Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Armed Teachers and Security Guards Aren't the Answer to School Murders Like Packland

Parkland Had an Armed Security Guard-He Couldn’t Stop the Massacre

The Republican solution to mass murder in our schools is to have more armed security guards and armed teachers in our schools.  The solution they propose to gun violence in schools is MORE GUNS IN SCHOOLS.  But, is that the solution?

How much time would armed security guards and/or armed teachers have to respond to an unexpected attack?  Here is what we learned at Parkland.

According to the Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Parkland High School had an armed security guard.  It did not help.   Kids still died.

 “He was on campus and he was armed,” Israel said. “At this point, the only thing I can tell you definitively is he never encountered Cruz.”

Here is the timeline of what happened at Parkland according to Time

2:21 p.m.

The shooter allegedly enters the school and takes his AR-15 out of a case. He begins shooting into three classrooms, returning to two of them, shot into another classroom, then shot into two more classrooms before dropping his rifle.

2:28 p.m.

The suspect is believed to have run outside, mixing in with students who were running away from the scene.


Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and wounded 14 in JUST 7 MINUTES.

According to Quora, the average owner of an AR15 uses a 30-round magazine.

“For an average shooter, you’re talking about a top speed of about two shots per second, which means you’re emptying a mag in 15 seconds. Reloading takes maybe four seconds, so it’s 19 seconds to empty a mag and recharge. So the effective rate is about 90 rounds per minute, not counting the time it takes to aim.”


Cruz easily could have fired 630 rounds (90 x 7 minutes) in the time he was in Parkland.  AND, the security guard at Parkland with a gun had no warning a mass murderer was about to enter the school. 


Bottom Line: No matter how many “good guys with guns” were in Parkland that day, the chances are they would not have had time to stop Cruz. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Republicans Are About to Turn Banks Free to Cause Another Great Recession

Hot on the heels of their 2.2 Trillion giveaway to the super rich and corporations, Republicans now are going to turn some of the biggest banks in the country lose to mismanage the economy right back into another 2008 recession.  Here it comes again.  Maybe I should say, here they go again.

You remember the Great Recession of 2008 don’t you.  Lax regulation made it possible for large banks to make a lot of money with risky loans.  When the bubble they created burst, American taxpayers were on the hook for well over $100 billion.  Worse, the unemployment rate rose from 5% to 10% in just over a year.  8 million Americans lost their jobs.  Housing prices fell 30% and stock prices fell 57%.  Many Americans ended upside down in their mortgages and lost their homes.  Others lost most, if not all, of their retirement savings. Working Americans lost $15 trillion in net worth or 22% of all they had struggled to create.  The Great Recession was the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

This misery was almost completely the result of the failure of U.S. and other governments to properly regulate large banks.  Given the freedom to gamble with other peoples money, the big banks did just that.  Bankers and hedge fund managers got super rich.  When their house of cards tumbled down, they got a bailout and working Americans paid the bill.

After 2008, Congress adopted banking rules and regulations designed to prevent or at least make a 2008 banking crisis less likely.

Republicans want to roll back those regulations and set 30 of the 38 largest U.S. banks free to engage in the same kind of speculative behavior that led to the 2008 crisis.  These banks hold $5.3 trillion in assets, 25% of banking sector assets in the U.S. These banks received $65 billion in a taxpayer-funded bailout the last time they screwed up.  They are confident American taxpayers will have no choice but to bail them out the next time.  There will be a next time if Republicans give them the freedom to gamble that they are seeking.

Republicans say these banks that are are bigly profitable and sitting on hoards of cash, need relief from the rules and regulations that require capital and stress tests to insure that their banking and lending practices are sound.  These banks argue they can make so much more money if they can just once again gamble with the assets of working Americans.

Read more at the links below.  Be sure to read the statement by Congresswoman Maxine Waters about the risk Republicans want to take with your money and why the so-called relief these big bankers want is not at all wise or necessary.

WRITE CONGRESS—SAY “NO” TO BANK DE-REGULATION

Here are some links where you can learn more about the risk Republicans want to take with YOUR MONEY:







Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Republican Tax Bill: A Lump of Toxic Coal for the Middle Class and Seniors

The Republicans are set to pass their tax bill.  It will be a shiny Christmas present for the rich and for corporations.  The Middle class and poor get a lump of coal, and a small lump of coal at that, one that will be taken away in a few years.  Here is the truth about what the Republican tax bill will do to our country.

13 million Americans will lose their health insurance so that Republicans can partially pay for their gift to the rich and corporations.  The % uninsured among the non-elderly will rise rapidly from 11% to 16% or more over the next few years.  See:  https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/republicans-considering-increasing-number-of-uninsured-by-millions-raising-premiums

Seniors receiving Social Security will see a benefit CUT to help pay for tax cuts for the rich and corporations that will start in 2018 and get bigger each passing year due to change in the way the inflation rate will be calculated by moving from the Cost of Living (COLA) to a Chained CPI.  Republicans argue that seniors can get by with less since they can just substitute a lower-cost item for the “luxury” goods they are currently purchasing.  For example, instead of eating steak every night, seniors can substitute dog food a few times a week.  See: https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-03-2013/five-reasons-chained-cpi-hurts-seniors.html

The Republican tax bill will add $2.2 trillion to the U.S. deficit between 2018 and 2027 by most estimates even though the Republicans use an accounting gimmick to make $2.2 trillion look like ONLY $1.5 trillion.  See: https://www.cbpp.org/blog/tax-bills-cost-could-hit-22-trillion-over-next-decade

The Republicans justify the suffering their bill will bring to seniors and the middle class by arguing that the tax gifts to corporations contained in the bill will result in:

1. Corporations expanded production capacity they do’t need
2. Corporations hiring workers they don’t’ use
3. Corporations increasing average wage rates because it is “the right thing to do.”

We are assured that corporations will not use the tax savings to pay CEOs higher salaries, provide greater dividends to their stockholders and/or to buyback their stock, which is what they have always done in the past.  See my previous post: Illogic on the Republican Tax Plan.

Republican tax bill—Bad for the middle class.  Bad for America.
Republicans in general—Bad for the middle class.  Bad for America.

It is too late to stop the Republicans from what they are doing to our country with this tax bill.  It is NOT for Democrats to mobilize to take back the House and Senate next year and the Presidency in 2020.  But, Democrats need your help if America is going to be made a Great Progressive Country again.

MAKE AMERICA PROGRESSIVE AGAIN.

Caps are for sale.



Friday, December 15, 2017

You will pay dearly for the repeal of Net Neutrality

The FCC has just repealed Obama-era Net Neutrality rules that insured that once you paid an Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and so on a fee, they had to give you free access to ALL legal content on the internet.  They could not charge you an access fee to stream a movie on Netflix or stream a ball game on ESPN.  Additionally, they could not charge content providers such as Netflix, ESPN, and so on a fee to have their content accessible over the ISP’s network.  That just changed.

The FCC, by resending what was called Net Neutrality, will now allow large ISP companies to charge whatever they want, not just for access to the Internet in general but to specific content.

As a result of this ruling, in the future you may have to pay a premium fee above and beyond what you are now paying to be able to access your favorite Internet sites.  Your ISP may say if you want to be able to reach some popular sites through their network then you have to pay them an extra fee on top of what you are currently paying to access that site.  Alternatively, your ISP may tell the sites that you want to reach that they have to pay the ISP a fee to use the ISP’s network to distribute their content.  Either way, your Internet bill is going up—maybe way up. 

This new FCC ruling is going to allow ISPs to operate much like cable companies.  You pay a basic fee and get access to a lot of channels/sites that you are not interested in but have to pay a premium to access the most popular sites.  You want to stream a movie from Netflix or Amazon Video, pay up.  You want to watch the Georgia Bulldogs defeat Oklahoma over the Internet, pay up.

It get’s worse.  Because of this new FCC ruling, your ISP has NO legal requirement to let you access ANY site.  They can block sites that are perfectly legal for any reason—the site owners didn’t pay a fee, the CEO of the ISP doesn’t like the site’s content, the ISP has its own competing shopping service and wants to make you use their service and not Amazon.  Maybe your ISP doesn’t completely block a site they dislike.  They just slow it down (throttle it back) to the point you get so frustrated, you sign off.

It gets even worse.  The Internet has thrived because it allowed every guy and gal with a new idea for a new service or product, every person who had something to say, every person with an interest to learn, an inexpensive platform to make their voice heard and to realize their dream.  For a small sum, you can go online and create a company that can reach millions.  You can go online and voice your opinion and recruit others to support your ideas.  I know.  I write this blog.  I know.  My wife and I run a online training company that would have been impossible for us to create if not for a free, open and un-controlled Internet.

