blueollie

Why Republicans can’t repeal the ACA…

Bottom line: the ACA IS A REPUBLICAN IDEA. Yes, the statement is rated as “half true” but:

Republican Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island was the point man. The bill he introduced, Health Equity and Access Reform Today, (yes, that spells HEART) had a list of 20 co-sponsors that was a who’s who of Republican leadership. There was Minority Leader Bob Dole, R- Kan., Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and many others. There also were two Democratic co-sponsors.

Among other features, the Chafee bill included:

An individual mandate;

Creation of purchasing pools;

Standardized benefits;

Vouchers for the poor to buy insurance;

A ban on denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

“You would find a great deal of similarity to provisions in the Affordable Care Act,” Sheila Burke, Dole’s chief of staff in 1993, told PunditFact via email. “The guys were way ahead of the times!! Different crowd, different time, suffice it to say.”

That said, the Senate plan from 1993 was not identical to the health care law that passed in 2010. The Republican bill did not expand Medicaid as Obamacare does, and it did have medical malpractice tort reform, which the current law does not. In contrast to the current employer mandate, the Chafee bill required employers to offer insurance, but they were under no obligation to help pay for it.

So, it did have a great deal in common with the Heritage Foundation plan. And, as Paul Krugman points out, all three pillars: mandate, community ratings, subsidies, are necessary.

Workout notes: 41:55 for 4 treadmill miles: 5 minute froggy for the first 20 minutes, 2.5 minute froggy for the next 22. 11:45, 22:10, 32:25 or 30:10 for the final 3..about 1 minute slower than my last 2 5K “races”.

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July 19, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics/social, running | Leave a comment

The Turtlecare bill (aka BCRA)

Yes, it is a dreadful bill; it hurts those with preexisting conditions and savages Medicaid, especially if the economy goes south. And all if it for a tax cut for the wealthiest among us.

What chance does it have? I COULD pass the Senate, though that is uncertain. I can recommend Nate Silver’s analysis. And there is a CHANCE that the Senate bill might fail in the House.

Yes, the bill is deeply unpopular. But will they get away with it?

My guess: “maybe”. And this is one huge issue in our country. Any bill that helps the poor more than anyone else is going to cause division since there is a perception that “the poor” consists mostly of people “not like us”; lazy, entitled, …ok, I’ll say it…people of a different race.

We need to realize that we are all in this together, and yes, while some of the poor ARE stupid, entitled and lazy, most who get help use it in a reasonably responsible manner. And that includes people who do not look “like us”.

And, well, think of it this way: if you own a business, wouldn’t it be nice if more people had money so they could patronize your business? Yes, a good health care plan will end up putting money in the pockets of the less well-to-do, and that will benefit businesses.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Ok, Obamacare repeal passes the House..what next? Malthus lives on…

Here are a couple of good articles which explain what must happen for this bill to become law: it needs a CBO score, then it needs to be determined if this bill meets the rules for reconciliation AND it can even get 50 Republican votes. (Washington Post, Scientific American)

My guess: House moderate Republicans changed their minds because, unlike the ACA, this is unlikely to become law in its current form. So, while the ACA passage cost the Democrats many, many seats, this bill, if it dies or becomes unrecognizable, might not cost the Republicans nearly as much.

Besides, the biggest threat to many Republicans is a primary challenge, NOT the general election.

My guess: the Senate will have to make some tweaks to both get to 50 votes AND to meet reconciliation rules, and that tweaked bill might not survive a second round in the House. I’ll be watching carefully.

Oh, my feed is full of “those heartless Republicans” but these pleas are likely to fall on deaf ears. The elite Republicans have always had a bit of a social Darwinist element to their reasoning.

You see life is hard, it is risky and many do not make it. If you are one of those, well, that is sad, and perhaps a charity might help you out. But that is NOT “our problem”.

This sentiment is expressed by former US Representative Joe Walsh:

Republicans in office cannot say this directly, but he can. Believe me, many of the wealthy Republicans think this way.

There are assets and debits. If you cannot contribute due to either age or disability AND aren’t wealthy, well, you are a debit, not a credit. So society is better off not supporting you. Reverend Malthus would be proud.

