Climate Change is Harming the Economy

A new report, called the 'National Climate Assessment' was released yesterday, that lays out in stark terms how our climate is changing and how this is affecting our world, our nation and our local communities.  This report was mandated by Congress to be undertaken and was done by the Federal National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee, that consists of 60 scientists that worked with another 300 experts. 

This is a long report and you can read it here, but there are 3 take aways for me:

1. That 97% of scientists that study climate change agree that climate change is real.  With that overwhelming we have to wake up and take this issue seriously. 

2. That changes in our climate is causing harm to the economy.  Although there is always a segment of our economy that benefits from rebuilding after a massive storm or flood, the economy as a whole suffers from all the damage and changes brought about by extreme weather and changing weather patterns.

3. That it isn't too late to implement changes to address the factors causing climate change.  One example is reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal burning electrical power plants and moving to renewable energy - solar and wind - that generate clean electrical energy. 

The Wall Street Journal does a nice job in summarizing the report.  I would encourage you to read it. 

 

Add your reaction Share

Over 250,000 People in Michigan Signed Up for Healthcare

In a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 272,00 people in Michigan signed up for health care with a private insurance company through the Health Insurance Exchange and another 67,217 people signed up for the expanded Medicaid program in Michigan.  See the chart that provides the results for all states in the country in todays New York Times and see the coverage in today's Detroit Free Press.

These numbers are very impressive when you consider the problems that occurred with the initial roll out of the website to sign up for insurance on the Exchange.  Once the problems were cleared up, the demand for health care in Michigan and across the country was very strong.  And of the total number of people that signed up for health care in Michigan, 79,741 of them were 18-34 years old, the so called "young invincibles."  Lets give young adults a lot of credit for realizing that although younger people are generally healthier than older people, everybody can come down with a serious illness or get into an accident.  The statistic that I found to be very persuasive for all Americans to obtain health insurance , is that 50% of all bankruptcies in America are due to unpaid medical bills. 

The quality of life is going to increase for these Michiganders that now have health care.  They can see a doctor when they first get sick rather than waiting until they become seriously sick and end up going to an emergency at a hospital.  Their children can obtain regular check-ups and people that are healthier or worry less because now they have health insurance, are happier and more productive at work. 

And lets not forget what these numbers mean to the Michigan economy.  Of the 272,000 people that signed up, 237,337 or 87% of them received tax credits that helped reduce the cost of the premiums.  This means that a chunk of federal tax dollars paid by Michigan residents and sent to Washington DC is now coming back to Michigan and being spent on health care.  This is a nice economic stimulus to the Michigan economy that will spill over to other business sectors that feed off the health care sector. 

But this is only the beginning. The window for signing up for health care on the Exchange will re-open, probably in the Fall so more Michigan residents can obtain health care and lead more fulfilling lives now that they have peace of mind knowing that when they get sick they can get the care they need!

 

 

Add your reaction Share

What is the Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Employer Provided Health Insurance?

I read a very interesting article today in the New York Times, called 'Envisioning the End of Employer-Provided Health Plans.'  To read it yourself click on the article name. 

The article adresses what the impact will be on the business community, regarding their practice of providing health insurance to their employees, now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in place and the Health Insurance Exchanges are up and running, that offer a way for people to obtain health insurance on their own. 

Throughout the discussion leading up to the enactment of the ACA, the business community was very concerned that the cost of health care kept increasing year after year.  This concern was one of the key driving motivations for Congress to enact health care reform (along with the fact that 35 to 40 million Americans do not have health insurance).  But now that the Health Insurance Exchanges are in place, business now has a choice as to whether they continue to offer health insurance to their employees or give their employees a stipend to pay for health insurance and have them go on the Exchange and purchase it themselves. 

The article does a nice job in laying out the pros and cons of this decision.  I'm sure the decision will be decided to a large degree based upon cost.  Does it cost business more or less to continue to provide health insurance to their employees versus paying a stipend to employees and for large business, paying a penalty to the federal government for not offering insurance?  What is the administrative cost to employers of providing health care, or potential savings?

In a new report by S&P Capital IQ, that is highlighted in this article, they say that America's biggest companies could save $700 billion between 2016 and 2025, if they shifted their health care to the Exchange.

But this raises new questions.  What would the company do with this savings?  Would they use the savings to give higher wages for the employees or just increase the bottom line?  Would this make American companies and Michigan companies more competitive?  Would the stipends be enough for employees to buy the Silver or Gold plan on the Exchange or just the basic Bronze plan?

