Tag Archives: Medicare

Sacramento city homeless program offers bonuses to groups attending meetings and writing policies

government solve all problems

I guess this makes sense when you are using “free” tax payer dollars.

From Sacramento Bee: The city of Sacramento is offering hefty financial bonuses to hospitals, health plans and government and nonprofit agencies for attending meetings and helping to launch its $64 million Whole Person Care program on homelessness.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other Sacramento leaders consider the pilot program central to achieving their goal of housing 2,000 homeless people by 2020. It is designed to bring together health service providers to treat homeless patients and avoid costly emergency medical care, as well as to find them a stable place to live.

“Partner organizations” can collect payments of $100,000 to $250,000 for participating in meetings and hitting various “performance targets” at the end of each year of the program, which runs through 2020, said the city’s homeless services coordinator, Emily Halcon. Initial targets include attending a certain number of meetings and developing internal policies, patient screening tools and referral criteria, Halcon said.

Should all partners hit their goals for the duration of the program, incentive payments would total $7.9 million. Whole Person Care is funded by local money and federal matching dollars and administered by the state.

Participants include the Sacramento police and fire departments, hospital systems, federally funded health clinics, health plans, housing agencies and social service providers, including Sacramento Steps Forward and the Salvation Army. These agencies and others are working with the city to develop a system that would keep homeless people out of emergency rooms and steer them toward behavioral health services, insurance coverage and housing.

The financial incentives are an unusual but potentially effective way to ensure that all of the agencies involved give 100 percent to a program that has lofty goals and a short timeline, Halcon said.

“They are in recognition that, to truly change systems and service delivery, you need a lot of intensive work” from service providers, each of which will be a crucial part of the program’s success, she said.

“It’s not just, ‘Show up at a meeting and get funds,'” she said. The monthly steering committee meetings are intensive sessions “where we expect active participation, presentations and input from all of our partners” who then follow up with additional work.

“We see the incentive payments primarily as compensation for efforts already provided,” Halcon continued.

Such payments are highly unusual, several experts said. Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, questioned why entities “are getting paid for something they should already be doing.”

“It’s outrageous,” he said. “I’ve never heard of anything like it in 30 years of working on homeless issues. Attending meetings and working on the project should be part of their job,” Erlenbusch said. “That money could go a long way toward immediately helping people. How many people could we immediately house for that amount of money?”

Whole Person Care pilot projects throughout the state are allowed to pay partners that help “ensure the overall success” of their program, said Carol Sloan, public information officer for the California Department of Health Care Services, which administers the project.

“Sacramento took a creative approach and incentivized their providers to participate in order to encourage and recognize their engagement above and beyond their traditional workload,” Sloan said. The approach, she said, has led to “the development of new relationships and new policies and partnerships that we hope will be sustained at the local levels after the sunset of the pilot project.”

Ryan Loofbourrow, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Sacramento Steps Forward, said he was “pleasantly surprised” to learn that his agency would get incentives for participating in Whole Person Care, locally named Pathways to Health + Home.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of it happening,” he said. “But in this type of effort it makes sense to me. You’re pulling together so many different groups that in addition to fulfilling their daily mission have to invest a lot of time” in a new project.

Loofbourrow said his agency has spent “hundreds of hours” in staff time on the Pathways effort.  “We’re dedicated to it, regardless” of the payments, he said. “But the financial incentives certainly has made making this big commitment a bit easier.”

Sacramento Steps Forward, which distributes millions in federal funding to local groups that aid homeless people, stands to earn $250,000 this year if it fulfills all of its commitments, according to planning documents for the local Whole Person Care program.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

California bill would create health care price controls

government solve all problems

But, but…I thought Obamacare was suppose to reduce the cost of health care?

From Sacramento Bee: California’s government would set prices for hospital stays, doctor visits and other health care services under legislation introduced Monday, vastly remaking the industry in a bid to lower health care costs.

The proposal, which drew swift opposition from the health care industry, comes amid a fierce debate in California as activists on the left push aggressively for a system that would provide government-funded insurance for everyone in the state.