Workout notes:
rotator cuff, pull ups (ugly got 10-10-10-10-(5-5), incline presses (10 x 135, 5 x 135, 4 x 135, strict hips), military: 20 x 50 (dumbbell) seated, supported, 2 sets of 10 x 45 standing (dumbbell), 3 sets of 10 x 110 row machine.

2 mile run: 10:36/19:14 via 8 minutes of 2-2-2-2, then 6.7 until mile 1, 6.8-7.1 and 7.2 for the last 46 seconds.

Then goblet squats (100 meter walk recoveries) 50-45-50-60-50-65 (5 reps). Took two sets to get to the proper depth.

Now: onward to see my daughter graduate and finish final exams.

May 4, 2017 Posted by | health care, Personal Issues, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, running, social/political, weight training | Leave a comment

The Health Care/Insurance debate: how superstition can be harmful

Yes, I am the first person to promote the virtues of eating well, exercising, avoiding excessive risks, not smoking, showing restraint in one’s sex life (and using condoms) etc.

Maintaining a healthy weight, refraining from smoking, staying physically active can all help increase one’s odds of staying healthy. Also, practicing things to help one to remain serene can help. So does science (e. g., getting your vaccines!!!!)

But that is far, far, far from the whole story. There are many factors such as unavoidable accidents (e. g. that drink driver crosses over and hits you), genetic factors, and just plain bad luck.

But the religious nutters and other woo-woos refuse to accept this. Many simply cannot live with the inherent randomness; to them, the whole universe is all part of some deity’s plan.

And yes, sometimes jerks who think this way elect other jerks who think this way:

So, needless to say, I am skeptical:

Maybe I’ll be wrong; after all, the stop gap budget was a pleasant surprise.

workout notes: deliberate but non-intense 4 mile walk; I am kind of dragging.

May 2, 2017 Posted by | health care, political/social, politics, social/political, superstition, walking | Leave a comment

Health care: I can live with some inequality

Ok, we know that the House attempt to kill Obamacare went down in flames; you had the “Freedom Caucus” who did not want any sort of government involvement at versus some moderates who didn’t want to see so many kicked off of insurance.

So, were do we go from here? Some populists are actually ok with some sort of universal coverage (think: “Medicaid for all”). I do not think that the populists are really free market types who are opposed to a single payer type solution. It is more tribal than that:

I think that perhaps too many of them see others from their tribe as being unworthy slackers and losers. But will enough of them move past that? We shall see.

I wonder if there is a way to play to President Trump’s ego and need for adulation…let HIM be the one that “finally got it done” and got us something like universal health care.

So what would such a plan might look like?

I could see some sort of “basic health care for all” with the option of people either getting some extras on their own. I could live with that, provided the “extras” really were extra.

Example: you get cancer, you get good treatment; the full works.

But if you’ve reached the point where you are semi-conscious, have no realistic chance of pulling out of it, but you want to spend the last month of your life in a semi-conscious state, hooked up to machines …well…that you can have a private policy to pay for. If you want to spend your insurance premium money so you can die on silk sheets, go for it.

Workout notes 4 mile walk on dead legs.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics/social, social/political, walking | | Leave a comment

And I waste my spring break….

I am just having too much fun on the internet.

Now THAT is my kind of toaster! (this is what this is making fun of: Kellyanne Conway, of couch kneeling fame, claimed that some microwaves have spy cameras)

Cheetocare My “friend” Carmen Johnson and my twitter buddy Diana Archer dubbed this health care train wreck “Cheetocare”. Roughly, it cuts taxes on the upper 2 percent in return for underfunding the Medicare trust fund and not expanding Medicaid …and ..in effect, kicking older people off of Obamacare by allowing the insurance companies to increase the multiplier from 3 times to 5 times (how much more an older person must pay for insurance). Here are some sources: New York Times, Vox, Vox on Medicaid.

If there is a silver lining, it is that poor, red, southern states will be hit the hardest with a “per-capita” Medicaid rating.

But, it is my guess that this bill will either crash and burn in the house or be DOA in the Senate. Even conservative outlets such as Newsmax and Breitbart are denouncing it as Ryan’s plan. In fact, Newsmax is actually proposing “Medicaid for all”; weaker than “Medicare for all” to be sure, but..well…when Newsmax moves somewhat close to what I can live with…these are strange times.