The Affordable Care Act was enacted will clear goals and intentions.  But nobody can clearly predict what can happen when major reforms take effect.  It will be very interesting in the new few years, to see how the Affordable Care Act changes the role of employers providing health care. 

 

 

 

 

 

Add your reaction Share

CBO Says Health Care Costs Are Decreasing

During all the back and forth debate of the initial roll out of the health insurance exchange, whats been lost in the discussion is that there are two major goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); one is to expand insurance coverage to the uninsured, and two is to reduce the high cost of providing health care. Now that the initial period for signing up for health insurance on the Exchange is over, the focus of health care reform now turns to taming the high cost of health care and there is some positive news regarding this.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced yesterday that the cost of the insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act is projected to be $100 billion less than previously forcasted. The report indicates that previous estimates were too high based on new data that shows a persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs. 

This is good news because as individuals and business pay less for healthcare, this frees up more money that can be spent on other important needs, whether its college education for young adults or increase capitol investment for a business. 

This slowdown in health care spending takes into consideration that 12 million new people now have insurance in 2014 than before because of the ACA. The Report says that "despite the significant costs of insurance expansion, that the Affordable Care Act is projected to reduce health care costs overall." 

This is good news. There is still a lot more work and challenges over the next several years to make the health care sector more efficient and less costly. But like any great undertaking you have to start somewhere and the initial steps of health care reform - of expanding coverage while bending the cost curve - is working. 

To read the article in the New York Times click here

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Even Though It's Cold Outside, Climate Change is Real

Its cold out there! This has been the coldest winter that I can remember for a while. We have had  a lot of snow in Michigan and the temperature has been below freezing for weeks. 

So naturally people think how real can global warming be with it being so cold. And of course people that think global warm is a joke love to polk fun at scientists that say that climate change and global warming is real. 

There was a great article in the New York Times yesterday called 'Freezing Out the Big Picture' that does a nice job explaining how it can be so cold out and that climate change is very real. 

So please read it and then you can explain to your friends how its cold out there and yet we are still facing a big problem with climate change. 

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Conservatives Once Again Distorting Data To Serve Their Ideological Needs

There are big headlines in the paper today, how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a study on the impact of the Affordable Care Act and Republicans and other conservatives are distorting what the study said. Read the New York Times Editorial response below to understand what the CBO really stated. I bolded what I thought were the key points made by the CBO study in the New York Times Editorial.  

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/opinion/freeing-workers-from-the-insurance-trap.html?referrer=

Freeing Workers From the Insurance Trap

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD FEB. 4, 2014

The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade. That is mostly a good thing, a liberating result of the law. Of course, Republicans immediately tried to brand the findings as “devastating” and stark evidence of President Obama’s health care reform as a failure and a job killer.

It is no such thing.

The report estimated that — thanks to an increase in insurance coverage under the act and the availability of subsidies to help pay the premiums — many workers who felt obliged to stay in a job that provided health benefits would now be able to leave those jobs or choose to work fewer hours than they otherwise would have. In other words, the report is about the choices workers can make when they are no longer tethered to an employer because of health benefits. The cumulative effect on the labor supply is the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer full-time workers by 2024.

Some workers may have had a pre-existing condition and will now be able to leave work because insurers must accept all applicants without regard to health status and charge premiums unrelated to health status. Some may have felt they needed to keep working to pay for health insurance, but now new government subsidies will help pay premiums, making it more possible for them to leave their jobs.

The report clearly stated that health reform would not produce an increase in unemployment (workers unable to find jobs) or underemployment (part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week). It also found “no compelling evidence” that, as of now, part-time employment has increased as a result of the reform law, a frequent claim of critics of the law. Whether that will hold up after a mandate that requires employers to provide coverage, which was delayed until 2015, kicks in is uncertain.

In separate estimates, the budget office predicted that two million fewer people will get insurance coverage in 2014 than it had previously predicted, mostly because of technical problems with the rollout of new insurance exchanges and other implementation glitches. The shortfall includes one million fewer people enrolling in private insurance (the 2014 projection is reduced from seven million to six million) and one million fewer enrolling in Medicaid and a related children’s health insurance program (reduced from nine million to eight million).

