With only a very small group to insure, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois is leaving the Obamacare exchange for small businesses:
Calling all small businesses with a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois plan through the Obamacare public health insurance exchange: Look out for an email this week informing you that the state's largest insurer is officially leaving the online marketplace.
That leaves small employers looking for an exchange plan for 2018 with one option: downstate Health Alliance. Chicago-based Blue Cross, which has a dominating market share in Illinois among consumers and small businesses alike, still plans to woo small employers with plans off the exchange.
To be sure, the so-called Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, where small businesses nationwide can buy coverage on the federally-run online marketplace HealthCare.gov, never gained steam for a host of reasons. For one, small employers prefer trusted brokers instead of using their time to navigate the incredibly complex world of health insurance.
Blue Cross disclosed in August that it planned to leave SHOP, while the insurer proposed rate hikes for individual plans sold on the exchange. The online marketplace wasn't the most effective way to offer employers choice, said Brian Cheney, Blue Cross vice president of the small business market. Besides, businesses can buy the same sets of Blue Cross plans and rates on and off the exchange.
BCBSIL has no plans to leave the individual Obamacare exchange.
I've gotten a lot of sleep the last few days and also a lot of exercise. I can tell that the upper-respiratory infection burbling away in my head right now is taking a beating, and will soon be as dead as any strand of viral DNA can be.
In a timely posting, the Economist's Gulliver blog hints at its origin:
A recent study from the University of Stirling and the University of Ulster...examined hundreds of aeroplane crew members and discovered a direct link between air contamination and respiratory, cognitive and even neurological health problems. Out of 274 pilots questioned, 63% reported health problems consistent with breathing tainted air. When the team examined 15 separate incidents of acute aeroplane air contamination, most of which involed oil leakage, nearly 75% of the time multiple crew members on the flight reported adverse health effects. Airline staff are not the only ones at risk. “This is equally applicable to passengers because they breathe the same air,” says Susan Michaelis, one of the researchers and former airline pilot.
The problem has long been discussed within the airline industry, with several small-scale studies having been undertaken. But the new report is a fresh and more comprehensive take on the issue. The authors argue that manufacturers must change the way planes get their air. Boeing 787s, for example, have a separate system that does not draw in air through the engine.
OK, it really doesn't talk about pathogens spreading on airplanes, and since both my flights this past weekend were on 787-8s, the post doesn't even apply to me.
It's still an interesting post.
While I'm trying to figure out how to transfer one database to another, I'm putting these aside for later reading:
Back to database analysis and design...
Krugman nails it:
Believe it or not, conservatives actually do have a more or less coherent vision of health care. It’s basically pure Ayn Rand: if you’re sick or poor, you’re on your own, and those who are more fortunate have no obligation to help. In fact, it’s immoral to demand that they help.
This is a coherent doctrine; it’s what conservative health care “experts” say when they aren’t running for public office, or closely connected to anyone who is. I think it’s a terrible doctrine – both cruel and wrong in practice, because buying health care isn’t and can’t be like buying furniture. Still, if Republicans had run on this platform and won, we’d have to admit that the public agrees.
But think of how Republicans have actually run against Obamacare. They’ve lambasted the law for not covering everyone, even though their fundamental philosophy is NOT to cover everyone, or accept any responsibility for the uninsured. They’ve denied that their massive cuts to Medicaid are actually cuts, pretending to care about the people they not-so-privately consider moochers.
The trouble they’re having therefore has nothing to do with tactics, or for that matter with Trump. It’s what happens when many years of complete fraudulence come up against reality.
This is the same adolescent fantasy drove Eddie Lampert to destroy Sears.
Josh Marshall points to Dana Bash's remarks yesterday as an example of how many journalists miss (or misrepresent) the point in the health-care debate:
Current Republican ideology...posits that it is simply not the responsibility or place of government, certainly not the federal government, to make sure everyone has health care coverage. You can agree or disagree with that premise. But it’s not hard to understand and it is not indefensible. Very few of us think the government should step in if someone doesn’t have enough money to buy a car. We don’t think there’s a right to a home or apartment where every child has their own bedroom. On most things we accept that things are not equal, even if we believe that extremes of inequality are bad for society and even immoral.
