Archive for August, 2013

Si Se Puede

August 25, 2013

            In an article entitled “Sebelius: Misinformation is Obamacare Enemy No. 1” (8-15-13) Wall Street Cheat Sheet’s Meghan Foley writes: “A speech given by Department of Health and Human Services (NYSE:HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius before the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Summit in Atlanta, Georgia on Monday was meant to highlight the efforts the Obama administration was making to help states “meet the challenges” of implementing the Affordable Care Act. But the comments Sebelius made in an interview after the speech carried a much stronger indictment of what she believes to be the main problem facing implementation: misinformation.” Midway through the same article Foley interjects: “Education of some form is needed; a Kaiser Family Foundation showed in April that more than 40 percent of Americans are confused as to the legal standing of the Affordable Care Act, and the administration is hoping as many as 7 million Americans who are not covered by employer-sponsored insurance plans sign up by early next year.” The article ends with “As for the success of Obamacare, states like Georgia that have declined to expand Medicaid present “a big challenge” for enrollment efforts, she [Sebelius] added.”

 

            The Affordable Care Act, referred to as Obamacare by its detractors, certainly is surrounded by misinformation and deliberate attempts to destroy it by whatever means (“In Congress, Senator Mike Lee of Utah and a small group of other Republicans have threatened to force a federal government shutdown unless President Barack Obama agrees to cut Obamacare funding from the fiscal 2014 budget.” Same article). There is obviously a plethora of misinformation available from innumerable sources (contributing to the nascent scam industry that feeds on such nationally recognized and embraced disinformation). Some things we do know, or can put together from what is out there. First of all that Ohio, like Georgia, has declined to expand Medicaid and therefore presents a “big challenge”. We also know that Newark is located in central Ohio and that probably, at least 40 percent of the population are confused in terms of where they stand within the Affordable Care Act and the lack of an expansion of Medicaid. As pointed out in the previous post, no official state funded resources will be utilized to help these tax payers learn about this, a travesty of what government purports to be about. And yes, they are taxpayers. If you don’t believe it, look at the recently enacted Ohio budget which raises the sales tax in addition to shifting the burden on other taxes.

 

            To become informed of the various mechanisms and contents of “misinformation” is not the purpose of this posting. Articles like that are as plentiful (and available) as tabloid articles regarding Hollywood stars. Sources like The Wall Street Cheat Sheet satisfy content requirement by writing articles about the misinformation mills. Some things multiple sources seem to confirm. Writing for the Motley Fool Keith Speights writes (7 things you need to know about Obamacare before 2014 8-24-13): “You could have to pay a penalty if you don’t have health insurance. You will be required to pay a tax penalty if you’re not covered by an acceptable insurance policy. The penalty for 2014 will be the greater of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child up to a $285 family maximum or 1% of income above a specified filing threshold ($10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a family) — whichever is greater.” Unfortunately no one informs how this penalty will be actually assessed – ticket in the mail, court summons, lien, etc. “Under the ACA, insurance plans offered in the individual and small group markets will be required to cover a particular set of benefits and services called the “essential health benefits” package. These cover services in at least 10 categories, including prescription drugs; emergency services; hospitalization; mental health disorder services, and others. Some of those benefits haven’t been previously covered by plans. Additionally, consumers can’t be denied coverage because of their health status as they can be now in some states.” (5 Things to Know About the Cost of Obamacare Coverage By Lisa Scherzer | The Exchange  8-19-13) Writing for Money Talks News (8 Steps to prepare for Obamacare 8-22-13) Angela Brandt states: “So, if you currently have an individual policy — some 15 million Americans do – you may or may not want to keep it. Or you may find that your insurance company is eliminating your plan and replacing it with plans that meet the new standards for care.”

 

            OK, so from others we learn that everyone needs to get involved with obtaining health insurance and that under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, no one can be denied coverage because of any pre-existing condition, or financial status. If you already have health insurance through your employer and it doesn’t cover the “essential health benefits”, you can opt out and obtain coverage through that provided by an exchange through the ACA. In an article entitled “Analysis: Many insurance options under exchange Analysis finds most of Wisconsin will have multiple insurance options under new exchanges” the AP’s Scott Bauer (8-23-13) writes: “In Wisconsin, about 92,000 people currently on Medicaid will be losing their coverage starting in January. Gov. Scott Walker, an opponent of the federal law, toughened Medicaid eligibility, forcing those people off of the state’s BadgerCare plan and into the marketplace.” As Ohio has no Medicaid expansion involvement, those in Newark who have no health insurance coverage (through their employer or otherwise) and who would have qualified for inclusion in the Medicaid coverage (because of their financial status or otherwise) MUST involve themselves in participating by obtaining health insurance coverage through the federally established health insurance exchange. The State of Ohio will not be providing a health insurance exchange so don’t call Ohio’s tax payer funded public servants like Jay Hottinger, Tim Schaffer or John Kasich if you need help, education, or assistance.