Given the rocky start, 14 million additional Americans covered by insurance through the exchanges and Medicaid is sound progress; and budget office projects a sharp increase in enrollment in 2015 and 2016 and a bigger net reduction in the number of uninsured. Its projections for subsequent years remain essentially unchanged. In 2017, it predicts 12 million more in Medicaid and 24 million more in private coverage through the exchanges.

The new law will free people, young and old, to pursue their careers or retirement without having to worry about health coverage. Workers can seek positions they are most qualified for and need no longer feel locked into a job they don’t like because they need insurance for themselves or their families. It is hard to view this as any kind of disaster.

Add your reaction Share

Uninsured Still Don't Realize Financial Support Is Available to Help Pay For Insurance

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released results of an in depth survey as to why people without health insurance aren't jumping to sign up for insurance on the Health Exchange. It turns out that many of the uninsured think the insurance will be too expensive and they don't realize that financial help in the form of an advancable tax credit is available to help pay for insurance. 

Here is what Robert Wood Johnson said, taken from their website:

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently conducted a research study to check in with consumers midway through open enrollment. Focus groups were held in late November 2013 in Philadelphia, Richmond and Chicago with uninsured and self-purchase populations. A national survey of 1,147 uninsured individuals, ages 18-64 was fielded December 19-29, 2013.

The study results indicate that while most of the uninsured have heard of the marketplace in their state, only about one-quarter had visited the website at the end of December. There is an opportunity to use messaging that addresses barriers and motivates consumers to pursue coverage before enrollment ends on March 31, 2014.

Cost continues to be the main concern for those without health coverage. Consumers assume health insurance options are not affordable and this perception keeps them from exploring their options. Most have also not heard that financial help is available to millions of Americans or that more people are eligible for low-cost or free coverage in states that have expanded Medicaid. Knowing that consumers are making decisions through a financial lens, it’s important that messaging address affordability concerns. The idea that they could get financial help is a top motivator for the uninsured.

So if you know people that don't have insurance and make up to $44,000 as a single person or about $92,000 for a family of four, then they can get financial help in the form of a tax credit to help pay for insurance on the Exchange.

Go to www.healthcare.gov to learn more about the tax credit and to sign up for health insurance. The deadline is March 31, 2014.    

 

Add your reaction Share

Krugman - Bette in Spokane

I read this Blog Post by Paul Krugman of the New York Times and thought you might find it interesting as well. 

 

Bette in Spokane Blogging

So, I wondered about “Bette in Spokane”, mentioned in the official GOP SOTU response. I wondered how she could face a $700 a month increase in premiums, and speculated that she must have had “a really bare-bones policy offering hardly any protection.”

Well, now we know, and I was right: her previous plan was catastrophic coverage only, with a $10,000 deductible — and the “$700 a month more” was the most expensive option offered by her insurer. She didn’t go to the healthcare.gov website, where she could have found cheaper plans.

So this wasn’t sticker shock, at least as described. This was someone finding out that the ACA requires that you have a minimum level of insurance, and that minimalist plans are no longer allowed — and it was also Ms. Rodgers misrepresenting what had happened.

Oh, and why isn’t catastrophic coverage only allowed? For the same reason we have a coverage mandate in the first place: everyone has to be in the risk pool. If you’re allowed to have insurance that barely covers anything, that’s almost the same as not participating at all.

Add your reaction Share

Get Covered - Health Insurance Flashmob

Good morning everyone – 

This Obamacare Flash Mob hosted by Generation Progress - and featuring former Super Bowl player Donte Stallworth – is really cool. All of the young dancers participated in the flash mob because they support the Affordable Care Act and many of them personally have or will benefit from it. The flash mob was designed to help educate others about how the law will benefit them. 

I wanted to pass it along and hope it makes your morning too. Please find the release below and feel free to tweet out using the hashtag #RockEnroll.

Thanks

John 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 30, 2014 

Additional links to video

·       #RockEnroll: A Flash Mob Like Never Before

·       YouTube

·       High-Definition Video 

#RockEnroll: Former Super Bowl Player Partners with Generation Progress in NYC For an Obamacare Flash Mob 

Young People Danced To Promote the Affordable Care Act During Super Bowl Week 

NEW YORK— Former Super Bowl player Donte Stallworth, more than 50 young people, and navigators participated in a flash mob Wednesday in Central Park to encourage people to sign up for healthcare. After the flash mob, navigators spoke with bystanders to make sure they had the information they needed to pick a health plan that fits their needs. The deadline to sign up is March 31. 

