JP Morgan & Frontline’s Money Power & Wall Street Propaganda Series

Frontline: Money Power & Wall Street

Quotes below are from an edited transcript of an interview conducted by producer Martin Smith on Feb. 6, 2012.

“So it takes rocket science to — I mean, — (laughs) — these are very complex deals, correct?”

[Martin Smith to Terri Duhon, Feb 6 2012, during interview for Frontline’s “Money, Power & Wall Street” series.]

I’m not the brightest bulb in the box. I’ve never been able to balance my checkbook and yet after watching this series I had a general understanding of CDO’s. One of the few good things I can say.

While it may take rocket science to understand the complexity of the deals, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Frontline’s much touted series had an agenda. Nor does it take a rocket scientist to figure out that the disingenuous comments by Terri Duchon (joined JPMorgan as a derivatives trader in 1994) and the interviews with others about JP Morgan’s 20-something wiz kids who came up with the idea of complex derivatives were contrived to manipulate our perceptions of those behind the melt-down.

Terri Duchon:

“They are complicated. But for someone who is well versed in fixed income products or who has been looking at portfolios of fixed income products for a long time, it’s not that much of a leap from what they’re currently looking at. So if you’re looking at individual bonds and loans, already thinking about them on a portfolio basis, and then thinking about the tranches of risk isn’t that much of a leap.”

Martin Smith:

“OK. But by that argument, why did other banks go forward when your bank and your team decided to stop? So if it’s not so complicated, why did so many others keep going, marching toward the cliff?”

Terri Duchon:

“Look, very simply, there are certainly some investors, some banks, some borrowers who are a bit greedier than they should be. And we decided to stop because the products just got more and more risky. The risk became something that we weren’t comfortable with.”

Apparently JP Morgan did not stop as the $2 billion loss this past week was not due to a hedge gone wrong but to another failure of complex derivatives trading. Trading a product that doesn’t exist, gambling high stakes on a poker hand without the advantage of being an autistic card counter.

Watching the show as it aired, I was shocked by the way the JP Morgan 20-somethings were allowed to portray themselves as ‘kids’ without a clue as to what would happen with their new idea. These were adults trained to think ahead, whose jobs inherently required long term financial forecasting. To say they were ‘unaware’ just shows how creatively manipulative they are. Ms. Duchon and others from that group were a bunch of 20-something psychopaths whose job it was to come up with plan to hide risk in a way that wouldn’t show up on the charts. I can imagine them all high 5’ing each other and yelling “OMG!!! WE RULE!!!!!” when they came up with the idea.

And then again after Frontline aired.

The list of experts not chosen for interviews says as much about Frontline’s agenda as the list of experts interviewed. With Frontline’s typical lack of balanced and informed viewpoints, it watered down to nothing more than anti-Obama propaganda, the kick off for another election season. Not that it matters much. Anyone who thinks one politician is different from another… well, I can’t help you. Please seek professional help.

Have we all seen enough of smirking bankers and Wall St. execs wending their way through crowds of angry citizens to collect their bonuses yet? MOVE YOUR MONEY out of these predatory financial monstrosities and into community banks and Credit Unions.

Recommended viewing:

Bill Moyers Interviews David Stockman on Crony Capitalism of Washington & Wall St

Recommended additional reading:

Practically anything on ethics and, even with his occasionally flawed constructs, Ernest Becker’s “The Denial of Death.”

My Manic-Depressive Down Slide: Hoarders, Phil Ochs, and Woody Allen

Caution: While I feel compelled to entertain everyone in my other life, I don’t feel that same compulsion online. You might want to stop here.

I’ve been curled up in a ball for at least a week now. I haven’t been this depressed in at least 20 years. Suicidally depressed. And for no reason. It’s just the way things go. Nothing major has happened. I’m not sad. I’m just super humongously depressed. There is a difference.

