As we've said many times, ObamaCare is a needlessly* complex system that throws people into buckets depending on their income, age, jurisdiction, employer, and the characteristics of their family, among other things. Inevitably, people get tossed into the wrong bucket. One would naturally have expected an appeals process to be in place to help people who are unjustly treated. No such luck:
HealthCare.gov can’t handle appeals of enrollment errors
Tens of thousands of people who discovered that HealthCare.gov made mistakes as they were signing up for a health plan are confronting a new roadblock: The government cannot yet fix the errors.
Roughly 22,000 Americans have filed appeals with the government to try to get mistakes corrected, according to internal government data obtained by The Washington Post. They contend that the computer system for the new federal online marketplace charged them too much for health insurance, steered them into the wrong insurance program or denied them coverage entirely.
For now, the appeals are sitting, untouched, inside a government computer. And an unknown number of consumers who are trying to get help through less formal means — by calling the health-care marketplace directly — are told that HealthCare.gov’s computer system is not yet allowing federal workers to go into enrollment records and change them, according to individuals inside and outside the government who are familiar with the situation.
Well, I went to the dentist (thanks for all the help). You can tell the picture that Thai dental professionals have of dental care in the United States from the English they know: Picture me vibrating quietly about six inches above the dental chair, totally rigid, plank-like with tension, and meanwhile the dentist and her assistant chatting as they work away, musical Thai interspersed with "No pain... No pain...." and "Relax!" and "Breathe deep!" (because I would forget to breathe). And they were quite right; there was no pain. Which is what I went to find out! Read below the fold...
Princeton -> the Fed -> Brookings. Nice work if you can get it. Businessweek:
Ben Bernanke used to run the world’s most powerful central bank. David Wessel used to cover him as a reporter. In a role reversal that’s weirdly Washingtonian, Bernanke will now be a “distinguished fellow in residence” at a Brookings Institution center directed by Wessel. ...
The center Wessel directs is called the Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy. According to its website, it “provides independent, non-partisan analysis of fiscal and monetary policy issues in order to further public understanding and to improve the quality and effectiveness of those policies.” Its advisory committee is co-chaired by Democrat Lawrence Summers and Republican Gregory Mankiw, both Harvard University economists. It was launched in December with a $10 million starter gift from the Hutchins Family Foundation. Glenn Hutchins is co-founder of Silver Lake, a global technology investment company. ....
The lightning-quick naming of Bernanke raises the question of how long ago negotiations with Brookings began. Wessel, whose appointment as director was part of the announcement of the center’s formation on Dec. 4, has a well-known and long-standing relationship with Bernanke. He wrote a 2009 history of the financial crisis called In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic. As the title suggests, it was one of the more positive appraisals of Bernanke’s performance.
One big happy! Read below the fold...
Obama uses moral suasion to get companies not to discriminate against the disemployed when hiring for crappy jobs that mostly aren't there anyhow
Obama takes action to address long-term unemployment
Obama issued a memorandum on Friday saying that federal agencies should not look unfavorably [whatever the Fuck that means] upon job-seekers who are unemployed or facing financial difficulties, signaling [note Beltway-ese; Beltway types are all the time "signalling" to each other, for some nutty reason] to those individuals that federal employment will not be out of their reach.
Also that day, the White House announced it had secured promises [uh huh] from more than 300 companies that agreed to not show bias [whatever the Fuck that means] against applicants who have been out of work for more than six months. The administration began working on those agreements last May, according to officials.
They've been working on this pathetic baby step, this toddler-level evasion of responsibility, this slap in the face to the disemployed since May? For MR SUBLIMINAL May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, January nine months? By which I mean nine fucking months? Have I mentioned lately what an asshole Obama is? Read below the fold...
[Toru Nakakita, a] longtime commentator for the network [NHK] angrily announced that he had resigned after being ordered not to criticize nuclear power ahead of a crucial election, unleashing new criticism. Toru Nakakita, said the show on which he had appeared regularly for 20 years had told him not to say anything critical about nuclear power. An NHK spokesman said the demand was made to ensure balanced coverage during the coming election for Tokyo governor, in which nuclear power is an issue...