Opponents of Net Neutrality say they want to keep the Internet free of government interference.  What we are getting with the end of Net Neutrality is an Internet that is CONTROLLED by some of the largest corporations in the world.  Net Neutrality DID NOT put the Federal government in control of the Internet.  Quite the opposite.  Net Neutrality insured that NO ONE, no company, no government, no person no matter how rich or powerful would control access to the Internet.  Net Neutrality insured that every American when he or she signed up for Internet service, would have access to the entire Internet, not just the sites that some powerful corporation or rich CEO wanted them to see.

ISPs say they would never do what I suggest they will do in this article.  Do you believe them?  Ronald Reagan said “Trust, but verify.”  I don’t normally agree with Reagan but this time he is right.  We need verification to keep big ISPs honest.  We lost that with the latest FCC ruling.

The Republicans on the FCC didn’t set the Internet free.  They locked it in a prison controlled and operated by a few large corporations with a “Bigly” interest in making a whole lot of money by controlling who and how we have access to that prison and the Internet within.  Worse, some individuals who control these large corporations now have the ability to use that control to forever alter the direction of our country by pushing their ideas and preventing those with opposing views from presenting theirs.  If I control your access to information, I control you.

Net Neutrality was a GOOD IDEA, A NECESSARY IDEA.  Ending it puts all of us in danger.


Write Congress.  Say YES to Net Neutrality.  Say YES to a FREE Internet.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Republican Tax Cut—An Unconsidered Danger

There has been a lot of discussion about the wisdom of the huge tax cut that Republicans have planned at a time when the stock market is performing at record levels, corporate revenues are at similar record levels, and the country is at or near full employment.  Without a doubt, the Republican tax cut will lead to higher deficits, perhaps amounting to an additional $2 trillion even by their own estimates.  Additionally, most of the benefits will flow to large corporations and wealthy individuals.  Republican wildly optimistic claims about their tax cuts helping the middle class are just that-wildly optimistic.

What few are discussing is a real unconsidered danger.  Many economists are worried that the U.S. and world economies are on track for a 2008-type recession.  Many of the conditions that led to that recession exist today.  In 2009, the Obama administration responded to the great Recession with a $831 billion stimulus package designed to get the economy moving again and to prevent the Great Recession from becoming a second Great Depression which it was on track to become.  The stimulus is widely credited with preventing an economic disaster.  The only criticism is that it was much less than the economic conditions of the time demanded.  With a larger stimulus or second stimulus the recovery with have been much faster and the suffering of most Americans would have been much less.

The Republican tax cut package will make a future stimulus even of the “less than adequate” size of the Obama stimulus next to impossible.  Thanks to the unnecessary Republican tax cut, the next time our economy goes south—which it very likely will—Americans can expect little relief.  The next Great Recession this time may become a decade-long Depression like that of the 1930s.  All because Republicans wanted to pass a foolish and risky tax cut that helps the few and puts the many at great risk.


You read it here.  You were warned.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How to contact your Senator and Representative.

I often ask you to contact your Senator and Representative in Congress in regard to an issue.  Here is an easy way to do that.

To contact the member of the House of Representatives for your Congressional District, go here and enter your zip code.  Then complete the form with what you want to say:

https://ziplook.house.gov/htbin/findrep_house?ZIP=305/ 

To Contact your Senators, go here:


Please:

A.  Bookmark these links.

B.  Use them. FREQUENTLY

C.  Give these links to everyone you know, particularly liberal/progressives.  Encourage them to use these links to let Congress know what they think.

YOU HAVE A VOICE BUT IT IS USELESS UNLESS YOU USE IT.

Don't complain about the direction of our country if you don't participate in trying to guide that direction.

It's your right to voice your opinion.  Correct that.  It's your job as an American citizen.


Sexual harassment must STOP—Start with Trump

According to a new poll, the one thing most Americans can agree on is that sexual harassment of women occurs much to often and must stop.  

One-third of women say they have personally experienced sexual harassment on the job.  53% of women and 45% of men say this is a watershed moment when it comes to sexual harassment and that it must stop.  74% say they will be less likely to vote for a candidate if he faced credible allegations of sexual misconduct. 90% want the names of members of Congress who have been accused of sexual harassment disclosed.


This poll comes at a time when Donald Trump has been accused of sexual harassment by no less than 19 women involving incidents as recent as 2013 and going back decades.  Here is a list of Trump’s accusers and a link to more information about their charges.

