Sunday, October 19, 2014

If Obama is viewed as a failure, then the GOP Congress is viewed as more of a failure.

GOP candidates claim the Obama administration is a “failure.”  A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll concluded, though, that the American people were “fed up” with Washington, and they were 20% more fed up with Congress than they were with President Obama.  If Obama is viewed as a failure, then the GOP Congress is viewed as more of a failure.  

If the measure is how much Obama achieved of his own agenda, the answer is most of it has been successful.  His major failure so far is not passing comprehensive immigration reform, not from lack of trying.  Most of his domestic accomplishments, such as economic recovery and health care reform, were enacted before the obstructionist Tea Party took over the House.  Perhaps the greatest success Democrats had was keeping the economy from going over the brink into another Great Depression, using passage of stimulus spending and tax cuts and also clever fiscal policy.  The unemployment rate is now back to pre-crash levels, and the economy is showing a 3% growth rate.  Austerity measures (which the GOP pushed for the U.S., too) are threatening to force Europe into recession or deflation, and also into continuing high unemployment.

The GOP Congress still wants to repeal Obamacare, but offers no alternative, no workable way to pay for covering preexisting conditions, and has no plans to make it more affordable for 30 million Americans. 

Gardner, ranked as the 10th most conservative member of Congress and opposing Mark Udall for Senate in Colorado, wants to repeal Obamacare.  Obamacare ends discrimination against higher women’s premiums, and it also covers birth control and cancer screenings.  Gardner also pushes federal laws that not only criminalize abortion from the time of conception, but cripples in vitro fertilization, bans IUDs and some other birth control methods, and Gardner wants women to pay out of their own pockets for the few over-the-counter methods left that are legal.  (Ending Obamacare ends insurance coverage of the pill, too.)  All federal laws, including Obamacare, are already currently forbidden from covering any abortions, so that's not happening.

Armageddon as predicted by the GOP did not happen to Obamacare (ACA).  More signed up for coverage and paid premiums than forecast.  Early indications are that 2015 average premiums within exchanges will show little change from 2014.  The American Medical Association in their July journal found that the ACA is successfully working as designed.  Medicare cuts?  No traditional coverage was lost, and 14 years were added to the life of Medicare.

Energy policy?  The GOP Congress wants to ditch environmental protection laws to boost energy production.  However, while protecting the environment, Democratic “all of the above” energy policies, including promoting alternative energy sources, have permitted the U.S. to become the largest producer of natural gas in the world, and the U.S. will begin having enough oil production very soon to begin exporting. Gardner is still denying humans are responsible for global warming against the proof provided by scientists held in high esteem in the field.

Ebola?  We should not forget that the GOP congressional budget priorities were to reduce funding to the CDC.  Officials confirmed this caused a slowdown in the search for vaccines.  The president's choice for Surgeon General has also been blocked by the GOP members of Congress, which is why a "czar" had to be chosen to provide some guidance and continuity during this time.

Promoting the middle class?  The GOP congressional policies cut Pell grants, oppose decreasing interest rates on student loans, and oppose raising the minimum wage or furthering equal pay for women in the workforce.

For more, visit
America's Fed Up: Obama Approval Rating Hits All-Time Low, Poll Shows - NBC News
  "The frustration carries over to the nation’s political leaders, with President Barack Obama’s overall approval rating hitting a new low at 40 percent, and a mere 14 percent of the public giving Congress a thumbs up.""  Yet, congressional Republicans are viewed more negatively than congressional Democrats.....

Congressional Job approval ratings
No Answer
Congressional Republicans
Congressional Democrats
Despite the Republican advantages over all, Americans continue to broadly disapprove of congressional Republicans even more than congressional Democrats. "

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Number of uninsured admissions drops: Report says uncompensated care will cost hospitals $5.7B less this year - Mohave Daily News: News

Number of uninsured admissions drops: Report says uncompensated care will cost hospitals $5.7B less this year - Mohave Daily News: News

This is not a local story; it is an Associated Press national story.  What it does show is that when Obamacare is implemented fully (none of this refusal to expand Medicaid as many red states have done), hospitals get stuck less with covering the expenses of the uninsured or those who cannot pay their medical bills. They cover it by raising their charges to those insured, which in turn causes insurance premiums to go up.  The estimate is that this cost shifting pre Obamacare resulted in the insured families paying $1000 more per year in health insurance premiums. The question  now becomes: will the insurers pocket the savings or will they pass it on in the form of lower premiums to the insured.

Whether the slowdown in current health care costs per family is happening now because of the recession or Obamacare is open to discussion. With less spending money and loss of employer provided insurance due to layoffs, consumers cut back or delayed health care treatment.  There for sure has been a very significant decrease in the cost of Medicare, extending its life 14 years.  The administration is claiming the per family costs have already been $1600 or more...but that is not in premium costs, but in the cost of health care in general per family.  The Washington Post gave that claim two pinocchios, but it took a lot of discussion to reach that conclusions, mostly because the impact of the recession is not figured into the equation.

 My thought is that the impact of Obamacare is more likely to be felt more in the future since the program is not yet fully implemented, including the failure of nearly half of the states to expand Medicaid coverage and the penalties for non coverage (the mandate) will only begin to increase this next year. Cost shifting impact has not yet been fully felt yet though  medical  provider cost reduction measures had been taken a couple of years in advance of its implementation.