But try explaining that to people who don’t go through such things. A friend called and asked if I was OK since I hadn’t been calling her daily. I have no idea how that became a requirement of our acquaintanceship. I told her I was depressed. She went into a screeching flurry of “Why would you be depressed? I’m the one who should be depressed. I’ve got [… her usual litany of every single medical thing that’s wrong with her and that she imagines is wrong with her].” I put the phone on the desk and gave her the “Look of Death” from the privacy of my bedroom. I said “I am manic-depressive, remember? This is part of it. I don’t need anything to happen to make me depressed. Why don’t you ever understand this?”

When I don’t feel well I usually act like a sick cat. I go into hiding until I’m feeling better. But last night was so awful I thought I’d try something different. I called a friend. There was laughter and commotion in the background. He said “Hey, what’s up?” and I said “I’m suicidal. I know. Some way to start a conversation.” And I laughed a bit. He said “Oh don’t do anything like that. The world would be less without you.” And then he went on to talk about hard drives and what to do about some computer thing and such. Which I’m usually up for… but wasn’t exactly in the mood for last night. So I said “OK, see you.” and hung up. I understand. He didn’t know what to say. He was trying to get my mind off of whatever might be depressing me. What exactly does one say to a person who says they’re so depressed that they’re feeling suicidal? I guess something about hard drives is as good as anything.

Today I did something I haven’t done in over 20 years. I called the doctor at the “mental health” clinic. His assistant answered and after I explained (in 30 seconds or less) why I was calling she said, “Well then, I’ll connect you to a nurse.” The nurse turned out to be an answering machine: “Thank you for calling. Please leave your name and phone number. Be sure to spell your last name. I’ll return your call within 48 hours. If you feel you need help sooner, please call the Safety Zone. Have a great day!” I might have called the “Safety Zone” but when I called them soon after I arrived in Arizona in the ’90s, the person on call said, “Just go to sleep.” and hung up.

And they wonder why people shoot people in the head here in Arizona. I used to have a case manager. I used to have access to a therapist. I used to have access to groups. But now I have 5 minutes or less with a very nice doctor with a good sense of humor who says “What’s up? Need refills fax’d in for your prescriptions? OK, see you next month.”

The reason I don’t have access to anything else is because in June, 2010, while everyone was going nuts over SB 1070, Jan Brewer cut mental health care drastically. Everyone was divided up. Clients, including those classified as SMI (Severely Mentally Ill), were either “Title XIX (19)” or “Not Title XIX (19).” I was one of the latter. Believe me, there are so many former clients who have no idea what happened to them. All they know is that now they’re out on the street, have no meds or meds that don’t work, and no one to talk with anymore. Ah screw it. I’m not in the mood to explain it all right now. All everyone needs to know is that half the people formerly getting help are not getting help anymore.

[Someone just knocked on my door. They wanted me to do something for them on the computer. I said “I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well. Some other time. I really feel rotten.” And they just kept on going about what they needed done! What the fuck is it with people???]

I told my friend on the phone last night that maybe I hadn’t picked the best things to watch considering my mood. He asked what and I told him “the last episode of Hoarders and the American Masters documentary on Phil Ochs.” He said “Who’s that?” *sigh*

If I could think clearly (thanks for the irreparable brain-fuck, Clonazepam) I might be able to figure out the correlation between the two shows. How hoarding has become a cultural problem. Not particularly in the sense of material things but in a broader sense… America for Americans! Kill the poor! No Tax Hikes for the Rich! Cut Medicare and Social Security!

And so on… hoarding what we perceive as our gawd-given “American lifestyles” at the expense of anyone and everyone else. Perhaps that’s the connection. A political crossroads, one that Phil Ochs sang about until he was a worn out, manic-depressive drunk. Dead at 35.

Watching my way through the decades I lived though, re-living the promise and the failure, was very difficult though I’ve certainly watched it all in many other documentaries before this one. My daughter once said to me, “Your generation ruined everything.” and perhaps she’s right. I have nothing much good to say when Talking ‘Bout My Generation. I look around at the spoiled self-centered poorly educated children we raised who are now raising the next generation of spoiled sociopaths and I know that things are worse in many ways than before Phil Ochs started singing.

