health care reform law

Of the three rulings that are wrong, it is the best written of the three.
—  Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli • Speaking to Regent University about a judge’s ruling that the health care reform law is constitutional. An unexpected compliment, if somewhat damning the ruling with the faintest of praise, Cuccinelli apparently has the most passing respect for the argument advanced by Washington Judge Gladys Kessler, who seems to suggest the insurance mandate is legal because hospitals are themselves legally bound to provide emergency care to those who can’t pay, which is a money drain that is abysmally downplayed in these cost-cutting discussions. Cuccinelli, however, had this final say: “I still don’t think the distinction that the judge relies on holds up. I don’t find it compelling.” source (viafollow)
Why there is no ACA replacement

Notice how “repeal and replace” is looking more and more like just repeal, despite the protestations of, well, everyone (including GOP governors and the insurance companies themselves)?

There’s a big reason for that.

The GOP doesn’t want you to know this, but the truth of the matter is the Affordable Care Act is their healthcare plan. No joke!

The right-wing Heritage Foundation created the framework for the law, including the individual mandate, in 1993 while the Clinton Administration was attempting to pass healthcare reform. The same framework became the health care law that Mitt Romney successfully passed and implemented when he was governor of Massachusetts.

When the Obama administration began to tackle healthcare reform in 2009, it didn’t start with Medicare-for-all (read: single payer) the way people on the left wanted. Aiming for compromise, they took the framework that led to the Massachusetts law and added a public option – essentially a Medicare buy-in option designed to compete against the private insurers to drive down premium costs.

Republicans and conservative Democrats balked at the public option, so it was jettisoned – leaving the same law Republicans had been championing for decades. Only not a single one of them voted for the ACA when it passed – and since then, they have done nothing but try to sabotage and get rid of the law.

Think about that: a conservative idea worked. It was imperfect. There were issues. But the law did what it was designed to do: make health insurance more accessible to Americans and ensure the policies they paid for actually worked for them. Yet Republicans, so aghast at President Obama, sabotaged their own ideas!

Anyone with half a brain knows the only ACA replacement that would work would be single payer. But the GOP will never go for that (especially with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s obsession with gutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security), so in gutting what was ultimately their own idea, they’re sentencing Americans to a lower quality of life and even death… just because they got all uptight over a black man occupying the White House for almost a decade.

The ACA is the Republican healthcare plan. They have nothing else.

A thought

In order to reform American health care, we really need to reform tort law. That needs to be reformed over all, but doing it as part of reducing health care costs might have the most traction.

So here’s my thought. Make it a law that personal injury lawyers receive only a flat fee, paid by the defendant if they lose. No percentage of damages or settlements. A fixed fee. I’ll bet we’d see frivolous lawsuits drop sharply. And we’d find out how many of these lawyers really will “fight for you!”

Affordable Care Act’s Growing List of Tax Implications

The problem with introducing health care reform through changes in tax law is that it sets the ball rolling on the impact of the changes.

As the Affordable Care Act’s roll-out and implementation moves towards the second year, the tax implications of whatever was done in the first year are only now being felt.

Because the government handed a huge new group of customers to the heath care industry, they’re expected to pay some $8 billion worth of taxes which are due on Sept 30.

This is the first time this tax is being collected, and there’s an unintended consequence – the federal government is taxing itself and forcing state governments to pony up their share to cover the cost of the new tax imposed on the health care industry.

That’s because some private insurers have passed on the cost of the higher taxes to policy holders, and reimbursements for Medicare health plans have been hiked because of the increase in cost to plan enrollees.

States have to pick up part of the increased tab. For example, California’s cost has increased by $88 million, with the federal government paying $48 million and the State chipping in $40 million. In Florida, the cost is $100 million, with a 60-40 split.

Another issue that’s just popped up on the radar is that people who enrolled into a health plan through a federal or state marketplace may possibly face delays in filing their tax returns and getting refunds.

That’s because the HHS and state agencies have to send out Form 1095-A to help those who got their insurance from the marketplace and were eligible for tax credits made available under the ACA. That’s about seven million people.