As far as the rest of the Trump agenda: well, lots of CEOs seem to like what they see. I get it: they spend a LOT of time on their own businesses and are pretty good on managing things on a short term basis. Of course if things get so bad that few have money to patronize their businesses…well, I suppose in their eyes, that is some theoretical construct that they don’t have time for now. Micro is their thing, not macro.

Upshot: don’t expect them to move away from Trump for all of Trump’s shortcomings.

Basketball notes: Fun NIT game in Champaign last night; another one in Normal tonight. I’ll write a complete report tomorrow.

Workout notes:
Treadmill run: 10 minute warm up (every 2 minutes), then 10 x 2:30 at 6.7, 2:30 at 5.3 recoveries. I had an extra break when the fire alarm went off (false alarm) so I did one 3 minute interval with a 2 minute rest to make up somewhat. 1:00:44 for 6 miles, 1:02:52 for 10K.

March 15, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, running, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

They lie and get away with it…healthcare, wire taps, etc.

First, here is Trump’s claim that President Obama released 122 prisoners from GITMO who returned to the battlefield. Uh, 113 of these were released by President Bush:

But none of this will matter to a Trump supporter.

What about Trump’s claim that he was “wiretapped by Obama”? Well, here is what they find convincing. I actually agree that an impartial investigation is called for; let’s see the evidence used for the relevant FISA warrants. But this article does have a useful list of good article about intercepted intelligence between Trump campaign officials and the Russians.

Here is a more thoughtful article about KremlinGate and what happened. Upshot: you don’t have right to privacy when discussing things with potential spies.

And we move to healthcare. Yes, the Republicans want to give the wealthiest another tax cut and repeal some of the unpopular things from Obamacare..but things that were necessary to make it work. And they want to allow companies to charge older people 5 times more (rather than just 3) and end out of pocked subsidies. My guess: Senate will filibuster and the Republicans will say “we tried” (while breathing a sigh of relief).

March 7, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, republicans, tax cuts | | Leave a comment

The liberal way

There was a recent article about Fitbit and how its use did NOT seem to make people fitter, in general:

The trial took place at the University of Pittsburgh between 2010 and 2012, and it involved more than 470 adults between the ages of 18 and 35. All of them were put on a low-calorie diet, had group counseling sessions and were advised to increase their physical activity. Six months into the intervention, all were given telephone counseling sessions, text-message prompts and study materials online.

At that time, though, half were also given wearable tech devices that monitored their activity and connected to a website to help provide feedback. All participants were followed for 18 more months.

At the end of the two years, which is pretty long for a weight loss study, those without access to the wearable technology lost an average of 13 pounds. Those with the wearable tech lost an average of 7.7 pounds.

It’s hard for many to accept, so I’m going to state the results again: Those people who used the wearable tech for 18 months lost significantly less weight than those who didn’t.

You may rightfully point out that the primary reason to wear the devices isn’t to lose weight — it’s to be more active. But even in this respect, it didn’t work nearly as well as we might hope. In the IDEA trial, those who employed the technology were no more physically active than those who didn’t. They also weren’t more fit.

Now this is a very narrow demographic (18 to 35) and most of the people that I talk to or who use this are considerably older than 35 years old. And yes, one of the fans of the fitbit is ..my wife. Nevertheless, Paul Krugman weighed in:

Notice: instead of panning a study that gave a counterintuitive result, he looked for other reasons as to why HIS individual experience might have been different. That’s the liberal way.

Now about the other people: People have been showing up at town halls and letting their members of Congress, often Republicans, hear from them. Democracy in action, right? Uh..

no…

That’s pathetic, Mr. President.

Weather and workouts

Was it warm today, by “February in Illinois” standards. Evidently, we aren’t alone. We are having “April/May” stuff right now.

I took advantage to walk a hilly 5K at 14:27 mpm (Bradley Hill course). That was after weights:

rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, good), bench press (dumbbell) 10 x 70, 10 x 75, incline press: 10 x 135 (hips planted), military press: 10 x 50, 45, 40 (dumbbell), machine rows (10 x 110, 3 sets).
abs: 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches.

lots of free squats; then 5 x 45, 4 sets of 5 x 50 dumbbell goblet, 10 x 230 leg press. Butt is getting stronger.

