APTC Hacks: A comment for meaningful difference improvement

Last night I submitted a fairly long comment (below the fold) to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). My comment is on the initial parameters for the 2018 Exchange year. I and several colleagues think that CMS needs to pay more attention to meaningful difference regulation because the current set of rules allows for too much gaming of the system and minimization of the membership pool via the Silver Spamming strategy. The comment identifies the problem and proposes a viable solution.

I do not know what my expectations are for this comment. I know it will be read. I know some low level analyst will bucket the letter into two or three categories and there may be a response. Beyond that, I do not know if CMS will alter their policy at all on this issue. I hope they do as I think getting to a tighter definition of meaningful difference will boost enrollment while stabilizing the risk pool which is an objective that CMS shares. But I don’t know.

Now I’m going to get on Tim F’s beat — if you see something that the Federal government is doing that either intrigues you, pisses you off or touches on an area of specialized knowledge that you have, comment on the rule making. This letter took me three or four hours to write and revise with the other signers. It will be read, and it will be remembered by CMS technical staff as it engages them and it is not a mindless screaming of rage (from what I’ve heard, the EPA gets the best rage-grams.) Thoughtful, relevant responses that point to possible ways of accomplishing the mission of the agency in question will be read and they will be remembered. So please, do so especially as the comment submission process through Regulations.Gov is much easier than I thought it would have been.

The comment is below the fold:

Read more

GOTV optimization

This evening, my wife and I were door knocked for the first time this election cycle. A very earnest paid canvasser from a union backed entity asked us half a dozen questions, got our contact information and engaged in small chit chat. He stayed on our porch for ten minutes as a nasty but brief squall ripped through the neighborhood and took down a pair of branches from the walnut tree across the street. As we were talking, I mentioned that I had been a data geek for a similar 527 organization a while back. I understood that this was an initial data canvas and not a mobilization nor a persuasion canvas. Neither my wife nor I need persuasion nor mobilization. We have not missed an election in ten years, and the latest either of us have voted is three hours and seventeen minutes after the polls opened (this year as I was working from home and had to get the kids to school and coffee in me before casting a ballot for Hillary Clinton).

Any resources devoted to either persuade or mobilize my wife or I are wasted resources. We’re going to vote, and we’re going to vote for the most plausibly electable liberal that we can whenever we can. And this is a problem that calls for a solution. We’re going to get hit up with at least four different liberal GOTV ground campaigns (Clinton, joint/coordinated Federal and State Dem victory campaign, an environmental organization and a union backed 527 that we just talked to). Each of these groups will call us, they will mail us, and they will door knock us. If we only answer ten canvassers at the door this fall, I will be surprised. All of that effort is wasted effort that should be deployed on either getting a sure liberal but unsure voter out to vote, or a sure voter but squishy persuasion target out to vote for Democrats.

Is there a solution where my wife and I can register with a data vendor to say that we are 100% sure of voting and we are non-persuadable in the general election cycle so send resources three doors down to the new couple that moved into the neighborhood from out of state and have just registered to vote for the first time? If that is a third party entity, then both the campaigns that are allowed to coordinate with candidates and independent entities can buy the same cleansing lists to clean and narrow their actual target universe.

July 3rd Capitol Hill meet-up

For a variety of reasons, I am in Washington, DC at the start of next week.

Would anyone want to go grab a beer or two around Capitol Hill on Sunday, July 3rd in the late evening.  I’ll supply the green balloons if you can recommend a good place to meet at 8:30.


Seven Years Ago Today: Hope and Change

I don’t know about you, but for me it was an amazing day. Amazing. So many things I never thought I would see in my lifetime. I am so proud of this man and so proud that we worked our butts off to help him get elected.

Here is the C-Span full archive of video of the events of the day.

We cannot backtrack. We cannot.

Consider this an open thread. Cheers.

Shameless self promotion thread


I can’t see that we’ve done an Artists in our Midst thread, or a job thread, for quite a while. Then again, I may just be too drunk to find them.

Anyway, lets combine the two and have a free thread for Juicers – artists, Etsyists, writers, job seekers, freelancers, businesses seeking workers, community groups seeking assistance, whatever, lurkers more than welcome – to give themselves a plug.

[Image – Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) The Pottery Vendor]

Battle Flag Acquisition Strategies


Early this morning, I was doing some research on the endurance of corporate culture, studying how sometimes the spirit of a smaller, acquired firm can permeate the larger, acquiring organization. It’s not unusual for a big behemoth to acquire a scrappy smaller company solely for the purpose of infusing the moribund giant with fresh blood, and when the companies’ interests align, it can create an unstoppable marketplace force…for a while.