The broadcaster has also faced widespread distrust for coverage of the 2011 Fukushima accident that some say complied with government efforts to hide the extent of radiation releases.
And last year, Jun Hori, a popular NHK television news announcer, quit after superiors questioned him for more than six hours about a documentary he had made describing nuclear accidents at Fukushima and in the United States. It is expected to be shown this month at a small theater in Tokyo.
I can't imagine why the Japanese government would be doing this. Read below the fold...
UPDATE I should probably have had a zippier headline, something like "The worldwide significance of Thailand's elections," and I wouldn't have been lying; it's not every day that you get to see a nation in the process of deciding whether to roll back democracy or not. --lambert]
My perspective, for what it's worth -- Thai politics is dark and complicated, and events that seem similar to US events may not be similar -- is that the key issue in the election was whether "one person, one vote"-style electoral democracy is a legitimate form of constitutional government for Thailand, or not.
Leaving discussion of the (dubious, self-serving, and corrupt*) merits of the contending forces, Pheu Thai (PT), the government side -- there are many sides, but (in the election) two main ones -- answered "yes", and the Democrat Party/PRDC, anti-government side answered "no." The Democrats (and the PRDC**) attempted to delegitimate the election, the government, and electoral democracy as such in at least four ways: (1) The Democrats boycotted the election entirely; (2) the PRDC blocked the distribution of ballots in some districts it controlled (mostly in the South), (3) and blocked voter access to polling places (again in the South, but also in Bangkok), and (4) by creating an atmosphere heavy with the tension of anticipated violence. (To be fair, both, indeed all sides have "hard men," militant, armed wings, and both sides also have hotheads that can be said to be legitimately out of control). Finally, (5) the PRDC put forward the slogan "election before reform," meaning that an unelected council of "good people" would somehow put the country right, and after a year (or so) elections would be said. Needless to say, nobody in their right mind would believe this promise was made in good faith.*** Read below the fold...
[Nowhere near the coverage this topic deserves -- and we need! -- but at least it's a start. Originally posted at Naked Capitalism. --lambert=
People fighting the landfill up here in the great State of Maine constantly run into the issue of standing: As it turns out, unless you are directly impacted by the landfill -- for example, if you live next to it and are affected by foul odors -- you have no standing to sue in court against it, or enter the regulatory/rule-making process. Which strikes us all as nuts, since our water, air, quality of life, and property values are all affected by it. In reaction, albeit informally and not as resistance to the landfill in the permitting process, we came up with or acquired the concept of "sheds" -- like watershed, airshed, viewshed -- and the idea that if you're in a shed, you should have standing; a voice in the shed's management and use. Speculating freely, as is my wont, it seemed reasonable that sheds might be fractal -- stream, river, catchment area -- and that jurisdictions might be based on shed boundaries; heck, maybe the Penobscots were onto something. Well, as it turns out, we were all stumbling toward the idea of how to govern a commons, a problem that Ellinor Ostrum made her life's work and won a Nobel Prize for. For work she did twenty years ago. Which, come to think of it, is a reasonable time period for a big idea to propagate.* Read below the fold...
Shocker! That they said it, I mean. WaPo:
Leaders of two major unions, including the first to endorse Obama in 2008, said they have been betrayed by an administration that wooed their support for the 2009 legislation with promises to later address the peculiar needs of union-negotiated insurance plans that cover millions of workers.
After dozens of frustrating meetings with White House officials over the past year, including one with Obama, a number of angry labor officials say their members are far less likely to campaign and turn out for Democratic candidates in the midterm elections.
“We want to hold the president to his word: If you like your health-care coverage, you can keep it, and that just hasn’t been the case,” said Donald “D.” Taylor, president of Unite Here, the union that represents about 400,000 hotel and restaurant workers and provided a crucial boost to Obama by endorsing him just after his rival Hillary Rodham Clinton had won the New Hampshire primary.
