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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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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* 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 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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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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An Internet voting system, rightly organized, can even neutralize the power of Big Money in all US elections. Democracy in the US can be enhanced immensely. But how would that work?
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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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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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Congress and the electorate can face up to a funding choice.
The SS fund has two sources of income: 1) the payroll tax and 2) interest income it receives every year on Treasury bonds it acquired when it had lent billions of dollars to the Treasury from surpluses it accumulated. Actuaries figure the fund's outflow will start to exceed its total yearly income around 2025. Over a 75-period, with no adjustments, the shortfall would amount to 0.7% of gross domestic product.
So to redress the shortfall during the 75-year actuarial period would require a dollar amount that's about 0.7% of GDP for the period.
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We would've been ecstatic to welcome ALL of our soldiers back from desert wastelands to our beloved fields of grain and purple mountains majesty.
We could've sighed with relief as those who built the catalyst for financial collapse were brought swiftly and brutally to justice.
But reality got in our way.
In particular, we met a pipsqueak, congressional minority eager to abuse the power of filibuster, a belligerent foe willing to fill the void of a U.S.-less Iraq, a resurgent Taliban, and an economy that would cease to exist without a functioning banking system.
With all that, with all the obstacles, with all the critics (from both sides of the aisle), Obama was still able to fulfill the key promises of his campaign.
Below, I've compiled what I believe to be the presidents most important promises fulfilled.
Top 9 Obama Promises Kept (So Far)
Cell therapy is the medicine of the next century. It's the approach that has the potential to be the most game-changing medical advance since the introduction of antibiotics. George W. Bush's halt to federally funded stem-cell research, delaying progress for nearly a decade, was a crime against humanity. If there is any issue upon which Obama has restored hope, it is here, and we should all be eternally grateful.
Numbers two through eight are after the jump.
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The 2 parties have been trading leads a few times on the generic ballot question ("vote for a Democrat, or a Republican for Congress?") since the late spring, creating suspense and anxiety about the nationwide political landscape.
Recent polls don't settle it. Politico/GW poll: tied (43-43, likely voters); and
Dems show a 1-point lead in the (pdf) PPP survey: D +1 >> PPP: "Democrats have retaken a 45-44 lead in the national generic Congressional ballot, after being down 42-45 in August."
"(The current) Democrats in Congress also still are better liked than their Republican counterparts by 19 points." Even so, the respondents said they believe the GOP will win the House despite their expressed voter preferences. Maybe they've heard the prediction broadcast in their ear. From other surveys: CBS/NYT gives the GOP a 2-point edge. Gallup and AP give Republicans a bigger margin.
The most interesting poll is the one you've never heard of, by the Barna Group, an evangelical polling outfit (Ventura, Calif).
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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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"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress...but then, I repeat myself."~~Mark Twain
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