It is going to be very tough

Between water fountain conversations, bloggers, tweet messages, faceBook comments and even some reporters a legitimate question has emergered; why isn’t the black community and it’s leaders spending as much time on the black on black youth murders in inter-cities like Chicago, LA, Detroit and Oakland as is being spend on Travon Martin?

About a week ago there was an announcement by some black leaders in the education field that they were going to form several committee’s and conferences to address the question black leaders like Jessie and Al have chosen to ignore; what ideas does the black community have to stop record setting killing of young blacks on other young blacks? While Jessie and Al seek to demonize Zimmerman and by inference all the white community some blacks are addressing a much larger issue?

You may note I’ve constantly refer to the black community and black on black killings because it is a black cultural issue first Federal and state involvement with funding only comes after black leadership offers specific ideas that will cause the whole black community to participate in a plan to stop the violence.

As I said this will be a tough job trying to stay free of lamenting past racial inequities, admitting family comes first and not making funding the bogie man They should be measuring the success of the community efforts by recording a major decline in black on black killings across the nation. One last thing please let the white left wing elitist stay out of the fray and let the black community work out its own plan for success

Insurance Shopping

I have for several months tried to make the point that the ACA is a potential train wreck and yet many of my friends seem oblivious to the potential increase in costs and possible loss of services. Yesterday the AP writer Ricardo Alvona-Zaldivar wrote an article entitled “Insurance shopping won’t be as easy as hoped.” I’m going to invite you to read the whole article on line but for my purposes I’m going to bring a few observations that Ricardo and others made.

You may have heard that shopping for Obamacare would be like going to Travelocity or Amazon. Not so fast, Christine Ferguson director of Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange “I never bought into it.” The Obama administration, which will run the markets or take the lead in 35 states, has yet to demonstrate the technology platform that will help consumers get financial help with their premiums and pick a plan.

Christine goes on to say; there will be a significant amount of manual processing of things that will later be automated. Julie Bataille directing the outreach program of the HHS points out that it is a complicated transaction with different components, including arranging financing and picking the right product, bronze, silver, gold and platinum packages. The IRS will calculate the maximum health insurance subsidy that you are entitled to as tax credits.

Two of the phrases used frequently in this article is “it’s unclear.” And there are “going to be delays.”

I urge you to not wait until October 1, 2013 to find out about your health insurance before you must make a decision. My conclusion is that Max Baucus the democrat leader who helped design the ACA bill was accurate when he said; it is a train wreck looking for a place to happen.

Real Life Example

A pharmacist in an inter-city Detroit hospital relates the following story. He works at a conglomerate of hospitals in the inter-city that treats a great many Medicaid patients and those with no insurance. That is not the story. What is amazing is that this professional man who works with professional at these hospitals says the staff actually thought medical treatment would be free for their patients and that they would not have to change or pay any more for their personal health insurance.

This week the hospital employees received their health insurance notifications for next year and on average their costs will double what it has costs them in 2013. That’s right double and they are beside themselves. It is understandable that the Medicaid and no health insurance patients would think they are going to get services for free because in all of the Obama administration press releases and speeches it is inferred that health services will be free or paid for by others paying slightly higher premiums. Now we have health care professionals in the heart of a depressed city, Detroit just understanding that they are going to be paying in most cases double what they have been paying. This mild mannered pharmacist said there might be a revolt over these new costs. We don’t know if he meant the patients who will have to pay something for some drugs and services or the professionals who really thought the ACA was free. I’m amazed that these professionals who don’t fit the profile of “low information voters”” didn’t research the impact the new health care laws might have had on them. I’ve urged in every health care column I’ve written to have each of you check with your insurance company to determine what your new costs will be. Surprisely I’ve had a couple of people say that with the delay in “business terms” of the ACA until 2015 they don’t have to think about it right now. They are wrong. Please force your health care services to estimate your new costs and any changes in service you experience before it is too late.

Pensions, Pensions, Pensions

The city of Detroit is buried in pension and health fund debt. That is a simple statement but of course there are two question; what or who caused this disaster and what is the answer to the city coming out of bankruptcy?

My liberal friends will quickly point to corporate greed as the cause of the demise of this once great city and they are to a point correct. The big three automakers give to the unions on retirement benefits and health care services and gave and gave. The auto industry found it easier to give future benefits to its employees without considering the impact on the bottom line. This was in lieu of taking a strike and negatively affecting the performance of the most recent CEO’s retirement bonuses and corporate profit performance record. Really can’t blame the unions for taking everything they could get from the “avoid at all costs strikes” auto industry management.

However before my liberal friends stop shaking their collective heads in agreement with this analysis let’s not forget it is the city of Detroit that is billions of dollars in debt from pension and health funds. The city had no reason to allow their city to agree to outrageous union demands for retirement benefits that would break the budget of a once growing city. Like the auto companies it was easier to give what the unions wanted rather than face unhappy employees who might not vote for them in the next election. It seems impossible to believe that city management didn’t see the financial cliff coming but then we forget about politics and graft.