The challenges to covering more in Colorado and having more sign up to Obamacare were explored in an Oct. 15, report
From the report: "
Flying Solo: Why Uninsured Coloradans Go Without Health Insurance
October 15, 2014

The Colorado Health Institute released a report today analyzing the reasons given by uninsured Coloradans for not having health insurance.
"Flying Solo: Why Uninsured Coloradans Go Without Health Insurance" is based on data from the Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS), the premier source of information about coverage across the state.
The report, written by Research Analyst Natalie Triedman, comes as Colorado prepares for the second open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act. Beginning November 15, it will run through February 15, 2015.
The biggest barrier, by far, is cost. Four of five uninsured residents say they don’t have coverage because it costs too much. No surprises there, but it speaks to the importance of affordability, as well as communicating the value of health insurance.
The second most common reason for being insured was that a person lost their job or changed employers. This “churn” will be an important consideration moving forward.
The most dramatic change in reasons cited for being uninsured came from uninsured Coloradans who said they don’t need health insurance. The percentage more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, increasing from 11.1 percent to 24.9 percent, the biggest shift among the reasons cited. This could reflect a number of factors, including objections to “Obamacare” and its individual mandate."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Playing for the long term in November 2014

This election, 2014, is much more about the next president than it is about the current one. The longer game will have a far greater impact on our country’s direction than the shorter one.

Our vote this November is  mostly about  what happens post Obama presidency, because those we are electing will influence  a very likely  Supreme Court vacancy filling and legislative deadlocks. Any elected Senator has 6 years to warm a Senate seat.

The future Senate will have the opportunity to decide on whatever this Court punted, from Roe v Wade,  same sex marriage, to affirmative action, to  election finance laws, to health care and the ACA, and the overreach  and unconstitutionality of  actions  either by the President or Congress or various states.

Here is the short term.

This November election appears to be a referendum on a lame duck president as candidates look like they are rerunning  2012.
If the GOP takes  over the Senate , we are on track for a mammoth case of deadlock and stalemate  for two more years, the remainder of the President’s term.

If we fear  the President will become more “imperial”, the only way left for him  to  overcome  stalemate and deadlock  is to issue more executive orders . Court challenges for his orders  will likely be decided after he leaves office.  Since he is term limited,  ticking  off one special interest, party,  or others  will not affect his prospects of re-election.  

President Obama will only be constrained by concern for his “legacy” and so far he has shown little regard for that. He seems to be  doing “what he thinks is right “ or is doggedly  pursuing the agenda he promised six years ago.

The President will wear out his veto pen  if the GOP controls the Senate but GOP Senate will not have enough seats to override it.  The House is stuck in a role of continued obstructionism, as predictions are the GOP will still hold its majority.

The state of Colorado is not immune to any of this.
Colorado governors have four year terms.   For the next four years the Colorado Governor will be  faced with using vetoes or cheerleadership over a most likely Democratic controlled  state legislature (either both or one of the houses) . A governor who cannot compromise or walk a center line as Governor Hickenlooper has done, will just put us into a deadlock funk. His opponent, Bob Beauprez, is running on a platform of trying to overturn  or change any environmental or consumer protection law , rule or regulation that does not favor business interests.   Beauprez is no middle of the roader, nor is he one with compromise in mind.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

FactChecking the Colorado Senate Race

FactChecking the Colorado Senate Race

This one takes the Senate Campaign in Colorado, Republican Cory Gardner v Mark Udall. Gardner ads come out with a lot of egg on faces.  Read it. Fact has not been kind to Udall, but when you put it all together, Gardner ads are twisted.

ACOG Statement on “Personhood” Measures

February 10, 2012

Washington, DC -- The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is unequivocally opposed to the so-called "personhood" laws or amendments being considered in several states. These measures erode women's basic rights to privacy and bodily integrity; deny women access to the full spectrum of preventive health care including contraception; and undermine the doctor-patient relationship. ACOG firmly believes that science must be at the core of public health policies and medical decision-making that affect the health and life of women.
Like Mississippi's failed "Personhood Amendment" Proposition 26, these misleading and ambiguously worded "personhood" measures substitute ideology for science and represent a grave threat to women's health and reproductive rights that, if passed, would have long-term negative outcomes for our patients, their families, and society. Although the individual wording in these proposed measures varies from state to state, they all attempt to give full legal rights to a fertilized egg by defining "personhood" from the moment of fertilization, before conception (ie, pregnancy/ implantation) has occurred. This would have wide-reaching harmful implications for the practice of medicine and on women's access to contraception, fertility treatments, pregnancy termination, and other essential medical procedures.
These "personhood" proposals, as acknowledged by proponents, would make condoms, natural family planning, and spermicides the only legally allowed forms of birth control. Thus, some of the most effective and reliable forms of contraception, such as oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and other forms of FDA-approved hormonal contraceptives could be banned in states that adopt "personhood" measures. Women's very lives would be jeopardized if physicians were prohibited from terminating life-threatening ectopic and molar pregnancies. Women who experience pregnancy loss or other negative pregnancy outcomes could be prosecuted in some cases.  
So-called "personhood" measures would have a negative impact on fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), that allow otherwise infertile couples to achieve pregnancy and create their families. Such proposals would also invariably ban embryonic stem cell research, depriving all of society potential lifesaving therapies.

ACOG supports guaranteed access to the full array of clinical and reproductive services appropriate to each individual woman's needs throughout her life. These "personhood" measures must be defeated in the best interest of women's health.