“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated”

Hillary Rodham Clinton raises a glass to the memory of Harry and Louise.

NYMag, “GOP Leaders Bet Wavering Republicans Don’t Have the Guts to Stop Obamacare Repeal“:

For seven years, Republicans campaigned and won on the message that Obamacare must be repealed and replaced as soon as possible. One month after unexpectedly finding themselves with a Republican in the White House and a majority in both chambers of Congress, it’s become apparent that Republicans aren’t going to quickly coalesce around a plan to overhaul the U.S. health-care system. The conservative House Freedom Caucus has vowed to oppose any repeal measure that’s less extreme than the one passed in 2015, while other Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns about forging ahead with a repeal plan that could leave millions with no coverage — especially after enduring raucous town hall events during last week’s recess…

But according to The Wall Street Journal, GOP leaders now have a plan to get around that: set repeal legislation in motion and bet that rank-and-file Republicans won’t have the guts to vote against killing the Affordable Care Act.

GOP leaders hope to embark on this road as early as this week. The first step is passing legislation currently being crafted in the House that does away with key elements of Obamacare. As the Journal explains, the initial bill would contain some elements of a GOP replacement plan, but much of the new system would be worked out after the Affordable Care Act is no more…

Republican leaders hope to pass the initial legislation via the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority — but it’s still a risky move. If the measure loses more than two votes in the Senate and 22 in the House, it will fail. The House Freedom Caucus has roughly 40 members and at least half a dozen Republican senators have expressed reservations about repealing Obamacare without a coherent replacement plan…

These guys, on the other hand…

Monday Evening Open Thread: Quick Notes


Apart from that, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Tom Perez is off to a quick start, good for him…

One more thing to blame Lord Smallgloves (and his fussy little hand tics) for:

I Got Your White Working Class Voter Right Here

Oy vey:

Tom Godat, a union electrician who has always voted for Democrats, cast his ballot for Donald Trump last year as “the lesser of two evils” compared to Hillary Clinton.

He’s already a little embarrassed about it.

There’s a lot that Godat likes about President Trump, especially his pledge to make the country great again by ignoring lobbyists, challenging both political parties and increasing the number of good-paying jobs.

But Godat was surprised by the utter chaos that came with the president’s first month. He said it often felt like Trump and his staff were impulsively firing off executive orders instead of really thinking things through.

“I didn’t think he would come in blazing like he has,” said Godat, 39, who has three kids and works at the same aluminum rolling plant where his father worked. “It seems almost like a dictatorship at times. He’s got a lot of controversial stuff going on and rather than thinking it through, I’m afraid that he’s jumping into the frying pan with both feet.”


Godat commutes more than 30 miles south to Bettendorf, where he gets paid a base wage of $34 per hour to help prepare aluminum used for airplanes and cars. There’s a shortage of trained electricians, and last year Godat said he worked 600 overtime hours, bringing his total pay to about $110,000. His wife provides in-home care for the elderly.

$110,000 in Davenport, Iowa is the equivalent of $205k in NYC, $115K in Texas, $160K in Los Angeles, and $93K in WV. You can calculate your own location by clicking that link. $110k in Iowa, like $93K in WV, is fucking RICH.

Tom Godat, you’re not economically anxious, you’re an asshole.

And Now Voting Rights

Because when everyone hates you and your policies, the only thing you can do is keep them from voting you out of office:

For the last six years, the Justice Department has sided with the citizens and civil rights groups fighting Texas’ voter ID law, which a federal judge at one point found to be intentionally discriminatory against black and Latino voters. But its position changed Monday when the department decided to drop its claim that Republican state lawmakers enacted the law to make it harder for minorities to vote.

“This signals to voters that they will not be protected under this administration,” said Danielle Lang, the deputy director of voting rights at the Campaign Legal Center, which is challenging Texas’ law in court.

The reversal, on the eve of a key hearing in the case, is a clear sign of the DOJ’s direction under Attorney General Jeff Sessions—a longtime advocate of voter ID laws and other voting restrictions. The department signaled its intentions last week when it joined with the state of Texas to ask the court to hold off on judging the constitutionality of the law until Republican lawmakers can modify it. The court rejected this request.