But many of us think that healthcare is fundamentally different. It’s not just another market product that we accept people can or can’t get or can or can’t get at certain levels of quality because of wealth, chance, exertion and all the other factors that go into wealth and income. This is both a moral and ideological premise.
Pretending that both parties just have very different approaches to solving a commonly agreed upon problem is really just a lie. It’s not true. One side is looking for ways to increase the number of people who have real health insurance and thus reasonable access to health care and the other is trying to get the government out of the health care provision business with the inevitable result that the opposite will be the case.
At least the Times editorial board is calling the GOP plan a hoax.
Nor, it seems, do they like the middle class. Krugman rips into their proposal for repealing the ACA:
In the past, laws that would take from the poor and working class while giving to the rich came with excuses. Tax cuts, their sponsors declared, would unleash market dynamism and make everyone more prosperous. Deregulation would increase efficiency and lower prices. It was all voodoo; the promises never came true. But at least there was some pretense of working for the common good.
Now we have none of this. This bill does nothing to reduce health care costs. It does nothing to improve the functioning of health insurance markets – in fact, it will send them into death spirals by reducing subsidies and eliminating the individual mandate. There is nothing at all in the bill that will make health care more affordable for those currently having trouble paying for it. And it will gradually squeeze Medicaid, eventually destroying any possibility of insurance for millions.
Who benefits? It’s all about the tax cuts, almost half of which will go to people with incomes over $1 million, the great bulk to people with incomes over 200K.
Meanwhile, Brian Beutler points out that the GOP's proposal might actually harm one of their own leadership:
The House and Senate Trumpcare bills gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions in different ways: the former by allowing insurers to price gouge sick people; the latter by allowing insurers to exclude the treatments sick people need from covered benefit schedules, creating adverse selection. Both would destabilize insurance markets for people with pre-existing conditions in at least some states. The Senate bill does not exempt members of Congress, and House Republicans have gone on record with the promise that Trumpcare will apply to them, too.
We don’t know if [Rep. Steve] Scalise’s recovery will take years, or if he will need chronic care when he gets through rehabilitation. Hopefully the answer to both questions is no. But it’s dreadfully easy to imagine that if a Republican health care bill becomes law, Scalise will ultimately be uninsurable under its terms, leaving him exposed to the long-term costs of his injuries, and to the costs of other ailments that might befall him between now and when he becomes eligible for Medicare.
It looks like the bill may pass. And that will make millions of Americans, including Rep. Scalise, much worse off, all for a few tax cuts.
The Washington Post has a quick guide to who's being investigated for what:
Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign
This is where it all started. James B. Comey, who led the law enforcement investigation until he was fired as FBI director May 9, testified last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he has no doubt that Russia attempted to influence the presidential race by hacking the Democratic National Committee and launching cyberattacks on state election systems, among other tactics.
Possible attempts to obstruct justice
Comey testified last week that while he was still head of the FBI, he told Trump on three occasions that the agency was not investigating him, individually. “Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing,” The Post reported Wednesday.
Possible financial crimes
We know less about this prong than the other two. The Post reported last month that “in addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify who or what was being examined.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions personally asked congress to prosecute medical-marijuana clinics, so that we can spend millions of Federal law-enforcement dollars hurting sick people. Gotta love the Republican Party.
Via TPM, U.S. Representative Rod Blum (R-IA) walked out of an interview about a minute after it began. Seems a little petulant to me.
Could it have anything to do with his vote Friday to repeal Obamacare and his consitutents' reactions?
As you can tell by the dearth of posts lately, I've been a little busy. Apollo After Hours was a raging success but took a lot of effort, particularly while I dealt with some unprecedented (for me, anyway) workplace insanity.
According to my Fitbit, the last time I got more than 7 hours of sleep was the night of Sunday March 26th, more than two weeks ago. The night of After Hours I got 3:43; the weeks of March 27th and April 3rd I got averages of 6:35 and 6:01, respectively. Clearly this is not good.
Last night, though, I finally got enough: 7:32. And I actually feel like I can think today. And I have extra time, and the weather is spring-like, so I might even get some exercise.
I'll have more interesting posts later today and into the week. I just wanted to vent about a positive occurrence for a change.
Here's the latest ad from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: