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In honor of dKos's new digs, I present:


This may seem a bit self-centered since my other diary is already at the top of the Rec list, but a couple people suggested that my update deserves it's own diary as well to ensure maximum exposure, so here you go:

The Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police have channelled their inner Frank Nitti:

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Thanks to reporters Mark Puente & Wesley Lowery for the screen shot:

The official list of charges against the 6 officers (not 1, not 2, not 3...six) is out:

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Ho. Lee. Crap.

Check out this press release from Florida Governor and Lord Voldemort impersonator Rick Scott:

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Last night I posted a simple diary called "A Scene from Malcolm X":

A room, clinically empty; table, chair, and HOLWAY, putting papers into a briefcase; the hearing is concluded.

HOLWAY: There is just nothing l can do.

LOUISE: What do you mean, took his own life?

HOLWAY: You heard the verdict.

LOUISE: Verdict? A man takes a hammer and bashes in the back of his own head? Then he lays on the tracks and kills himself?

HOLWAY: We only act on the verdicts, we don't make them.

LOUISE: Do you pay or don't you?

HOLWAY: Read the policy, ma'am. lt clearly states...

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Wed Apr 29, 2015 at 07:06 PM PDT

A Scene From Malcolm X.

by Brainwrap


A room, clinically empty; table, chair, and HOLWAY, putting papers into a briefcase; the hearing is concluded.

HOLWAY: There is just nothing l can do.

LOUISE: What do you mean, took his own life?

HOLWAY: You heard the verdict.

LOUISE: Verdict? A man takes a hammer and bashes in the back of his own head? Then he lays on the tracks and kills himself?

HOLWAY: We only act on the verdicts, we don't make them.

LOUISE: Do you pay or don't you?

HOLWAY: Read the policy, ma'am. lt clearly states...

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Wed Apr 29, 2015 at 11:41 AM PDT

OK, this is just...surreal.

by Brainwrap

Well, this is flattering...I guess...

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

by MICHAEL F. CANNON April 29, 2015

...If the Court sides with the challengers, its ruling will free more than 57 million employers and individuals in those federal-Exchange states from the ACA’s employer and individual mandates. Those 57 million Americans include Kevin Pace, a jazz musician and Virginia resident whose income fell by $8,000 when his employer cut his hours to avoid the IRS’s illegal taxes. They include small-business owners who would expand and hire more workers, but are prohibited from doing so by threat of illegal taxes. A ruling for the challengers would protect small businesses and their employees from an out-of-control IRS. Such a ruling would cause a smaller number of Americansan estimated 6.7 million — to lose access to subsidies that no Congress ever authorized.

This is interesting in several ways.
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I live in Michigan, but I've never heard of Patrick Colbeck. All I know about him is that he wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Detroit News on Friday which has more factual holes than the swiss cheese I put on my turkey sandwich last week:

Obamacare’s days are numbered. Either the Supreme Court will strike it down via rulings on cases like King v. Burwell, it will be repealed in 2017, or it will implode on itself taking the health of many of our citizens with it.
Actually, assuming his first possibility (King v. Burwell) strikes out, the ACA is doing pretty darned well at the moment, with policy satisfaction ratings equal to or higher than the non-ACA market, approval of the ACA finally edging out opposition, 63% either wanting to keep the law as is or at least wanting to give it time to see how it goes and the uninsured rate having plummetted to under 12%.
The annual price tag for Obamacare is $1.35 trillion, all to insure an additional 19 million citizens while still leaving 36 million people without health insurance. That works out to $71,052/additional enrollee/year. Against this backdrop, a high quality individual health plan could be purchased on the open market for less than $6,000/year.
--"$1.35T/year": Actually, the CBO estimates that the ACA will cost appx. $1.2 trillion OVER TEN YEARS, or around $121 billion per year. So, Sen. Colbeck was only off by 90%. No biggie.

--"an additional 19M citizens": This is actually kind of interesting, since Sen. Colbeck's number is actually higher than either my own estimate (14-15 million to date) or even the HHS Dept's (16.4 million). However, if he wants to insist that the net number of extra people insured thanks to the ACA is 19 million, who am I to argue with him? 19M it is!