Across the country, rising health care costs have put the industry, lawmaker and employers and consumers at odds.

The proposal in California would affect private health plans, including those offered by employers and purchased by individuals. A nine-member commission appointed by the governor and legislative leaders would set prices for everything from a physical exam to an allergy test to heart bypass surgery. No other state has such a requirement.

“If we do not act now, I’m concerned that health care prices will become unsustainable,” Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a freshman Democrat from San Jose who wrote the legislation, said in a news conference in Sacramento.

The measure faces an uphill battle in the Legislature, where lawmakers are generally cautious about making drastic changes to the health care system and are already juggling a wide range of ambitious proposals.

The proposal is backed by influential unions including the Service Employees International Union, Unite Here and the Teamsters. The unions are frustrated that health care costs are gobbling an increasing share of employee compensation.

“Every dollar that we spend on rising health care prices is a dollar that comes out of a worker’s pocket,” said Sara Flocks, policy coordinator for the California Labor Federation, a union coalition. “This is something that is eating up our wages and it is increasing income inequality. This is a fundamental question of fairness.

Health care providers say price controls would encourage doctors to move out of state or retire, making it harder for people to see a physician when they’re sick, and force hospitals to lay off staff or, in some cases, close their doors.

The California Medical Association, which represents physicians, called the proposal “radical” and warned that it would reduce choices for consumers.

“No state in America has ever attempted such an unproven policy of inflexible, government-managed price caps across every health care service,” Dr. Theodore Mazer, the CMA president, said in a statement.

Under Kalra’s bill, prices would be tied to Medicare’s rate for a particular service or procedure, with that price as a floor. There would be a process for doctors or hospitals to argue that their unique circumstances warrant payments higher than the state’s standard rate.

Paying hospitals 125 percent of Medicare’s rate would cut $18 billion in revenue and force them to trim nurses and other support staff, said Dietmar Grellman, senior vice president of the California Hospital Association. Private insurers make up for the low payments from government-funded health care, which doesn’t cover the full cost of care, he said.

“That’s why their bill is such an empty promise,” Grellman said. “They take money out of the system with rate regulation, but then they don’t address the huge gaping hole that’s created by Medicare and Medicaid.”

In recent decades health care spending has risen faster than inflation and wages while employers and health plans have shifted more of the costs onto consumers through higher premiums, deductibles and copays. Americans spend more per capita on health care than other developed countries.

Meanwhile, a wave of consolidation by hospitals, physician groups and insurance companies has given industry players more power to demand higher rates.

DCG

Thousands mistakenly enrolled in California’s Medicaid expansion

you don't say

Shocker, not.

From CNN Money: California signed up an estimated 450,000 people under Medicaid expansion who may not have been eligible for coverage, according to a report by the U.S. Health and Human Services’ chief watchdog.

In a Feb. 21 report, the HHS’ inspector general estimated that California spent $738.2 million on 366,078 expansion beneficiaries who were ineligible. It spent an additional $416.5 million for 79,055 expansion enrollees who were “potentially” ineligible, auditors found.

Auditors said nearly 90% of the $1.15 billion in questionable payments involved federal money, while the rest came from the state’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal. They examined a six-month period from Oct. 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015, when Medicaid payments of $6.2 billion were made related to 1.9 million newly eligible enrollees.

There were limitations to the California review, however. The audit extrapolated from a sample of 150 beneficiaries. The authors reported a 90% confidence level in their results — whereas 95% would be more common. That meant that the number of those ineligible could have been as low as 260,000 or as high as 630,000.

“If HHS has a strong reason to believe that California is systematically making enrollment errors, it would be helpful to show that in a more robust analysis,” said Ben Ippolito, a health care economist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “The federal government should ensure that states are being good stewards of federal money.”

Nonetheless, the audit highlighted weaknesses in California’s Medicaid program, the largest in the nation with 13.4 million enrollees and an annual budget topping $100 billion, counting federal and state money. Medicaid covers one in three Californians.

The inspector general found deficiencies in the state’s computer system for verifying eligibility and discovered errors by caseworkers. The Medicaid payments cited in the report covered people in the state’s fee-for-service system, managed-care plans, drug treatment programs and those receiving mental health services.

