Health reform: Where the money will come from and Larry Ellison: Make America’s Cup about sailing, not money

Democrats pushing for health care reform are closer to the finish line than ever, but it’s not over yet. And the question of cost will remain a central issue in coming days. On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office weighed in with a key — if still very preliminary — cost estimate.

The latest bill is a mix of provisions from a bill the Senate passed last December and proposals made by President Obama recently.

Like the Senate version, the so-called reconciliation bill would provide government subsidies to low- and middle-income families buying health insurance on their own, expand eligibility rules for Medicaid and provide coverage for a majority of uninsured Americans.

The whole package will cost $940 billion over 10 years to provide expanded insurance coverage, according to the CBO forecast. In addition, the new plan could reduce the deficit by $138 billion over the first 10 years — $20 billion more than the Senate bill. [Read the full article]

There is the taunting Larry, for instance, who delights in provoking whichever adversary crosses his sights. Then there’s Larry the aesthete, a collector of Japanese art and patron to the artisans who crafted his Zenful California home. Less remarked upon is the shrewd Larry, builder of the strategically astute business juggernaut known as Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500).

It is only a bit surprising, then, to see yet another facet of the software mogul on a Saturday morning in late February at San Francisco’s City Hall. Behold Larry Ellison, statesman, whose dream is to transform the world’s most prestigious sailing race, the America’s Cup, into a competition for mere millionaires, rather than billionaires like himself.

Standing beside the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, and before former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz (whose wife, Charlotte, is the city’s head of protocol), a beaming Ellison introduces his BMW Oracle Racing team. [Read the full article]

The trouble is, these are people I don’t know so well (and who aren’t familiar with my past work except maybe secondhand), and somehow I can’t bring myself to do it. I keep putting off picking up the phone, or even approaching people on LinkedIn. I just dread cold calling. I’ve always been a little on the shy side, but this is ridiculous. Do you have any tips that might get me going? — Procrastinating Pam

Dear Pam: You’re certainly not alone in feeling awkward about reaching out to virtual strangers. [Read the full article]

The 39% price hike Anthem Blue Cross of California recently whacked many of its individual policyholders with, touching off a national firestorm, didn’t surprise Massachusetts entrepreneur Casey Sewall. It’s the exact rate jump Blue Cross hit Sewall with in December for the HMO plan that insured his 15 workers.

I thought, ‘Geez, 39% must be the magic number, says Sewall, the president of Kahians Appliance One, a retailer in Hanover, Mass. Our health-care system is upside-down. In most industries, companies don’t like to lose customers, but Blue Cross gave me a take-it-or-leave it offer.

He left, switching to a Harvard Pilgrim plan, but his premiums are still 21% higher than they were last year.

Health insurance costs have long been a top complaint among small business owners. But every year the current system remains in place, the pain grows deeper. [Read the full article]

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