Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Medicaid Expansion 2018

Four states had the Medicaid Expansion on the ballot this last election and another is still fumbling around with expanding it..

The Good

Idaho: Idahoans approved Idaho Proposition 2, an initiative requiring the state to submit an amendment to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in order to implement the Medicaid expansion no later than 90 days after the approval of the act. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is required and authorized to take all actions necessary to implement the provisions of this section as soon as practicable and outgoing Governor Butch Otter endorsed the ballot initiative less than a week before the election and Republican Governor-elect Brad Little has said he will implement the initiative.

Nebraska: Nebraskans voted in favor of Initiative 427 requiring the state to submit an amendment/documents seeking waiver approval from CMS on or before April 1, 2019 to expand Medicaid. As directed by the initiative, the state Department of Human Services to “take all actions necessary to maximize federal financial participation in funding medical assistance pursuant to this section”. Although newly reelected Governor Pete Ricketts has been a vocal opponent of expansion, he has stated he would let the voters decide if it made it onto the ballot.

Utah: Voters approved Utah Proposition 3 calling for the state to expand Medicaid coverage beginning April 1, 2019. The initiative also prohibits future changes to Medicaid and CHIP that would reduce coverage, benefits, and payment rates below policies in place on January 1, 2017. The proposition calls for a 0.15% increase to 4.85% from 4.7% the state sales tax (except for groceries) to finance the expansion or Medicaid and CHIP more broadly.

The Bad

Montana: Montanans voted down Montana I-185 after spending on campaigns for and against the initiative made it the most expensive ballot measure race in Montana history. The measure proposed raising taxes on all tobacco products and e-cigarettes and vaping products to dedicate a percentage of increased tax revenues for Montana’s current Medicaid program and veteran’s services; smoking prevention and cessation programs; and long-term care services for seniors and people with disabilities. The initiative also would have eliminated the sunset date for the Medicaid expansion of June 30, 2019. Republican controlled Montana State Legislature could still take action to continue the expansion program beyond June 2019. Tobacco companies had spent more than $17 million on advertising and other efforts to oppose the ballot measure, most of which came from cigarette maker Altria (Philip Morris).

The Ugly

Maine: Maine. Medicaid expansion was adopted in Maine through a ballot initiative in November 2017. Governor Paul LePage resisted the implementation of it and then complied with it after the Maine SC ordered him to submit an expansion state plan amendment (SPA) to CMS. He did submit the plan along with a asking CMS to reject the SPA. The newly elected Democratic governor, Janet Mills, has supported Medicaid expansion and is likely to move quickly to implement. Democrats also control the Maine legislature.

The ACA has shown up more in this last election even though it is pretty much a done deal and near impossible to repeal. Still Republicans repeat the same old “lies” even though they have been shot down repeatedly. One often repeated lie is the Democrats and the ACA stole $800 billion from Medicare to fund it. This lie was used by Mike Bishop in Michigan and our President also. Quite the opposite occurred with the Medicare TF being extended for a few more years and excess payments to Advantage plans reduced to match what Medicare pays out.

More to be read here: What Does the Outcome of the Midterm Elections Mean for Medicaid Expansion?

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Recounts and Runoffs – 2018

Senate:

Arizona:In Arizona’s race for the Senate, two candidates are separated by about 16,000 votes with approximately 75 percent of results in. Republican Rep. Martha McSally was leading her Democratic opponent Rep. Kyrsten Sinema by less than 1 percent in the race to fill outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat.”

The last I read somewhere, Sinema had over taken McSally and the race was too close to call. This will not throw the Senate into a majority Democrat; but it will narrow the gap just in case a Republican suddenly wants to take the high ground.

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson is preparing for a recount in a race too close to call against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott held a 0.21 percentage lead over Nelson on Thursday afternoon. Since the results are less than .25 of 1% a recount is mandated under Florida law.

Challenger Rick Scott has filed in court alleging Broward County Supervisors of Election Brenda Snipes on Thursday, asking the court to order Snipes to turn over several records detailing the counting and collection of ballots. Scott’s thin lead over Nelson has narrowed in the vote-counting in the days since he declared victory on Tuesday. Quelle Surprise!

Florida’s phony status as a perennial swing state is reassured again in this election year as it consistently decides important National and State elections with the thinnest of margins and a ton of excuses as to why it happened this way. Since Gore, it still has not brought the voting process under control. As long as it worked for Scott and other Republicans, they were happy. When it starts to slip away from them and their popularity dissipates, they look to the courts to contest alleged violations which were perfectly alright when it favored them.

