U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, holds a news conference in Washington September 9, 2014. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Conservative Republicans on Wednesday resisted a plan to avert a budget fight over President Barack Obama’s immigration order, raising the likelihood that the spending struggle in Congress could last right up to the Dec. 11 deadline for a government shutdown. Tea Party lawmakers stood firm against House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner’s plan… Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. Department of Defense photo by Kathleen T. Rhem, American Forces Press Service.
The U.S. military released to Saudi Arabia this week a captive who was held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for a dozen years, was never charged with a crime but was categorized for a time as a “forever prisoner.” A Saudi plane fetched Muhammed Zahrani, 45, on Friday, reducing the detainee population at… Read the rest of this entry »
Uninsured New Jerseyans will have a new tool to help them buy health insurance this fall, just in time for the next Affordable Care Act open enrollment period, a website geared to connecting them with people and resources that can make it easier to sign up for coverage. The New Jersey for Health Care coalition, which… Read the rest of this entry »
FRANKLIN — Gov. Chris Christie today said he did not yet know how President Obama’s health care overhaul would ultimately affect New Jersey because the president kept delaying the law’s most detrimental aspects. “What effect it will have is very hard…
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie’s office today confirmed a published report that an internal investigation by an attorney hired by New Jersey is the result of a “comprehensive and exhaustive” review and will give “a full airing of what happened…
“We respond as Americans,” Christie bellowed following a congressional adjournment which occurred without a vote, “at least we did until last night… it was disgusting to watch.”
A majority of conservatives were of a decidedly different opinion, ranging from disinterest to feelings of betrayal. Their disgust was reserved for an event that occurred approximately two months earlier, before the Mitt Train officially derailed, when the rockstar GOP Governor embraced President Obama on Garden State soil, a move which public exit polling suggested could’ve helped move the needle in the incumbent’s direction in key 2012 battleground states like Virginia and Ohio. Base political calculation at its worst? Or simply emotions getting the best of an emotional guy?
Once again, there are rumblings of “death panels” in the Affordable Care Act. This happens when a bill is passed as massive as this one that not a single member of Congress read prior to approving it. We are slowly learning of the myriad of difficulties buried in this bill simply because it was jammed down our throats with the goal of not airing it carefully beforehand. But the death panels do not exist.
There are two provisions to which Sarah Palin, Mark Halperin and even Howard Dean have referred as “death panels.” The first, Section 1233, involves counselling (voluntary, not mandatory) of “end of life” provisions. These include Living Wills, Health Advisory Statements, etc., all of which are standard documents every trust and estates attorney prepares for his/her client. There is nothing sinister about these. The second provision involves the Independent Payment Advisory Board whose sole function is to make recommendations regarding ways of cutting Medicare costs in the future. Those recommendations are not self-implementing. They must be submitted to Congress and approved by the President. This means first, there is no review of any individual case. Second, whatever recommendations are made need to be passed as if they were a new law. Oddly, there are so many serious harmful provisions of this Act, it is curious that everyone is fixated on two provisions that are relatively benign.
There are provisions that are not benign that are harmful to this nation and not just to its health care. What is amazing is that while everyone is obsessed with something that is not in the Act, they are totally ignoring a provision of the Act that is as unconstitutional and unAmerican as any provision of any Act in our lifetime. The Act provides in section 3007 for a “value based payment modifier.” This means health professionals get reviewed by the Administration and a calculation is made measuring the average cost for treating a patient for the physician or “group” of doctors versus the “success” of the treatment. It would be difficult to dream of a more subjective measurement so subject to abuse. I stand awestruck by the teachers who support the ACA (having not read it, of course) while screaming that it is not fair to “measure” their performance by the success of their students. This calculation leads to a “mathematical” payment modifier that reduces the payments given by Medicare to each group of health practitioners. But that’s not the bad part.
Question: If a $600/month insurance policy only costs the individual $33, what does it REALLY cost?
Answer: $600, with $567 less in purchasing power for the hard-working taxpayer who is subsidizing it.
Smoke and mirrors make for bad policy. When we buy any type of insurance, we weigh the benefits of the policy against the loss of the money we must put out to purchase the policy. When we ask the taxpayers to subsidize our policy, all such reasoning disappears.
Most of us have limited funds, so we must choose carefully. Wise people insure against major loss, such as our house burning down. Most of us believe that paying $1,000 per year is reasonable, as the cost to rebuild a house is hundreds of thousands of dollars. Insurance gives us peace of mind, even though the chance of our house burning down is statistically very low.
For many reasons, we have allowed health insurance to defy all the principles of insurance. There is something emotional about health insurance. Maybe it is because we fear death and want to be sure it does not happen to us any time soon. Maybe it is watching others suffer from illness and want insurance to assure that they get well, do not suffer, and have all their bills paid.
We have actually been duped into thinking that someone else ought to pay for all the health care we need. Politicians gain support and votes when they assure the masses that they care about their health. And insurance companies are more than happy to offer generous policies since commissions and CEO compensation are a percentage of the premiums.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.