Posts tagged ‘Healthcare Reform’

The Economic Case For Immigration Reform


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  • 16 Nov 2012 06:09 PM

    The Economic Case For Immigration Reform


    At this week’s presser, Obama said he wanted to introduce immigration reform “very soon after [his] inauguration.” Julia Preston sums up the president’s plan:

    Mr. Obama made clear he intends to push for broad-scope legislation that would include a program to give legal status to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country…. Mr. Obama said he also wanted to strengthen border security, punish employers who systematically hire unauthorized workers, and make visas available for farm workers and immigrants working in science and technology. 

    The above chart is from a 2010 Center for American Progress report (pdf) that projects immigration reform could add a potential $1.5 trillion to the US GDP over 10 years. Jordan Weissmann unpacks it:

    [The report’s] calculations are based partly on the impact of the Reagan administration’s 1986 immigration reforms, which gave legal status to about 3 million undocumented individuals. That, in turn, gave those workers leverage to bargain with their employers for higher paychecks, while giving them an incentive to learn English so they could advance in the workplace. … Extrapolating from that history, CAP believes that giving today’s 11.3 million undocumented immigrants a route to citizenship could increase their collective earning power by as much $36 billion a year.

    Free Exchange highlights similar findings:

    Even a modest … easing of restrictions could be very rewarding. Lant Pritchett of Harvard University estimates that just a 3% rise in the rich-world labour force through migration would yield annual benefits bigger than those from eliminating remaining trade barriers. The incorporation of women into the rich-world workforce provides an analogy: this expanded the labour supply and the scope for specialisation without displacing the “native” male workforce.

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Obamacare Won’t Get Repealed States Must Now Act



Obamacare won't be repealed. States now must act. (via The Christian Science Monitor)

Mitt Romney declared many times during his campaign that he’d “repeal Obamacare on day one” of his presidency. But as House Speaker John Boehner said this week, “the election changes that.” The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare,” as everyone now calls it –…

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Republican Officials Work ‘Under The Radar’ To Implement Obamacare In Their States


Republican Officials Work ‘Under The Radar’ To Implement Obamacare In Their States.

By Tara Culp-Ressler on Sep 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney
Republican lawmakers are continuing to delay setting up the state-run health insurance exchanges required under Obamacare as an act of resistance against President Obama’s health reform law. Even though the federal government will be forced to step in to implement exchanges for the states that don’t turn in their exchange plans for approval by November, some Republican governors are refusing to work on exchanges until after the election in case Mitt Romney wins and repeals Obamacare. However, despite the political battle over health care reform, not all Republican officials are convinced that refusing to set up health exchanges is the best course of action.

Reuters points out that some GOP officials like Mike Chaney, Mississippi’s insurance commissioner, have quietly worked against their party to take steps toward creating state-level insurance exchanges. Although his state’s lawmakers are deeply opposed to Obamacare — Mississippi was one of the 26 states that sued the administration over the health reform law — Chaney explained that resisting Obamacare’s health care exchange will force state officials to scramble after the November election:

Insurance officials like Chaney, however, want a better contingency plan in case the Republicans lose, as the 10-day window between the election and the exchange deadline will not give them enough time to prepare an exchange.

“They can’t just leave this to the will of the wind,” Chaney said in an interview.

“This isn’t about politics. It’s about following the law,” he added. “And I think I’m better equipped to operate an exchange in my state than the federal government.”

Chaney is not the only Republican to take this stance. Reuters interviewed half a dozen other Republican state health officials who agreed they would prefer to plan for state-run exchanges now rather than accept a federally-run exchange when the clock runs out, and some are working to do so. However, the contentious political climates in their states don’t always make this possible. Although Chaney said he worked “under the radar” to prepare for an exchange in Mississippi, mounting pressure from conservatives in the state curbed his work in mid-July, and he has since released a statement promising to hold off on any further work toward establishing an exchange until after the election.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has already urged Republican governors to embrace health care reform and take the necessary steps to set up exchanges in their states. As Frist and Chaney both point out, state-run exchanges are actually consistent with conservative federalist ideals. If Republican legislators continue to block them, they could help prove Chaney’s assertion that “this isn’t about politics” very wrong.

California Tries to Lead Way on Health Law – NYTimes.com – California to Pave the way for Single-Payer


California Tries to Lead Way on Health Law – NYTimes.com.

SACRAMENTO — The meeting came to order, the five members of the California Health Benefit Exchange seated onstage with dozens of consumer advocates and others looking on. On the agenda: what to name the online marketplace where millions of residents will be able to shop for medical coverage under President Obama’s health care law.
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Times Topic: Health Care Reform

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Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Peter Lee

An adviser presented the options, meant to be memorable, appealing and clear. What about CaliHealth? Or Healthifornia?

