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Hawaii Cuts Uninsured Population in Half

In case you haven’t seen Charles Gaba’s great website ACAsignups.net, you really need to see it. It is the best source available for tracking Obamacare enrollments, covering all categories of signups, including Medicaid, the federal and state exchanges, off-exchange signups, and estimated under-26ers.

One of the most notable achievements of Obamacare is in the President’s birthplace, Hawaii, where the number of uninsured people has already fallen by more than half, despite having a horrible website for the state-run exchange. The biggest chunk of this is through Medicaid enrollments, both people newly eligible and those previously eligible who had not signed up (“woodworkers,” people who’ve come out of the woodwork). Here are the totals:

Uninsured: 102,000

Medicaid: 48,000

Exchange: 4,661

Off-exchange: 4,000

Total newly insured: 56,661, or 55.6%.

Moreover, approximately 10,000 Hawaii residents are ineligible for Medicaid or ACA subsidies due to their immigration status, so the state is doing very well indeed.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, below is Gaba’s pride and joy, “The Graph.” It’s the best visual interpretation we have of how signups have proceeded since the rollout of Obamacare October 1. Note that we can expect a big last-minute rush over the final weeks of open enrollment, so we will see soon just how well the first year’s signups have gone.

 

Source: ACAsignups.net

The Graph

 

Cross-posted at Middle Class Political Economist.

 

 

 

 

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“Never predict anything, especially the future,” as Casey Stengel wisely said. “But let’s look, instead, at the past.”

Usually, I would leave this type of post to the Steves, Jazz, Ken, Roberts, Edwards, Mikes, Thomas, etc. of Angry Bear Blog and stick to my manufacturing expertise to which flow the big bucks for me; but, this is in laymen’s terms and it makes sense to me at least.  Arend Brett’s latest article on Market Watch “Are We Ready For Deflation” points to deflation rather than the inflation as being the threat to the US economy today. Brett appears (in my best LSS lingo) to suggest deflation is a bigger threat to the US economy.

Albert Edwards at SG Securities believes one fact-based inflation indicator is undershooting the better known ones, such as the regular PCE and the CPI. He adds the indicator is undershooting both of the other indicators more over time.  The forces of potential deflation are all around us with retailers such as Staples, Radio Shack, Penneys, Macys, Sears, Aéropostale, Coldstone, etc. announcing since the start of this year they were closing stores. Some of this is to meet the move towards more internet sales; but as Brett points out it plays hell with commercial rents and retail wages. Having returned from a trip to the area around Shanghai and Shanghai itself, China; the amount of infrastructural building going on to maintain its work force is phenomenal and much of it remains empty. “China is driving down its exchange rate in a bid to keep the factories turning faster and faster.” C&U (Eight plus One) and Tontech have huge $multi-billion investments in plants which are mostly running at a small portion of potential capacity. “There is a giant sucking sound as “quantitative easing” money gets withdrawn from emerging markets, and there are alarming signs that debt bubbles in some of those markets may be about to pop (again). “

The West appears to believe deflation is something unlikely to happen very much like the collapse of Wall Street and TBTF in 2008. We did remove all the safe guards Glass Steagall and a part of the National Bank Act provided regulating banks joining with investment firms and investing on Wall Street. Who would have thought “irrational exuberance” would have been the warning of the decade coming from the man most responsible for creating it? After all, these are reasonable men, why would they endanger their livelihood?

Nobody expected the Japanese to slide into a decade or so of deflation, yet they did as the chart below shows. “The first chart today shows the consumer price index in Japan in the run-up to its ‘infamous bubble’ in the late 1980s and there after. Deflation crept up on Japan slowly. There was even a big head-fake in 1996-7, a short-term bounce in inflation before things headed down again. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but the path of the market-based PCE here in the west in recent years looks ominously similar. “

 

In the 1990s the conventional wisdom in Japan was to ‘short’ the Japanese Government Bonds—betting that inflation would pick up, interest rates would rise, and the bonds would fall in price. A generation of money managers got hosed. Prices flattened, and then fell. Interest rates fell with them. Bond prices boomed.”

Could America follow suit? The same as the Japanese money managers, US money managers believe bonds are over valued and bet inflation will pick up; but with the Fed tapering it buy, bond prices have done the opposite. Treasuy Bonds have done the opposite and the yields have come down. Hey, it is a good conversational piece and minus the models.

reference: Arend Brett; Market Watch; “Are We Ready For Deflation”

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Julie Boonstra Tells the Detroit News Why Her New Healthcare Plan Doesn’t Work for Her: It Requires Her to Read the Policy or Ask Blue Cross a Few Basic Questions In Order to Learn What the Plan Actually Covers and What Her Expense Cap Is.

Oh, dear. I won’t summarize this for you; you really have to read it in full.  (Or maybe just read Glenn Kessler’s article about it posted today.)

And to think I had thought Julie Boonstra’s only comprehension problem was with basic math.  Turns out she also has a problem with reading comprehension and with understanding explicit short answers to oral questions posed to, say, a Blue Cross representative. Or maybe just with recognizing that she could learn the specifics of her plan simply by doing one or the other of those things.

Hey, she could have done both!  But first she’d have to have figured out that reading her plan or asking a Blue Cross representative might provide that information.

Yep.  The Republican Party really is the party of stupid. Then again, maybe she knew all along, but thought everyone else is stupid. Okay, I’ll give in and quote this, from Kessler’s post:

Boonstra’s response to this report was that it “can’t be true” because she was worried about high expenses early in the year and because she thought one of her prescription drugs was not covered. A spokesman for Blue Cross told the News that all of her prescriptions are covered and her co-pays on the drugs would help with meeting her out-of-pocket maximum.

It can’t be true, because the truth exists not in reality but instead in her mind. Hopefully, this woman doesn’t fear a nuclear attack by Martians.  Or by the Koch brothers, although that might be prescient, if the attack is to be on, say, Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district.

Seriously, folks.  Does anyone really think this woman had no idea what her plan provided, if not when she purchased it, then sometime shortly afterward?  This new information brings into question the truth of her back-story about being unable for nearly three months to access the Michigan link at healthcare.com and gain information about available plans.  (It also raises questions about whether she is in fact receiving subsidies for her new in-any-event-lower monthly premiums, although of course there is no way to learn that.)

Let’s hear it for Detroit News reporter Marisa Schultz.  And, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Detroit newspaper market: Detroit has two longtime mainstream newspapers, the Free Press, which leans Democratic, and the News, which leans Republican, but both papers’ reporting staffs are journalists in the old-fashioned sense. They’re real journalists, not propagandists.

Yes, folks. The Detroit News leans Republican.

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Paul Ryan and Scott Walker Come Out for Repeal of Federal Child-Labor Laws, Because the Kids Insist. Coming soon: Talking polar bears pleading for more oil drilling.

Oh, my — not only was Paul Ryan’s hunger=dignity speech appalling on the merits, the anecdote he used to make his point was fake — a distortion of a real story with a completely different point.

I’m actually not happy with this discovery; the crucial point here should be that even if the story of the kid who wants brown bag lunches were true, it would be a terrible argument against school lunches and the social safety net in general. In a way it’s a bad thing to have the conversation shifted instead to Ryan’s failure to get simple facts right.

— Into the Mouths of Babes, Paul Krugman, nytimes.com today

Here’s what Ryan said yesterday in his speech to the CPAC convention, as related by New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait:

In his vacuous, sloganeering speech today at CPAC, Paul Ryan argued that “the left” — the term he used to describe not the actual left, but the Obama administration — offers Americans “a full stomach — and an empty soul.” What soul-emptying ways is “the left” filling people’s stomachs? Ryan has a story from his fellow Republican, Eloise Anderson:

“She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch — one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.”

Anderson is a longtime anti-safety-net crusader and currently a member of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  Ryan was paraphrasing testimony gave to the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs, last summer.  Greg Sargent details the controversy here, and links to Glenn Kessler’s and Wonkette’s investigative reports on it from last night.

I initially had the same reaction as Krugman: that this under-oath fabrication of fact by a witness at a congressional hearing who is a key member of Walker’s administration, would become the news story, rather than that Ryan used the anecdote to come out for repeal not just of the school lunch program but also of child-labor laws.