 

“Si se puede.” Together we will investigate and discover how this can be done in future posts.  

 

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If The War Was Over We’d All Be Cheering

August 22, 2013

            The other day the AP reported the results of a recent poll in California regarding the Affordable Care Act. “The Field Poll, surveying uninsured, lower-income voters who it said would qualify for coverage, found slightly more than half either did not know it or believed the opposite — that they were not eligible. Forty-eight percent were aware they could qualify, the poll found. The margin was even wider for voters currently not covered by an employer or government program but who would qualify for tax credits when purchasing coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which takes full effect next year. Two of three of those voters either did not know about their eligibility for the tax breaks or thought they would not qualify.” (Poll: Many who could get ‘Obamacare’ don’t know it AP 8-21-13). Motivation for passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was twofold – including as many Americans as possible within health insurance coverage and through this mechanism, gaining some control over the rising cost of health care in this country. The objectives “seem” to make sense. As the cost of health care rises unchecked, the number of those being unable to afford it (or the insurance to cover it) will grow. The situation parallels that of higher education in this country. As cost go up, those able to afford it decreases. Yet economic forecasts indicate the demand for uneducated workers decreases with the ever developing technology of today’s world.  So health care, like education, is a national concern with a direct correlation to the security and overall well-being of our country. Unfortunately, both of these are not deemed to be such (critical to our security and well-being) by all the leaders of our country. No alternative to the Affordable Care Act has been formulated, let alone presented, to address what motivated the law that was passed and found constitutional. Instead, every means possible to defund and negate the law have been put into play, with a proposed shut down of the government of the United States of America suggested for late September. Here in Ohio, one aspect of the law that the Supreme Court ruled was not correct (mandatory Medicaid expansion by the individual states) has been embraced as a means of dismantling the law. Another is the non-institution of the state health insurance marketplace, which the state legislators chose to defer to the federal authorities. The roadblock was expanded through the ingenious logic that since all this falls under the purview of Ohio’s insurance laws, those offering guidance and assistance must be officially licensed as “navigators” by the state of Ohio. The legislated total number possible is less than the total number of counties in the state. You do the math.

 

            This blog’s 3-6-13 post (Updated Statistics) gave 2011 US census data for Newark. That data indicated that per capita income for 2011 was listed as $21,951, median household income between 2007 and 2011 came out as $37,927, and the number of persons below the poverty level for 2007 – 2011 at 20.1% of the population. This data also breaks down the number of households in Newark and their income. Approximately 85% of the households in Newark are below the $92,000 annual income category that is one of the thresholds in The Affordable Care Act. That threshold applies to a family of four. Of course, many of these households will not be a family of four. The important point is that so many, probably more than half of the households in Newark, are eligible and enabled to obtain health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Yet there is a virtual news blackout with regard to how to go about doing this, who is able to inform the potential purchaser about obtaining coverage, and what to expect from this coverage. In its place we have obfuscation and brinksmanship without any alternative presented as to how to get as many Americans covered by health insurance and bring health care costs within reason. If you are an individual who has never had health care because you can’t afford it (with a per capita income well under the affordable care individual cut off of $45,000, a great number of the citizens of Newark) or you are employed where insurance is offered but not for you because of some employer restrictions or policy, or you are unemployed, a student, etc., well, in Ohio today, you are in the company of mushrooms with regard to how to obtain health insurance coverage.

 

            Currently Ohio has opted out of the Medicaid expansion which complicates matters for the over 20% of Newark residents that could be, would be, or are included. Determination of such expansion is once again in the hands of those who favor brinksmanship instead of acting in serving and assisting all their constituents. This blog will attempt to present what is known and doable regarding the Affordable Care Act with its future posts. If the war was over we’d all be cheering. Here an achievement has been made, an end reached, and yet everyone is silent. Is this because we are a people, a culture that only understands a perpetual state of war – the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on crime, the war on …?