I might as well mention the two part American Masters documentary on Woody Allen here too since it fits in some odd way. I watched it a few days ago. They should have called it “Woody Allen: A Life Unexamined.” The documentary was more interesting than Allen himself which is sort of funny because it was about him. I was living in NY when Bananas came out and so of course I saw it in the theatre. Followed by other of his films. There were some great films, no doubt about it. Manhattan and Stardust Memories are most memorable for me.

I was very struck by the scene in Manhattan where Allen stood beside a skeleton in a classroom and read his friend the riot act on morality and ethics… ending with something like “… and when I thin out like this guy, I want to be well thought of.” Or some such. Though he has always said his films are not autobiographical, I could usually predict what he would do after seeing his latest film. While watching “Hannah and Her Sisters” I wondered if Mia Farrow was aware that she was playing herself and that Allen would be dumping her soon for someone much younger and needier. Apparently not. But even I could not predict that he would leave Farrow for her under-aged daughter, a daughter he’d helped to raise. I could not figure out how he got from Point A (being concerned about ethics and being well thought of when he thinned out) to Point B (screwing his step-daughter and then calling Farrow a lunatic when she reacted with hostility).

Allen ends one film and immediately starts on the next. He makes sure there is no time to stop and think about things he’s done. A life unexamined. And if he really believes that his films are not autobiographical then he is crazier than I am. The last film I ever watched by him was Mighty Aphrodite. Clever idea, horrible movie. Perhaps Woody Allen would do well to have a Greek Chorus following him around.

So how does Woody Allen fit with Hoarders and the Phil Ochs documentary? Hmmm…. maybe the belief that he is entitled to do anything he pleases regardless of the consequences to those around him? Not sure. I’m only sure there is a connection somewhere. The total lack of a code of ethics, a selfishness that is mind-boggling… perhaps that’s it.

Oh. The advice I got from my friend is that I “need to get out of myself.”

That feeling of needing to get out of myself… permanently… is what got me on the phone in the first place.

Photos: The Writing On The Wall at the “Mental Health” Clinic

Actually, it’s the writing on the table but that didn’t work very well for a subject line.

Taken on one of my visits in Sept 2011. I’m looking forward to February.

I’m so glad to see that everyone’s new generic meds (rather than the ones that had been working for them) are working out so well. And I’m so thrilled to see that after the drastic cuts in mental health care in AZ  (slipped through during the SB 1070 furor), the state budget now has a surplus. Jan Brewer can’t wait to spend it on stuff no-one wants or needs.

The second decrypted (mostly, the sun was not very accommodating that day):

I LAY HERE BEATEN TO A PULP
WITH BRAINS RUNNING DOWN THE CURB
ILL SEE YOU BITCHES IN HELL
IF IM LUCKY ENOUGH TO BURN
BROKEN RIBS LIKE TREE BRANCHES
SWELLING BRAIN IS AGONY
AND MY LEGS ARE NUMB XXXX CONT?
ILL PROBABLY SHIT AND PISS MYSELF FOR THE REMAINDER OF MY PITIFUL YEARS

DR x FUCKYZ
WITHERING ? TILL IM ENGULFED IN
DARKNESS AND FEAR x THEY COULD HAVE FINISHED
ME x INJURED CRITICALLY, INDEFINITELY x MY FATE
WILL NEVER COME x I DESERVE TO SUFFER IN SHOCK
I LIE IN AGONY HERE x

Romanticizing the Stoned: Hunter S. Thompson and Jim Morrison

After watching the documentary “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” a few months ago, I found myself in an unusual situation at 3am… still wide awake. Something about the whole thing had me riled up but I couldn’t figure out exactly what that thing was.

There was only one person I knew who might possibly have seen it. Since he gets up at some insane hour of the morning, I couldn’t call him and say, “Hey, this doco pissed me off for some reason and what did you think of it?” and “What the fuck? Johnny Depp, what the fuck???”

So I tossed and turned and when I finally did get to speak with him about it he couldn’t figure out why I was so worked up. OK, I admit it. He had a point. Nevertheless, I felt that something was terribly wrong with what I’d watched. And by the time I got off the phone I knew what had me pissed off. It was the deification of Thompson that had done me in.