Stallworth initiated the flash mob, and shortly after the young adults and navigators entered to the tune of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us.” Stallworth released a video of the flash mob with a tweet Wednesday evening. 

Bet you guys didn't know I could dance, huh? ... Check it out!!!  http://genpr.gs/rockEnroll  #RockEnroll #GetCovered,” Stallworth tweeted. 

All of the young dancers participated in the flash mob because they support the Affordable Care Act and many of them have or will benefit from the law.  

“As we approach the March 31 deadline for enrollment, it is important for everyone to know that quality and affordable healthcare is available,” said Anne Johnson, Executive Director of Generation Progress, which organized the flash mob.  “We continue to see young people enrolling in healthcare plans, many of them for less than $100 per month.  We thought a Central Park flash mob would be a great way for people to tell their friends to get covered.” 

Dancer Brett-Marco Glauser is grateful that Obamacare stops insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.  For the past four years, Glauser has battled Crohn’s disease and now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, is able to access coverage without fear of being denied.  In addition, Glauser’s brother had a disease that required expensive surgery and treatments. 

“As I approach my 26th birthday, when I no longer will be able to stay on my parents’ plan, I realize that I could be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition had Obamacare not passed,” Glauser said.  “My brother and I are extremely grateful for the added protections under Obamacare we experience today. Without them, we could be living in extreme debt.” 

Without health coverage, it would also be difficult for Madison Embrey to pursue her dance career. 

“I've chosen to devote myself to a professional performance career, meaning my body is my instrument, tool, and potentially, my main source of income,” Embrey said.  “The risk would be too high to take on such a health-oriented career without being insured. I need healthcare in order to begin my dance career, so dancing is the perfect way to make people aware.” 

Embrey is glad that the Affordable Care Act provides young adults like her the peace of mind.  Now, she will have access to affordable healthcare that will be there when she needs it.

To learn more about getting covered and options, please visit Tell A Friend and Get Covered

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Generation Progress, the youth division of the Center for American Progress, is a nonpartisan organization that works with and for young people to promote progressive solutions to key political and social challenges. Through programs in activism, journalism, and events, Generation Progress engages a diverse group of young people nationwide, inspires them to embrace progressive values, provides them with essential trainings, and helps them to make their voices heard on important policy issues. Launched in 2005 and formerly called Campus Progress, we support national and local advocacy campaigns; run a daily web magazine for young progressives; support student publications on more than 50 campuses; and have held more than 900 public events. For more information, please visit genprogress.org.

Add your reaction Share

President Obama Comments SOTU

The following is what President Obama said last night in his State of the Union (SOTU) about health care reform and how the Affordable Care Act is working: 

Ø  HEALTH CARE SECTION ONLY -2014 State of the Union address President Obama - Now -- a pre-existing condition used to mean that someone like Amanda Shelley, a physician's assistant and single mom from Arizona, couldn't get health insurance. But on January 1st, she got covered. (Applause.) On January 3rd, she felt a sharp pain. On January 6th, she had emergency surgery. Just one week earlier, Amanda said, that surgery would've meant bankruptcy. That's what health insurance reform is all about, the peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don't have to lose everything. Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than 3 million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents' plans. More than 9 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage -- 9 million. And here's another number: zero. Because of this law, no American, none, zero, can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition like asthma or back pain or cancer. No woman can ever be charged more just because she's a woman. And we did all this while adding years to Medicare's finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors. Now, I do not expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people are not interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, increase choice, tell America what you'd do differently. Let's see if the numbers add up. But let's not have another 40- something votes to repeal a law that's already helping millions of Americans like Amanda. The first 40 were plenty. We all owe it to the American people to say what we're for, not just what we're against And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who's here tonight. Now, Kentucky's not the most liberal part of the country. That's not where I got my highest vote totals. But he's like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth's families. They're our neighbors and our friends, he said. They're people we shop and go to church with -- farmers out on the tractor, grocery clerks. They're people who go to work every morning praying they don't get sick. No one deserves to live that way. Steve's right. That's why tonight I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st. Help them get covered.  Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It'll give her some peace of mind, and plus, she'll appreciate hearing from you. After all, that -- that's the spirit that has always moved this nation forward.

Add your reaction Share

1  2  Next →
Health Care for Michigan
To promote health care reform and renewable energy.