--"leaving 36M w/out insurance": Well, perhaps, although a good 4 million of that 36M is due to half the states refusing to participate in the Medicaid expansion provision of the law, and another 6.3 million or so are undocumented immigrants who aren't legally allowed to participate in ACA coverage (either via the exchanges or Medicaid/CHIP) anyway, so, you know, there's that. I guess Sen. Colbeck wants "illegals" to receive free/subsidized healthcare? Good for him!! Somehow I don't think that's what he had in mind, however.

--"$71,052/year": As noted above, and as Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post noted a month ago, it's actually more like $5,000 per person per year. Colbeck overstates the per-enrollee cost by 14x. Granted, this isn't quite as bad as U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions' "Eleventy Bazillion!!!" idiocy on the House floor in March (Sessions seemed to think the ACA cost $5 million per enrollee), but being off by a factor of 14x is still pretty bad.

--"...less than $6K/year": Hmmm...Sen. Colbeck thinks you can get a decent healthcare policy on the "open market" for just 20% more than a comparable ACA-purchased policy (at full price). He may be correct about this, but it's not exactly something to brag about, especially when repealing the ACA would mean the insurance companies would be able to start denying you coverage for having a pre-existing condition or simply kicking you off your plan the moment you actually need their help (rescission).

It defies logic to assert that the addition of 159 organizations between a patient and a doctor would lower the cost of care. It defines logic to assert that the insertion of bureaucrats between a doctor and patient would actually improve the quality of care. These new organizations and bureaucrats do come in handy if your goal is control, not care. Why do you think the IRS was designated as the enforcement arm for Obamacare?
--"159 organizations between you/your doctor": What are these mysterious "159 organizations"? Colbeck never says, nor does he link to anything that states what they might be. A Google search brings up this article over at the right-wing National Review which does make a reference to "159 new boards, agencies, and programs: The Obama administration will work quickly to set up as many of the law’s new bureaucracies as fast as it can so they can take root before the election."

Those "159 new boards, agencies & programs" appear to be listed here. I'm not going to check to see if all 159 are legitimate, but even if they are, there's no way that more than a handful of these would apply to any specific person. I hardly think that the "Office of Indian Men's Health" (#150) would have anything to do with me, a Sephardic Jew, for example.--"enforcement arm for Obamacare": The IRS is just as much an "enforcement arm" for the Affordable Care Act as it is for any other part of the U.S. federal tax code. For that matter, they can't really do a whole lot about "enforcing" the law anyway:

The ACA bars the IRS from bringing a criminal enforcement case against someone who refuses to pay the non-insurance penalty. And it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for it to enforce a tax lien. Law professors Jordan Barry and Bryan Camp have a nice piece in Tax Notes explaining it all.

That leaves only one tool—the IRS can subtract the penalty from any refund it owes a taxpayer. But that applies only if the IRS happens to owe somebody a refund. These days, two-thirds of taxpayers get one, but it is usually their choice.

Colbeck's rambles for awhile with all sorts of Ayn Randian "free market" gibberish. He then makes another completely unsourced claim:
The state of Washington launched a pilot program of 1,000 enrollees and realized cost reductions of more than 50 percent, while also reducing hospitalization rates 50 percent. They have since expanded the program to 50,000 enrollees.
What is this magical plan out of Washington State? He doesn't say. He doesn't give the name or cite a source. If it really did manage to cut costs and hospitalization rates by 50% while simultaneously providing healthcare quality results equal to or better than the current system, you'd think he'd let everyone in on the big secret, bold-facing and linking to the program in all capital letters, wouldn't you?

Perhaps such a program exists. I think he may be referring to the State Health Care Innovation Plan (SHCIP), which iinvolves shifting payment models from "per service" based to "outcome" based via "Accountable Care Organizations", but perhaps not, and even if he is, I don't see that the SHCIP program has anything whatsoever to do with his suspiciously simple "50% / 50%" claims, nor does that program in any way run counter to other provisions of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, if I'm reading this correctly, it looks like the SHCIP program is funded BY the ACA in the first place.