Hell, why deify Thompson? He’d already done that himself… and made sure the faithful had an altar to gather around before he blew his buggy brains out. A big phallic altar in what had been, up till then, a pretty nice looking landscape. Sure, yah yah yah, Gonzo journalism gave us a few good quotable lines. But was Dr. Thompson enough of a genius to be a great writer without being drunk and/or stoned?

Or should that even be a litmus test for genius-ity?

What drew me into this brain drain again tonight was watching “When You’re Strange, a film about The Doors” that aired on PBS as part of the fabulous American Masters series. Again I found myself thinking, “There is nothing genius about being a stoned and drunken asshole! Do it sober and let’s see how much of a genius you really are.”

Was that really me thinking that? How the heck did I get to this point? Am I turning into my mother? After all, from age 14 through 30-something I rarely spent a day without some sort of drug or alcohol in me. I’d enjoyed Thompson’s writing back when. I was a huge fan of Morrison and The Doors back when too (still love ya, Ray). So… what is the problem?

I finally realized the drinking or drugging bothered me not at all. If people are driven or willing to go to the edge (or over) so they can reach inside and bring out a masterpiece or two or three then I say hurrah for them! And a round of absinthe and hydroponics for all of my friends! (wait, wasn’t that Mickey Rourke doing Bukowski in Barfly?). At any rate, I’m thankful to them all for the brilliant books or films or music or paintings or whatever it was they left behind.

What had me ticked off was the super-gigantic hypocrisy of worshiping the insanity rather than the work itself. The hypocrisy of a culture that raises drunken, drugged artists of one sort or another to ridiculous heights (and even ridiculously higher heights if they die young and/or commit suicide) and at the same time acts concerned about the ‘drug problem’ in this country and votes against legalization of medical marijuana and carries around plastic bottles of hand cleaner lest a germ land on their over-exercised stick bodies. The hypocrisy of living vicariously through a dead person.

And so what… what the fuck about Johnny Depp narrating the Hunter S. Thompson documentary?

Johnny Depp is the epitome of coolness. C’mon, just look at him! But it annoys me that he avidly worships screwed up nut bags. Hell, I too thought it was outrageously funny that Keith Richards told the world he’d snorted his father’s ashes! Bah, I was so disappointed when he crumbled under the outraged bluster of the washed masses and said he’d been joking… but… we know… he really did it! Still and all Johnny… Thompson too?

Now that I’m looking a bit closer, Johnny, you’re looking a little too old to be wearing your costumes on the street. Something I happen to know about since I do the same thing. I caught sight of my reflection in a window last year… black rasta hat, black jumper, sparkly shirt, old Docs…

and thought…

..

.

“If I had a mustache I could be mistaken for someone’s Italian great-grandmother.”

… And now that I have my Gonzo and The Lizard King and Mr. Depp puzzlement figured out and out of my head… I’m off to watch Jimmy Fallon.

Posted Elsewhere July 16, 2008 & June 25, 2010: AZ Dental Hell (or ‘The Case of the Purloined Posts’)

[NOTE: Please do not ask me for further information on persons or places from these old posts. I also will not give anyone a name or advice on lawyers. If you need general information on assistance sites or would like general ‘how to’ or ‘what can I expect?’ info I’d be more than happy to help. Thanks.]

Dental Disaster? Don’t Bite the Bullet, Bite Back!

It really ticks me off to be censored without notice and without valid or legal reasons. On the site where I’d originally posted this information I had all blog posts open to the public. When I looked last year (?), the first post from 2008 had been changed to ‘members only’ with no additional comments allowed. Eventually the post just… vanished. Until now. Thanks to the Wayback Machine and pages cached by search engines, not much on the web is ever gone forever.

The second post dated June 25, 2010 is still on that site but has been changed by powers unknown to be viewable only by me. Since it’s still there (for now) along with all comments posted before it was made non-public by who knows who, I’m including a screen cap of that also.

Though legally bound not to speak further on this matter after a certain date when a certain agreement was reached, this post (and others) had been posted prior to that date. I consulted my attorney and was advised that prior statements were not subject to the newly imposed conditions. I was satisfied since I’d written about the matter and had given ‘progress reports’ as time went on.

