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Will Boehner get rid of premium rebates? Email Print

In August, insurers who overbilled subscribers in 2012 refunded $504 million. The rebates are required by law by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

From the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Aug. 5:

Next round of health insurance rebate checks going out

by Christopher Snowbeck

In two years, St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis has received nearly $25,000 in rebates from its health insurance company.

The rebate checks have been so large that they cover nearly all of the cost of the church's feeding ministries, said Sally Cuningham, a lay leader with the church.

"Our Sunday night supper costs us about $8,000 per year -- just for that one feeding," Cuningham said during a news conference Monday at the state Capitol. "And that's just one of the three ministries."

Cuningham joined U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., at the St. Paul news conference timed to coincide with the mailing of rebate checks, which were scheduled to be sent by Aug. 1.

The federal health care law of 2010 created the rebate rule, which requires certain insurance companies to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on patient care and quality improvement. If too much of the premium dollar goes to other things, insurers must issue consumer rebates.

The full list by state is published here at cms.gov website (pdf page)

The rebates vary by state. Here are some for individual subscribers (not in a group employer plan).

 - In FLA, 300,000 covered individuals get a rebate check averaging $164 per family ($40 million to individual households in Fla.)

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Dec 12, 2012 school attack with knife, 23 assault victims. 23 survived. Email Print

It's time to overcome timidity, the common wisdom and "consensus" seeking lawmakers -- and move to the floor of the Senate all major proposals for gun control. Time to face down the opposition. Senators can recognize what a majority of Americans have now come to realize and accept.

On December 12, 2012, in a primary school in Henan province, China, a 30-year old man carrying a long knife and unfiltered rage inflicted a senseless attack on 22 helpless children and 1 adult at the Chenpeng village school.  That fateful morning 23 victims were stabbed and wounded, and needed hospitalization.

In Henan China, 23 assault victims survived. In Newtown Connecticut, USA,  20 children and 6 adults succumbed to multiple gunshots. And lost their lives.

In the aftermath of the murders in Newtown, a convincing majority of Americans now desire curtailing assault weapons, says a recent poll from Quinnipiac University. In the April 4 poll, 59% favor a "nationwide ban" on the sale of assault weapons, and 36% are opposed.  

Even in GOP-friendly regions, the support holds up.  58% in the West and 60% in the South favor the ban.

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Hide this Presidential poll (Investors Business Daily) Email Print

The IBD-TIPP poll now has an even national race (O +0.7), and reports "Obama holding a slender 46.7% to 46.0% edge over Romney" (Likely voters).

* Obama's slight edge, which has emerged in the last 3 days, has in large part been built on a drop in independent support for Romney

On the front page of Investor's Business Daily:

"IBD/TIPP Poll: Obama Up 0.7 Point For 3rd Day"

It is a turn from what had been a 5-point lead for Romney in the IBD/TIPP poll release three days earlier, and from a 2-point lead for Romney four days earlier.

Yesterday's release of reults for IBD/TIPP was similar:

Day 5: Oct. 13, 2012

Obama: +0.7

Obama 46.4% | Romney 45.7%

In a further sign of a tight presidential race, the results remained unchanged in our most recent sounding of likely voters.

The bounce that took place immediately after Romney's strong performance in the debate with Obama seems to have diminished.



You'll have trouble finding any of the 3 days of poll releases posted at the usual suspect places (the wires, politico, networks etc.).

Here is today's update.

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John Boehner: Repeal THIS. Email Print

Rebate checks to subscribers from insurers

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives stages a dramatic – and pointless – spectacle to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  aka Obamacare.

For the GOP reps, the grounds they've claimed for reversing the law is to hold off costs for patients and keep the feds out of all things health and insurance related. Medicare excepted.

But what if a true repeal actually stopped your insurance carrier from sending a check in the mail to you? Not a future, theoretical check but an immediate, summer/2012 (due August 1) rebate.