Finally, he wraps things up with this, which pretty well encapsulates the entire conservative mindset when it comes to basic decency and humanity:

Michigan spends more than $14 billion each year on coverage for 2.3 million of our 10 million citizens. A 50 percent reduction in Medicaid expenses could reduce the tax burden on the remaining 7.7 million citizens by as much as $7 billion. Since 40 percent of this figure comes in the form of state contributions, we have the opportunity to free up as much as $2.8 billion for other priorities such as roads or that elusive objective of tax relief.
Shorter version of the above:
"Screwing over 2.3 million dirt poor people even further would pad the wallets of 7.7 million middle class/rich people!! Woo-hoo!!"
Well gee, Sen. Colbeck, why stop there? A 100% reduction in Medicaid expenses would "reduce the tax burden" on those other 7.7 million by $14 billion! That would "free up" $5.6 billion for "other priorities".

Granted, you'd have to spend some amount of that on digging graves for all those dead poor people, but that's a small price to pay for "that elusive object of tax relief". As for road repair, I suppose that "reducing the surplus population" by 2.3 million poor people would also reduce the congestion on the roads by 23%, so that should help lengthen the life of our roadways.

Better yet, we could just grind up their bodies and mix them in with the asphalt to cut costs further.


I had read something about this a week or so ago but I didn't really think about the implications at the time.

Now that I've read it...I can't for the life of me figure out why it hasn't gotten more press. Perhaps because it hasn't actually become a law yet?

Calif. Senate bill to give health coverage to undocumented passes committee

SAN MATEO, California— A landmark bill to extend subsidized health care to some 1.25 million undocumented immigrants in California — more than one third of whom are Asians and Pacific Islanders, passed the California Senate’s Health Committee on April 15.

Senate Bill 4, also known as the 2015 Health for All Act, sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (Dem-Bell Gardens) passed 7-0, according to reports by the Orange County Register.

Capital Public Radio’s KXJZ News said the bill was supported unanimously by the committee’s Democratic members, Republican members of the same committee, however, abstained from the vote.

The bill is now up for funding by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The measure is part of a 10-bill legislative package that aims to expand health coverage , among other protections, to undocumented immigrants.

Among the details of the bill that would benefit the undocumented immigrants include Medi-Cal coverage and subsidized health coverage through a newly created insurance exchange. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

If that request is denied, SB 4 directs the state to establish a mirror exchange to provide equivalent coverage options to undocumented individuals.

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UPDATE x3: Just for the record, Howard Dean himself seems to be on board here:

...which means that either a) he's familiar with the Clinton campaign's actual strategy and believes it to be the real thing or b) he only glanced at the headline before assuming that this was similar to his 50 State Strategy.

Either way, I think some here should cut me a bit of slack for making the same assumption.

This just in...
Hillary Clinton Campaign Launches Grassroots Organizing Program In All 50 States

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is launching a major grassroots organizing effort Wednesday, sending staffers to every single state to start building an infrastructure of volunteers ready to pound the pavement.

What's being called the "Ramp Up Grassroots Organizing Program" will have paid staffers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories through the end of May. They'll be working with Clinton supporters to organize local meetings, volunteer trainings and other grassroots events, according to the campaign.

Wednesday's announcement recalls the "50-state strategy" pushed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean when he was chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Dean argued that Democrats shouldn't concede any state as "unwinnable" and should invest resources in building an infrastructure in every single state -- a strategy Clinton will be testing should she make it to the general election.

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Now that Florida GOP Senator Marco "Dry Lips" Rubio has officially launched his 2016 Presidential campaign, my long-time obsession with his ill-fated "Florida Health Choices" project from his days as the Speaker of the FL House have taken on a bit more relevance.

As of December 2014, this exciting new example of the superiority of "free-market" solutions had been operating for about a year. They weren't selling actual health insurance; it was more along the lines of "discount coupons" for dental visits, eyeglasses and the like. Discount coupons which are actually kind of scammy, it turns out:

Prescription drug discount plans are controversial because they sometimes charge fees for the same savings consumers could get without them. A 2012 Consumer Reports study said discount plans made it difficult to comparison shop and many national retail chains offer their own steep discounts on common generic drugs.
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