With that dynamic still on my mind, I moseyed over to Booman’s place and read a post that hit upon something that has been bothering me about the focus on the rebel flag in the wake of the domestic terrorist massacre in Charleston:

But the focus on the Confederate Flag can have an unfortunate side effect. What, after all, does that flag mean when it doesn’t simply mean white supremacy?

It’s meaning in those cases in nearly identical to the meaning of the modern conservative movement. It’s about disunion, and hostility to the federal government, and state’s rights. It’s anti-East Coast Establishment and anti-immigrant. It’s about an idealized and false past and preserving outworn and intolerant ideas. It’s about a perverse version of a highly provincial and particularized version of (predominantly) Protestant Christianity that has evolved to serve the interests of power elites in the South. It’s about an aggrieved sense of false persecution where white men are playing on the hardest difficulty setting rather than the easiest, and white Christians are as threatened as black Muslims and gays and Jews.

“Those blacks are raping our women and they have to go.”

That’s what the Confederate Flag is all about, but it’s also the basic message of Fox News and the whole Republican Party since the moment that Richard Nixon promised us law and order.

But it’s not black people who have to go.

It’s this whole Last Cause bullshit mentality that fuels our nation’s politics and lines the pockets of Ted Cruz just as surely as it has been lining the pockets of Walmart executives.

Today, maybe the governor down there had an epiphany. Maybe this massacre was the last straw. But, tomorrow, we’ll all be right back where we began with Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army.

If we solve a symbolic problem and leave the rest untouched, then what will really change?

You can’t bury the Confederate Flag without, at the same time, burying the Conservative Movement.

Let’s get on with it.

He’s right. For many white people, the rebel flag represented moldy old myths about the antebellum South. But think about how nicely that mythology dovetailed with the lies about the pre-Civil Rights era that paleocons like Pat Buchanan tell themselves.

Like a moribund corporation, the GOP acquired Confederate culture with the Southern strategy, harnessing the racism in the South and its echo nationwide to build the present day Republican Party. That’s why Ronald Reagan launched his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. That’s why an always-wrong, New York City-born legacy hire who is relentlessly eager to send other people’s kids off to die in glorious causes is tweeting nonsense that his ancestors would find…puzzling:

So, the rebel flag should come down in South Carolina and every other state capitol in the former Confederacy, and with surprising (to me) swiftness, it looks like it will. That will be more than a symbolic victory; it will be the partial righting of a very old wrong.

But there’s a danger in “otherizing” the South in this context. It’s not wrong to condemn its blinkered myth-making and prideful backwardness, but there’s a hazard in moral preening within and outside of Dixie, a risk of declaring a tidy victory when the dinosaurs in the state capitols of the former Confederacy finally sink into the tarpit they’ve thrashed in for 150 years.

The risk is that we’ll lose focus on the modern day “Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army,” as Booman put it. At its core, the Southern strategy was an attempt to roll back progress by hitching the anti-New Dealers’ star to the creaky old Confederate wagon. Its organizers weren’t all or even mostly slack-jawed yokels waving rebel flags. They included a fiery libertarian business man from Phoenix, a glib B-movie pitchman who hailed from Northern Illinois and a twitchy, paranoid Quaker from California.

To achieve true victory, we have to finally drive a stake through the heart of the Southern strategy, not just the Confederacy. So let’s make expunging the rebel flag from the public square the opening salvo in a larger battle to take our country back. Yes, that’s right, TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK. With no lies and decaying myths about what that means. The flag that represents it isn’t spotless. Its founding was rooted in slavery, genocide and the oppression of women. But unlike its dying counterpart, this flag is worth saving.

Organizing the South

Greetings from Detroit! Lovely day here; 70’s and sunny.

Here’s a very small activist and her dad. Her mom is working at Netroots.

little girl

Back to bidness. Organizing the south was primarily a labor discussion – Fight For Fifteen and UAW representatives on the panel- lots of discussion of Moral Mondays and the UAW organizing effort in Tennessee.

Very passionate people – there was some frustration with the lack of engagement by labor groups and progressive organizations in the south.

organizing south

The panelists seemed to be completely convinced that the following is true-

From MaryBe McMillan, 1st on L in photo:

“The only way we win economic justice in this country is to organize the south”

Great back and forth between panelists on the following –

From Cherie Deseline, 3rd from L in photo:

“The systemic root of exploitation of workers is ownership of bodies, especially black bodies”

From Carol McDonald, 2nd from L in photo:

“Can’t work effectively in the south without anti-racist lens on organizing. Not believable or credible without it”.