The irony of Scott and Republican’s anger at Democrats for trying to all the votes counted as Repubs have been suppressing voter turnout in both Florida and Georgia.

Mississippi: Senate candidates in a special election to replace retired Sen. Thad Cochran will go to a runoff at the end of the month because no one candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote. Republican incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith received 41.5 percent of votes and her opponent Democrat Michael Epsy received 40.6 percent. The runoff will take place on Nov. 27.

For Mississippi??? and the race is that close? Unbelievable! Stennis was the last Democrat elected to the Senate for Mississippi. I am not sure I would call him a Democrat. He served from 1949 to 1989.

House

Nearly 20 races for the House remained too close to call, with the outcomes uncertain in states such as California, New York, Georgia, New Jersey and Washington state. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., the chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, said House Democrats were still counting ballots and assessing races too close to call.

California: Some races (6) in California are still up for grabs, including four in the one-time Republican stronghold of Orange County.
Georgia: Republican Reps. Karen Handel and Rob Woodall races remain too close to call as absentee ballots are still being counted. Democrat Lucy McBath, the Democrat challenging Handel, said “this race is far from over.”

Utah: Republican Rep. Mia Love trailed Democratic challenger Ben McAdams. McAdams had a strong showing in his home county of Salt Lake County. Love hoped to flip the deficit by winning a large portion of the votes left to be counted in her stronghold of Utah County. Apparently long polling lines led to slow vote tallies.

Maine: Computer-assisted tabulations under the state’s new voting system will be used to determine the winner of the congressional race between Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden. A test of ranked voting methodology, since neither candidate collected a majority of first-place votes under Maine’s ranked-choice voting system (used for the first time Tuesday); the results triggered an additional round of voting. As I understood this from reading the article, other finishers in the four-way race are eliminated and the votes are reallocated.

The allocation process will take place next week. Voter’s second choice will be applied to the candidates and so on till a candidate secures 50+% of the vote.

This should be an interesting test (Fair Vote Org. has been advocating for this).

Governors:

Florida: In the governor’s race, Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign said Thursday it is preparing for a recount. Gillum conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night. The counting has continued and the race has tightened with DeSantis leading Gillum by .47 of 1% percent.

Georgia: Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams’s campaign argued in a press conference today, a recount or runoff is still possible if all the votes in the state are counted. As he did on Wednesday, Republican candidate Brian Kemp can not declare a victory as thousands of votes remain uncounted and unaccepted ballots have been reconciled.

Abrams through her litigation team demanded from Kemp’s office as the office of the secretary of state to release the data on uncounted provisional ballots and military and overseas votes. Kemp’s spokeswoman Candice Broce claimed those votes amount to around 22,000 to 24,000. There also appears to be some discrepancy on early votes being tallied. The belief is and contrary to what Kemp has stated; if all of the remaining votes are counted, there could be enough additional votes for Abrams to trigger an official recount or even a runoff election.

Kemp should have been more careful on eliminating voters. All of the effort, it was not enough, and if he loses; you can bet on a more thorough investigation on voter fraud and civil rights violations by elected officials.

I am sure there are more to be added to this list. Please do so.

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Why Congressman Mike Bishop Lost in Michigan’s 8th District

Tom MacArthur a multimillionaire former insurance broker who negotiated the House legislation to repeal the ACA taken to the wood shed by a constituent. Tom MacArthur met with his constituents in a Town Hall meeting and he listened to them and took the abuse he rightfully deserved. Mike Bishop consistently refused to meet with his constituents face to face in a high density, Gerrymandered Republican District. People were angry and we needed the right candidate to emerge and lead. Elissa Slotkin won!

It did not have to be this way. It could have been different. MacArthur like Mike Bishop chose his political party over country and constituents. Tom MacArthur and Mike Bishop lost.

The eleven minutes to hear this rebuttal are worth hearing.

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White House press secretary uses fake Infowars video

Via VOX comes this noteworthy WH official attempt to propogandize:

 

Press secretary Sarah Sanders shared an altered video (italics mine) on Wednesday evening that appears to have originated with far-right conspiracy site Infowars to justify banning CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House after a tense exchange with President Donald Trump.

When Trump insulted Acosta at the press conference, a White House intern approached him and tried to physically remove a microphone from his hands. Their arms touched as the woman reached across Acosta’s body to grab the microphone he was holding in his hand.

Looking back at the video, it does not in fact show Acosta “placing his hands” on the woman. But about 90 minutes after she posted her string of tweets, Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson tweeted out a video of the incident that was doctored to make it look like Acosta chopped the woman’s arm with his hand.