The info is important (to me at least) and possibly to anyone who might not know what to do after a dental disaster. Look before you leap into any kind of dental treatment. Make sure you Scroogle or Google or Bing for information first. What you find out about certain “professionals” may surprise and even shock you. All AZ Dental Board Hearings, Sanctions, Dentist and Dental Professional Records are public and online (including mine):

Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners

My original post not subject to legally imposed silence: “Finally… Dental Village, Tucson, PAYS UP!!! State Dental Board Case OVER!!! Lawsuit in Progress!!! FIGHT BACK!!!! Jul 16, ’08 5:10 PM” can be viewed via The Wayback Machine and/or the Gigablast Cached Page (the 8 comments on that post are no longer available for viewing) and in this screen cap of the WayBack cache:

And since it was obviously public when posted in 2010, here is the follow-up which has been changed to viewable only by me:

And that’s that.

Tucson Citizen Posts Medicare and United Health Care Statements

I see that while I was sleeping the past few days Medicare issued a statement about the United Healthcare / Health Net situation. A post on Tucson Citizen forced United Healthcare to issue a statement as well although I was told in December that they were not going to make the situation public.

For some odd reason, no-one commenting there seems to believe the statements. Perhaps it’s because the statements are unbelievable!

From the Tucson Citizen: Medicare Advantage: Enrollment fraud investigated in Tucson

And yes, I did add a comment there that goes a bit beyond what I posted here in December and includes a word or two about the relationship between Health Net, United Healthcare and OptumInsight (formerly Ingenix) which should interest anyone who still thinks their medical information is private.

My comment included here for the record and for searches:

January 7, 2012 5:21pm:

Ah, once again we see the “Business of Poverty” that Bill Moyers covered so well a few years back.

When I found out this happened to me on Dec 22 I was told by both HealthNet and United Healthcare that they were not going to make this situation public. I called local news stations, emailed a few newspapers and no-one would pick up the story. Since I felt the information was critical and time-sensitive I posted about it on wordpress:

Dec 23: Arizona Health Net Medicare HMO Customers Fraudulently Transferred to United Health’s AARP Medicare HMO as of 12.07.2011

Dec 27: Update on Arizona Health Net / United Health Care Fraudulent Transfer Applications

A short summery of some of what I say below can be found in those posts.

Some agent did this? Hardly likely. No mention that most of the ‘fraudulent applications’ used people’s old addresses. Or that to fill out such an application the “agent” would have to have known the Medicare start date for each individual. I don’t even know what mine is. I’d have to look at my Medicare card.

There is a long trail leading to this instance of Medicare slamming. United Healthcare was caught doing the same thing in Florida (another large elderly and disabled population) in 2007 and it was a major story then:

Florida Lawyer Brings Class Action Against UnitedHealthcare

http://norfolk.injuryboard.com/miscellaneous/florida-lawyer-brings-class-action-against-unitedhealthcare.aspx

And then there were the HealthNet disks stolen in 2009 while en route to somewhere during the transition period of United Healthcare’s buy out HealthNet North East.

Perhaps the disks finally showed up. At United Health Care.

And last October, 9 HealthNet servers went missing from the vendor IBM facility. HealthNet states that the thefts don’t affect clients in Arizona and so did not provide ID theft coverage.

And on and on and on.

There is no such thing as personal medical information anymore. If HealthNet didn’t get Arizonan’s info from the disks that went missing in 2009 or the servers that went missing in October 2011 they’d all still have everyone’s info available to them anyway since they all use Ingenix (a “Health Information Exchange”) which is owned by… United HealthCare (Ingenix changed it’s name to OptumInsight after the NY Attorney General sued them and United Healthcare in 2008 for using algorithms that defrauded both doctors and patients):

http://rtacpa.blogs.com/reedtinsley/2008/02/ny-attorney-gen.html

Please file a formal complaint with the AZ Department of Insurance:

http://www.id.state.az.us/consumerassistance.html

While other states have brought suit against HealthNet, United Healthcare and Ingenix Arizona seems to just let it all go by. Where is the AZ Attorney General?