           

Follow Up To Economic Discourse In The US

August 11, 2013

            Economic Discourse In The US (7-28-13) attempted to initiate an inquiry into the benefit and appropriateness of racial categorization when discussing matters of economics, whether it contributes or only furthers the status quo. 18th and 19th century imperialism created categories of race as an obscene legalism to justify inequities. Yet somehow these categories persist in so many matters of importance today. Many call for a discussion, a discourse on race within the US. It is long overdue, not because past and present inequities must be addressed, but because so much regarding this subject is delusional, starting with the original categorizations brought on by 18th Century colonialism and punctuated by the hallmark myth of “racial purity” with 20th Century fascism. The delusions only grow and get more complicated with each day. An AP news story out today (8-10-13) underscores the burgeoning tragedy, spreading misery over time. South Carolina Authorities Issue Warrant in Adoption Case continues the adoption case of 3 year old Veronica Brown, Capobianco or Maldonado depending on how one “categorizes” a little girl. Again, as mentioned in Economic Discourse In The US, children are powerless in the US. Their identity is determined by others. In this case the categories utilized reside in the legalism of the 19th century. No mention is made of the irony of this entire travesty. In the 19th century President Martin Van Buren ordered the Cherokee nation expelled from its native territory of western South Carolina, and exiled to the “territories” of Oklahoma. In 2009 Chrissy Maldonado (race not specified) gave birth to a girl, naming her Veronica and fathered by Dusten Brown (at the time also unspecified). Maldonado decided to place the child up for adoption with the biological father’s tacit consent (deferring parental responsibility to Maldonado’s decision to place the child up for adoption). Matt and Melanie Capobianco adopted Veronica and provided her a home until 2011. Dusten Brown had a change of heart and sued for custody under the Federal Indian Child Custody Act. Mr. Brown now identified himself as having Native American ancestry, thus Veronica now became identified as Cherokee. Like her ancestors before her, she was uprooted from her home and relocated to Oklahoma. Another slew of law suits all the way to the US Supreme Court and back down again to the South Carolina Family Court which granted adoption (and return) of Veronica to the Capobiancos. Confused? You should be with all the legalities from start to finish always tainted by race, specified or unspecified (was the child listed as ? on the birth certificate, or race of mother, or was deference made to the 19th Century practice of establishing percentage of blood for purposes of determining racial purity, or did the racial composition evolve with time, or was it a grave injustice that no racial identity was indicated to begin with, etc.?). But wait, there’s more. Chrissy Maldonado has filed suit with the US Federal Government that the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional. “Maldonado has claimed that the law uses race to determine with whom a child should live, and therefore is a violation of equal-protection laws.”

            Yes, a national discussion on 19th Century delusional categories of race and 20th Century fascist delusions of racial purity is definitely long overdue.

Cake

August 9, 2013

             “Having your cake and eating it too”, usually mentioned when someone proposes something the completion of which or enactment also includes the opposite being accomplished; having it both ways. An online article submitted by Central Ohio.com (8-7-13) entitled “State absorbing health cuts Little of loss will be passed on to local officials” reports on the effects of the federal budget sequester for the state’s health departments (overseen by the state of Ohio). Ohio stands to lose 10 million dollars for public health services. As reported: “Dr. Theodore Wymyslo, state health director, on Wednesday said the state is taking actions, such as not filling vacant positions, to absorb most of those costs.” July 16, 2013 Kent Mallet reported in the Newark Advocate that “Owens Corning hiring 25 workers Several local businesses looking into expansions”. Good news indeed. However, upon reading the article it becomes apparent that ““All hiring is due to natural attrition/retirements,” Hartlage [Owens Corning spokesperson Chuck Hartlage] stated in an email response to questions. “Employment has not increased, as we are backfilling positions due to retirements and planned retirements.”” Grow Licking County was quick to find its way into the article though no new jobs were created (as promised, first class marketing and PR). “Dan Evers, director of Grow Licking County, said the county is attracting development interest, with 55 potential outside investment opportunities, including 30 initiated since April.” Again, as with the Owens hiring headline, a little later one reads, “Of the 55 opportunities, Evers said 17 conducted site or community visits with Grow Licking County and 26 requested additional information. One potential consolidation/ expansion project would retain and add local manufacturing jobs, according to the Grow Licking County report. The company’s corporate officials are reviewing an incentive package.”

            Analysis notes that Owens, though not expanding, hires in order to maintain capacity in its production, to meet the demands of its endeavor. Without a workforce in place, the work would not be done; products and services would not be provided. The state, on the other hand, plans to do the exact opposite of the private Owens Corning by eliminating capacity and not replacing losses due to “attrition/retirements”. Without a workforce in place, public health work will not be done; public health services and products will not be provided. The logic of “having it both ways” (win-win) is championed loudly today by public/private enterprises that promulgate opportunity and potential (both of which are all that Grow Licking County has to show in the 7-16-13 Kent Mallet report.  Owens, at least, is sustaining the status quo, with or without “an incentive package” even though they are technically not “grow”-ing). The etymology of the word “promulgate” can shine some light on this logic that is currently embraced and championed by so many in our budget defining legislature. Wiki shows one of the roots to be the Latin “mulgeo” which is to milk. Being able to milk the potential of having one’s cake and eating it too is ideal, if not perfect, marketing.