 

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Final thoughts on the 2018 midterms

Final thoughts on the 2018 midterms

Here are six takeaways from last night’s results:

1. It *was* a wave election in the popular vote, but it was blunted by gerrymandering:

Here’s a tweet by Sam Wang:

Even though Democrats won the popular vote by 9.2%, they only eked out 12 seats over a majority, and came about 4 seats short of Nate Silver’s median projection:

By contrast, in 2010, a smaller vote advantage led to a 63 seat gain for the GOP.

2. The Senate races were effectively nationalized

Here’s a current map of the state of the Senate (except we know Feinstein won re-election in California):

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Business As Usual: Running on Empty

A little over a year ago, Robert Watson, former chair of the IPCC, and two co-authors published a report titled “The Economic Case for Climate Action in the United States.” Based on trends over the past few decades, the authors estimated the current total annual cost in the U.S. of losses from weather events intensified by climate change and health damage from fossil fuel pollution to be $240 billion, which they described as “about 40 percent of current economic growth of the United States economy.”

At around the same time, Mark Jacobson, Mark Delucchi and a carload of co-authors published an article in which they projected damages to health and property in the U.S. from climate change and pollution under “business as usual” to be around eight trillion dollars in 2050. A simple linear extrapolation between the two estimates suggests that the annual cost of climate change is increasing at around an 11 percent annual rate. Based on that extrapolation, the health and property damage cost of climate change can be projected to exceed annual GDP growth by 2026.

But wait. Watson’s 40 percent figure compares average annual damage with some of the better recent years of growth. Even excluding years of recession and stagnation, in which growth was less than $240 billion, the remaining eight of the last 12 years averaged only around $430 billion a year in real GDP growth. Counting the recession and stagnation years, it’s virtually break even.

But there’s more. Part of that economic growth simply reflects expansion of the population. Real economic growth per capita in the U.S. has been even more anemic in the 21st century. Of course this means the cost of damage can be spread more thinly as well but the crucial point is still what happens to per capita income relative to the damage.

The future is hard to predict, so I tried a number of scenarios. First, if per capita growth continues at the rate it has since 2009, the U.S. has already entered the red zone where the cost of climate change exceeds growth by an increasing amount each year. If real per capita growth accelerates to 1.5 percent per annum that fateful point won’t be reached until the year after next. A growth rate of 2 percent would postpone the day of reckoning until 2024, six years before the IPCC deadline for achieving net zero carbon emissions. To make it to 2030 without crossing permanently into the red would require a sustained rate of real per capita growth that hasn’t been achieved since 1960-1970.

One more thing. As Andreas Malm wrote, the global warming effects of fossil fuel consumption are “seriously backloaded” and “substantially deferred.” This year’s climate damage is a consequence of actions taken decades ago and the greenhouse gases emitted today will not have their full impact until decades from now. How does one estimate, then, the contribution to intermediate consumption of the deferred cost of current emissions? How much should GDP be deflated to account for the artificial inflation of nominal value added by waste gases whose cost is off the balance sheet?

Let’s assume that emissions in a given year contribute to 4 percent of climate change costs each year for the next 25 years. Why 25 years and why a constant percentage? Because it is better than attributing all of this year’s cost to this year’s emissions. Who knows? It probably makes more sense that choosing a “market-based” consumption discount rate of 4.3 percent. At any rate, considering the deferred nature of the climate costs moves the year in which GDP growth vanishes back. The 4 percent for 25 years scenario moves it back to 2007. The economy has literally been running on fumes for over a decade. Talk about “degrowth”!

It/s here. It’s not going away. It only gets worse. The question isn’t whether or not one “advocates” degrowth but whether or not one faces the stark reality and acknowledges the expiry of GDP growth and consequently the irrelevance — and, frankly, mischief — of the growth paradigm.

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Who is Lying in the 8th District Congressional Race?

Michigan 8th District Congressman Mike Bishop’s ad:

“Additionally, under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions – yet Elissa Slotkin continues to lie about Mike Bishop’s record.

Sec. 137 of H.R. 1628 of the AHCA states:

“Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.”

Under the bill, health status cannot affect premiums, unless a state asks for and receives a waiver — a condition of which is the state having other protections in place for those with pre-existing conditions. To obtain a waiver, states would have to establish programs to serve people with pre-existing conditions. No matter what, insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.”

It is a tossup in Michigan and Mike Bishop and his campaign manager “Stu” are scrambling and slinging all the mud they can to sway many of the voters he ignored over the last two years when he was invited to meet in townhall meetings. He could care less and there was always an excuse not to be there and listen to the people talk about his priorities and what he is doing as their Congressional Representative. He will ignore many of his constituents again over the next two years if we return him to office.