Slammed By United Healthcare AARP Medicare Advantage in AZ? What To Do

If you or someone you know is affected by the Health Net / United Healthcare AARP Medicare Advantage slamming situation:

1. Call Health Net: Toll-Free: 800-977-7522

Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m, 7 days a week (Oct 15 – Feb 14) and 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m, Monday – Friday (Feb 15 – Oct 14)

2. Call AARP Medicare Advantage: Toll-Free: 800-643-4845

3. Call Medicare and file a grievance against both HealthNet and United Healthcare: Toll-Free: 800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE)

4. File a complaint with the Arizona Board of Insurance by phone and in writing:

Toll-Free: 800-325-2548
Phoenix: 602-364-2499
Hours: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

5. Contact your Arizona State Legislators and file a complaint against HealthNet and United Healthcare:

Arizona State Senate
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix AZ 85007-2890
Info Desk: (602) 926-3559
Fax: (602) 926-3429
Toll Free: 1-800-352-8404

Arizona House of Representatives
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix AZ 85007-2890
Info Desk: (602) 926-4221
Toll Free: 1-800-352-8404

Tucson Office
400 West Congress St.
Suite 201
Tucson AZ 85701
Senate Info Desk: (520) 398-6000
House Info Desk: (520) 398-6000
Fax: (520) 398-6028
Toll Free: 1-800-352-8404

6. Contact your US Congress Representatives and file a complaint against HealthNet and United Healthcare.

7. Contact your US Senators and file a complaint against HealthNet and United Healthcare:

Jon Kyl
730 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
Ph: 202-224-4521

John McCain
241 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
Ph: 202-224-2235
or
Call Locally: Local Office Locations

And then try really really really hard to imagine that heads will roll. Caution: Do not try this at home. Do not hold your breath.

Corporations are not People too: HMO’s

Why the hell do I use an HMO anyway?

It was a very difficult decision for me to switch from Medicare to a Medicare HMO. I’ve known for a very long time how evil HMO’s are. I felt guilty subscribing to something I was so politically opposed to and I’ve felt guilty about it every day since. HMO’s profit from denying people health services. HMO’s kill people.

The reason I finally switched is typical: I was trapped between a rock and a hard place. I could no longer afford the huge Medicare co-pays. It took me a year to compare all of the available HMO plans. I knew how each one was screwing people in detail. I wrote a detailed comparison of each plan’s costs and posted the results on the only relevant site I could think of at the time: the AARP site. Where no-one paid any attention to anything I said about plan costs and consequences.

Sure, Health Net saves me money. For now. But in the long run, when everyone is enrolled in some sort of HMO plan, you can be sure no-one will be saving any money. Except for those denied treatment for some life threatening medical condition because, of course, they’ll be dead.

The state of health care in the USA is outrageous and that people fight against establishing some sort of national health care system is just so… selfish. So short-sighted. So out of touch with reality.

Balancing the budget, particularly here in Arizona, is being accomplished by population cleansing: Cut as many services as possible for the mentally ill (and then act shocked when someone is shot in the head), the elderly, the disabled, the poor and hope they either die or go away. Far far away.

For those who feel that way, here is a visit from The Ghost of Your Life (Future). Who also happens to be The Ghost of My Life (Past):

You keel over from massive heart failure in your 40s and are barely able to dress yourself for a year.

You lose your job because you were sick and can’t get another because you’re ‘too old’ or ‘wouldn’t be satisfied with the salary we could pay you’ or ‘you don’t have typical office skills.’

Your health insurance runs out, your savings run out, you lose your car and then your home.

Your life changes completely in a second and that you become one of ‘those people’ who are ‘living off the government.’

You find yourself, after working for 35 years paying taxes high enough to support a family of 10 you’d never met, shit out of luck when it comes to getting any help yourself because your taxes went into the pockets of crooked politicians.

So many don’t really grasp the fact that their lives turn on a penny (yes, it used to be a dime but in this economy…). You are not irreplaceable. You could be the next person losing your job, your health, your home.

You can change your future starting now.

Wise up. Rise up.