Ha ha. Why, the ingratitude. Read below the fold...
Here's a list of what you're going to have to tell the government so they can calculate your ObamaCare subsidy "correctly." Of course, the website screws that up, but presumably that will change. I've helpfully underlined the bits you'll need to pass on so they can keep track! First, the website:
A significant limitation of the federal exchange to date has been its inability to handle enrollee changes in circumstances. With three million Americans signed up for health plans through the exchanges as of January 15, it is likely that thousands of individuals are experiencing changes of circumstances every day. For example, people get married, have children, experience increases or decreases of income, get jobs, get pregnant, or move. Some of these changes trigger special enrollment periods — that is, they allow an enrollee in a qualified health plan to change plans. Others do not, but will change the amount of premium tax credits to which an enrollee is entitled and the share of the premium the enrollee will need to pay. Until now, the federal exchange has not been able to deal with changes in circumstances. HHS has instructed enrollees to contact their insurer to report changes, but while insurers may be able to deal with some changes (adding a dependent), they cannot address other changes, such as changes in premium tax credit amounts.
Wow, seems complicated! Read below the fold...
All MyRA is good for is sending a signal to Obama's owners that Social Security is still under assault
This is very exciting (at least to me). UPDATE Below, which is more a "Common Household Remedies Request."
The last time I had my teeth cleaned was, like, six or seven years ago, when I had corporate health insurance, including dental. It was horrible. The scraping down was painful, then they "fixed" a filling that left a sharp edge in my mouth, and which later broke off, and at the end of it all, they ushered me into a giant skull scanner that pumped out a big X-Ray immediately, and was clearly just a marketing tool designed to get me to allow them to extract all my wisdom teeth because insurance. I shuddered and escaped. Read below the fold...
Take that, Tom Perkins et al.! Times:
The six decades between 1914 and 1973 stand out from the past and future, according to [Thomas Piketty’s new book, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century"] , because the rate of economic growth exceeded the after-tax rate of return on capital. Since then, the rate of growth of the economy has declined, while the return on capital is rising to its pre-World War I levels.
“If the rate of return on capital remains permanently above the rate of growth of the economy – this is Piketty’s key inequality relationship,” [Branko Milanovic of the World Bank] writes in his review, it “generates a changing functional distribution of income in favor of capital and, if capital incomes are more concentrated than incomes from labor (a rather uncontroversial fact), personal income distribution will also get more unequal — which indeed is what we have witnessed in the past 30 years.”
Piketty has produced the chart at Figure 1 to illustrate his larger point.
The only way to halt this process, he argues, is to impose a global progressive tax on wealth – global in order to prevent (among other things) the transfer of assets to countries without such levies. A global tax, in this scheme, would restrict the concentration of wealth and limit the income flowing to capital.
Piketty would impose an annual graduated tax on stocks and bonds, property and other assets that are customarily not taxed until they are sold. He leaves open the rate and formula for distributing revenues.
Well, that's interesting, eh? May need to revise that Plank.... Read below the fold...
Hospital executives made passionate pleas to the House Commerce committee on Tuesday to seek support for a bill that would require insurance companies selling plans on the federally run insurance exchange to negotiate with all interested health care providers in the state.
Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont is one of 10 hospitals in the state not included in Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield’s network for plans sold on the exchange this year. The hospital wasn’t offered an opportunity to negotiate, Valley Regional CEO Peter Wright said.
Anthem “quite cleverly followed the letter of the law, but found the loopholes to exclude the most economically disparaged [sic] communities in the state,” Wright said. “It’s almost classism. We’re supposed to be taking care of the people who can’t otherwise get care.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bill Nelson, R-Brookfield, was more measured, saying the bill is about “fairness, it’s about monopolies, about jobs, about the patients that are inconvenienced by the extra travel and expense.”
So it's come to this. Read below the fold...