California’s Department of Health Care Services, which runs Medi-Cal, said in a statement that it agreed with nearly all of the auditors’ recommendations and that the agency “has taken steps to address all of the findings.”

In a written response to the inspector general, California officials said several computer upgrades were made after the audit period and before publication of the report that should improve the accuracy of eligibility decisions.

Among the 150 expansion enrollees analyzed in detail, 75%, or 112, were deemed eligible for the Medicaid program in California. Auditors discovered a variety of problems with the other 38 enrollees.

During the audit period, 12 enrollees in the sample group had incomes above 138% of the federal poverty line, making them ineligible financially for public assistance, according to the report.

In other instances, beneficiaries were already enrolled in Medicare, the federal health insurance for people 65 and older or who have severe disabilities, and did not qualify for Medi-Cal. Onewoman indicated she didn’t want Medi-Cal but was enrolled anyway.

In 2014, the state struggled to clear a massive backlog of Medi-Cal applications, which reached about 900,000 at one point. Many people complained about being mistakenly rejected for coverage, or their applications were lost in the state or county computer systems.

California was one of 31 states to expand Medicaid under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The health law established a higher federal reimbursement for these newly eligible patients, primarily low-income adults without children. After expansion started in 2014, the HHS inspector general’s office began reviewing whether states were determining eligibility correctly and spending taxpayer dollars appropriately.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Agenda-driven reporting: Vox claims Australia has solved its gun problem. They haven’t read “How Melbourne Became A Gun City”

There’s some interesting statistics that liberals push in their quest for gun control and some interesting facts that prove they haven’t done their homework in order to push a desired narrative.

Warning: This is a long read. Take your time to read through the whole blog post or bookmark it to read later. The actual data/stories out of Melbourne are an eye-opener yet not surprising.


In response to the Vegas shooting, liberals love to trot out the gun-control example of Australia and its mandatory gun buyback which resulted after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. During that mass shooting, 35 people were killed and 23 were wounded.

A brief history of Australia’s mandatory gun buyback, from to Wikipedia:

Australians reacted to the event with widespread shock and horror, and the political effects were significant and long-lasting. The federal government led state governments, some of which (notably Tasmania itself and Queensland) were opposed to new gun laws, to severely restrict the availability of firearms. While surveys showed up to 85% of Australians ‘supported gun control’,] many people opposed the new laws. Concern was raised within the Coalition Government that fringe groups such as the ‘Ausi Freedom Scouts’, the Australian League of Rights and the Citizen Initiated Referendum Party, were exploiting voter anger to gain support. After discovering that the Christian Coalition and US National Rifle Association were supporting the gun lobby, the government and media cited their support, along with the moral outrage of the community to discredit the gun lobby as extremists.

Under federal government co-ordination, all states and territories of Australia restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading shotguns, and tightened controls on their legal use by recreational shooters. The government initiated a mandatory “buy-back” scheme with the owners paid according to a table of valuations. Some 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350 million which was funded by a temporary increase in the Medicare levy which raised $500 million. Media, activists, politicians and some family members of victims, notably Walter Mikac (who lost his wife and two children), spoke out in favour of the changes.”

On October 3, two days after the Vegas shooting, Vox author Ella Nilsen published an article entitled, “The Weeds: Australia solved its gun problem. Could America?”

Excerpt from Ella’s article:

“Through that program, the government was able to get rid of about 650,000 guns. But as Sarah notes, the program went further still, introducing a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons, putting in new licensing requirements, and making people wait 28 days before they purchased a gun.

The proposal worked, with suicide rates in Australia dropping about 57 percent after the reforms were implemented, and homicide rates dropping 47 percent, according to studies by Harvard researchers.”

I decided to click on the “proposal worked” link to verify Ella’s statement that “suicide rates in Australia dropping about 57 percent” and “homicide rates dropping 47 percent.”

When I clicked on that link, it took me to a Vox article dated one day before the Vegas shooting on October 2: “Australia confiscated 650,000 guns. Murders and suicides plummeted.”