Jill Harth, 1992-1993-Unwelcome sexual advances, groping
Bridget Sullivan, 2000-Unwelcome advances, invasion of privacy
Cassandra Searles, 2013-Harassment, inappropriate touching, unwelcome advances
Tasha Dixon, 2001-Invasion of privacy
Jessica Leeds, 1980s-Inappropriate touching, unwelcome advances, harassment
Rachel Crooks, 2005-Unwelcome advances, Inappropriate touching
Mindy McGillivray, 2003-Inappropriate touching, groping, unwelcome advances
Natasha Stoynoff, 2005-Inappropriate touching, groping, harassment
Mariah Billado, 1977-Invasion of privacy
Temple Taggart McDowell, 1997-Inappropriate touching, groping
Lisa Boyne, 1990s-Harassment, invasion of privacy
Summer Zervos, 2007-Inappropriate touching, groping, harassment
Kristin Anderson, 1990s-Inappropriate touching, groping
Samantha Holvey, 2006-Harassment
Cathy Heller, 1997-Inappropriate touching, groping, harassment
Karena Virginia, 1998-Inappropriate touching, groping, harassment
Jessica Drake, 2006-Inappropriate touching, groping, harassment, unwelcome advances
Ninni Laaksonen, 2006-Inappropriate touching, groping
Ivana Trump, 1989-Rape, assault


When it comes to stopping sexual harassment, the place to start is at the top with Donald Trump himself.  

Congress through its power of impeachment has the authority to launch an investigation to determine if Donald Trump’s history of deviate and predatory behavior toward women makes him unfit to serve as President.  Trump’s accusers have the right to testify under oath and be heard.  Trump should be questioned under oath about the charges these women have made.  If Congress finds that Trump is guilty of all or even some of these charges, Congress should either impeach Trump or, at a minimum, call for his immediate resignation on the grounds of moral turpitude and unfitness for office.  It is time to send a powerful message that no matter how powerful you are or how rich you are or what office you hold, sexual harassment will not be tolerated anywhere at anytime by anyone.

If we are to end sexual harassment, we can not ignore the behavior of the Chief Harraser himself.  We can not credibly hold members of Congress, CEOs, media personalities, judges, or any others responsible for their behavior if we are unwilling to apply that same standard to the person who occupies the highest office in the land.


Write Congress.  Tell them to do something to stop sexual harassment.  Tell Republicans and Democrats alike--Hold Trump accountable.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Republican Tax Cut Bill is Disasterous for Seniors, Students, Families and Children.


The Republican tax cut bill will result in the following according to a recent Senate Budget Committee Minority Staff report.

  • Eliminates housing assistance for more than 1 million families.
  • Eliminates heating assistance (LIHEAP) for nearly 700,000 seniors on fixed incomes, people with disabilities and families with children.
  • Eliminates nutrition assistance for 1.25 million women, infants and children.
  • Slashes Pell Grant funding by 33 percent, making college less affordable for more than 8 million working-class students. 
  • Eliminates Head Start services for 25,000 children every year.
  • Cuts $37 billion over the next decade from funding for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and other critical medical research.
  • Makes student loan programs more expensive resulting in a significant increase in college costs for struggling students. 

Totally eliminates the following: 

  • Farm price support programs;
  • Farm Security and Investment programs;
  • The Social Services Block Grant;
  • Citizenship and Immigration Services;
  • Custom and Border Protection; and 
  • The Crime Victims Fund

 All this so that a few very wealthy individuals will pay less taxes.

ADDITIONALLY, THE REPUBLICAN TAX BILL MAY RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT AUTOMATIC CUTS IN MEDICARE FUNDING.

Is this what you want for our country?

Read more here:



Thursday, November 30, 2017

Illogic of the Republican Tax Plan

The Joint Committee on Taxation, the Senate’s official scorekeeper when it comes to taxes and the deficit, released a report today estimating that the Republican tax cut plan would add AT LEAST $1 Trillion to the national debit. See: https://www.jct.gov/publications.html?func=startdown&id=5045

The Republican plan WOULD NOT PAY FOR ITSELF even if you fully accept the following Republican economic illogic.

The Republican have argued illogically that they can cut taxes by $1.5 trillion AND generate sufficient revenues to fully offset the loss of revenues.  Their argument goes like this:

1. The Republicans say that a reduction in corporate taxes will provide a windfall to American businesses that they will use to expand their businesses and hire more workers regardless of whether they have a need to do so.  CEOs instead of raising their own salaries or passing along the tax savings to stock holders in increased dividends or buying back their own stock, will do the right thing and hire workers and/or increases average worker salaries because that would be good for the country.  This Republican illogic denies the reality that businesses expand and hire more workers when the demand for their product/services outpaces their ability to meet the increased demand with existing resources.  They pay higher wages when they are afraid that they will lose their best workers to their competitors when their competitors, in need of workers, increase offering wages.

