Friday, December 06, 2013
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The U.S. federal health insurance website HealthCare.gov, which has had technology problems since its October 1 launch, is now experiencing errors in transmitting applications about 10 percent of the time, a government spokeswoman said on Friday.The great moments of statist health care. Imagine the private sector getting away with this.
The online insurance marketplace relays information about new customers in '834' transaction forms to the private insurance companies that provide the health plans. HealthCare.gov serves people in 36 states, while 14 states are running their own websites.
"We believe nine of 10 transactions are being successfully transmitted," the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, spokeswoman Julie Bataille said at a news briefing.
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( Video) Little American Dream Factory: Chicago Bureaucrats Put the Brakes on an Innovative Business
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The Guardian has the blockbuster story of the week:
The proposal from the Illinois Policy Institute for a campaign to deal with Chicago's government worker pensions crisis by switching to 401(k)-style retirement plans similarly focuses on a politician – in this case Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The proposal says that "Mayor Emanuel has privately expressed the need for 401(k)-style changes to truly achieve reform."An article well worth your time.
Posted by Steve Bartin at 1:30 PM
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CNS News reports:
Federal, state and local governments hired a net additional 338,000 workers in November, equaling 41 percent of the total of 818,000 net additional jobs created in the United States during the month.A glimpse of how bad the jobs numbers really are.
At the same time, the unemployment rate for government workers fell from 4.4 percent in October to 3.2 percent in November. (The overall national unemployment rate fell from 7.3 percent to 7.0 percent.)
In October, governments around the country employed 19,726,000 people, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In November, that rose to 20,064,000—a net increase of 338,000 people employed by government.
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Enrollment surge or no enrollment surge, the next Obamacare challenge is a big one: How will the White House make sure all those people with canceled policies get new coverage by Jan. 1?
At the rate the signups are going — even with the speedier, newly functioning Obamacare website — the administration has a vast distance to travel before the estimated 4 to 5 million people with canceled policies get new health coverage.
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Majority of Americans Want Major Changes to Health Law: Fifty-two percent want Congress to repeal or scale back the law
After two months of glitches with the new federal healthcare website and attempts to fix it, the percentage of Americans who prefer that Congress scale back or entirely repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or "Obamacare," has changed little. Fifty-two percent favor scaling back (20%) or repealing (32%) the law, similar to the 50% from mid-October.Chris Matthews would call this racism.
Posted by Steve Bartin at 9:15 AM
The Washington Examiner reports:
President Obama on Thursday said that Republicans should be “embarrassed” that they have not done more on Capitol Hill, blaming them for Washington gridlock.Strongman Obama upset not everyone thinks like a Cook County Democrat.
“They've got to be embarrassed,” the president said in an interview on MSNBC’s "Hardball with Chris Matthews." “Because the truth of the matter is that they've now been in charge of the House of Representatives, one branch of, or one chamber in one branch of government, for a couple of years now and they just don't have a lot to show for it.”
Posted by Steve Bartin at 5:41 AM
Thursday, December 05, 2013
The National Journal reports:
Despite bipartisan support, Congress is unlikely to pass a permanent "doc-fix" by the end of the year, according to an official in the House Ways and Means Committee. But lawmakers need to get a patch in place soon to prevent a 20 percent cut to physicians' pay on Jan. 1.The struggles of socialized medicine.
While the goal within Congress is still a long-term fix, the official said, the reality is that the House will meet for four more days before adjourning until next year.
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services unveiled a 20 percent cut to 2014 doctor's payments for Medicare services.
While the cut—and the time Congress has left to stop it—seems ominous, the likelihood of it happening is small. It's a dance Congress does each year after CMS announces the cut, which a 1997 law required in order to keep federal spending in check with federal income.
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The New York Daily News reports:
A Brooklyn city councilman running for Congress has written to a federal judge seeking leniency for a reputed Colombo mobster who will be sentenced this month for money laundering and illegal gambling.The great moments of the Democrat party.
Dominic Recchia, a Democrat representing Coney Island, Gravesend and Bensonhurst, sent the letter on City Council letterhead extolling the community service performed by reputed mobster Angelo Spata after Hurricane Sandy.
Posted by Steve Bartin at 3:05 PM
The Boston Globe reports:
President Obama acknowledged on Thursday that he lived with his Kenyan uncle for a brief period in the 1980s while preparing to attend Harvard Law School, contradicting a statement more than a year ago that the White House had no record of the two ever meeting.Another lie exposed.
Their relationship came into question on Tuesday at the deportation hearing of his uncle, Onyango Obama, in Boston immigration court. His uncle had lived in the United States illegally since the 1970s and revealed in testimony for the first time that his famous nephew had stayed at his Cambridge apartment for about three weeks. At the time, Onyango Obama was here illegally and fighting deportation.
Posted by Steve Bartin at 1:33 PM
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The National Journal reports:
Progressives are starting to worry that President Obama may be more talk than walk when it comes to raising the minimum wage. Again, on Wednesday, the president said, "It's well past the time to raise a minimum wage that, in real terms right now, is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office."What better proof that progressives aren't fans of the U.S. Constitution.
Well, progressives say, there's a whole group of low-wage workers that he can fix this for, just with the stroke of a pen. The chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, wrote a letter that urges the president to circumvent Congress and sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers employed through federal government contracts with private companies. This letter comes months after 49 members of the CPC requested the same thing from the president, only to hear radio silence about it from the White House.
"It's frustrating," says Ellison, who hand-delivered the letter to the president after his speech Wednesday. "We know his heart is in the right place and he wants to do something, and this is something he can do."