The HHS has to send out these forms to people from 36 states who signed up through the federal marketplace. The remaining states which established their own marketplace will have to send out the form on their own to those who enrolled using the state’s marketplace and are eligible for tax credits.

Some people will also get too much in subsidies if their financial condition and income improves in the interim. This means the IRS will then be required to grab some of their refund to adjust for the extra health care tax credit granted.

Oh, and this isn’t just about ordinary people. A new “CEO tax” that’s one of the tax code changes introduced in the ACA has already collected tens of millions of dollars.

That’s because the deduction cap for compensation provided to a health care company’s top executives was brought down from $1 million to $500,000, and the new cap includes all forms of compensation including performance bonuses.

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, this new change in the tax law has by itself managed to raise $72 million in additional taxes last year from the 10 largest insurers.
Most US doctors oppose repeal of Obamacare: survey

Most US doctors oppose President Donald Trump’s bid to repeal Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, saying it needs to be fixed rather than eliminated, a study released Wednesday found.

The report in the New England Journal of Medicine was based on a survey of 426 physicians randomly selected from the American Medical Association’s Physician Masterfile, a database of more than 1.4 million doctors, residents and medical students in the United States.

“What we heard is that the majority of primary care physicians are open to changes in the law but overwhelmingly opposed full repeal,” said lead author Craig Pollack, associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Just 15 percent of responding physicians supported complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Meanwhile, 74 percent of respondents favored making changes, “such as creating a public option like Medicare to compete with private plans, paying physicians for value rather than volume and increasing the use of health savings accounts,” said the report.

Just 29 percent of doctors were in favor of increasing the use of high-deductible health plans, whereby patients pay lower monthly fees for insurance but may have to pay thousands out of pocket annually for medical services until they meet their deductible.

THE EIGHTH-GRADE STUDENTS gathering on the west lawn of the state capitol in Sacramento were planning to lunch on fried chicken with California’s new governor, Ronald Reagan, and then tour the granite building constructed a century earlier to resemble the nation’s Capitol. But the festivities were interrupted by the arrival of 30 young black men and women carrying .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45-caliber pistols.

The 24 men and six women climbed the capitol steps, and one man, Bobby Seale, began to read from a prepared statement. “The American people in general and the black people in particular,” he announced, must take careful note of the racist California legislature aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetuated against black people The time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.

Seale then turned to the others. “All right, brothers, come on. We’re going inside.” He opened the door, and the radicals walked straight into the state’s most important government building, loaded guns in hand. No metal detectors stood in their way.

It was May 2, 1967, and the Black Panthers’ invasion of the California statehouse launched the modern gun-rights movement. THE TEXT OF the Second Amendment is maddeningly ambiguous. It merely says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Yet to each side in the gun debate, those words are absolutely clear.

Gun-rights supporters believe the amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms and outlaws most gun control. Hard-line gun-rights advocates portray even modest gun laws as infringements on that right and oppose widely popular proposals—such as background checks for all gun purchasers—on the ground that any gun-control measure, no matter how seemingly reasonable, puts us on the slippery slope toward total civilian disarmament.

This attitude was displayed on the side of the National Rifle Association’s former headquarters: THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. The first clause of the Second Amendment, the part about “a well regulated Militia,” was conveniently omitted. To the gun lobby, the Second Amendment is all rights and no regulation.
Although decades of electoral defeats have moderated the gun-control movement’s stated goals, advocates still deny that individual Americans have any constitutional right to own guns. 

The Second Amendment, in their view, protects only state militias. Too politically weak to force disarmament on the nation, gun-control hard-liners support any new law that has a chance to be enacted, however unlikely that law is to reduce gun violence. For them, the Second Amendment is all regulation and no rights.

While the two sides disagree on the meaning of the Second Amendment, they share a similar view of the right to bear arms: both see such a right as fundamentally inconsistent with gun control, and believe we must choose one or the other. Gun rights and gun control, however, have lived together since the birth of the country. Americans have always had the right to keep and bear arms as a matter of state constitutional law. Today, 43 of the 50 state constitutions clearly protect an individual’s right to own guns, apart from militia service.