For some Americans who hold individual policies, insurance carriers are rebating to 4 million of their subscribers excess premium collected, $390 million worth, required to be refunded Aug. 1.  Across 44 states, the average family refund, if your insurer overbilled, is $152 (sorry Arkansas, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont - at least in the initial published list, your carriers were efficient enough that your states are out of the running).

There's wide variation across states:  $240 on average for 300,000 subscribers in FLA, $193 for 24,000 in LA, $205 for 99,000 in Michigan, $139 for 181,000 in Missouri, $651 for 15,000 in Mississippi, $203 for 16,000 in Montana, $218 for 26,000 in NC, $267 for 30,000 in Nebraska, $106 for 130,000 in Oklahoma, $360 for 13,000 in OR, $238 for 133,000 in PA, $227 for 105,000 in SC, $356 for 657,000 in TX -- a whopping $134 million for the state of Texas alone.  Also $383 for 10,000 in WV, and $356 for 5,000 in Wyoming.

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A Hopeless Legion of Loons Email Print

"Oh, big conniver, nothing but a jiver, done got hip to your jive,
Slippin' and a slidin', peepin' and a hidin', won't be your fool no more."
~~Little Richard

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A Jobs Recovery - but are lawmakers cutting positions as fast as they can? Email Print

Firms in the private sector have added positions steadily since the spring of 2010, after painful shrinkage in 2008 and 2009.




The numbers, in thousands (000) and seasonally adjusted, are tallied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they show a persistent drag on the economy from repeated reductions in headcount for teachers and public sector union employees.

These are decisions made in statehouses by our elected officials.

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The Picture backdrop at Reagan library debate Email Print

At the candidates presidential debate (MSNBC - Politico), the Republican contenders will vie to reclaim the mantle of the Ronald Reagan legacy. Here it is, in a surprise image:






It should be framed in gilt. The decade of the 80s begat the RR tax-cut and job-export policies (the notorious "twin deficits" of trade and federal budgeting) that flipped the US abruptly to net debtor nation status.

This was the natural outcome of "less is more" tax optimism ideology.

The roaring 80s was the first modern time when the country wasn't at war that the U.S. turned to finance the economy by giving foreigners ownership of more assets of ours than we had a stake in theirs.

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Murdoch's Minions Helped Steal 2000 Election for Bush Email Print

The same Rupert Murdoch Fox team headed by network boss Roger Ailes not only helped fan the flames for the invasion of Iraq.  It was necessary first to install the right trusted neoconservative team in the White House and this was accomplished through stealing the election for George W. Bush.

With Florida regarded as the crucial state that would provide the election winner and keys to the White House in 2000, the Republican team had a trump card in place with Bush's younger brother Jeb serving as Florida's governor.  By scrubbing numerous minorities legitimately qualified to vote from voters' lists on grounds that they were felons, the Bush clan felt it was in good shape where the Sunshine State was concerned.

As the Bush brothers and father sat in their hotel suite election night, shock waves emerged when it was announced that Florida had been projected into  Gore's column.  Shortly thereafter a first in presidential election politics occurred.  The three Bushes were shown in their suite.  An obviously pre-arranged script was followed and it was simple enough that even George W. was able to follow it.

The snippet began with candidate George W. warning that their best evidence, meaning the calculations of brother Jeb, revealed that they would win Florida.  

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Murdoch Playbook Revealed: Push for War, Fake the Results in Iraq Email Print

The spying activities being currently revealed about Rupert Murdoch's operations should be anything but surprising to anyone taking the trouble to analyze what has been happening.

There was the same rush to war in Iraq as there would be to instill George W. Bush in office and keep him there by hook or crook, using such unsubtle means in 2004 as to have commentators that Bill O'Reilly assured us operated objectively count down the number of days to Bush's re-election.  

To use the term re-election was a falsehood since it has been fully documented that Bush was never actually elected in 2000.

