Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Coventry Health Care, Inc, An Agent of Darkness

Tuesday's Tirade
The Silence that Harms

Darkness and light are universal symbols for good and evil. It is dark outside this January day as America has been engulfed by the evil intentions of large, greedy corporations and unscrupulous, callous individuals. Consider the likes of BARRY MADOFF. FANNIE MAE. FREDDIE MAC. AIG. CITIBANK. LEHMAN BROTHERS.

There’s a revolution in the making, however, a non-violent but angry response to excesses that have done great harm to our country. The financial crisis is revealing cracks in the foundations of companies who sought profit at any cost. It reveals how lax our regulatory agencies were in carrying out their responsibilities to the American public. Today, there are demands for renewed emphasis on regulations, accountability, and transparency. Tragically, a little too late for many.

Speaking of accountability, COVENTRY HEALTH CARE INC OF BETHESDA MD, my former health plan, is being forced out of the shadows. Like other corporate machines, it appears that Coventry made decisions about my health based exclusively on the bottom line. For three and a half years my passion has been to reveal the true, ugly, real face of Coventry through the court system and blogging. My blog is my strong voice in conversation with many like-minded people, sharing tales that outrage and inspire, of unconscionable deeds, deceit, and greed.

Coventry Health Care, Inc., as well as other health plans like them, preys on the most vulnerable in our society. Shocking, unbelievable operations that feed the corporate profit engine at the cost of lives. The lack of regulatory instruments and transparency to date has allowed this former “darling of wall street” to operate in the dark.

Today is a new day for Americans. The grave financial crisis is an opportunity to discover the truth. The truth about Coventry? While Coventry’s promotional materials proudly proclaim excellent, superior service, no deed appears too egregious.

In 2005, Patrick W. Dowd, the former CEO of Coventry’s subsidiary in West Virginia, Carelink Health Plans, Inc., falsely accused me of fraud. My lawsuit is pending against Carelink and Dowd in the 4th District Court of West Virginia, charging them with intimidation and discrimination against someone with a disability.

In 2007, Coventry employed a similar tactic of intimidation, once again attempting to take advantage of the elderly and the disabled. Coventry, one of the largest providers of subsidized health plans, was fined $264,000 by Medicare “for improperly marketing the policies to the elderly and disabled.” The following Testimony of Jonathan M. Smith, Executive Director of Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, September 11, 2007, concludes:

Dishonest and deceptive marketing practices have enticed senior citizens and persons with disabilities to inappropriately enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. Of particular concern, plan providers have targeted seniors and others who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare for which Medicare Advantage plans are rarely a good choice. As a result, seniors and peers with disabilities made vulnerable by poverty have been placed at great risk of harm including: loss of long term health care providers, limited options of in-plan physicians and potentially disadvantageous changes in drug benefit coverage.

On September 30, 2008, I penned a blog entitled Intrigue at West Virginia PEIA. I warned that the appointment of a former CEO of a Coventry Health Care subsidiary could prove tragic to West Virginians. The outrage has been building since the announcement in 2008 that PEIA “would increase insurance premiums by 9 percent for active state employees and 11 percent for retirees covered by PEIA beginning July 1, 2009.” http://www.freewebs.com/courageoffaith/PEIA%20200%20People%20Protest%20PEIA%20increase.mht
People are even more vocal about PEIA’s decision to change carriers, selecting “Kentucky-based” Advantra to provide health care coverage for retirees who are eligible for Medicare.

How many West Virginians are aware that Advantra is owned by none other than Coventry Health Care, Inc. of Bethesda MD, the same company that was fined in 2007 for irregularities in providing insurance to the elderly and disabled! Shame. Shame. More games with peoples’ health! Deceptive tactics? Once more, I believe, it is more accurate to describe this operation as a systemic evil.

In conclusion, there is much to fear. The mortgage meltdown, job losses for 2008 at 2.6 million people, and the many global financial failures and companies like Coventry Health Care, Inc. While some media conservatively report harsh damages to our economy, others state that our economy is devastated.

There’s more to this story, I believe. It’s a new opportunity to begin again. While the corporate landscape is changing, transparency and regulations are now the buzzwords of the Obama administration. Change is coming as our country returns to the values upon which we were founded in 1776. Bring on the light so the darkness will finally be revealed and the healing can begin.

Tuesday’s Tale
The Light

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” ~ Albert Einstein

It has always been the function of the mainstream media to inform. Sadly, I believe, the landscape has changed.

MSM (mainstream media) was never interested in examining the facts and allegations regarding abuses by Coventry Health Care Inc. and the West Virginia Insurance Commission. MSN that includes highly respected media: The Washington Post. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. PBS. NPR of West Virginia, AP of West Virginia. The Charleston Gazette. Ogden Newspapers of West Virginia.

A shocking response of indifference that effectively closed down my story for too long a time. In rejecting this story, did any one individual consider the well-being of the market area their media serves?

For several years I have attempted to make the public aware of the injustices in West Virginia’s health system and its regulatory agencies. Lead after lead to mainstream media fell on the deaf ears of the powers-to-be who decided which story the newspaper would print and which would be ignored. Why were they ALL silent?

Tuesday’s Tirades and Tales resulted from my frustration with the lack of interest of MSM in shining a light on injustice in West Virginia. Little did I know that I had entered upon a new news media that is fiercely powerful in promoting good. Bloggers who are passionate and determined have changed history. One might think back to the demise of Trent Lott, Dan Rather, John Kerry and many others. There will be more.

With a passion for justice but little direction I developed Tuesday’s Tirades and Tales in June of 2008. I bungled through my mistakes and attracted attention to the issue of the health care crisis and the indifference and corruption of West Virginia public officials. Why the interest in my blog? I had something to say to others who shared similar experiences. The pieces are falling into place.


Recently, I discovered a practical handbook to blogging written by the editors of the Huffington Post with introduction by Arianna Huffington. It is entitled Huffington Post’s Complete Guide to Blogging. It is substantive and offers practical advice to prospective bloggers, insuring that we all will get off the ground running.

In the weeks to come you will discover that the look of my blog will change to allow for more information from a wider range of sources and to incorporate an exchange of experiences, hoping that this blog will become a place to be. Huffington Post’s Complete Guide to Blogging has given me the blueprint to build a community. My goal is to make this blog more of a public face and spotlight the suffering endured by many. It will enlighten others as to the greedy, proud, unscrupulous ways of those who operate in the dark.

My friends, bloggers are moving mountains. We’re the new media. You might just say we are “civic journalists” a concept pioneered by Jay Rosen who founded the blog OfftheBus. Whatever you call us, we are sounding alarms and making big differences. It feels so good…

Yes. The world is still a dangerous place. Today, however, with the power of using our voices to blog about important issues, it’s a little less dark. Sort of like looking outside at 5 p.m. today and seeing that it is still light. Have you noticed? The darkness is already beginning to recede.

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