The author of that Vox article is Zack Beauchamp, whose Twitter bio says “Senior Reporter. Vox. (((Globalist))). From Zack’s article:

It is worth considering, as one data point in the pool of evidence about what sorts of gun control policies do and do not work, the experience of Australia. Between October 1996 and September 1997, Australia responded to its own gun violence problem with a solution that was both straightforward and severe: It collected roughly 650,000 privately held guns. It was one of the largest mandatory gun buyback programs in recent history.

And it worked. That does not mean that something even remotely similar would work in the US — they are, needless to say, different countries — but it is worth at least looking at their experience.

According to one academic estimate, the buyback took in and destroyed 20 percent of all privately owned guns in Australia. Analysis of import data suggests that Australians haven’t purchased nearly enough guns in the past 18 years to make up for the initial decline.

I decided to click on the “import data” link to verify Zack’s statement that “Australians haven’t purchase nearly enough guns in the past 18 years to make up for the initial decline.”

When I clicked on that link, it took me to a PDF discussion paper entitled, “Do Gun Buyback Save Lives? Evidence from Panel Data.” The paper is authored by Andrew Leigh from Australian National University and IZA*, and Christine Neill from Wilfrid Laurier University. The discussion paper is dated June 2010.

*From Wikipedia: The IZA – Institute of Labor Economics (German: Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit), until 2016 referred to as the Institute of the Study of Labor (IZA), is a private, independent economic research institute and academic network focused on the analysis of global labor markets and headquartered in Bonn, Germany.

IZA is supported by the Deutsche Post Foundation. From my web research, I found that the Deutsche Post Foundation is a non-profit think tank from Germany’s largest employer, Deutsche Post, which is a postal service and international courier service company (the world’s largest).

According to Handelsblatt Global, the think tank is headed by Klaus Zumwinkel, a former Post chief executive who was convicted of tax evasion in 2009. Despite his conviction for tax evasion, the former executive is still in charge (as of 2015) of the multi-million-euro, not-for-profit foundation and an influential non-profit economic research institute, both of which have links to Deutsche Post.

Mr. Zumwinkel, who is in self-imposed exile in Italy and London, founded the Deutsche Post Foundation in 1998 during his tenure as chief executive and chairman of the postal service. (I could not read the rest of the article due to subscription requirement.)

So back to the discussion paper dated June 2010. From the abstract:

In 1997, Australia implemented a gun buyback program that reduced the stock of firearms by around one-fifth. Using differences across states in the number of firearms withdrawn, we test whether the reduction in firearms availability affected firearm homicide and suicide rates. We find that the buyback led to a drop in the firearm suicide rates of almost 80 per cent [sic], with no statistically significant effect on non-firearm death rates. The estimated effect on firearm homicides is of similar magnitude, but is less precise. The results are robust to a variety of specification checks, and to instrumenting the state-level buyback rate.”

I’m not surprised that the first Vox link took me to another Vox article. And I’m not surprised that the “import data” link Vox provided took me to a discussion paper from over seven years ago. Why didn’t Vox provide some more current statistical information? That is a rhetorical question, of course.

So what has been happening with gun violence in Australia since their mandatory gun buyback program? Here’s some current information that you will find interesting and liberals will not promote.

I found a 2016 three-part series published by the Melbourne newspaper called The Age. There is no date stamp on the articles yet their statistical data charts go through 2016. The series is entitled, “How Melbourne Became a Gun City.” Here’s the title of the three articles:

Statistical data in the series is courtesy of the Coroners Court of Victoria, Crimes Statistics Agency, and Monash University’s Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit.

Below are highlights from each of the articles. Feel free to read them on your own time as they provide a lot of information regarding gun violence that still exists, and is growing, in the liberals’ favorite “gun-control model” of Australia.

Part One: Young, Dumb and Armed

A brazen new breed of criminals is taking up arms at unprecedented rates and they aren’t afraid to use them.

Despite Australia’s strict gun control regime, criminals are now better armed than at any time since then-Prime Minister John Howard introduced a nationwide firearm buyback scheme in response to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.