Update on Arizona Health Net / United Health Care Fraudulent Transfer Applications

Although all fraudulent applications were dated Dec 21, I just received a letter from United Health Care yesterday stating they’d received my application for enrollment in their AARP Medicare Advantage Plan. If I did not want to be enrolled in AARP I should call immediately. Which I did.

I told the person at UHC that I thought I’d had this problem settled but perhaps not. When I asked to check that I had been disenrolled because I’d never applied she said ‘Oh, it’s one of those applications.’ I said ‘This seems to be happening to everyone in Arizona enrolled in a Health Net Medicare plan.’ She replied ‘Apparently so. There are at least 900 applications so far.’

On Dec 21, a Heath Net Supervisor told me 200-300. Now someone on the switchboard at UHC says it’s at least 900. Still no official public statement about this situation and the numbers involved from either United Health Care of Health Net.

I have filed a complaint with the Arizona Board of Insurance and encourage others affected to do the same.

I also encourage everyone to request an extension of the Identity Theft Protection and Credit Monitoring that was given by HealthNet to customers following the ‘lost disk’ incident in 2009.

Connecticut filed a class action lawsuit against Health Net and United Health Care following that incident yet Arizona never filed against them.

Perhaps it’s time for a class action suit.

Arizona Health Net Medicare HMO Customers Fraudulently Transferred to United Health’s AARP Medicare HMO as of 12.07.2011

If you live in Arizona and are enrolled in one of the Health Net HMO plans, keep a close eye on your mail! I received a letter from Health Net 3 days ago stating that I’d been disenrolled and that as of Jan 1, 2012 my medical services would no longer be covered by Health Net. Further down it said that if I thought I had not dis-enrolled that I should call them immediately.

Which I did since I had NEVER disenrolled. They’d received notice that I’d enrolled in United Health’s AARP Medicare Advantage plan so had canceled me. I insisted I’d never enrolled with AARP and spent the next 2 days on the phone. Is it just me? Oh no…… who knows how many in Arizona? Neither Health Net nor United Health will say and representatives from both companies told me they don’t plan on making this information public.

Have you received one of these letters from Health Net?

Health Net Letter 12-2011

Do you not bother to open your mail for weeks? Are you too busy at Christmas to look through your junk mail? Got the letter but have no idea what it all means? If any of the last three then you know why this is happening right at this time of year.

Don’t get caught unaware. For background information please follow the convoluted trail I’ve trudged since Dec 21, 2011:

In July 2009, United Health Care purchased Health Net of the Northeast.

Sometime in 2009 (March, May and November have all been stated by different agencies) a Health Net disk of unencrypted customer information was stolen while en route from California to Connecticut. Health Net didn’t report the missing disk until November 2009. I have not yet determined who that disk was going to: Health Net Northeast or United Health.

In January of 2010, the Connecticut State Attorney General filed against Health Net of the Northeast, Health Net of Connecticut, United Health Group and Oxford Health Plans for failure to report the lost disk.

In July of 2010 a settlement was reached and Connecticut collected damages. Additionally Health Net agreed to provide affected customers with 2 years of credit monitoring, $1 million of identity theft insurance and reimbursement for cost of security freezes. Health Net also agreed to a ‘corrective action plan’ to comply with HIPAA including among other provisions: Improved identity theft protection; system controls; management and oversight structures.

In 2011, nine Health Net servers of unencrypted information went missing from an IBM facility. Again Health Net did not notify anyone until at least 3 months later. Apparently HIPAA is not working or the puny fines companies are getting are worth whatever benefits they are reaping from unlawful practices.

Now in December 2011, Health Net customers in Arizona are being transferred fraudulently from Health Net to AARP Medicare Advantage without their knowledge or permission. It happened to me and Health Net would not give me any information on how many others were affected. I was told the problem will not be made public and investigation is still ongoing. A supervisor at Heath Net told me that it appears to be happening only in Arizona to those who had any sort of contact for any reason with Secure Horizons in the past 3 years. How the applications were filed depended on who I spoke with: Either by phone, by mail, or online. All are dated Decr 7, 2011 which was the last day of open enrollment.