Murdoch's Fox News operation received a break.  It came when New York Times reporter Judith Miller's revealed in print and in a PBS series that Iraq's ruthless dictator Saddam Hussein, who was brought to power with ample CIA assistance, possessed weapons of mass destruction including deadly chemical weapons.  

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Murdoch's Minions Combined Burglary, Pornography and Patriotism Email Print

Few political operatives and quasi journalists would be daring enough to combine burglary, pornography, and patriotism in a political campaign, but then Rupert Murdoch's minions with their ravenous appetites for sensationalism and success at any price play by their own rules.

Australian Murdoch set his sights on Britain in the early seventies.  It was not long before his sensation seeking tabloids masquerading as newspapers had played a key role in installing a personal favorite as prime minister with Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party victory in 1979 over a badly divided Labour Party led by James Callaghan.

Thatcher had served longer during a continuous period than any British prime minister since Lord Liverpool's 14-year run commenced in 1812.  Storm clouds hovered by 1990, however, after Thatcher's Conservatives trailed Labour consistently over a year and a half period.  

Thatcher's scolding nanny manner began rankling many voters.  Many saw Thatcher as harsh and heartless, as evidenced by the manner that she used oppressive taxation to wring inflation out of the British economy, drawing even the opposition of Milton Friedman, the American economist she idolized.  During this period British homelessness began dramatically increasing.

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Did 12 Heads of Cabbage Decide the Casey Anthony Trial? Email Print

While the jurors who decided the fate of Casey Anthony were human beings and not heads of cabbage, analyzing their result poses an important question.

Did those jurors decide the case in a manner more expectant of 12 heads of cabbage?  One expects no thoughtful deliberation from 12 heads of cabbage.  One expects no analysis.  This from all available evidence reveals what happened.  

The result harkens back to a comment made by the late Dominick Dunne in a television appearance following the not guilty verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial.  When an angry Dunne, whose own daughter had been slain followed by a miscarriage of justice, called the jury "stupid" he was criticized by a defense attorney who asserted that Dunne's statement was unduly harsh.

Dunne stood his ground, coolly replying, "The jury was asked to examine the DNA evidence (against Simpson).  It refused to do so.  That's stupid."

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An Erotic Dance and a Tattoo: The Symbols of the Anthony Trial Email Print

A picture is worth a thousand words.  This expression is clearly recognized by prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick and she put it to constructive use in her dazzling summation in the Casey Anthony murder trial today in Orlando.

This nation riveting trial is being called the first of the social media age.  Many more people get a say than was the case in the earlier technological age in which the trial of O.J. Simpson occurred in Los Angeles almost two decades ago.

The speedy advancement of computer technology alongside that of cable television has made photo images and words more acceptable as well as graphically feasible than any other period of world history.  

Burdick put images and recorded words to work in her favor today, at the same time taking advantages of opportunities handed to the prosecution by the vitriolic and highly accusatory summation by lead defense counsel Jose Biaz.

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Is Casey Anthony a Film Noir Femme Fatale Come to Life? Email Print

When the camera zeroed in on Casey Anthony just prior to court resumption last week her manner prompted a comparison.

To watch the coquettish 25-year-old engaged in conversation generated a comparison to her real life demeanor and case history alongside the femmes fatale of film noir.  The unfolding pattern of Ms. Anthony and the staggering number of lives she has led in the course of her first quarter century makes her in some ways appear more event-filled, and in many instances far more dramatic, than the life of a busy centenarian.

A snippet from the testimony of former Anthony fiancé Jesse Grund reveals the lock she held on his emotions.  Grund revealed being told by Anthony that her older brother Lee had made sexual advances toward her.

Grund explained that he never had anything to do with Lee Anthony after that.  At that point in his life, Grund explained, he believed everything that Casey Anthony told him.  His explanatory manner left no doubt about the powerful emotional grip Casey held over him.

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Should Casey Anthony Testify? Email Print

Legal experts and regular viewers of the Casey Anthony trial for the death of her daughter Caylee are weighing in mightily on whether the defendant should testify.

