By Doug Porter
On Wednesday Covered California, our state’s healthcare exchange program created as a result of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), announced standardized benefits and costs for health insurance plans it will begin selling next year.
This is huge. One of the most difficult parts of buying any health insurance plan is trying to winnow out exactly what you get for what you pay. It’s a shell game run by insurance companies, with rules that change annually.
Obamacare requires most people to have insurance by 2014, and part of the deal is that insurance companies are required to offer certain minimum benefits to consumers. California’s health care exchange — which will offer one-stop shopping for individuals and small business owners — is taking it a step further.
Covered California’s standardized benefits will make life easier for the 8.8 million Californians expected to acquire healthcare coverage through the exchange. More than a fourth of them will be eligible for federal subsidies to help pay for premiums. That assistance can only be spent on plans offered by the exchange.
The Affordable Care Act will allow people earning up to 250% of the federal poverty rate to pay a small percentage of their income on premiums. Covered California’s announcement creates certainty about what the lowest-income residents will pay for healthcare— and what that money buys.
A family of four will pay less than $100 a month, with a $4 co-pay when they see a doctor. Plans for low-income Californians set a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $6,000 a year for an individual or $12,000 for a family.
The board of Covered California has yet to set the premium cost for consumers who don’t qualify for federal subsidies, which will ultimately depend on what plans the exchange chooses to offer.
In coming months, the exchange will consider bids from insurance companies who want to sell plans, and than negotiate any changes. A spokesman for Covered California said they expect to finalize decisions on what plans to offer by summer.
I’m sure we’ll hear plenty o’ punditry in the coming days, once again predicting doom and gloom with the onset of Obamacare in California. So far they’ve been wrong. I don’t expect that track record to change.
One Billion Rising on Valentines Day
People around the planet today will be dancing, striking, and in other ways “rising” to call attention to the plight of violence directed against women and girls as part of an international movement called One Billion Rising. Here in San Diego events are being led by CARE SD(Caregivers Association for Rights and Empowerment). Symbolic ‘strike’ actions will take place around the city at exactly 2:14pm. At 4:30there ill be a One Billion Rising march through downtown starting at City Hall; Mayor Bob Filner is expected to join in. Later (6:30-8:30pm) there will be a dance gathering at the Balboa Park Organ Pavilion.
Long celebrated as Valentine’s Day in many cultures and leveraged for the last fifteen years by women’s rights activists in the “V-Day movement,” today’s actions are a culmination of the “One Billion Rising” campaign spearheaded by author, playwright and activist Eve Ensler and champions equal rights and an end to violence against women and young girls.
“February 14, 2013 will change the world not because it is a day of magic, although there are indeed mystical elements surrounding this campaign. It will change the world because the preparation for it and organizing for it has already created an energetic wind or wave igniting existing efforts to end violence against women and create new ones,” said Ensler in a statement.
Additional local events are slated for Mission Valley, University of San Diego, Mission Bay High School, UCSD, and San Elijo State Beach in Encinitas. For more information go here. And here’s a pretty cool San Diego One Billion Rising Video:
All Those in Favor of Violence Against Women, Please Stand
The US Senate voted Tuesday afternoon to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act by a vote of 78-22. The Act provides funding for investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted.
Molly Ball, over at The Atlantic Magazine, looked into just why these male (all the women in the Senate voted for it) Republicans voted ‘No’:
Surely Republicans, whatever you may think of them, are not actually in favor of violence against women. But if they’re going to absorb all this terrible publicity, they must have significant substantive objections to the legislation in question, right?
I set out to understand what the opposition to VAWA, as it’s called, is really about. Despite its Senate passage Tuesday, it could face obstacles in the House, which passed its own version of the legislation last year and refused to consider the Senate’s bill. (Critics say the House version is watered down.) Conservative groups including the Family Research Council, Heritage Action, and FreedomWorks have all urged lawmakers to vote against the bill.
The objections can be grouped in two broadly ideological areas — that the law is an unnecessary overreach by the federal government, and that it represents a “feminist” attack on family values. “The ideological foundations of the law are flawed and have led to an inability to help victims effectively,” Christina Villegas, a visiting fellow at the conservative Independent Women’s Forum and adjunct professor of political science at Cal State San Bernadino, told me.
And then there are the less nuanced reasons, as expressed by Phyllis Schlafly:
The fiscal problem is that a billion dollars a year is streaming into the hands of left-wing feminists to pursue their agenda, which does not include preserving or restoring marriage. Taxpayers’ funds are used to lobby for feminist legislation, to train law enforcement and judicial personnel in feminist ideology and in the aggressive enforcement of feminist laws, and to break up families instead of giving them pro-family and anti-substance-abuse counseling.