But upon reflection, I think the revelation that this Walker appointee gave fabricated testimony to a congressional committee–stunning, in itself–is a net plus, because it brings far more public attention than otherwise to the premise of this Walker appointee (and therefore of Walker himself) and Ryan: that children from poor families, including, presumably, infants and toddlers–these people want to kill the food stamp program, too–should work for their food.

This odd conflation of parent and child, by both Anderson and Ryan, is so weird and ridiculous–and so stunningly offensive, surely, to most Americans–that its mere verbatim recitation will, I think, be a gift that keeps on giving during this year’s campaigns.  But it also highlights this: that the Republicans appear to be unaware that a large percentage of school-lunch-program or the food-stamp-program (or both) recipients come from households headed by someone who works, often full-time, at a very low-wage job or at a combination of low-wage jobs.

Or else these pols are claiming that no one should work at very-low-wage jobs, and should instead find a way up the socioeconomic ladder.  In which case, they are saying that Walmart and the fast-food and hospitality industries should pay their employees more.  I mean, shouldn’t be able to find employees. (Not ones who’ve fed themselves and their kids, anyway.)

Paul Ryan and Scott Walker turn out to be pro-labor, after all!  Who knew?  We Dems need to start appreciating the annual CPAC conference for it’s, um, newsworthiness.

These people’s weird obsession with killing the social safety net is shared by–what?–15%-20% of the public? They themselves seem to recognize that outrageous that the people who want this is small, and the people who obsess over it and privilege it over all other policy matters, is really, really small.  Which presumably is why they keep fabricating stories.

This is part and parcel of the genre that until yesterday most recently featured as its top stars Julie Boonstra and Emilie Lamb.  What’s next? Talking polar bears pleading for more oil drilling?

****

As an aside, I think that if Walker is serious about running for president, he needs to fire Anderson.  She fabricated a story, under oath, at a congressional hearing.  That’s not a trivial matter.

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No Money from Old Men

During the late sixties, myself and a bunch of other older teenagers 18 years and older arrived at McAfees on Van Buren in Chicago, IL. Quite a few of us were drafted. I enlisted in the USMC at the age of 19 without knowing completely what my life was going to be like for the next 3+ years except for what my Master Gunnery Sergeant cousin gave a clue to. Fast forward to a few years ago and my young nephew whose father has pretty much left alone wants to volunteer.  A family friend encourages him while I try to talk him out of it. The memories are still fresh.

I do not know why the Republicans and the Tea-baggers are holding Veterans hostage. Many are old men like I am. Many could not run a mile much less carry a rifle and a pack. Too many of them are too willing to send too many young men to war. The same old men are unwilling to give money to help those they sent to war without strings attached. These Senators will not fix what they broke.

 

 

Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kirk (R-IL)
Lee (R-UT)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)

To hell with the lot of you.

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Sure you wanna use those particular analogies, Gov. Christie?

OXON HILL, Md. – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave a rousing speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference today taking on President Obama while stressing his own conservative credentials.

Christie’s signature tough talking style was on full display when he took on Obama asking, “Mr. President, what the hell are we paying you for?”

“Leadership,” Christie said, “is not about standing on the sidelines and spit-balling.”

Christie To Obama: ‘What The Hell Are We Paying You For?’, Shushannah Walshe, ABC News via Yahoo News

Unless, of course, those sidelines are the lane markers on an entry to the George Washington Bridge, and the spit balls are orange-colored and cone-shaped.

Thought it would be fun to be the first to say that.  Or has someone beaten me to it?

 

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Julie Boonstra Continues to Play (Ridiculously) Dumb, as Americans for Prosperity Now Concedes She’s Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

In post-initial-ad interviews with fact checkers and with her hometown newspaper, [Boonstra] claimed that the problem was the uncertainty now of not knowing month-to-month what her out-of-pocket expenses will be, whereas she had always reached the low monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and budgeted for that amount monthly.

In other words, her entire complaint is that she might spend the additional $550 a month as soon as she gets it, on something unrelated to her medical care, and then her out-of-pocket expenses totaling an annual maximum of her yearly savings of about $500 on her monthly premiums will become unaffordable.