2. The Republicans say that many people are staying out of the workforce because current taxes take so much of their wages that it makes it unprofitable to work.  Tax cuts will make seeking employment more attractive.  The more people work the more taxes that are paid so government revenues go up.  Leaving aside the fallacy that people factor in their tax rate when deciding whether to seek employment, the current employment rate is such that few people are unemployed.  The Employment Act of 1946 and Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 officially peg full employment in the U.S. at 4% or less.  Current seasonally adjusted unemployment is 4.1%.  That is the LOWEST unemployment since 2000 according the the Bureau of Labor Statistics. See: https://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet  In reality, the Republican tax cut WILL NOT result in a substantial increase in employment because we are already at full employment.  The wage tomato has very little juice left no matter how hard you squeeze it.

The Republican tax plan WILL NOT come close to paying for itself, even if you fully accept their economic illogic.  In fact the Republican tax plan will add as much as $2 Trillion to the national debit according to the Congressional Budget Office.  See: http://thehill.com/policy/finance/359353-gop-tax-bill-would-add-17-trillion-to-debt-cbo


Bottom Line: Let’s get real.  The Republicans are passing a tax bill that will DO NOTHING to help our country but will DO A LOT for a few RICH campaign funders.  The rest if us and our kids will eventually pay the bill.  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Republicans seek to destroy the Artic National Wildlife Refuge




It is beautiful, vast, and wild.  It is the home to 36 unique fish species, 36 land mammals and a rich array of wildlife, some endangered.  160 bird species from four continents migrate to this area to breed, rest and feed from April to July each year. It is one of the most important polar bear denning area in the world.  It is the home of Porcupine caribou, Dall sheep, moose and musk oxen, grizzly and black bear.  It so remote that it can only be reached by air. 

It is the crown jewel of North America, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.
Republicans want to destroy it so that a few rich people and energy czars can enrich themselves from its oil, oil that we DO NOT need.

See this article from the Center for American Progress on the case against drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.  Share this with your friends,

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2017/11/13/442603/energy-case-drilling-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge/


See the video about this wonderful area.  Read about it.  Then write Congress and tell the Republicans NO.  You WILL NOT DESTROY this priceless refuge for GREED.



https://www.travelalaska.com/Destinations/Parks%20and%20Public%20Lands/Arctic%20National%20Wildlife%20Refuge.aspx

blob:https://www.huffingtonpost.com/af21a3c2-512c-4d4b-95cb-c4fa6a496b6d


blob:https://www.huffingtonpost.com/af21a3c2-512c-4d4b-95cb-c4fa6a496b6d

Write your Congressman here:  https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials


Monday, November 13, 2017

Can the Senate Refuse to Seat Roy Moore?

If Roy Moore who has been accused of sexual harassment and child abuse is elected to the U.S. Senate in the Alabama special election, can the U.S. Senate refuse to seat him or remove him from office once he is seated?

The answer is Yes.  Article I, Section 5, clause 2 of the Constitution provides for expulsion of  a member upon a formal vote on a resolution to expel agreed to by a two-thirds vote.       

If elected, will Moore be expelled?  No.  Not only will Republicans refuse to remove a fellow Republican but the Senate historically has been extremely reluctant to remove a member who was elected by voters who were aware of his/her mis-behavior at the time of the election.  In other words, if Alabama voters want to elect a child abuser to represent them in the Senate, they will be allowed to do so.  The will of the voters will not be lightly overturned.

That’s sad, but true.

Read more about the expulsion process here:



Sunday, November 12, 2017

29% of Alabama voters think being an accused child molesters is a GOOD THING!

The latest Alabama Senate Poll, conducted by JMC Analytics and conducted between 11/9 and 11/11 has Democratic Party Doug Jones leading Republican and accused child molester Roy Moore by 4 points, 48% to 44%.

The most interesting thing in the poll is the answer to Question 8.  The pollsters asked:

Question 8: Given the allegations that have come out about Roy Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct against four underage women, are you more or less likely to support him as a result of these allegations?

