being treated for cancer should not have added burden of thinking about unexpected exorbitant costs that they cannot afford. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Superintendent Lawsky for their leadership on this issue and look forward to working with them on righting these wrongs," added Sherry Tomasky, Advocacy Director of the American Cancer Association.

Elisabeth Benjamin, of Health Care for All New York and Vice President of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York, stated, "HCFANY is delighted that the Department of Financial Services has conducted this important investigation of surprise out-of-network bills. For far too long, it is the patient who is snared in the inscrutable billing bureaucracy between providers and insurers. The Department’s investigation highlights this problem, and HCFANY stands ready to help come up with a real solution that works for New York’s patients.” 

The Department’s report produced the following findings:

Too many unexpected bills: DFS found many cases where a consumer does everything possible to use an in-network health care provider for non-emergency services, but nonetheless receives a bill from a specialist (often a radiologist, anesthesiologist, or lab) whom the consumer did not know or realize was out-of-network. 

One case involves a child who had open heart surgery. The child’s parents were not told an assistant surgeon would be involved in the procedure and that assistant surgeon was out-of-network. The family was forced to pay $5000 of that doctor’s $6400 bill.

Another case involves a patient who was sent an unexpected $1300 bill for what turned out to be an out-of-network anesthesiologist.

Emergency bills are too high: Too often out-of-network providers who provide emergency services -- a circumstance where consumers cannot be choosy about whether the provider is in network -- take advantage of the situation and charge fees well in excess of what Medicare or insurance would pay in network. 

In cases looked at by DFS investigators, the average emergency out-of-network bill was $7006. That is 14 times what Medicare would pay. The average out-of-network radiology charge was 33 times what Medicare pays. One neurosurgeon charged $159,000 for an emergency procedure for which Medicare pays $8500.

Insurers are paying less of the cost of out-of-network care: The investigation found that insurers are moving to a system that greatly increases how much it costs consumers when they are treated out-of-network. 

To determine what they would pay for out-of-network care, most insurers used to use what is known as the usual and customary rate (UCR), which is supposed to be an average of actual bills for a procedure in that region. But now most are using the Medicare rate, which decreases how much insurers pay by as much as half or more in some cases. 

Insurers make this change hard for consumers to understand, because some are told they are going from 80% of the usual and customary rate to 140% of Medicare, which sounds like an improvement, but is not. 

In one case, a patient was approved for a surgery using the usual and customary rate. The insurer said it would pay $31,978 of the $47,685 cost. Before the surgery could be done, the insurer changed to a Medicare Fee Schedule and the insurer would only pay $4,864.62.

Consumers can't comparison shop. Because health plans are now switching between different coverage rates for out of network doctors, consumers are left in an incredibly difficult position when they select plans. They simple can't compare apples to apples when, for example, one plan offers to cover 80 percent of UCR and another offers to cover 140 percent of the Medicare rate.

Another issue found during the investigation: even when consumers have no choice but to seek care out of network, most consumers must pay extra charges. Only consumers in HMOs are protected when they must go out of network.

Based on the findings of DFS's investigation, DFS proposed the following solutions: 

Increase disclosure from providers: In non-emergency situations, providers should disclose whether or not all services are in-network before such services are provided and how much they will charge, and insurers should disclose how much they will cover.

Increase disclosure from insurers: Insurers should enable consumers to conduct a meaningful "apples to apples" comparison regarding how much of the cost of out-of-network services will be covered when they are choosing a plan, whether the insurer uses UCR or the Medicare rate. 

Prohibit excessive fees: Out-of-network providers should be prohibited from charging excessive fees for emergency services.

Improve network protections: Improve network protections: Network adequacy protections must be improved. Consumers not in HMOs should be given the same network adequacy protections provided to consumers with HMO coverage. 

New Yorkers who have questions/complaints concerning their medical bill should visit or go to