Archive for August 8th, 2014

08
Aug
14

The Day Is Over. Here Comes The Laughter

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Continue reading ‘The Day Is Over. Here Comes The Laughter’

08
Aug
14

ObamaCare: Helping Millions? ✓ Strengthening Medicare? ✓

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Alex Wayne: Medicare Reduces Payments For 2015 Hospital Admissions

Medicare, the U.S. program for the elderly and disabled, said payments for hospital admissions would fall $756 million next year as penalties stiffen for patients who return too early. Payments for inpatient services at about 3,400 acute-care hospitals will be cut about 0.6 percent in 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a regulatory filing,

including reductions in funding for hospitals who provide care for many low-income patients, those with too many patients who contract infections while admitted and higher penalties for readmissions within 30 days. The Obama administration has applauded reduced Medicare spending for hospital admissions, a trend encouraged by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that has added 13 years to the life of Medicare’s key trust fund.

More here

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Tony Carrk: Conservatives Want You To Pay More For The Health Plan You Like

The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, is working: The uninsured rate has fallen dramatically since the law went into effect. Newly released data published in The New England Journal of Medicine show that 10.3 million adults gained coverage during the first open enrollment period. According to a recent Commonwealth Fund survey, 60 percent of those with new coverage said they used their coverage to go to the doctor or hospital or to fill a prescription; 62 percent of those people said they would not have been able to do so without their new coverage. Moreover, of those who were looking for a doctor, two-thirds said they were able to get an appointment within two weeks. People are happy with their coverage. Overall, 78 percent of those surveyed said they were either somewhat

satisfied or very satisfied with their new coverage. This is about the same rate as those reported by both people who were previously insured and by those who newly gained coverage. Even 74 percent of self-identified Republicans reported being satisfied with their coverage. The ACA has not only led to millions of Americans getting health care coverage, but it has also benefited the country as a whole. Earlier this month, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, reported that the ACA is helping slow the growth rate of health care costs, which has positive consequences for the federal budget. It is also helping strengthen the solvency of Medicare.

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The New England Journal Of Medicine: Health Reform And Changes In Health Insurance Coverage In 2014

In this analysis of nationally representative survey data from January 2012 through June 2014, we found a significant decline in the uninsured rate among nonelderly adults that coincided with the initial open-enrollment period under the ACA. These changes remained highly significant after adjustment for potential confounders such as employment, demographic characteristics, and income. As compared with the baseline trend, the uninsured rate declined by 5.2 percentage points by the second quarter of 2014, a 26% relative decline from the 2012–2013 period. Combined with 2014 Census estimates of 198 million adults 18 to 64 years of age, this corresponds to 10.3 million adults gaining coverage, although depending on the model and confidence intervals,

our sensitivity analyses imply a wide range from 7.3 to 17.2 million adults. Absolute gains were largest among young adults and Hispanics, two groups with high uninsured rates at baseline. We found evidence that within the first 6 months of gaining insurance, more adults reported having a personal doctor and fewer had difficulties paying for medical care — even though the latter measure asked about the prior 12 months. These results are consistent with studies of previous insurance expansions that have shown that gains in coverage can lead to rapid improvements in access. In conclusion, we found that the number of Americans without health insurance declined significantly since the ACA open-enrollment period began in October 2013.

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08
Aug
14

140 Characters Say A Lot

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08
Aug
14

The Difference Between Barack Obama and George W Bush

Last night President Barack Obama announced that he had ordered airstrikes against ISIL positions in northern Iraq.

He didn’t do this to secure oil fields. He didn’t do this to project US power in the Middle East. He didn’t do this in some sort of misplaced revenge.

He did this, as he stated quite clearly, to prevent a genocide.

The Yazidi community—descendants of the Zoroastrians who used to rule the area—has come under attack by the militants of ISIL. ISIL’s intent is clear: wipe out the community. Whether it be starvation in the mountains or slaughter on the plains is of no matter to them. (Although I think those brainwashed fundamentalists would love nothing more than to mow down unarmed men, women, and children.)