Shootings have become almost a weekly occurrence, with more than 125 people, mostly young men, wounded in the past five years.

While the body count was higher during Melbourne’s ‘Underbelly War’ (1999-2005), more people have been seriously maimed in the recent spate of shootings and reprisals.

Crimes associated with firearm possession have also more than doubled, driven by the easy availability of handguns, semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and, increasingly, machine guns, that are smuggled into the country or stolen from licensed owners.

In this series, Fairfax Media looks at Melbourne’s gun problem and the new breed of criminals behind the escalating violence. The investigation has found:

  • There have been at least 99 shootings in the past 20 months – more than one incident a week since January 2015
  • Known criminals were caught with firearms 755 times last year, compared to 143 times in 2011
  • The epicentre of the problem is a triangle between Coolaroo, Campbellfield and Glenroy in the north-west, with Cranbourne, Narre Warren and Dandenong in the south-east close behind
  • Criminals are using gunshot wounds to the arms and legs as warnings to pay debts
  • Assault rifles and handguns are being smuggled into Australia via shipments of electronics and metal parts

In response to the violence, it can be revealed the state government is planning to introduce new criminal offences for drive-by shootings, manufacturing of firearms with new technologies such as 3D printers, and more police powers to keep weapons out of the hands of known criminals.

Part Two: Gunslingers of the Northwest

It is the triangle of Melbourne suburbs where those with guns rule the streets and sleeping children are no longer safe from the bullets.

As a wave of gun crime washes through Melbourne’s streets – with at least 100 shootings in the past 20 months – the number of bullets being fired has inevitably led to unintended victims.

These neighbourhoods are littered with reminders of violence: there is the business owned by a man who lost one brother at the end of a firearm, another to a drug overdose; the street in Dallas where a 19-year-old was found dying from a gunshot wound in July; the Broadmeadows house, with the carcasses of three cars in the front yard, which was struck in a recent drive-by shooting.

Typically, guns fall into the hands of criminals in three ways: stolen from registered owners, mostly from farms or other regional properties; illegally imported; or from the “grey market” of illicit firearms created after a wider range of guns were made illegal as part of sweeping reforms introduced in 1996.

Part Three: Chasing the Silver Bullet

Gun violence is gripping the city and as Victoria’s justice system and politicians come under fire for failing to tackle the crime wave, cops on the frontline have become the targets of real bullets.

Meanwhile, the number of guns on the street swells. Firearms offences have doubled in the past five years. There is now a shooting once a week. It is only a matter of time before more innocent people get caught in the crossfire.

Last year alone, there were 755 incidents in which “prohibited persons” – those with serious criminal convictions – were caught with firearms. It’s a five-fold increase since 2011, according to the Crime Statistics Agency.

Part of the problem is no one can really pin down where all the illegal guns are coming from.  Authorities point to the “grey market” the term given to rifles and shotguns that were not handed back in the 1996 amnesty that followed the Port Arthur massacre and have circulated for the past two decades.

A new national gun amnesty, which many have advocated for, would lead to the voluntary surrender of illicit weapons. Gun control advocates say a new amnesty would particularly target those grey market firearms.

But that argument doesn’t account for the many handguns that have been used in recent shootings. Handguns were not part of the original amnesty, and hence are not part of the grey market.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive officer Chris Dawson admits the “serious national problem” of illegal guns circulating through the country is far from well-defined. Guns, points out Assistant Commissioner (Crime) Stephen Fontana, are surprisingly easy to hide, and traffick.


The next time a liberal tells you how wonderful Australia’s gun buyback program has worked, point them to the “How Melbourne Became a Gun City” series.  Remind them that criminals never follow the laws.

Thanks for reading!

DCG

Perpetual blame game: Clinton suggests Bernie Sanders resorted to “innuendo and impugning my character” to gain ground in the primary

hillary-clinton-screams-why-arent-i-50-points-ahead

Hillary the loser.

Must suck to be so bitter.

From Daily Mail: Hillary Clinton‘s frustrations with Bernie Sanders spill out onto the pages of her forthcoming book, What Happened, as she gripes about his campaign tactics and the fact that he was never truly a Democrat. 