Everyone can have access to buy anything they want to buy; but, can they afford it is the question? Charles Gaba at ACA Signups; “The AHCA did not protect pre-existing conditions” the same as the coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). What the AHCA does do is allow states to strip away those protections via the waiver process.

Quickly, the ACA prevents insurance companies from: refusing to insure someone with pre-existing conditions, charging more for pre-existing conditions, denying coverage of the condition, not covering a minimum of 60% of enrollee medical costs, having an arbitrary maximum annual or lifetime claims cap, and capping maximum out-of-pocket costs for in-network healthcare expenses.

Except for preventing insurance companies from refusing to insure someone with pre-existing conditions, the AHCA Mike Bishop voted for allows states to opt out of all of the other protections of the ACA. If we were living in a state which sought to protect its citizens from predatory insurance companies and assist them in getting affordable healthcare and healthcare insurance, I would not worry as much as to what Michigan Republicans would do.

Since 1992 Michigan has been controlled by a majority Republican Senate, a Republican majority House 18 of 26 years, and a Republican governorship 20 of 28 years. During that time period, Republicans have favored business over its constituents. The Medicaid expansion barely passed in Michigan with Senator Joe Hune (Senate Insurance Committee Chair) proclaiming he was sick to his stomach with its passage. Lana Theis is running for his seat as well as Adan Dreher. Lana favors farming out the administration of Medicaid insurance to insurance companies such as what might be found in an Advantage Plan which produces no better results than Medicare and costs taxpayers and Medicare recipients 14% more. Adam Dreher is more in tune with the constituency.

In the end Elissa Slotkin is not lying about Mike Bishop and the AHCA as Congressman Mike Bishop’s AHCA which he voted for does not protect constituents with pre-existing conditions in Michigan in the same manner as the ACA. His vote for the ACHA allows states to wavie the ACA protections in favor of insurance companies who can charge more, limit coverage, or deny coverage.

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Abigail Spanberger Taking Dave Brat to the Wood Shed

If you have not seen this yet, take a moment, watch, and listen. It makes you feel good about being a Democrat.

This is the 7th District Virginia’s Elissa Slotkin, Abigail Spanberger running for the Congressional Representative in Virginia. After verbally wondering if Dave Brat knows which Democratic candidate she is, listen to her remind Dave Brat she is not the Democratic candidate who supports Bernie Sanders healthcare plan he attacks her for and she is the candidate who supports a public option. She closes with, as Dave Brat raises a Red Card, “I ask for your vote on November 6th, Abigail Spanberger is my name.”

Like Esquire’s Charles Pierce tells us, it reminds you of the Ali-Terrell fight—What’s my name, motherf***er?

Abigail took teabagger Dave Brat to the wood shed and just tore him apart. It is a great take down.

HT to EMichael

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Claiming Voter Fraud, Trump Is Poised To Disregard a Democratic House Victory

HuffPost Politics:

New York Times columnist Economist Paul Krugman fears that President Donald Trump’s insistent complaints of “voter fraud” are a setup to deny the legitimacy of a Democratic majority in the House should the party win in the midterm elections.

Those who don’t believe such a scenario is possible “haven’t been paying attention,” the Nobel laureate warned.

Trump has complained, without evidence, that as many as 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

Hillary Clinton beat Trump in the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Trump’s claim, if true, would wipe out that margin and then some.

Trump set up a commission to investigate the votes, but it has not substantiated his claims, nor has it issued any reports. Commission member Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Democratic secretary of state, said the panel was the “most bizarre thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

Yet, Trump keeps raising the issue.

Myself: There has been no evidence of massive voter fraud. Examination after examination of voter fraud claims reveal fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly non-existent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators. In 2016, Trump claimed he won the popular vote besides the Electoral College if one deducts the millions of people who voted illegally. This is false and made only worse by those in his administration who would promulgate and foster his delusional stories and outright lies.

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Absolute Decoupling and Relative Surplus Value: Rectification of Names

Jargon is a heck of a drug:

If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.

The discourse of global warming/climate change is lousy with jargon. This rampant obfuscation gives science deniers rhetorical leverage and induces hallucinations about “Green New Deals” and “Environmental Kuznets Curves.” “Decoupling,” “rebound effects” and “externalities” are three terms that invite systematic incomprehension. The first two are dead metaphors and the third is an outright fraud — there is nothing “external” about an externality.

A little reflection on what these terms actually refer to can help clarify what can and cannot be done about carbon dioxide emissions. From the perspective of shameless self-promotion, it can also help show why my policy proposal makes sense and others don’t.

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