Of course, ISIL is a direct result of the chaos unleashed by former president George W. Bush in 2003 with his invasion of Iraq. No, I’m not carrying water for Saddam Hussein. He was a murderous, psychopathic dictator. However, he maintained a level of stability via his terror. The Bush Administration had no plan for what would replace Saddam, Donald Rumsfeld famously saying that US troops would be out of Iraq within six months. Six months turned into seven years, while Mr. Bush’s best and brightest were found out to be the worst and dullest, fumbling around for one solution after another which never worked out. The solution finally decided upon—the regime of Nouri Al-Maliki and his Shi’ite maximalists—was probably the worst possible choice. Replacing a Sunni dictatorship with a Shi’a dictatorship proved not only hypocritical, but suicidal. Mr. al-Maliki, for all his venality, hasn’t been able to project the terror which Saddam did to keep the various sects in line. And the Iraq invasion unleashed all sorts of ethnic and confessional demands. But most importantly, al Qaeda, which had never been in Iraq or the greater Middle East before 2003, suddenly found purchase amidst the chaos. Mr. Bush’s lie that the US invaded Iraq to fight AQ became true after the hornet’s nest he stirred up. ISIL is a direct descendant of those first AQ cadres. So, as with our support of Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s leading to the formation of al Qaeda, our invasion of Iraq has led to predictable blowback in the form of ISIL.

Every time Mr. Bush had the chance to do the right thing in response to the 9/11 attacks, he chose to fulfill neo-conservative wet dreams of remaking the Middle East in America’s image, and subservient to US interests. And he never seemed to be bothered by the thousands of people—Americans and Iraqis—he sent to death.

Pres. Obama is quite different.

Continue reading ‘The Difference Between Barack Obama and George W Bush’

08
Aug
14

A Tweet or Two

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08
Aug
14

A Heckuva Train Wreck

Reuters: New Medicaid enrollments top 7 million under Obamacare

More than seven million Americans have gained health coverage through government programs including Medicaid since enrollment in Obamacare health insurance was launched October 1, the U.S. administration said on Friday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said 7.2 million new participants in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by June brought overall Medicaid enrollment to 66 million people.

The enrollees include uninsured Americans who gained coverage through traditional Medicaid, as well as a special Medicaid expansion in 26 of the 50 U.S. states under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

…. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that 10.3 million uninsured Americans have gained coverage through the marketplaces and Medicaid, resulting in a 5.2 percentage point drop in the U.S. uninsured rate since last September.

More here

08
Aug
14

Rise and Shine

 On This Day: President Obama greets First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha upon their arrival at a barbecue in celebration of his 49th birthday on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 8, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern)

11:30: The President meets with Secretary of Labor Perez; Roosevelt Room

12:10: Meets with Secretary of Commerce Pritzker; Roosevelt Room

12:45: White House Press Briefing

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Steve Benen: ‘To prevent a potential act of genocide,’ Obama acts in Iraq

Since the U.S. war in Iraq ended, and American troops returned home, it’s fair to say President Obama has been reluctant to re-engage militarily in Iraq. Our role in the country, the White House argued, was over. It’s time for Iraq to operate as an independent nation.

But as conditions changed in Iraq changed, so too did the president’s willingness to intervene.

…. The administration was eager yesterday to make clear what this isn’t – we’re not invading Iraq; we’re not pursuing “regime change”; we’re not looking for imaginary WMD; we’re not deploying boots on the ground. Watching the president’s remarks, the two words that stood out for me were “targeted” and “genocide” – the latter reinforced the argument that we have a good reason to intervene; the former was a reminder that Obama is eyeing a very limited mission.

More here

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A Word from Japa

As so many of us already realize, we are quite lucky we have the President and CIC we have. I consider myself somewhat intelligent and able to analyze things, but I definitely don’t have what it would take to be President (although I would do a better job than any GOPer).

We talk about all the qualities PBO brings to the table, but I think the absolutely most important one is courage. He isn’t sending troops into Iraq not because the American people are tired of war, though they are, but because he knows it would be the wrong thing to do.

I truly believe that if he felt it was necessary in the long term for us to have boots on the ground, he would send them there. It would be reluctantly, but he would do it. He would get screamed at by everyone, including me for doing so. But he has the courage to do what he absolutely feels is the right thing to do.

Not too many Presidents in the past have had that (some have, not saying he is the only one). In this sense, Ezra is right, he has broken politics as we know it. Not everything he has done is based upon the politics involved. And that is a good thing.

I remember when he said good policy is also good politics. And that is his priority, policy first, politics second. This is the thing the pundits just don’t get.