The responses were:

More Likely 29%
Less Likely 38%
No Difference 33%

Whoy Nelly…29% of Alabama voters think being an accused child molester is a GOOD THING.   WOW!  And, 58% of the respondents described themselves as evangelical Christian.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Hey Doofus, God is NOT in the Constitution

Yes Doofus Donald, as you told the religious hate group today, the authors of the Declaration of Independence reference the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” in the first paragraph of that document; say that “men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” in the second paragraph; and reference the “Supreme Judge of the world” and the “protection of divine Providence” in the last paragraph.  But, Donald, when it came to writing the U.S. Constitution, our Founding Fathers did not mention God at all.  Indeed, they purposefully left God out.

The Founding Fathers justified the revolution with reference to God-given rights but when it came to designing a system of government they wanted the government to have nothing to do with religion.  Indeed, in Article VI of the Constitution they declare that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”  The first amendment to the Constitution contains a clear statement that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  

Rather than establishing a system of government based upon Christianity or any other religion, the Founding Fathers demanded strict religious neutrality from their new government and its officeholders.  They viewed religion as a matter of individual choice which should and must be forever free of government coercion. They understood that the government that could compel one religion could just as well compel adherence to another or none at all.

Our Founding Fathers wanted government officials to exercise strict neutrality with regard  to religion when carrying out their official duties.  That means you, Doofus Donald.  You took an oath of office swearing to protect and defend the Constitution.   So, when acting in an official capacity as President of the United States, shut the fuck up when it comes to religion.  Keep your religion to yourself.  You have a Constitutional obligation to do so.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

HIGH RISK HEALTH INSURANCE POOLS DON’T WORK

The Repubs say they have found the solution for what to do with people with pre-existing conditions so that healthy people won’t have to pay higher premiums to cover the cost of insuring the sick.  Just create High Risk Pools in every state. 

Can High Risk Pools work?  The answer is NO.

Prior to the passage of Obamacare, 35 states used High Risk Pools of some sort to provide health insurance to residents under the age of 65 with pre-existing conditions.  While we cannot be certain how the High Risk Pools envision by Trumpcare would work, we can assume that they would work-or really NOT work-- very much like the High Risk Pools states used prior to Obamacare.

Here are some of the common features of the previous state High Risk Pools and they problems they encountered.

1. State High Risk Pools covered only a fraction people with pre-existing conditions.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study about 27% of Americans under the age of 65 have pre-existing conditions.  The average state High Risk Pool enrolled only about 2% of the non-group market, ranging from -.02% in Florida to 10.2% in Minnesota.  In other words, even the most successful state-run High Risk Pool, covered less than half of people who needed coverage and most pools covered a tiny fraction.  It is doubtful if the new Trumpcare pools will do any better.  In short, most people with pre-existing conditions cannot look to High Risk Pools for help.

2. Premiums were much higher than in the non-group market.

Most state High Risk Pools charged 150% to 200% of the rates in the non-group market.  We can expect Trumpcare High Risk Pools to do the same.  If so, most people will be unable to afford coverage. Take a 64 year old making $26,500 per year.  The CBO says his net premium under Trumpcare (premium after a tax credit of $4,900) will be $13,600 or half his income.  If he is unlucky enough to have pre-existing condition, his premium in a High Risk Pool could be anywhere from $20,400 to $27,200 or three quarters to more than 100% of his income.  He could not afford coverage.

3. Enrollees faced exclusions, high deductibles and lifetime limits on covered services.

Most state High Risk Pools excluded coverage for 6 to 12 months for people diagnosed with a pre-existing condition, set a lifetime limit on coverage of $1 million to $2 million, and had high deductibles ($1,000 to $5,000 per year or more).

4. All of the state High Risk Pools faced losses—expenses greater, often much greater, than premium revenue.

All of the states had to subsidize their High Risk Pools, usually by drawing from general revenues and/or from other revenue sources such as tobacco taxes or hospital assessments.  The average subsidy was $5,510 per enrollee, on average.  While the Federal Government provided grants in some years, the grants covered only 2% to 12% of program expenses.  The states with High Risk Pools lost a combined $1 Billion a year or more resulting in most states eventually capping enrollment to control costs.

BOTTOM LINE: High Risk Pools have been tried.  They don’t work.  In fact, they can’t work because the math doesn't work.  People with pre-existing conditions consume more health care at much higher costs.  When these high health care cost people are placed in a group all to themselves, the average cost to cover their health care expenses skyrockets, resulting either in premiums out of reach for most people and/or the need to provide huge subsidies.  The High Risk Pools eventually crumble under their own weight.