Lang told TPM that the DOJ reached out Monday morning to her and the other voting rights groups fighting the law to notify them of their new position.

On Tuesday, DOJ lawyers will appear before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos and inform her that the federal government is dismissing its claim that the voter ID law was crafted with a discriminatory intent.

“There have been six years of litigation and no change in the facts,” Lang told TPM. “We have already had a nine-day trial and presented thousands of pages of documents demonstrating that the picking and choosing of what IDs count was entirely discriminatory and would fall more harshly on minority voters. So for the DOJ to come in and drop those claims just because of a change of administration is outrageous.”

Kinda white happens when you have a white supremacist running the DOJ.

A death spiral scratchpad

This tweet and a few other conversations that I’ve seen has me thinking hard.  I’m method agnostic as long as preferred ends are met. This is a scratchpad post as I am trying to figure out the model.

One of the plausible pool participation mechanisms is the use of late enrollment penalties.  Medicare Part B uses a late enrollment penalty for people who do not sign up.  Those penalties are significant, scaled to time and persistent.

if you don’t sign up for Part B when you’re first eligible, you’ll have to pay a late enrollment penalty. You’ll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Part B. Your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn’t sign up for it. Also, you may have to wait until the General Enrollment Period (from January 1 to March 31) to enroll in Part B. Coverage will start July 1 of that year….EXAMPLE

Your Initial Enrollment Period ended September 30, 2009. You waited to sign up for Part B until the General Enrollment Period in March 2012. Your Part B premium penalty is 20%. (While you waited a total of 30 months to sign up, this included only 2 full 12-month periods.) You’ll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Part B.

Medicare Part D is similar in using a late enrollment penalty. The Part D penalty is 1% of the national average premium cost per month of non-coverage. Both penalties are persistent as they are permanent increases in premium for the rest of the life of the Medicare beneficiary.

The House Republican Repeal bill has a late enrollment penalty but it is not persistent. Their late enrollment penalty for non-continuous credible coverage starts on p.41 of the bill. It is a 30% surcharge for a single twelve period. After that point, the individual gets the standard rate.

Update as the rest of my post was cut off

So what is going on here that causes health insurance actuaries to potentially freak out about a late enrollment penalty as the pool participation mechanism in the individual market while the Medicare LEPs seem to work well enough?

I’ll advance a story that could make sense.
Read more

Busy Monday Open Thread

Looks like I’m not the only one who is super busy today, but here’s a strawberry pie to tide you over:

Strawberries are in season down here, and the mister and I picked up a flat yesterday. The pie was really good except for the substandard store-bought crust.

I’m not much of a baker, and I’ve never found a good foolproof homemade crust recipe. So I settled for Pillsbury, which is like driving a Porsche on retreads. Oh well. Open thread!

Jesus wept…

Or maybe David Anderson! Trump just now on healthcare reform:

“Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

Posting “Trump said something idiotic” observations is a full-time job that sane people declined midway through the campaign, but damn. I hope President Obama reads that and laughs and laughs.

In other news, Trump signaled his budget will propose a $54B hike in defense spending and slashing other agencies by the same amount. Because dog knows we need more warheads, battleships, tanks, etc., rather than stupid old healthcare, boring education, dumb environmental protections, assistance for olds and kids, etc.

Anyhoo, open thread.

Who needs coverage when taxes can be cut

First Axios has a briefing to the National Governors Association on what the GOP Medicaid plan would look like:

For a hypothetical Medicaid expansion states:

  • The state would lose $635 million in federal funding, a 65 percent decrease.
    • Net of 200,000 people would lose insurance coverage

For a hypothetical non-Medicaid expansion states

  • The state would lose $885 million in federal funding, an 80 percent decrease.

    • A net of 30,000 people would lose coverage in addition to the people who are in the Medicaid gap

Secondly, Loren Adler passes along a useful comparison made by Jed Graham, a conservative health wonk and reporter who does good work.  Jed examines what a 64 year old couple making 150% of federal poverty level would see under PPACA and under the Price Plan.

