blueollie

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

Krugman on Sanders vs. Clinton on health care

Paul Krugman explains what the Democratic health care debate is about. Yes, he has a preference and mine is the same. This is why the pragmatist (“let’s see where we can go from where we are now”) appeals to me more than the bold dreamer.

January 19, 2016 Posted by | health care, politics | , , , | Leave a comment

The 2016 election is heating up: Sanders vs. Clinton and D’s vs R’s

The general election It is often claimed that Barack Obama is on the 2016 general election ballot, in a way that George W. Bush was in 2008. If so, what can we infer at the current time?

jan15obamaapproval2016

(from here) The dotted line is the average Gallup approval rating of the past several presidents (back to Truman) at that time in their administration (including the second, if they had one). The light green line is President Obama’s, which is tracking the average very well (48 percent as of yesterday) and the dark green which had the spikes and falls is President W. Bush’s.

So, at least as of now, President Obama is fairly typical of past presidents.

Now you might be hearing “oh no, Obama’s approval rating plunges” but if all you hear about are the plunges (or dips in the market, etc.), you miss the ups and get a false picture.

011516krugman1-tmagArticle

So, watch for that when the Republicans attack the Democrats.

The Democratic Race The Clinton campaign admit that things are tightening up. What will happen? I don’t know (I am expecting a split between New Hampshire and Iowa) but this is turning into an election.

The Clinton campaign has thrown some punches. One of those is on health care. Where Sen. Sanders wants a single payer plan; a type of “Medicare for all”, the Clinton campaign does correctly point out that means a dismantling of Obamacare (ACA) and…STATES running the system with the federal government stepping in if certain criteria are not met. Factcheck.org calls the attacks “misleading”; I call them “nuanced”. This is similar to what the two candidates want in terms of financial institution regulation. Sen. Sanders wants Glass-Steagall to be revived. Sec. Clinton has a different idea as Paul Krugman points out:

For what it’s worth, Mrs. Clinton had the better case. Mr. Sanders has been focused on restoring Glass-Steagall, the rule that separated deposit-taking banks from riskier wheeling and dealing. And repealing Glass-Steagall was indeed a mistake. But it’s not what caused the financial crisis, which arose instead from “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers, which don’t take deposits but can nonetheless wreak havoc when they fail. Mrs. Clinton has laid out a plan to rein in shadow banks; so far, Mr. Sanders hasn’t.

Surf to the Krugman article; he goes on to say that those who think that Sec. Clinton is cozy with Wall Street are behind the times; this may have been true in 2008 but it is no longer true.

Right now, big money is hostile to the Democrats.

Social Divide between Clinton and Sanders
Now THIS is starting to look a bit like 2008. I remember the bitter divide between those “latte sipping college types” and the “blue collar” types; the former being with Obama and the latter being with Clinton.

Well, I am seeing this again, albeit in a different way. I am on the Clinton campaign mailing list because I made a campaign contribution (as has my wife).

So, I get this e-mail message from James Carville:

ourgirlhillary

“Our girl Hillary”??? I can see college feminists grinding their teeth on this one. Yes, I “get it”; this sort of language plays well with the sort of crowd that they want to inspire. But it is a faux pas with the academic crowd that I hang with.

I should also be clear: I had more of a personal investment in Barack Obama; he was from my state and a modern professorial type guy. He is cool, calculating and uses Sunday mornings to work out..and he watches football and basketball when he can. I don’t have such a personal investment with Hillary Clinton.

But it is my opinion that she is smart, sober minded, level headed and knows how hard it will be…as she warned in 2008:

I am glad that I voted for Barack Obama, but she did have a better idea of how hard the Republicans would fight Obama and how uncooperative they would be.

Humor This is a silly, which candidate would you want with you in a bar fight post.

January 16, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, health care, hillary clinton, politics, politics/social | , , , | Leave a comment

Slackers and punishment…

Workout notes early morning: 10K walk in Bradley Park; 5.1 mile plus lower 1.23 mile loop. It was cool and pretty; it would have been peaceful too except our local ROTC contingent saw fit to run around and chant stereotypical military sounding stuff. They might have been more impressive had they not been going 10-11 minutes per mile. They aren’t exactly West Point material.

So, needless to say, I don’t like slackers. But sometimes one can be counterproductive when one attempts to punish them. This New York Times story talks about the poor who get into debt but are then hampered by losing their driver’s license …which makes many jobs off limits to them. I believe in paying one’s debts; perhaps wage garnishments are the way to go.

Charter Schools I have mixed feelings about these; and these can sometimes lead to increased segregation:

Parental preferences are part of the problem. The charter school admissions process is itself race-blind: Schools that are too popular conduct lotteries between their applicants. But if a school isn’t white enough, white parents simply won’t apply.

In previous research, Ladd discovered that white North Carolina parents prefer schools that are less than 20 percent black. This makes it hard to have racially balanced charter schools in a state where more than a quarter of schoolchildren are black.

“Even though black parents might prefer racially balanced schools, the fact that white parents prefer schools with far lower proportions of black students sets up a tipping point,” the authors write. “Once a school becomes ‘too black,’ it becomes almost all black as white parents avoid it.”

On the upside: this is the type of bipartisanship that I hope to see more of:

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes in the way Medicare pays doctors, clearing the bill for President Obama and resolving an issue that has bedeviled Congress and the Medicare program for more than a decade.

The 92-to-8 vote in the Senate, following passage in the House last month by a vote of 392 to 37, was a major success for Republicans, who devised a solution to a complex policy problem that had frustrated lawmakers of both parties. Mr. Obama has endorsed the bill, saying it “could help slow health care cost growth.”

The bill, drafted in the House in negotiations between Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, also extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program for two years, through 2017.

Without action by Congress, doctors would have faced a 21 percent cut in Medicare fees on Wednesday or Thursday. Senate leaders cleared the way for final passage by allowing votes on several amendments sought by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans.

April 16, 2015 Posted by | education, health care, political/social, politics, poverty, walking | | Leave a comment

Numbers, fraudulent and misleading…

Education: yes, if you base teaching performance on the test scores of their students, the teachers will cook the data any way that they can. Given a metric, people will seek to optimize the metric, regardless of end results.

A questionable pro-President Obama claim: This article claims a 22 point improvement in President Obama’s approval ratings:

President Obama’s approval rating has improved by 22 points in the Gallup poll since Republicans won control of Congress. Obama’s opposition to the Republican agenda is making the president more popular while destroying the myth of a GOP mandate.

Really? Well, his approval went from 39 to 50 percent, which IS nice. So where did “22 point improvement” come from? You see, his DISAPPROVAL went down so the difference (approval minus disapproval) went from -17 to +5. Okkkkaaaaayyyyy…

That is an interesting slight of hand. But Rep. Sessions (R-Texas) thinks that 108 billion divided by 12 million is 5 million and not 9000. He called it “simple arithmetic”. Hmmm, for him, not so simple? 🙂

That’s ok; Fox News will probably back him up, and NPR will probably try to present “both sides” of this arithmetic issue “well, most math teachers say that the quotient is 9000, but some say 5 million so we’ll give BOTH SIDES an equal opportunity….”

March 26, 2015 Posted by | education, health care, political/social, politics | | Leave a comment