The major reason being advanced as to why Ms. Anthony should take the stand is that she is seen as the logical party to shed light on points raised in lead defense counsel Jose Baez's opening statement.  Comments were raised about her having been the recipient of sexual attention by her father.  

The assertion was also made by Baez that Caylee Anthony was the victim of an accidental drowning.  

There was also the tearful testimony of brother Lee Anthony on Friday which indicated that there might be a dark secret in the family that has not theretofore been learned.

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The Casey Anthony Photo that Dominates the Trial Email Print

"A picture is worth a thousand words" is a saying that has been around seemingly forever.  It has never been more relevant than in the riveting  Casey Anthony murder trial in Orlando.

Women are society's child bearers and nurturers.  Hence there is a natural sensitivity within most women regarding children and the necessity of caring for their welfare.

Men are not excluded from such sensitivity.  Fathers of young girls or those who have been in that position in the past or had friends or relatives who were can readily identify with the Anthony case and its underpinnings.

Nancy Grace, television commentator, mother, and former prosecutor, has been intensely covering the Casey Anthony case from the outset.  She recently pinpointed what makes it such an attention riveter.  Grace stated that all it takes is one look at Caylee Anthony and she grabs your heart.

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The Myth of the Free Market Email Print

The Myth of the Free Market
by Craig Barnes

Millions of Americans are today unemployed because the free market is not working for them. Millions of Americans have lost their homes because the free market did not work for them or for the banks.  Before the health care bill passed last January millions could not get health care because the free market worked for them when they were healthy but often did not work at all when they needed care.

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The Glory of White-Wing Politics Email Print

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress...but then, I repeat myself."~~Mark Twain

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Slim, Gates and Spain pledge $150m to fight disease Email Print

Two of the world's richest men and the Spanish government have pledged $150m (£101.7m) to battle disease and improve health in Central America and Mexico. Carlos Slim and Bill Gates are to fund a project jointly with Spain aimed at improving nutrition and maternal health and fighting dengue fever and malaria. The two men and Spain's Princess Cristina announced the project in the Mexican capital, Mexico City. The project also aims to reduce infant mortality and boost vaccination rates.

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Abolish the Filibuster Email Print

It generally happens in world history that change comes to rural areas later than it comes to cities and that, no matter where you are on the planet, rural areas are more conservative politically, which is saying the same thing, really, since conservative means to want to hold on to what was good in the past, or not to change too much. Whether you are talking about rural Pakistan, or rural Russia, or rural Wyoming, the people who live--and are separated from each other by fields and forests --are likely to hold tight to traditional values and be suspicious of change.

 That could be good, of course, but the bad side is that rural areas are also more likely to resist the mingling of races that comes with commerce and cities, or the rise of women's rights, or mixture of social classes, or experimentation with education and health care, or, in fact any other form of government intervention to assist those who are in trouble.  

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Even One of These Little Ones... Email Print

"Going to church no more makes you a Christian than sleeping in your garage makes you a car."~~Garrison Keiler

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AP poll: public swings to Democrats keeping control of Congress Email Print

The poll published today shows the public prefers now for the Dems to hold Congress, 45% to 40% — and a roundabout flip from a month earlier, when the preference for Democrats was turned around, 41% then for Democrats having majority control to 44% for the GOP.

You can read the details here. There's an anti-incumbent leaning that still makes the result hard to interpret.

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Keep the Change... Email Print

Change is the process by which the future invades our lives~~Alvin Toffler, "Future Shock"
Each time it appears that Republicans can't get any nastier, any more bereft of morality, they wrap themselves in the flag, grab their guns and Bibles, and manage once again to hit the bottom of the ethical barrel. A good example is Ben Smith's recent startling revelation in Politico.com, which exposed the dirty tricks Republican National Committee (RNC) operatives were planning to play, not only on Democrats in the upcoming elections -- but on their own donors. Smith writes...

