Dude, Where's Our Surgeon General?

Last July, President Obama nominated Regina Benjamin, M.D., an African-American doctor from rural Alabama and recipient of a 2008 MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," to be the next Surgeon General, the nation's top public health official. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously approved her nomination, but even now, in the middle of a flu epidemic, the full Senate still has not acted on it. Why? Because Senate Republicans are blocking approval of Dr. Benjamin's nomination in homage to the health insurance industry. Republicans are trying to pressure the [[Barack Obama/Appointments and nominations as President
|Obama administration]] to end its efforts to hold health insurer Humana accountable for sending a misleading mailer out to its Medicare Advantage members to try and scare them out of supporting health insurance reform. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the mailer inaccurately stated that the proposed reforms would cut Medicare benefits and services. The mailer may have violated marketing rules that Humana must follow as a Medicare provider -- rules designed to prevent confusion about who is sending seniors information about their benefits (insurance companies or the government). Senator Max Baucus accused Humana of engaging in "scare tactics" to mislead seniors, and urged the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to take action. DHHS started an investigation into Humana's mailer and now Senate Republicans are holding up Dr. Benjamin's nomination to try and pressure DHHS into dropping the investigation.