Yet we’ve also always had gun control. The Founding Fathers instituted gun laws so intrusive that, were they running for office today, the NRA would not endorse them. While they did not care to completely disarm the citizenry, the founding generation denied gun ownership to many people: not only slaves and free blacks, but law-abiding white men who refused to swear loyalty to the Revolution.

For those men who were allowed to own guns, the Founders had their own version of the “individual mandate” that has proved so controversial in President Obama’s health-care-reform law: they required the purchase of guns. A 1792 federal law mandated every eligible man to purchase a military-style gun and ammunition for his service in the citizen militia. Such men had to report for frequent musters—where their guns would be inspected and, yes, registered on public rolls.

OPPOSITION TO GUN CONTROL was what drove the black militants to visit the California capitol with loaded weapons in hand. The Black Panther Party had been formed six months earlier, in Oakland, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Like many young African Americans, Newton and Seale were frustrated with the failed promise of the civil-rights movement. Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were legal landmarks, but they had yet to deliver equal opportunity. In Newton and Seale’s view, the only tangible outcome of the civil-rights movement had been more violence and oppression, much of it committed by the very entity meant to protect and serve the public: the police.

Inspired by the teachings of Malcolm X, Newton and Seale decided to fight back. Before he was assassinated in 1965, Malcolm X had preached against Martin Luther King Jr.’s brand of nonviolent resistance. Because the government was “either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property” of blacks, he said, they had to defend themselves “by whatever means necessary.” Malcolm X illustrated the idea for Ebony magazine by posing for photographs in suit and tie, peering out a window with an M-1 carbine semiautomatic in hand. Malcolm X and the Panthers described their right to use guns in self-defense in constitutional terms. “Article number two of the constitutional amendments,” Malcolm X argued, “provides you and me the right to own a rifle or a shotgun.”

Guns became central to the Panthers’ identity, as they taught their early recruits that “the gun is the only thing that will free us—gain us our liberation.” They bought some of their first guns with earnings from selling copies of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book to students at the University of California at Berkeley. In time, the Panther arsenal included machine guns; an assortment of rifles, handguns, explosives, and grenade launchers; and “boxes and boxes of ammunition,” recalled Elaine Brown, one of the party’s first female members, in her 1992 memoir. Some of this matériel came from the federal government: one member claimed he had connections at Camp Pendleton, in Southern California, who would sell the Panthers anything for the right price. One Panther bragged that, if they wanted, they could have bought an M48 tank and driven it right up the freeway.

Along with providing classes on black nationalism and socialism, Newton made sure recruits learned how to clean, handle, and shoot guns. Their instructors were sympathetic black veterans, recently home from Vietnam. For their “righteous revolutionary struggle,” the Panthers were trained, as well as armed, however indirectly, by the U.S. government.

Civil-rights activists, even those committed to nonviolent resistance, had long appreciated the value of guns for self-protection. Martin Luther King Jr. applied for a permit to carry a concealed firearm in 1956, after his house was bombed. His application was denied, but from then on, armed supporters guarded his home. One adviser, Glenn Smiley, described the King home as “an arsenal.” William Worthy, a black reporter who covered the civil-rights movement, almost sat on a loaded gun in a living-room armchair during a visit to King’s parsonage.

The Panthers, however, took it to an extreme, carrying their guns in public, displaying them for everyone—especially the police—to see. Newton had discovered, during classes at San Francisco Law School, that California law allowed people to carry guns in public so long as they were visible, and not pointed at anyone in a threatening way.

In February of 1967, Oakland police officers stopped a car carrying Newton, Seale, and several other Panthers with rifles and handguns. When one officer asked to see one of the guns, Newton refused. “I don’t have to give you anything but my identification, name, and address,” he insisted. This, too, he had learned in law school.

“Who in the hell do you think you are?” an officer responded.