Julie Boonstra’s Follow-Up Ill-Woman-Who-Cries-Wolf AFP Ad Is Here!, me, yesterday

Weirdly, in an article by Cameron Joseph on The Hill blog yesterday and updated today, AFP President Tim Phillips concedes that Boonstra’s real problem is that she can’t do simple math and therefore can’t budget from one month to the next.  Joseph reports:

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Krugman and flimflam the next generation

Paul Krugman weighs in on the Ryan budget magic. Here is a small quote:

And so it is with the new poverty report.

Give Ryan some points for originality. In his various budgets, he relied mainly on magic asterisks — unspecified savings and revenue sources to be determined later; he was able to convince many pundits that he had a grand fiscal plan when the reality was that he was just assuming his conclusions, and that the assumptions were fundamentally ridiculous. But this time he uses a quite different technique.

What he offers is a report making some strong assertions, and citing an impressive array of research papers. What you aren’t supposed to notice is that the research papers don’t actually support the assertions.

In some cases we’re talking about artful misrepresentation of what the papers say, drawing angry protests from the authors. In other cases the misdirection is more subtle.

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Julie Boonstra’s Follow-Up Ill-Woman-Who-Cries-Wolf AFP Ad Is Here!

Hmm.  Leukemia patient Julie Boonstra and Americans for Prosperity are up with a new ad in Michigan, Boonstra’s home state.  This time, she thinks people are too stupid to wonder why a healthcare plan that costs her less annually than her cancelled plan for identical care “doesn’t work for [her].”  And too stupid to wonder why she originally claimed that that plan is “unaffordable” even though her earlier plan for slightly more money annually was affordable.

“My plan doesn’t work for me,” she says, dramatically.  She just doesn’t say why.  Which is understandable, since we all know by now that her plan works just fine for her.

That’s right; her plan works just fine for her.  She just doesn’t want people whose plan doesn’t work fine for them, or who have no access to a plan at all, to have one that works for them.

She says early in the new ad that it was painful to her that Rep. Gary Peters, the Dem Senate candidate in November, challenged her credibility after her last AFP ad, in which she claimed that her new ACA-compliant plan was unaffordable because of higher out-of-pocket expenses than her own plan, and implied that she would be unable to continue to see the specialist she’d been seeing.

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FOLLOW-UP TO: “What Glenn Kessler–and I–Missed Earlier In Emilie Lamb’s Claim: That She SAYS Obamacare Caused Her Hospital and Doctors to Stop Gratuitously Forgiving Her Medical Expenses Above $1,000. That’s Palpably False.”

On Saturday I posted a lengthy post with an almost-as-lengthy title:

What Glenn Kessler–and I–Missed Earlier In Emilie Lamb’s Claim: That She SAYS Obamacare Caused Her Hospital and Doctors to Stop Gratuitously Forgiving Her Medical Expenses Above $1,000.  That’s Palpably False.

Following are two comments to it from readers Mike Myer and Mark, respectively, and my (lengthy) response to it in the Comments thread:

MIKE MEYER:

What if Lamb is telling the TRUTH?

MARK:

Ms. Mann, check one more aspect of this story which might explain some of the discrepancies. I have psoriatic arthritis which requires some of the same medications as lupus. I take an infusion every five weeks and the negotiated cost is about $6000 of which I pay 20%.

My out of pocket max is $5000, so after 4 treatments I’m good for the year. However the drug company has a rebate program which pays all but $50 of my out of pocket expenses, most of which are the medication. There are several different rebate and subsidy programs. I suspect that in this case the doctors and hospital aren’t forgiving anything, the woman is in one of these programs and either doesn’t realize it or doesn’t understand how it works….

ME:

Mike and Mark, here’s the problem: This woman claims (1) that she was happy with her now-cancelled plan, even though that plan had NO out-of-pocket cap and had an annual total-coverage cap of $25,000; (2) that she was happy with that plan because–and ONLY because–her hospital and her doctors had agreed, year after year going back to 2007, to forgive all her uninsured costs totalling more than $1,000 annually; (3) that because of Obamacare she had only these options: a Bronze or Gold plan for about the same monthly premium cost to her but that has a $10,000 annual out-of-pocket cap and no annual coverage cap and that, unlike when she had her old plan, she would be forced to actually PAY that amount, and a more expensive Platinum plan with a $6,000 annual out-of-pocket cap and no annual coverage cap, and that unlike unlike when she had her old plan, she would be forced to actually PAY that amount.

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