‘Because we agreed on so much, Bernie couldn’t make an argument against me in this area on policy, so he had to resort to innuendo and impugning my character,’ Clinton writes, according to a page tweeted out by journalist and CauseWired founder Tom Watson.

The Vermont senator, Clinton charged, laid the foundation for Donald Trump‘s ‘Crooked Hillary’ charge against her, and didn’t have the future of the Democratic Party in mind during his run.

‘Some of his supporters, the so-called Bernie Bros, took to harassing my supporters online. It got ugly and more than a little sexist,’ Clinton recalled.

During the primary, Sanders would often hint that Clinton was corrupt because of financial donations she took from Wall Street and other large companies. ‘When I finally challenged Bernie during a debate to name a single time I changed a position or a vote because of a financial contribution he couldn’t come up with anything,’ Clinton noted.

‘Nonetheless, his attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” campaign,’ she said.

Clinton wondered aloud if Sanders even cared, as he considered himself a Democratic Socialist, and not a Democrat, and thought about running for president as an independent.  

‘I don’t know if that bothered Bernie or not,’ she said. ‘He certainly shared my horror at the thought of Donald Trump becoming president, and I appreciated that he campaigned for me in the general election.’

‘But he isn’t a Democrat – that’s not a smear, that’s what he says,’ Clinton continued.’

‘He didn’t get into the race to make sure a Democrat won the White House, he got in to disrupt the Democratic Party,’ she noted.

Clinton said Sanders was right that the Democratic Party needed to pay more attention to working families.  And she also pointed out that there’s a ‘danger’ in spending too much time fundraising, though blamed it on the country’s ‘insane campaign finance system.’

Clinton also gave credit to Sanders for bringing a lot of young people into the political process.

‘But I think he was fundamentally wrong about the Democratic Party – the party that brought us Social Security under Roosevelt; Medicare and Medicaid under Johnson; peace between Israel and Egypt under Carter; broad-based prosperity and a balanced budget under Clinton; and rescued the auto industry, passed health care reform and imposed tough new rules on Wall Street under Obama,’ Clinton noted.

‘I am proud to be a Democrat and I wish Bernie were, too,’ Clinton said. 

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Demorats launch “A Better Deal” platform. Their top agenda item: corporate mergers

a better deal

Because corporate mergers are what Americans are truly worried about. Good luck with that platform demorats!

From MSN: Democrats rolled out a new economic platform Monday in hopes of winning over President Donald Trump‘s populist base with promises to take on big businesses, lower the cost of prescription drugs and create jobs.

The campaign — “A Better Deal” — is intended as a counterpunch to the president’s frequent criticism of the lackluster recovery and stagnant wages under President Barack Obama and Trump’s vow to restore the economy to 3 percent annual growth. Democrats are also searching for ways to reconnect with working-class voters whose deep frustration with their own economic prospects helped drive their support for Trump.

“It is an ambitious economic agenda that represents a renewed Democratic commitment to the hard-working men and women across the United States who have been left out and left behind for too long,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

Among Democrats’ top agenda items is greater scrutiny of corporate mergers, including tougher standards that incorporate consumer privacy, product quality and the impact on wages and jobs. Democrats are also seeking post-merger reviews and greater enforcement authority.

Those responsibilities would be carried out by a new competition advocate that Democrats have nicknamed the “Trust Buster.” One of the deals that could be targeted is AT&T (T)’s $85 billion bid for Time Warner (TWX), which is awaiting regulatory approval. Other sectors that could wind up in the crosshairs include the beer industry, airlines and eyeglasses.

“We will revisit our antitrust laws to ensure that the economic freedom of all Americans — consumers, workers and small businesses — come before big corporations that are getting even bigger,” the document read.

Prescription Drug Prices: The plan would revamp Medicare by allowing the program known as “Part D” to negotiate prices directly with drugmakers.

“It is ridiculous that Big Pharma has controlled Washington for so long and has refused to even budge on the notion that we ought to negotiate for lower prices,” Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said in a YouTube video outlining the platform.