“Who in the hell do you think you are?,” Newton replied indignantly. He told the officer that he and his friends had a legal right to have their firearms.

Newton got out of the car, still holding his rifle.

“What are you going to do with that gun?” asked one of the stunned policemen.

“What are you going to do with your gun?,” Newton replied.

By this time, the scene had drawn a crowd of onlookers. An officer told the bystanders to move on, but Newton shouted at them to stay. California law, he yelled, gave civilians a right to observe a police officer making an arrest, so long as they didn’t interfere. Newton played it up for the crowd. In a loud voice, he told the police officers, “If you try to shoot at me or if you try to take this gun, I’m going to shoot back at you, swine.” Although normally a black man with Newton’s attitude would quickly find himself handcuffed in the back of a police car, enough people had gathered on the street to discourage the officers from doing anything rash. Because they hadn’t committed any crime, the Panthers were allowed to go on their way.

The people who’d witnessed the scene were dumbstruck. Not even Bobby Seale could believe it. Right then, he said, he knew that Newton was the “baddest motherfucker in the world.” Newton’s message was clear: “The gun is where it’s at and about and in.” After the February incident, the Panthers began a regular practice of policing the police. Thanks to an army of new recruits inspired to join up when they heard about Newton’s bravado, groups of armed Panthers would drive around following police cars. When the police stopped a black person, the Panthers would stand off to the side and shout out legal advice.


In move against #Obamacare, 25 governors are denying millions of poor Americans coverage

A vital provision of the original health care reform law mandated that states accept federal funding to expand Medicaid eligibility for any adult with an income under 133% (now 138%) of the federal poverty line. The requirement was there to make sure that the poorest Americans, some 17 million who could not afford insurance even with new subsidies, would still be covered in some form. But, according to the Supreme Court, the federal government couldn’t require states to accept the cash or implement the expansion. If a Governor felt like denying health care coverage to the poorest among their constituents on principle, that was their call. Rick Perry decided to make it.

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Recently we Have Received A LOT of “Bernie Sanders is too idealistic/his ideas are unrealistic” Type Criticism. Here is Our Response.

As we have worked on our blog the amount of support has increased exponentially. Knowing so many people support Bernie Sanders is honestly a really amazing thing to see and we are glad to be here to experience it. That said, by virtue of doing the work we do there has been a certain amount of criticism thrown our way. Sometimes we decide it isn’t worth our time, the rumors messaged to us are unfounded, or something else compels us not to respond. Other times we are feel obligated to respond and this is one of those times.

For the last few days multiple people have tagged our page in the post above. Now let me start this whole thing by saying, I completely agree with the post. Bernie Sanders has been campaigning on free health care, free college education, and increased minimum wage, workers’ rights, tax reform, and taking on the billionaire class. As it stands now, most of that, specifically the first couple items, are probably unsustainable. Certain factions on both sides realize this, while other factions FROM BOTH MAJOR PARTIES, benefit from the status quo. Make no mistake, Bernie Sanders is not some fringe candidate promising people free stuff to get elected. He is a man with an ideology and seeking solutions for our country within that ideological frame work. He may be running as a Democrat, but his convictions are only loosely tied to a fringe of that party. Just as Ron Paul’s convictions were only loosely tied to the Republican party. Just like conservatives want to fix America by removing government, Bernie Sanders wants to fix it by reshaping it.

We have reached an impasse in American politics. Once again two groups with different ideologies are battling each other for what they feel is the best for America. The fact that we have $16 Trillion dollars in debt cannot be overstated. The fact that every administration since Ronald Reagan has carried out an incredible amount of deficit spending and that is a problem. The fact that health care and college are unaffordable is a problem. The fact that millionaires, billionaires, and multinational corporations are allowed to make record profits and let their workers suffer, that is a problem. Some people view the solution to these problems as cutting government out of the picture.