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ThinkProgress: This Ancient Religion Is Being Threatened With Extermination In Iraq

They represent the vast majority of a religion that rose alongside the world’s most popular faiths. Now, members of the Yazidi are cut off from the rest of the world, forced to choose between death at the hands of the militants threatening their families and the elements that have already ended the lives of dozens of children.

“There are children dying on the mountain, on the roads,” Marzio Babille, the Iraq representative for UNICEF, told the Washington Post. The situation that drove the Yazidi to the protection of Mount Sinjar is one that most analysts had hoped would not come to pass. Over the weekend, members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) managed to take the town of Sinjar from the Kurdish forces who held it. “There is no water, there is no vegetation, they are completely cut off and surrounded by Islamic State,” Babille continued. “It’s a disaster, a total disaster.”

More here

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Emily Bazelon (Slate): Obama Is on a Pro-Labor Roll

The president just signed the most important workers’ rights reform of the past 20 years.

…. it’s a little odd that the latest executive order in this bunch has gone virtually ignored (following a few dutiful daily news stories) even though it packs the biggest punch.

“This is one of the most important positive steps for civil rights in the last 20 years,” Paul Bland, executive director of Public Justice, a public-interest law group, says of the July 31 order.

The employer-side law firm Littler Mendelson calls it “the most sweeping order to date” that the Obama administration has aimed at federal contractors. The trade group Associated Builders and Contractors is “strongly opposed” and says the order could create a federal contractor “blacklist.”

What’s this about? Bear with me for a minute, because there’s a reason this one isn’t lighting up TV screens or Twitter. It’s important, but it’s also kind of technical.

More here

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Michael Grunwald: Wall Street Didn’t Win – Financial Reform Is Working

The political system made the financial system more resilient — though not immune — to crises

For some critics, it’s an article of faith that the Obama Administration’s financial reforms were a sham, that the Too-Big-To-Fail banks that shredded the system in 2008 are riskier than ever, that “Wall Street Won,” as my favorite magazine declared last year. But there’s a mountain of evidence that reform is working. And the mountain grew last week, despite the denials of the critics.

More here

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Dean Obeidallah: Stop the Anti-Semitism When Talking Gaza

Criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza is one thing. But anti-Semitism is quite another. Keep it away. Far, far away.

At a crowded Muslim-American event I attended Sunday in North Jersey, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, spoke about a range of issues. The audience, many of whom have supported Ellison since he was first elected in 2006, cheered many of his comments, but the biggest applause line came when Ellison said: “There’s absolutely no place for anti-Semitism in discussing Israeli policy.”

And that reaction is not atypical in my experience. On Saturday, I attended another large Muslim-American event in Long Island, New York, and that same sentiment was expressed there.

Muslims, like Jews, are a minority faith in America. Consequently, we have endured our share of vicious barbs launched by hate-group leaders, elected officials and even clergy members of other faiths. This has made us keenly aware of the pain of being demonized simply for our faith. That is why Ellison and I and the Muslims I know find it so despicable to see instances of anti-Semitism arise over the conflict in Gaza.

More here

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On This Day

Senator Obama with his wife, Michelle Obama, speaking at a welcome to Hawaii rally at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park in Honolulu, August 8, 2008

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President Obama listens to a question from a person in the audience at the Organizing for America National Health Care Forum held at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Aug. 8, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama, Queen Sofia of Spain and Princess Letizia of Spain at the Marivent Palace on August 8, 2010 in Palma de Mallorca

King Juan Carlos of Spain receives First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha at the Marivent Palace

President Obama jokes with Chicago Bulls players Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. The President played basketball with friends, college and professional basketball players, before an audience that included wounded warriors and White House mentees at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., August 8, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Pete Souza: “The President has made several trips to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and several other hospitals to visit wounded soldiers and personally award Purple Heart medals. Although I do take photographs of him meeting these soldiers, we make these pictures only available to the soldiers themselves. Here, he’s about to enter the room of a wounded soldier who received a Purple Heart.” Aug. 8, 2010

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Eight-year old Make-A-Wish child Janiya Penny reacts after meeting President Obama as he welcomes her family to the Oval Office, Aug. 8, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama with Sandra Fluke at the Auraria Event Center in Denver, August 8 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)

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President Obama walks through the Cross Hall of the White House, Aug. 8, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!




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