Here are a couple of links to the facts about High Risk Pools that you should make your Trumpcare fans read.



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: Latest CBO Scoring of House Health Care Plan-23 million More Uninsured

1. How much will the new plan lower the deficit over 10-years? 

The previous version of the bill saved $337 billion over 10 years.  The new version needs to save at least $2 billion for the Senate to be able to pass the bill under budget reconciliation—i.e., with 51 votes instead of 60. 

  • The CBO says the new version will save $119 billion.


2. How many more people will be uninsured?

Under the previous bill, the CBO estimated that 24 million fewer Americans in 2026 would have health insurance than under Obamacare.

  • The CBO says the under the new version 23 million will be uninsured in 2026 than under Obamacare.


3. How will average health insurance premiums change?

Under the previous bill, the CBO estimated that average health insurance premiums would be cut by 10%.

  • The CBO says under the new version average premiums will go down 4% in states that DO NOT obtain wavers (see #4 below).  In half of those states, average premiums may go down a s much as 10%.  Premiums will go down more in states that receive waivers but people in those states will have higher out-of-pocket costs that many people will not be able to afford so they will forgo seeking health care.


4.  The MacArthur Amendment allows states to waive a number of regulations contained in Obamacare.   How many states will request waivers?

If many states obtain waivers, we can expect drastic changes in what the average health insurance policy covers and its affordability.

  • The CBO estimates that half of the population lives in states that WILL NOT obtain waivers and about ONE THIRD live in states that  WILL obtain waivers to make MODERATE changes
People in states that obtain waivers, will “experience substantial increases in out-of-pocket spending on health care” or be forced to forgo health services because of the cost.

Bottom Line:  The new version of the House American Health Care Act is:

Less favorable in terms of deficit reduction

Only slightly better in terms of how many people will lose coverage.—23 Million losing coverage vs 24 million.


Better in terms of the average cost of premiums in states that request waivers from Obamacare requirements but at the cost of huge increases in out-of-pocket costs which will result in fewer people getting care when they need it.


Likely to result in states with half of the population seeking waivers to Obamacare requirements resulting in lower average premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs and less coverage for people living in those states.

THIS BILL IS BAD FOR AMERICA




Friday, May 19, 2017

IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE: White House may have engaged in Criminal COVER-UP

McClatchy Washington Bureau reported this afternoon that “Investigators into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections are now also probing whether White House officials have engaged in a cover-up.”  A “Senior White House Official” is being described as a “significant person of interest” in an investigation of possible criminal conduct.  If investigators are able to prove a cover up, someone could go to jail.  Additionally, a major charge in the articles of impeachment against both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton included the charge of cover up.

Have high government officials, including possibly the President himself been engaged in a criminal conspiracy to cover up the Russia connection?  



Monday, May 15, 2017

Secret Health Care Reform—Senate Style.

Susan Davis at NPR reports that the U.S. Senate is drafting healthcare legislation in SECRET.

Secret talks are underway toward developing a Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The negotiating team consists of Senators hand picked by the Republican Senate leadership.  The negotiating team is MALE ONLY.  No women are being allowed to serve on the team.
The committee drafting the legislation meets behind closed doors and will hold NO PUBLIC HEARINGS.
Although Davis does not say so in her article, we can assume that:

The Senate bill will not be scored by the CBO.
It will be passed with a voice vote with NO amendments allowed.
It will be passed by a bare majority of 51 Republican ONLY votes under Budget Reconciliation Rules.
The bill will cover areas NOT impacting the budget, even though such items ARE NOT supposed to be allowed in Budget Reconciliation.  The Senate Parliamentarian will be overruled when she objects.
The bill will NOT be released to the public or non-partisan groups prior to the vote.
Most Senators voting on the bill will VOTE WITHOUT READING THE BILL since the bill will NOT be released to Senators in time.
The White House and the Senate leadership will LIE about the contents of the bill, its cost and its impact on American healthcare once it is passed.

The Senate bill will be sent to the House where the House leadership will push it through without allowing any amendments nor allowing members of the House time to read the bill.

Trump will sign the bill into law without ever even being briefed on its content.

Americans who had access to health care WILL DIE.

That’s the Republican form of government.



Friday, May 5, 2017

Text of Health Care Bill Passed by the House and My Summary

Here is a link to an official summary and full text of the Health Care Act of 2017 that the House passed.

SUMMARIES are here:


Clic on the drop down box to read the second summary.

