Obamacare and diabetes

Hey, Ted Cruz is running for President. And he gave a speech at crazytown … I mean Liberty University:

Instead of the joblessness, instead of the millions forced into part-time work, instead of the millions who’ve lost their health insurance, lost their doctors, have faced skyrocketing health insurance premiums, imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.

Imagine health care reform that keeps government out of the way between you and your doctor and that makes health insurance personal and portable and affordable.

Let’s see, how many people have lost health insurance?

The number of uninsured U.S. residents fell by more than 11 million since President Barack Obama signed the health care overhaul five years ago, according to a pair of reports Tuesday from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although that still would leave about 37 million people uninsured, it’s the lowest level measured in more than 15 years.

The most dramatic change took place in comparing 2013 with the first nine months of 2014. As the health care law’s major coverage expansion was taking effect, the number of uninsured people fell by 7.6 million over that time.

And how fast have costs been rising?

Obamacare has come in under budget. Twice in the past year, the Congressional Budget Office has revised downward projected spending on the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the federal government is expected to spend less on health care now than it predicted in early 2010 — and those predictions didn’t include any spending from Obamacare!

Ok, but that’s Vox what about the CBO?

Relative to their previous projections, CBO and JCT now estimate that the ACA’s coverage provisions will result in lower net costs to the federal government: The agencies now project a net cost of $36 billion for 2014, $5 billion less than the previous projection for the year; and $1,383 billion for the 2015–2024 period, $104 billion less than the previous projection.

Considering all of the provisions—including the coverage provisions— CBO and JCT estimated in July 2012 (their most recent comprehensive estimate) that the ACA’s overall effect would be to reduce federal deficits.

Ah, I see, Ted Cruz is just lying. But it’s not like Obamacare is really helping anyone. Oh:

In the new study by Quest Diagnostics, a medical testing company, researchers analyzed laboratory test results from all 50 states in the company’s large database over two six-month periods. In the states that expanded Medicaid, the number of Medicaid enrollees with newly identified diabetes rose by 23 percent, to 18,020 in the first six months of 2014, from 14,625 in the same period in 2013. The diagnoses rose by only 0.4 percent — to 11,653 from 11,612 — in the states that did not expand Medicaid.

Obviously Ted Cruz doesn’t care if people with diabetes get diagnosed and treated.

Mandatory voting

I agree with Charles Pierce that President Obama is basically trolling Republicans when he implies he might be for mandatory voting. I’m not really for mandatory voting but if we start discussing it perhaps it will lead to a couple things that I’m definitely for:

  • automatic registration, such as Oregon now has–registration should be easy for everyone and automatic for most. Voting is an essential part of a democracy so why do some people want to make it hard?
  • there should be a federal holiday for national elections. Again, nothing is more important in a democracy than voting–we should celebrate it. If we don’t want another holiday we could move it to one of the current ones–July 4, for example, would be perfect.

I’m sure all politicians would agree … well, except for Republicans, who really don’t want everyone to vote (see here for example).

A Republican budget

The Republicans have put out their budget and it’s impressive in a very scary way:

Without relying on tax increases, budget writers were forced into contortions to bring the budget into balance while placating defense hawks clamoring for increased military spending. They added nearly $40 billion in “emergency” war funding to the defense budget for next year, raising military spending without technically breaking strict caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The plan contains more than $1 trillion in savings from unspecified cuts to programs like food stamps and welfare. To make matters more complicated, the budget demands the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the tax increases that finance the health care law. But the plan assumes the same level of federal revenue over the next 10 years that the Congressional Budget Office foresees with those tax increases in place — essentially counting $1 trillion of taxes that the same budget swears to forgo.

And still, it achieves balance only by counting $147 billion in “dynamic” economic growth spurred by the policies of the budget itself. In 2024, the budget would produce a $13 billion surplus, thanks in part to $53 billion in a projected “macroeconomic impact” generated by Republican policies. That surplus would grow to $33 billion in 2025, and so would the macroeconomic impact, to $83 billion.

Spending on Medicaid may fall $913 billion over a decade once the health program is turned to block grants to the states, but House Republicans preferred to say in the plan, “Our budget realigns the relationship the federal government has with states and local communities by respecting and restoring the principle of federalism.”

The plan would cut billions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, but that was not exactly how the budget phrased the reductions.

“This budget converts SNAP to a State Flexibility Fund so state governments have the power to administer the program in ways that best fit the needs of their communities with greater incentives to achieve better results,” the document says.

Later they’re going to get together to reform taxes, don’t be surprised if taxes on the rich go way down. This budget is basically a reprise of the Ryan budgets and their basic structure was to cut programs for the poor and middle-class (without actually specifying them exactly) and cutting taxes for the rich (and perhaps raising them for the poor and middle-class). These are the Republican priorities (as with the Ryan budgets, they only pretend to balance the budget).