It's especially frustrating for Ellison and his caucus considering there is no chance such a measure could pass the Republican-held House and that Obama said months ago that he would use "whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class."
Posted by Steve Bartin at 12:44 PM
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The Huffington Post reports:
Unresolved technical problems on HealthCare.gov could lead to a rude surprise at the doctor's office next month for patients who think they successfully used the website to sign up for health insurance. They may find they're not insured after all.Health insurance you can count on!
HealthCare.gov, the federal online portal for health-insurance shopping in more than 30 states, has improved after more than a month of intense fixes, and enrollment is accelerating. But insurance companies are still getting information on their would-be customers that is garbled and incomplete, and in some cases they are getting no information at all. President Barack Obama's administration is scrambling to repair the faulty system, but scant time remains until the Dec. 23 deadline for consumers to choose a health plan that will be in place Jan. 1.
The result could be an untold number of consumers remaining uninsured despite completing the enrollment process -- another embarrassing chapter in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature health care reform law.
The Obama administration insists the enrollment glitches will be fixed in time to prevent any troubles next month, but won't disclose the extent of the problem. Nor will it guarantee that any patients who fall victim to these problems won't be exposed to medical bills if they get sick or injured.
Posted by Steve Bartin at 9:50 AM
The National Journal reports:
It’s not the voters who hate Obamacare the most who are going to matter in next year’s elections. It’s the independents who frequently side with Democrats but could, if propelled by a distaste for the health care law, take a serious look at the GOP in 2014. And on this front, Democrats have a big problem with one of their most crucial constituencies—white women.You'll want to read this one.
Polling provided to National Journal by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that white women have soured considerably on the law, especially in the month since its botched rollout. The skepticism runs especially deep among blue-collar women, sometimes known as “waitress moms,” whose deeply pessimistic attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act should riddle Democratic candidates with anxiety.
Certainly, the law’s unpopularity gives Republicans a tool to counter the Democratic claim of a GOP “war on women”—something Republicans failed miserably at in 2012. But more significantly, it demonstrates that Democrats will have to fight just to retain core elements of their constituency. With 2014’s most important campaigns already lying in hostile territory like Alaska, Arkansas, and South Dakota, it’s a battle many of these candidates can ill afford.
The Kaiser poll, which has been conducted monthly since Obamacare’s inception, shows the law has never been a big hit with white women. But this group’s opinions took a sharply negative turn in the November results.
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The New York Times reports:
The hard-fought passage here Tuesday of a landmark bill trimming retirement benefits for state workers, aimed at fixing the vastly underfunded pension system, has become instantly relevant to the nation’s third-largest city, which has its own pension systems in various stages of financial collapse.There's more:
And if anything, the reckoning in Chicago is even nearer and more difficult than the one the state had faced, putting its Democratic mayor, Rahm Emanuel, in a difficult position under a tight deadline.
Under state law, the city must increase its contributions to its workers’ pension funds by $590 million in 2015, to a total annual contribution of $1.4 billion for current and future retirees. If no pension deal can be reached by November of next year, when the city will draft its next budget, the city will either have to raise taxes or cut services or some combination of both.
But city officials are hoping there is now momentum on their side to force a compromise solution. They come armed not only with Tuesday’s state vote but also with a federal judge’s ruling, also on Tuesday, to formally send Detroit into bankruptcy. Chicago is not facing bankruptcy, but the Detroit case produced a development being watched closely by cities and unions across the country: It explicitly permitted changes to public pension funds to help the city shed its debts and reorganize.
“Should Chicago fail to get pension relief soon, we will be faced with a 2015 budget that will either double city property taxes or eliminate the vital services that people rely on,” Mr. Emanuel said in an email on Wednesday. “To avoid that, we need a balanced approach. We need a plan that is fair to both workers and taxpayers, and gives them both the certainty and security they are looking for.”
Actually, the situation is even worse, said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a government watchdog group. The Fitch study looked only at police and firefighter pensions. If you include pensions for teachers, laborers and other municipal employees, property taxes in that situation would have to more than double, he said.Chicago gets front page New York Times coverage. The struggles of Blue America.
Angry union officials say they will file suit in state court in coming days to have the new state law overturned, a process that could last more than a year, and they argue that no further deals involving the more than 62,000 Chicago workers should be enacted until that litigation plays out. City officials say they cannot wait that long.
“There’s a definite hole in the budget, and neither taxpayers or employees should be expected to fill it alone,” said Kelley Quinn, a spokeswoman for the mayor. “The longer we delay, the worse the problem gets.”
Posted by Steve Bartin at 8:42 AM
Red Orbit reports:
Researchers writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology say the fear of being single is a meaningful predictor of settling for less in relationships among both men and women.Not everyone is a picky Pete.
A team from the University of Toronto surveyed several samples of North American adults, including university undergraduates and community members from Canada and the US. The samples varied across a wide range of ages.
The researchers performed seven studies to determine whether or not people settled out of fear of being alone. During the first study, the team explored the content of people’s thoughts about being single, while the second study included the development and validation of a” fear of being single” scale.
The second study also provided preliminary support for the hypothesis that fear of being single predicts settling for less in ongoing relationships, as evidence by greater dependence in unsatisfying relationships.
Posted by Steve Bartin at 8:35 AM
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The Hill reports:
Mounting opposition to ObamaCare among young adults is creating a new crisis for the White House.
While the federal enrollment website HealthCare.gov appears to be improving by the day, polls show the “young invincibles” key to making the law work are becoming less likely to enroll.
Younger people were skeptical of the healthcare reform law even before its troubled rollout, despite their support for President Obama.
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