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Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

In all this talk about Syria, we Americans may be forgetting that the biggest public policy shift in our lifetime is about to take place. The Affordable Care Act is rolling out on October 1st, whether Kerry manages to corral Syria’s chemical arsenal or not. Even though employers of 50 or more get a one year delay to implement a health insurance plan for their companies, and smokers get a one year reprieve from being charged more than non-smokers, Obamacare is scheduled to debut on time with:

“…health exchanges (marketplaces), community-rated health plans, tax credit subsidies, individual insurance requirements, prohibiting annual and lifetime limits on coverage, requiring insurers to accept all applicants without regard to their health status (pre-existing conditions) and limiting how much more they can charge them…” http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/08/delays-pose-big-problem-obamacare.html

What a monumental effort, making health insurance available for all just when we qualify for Medicare! Then I heard about thousands of hospital workers being laid off in TN, and naturally asked Bob what’s up. After all, we Boomers are just the beginning of a tsunami of health-related consumers to wash ashore; how could our country possibly be laying off medical personnel? Of course the easy answer is to blame the government, Obama and all his caring, that’s what the GOP would like us to believe.

Actually, hospitals across the country are massively laying off workers for a few reasons. One big one is the sequester – you remember that courtesy of the Tea Party. Our budget was cut by 1.2 Trillion, that’s trillion with a “T.”  Since nobody on The Hill could find a way to stop The Sequester, Moody had this to say: “…sequestration is expected to lower the revenues of hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers by $11 billion in 2013.” That’s Billion with a “B.”

Medicare under from budget sequestration could “exacerbate an already challenging operating environment for not-for-profit hospitals” that are facing “low revenue growth” from government and private insurers, Moody’s Investors Service said this week. The sequester involves about $1 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts, including a 2% reduction to all Medicare reimbursement rates, that took effect on April 1. http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2013/04/10/Moody-Sequester-Medicare-cuts-threaten-hospitals

And the funny thing is, well it’s not really funny, but if you happen to live in a red state, with a governor who said thanks but no thanks to the Affordable Care Act, well the chances are that your favorite nurse, or physical therapist, or doctor may not be there is undeniable. http://www.wkrn.com/story/22942014/laid-off-workers-rally-outside-vanderbilt

You decide, is this job loss due to a bill that gives all Americans access to health care? Or is it due to an intractable Congress?DB_medicaid_map

 http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2013/08/27/In-states-that-say-no-to-Medicaid-hospitals-worry-of-death-by-1000-cuts

 

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Who knew that naming the moderators for Fall’s upcoming Presidential debates would be historic? No woman has sat in that seat, asking the hard questions and keeping the candidates on point and on time since 1992. And now more than ever, we need you Candy Crowley. “A trio of high school girls from New Jersey had mounted an online petition campaign to get a woman back on the debate stand. Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis were cheering the Commission on Presidential Debates for its choice…” In addition, ABCs Martha Raddatz will moderate one vice-presidential debate. Go Girl Power! http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-candy-crowley-presidential-debate-20120813,0,5837308.story

Crowley has said that her first instinct was to think, “Great!” As a journalist, CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent, who hosts the Sunday morning TV show State of the Union http://sotu.blogs.cnn.com and specializes in our House and Presidential elections, Crowley was honored to be asked and jumped at the chance; and not surprisingly, being a woman wasn’t her first thought. She is a professional, and her goal, she said this morning on CNN, is to think outside of the beltway. Her goal will be to ask questions that people want to know. So Ms Crowley, if you’re listening, here are my top 3 questions for your October 16th debut, at Hofstra University in New York, from one inquiring mind.

1) Where do you think our “Rights” come from? Mitt, your running mate, Paul Ryan, has said he believes our Rights come from “God and nature, not from government.” Do you agree? Hopefully this question, in a town hall format, will open up all sorts of other questions about religion and human rights (which are also women’s rights…and LGBT rights). I’d like to know if Mitt is really planning to close Planned Parenthood and I’d like to know if Barrack is planning to close Gitmo.