How could contacting Secure Horizons in the past 3 years have anything to do with fraudulent transfers of Health Net customers to United Health Care’s AARP Medicare Advantage Program? Because Secure Horizons is also owned by… United Health Care. Would United Health really do such a thing? Since they’ve done it before, probably. They were dragged into court in 2007 for doing the same thing in Florida, another state with a large elderly population.

It seems clear to me that either:

1. The missing disk from 2009 is involved since the agreement of the sale of Health Net of the NorthEast to United Health that year allowed United Health, starting in 2012, to offer its Medicare HMO plans (which include AARP Medicare Advantage in Connecticut) to what were Health Net Northwest customers. And here we are in Arizona being switched from Health Net to United Health Care’s AARP Medicare Advantage plan without our knowledge or consent as of January 1, 2012.

2. The recently missing Health Net servers from the IBM facility do affect Arizona though Health Net says they don’t. In 2009 Health Net first said the lost disk would only affect certain customers and then 3-6 months later said it include more customers than first thought.

In any case Arizona customers have gotten the short end of the protection stick. At the very least, Health Net should extend the credit and identity theft protection for Arizona as well. The 2 years free credit monitoring and ID Theft Protection from the 2009 breach ended for me on December 21, 2011. Obviously, 2 years was inadequate. Are we now to pay for it ourselves?

Since Health Net would be liable to pay an additional $1/2 million in fines according to the settlement agreement reached in 2010 if the information on that lost disk was ever used for illegal purposes (eg: the misuse of personal information to file fraudulent application health care applications), I expect to see someone scapegoated for this.

I was told by another person from Health Net that this appears to have been the work of one sales person. I said I wanted the person’s name and other information because I plan on suing them. He said that he would give me that information after the investigation was over. I’m not going to hold my breath. In reality I doubt they can point to one person as the supervisor I last talked with told me the applications were filed online. A sales person would only be responsible if they’d personally signed people up for AARP. Did one salesperson submit hundreds (or more) fraudulent applications online? Did one salesperson process all of the fraudulent online applications? Neither scenario seems likely. Or were they submitted by phone or mail as others first told me?

Where did they get information including my Medicare coverage start date? I don’t even know that without looking at my Medicare card.

Those in Arizona who are too busy to look through their usual mail from Health Net, or who have no idea what the letter means, or can’t spend 12 hours on the phone trying to get it settled will be without medical coverage as of January 1, 2012.

Why are Health Net and United Health refusing to make this public? From past cases, this appears to be ‘business as usual.’

REFERENCES:

2007, Jul 25: Suit accuses United Healthcare of fraud, says the company enrolled a woman in a Medicare alternative she didn’t want

2009, Jul 20: UnitedHealthcare to Acquire Health Net’s Northeast Licenses and Rights to Renew Membership

2009, Jul 21: United To Acquire Northeast Health Net Assets

2009, Nov 19: 1.5 Million Medical Files At Risk In Health Net Data Breach

2010, Jan 21: Doctors fear privacy sold in HealthNet sale

2010, Feb 1: Conn. medical society sues to block United-Health Net deal

2010, Aug 16: United-Health Net deal survives legal challenge

2010, Jan 13: Health Net, Inc. Connecticut Security Breach Lawsuit Plaintiffs [Health Net and affiliates: Health Net Of The Northeast, Inc., Health Net Of Connecticut, Inc., United Health Group Inc., and Oxford Health Plans, LLC. See ‘Documents’ links at bottom for PDFs of court documents.]

2010, Jul 7: Health Net Settles Breach Suit, Pays $250,000 in Connecticut Case

2011, Mar 14: Health Net Questioned About Second Security Breach In Two Years

2011, Mar 14: Health Net Press Release: Health Net, Inc. Investigating Unaccounted-for Server Drives

2011, Mar 14: Missing Health Net drives contained members, employees, and provider information

2011, Mar 14: CT AG wants Health Net to do more for consumers affected by breach

2011, Mar 14: Yet another Health Net breach raises disturbing questions

2011, Mar 14: HealthNet and HIPAA Again… So, Does HIPAA Work?