The VAWA appropriation is only the start of its high cost to taxpayers and society. When marriages are broken by false allegations of domestic violence, U.S. taxpayers fork up an estimated $20 billion a year to support the resulting single-parent, welfare-dependent families.
So, without further ado, here’s a graphic (Courtesy Think Progress) suitable for posting so we can all remember these men:
My (Not-So) Funny Valentine, GOP Style
Just in time for the big day, the Republican National Committee has released its annual Valentine’s Day card promotion.
“Everyone knows our politics could use a little more love these days. So there’s no better way to celebrate than to send that politically-minded special someone a Valentine featuring President Obama or one of his fellow liberals,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. (h/t PBS)
A Really Tasteless Tea Party Video
We know those folks have problems with things like “facts” and “spelling”, but this item about FreedomWorks, the DC based group credited with launching and supporting the Tea Party movement, sorta takes the cake. From Mother Jones:
An internal investigation of FreedomWorks—the prominent conservative advocacy group and super-PAC—has focused on presidentMatt Kibbe’s management of the organization, his use of its resources, and a controversial book deal he signed, according to former FreedomWorks officials who have met with the private lawyers conducting the probe.
One potential topic for the inquiry is a promotional video produced last year under the supervision of Adam Brandon, executive vice president of the group and a Kibbe loyalist. The video included a scene in which a female intern wearing a panda suit simulates performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton. [Author’s note: The previous sentence contains no typos.]
The video was quashed just days before it was supposed to be shown at “FreePAC, a FreedomWorks conference held on July 26, 2012, where thousands of conservative grassroots activists nearly filled the American Airlines Center in Dallas to hear from tea party favorites, including Glenn Beck and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). The short film hailing FreedomWorks was intended to play on the large video screens inside the arena.”
Nutcase Nugent Watch
It would appear the news media wisely ignored gun nut and burned out rocker Ted Nugent’s press event following the President’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. But we did want to share this pearl from Raw Story, just to let you know we were looking:
After the hour-long speech, Nugent went barreling through Statuary Hall, dropping f-bombs alongside lawmakers who gathered there according to tradition to offer reactions to reporters on the State of the Union speech.
Asked about Obama’s remarks, Nugent, best known for his 1970s hit “Cat Scratch Fever,” mimicked a slow yawn before offering his, well, critique.
“Does kiss my ass ring any bells?” drawled the Nuge, who sported a camouflage cowboy hat.
‘Biggest Climate Rally’ Ever Slated for Sunday
As organizers are gearing up for what they’re calling the “Biggest Climate Rally” ever on Sunday, a smaller group of demonstrators was protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline outside the White House yesterday.
Forty eight environmental, civil rights, and community leaders from across the country joined together for a historic display of civil disobedience at the White House, demanding that President Obama deny the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and address the climate crisis. The activists were arrested after blocking a main thoroughfare in front of the White House, and refusing to move when asked by police.
Among the notable leaders arrested were Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club; Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org; Julian Bond, former president of the NAACP; Danny Kennedy, CEO of Sungevity; Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Connor Kennedy, and Daryl Hannah, American actress. The arrest of Brune marked the first time in the 120 year history of the Sierra Club that they’d participated in civil disobedience.
Details: Obama’s Early Childhood Education Plan
One of the many promises made by the President during his State of the Union address was his intention to launch a push for massively expanding pre-K and other early childhood education programs. Today the administration fleshed out that rather vague concept with a more detailed plan for early childhood education. Its three main components are (from the Washington Post):
A state-federal partnership to guarantee pre-K to all 4-year-olds in families at or below 200 percent of the poverty line, to be provided by school districts and other local partners, and to use instructors with the same level of education and training as K-12 instructions.
A massively expanded Early Head Start program — building on the existing program, which has proven very effective in randomized controlled trials — which provides early education, child care, parental education, and health services to vulnerable children ages 0 to 3.
Also expanding Nurse Family Partnerships, a program that has also earned top marks in randomized trials, and which provides regular home visits from nurses to families from pregnancy through the child’s second birthday, intended to promote good health and parenting practices.
All good stuff. It’s too bad Congressional Republicans hate children so much after they’re born. If funded (a mighty big if, IMO) this could go a long way towards actually saving government money in the long run.
Really Sad Tweet of the Day:
(Wingnut commentary on the State of the Union address after former Congresswoman Giffords was shown on TV.)
On This Day: 1920 – The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago. 1946 – ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was unveiled. The device, built at the University of Pennsylvania, was the world’s first general purpose electronic computer. 1958 – On CBS television Walter Cronkite reported that the Iranian government has banned rock & roll because it is against the concepts of Islam and a health hazard.
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