2) How does your economic philosophy differ from your opponent? What is your plan to create jobs and at the same time, close the deficit? A seemingly incompatible duo – increase AND decrease. A sort of Houdini-like concept, but OK, try and give us an answer. I’d like to hear the top 3 priorities of each candidate, in a nutshell. Vouchers for Medicare? Push Social Security benefits to age 68? We want details, facts, not party talking points. Come out from behind the curtain and explain this economy to us.

“Unfortunately the key factual question regarding the effect of the Obama Administration’s stimulus appears – at first glance – to be out of easy reach. It is essentially a question of what would have happened if what did happen didn’t. Did the Administration’s policy matter? What would have been the result without it?” http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.view&backgroundid=00645

3) What have you learned from a recent mistake? In introducing your running mate this August Mitt, you made a bit of a gaffe calling Ryan “The next President of the United States.” You laughed about it, and immediately corrected it. How about health care policy – was your health insurance/universal health care plan good for MA? You agreed with a mandate then. And Barrack, do you regret spending so much political leverage on the Affordable Care Act?

I covered a few Town Hall meetings in my day. One stands out in my mind, one in which my friend arrived with bags of toy guns we had accepted at a Peace Fair’s “exchange your water pistol for a care bear” booth. The House Republican candidate for the 12th District in NJ, Dick Zimmer was a wunderkind. He had passed Meghan’s Law, and been a part of that GOP landscape for years. What bothered me was his position on assault weapons, he liked them. In 1994, President Clinton and Congress passed a 10 year ban on assault weapons, and good ole Dick wanted to just let that ban expire. Spotting the bags of toy guns, his operatives were doing their best NOT to call on us, but eventually we asked him to explain his position.

Good luck Candy! Whatever you do, with your gang of “undecided” Town Hall voters, take that ear bud out of your ear and look for the bags of toy guns.

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“Nothing and no one goes unchanged.” If I wanted to write my life story through a music score, this R&B classic would feature prominently. There was a time in my life when this song played non-stop in my car’s tape deck. Written by Benard Ighner in 1974, it was first performed by Quincy Jones, then later in 1977 brilliantly, of course, by George Benson. I most likely was driving through tears over some broken promise – very Dustin Hoffman rushing over the Golden Gate to rescue his lost love.

The biggest recession I’ve lived through was that 70’s show. Post-college and divorce, I filled out the application to be a stewardess for TWA (remember them). My older sister, Kay, was a Lipstick Feminist – flying for National Airlines in the 60’s when she had to ‘make weight’ and could not be married with children. My French was good and I thought I had half-a-chance for an international dream job. But TWA was laying off its pilots and instituted a hiring freeze. People were lining up for gas by the order of numbers in their license plates…that was a pretty bleak time. The Vietnam War was ending, and OPEC decided to quadruple gas prices. It was called “stagflation,” because it was a long period of time (1973-75, and some would argue until 1980) when high unemployment coincided with high inflation. The jobless rate peaked at 9%.

If we compare that time to this prolonged recession, it’s not fair to compare job growth. According to most economists, that number is a “…lagging indicator, which reflects economic conditions in the past rather than pointing to future growth.” Supposedly we’ve come out of a recession in 2009, though you couldn’t tell by most personal narratives. And now we’re heading into a “double-dip” or off the “fiscal cliff!” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/fiscal-cliff-recession-government-action-cbo_n_1537692.html And here’s the quote that hits home:

“$1.2 trillion in across-the-board reductions in spending on federal programs would begin to phase in as a result of Congress’ failure late last year to find a comprehensive deal to cut the budget deficit.” One point two TRILLION!

What kind of job did I get back then? I took a job that was funded by a government grant. There was a need for mental health day treatment centers when the flood gates opened from ancient, closing mental institutions. Patients were being returned to their communities, patients who had no idea how to function in society after so many years of institutionalization. And I was hired to actually drive a mini-bus and pick them up from their group homes, and design group activities for them in a an entry-level social work position. Less glamorous than flying to Paris, driving through hallucinations in Pequannock, NJ. But it gave me a start when I thought all was lost.

So go ahead and blame Obamacare if you must. Keep trying to repeal it, try 33 more times to vote for selfishness, and corporate greed. Waste another 50 Million taxpayer dollars. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/health-care-law-repeal_n_1666917.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009 We all know what has to change, and it’s this intransigent Tea Party Congress.

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