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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Jason Lewis and "Regulatory Disease"

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 01/18/17 11:47

by Dave Mindeman

Did you know that America has a "regulatory disease"? Jason Lewis has diagnosed that for us and wrote about it in the Strib.

I did not realize there was such a disease. I guess Lewis has some new kind of expertise that is beyond our ability to understand. So I guess what he is saying is that our problems do not stem from corporate actions but rather our government's attempt to regulate them.

Lewis is telling us that the financial industry doesn't need those pesky limits. That the pharmaceutical industry can do much better regulating itself. That the collapse of the economy in 2008 was not due to the misdeeds of the industry, but apparently because we do not give them have enough rope.

Lewis especially believes that the ACA is a big culprit:

Because the law mandated the most expensive coverage for everyone, many people -- especially the young -- have been priced out of the market. Right here in Minnesota, we've seen the system collapse under MNsure with back-to-back individual premium increases of well more than 50 percent in the last two years! Moreover, tens of thousands won't be choosing a plan, but getting shoved into a default option.

The law mandated ACTUAL coverage for everyone. Yes, providing real coverage is more expensive and the insurance fallout from that has led to a difficult transition, but we saw what happens when insurance companies are left to their own devices....dumping people with pre-existing conditions, caps on lifetime benefits, moving to more catastrophic coverage which pays nothing for day to day medical expenses. That is what Lewis is suggesting we go back to....because without those mandates we will go back to coverage at the lowest level and highest profit margin for insurers.

Here in Minnesota, the individual market needs to be adjusted, but wholesale collapse? No. Lewis likes to use extreme language, but being honest about it escapes him.

As for getting shoved into a default option, that is exactly what was happening before the ACA. People were dumped into a coverage system that didn't pay for prescription drugs. That had enormously high deductibles and only covered the most catastrophic conditions.

In addition, Lewis is signing on to this repeal now, replace much later plan that the House Republicans are pushing. A plan that leaves all of us in uncertainty and with questionable coverages.

Lewis sides with the insurance companies. He wants to make things easier for them. Those pesky regulations need to go. Let corporations make their own rules and put consumers at the mercy of profits.

Jason Lewis is not on our side. That is the simple truth of the matter.
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The Rationalization Of The Rural Voter

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 01/14/17 22:53

by Dave Mindeman

As we get closer to the Trump inauguration, there are a lot of stories in which reporters are talking to Trump voters. The Strib had some conversations with Mower County voters...and when you look at what they are saying, it is hard to make sense of it. For instance:

"We're the kind of people who believe in country, family and faith -- not necessarily in that order," said Dave Johnson, a semiretired cattle and hog farmer, Trump man and the table's informal alpha dog. "We're concerned about the future, and a lot of us voice it stronger than others."

OK - Country? Trump talks about Russia more than US. Family? Trump has had 3 marriages and children from 3 different wives. He is vulgar in his language and he never really participated in bringing up his children. Faith? Trump says he is Christian - but says he has never needed to ask God for forgiveness. And gives the impression that the Bible is more of a recent purchase than a trusted resource.

Rural people of faith have some interesting mental gymnastics when they say Trump represents ANY of their values. Any of them.

More of this talk....

"This day and age, everything is veering away from God as far as the government is concerned. People are seeing that, especially in the rural areas," Evans said over a cup of coffee at Sweet's. "Hillary had a record and it wasn't a good record. Trump, by any means, doesn't have the greatest values either. But he wanted to make America great again. People liked what they heard."

As far as values - I don't think Trump even compares to Hillary. All of the turmoil around the e-mail controversy seems to have fueled all of this dishonest talk, but if you listen to Trump for one day, the number of lies gets overwhelming. And "Make America Great Again", is just a slogan. It means nothing. It is Madison Ave false persuasion and it is disappointing that rural America can be so easily trapped by this bait and switch.

And as for Hillary's record? It was a fabulous record. The kind of record and experience we are going to deeply regret not having.

There was at least one person there that gets the real picture....

"To be honest with you, Trump scares the hell out of me," Payne said. "This whole Midwest area is dependent on agriculture, and if Trump goes through with what he is proposing, all these tariffs, he will kill agriculture."

Trump hasn't got a clue about farming and farmers. He still has not even appointed a Secretary of Agriculture. Probably because he doesn't understand what would be needed for that office. The closest thing Trump has come to farming is doing a parody of Green Acres at a charity event.

Farmers need foreign markets. They need to open Cuba. They need foreign trading partners. All of these things are threatened with Donald Trump. And yet they still voted for him.