The politics were centered in the democrat party and its total domination of the city of Detroit. Add in crooked mayors [not just Kwame] and crooked “public servants” and it is inevitable that this city would fall. And yes race does play a roll. I remember Mayor Coleman A. Young answering the question why did a black man get elected as opposed to a competent white? Coleman said [in a city of approximately 85% black residents] that it was “better a black crook than a white crook.” When other cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh went through a deep financial downturn they regrouped to rise again and are model cities in today’s tough financial times. There was a believe that if the Detroit political operatives stayed loyal to the democrats in congress and when a half black president was elected the city would benefit from federal aid, after all it had worked for fifty five years! But alias, the federal funds started to run out, the state of Michigan started to run out of money even when they had a democrat governor and like many other states they were required to deliver a balanced budget, something Detroit had not seen in forty plus years.

Let’s face it the haves in Detroit who have lived off of the tax funds and democrat influence supported crooks like Kwame and his mother and father as they fleeced the already dieing city.

I’m certain that my liberal friends who support universal health care, union growth, civil servants as a voting block and “taking care of those poor people who can’t or won’t work” will have a totally different take on this bankruptcy. Of course the facts are pretty hard to ignore 18 billion in debt, 7 billion in unfunded health care services, 6 billion in retirement benefits that must be paid and then say to the rest of Michiganders it’s not the residents, political leadership or city management that is at fault. Shame on those liberals who would have the audacity to claim it is not the political machine, unions and corrupt management of the city that caused this bankruptcy.

How does Detroit come out of bankruptcy, cut, cut, cut and then manage in a fiscally sound manner.

The Health Care Message

A few days ago Jim Fuquay a writer for the Star-Telegram in Ft. Worth Texas wrote an article entitled “Texas Health Resources withdraws from Medicare’s Pioneer ACO program.” You may ask what does an action by a health resource and big physicians groups in Texas have to do with my state or my personal health insurance? Believe me it will affect your health coverage.

What is happening in Texas can and probably will occur in many of our states.

Simply stated the two groups involved, Texas health Resources and a major physicians organization, North Texas Specialty Physicians partnered in Plus ACO, an accountable care organization that joined the Medicare Pioneer ACO program in December 2011. The agreement is in essences to achieve savings with both organizations sharing in any savings and of course in any losses accrued to their patient base.

While Plus ACO is on pace to save $10 million annually they are looking at penalties in 2013 of between $6 million and $9 million and they will avoid those penalties by pulling out of the company.

The cause of this problem and decision by this major health group is the result of quality and cost benchmarks used by Medicare to determine ACO’s performance.

ACO’s facing performance guides by Medicare are likely to withdraw from the ACO services and further weaken the over all performance of the countries health services. This means another loss for the ACA.

We predicted

On January 13, 2013 I wrote a column titled “One Smart Fellow.” I’m going to revisit that article and make what I see as an extension of the Obama administration’s plans for the future.

“One Smart Fellow”
There has been a fair amount of press about the “liberal agenda” the President professed during his inaugural address. I’m not certain this is the most important news out of the White House. I believe it is considerably more important that he has instructed the democrat party to continue the field operations that his party and their opponents saw as so effective in getting the President re-elected. The President is designating these ground forces to “sell” his social agenda on a continuing basis. What I believe is that this is a brilliant strategy for the 2014 congressional elections and even more important to the 2016 Presidential election’s. These field operations offer the President the opportunity to turn over to a 2016 democrat Presidential candidate of his choice a ready made machine to win the next Presidential election. Maybe Hillary was thinking about the 2016 election when she had that “love in” interview with the President on “60 Minutes.” The only question will be; is it legal to fund and where will the funds come from for this ground team to support social issues on the short term and the 2016 Presidential election on the long term.

Yesterday a committee dedicated to getting Hillary Clinton elected President of the United States in 2016 hired Obama’s election team to help in the launch of the “Hillary for President” campaign. This is a very clear advantage to Hillary although the Obama team has faired less well in getting support for gun control, ACA and other Obama programs. We will see whether there are legal objections to Obama funds developed via this field operation being used for another candidate.

Another delay in services but not in tax payment

Last Friday the Obama administration announced the delay in the requirement for individuals applying for federal aid in acquiring health insurance for the year 2014. Delayed until 2015 is the requirement to provide proof of what specifically the company you are working for provides you in terms of health care insurance. You are still required to provide the state insurance exchange [which does not exist in 30 states and HHS has indicated will not be ready for October 1, 2013 registration date] your annual income.

It is important to remember that you are already paying special taxes for Medicare and more importantly Medicaid health insurance services. Here is an article from the New York Times in December of 2012.
New Taxes to Take Effect to Fund Health Care Law
Published: December 8, 2012 New York Times
To help finance Medicare, employees and employers each now pay a hospital insurance tax equal to 1.45 percent on all wages. Starting in January 2013, the health care law will require workers to pay an additional tax equal to 0.9 percent of any wages over $200,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly.
The new taxes on wages and investment income are expected to raise $318 billion over 10 years, or about half of all the new revenue collected under the health care law.
Ruth M. Wimer, a tax lawyer at McDermott Will & Emery, said the taxes came with “a shockingly inequitable marriage penalty.” If a single man and a single woman each earn $200,000, she said, neither would owe any additional Medicare payroll tax. But, she said, if they are married, they would owe $1,350. The extra tax is 0.9 percent of their earnings over the $250,000 threshold.

The point is you are paying now for services that have already been called into doubt by delays from the administration. HHS is not ready to implement this very complex 20,000 page health care law incorrectly name the Affordable Care Act.