Snow and Holiday

So the Boston area got a few inches of snow today which means:

Just after 7 Sunday evening, with another 2.9 inches of fresh snow blanketing Boston, the National Weather Service in Taunton announced that the city notched its snowiest winter since records started being kept in 1872.

The official total at Logan International Airport reached 108.6 inches — one inch more than the previous record, which was set in the 1995-1996 winter, according to the weather service.

It could be that will be all we get, but there are still a few weeks for more possible snow.

For some reason this reminds me of Green Day:

Ok, not really but I was thinking back to the time this came out. The days of ‘Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists’, being called traitor if you didn’t like all the parts of the Patriot Act, being asked why you loved Saddam Hussein and hated America if you questioned going to war in Iraq. A time when all of America came together, until Republicans decided it made for a good campaign issue. This song was one of the first loud attacks against these attitudes and it made me very happy.

Happy Pi Day

I was going to wait until 9:26:53 but decided that I’d probably miss the correct second anyway. Happy Pi day


Republicans try sedition

First House Speaker invited Netanyahu to speak before Congress, which might be unconstitutional (what do these people Washington and Jefferson know about the Constitution anyway):

As described in The Executive Power over Foreign Affairs, George Washington as President asserted his role as the “sole channel of official intercourse” with foreign nations.  (Letter from Washington to the Emperor of Morocco, Dec. 1, 1789, cited at 111 Yale L.J., p. 317; further discussion of the point at pp. 318-322).  Notably, Washington quarreled with French ambassador Edmond Genet in 1793, who sought to enlist U.S. support for France in its conflict with Britain.  When Washington insisted on neutrality, Genet attempted to communicate directly with Congress, which he suspected was more sympathetic to France than the President.  Washington, through Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, responded sharply:

Jefferson upbraided Genet for attempting to contact Congress at all, declaring that all of Genet’s transactions must occur with the Executive of the United States.  Any communications between the President and Congress were none of his business, and he could not interfere.  The “President must be left to judge for himself what matters his duty or the public good may require him to propose to the deliberations of Congress.”

and now they double down with a  letter to Iran:

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.  The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

Basically Cotton and the others who signed the letter are telling other countries not to trust the US. Also, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shows in a response to the letter that he is much more intelligent than Cotton:

Foreign Minister Zarif added that “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.

The Iranian Foreign Minister added that “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Irans peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”

He emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 result in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Ah well, this is just your modern Republican Party at work.

Worker’s Compensation

Here’s another look at how workers are treated (a court later reinstated the plan, this time):

Ramirez had worked for 17 years at Kuehne + Nagel, the second largest freight forwarder in the world, climbing his way up from temp worker to warehouse supervisor. One day in July 2009, his boss asked him to move a crate. Ramirez pulled it out with a piece of equipment called a pallet jack. But as he turned his back to operate the jack, he heard a whooshing sound. A nearly 900-pound crate loaded with boxes full of satellite dish mounting poles came crashing down on him.

The crate, which OSHA said had been unsafely stacked, folded Ramirez’s body in half, crushing his spinal column and pinning his head between his feet.

“I started howling and yelling in Spanish and English,” he said. As blood poured from his mouth, he managed to tell his coworkers he couldn’t feel his legs anymore.

Travelers, the company’s workers’ comp carrier, began providing Ramirez with 24-hour home health care. In August 2012, a judge ruled him permanently and totally disabled and awarded him coverage for future medical care.

According to medical and court records, in early 2014, Ramirez’s physician submitted an unrelated request for additional care. Travelers sought a second opinion and then used what appeared to be only a slight modification to reassess the entirety of Ramirez’s home care plan.

This would be just except, as the story notes, this is part of a general trend in the US for states to reduce Worker’s Compensation:

The commission made dozens of recommendations that laid the foundation for modern workers’ comp systems: Nearly every employee should be covered. Workers should be able to pick their own doctors. If employees couldn’t work, they should get two-thirds of their wages up to at least the state’s average wage. Compensation should last as long as the person is disabled, with no arbitrary caps. Spouses should receive death benefits until they remarry, children until they graduate college.

In 1972, the commission advised Congress to mandate 19 of these recommendations as minimum federal standards if states didn’t enact the provisions on their own. States quickly did. But over time the political winds shifted. A wave of cutbacks began in the 1990s, swelled in the mid-2000s and, after slowing during the recession, picked up again.

The U.S. Labor Department used to keep track of how states complied with the presidential commission’s recommendations, but stopped after budget cuts in 2004.

A ProPublica analysis of state laws done in consultation with Burton found that only seven states now follow at least 15 of the recommendations made during the Nixon administration. Four states comply with less than half of them.

This would be a commission set up by President Nixon. And of course we pay the difference:

All the while, employers have found someone else to foot the bill for workplace accidents: American taxpayers, who shell out tens of billions of dollars a year through Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid for lost wages and medical costs not covered by workers’ comp.

It’s a beautiful system.

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