Or Avocado?

“I am kind of drawn to Avocado,” declared Kim Belshé, a member of the exchange’s board of directors, which is hustling to make dozens of decisions as

Health Care Premiums Rise Modestly, Report Says – NYTimes.com


Health Care Premiums Rise Modestly, Report Says – NYTimes.com.

A family with employer-provided health insurance now pays just under $16,000 in annual premiums, an increase of about 4 percent over a year ago, according to a study released Tuesday by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

Individual policies purchased through an employer rose even less, increasing just 3 percent from last year to an average of $5,615, the study said.

“It is a year of very moderate increases in premiums and health care costs,” said Drew Altman, the chief executive and president of Kaiser, which tracks health care spending. The foundation surveys more than 2,000 small and large employers each year.

The increase, to $15,745 from $15,073, contrasts with the 9 percent increase Kaiser reported from 2010 to 2011, which gave rise to concerns that health care spending might begin rising rapidly again.

Kaiser said the lower premiums were a sign that the rise in health care costs continued to be modest. But the study’s authors were cautious about the explanation, wondering whether the smaller increases in recent years signaled the start of a long-term trend or were simply the result of a slow economy.

“We don’t know if health care premiums and costs will shoot back up and by how much when the economy improves,” Mr. Altman said. Insurers generally base the premiums they charge on what they expect the health care costs of their members will be.

Analysts generally agree that the deep recession and the sputtering recovery have helped keep health care spending — and insurance premiums — lower than the double-digit increases experienced in 2004 and before. In 2002, for example, Kaiser reported a 13 percent jump.

Part of the reason, they say, is that many consumers have decided not to go to the doctor or have elective surgery during the downturn because of higher out-of-pocket costs.

About half of workers covered by employers now have a deductible of at least $1,000 for individual policies. In 2007, only 21 percent of workers had deductibles that high, according to Kaiser. The study is being published online by the journal Health Affairs.

The report also looked at differences between how much employees are paying for premiums in companies where at least 35 percent of workers earn $24,000 or less a year, compared with how much employees are paying where at least 35 percent of workers earn $55,000 a year.

Employers typically ask workers to pay some share of the overall premium cost out of their paychecks.

Kaiser found that workers at places with more low-wage employees paid on average $1,000 more in premiums than those working at places employing more higher-earning workers. The low-wage employees paid, on average, nearly $5,000 for their share of premiums, while higher-earning individuals paid about $4,000, on average.

Paul Ginsburg, the president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonpartisan research group, cautioned against reading too much into survey results for any one year, especially since last year’s findings by Kaiser may have been high.

But, over all, he said, health care spending seemed to be relatively stable. “Recession and the slow recovery are probably the principal factor,” he said.

Some insurance executives are also cautious about predicting that health care spending will not rise rapidly, once the economy recovers. Many have been surprised at how much people have reduced their doctor visits. “I didn’t think I would see utilization this low, either,” said Janice Knight, an executive for Health Care Service Corporation, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans in states like Illinois and Texas.

Others speculate that there could be something more going on as both patients and doctors adapt to changes stemming from the federal health care law and a determination by private insurers to keep spending down.

When asked to share more of the cost of a branded prescription drug, for example, consumers were more willing to use generic medications, and the Affordable Care Act has numerous provisions that help rein in costs, said David Cutler, a health economist at Harvard University. “The slow economy is only part of it,” he said.

“Every data point makes me more likely to believe that this a fundamental change rather than just a temporary change,” said Mr. Cutler.
A version of this article appeared in print on September 12, 2012, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Health Care Premiums Rise Slightly.

Why Medicare Cards Still Show Social Security Numbers – NYTimes.com


Why Medicare Cards Still Show Social Security Numbers – NYTimes.com.

A Medicare identification card.The New York TimesA Medicare identification card.

Images of a woman waving her Medicare card on television at the Democratic convention last week in Charlotte, N.C., prompted the folks at Credit.com and others to ask: Why do Medicare cards still have Social Security numbers on them anyway, when access to the numbers can post a risk of identity theft?

The answer is that the federal government has been dragging its heels for years on making a change, because, according to various reports from the agency that oversees Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it would be both expensive and complex technologically to re-issue cards with new identification numbers.

According to testimony from a C.M.S. official before Congress in August, “transitioning to a new identifier would be a task of enormous complexity and cost and one that, undertaken without sufficient planning, would present great risks to continued access to health care for Medicare beneficiaries.”

About 48 million Americans carry Medicare cards that use their Social Security number as part of their health-claim number.

In a report issued in 2006, C.M.S. said it would cost $300 million to remove SSNs from Medicare cards. Then, in an updated report last November, it said it would cost at least $803 million, and possibly as much as $845 million, depending on the option chosen. Much of the cost, the agency said, was for upgrading computer systems not only at the federal level, but also at the state level, for coordination with Medicaid systems.

