Anwering A Question From A Reader

I received a question via email today and I thought I would share my response in case other people may have had the same question, or one very similar. Pat asked,

“I was on a conference call with Michelle Bachmann. She stated that under the provisions of the health care bill, the payments from people would begin in 2010, but the benefits would not be seen until four years later, or 2013, is this true?”

The first time I read the health care bill I did so at a “quick review” type pace. The second time I read it, I analyzed it to point out all of the sections which would affect people the most. While I quoted many costs and amounts, I never really double checked the years of collection versus the years of implementation.

While analyzing Division A and doing a search for the years in question, I found a couple references.

Section 100 defines Y1 (or year 1) of the health benefits plan as 2013 which seems to support Michelle Bachmann’s claim that people would not see any benefits until 2013. People cannot benefit from a health benefits plan before 2013 if it is not implemented until 2013.

Further review of Division A shows that the small business employee health coverage credit which will be implemented right away, will be phased out beginning in 2013. President Obama and House leaders are quick to state that the health care bill will not affect most small business owners, but that is just not true. You can read more about this “phase out” of the credit in Division A, Subtitle B, Section 421.

There could be more hidden in Division A, but in the interest of just answering the question presented, I moved on to Division B to perform the same search.

Reporting requirements for the quality of outcomes for people enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans are not required to be implemented until 2013, so any treatments or outcomes will not be subject to reporting until then. This is mentioned in Division B, section 1162.

Division B, Section 1703 also sets a deadline of 2013 for any benchmark benefit package. These packages must meet the minimum benefits and cost-sharing standards of a basic plan by this time.

Section 1802 of Division B sets the amount of funds to be transferred to the Trust Fund by year. $90 million in 2010, $100 million by 2011, and $110 million by 2012. These funds obiviously come from somewhere so, again, Michelle Bachmann was correct. We will be paying ($300 million in this section alone) beginning in 2010 while the health benefits plan will not go into effect until Y1, or 2013, as stated in Division A, Section 100.

Section 1802 also sets a “fair share per capita amount” beginning in 2013, which will be computed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for each fiscal year which is projected to be $375 million for the 2013 fiscal year alone.

According to this same section we will be paying another $26 million for the Comparative Effectiveness Research Commission from 2010 through 2012.

Section 1904 defines applicable percentages of expenditures, itemized by year for 2010-2014, and appropriates another $300 million for the implementation of that section before 2013.

Things get much more interesting in Division C, where Section 2002 defines the establishment of funds for the Public Health Investment Fund.

For fiscal years 2010 – 2012 a total of $17,100,000,000 (yes, that’s billion, not million) shall be directed into the fund from “general revenues of the Treasury”.

Section 2101 allocates an addition $5 billion in funding for community health centers. Section 2202 authorizes appropriations in the amount of $798 million for the National Health Service Corps. $758 million will be allocated for primary care and dentistry. All of these appropriation amounts are for the fiscal years 2010 – 2012, prior to the establishment of the Public Health Benefit Plan in Y1, or 2013 and Division C goes on to authorize and allocate a lot more money from the general fund of the Treasury.

So, Pat, I hope this post helped answer the questions you had following the conference call with Michelle Bachmann. It does appear we will be shoveling a lot of money towards all of the programs defined in the health care bill for three years before any public health benefit is implemented.

Name Dropping Gets You Nowhere

CannonIn my final post about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “Rightwing Extremism” assessment, I made reference to something that was quoted in the report, and I want to make a few clarifications.

At the bottom of page five, the assessment reads,

Many rightwing extremist groups perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms and in response have increased weapons and ammunition stockpiling, as well as renewed participation in paramilitary training exercises. Such activity, combined with a heightened level of extremist paranoia, has the potential to facilitate criminal activity and violence.