Right shoulder: slightly sore; back; ache came back briefly while lying down.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | health care, political/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

What’s the deal with the ACA Repeal?

The House followed the Senate and set it up so that most of the ACA could be repealed via “reconciliation rules”, which require only a majority vote in the Senate.

This is really just step 1 of the repeal process. Now a bill has to be written up (negotiated, etc.) and then signed into law. And the “replace” part IS subject to filibuster rules. Here is a handy guide as to the steps which must be taken.

Not everything is going away via a “repeal law” passed by reconciliation; here is a discussion as to what might be one and what might be kept.

I feel terrible for those who didn’t vote Trump who will be hurting because of this. But to those who voted for Trump and are now worried? I have no sympathy at all. But many who voted for Clinton will be terribly hurt and this is why I am going to lobby my members of Congress to fight.

We never learn, do we? You vote to spite others (as many Trump voters did), you get bitten by your choice.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

2016 Democratic Dust up: Hillary-Bernie and Krugman-Reich

When people who are usually allies start arguing politics, it is *probably* primary season.

Bernie Sanders has made some headway in the polls and is a bona-fide threat to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire (I predict a split) and so his positions are getting some scrutiny.

And yes, the numbers do not add up, as Paul Krugman points out (re: health care):

On health care: leave on one side the virtual impossibility of achieving single-payer. Beyond the politics, the Sanders “plan” isn’t just lacking in detail; as Ezra Klein notes, it both promises more comprehensive coverage than Medicare or for that matter single-payer systems in other countries, and assumes huge cost savings that are at best unlikely given that kind of generosity. This lets Sanders claim that he could make it work with much lower middle-class taxes than would probably be needed in practice.

To be harsh but accurate: the Sanders health plan looks a little bit like a standard Republican tax-cut plan, which relies on fantasies about huge supply-side effects to make the numbers supposedly add up. Only a little bit: after all, this is a plan seeking to provide health care, not lavish windfalls on the rich — and single-payer really does save money, whereas there’s no evidence that tax cuts deliver growth. Still, it’s not the kind of brave truth-telling the Sanders campaign pitch might have led you to expect.

And look: if the political theory behind supporting Sanders is that the American people will vote for radical change if you’re honest about what’s involved, the campaign’s evident unwillingness to fully confront the issues, its reliance on magic asterisks, very much weakens that claim.

I think it fails on both counts: political feasibility (from where WE are right now) and on the technical details. You might say “tax the rich” and that IS a good thing, but the arithmetic doesn’t add up.

Now people like Krugman are catching heat from some:

One of the differences between right and left in America is that the progressive infrastructure includes a contingent of genuine wonks — commentators on policy who really do make models and crunch numbers, and sometimes come up with answers that aren’t fully predictable from their politics. The list includes Ezra Klein, Jonathan Cohn, Jonathan Chait, Mike Konczal, myself some of the time, and others. Right now the wonk brigade has been weighing in on Bernie Sanders, and is in general not too impressed on either financial reform or health care.

And the response of some — only some — Sanders supporters is disappointing, although I guess predictable given that somewhat similar things happened during the 2008 primary. There will, I guess, always be some people who, having made an emotional commitment to a candidate, can’t accept the proposition that someone might share their values but honestly disagree with the candidate’s approach.

Emphasis mine. I’ve seen some of that in my private life too (NOT from my wife; she supports Hillary Clinton).

And now you have people like Robert Reich claiming that Paul Krugman doesn’t “get it”.

Krugman doesn’t get it. I’ve been in and around Washington for almost fifty years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I’ve learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized, and determined to make it happen.

Political “pragmatism” may require accepting “half loaves” – but the full loaf has to be large and bold enough in the first place to make the half loaf meaningful. That’s why the movement must aim high – toward a single-payer universal health, free public higher education, and busting up the biggest banks, for example.

Uh, you can “aim high” but THE NUMBERS HAVE TO ADD UP AND THE PROPOSALS MUST BE HONEST AS TO THE COST. The positions of Sen. Sanders fails on both counts and admitting that is just simple honesty.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | 2016, health care, political/social, politics | , , | Leave a comment