Trump has not even taken office yet and he is already causing damage to our foreign policy and to our status in the world. Rural America says that we needed to shake things up. Well, that will definitely happen - I just hope the shaking doesn't turn into an earthquake of damage.
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New York Times Gives Us OCare Details - A Little Late

Category: Health Care
Posted: 01/13/17 18:16

by Dave Mindeman

Great New York Times article on the basic protrections of the ACA. Why didn't the MSM put more of this out there over the last 6 years?

Anyway, here is a summation of what we got and what we may lose:

1) Obamacare insured millions through new insurance markets.

The health law reduced the number of uninsured Americans by an estimated 20 million people from 2010 to 2016. But if we lose it...With many fewer people buying coverage, the insurance markets are likely to become increasingly unstable. Many insurers will stop offering policies, and the remaining customers are likely to be sicker than current Obamacare buyers, a reality that will drive up the cost of insurance for everyone who buys it, and force more people out of the markets.

2) Obamacare insured millions more by expanding Medicaid.

The health law provided federal funds for states to offer Medicaid coverage to anyone earning less than about $16,000 for a single person or $33,000 for a family of four. Not every state chose to expand, but most did. The Republican plan is expected to eliminate federal funding for the expansion. An estimated 12.9 million people would lose Medicaid coverage, according to the Urban Institute's projections. A GOP proposal would push money back to the states to take care of this - so we go back to health care differences, depending on where you live.

3) Obamacare established consumer protections for health insurance

Here's a partial list: One of the law's signature features prevents insurance companies from denying coverage or charging a higher price to someone with a pre-existing health problem. The law included a host of other protections for all health plans: a ban on setting a lifetime limit on how much an insurer has to pay to cover someone; a requirement that insurers offer a minimum package of benefits; a guarantee that preventive health services be covered without a co-payment; a cap on insurance company profits; and limits on how much more insurers can charge older people than younger people. The law also required insurance plans to allow adult children to stay on their parents' policies until age 26.

4) Obamacare required individuals to have health insurance and companies to offer it to their workers.

To ensure that enough healthy people entered insurance markets, the law included mandates to encourage broader coverage. Large employers that failed to offer affordable coverage, or individuals who failed to obtain insurance, could be charged a tax penalty. The (GOP) bill is expected to eliminate the mandates. Some experts think that eliminating the individual mandate, in particular, could destabilize insurance markets by reducing incentives for healthy people to buy coverage. This mandate is important to keep the other costs down - GOP tells us that not enough healthy people are signing up...while that was true at the beginning, this year saw a big turnaround - In Minnesota, MNSure has over 100,000 sign ups for the private market.

5) Obamacare raised taxes related to high incomes, prescription drugs, medical devices and health insurance.

To help pay for the law's coverage expansion, it raised taxes on several players in the health industry and on high-income earners. The G.O.P. package may roll back those tax increases. Some of the (GOP) plans would limit the tax benefits offered to people who get their health insurance through work. That change would increase tax revenues, but would increase the cost of health insurance for many people who get it through work. Personally, I do not think that the Republicans are willing to balance the costs and expenses with their plan - they will simply let the deficit and debt balloon. Are you getting this, Erik Paulsen?

6) Obamacare made major reforms to Medicare payments.

The law cut the annual pay raises Medicare gives hospitals and reduced the fees Medicare pays private insurance companies. It created new incentives for hospitals and doctors to improve quality. It also set up a special office to run experiments in how Medicare pays doctors and hospitals for health care services. Those experiments are now widespread and have begun changing the way medicine is practiced in some places. (GOP)is expected to leave these changes alone,. although there is still talk of tinkering with it (they can't resist, because, you know, Medicare). This part of the ACA has worked well, primarily because hospitals and doctors made up the costs with fewer uninsured patients.

7) Obamacare made many smaller changes that will probably last.

Obamacare had a range of policies meant to improve health and health care, including requirements that drug companies report payments made to physicians, a provision written by the Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican; a requirement that chain restaurants publish calorie counts on their menus; and a rule that large employers must provide a space for women to express breast milk. It looks like the Republicans may leave these ancillary parts alone.

Despite the rhetoric, Obama's signature health plan has been an improvement. Reducing premiums and out of pocket costs has always been difficult - yes, there have been mixed results, but most analysts think that this transition period may be ending and stability will take over.

Of course, that would mean that we should resist radically changing things right now....and as we are well aware, radical change in health care is the new order of the day.

But, at least the facts are beginning to get out.
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