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Tolerance and the Prom, Changing Hearts, Minds & Mississippi too Email Print

by CODY LYON

...Perhaps the school system's decision is based in fear rooted in flawed and prejudiced assumptions, that by allowing a teenager to bring her same sex date to such a traditional event as the prom, the powers that be may appear to be condoning gayness to the local masses. More likely,moral concerns extending from literal interpretations of scripture, verses located on the same pages where one finds instructions for the stoning of adulterers and punishments for wearing certain types of textiles. But then again, the Mississippi prom case is more likely just another piece of fallout from a very commonly held membership in a society where there is a quiet tolerance of homophobia which is nothing more than a phobia of homosexuality itself....

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The Press, Politics, and Polarization Email Print

There is a fascinating yet potentially dangerous transformation currently taking place in American political journalism. We are witnessing the return of a purely partisan press. At the dawn of the 19th Century, John Fenno's Gazette of the United States propagated the views of the Federalist Party and Philip Freneau's National Gazette served as a mouthpiece for Jeffersonian Republicans. Now, at the turn of the 21st Century, we have Keith Olberman of MSNBC and Sean Hannity at FOX.

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Through the Looking Glass, Darkly Email Print

I’ve been thinking. Which in and of itself points up unequivocally that I am, in fact, a Democrat. I actually use the brain I was given at birth, which came factory-equipped with a kind of "filter," guaranteed to purify with conscience, common sense and logic each and every thought processed through it. Yes, I am a Democrat. If further proof is required, I offer, as well, that I am a lifelong Dodgers fan, a team which sports the purest and bluest blue of all the MLB teams.

Please note that I say this about myself with the utmost humility. That I have the capacity to use the brain I was given, I consider a gift. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience disparage those who, through no fault of their own, were born without the filter, and consequently lack the aforementioned qualities.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, for example, who is currently touting the idea that we need to wean Americans off Medicare, do away with it altogether, as well as with social security. On "Fox Business," she went so far as to say that social security was a "tremendous fraud."

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Will the Real Obama Please Stand Up... Email Print

After the recent Supreme Court ruling that gave corporations "personhood" status, I was pleased to see President Obama publicly call them out on it.  This is the Obama I voted for. 

Sadly, this Obama has been conspicuously absent since being sworn in as President.  It's time for "this" Obama to stand up at last for the people who put him in the White House in the first place, the folks on "Main Street," rather than those on "Wall Street." 

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Walk a Mile... Email Print

I know you need your sleep now,
I know your life's been hard.
But many men are falling,
where you promised to stand guard.
~~Leonard Cohen
My friend Bernie says he's suffering from Afghanistan information exhaustion. "During all those months that Obama was dragging his feet about escalating the war in Afghanistan, did you ever get the impression," he asked, "that foxes were in the hen house, chickens were squawking and running around crazily, wolves were tearing the foxes to pieces, and farmers were shooting wildly into the coop with no regard for the innocent?"

I stared at him, mouth agape, my mind trying to shore up all that activity. "Well ... I --"

"And that's just the generals -- David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal -- and their boss, or cohort, defense secretary Robert Gates. They were everywhere -- everywhere!" Bernie said, rolling his eyes. "And still are. Turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper, open a magazine, check out Congress, look under a rock -- peek behind a tree -- and there they are. They're a three-man brigade -- "we're going in, we're coming out -- we're winning, we're losing. Or maybe not. We won't know for 15 years...20 years...or until it's over --"

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Obama, Vietnam, and Afghanistan Email Print

I've spent a good part of the last week re-reading Neil Sheehan's book, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. Partly, this is just happenstance; I found a nicely annotated hardback copy in a local used book store. But it's also because I wanted to look again at the 1962-64 period of the Vietnam War to see how much it resembles our current situation in Afghanistan. I don't have good news to report.

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Soil Carbon Sequestration Email Print

Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth, TP), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages... SIMULTANEOUSLY!

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God Has Left the Building... Email Print

If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.~~Thomas S. Szasz, The Second Sin

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