ACTUAL TEXT OF THE BILL is here:


WHAT THE REPUBLICAN BILL DOES:

Here is my summary of the key provisions of the bill

The bill eliminates funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund that invests in programs to improve health and restrain the rate of growth of health care costs.  This fund currently provides about 12% of the funding for the Centers for Disease Control and is an important funding mechanism for public health departments.  The CDC’s former director, Tom Frieden, said that if the prevention funding is lost, “Americans will be at greater risk from vaccine-preventable disease, food-borne infections, and deadly infections contracted in hospitals.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/03/08/obamacare-repeal-guts-crucial-public-health-funds/?utm_term=.3db5f2c7cad9

The bill eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood for one year.

The bill fazes out funding for the Medicaid Expansion between now and 2020 and eliminates the requirement that Medicaid provide “Essential Health Benefits”-- ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, laboratory services, preventative and wellness services, and pediatric services.

The bill changes and limits the Federal funding for Medicaid.  Instead of picking up the full cost, the Federal Government will now provide a fixed amount per enrollee or a block grant.  States will have to make up the difference or limit enrollment.  Long term this may result in a substantial cut in the number of people eligible for Medicaid that states can cover.  Millions who might otherwise be covered with Medicaid will have no health insurance.

If a person seeking insurance in the individual or small group market has a break in coverage (no health insurance) for more than 62 days in the previous year, then the Republican laws says insurance companies MUST charge them 30% extra for their insurance for a period of one year.

Beginning in 2020, health insurance benefits no longer must conform to actuarial tiers (e.g., silver benefits, gold benefits, etc.)  These “actuarial tiers” provide a comparison of how good a plan is relative to the approximate amount of a person’s health care expenses the plan will cover.  The least expensive Bronze plan under Obamacare has an actuarial value of 60%-in other words covers about 60% of an average enrollees health expenses.  Under the Republican plan, Health insurance companies could offer much less generous plans—for example, a Coal Plan that would cover 10% or less of the average person’s health expenses.  See more about the actuarial tiers here: https://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/8177.pdf

Insurance companies may charge older individuals up to five times more than younger individuals.  The current ratio is three times more.  People over 60 would pay much more than under Obamacare for the same level of coverage.  People in their 20s would pay less.

The fine for not having health insurance is reduced to 0% or $0.00 compared to 2/5% and $695 under current law.  This is the Republican way of eliminating the Individual Mandate.  The mandate remains, but the fine is $0.

The bill repeals almost all taxes imposed by Obamacare designed to pay for the cost of the program. Eventually, whatever is left of Obamacare will be starved for lack of funding.

The bill ties tax subsidies (really advanced tax credits) for the purchase of insurance strictly to age without consideration of the actual cost of insurance for an individual in a market and/or the individual’s income and ability to pay.  Individuals in their 20s are eligible for a $2,000 supplement.  The supplement increases by $500 per age bracket (people in their 30s get $2,500 but to a maximum of $4,000 for individuals in their 60s.  The supplement is reduced by 10% for individuals with a Modified Adjusted Gross Income over $75,000 ($ 150,000) for couples.  Supplements are limited to $14,000 per year per family and the maximum amount the five oldest individuals in the family (husband, spouse and dependents) are eligible to receive based upon age.  Older Americans will find their out-of-pocket cost for health insurance on the individual market increase dramatically.  For example, the CBO in scoring an earlier version of the Republican plan said the out-of-pocket cost of premiums after the subsidy for a 64 year-old with an income of $26,000 a year could rise from $1,700 to $14,000, making the insurance unaffordable.

The bill allows states to request a waiver from Obamacare requirements for insurers to cover everyone at the same price regardless of pre-existing conditions and the requirement to offer Essential Health Benefits (see above).  While insurers in states with the waiver would still have to cover people with pre-existing conditions, they could charge those individuals substantially more thus, in effect, making health insurance unaffordable for them.  States would be required to set up High-Risk pools to cover people with pre-existing conditions who can’t afford insurance.  The bill provides around $138 billion dollars through 2026 to help these Waiver states pay for the costs of these High-Risk pools, thus holding down premiums for people with pre-existing conditions who are forced into these pools.  Note: State High Risk Pool have not worked in the past because the funds provided to insurers to hold down the cost of premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions did not keep up with the ever increasing costs of the pools.  States with waivers could also allow health insurers to once again place annual and/or lifetime limits on the amount policies would pay.


THAT’S IT FOLKS.  The elderly and the poor are going to take it on the chin.