But the Government Accountability Office said in its testimony to Congress in August that the methods and assumptions that C.M.S. used to develop its costs estimates “raise questions about their reliability.”

“Lack of action on this key initiative leaves Medicare beneficiaries exposed to the possibility of identity theft,” the G.A.O. said. It recommended that C.M.S. select an approach to modify or remove the numbers from Medicare cards and develop an “accurate, well-documented cost estimate.”

According to the G.A.O., C.M.S. agreed with its recommendations and will conduct a new estimate with improved methodology. That’s likely to take some time. So don’t expect Medicare cards free of the numbers anytime soon.

Meantime, the AARP and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse suggest making a photocopy of your Medicare card, cutting it to wallet size and cutting out the last four digits of your Social Security numbers. Carry the photocopy in your wallet instead of the actual card. (You’ll still need your original card the first time you visit a provider, because they’ll likely want a photocopy of it).

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Bobby Jindal is Fighting Right of First Black Supreme Court Justice to be Chief


Bobby Jindal is Fighting Right of First Black Supreme Court Justice to be Chief.

Of course, if this were true, George W. Bush would not have ever been able to destroy our economy.

But let us not go down that rabbit hole, since we are told by peeved Republicans that we may not blame Bush for what he really did, because it never happened and if it did, it was Obama’s fault.

Justice Johnson took her case to federal court, to ask that her full tenure on the Supreme Court be reaffirmed. No word on whether or not Jindal is requiring her long form birth certificate yet, but double checking the worthiness of black people is always in the cards when those in power are trying to keep their racial discrimination under wraps. It turns out that the federal court agreed that her time served met the state’s constitutional requirements.

If you’ve read your history or even this article, you already know what Jindal’s argument was in his appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of the federal court’s ruling.

Say it with me: State’s rights! “The issue on appeal is not who should serve as the next Chief Justice, but whether the Louisiana Supreme Court should be prohibited by a federal court from interpreting the state’s constitution.”

That’s right, because remember, it was the federal court who ordered them to have a minority on the court in the first place. But who needs the feds telling bigots what to do? Way back in the good old days of the Civil War (where no doubt, Republicans aim to take us again), arguments for “state’s rights” were code for legislating racial discrimination. And nothing much has changed these days.

And it was a federal court that sided with Justice Johnson just six days ago:

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan ruled that Johnson had the seniority to succeed Chief Justice Catherine “Kitty” Kimball when she retires early next year.

Morgan validated Johnson’s service as counting toward having the longest tenure. Republicans will claim this is not about racism, and yet they have given no valid reason for fighting Johnson’s seniority other than her being forced upon them due to their racial discrimination, and given the reality that they were forced to have her on their court in the first place, it’s getting really hard to avoid the elephant in the room.

Even the mainstream media isn’t avoiding it, noting things like “Morgan sided with Johnson’s bid to become the state’s first black chief justice” and Reuters noting that Jindal is fighting the ruling that would “allow a black state supreme court justice to become the court’s next chief justice”, while noting not only Jindal’s racial make up, but the all white court. Clearly, the racial make up of the players is an issue.

They’re just not coming out and saying that yes, Bobby Jindal is engaging in racism and discrimination. And why? Yes, why would you suppose that Bobby Jindal would care who makes up the courts that will decide on things like whether or not Republican voter ID laws are fair and if their redistricting is fair? Heavens, we can’t have actual representatives of the people making decisions like that.

The Republican thinking goes something like this:

Have we seen Justice Johnson’s long, long form birth certificate? It’s not that we’re racists, it’s just that we don’t believe she’s qualified to do the job because her time serving the court is not as good as the white guy who served less time. It doesn’t count, see? She’s gonna have to prove through many, many courts that she is valid. And in reality, we really, really don’t want to be ruled by black people, because they will not agree with being suppressed by our laws, and that would be a real drag. Things work out so much better when the feds stay out of our business, and let us run things like we want to. Y’all might think black people have rights, but down here, we know how to keep ‘em in their place.

And their place is most assuredly not in the White House or as Chief Justice.

Southern strategy? We’re not racists! We love the coloreds. We just don’t want them in charge of anything. Especially after Barack Obama humiliated the white boys with his competency in cleaning up after their mess and then had the audacity to own it, taking even remote, proxy credit for making the decision to get bin Laden. We draw the line at letting the coloreds take credit for their work. They have to know their place. But it’s not about race; it’s about state’s rights to impose racial discrimination. Get it?
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Posted by Sarah Jones on September 8th, 2012. Filed under Bobby Jindal,Commentary,Featured News,Race,Republican Party,Sarah Jones. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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