Making the reach of government smaller is a political solution as old as Thomas Jefferson who famously said, “the government that governs best is the one which governs the least”.  That sentiment remained a powerful force when Andrew Jackson heralded small government and beat the Hamiltonian, use the government for business, James Madison. Conservative ideals prevailed throughout the 19th century it helped foster economic growth and benefited the United States in a lot of ways. This conservatism popped up again in the 1920s and allowed Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover to propel America to a period of unprecedented economic growth. Then finally the latest strain of conservatism from Reagan to Bush, which I feel history will cast in a far more unfavorable light once there is some hind sight and more history. Not that Reagan and Bush didn’t accomplish SOME good things (emphasis on the SOME, really heavy emphasis). It’s just every time in American history this conservatism has led to a political push back, and for good reason.

Despite what many would have you think politics is incredibly complex and one single ideology will not always solve every problem. The aforementioned administrations definitely pushed America forward economically and otherwise, but they had counterparts which always fixed some problems they exacerbated. Teddy Roosevelt and the progressives counteracted the lack of workers’ rights and regulation which had plagued the United States since the Jacksonian era. Franklin Roosevelt tried to solve the problems the unchecked economic system created during the Hoover years. As a result he won land slide election after land slide election, whether you agree with the New Deal or not, it has impacted America immeasurably and has continued relevance to this day. Now it is time for a new push back. It is time to push back against the military and corporate interests which have run our economy dry over the last 3 decades. Make no mistake, every president since Ronald Reagan, and even before that, has contributed to the problems we face today. There are multiple solutions to those problems, but as it stands now Bernie Sanders seems like the only one removed enough from the dirty cogs of the political machine to actually make a change before things get any worse.

We appreciate the skepticism involved when a politician just offers voters services that they cannot possibly follow through on. The thing is, some of what Bernie Sanders offers may seem idealistic, but most of it makes sense. We are the wealthiest country in the wealthiest time in the history of humanity. Technological advances have compounded that wealth and it is ridiculous that we have let so much of that wealth fall in to the hands of so few. So many people in our country continue to go without and the Billionaire Class continues to laugh to the bank. If you feel conservative ideals are the best way to combat this growing trend of inequality and our unsustainable economic structure, we don’t blame you. Conservative ideology could certainly bring about that change with the right people.

Unfortunately I seriously doubt, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, or Jeb Bush, or any other Republican, are going to provide that change. We need a government that helps the American people and works towards their best interests. In my mind, Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who will fix our unsustainable political and economic system. As the only candidate pushing for universal education, universal health care, and combating the interests of the Billionaire class by reforming tax laws and repealing the Citizens United decision, Bernie Sanders is the only president who will help get our countries priorities back in line with the needs and desires of the average American. Just because we are unable to provide these things right now, doesn’t mean things shouldn’t be changed in such a way that we can provide them.

Before you call his ideas unrealistic, take a long hard look at our current system and then try and objectively say it is right for major corporations to pay sometimes effectively no taxes while workers work 40+ hours a week for starvation wages. That has got to stop, and Bernie Sanders is the only one who will stop it. Bernie Sanders 2016!

So far, Obamacare has cost America 350,000 jobs

Perhaps the reason Democrats finally started embracing the term “Obamacare” is that it’s just too painful to call it the “Affordable Care Act.”  

from CNBC:

Obamacare is taking a toll on small businesses, according to a new analysis of the effects of the health-care reform law, which found billions of dollars in reduced pay and hundreds of thousands fewer jobs.

Take-home pay at small businesses was trimmed by some $22.6 billion annually because of the Affordable Care Act and related insurance premium hikes, researchers at the American Action Forum, a center-right think tank headed by former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, found in a report released Tuesday.

Individual year-round employees at businesses with 50 to 99 workers lost $935 annually, while those at firms with 20 to 49 workers are out an average of $827.50 per person in take-home pay, the report found.

That report also says that there has been the loss of more than 350,000 jobs due to Obamacare-era premium hikes at small businesses.

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It’s important to remember that these jobs numbers are with the Obama administration’s delays in penalties and other negative aspects of the law.  All of those bombs are still poised to drop in the coming months.