Finally, I whipped up some charts of what counties on Healthcare.gov in 2017 would have a 40 year pay at least $200 per month for the least expensive plan available.  This is after the flat age based subsidy for the best person in the subsidy class and it is for a plan with a $7,000 out of pocket maximum.

This is the chart of which Senators need to be pressured.  Alaska was excluded purely for presentation purposes but it is brilliant fire engine red.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Old Notes, New Jokes

Concerning the late-night Oscars fiasco…

Apart from Mardi Gras preparations, what’s on the agenda as we start the week?

Celebrate our victories, and educate the underinformed…

(Oh, sure, if all you’re interested in is winning elections… )

On The Road


We’re trying a new feature here, so let’s see how it goes for the next week or so before it’s fully automated.

This post is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are.

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

Late-Night Post-Oscar Open Thread: Well, That Was Awkward…

(h/t: commentor LAMH)

I only caught the end of the Oscars telecast because I was waiting for the local news, and I honestly assumed the BIG SHOCK ENDING was another lame-o Jimmy Fallon Kimmel joke at first. Per the LA Times:

After an erroneous announcement, ‘Moonlight’ was named Oscar-winner for best picture. ‘La La Land’ was announced first.

“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins’ drama is about a young African American coming to grips with his sexuality.

At first, Faye Dunaway announced “La La Land” as the winner, after her co-presenter Warren Beatty studied the card at length.

Producers and castmembers from “La La Land,” the candy-colored big-screen romantic musical about two artists striving to fulfill their dreams, were on stage thanking everyone for their win when the mistake was caught.

“La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz caught the mistake from the stage and interrupted the celebration, calling attention to the discrepancy on the winners card in his hand.

At that point, someone showed the card to the camera, which clearly indicated “Moonlight” had won…

Warren Beatty then stepped to mic and explained that the reason it had taken him so long to read the card, was because he was looking at something that said Emma Stone had won. At that point, he showed it to Dunaway, who announced “La La Land,” Beatty assured viewers that the error was unintentional and he wasn’t trying to turn the biggest award into a joke…

The moment will go down as one of the strangest and most shocking in Oscar history, with the room in disarray as they sorted out the error.

Stone did win Best Actress for La La Land, so perhaps an errant card ended up in the Best Picture envelope. Prediction: There will be somewhere north of ten thousand thinkpieces & essays within the next ten days, explicating on how two of the whitest stars in Hollywood ended up on the wrong end of that particular fraught confrontation…


Oscar’s Open Thread


Open Thread: Donald Trump, FAKE! President; Real Traitor?

Even the not-very-political USA Today!

Today in Domestic Terrorism and Stochastic Violence: Cemetery Take 2

Dozens of headstones at a Jewish cemetery in the Wissinoming section of Philadelphia have been broken and overturned.

The Philadelphia police say this was an act of vandalism at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery on the corner of Frankford and Cheltenham avenues.

The damage is widespread all across the cemetery with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of headstones affected.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia tells Action News they will be opening a mailbox at jewishphilly.org later Sunday to begin raising money to help speed up the repairs of the cemetery.

This isn’t the only activity so far today. There’s also this:

And in an update on the shooting in Olathe, KS we have the following two interesting pieces of information:

Sean Spicer’s official statement:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that it was “absurd” to suggest any connection between President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and a triple shooting in Kansas that some witnesses described as racially motivated.

“Any loss of life is tragic but I’m not going to get into that kind of — to suggest that there’s any correlation I think is a bit absurd, so I’m not going to get any further than that,” Spicer told reporters during a press gaggle recorded by the Washington Post.

Juxtaposed below with the President’s remarks during the campaign about how words and ideas matter.

And preliminary evidence that words and ideas do indeed matter and seem to have for Adam Purinton the alleged shooter:

Madasani, also a Garmin engineer, told The New York Times on Friday that Purinton had been sitting near him and Kuchibhotla on the bar’s patio. Madasani said he asked them what type of visas they were on and whether they were in the U.S. illegally. Both were in the country legally.

Stay frosty!