The campaign would also expand apprenticeship and vocational programs, as well as establish a tax credit for companies that provide on-the-job training. Additional pieces of the broader proposal will be unveiled in the coming months, such as addressing the cost of higher education, infrastructure investment and creating a national family leave program.

In addition to Pelosi, top Democrats Sens. Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren are slated to outline the campaign later Monday, laying the groundwork for the party’s message in the 2018 midterm elections and beyond. The rollout takes place in Clarke County, Virginia, part of a congressional district that Democrats have long fought to turn blue. It is represented in the House by Republican Barbara Comstock and won by Trump in November.

However, Democrats do not directly mention Trump in their strategy documents, though the campaign’s title clearly references the president’s signature book, “The Art of the Deal.” Resistance to the Trump administration has energized the party’s base, but Democrats are hoping to complement that with a more optimistic vision of the nation’s economic potential.

“In the last two elections, Democrats, including in the Senate, failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there,” Schumer wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times. “We also failed to communicate our values to show that we were on the side of working people, not the special interests. We will not repeat the same mistake.”

DCG

The price tag on universal health care in California is bigger than state’s budget

government solve all problems

Shocker, not.

From Sacramento Bee: The pricetag is in: It would cost $400 billion to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal health care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.

California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.

The cost analysis is seen as the biggest hurdle to create a universal system, proposed by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

It remains a longshot bid. Steep projected costs have derailed efforts over the past two decades to establish such a health care system in California. The cost is higher than the $180 billion in proposed general fund and special fund spending for the budget year beginning July 1.

Employers currently spend between $100 billion to $150 billion per year, which could be available to help offset total costs, according to the analysis. Under that scenario, total new spending to implement the system would be between $50 billion and $100 billion per year.

“Health care spending is growing faster than the overall economy…yet we do not have better health outcomes and we cover fewer people,” Lara said at Monday’s appropriations hearing. “Given this picture of increasing costs, health care inefficiencies and the uncertainty created by Congress, it is critical that California chart our own path.”

The idea behind Senate Bill 562 is to overhaul California’s insurance marketplace, reduce overall health care costs and expand coverage to everyone in the state regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Instead of private insurers, state government would be the “single payer” for everyone’s health care through a new payroll taxing structure, similar to the way Medicare operates.

Lara and Atkins say they are driven by the belief that health care is a human right and should be guaranteed to everyone similar to public services like safe roads and clean drinking water. They seek to rein in rising health care costs by lowering administrative expenses, reducing expensive emergency room visits and eliminating insurance company profits and executive salaries.

In addition to covering undocumented people illegal aliens, Lara said the goal is to expand health access to people who, even with insurance, may skip doctor visits or stretch out medications due to high co-pays and deductibles.  “Doctors and hospitals would no longer need to negotiate rates and deal with insurance companies to seek reimbursement,” Lara said.

Insurance groups, health plans and Kaiser Permanente are against the bill. Industry representatives say California should focus on improving the Affordable Care Act. Business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce, have deemed the bill a “job-killer.”

“A single-payer system is massively, if not prohibitively expensive,” said Nick Louizos, vice president of legislative affairs for the California Association of Health Plans. “It will cost employers and taxpayers billions of dollars and result in significant loss of jobs in the state,” the Chamber of Commerce said in its opposition letter.

Underlying the debate is uncertainty at the federal level over what President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress will do with Obamacare. The House Republican bill advanced earlier this month would dismantle it by removing its foundation – the individual mandate that requires everyone to have coverage or pay a tax penalty.

Republican-led efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare is fueling political support for the bill, Atkins said at a universal health care rally this past weekend in Sacramento hosted by the California Nurses Association, a co-sponsor.

“This is a high-ticket expense…We have to figure out how to cover everyone and work on addressing the costs in the long-term — that’s our challenge,” Atkins said. “I’m optimistic.”

The bill has to get approval on the Senate floor by June 2 to advance to the Assembly. A financing plan is underway, which could suggest diverting money employers pay for worker’s compensation insurance to a state-run coverage system.

Lara said he believes California can and should play a prominent role in improving people’s lives. “We can do better,” he said.

DCG