  • During the 1990s, rightwing extremist hostility toward government was fueled by the implementation of restrictive gun laws—such as the Brady Law that established a 5-day waiting period prior to purchasing a handgun and the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that limited the sale of various types of assault rifles—and federal law enforcement’s handling of the confrontations at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

In short, the government wants you to think that the threat of recent gun control legislation will push many “rightwing extremists” over the edge creating a heightened level of extremist paranoia, weapon stockpiling, and hostility toward the goverment. They go a step further in their attempt to instill fear by referencing the confrontations at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

Many people remember the events that occurred at Waco but few people I have spoken too remember much about Ruby Ridge. Those who do remember it, usually can’t remember why they do, but they know something bad happened there.

Let’s take a look at the history of events which occurred at Ruby Ridge in August of 1992 and try to ascertain why our government would still be referencing the events there, 17 years after it happened.

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Twenty-Seven Potential Acts Of Violence

Blue GrosbeakWhen we think about the implications of Homeland Security, it’s important to remember that Americans are not the enemy.

As I wrap up my three-part series about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “assessment” on Rightwing Extremism (PDF), I want to point out several more references included in the report, and touch on some thoughts about the release of this report.

Let’s refresh our memory.

The title of the assessment is “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”. The targets of the assessment are radical and extremist groups as well as “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration”, and the government believes some of our fine men and women of the military could be extremists, or even potential terrorists. All of these items are mentioned before the end of page 3. It’s a nine page report.

Page three wraps up by blaming the current economic crisis and the election of Barack Obama as the catalysts for creating more extremist thoughts in our country.

Page four makes it clear that most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical since the election and have stopped short of violent action. The assessment warns us (vaguely) that there were two incidents before the election, but law enforcement interceded. Isn’t it funny they can point to specifics like the shooting in Pittsburgh on April 4th and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, but when it comes to supporting their “imposition of fear”, they can’t state any specifics?

Apparently, the government feels that the “perceived government infringement on civil liberties” leads to domestic rightwing terrorists lashing out. Of course they have to cite an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors, yet, if you remember correctly in the paragraph above this one, they also stated that there has been no violent action.

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The Ties That Bind

President-elect Barack Obama told us that none of the members of his staff had any contact with Illinois Gov. Blagojevich regarding the selling of his U.S. Senate seat. He told us that he launched an internal investigation and he re-assured us that nothing inappropriate occurred.

How many times does Rahm Emanuel have to speak to the governor before Barack Obama admits his Chief of Staff did, in fact, speak to the governor, and even urged the governor to choose Mr. Obama’s pick for the job?

Mr. Emanuel submitted a list of names to the governor. The list included the names of candidates Mr. Obama found suitable for the job.

There are reports that Mr. Emanuel had 21 different conversations with the governor or his staff.

None of these facts prove that any wrongdoing took place, but you have to wonder why Mr. Obama’s chief of staff contacted the governor more than 20 times within a month. You have to wonder why a list of “suitable” replacements was supplied by Mr. Obama’s staff. You have to wonder whether Mr. Obama was lying when he said he was confident that none of the members of his staff had contacted Gov. Blagojevich.

It’s apparent something was discussed. It’s pretty clear that some sort of deal was being discussed, or at the very least, implied. While some prominent members of the Republican party are telling people to back off and leave Mr. Obama alone, I think it’s high time that our President-elect starts explaining the actions and circumstances that led to those 21 conversations.

And don’t you skeptics worry. Rahm Emanuel is not the only Obama appointee that has strong ties to Gov. Blagojevich. It seems Mr. Obama’s choice for Attorney General, Eric Holder, “forgot” about his connection to the governor.

Eric Holder and the governor held a news conference together in 2004 where Mr. Blagojvich announced Mr. Holder’s role as a special investigator. This information was left out of a 47-page response to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Whether or not anyone on Mr. Obama’s staff participated in Gov. Blagojevich’s scheme, it seems some of them have ties so deep it probably won’t even matter.

So Many Questions, So Little Time

In 11 days we will be choosing the next President of the United States. Well, we won’t be choosing him, the Electoral College will be choosing him, but they will do so based on our votes from state to state.

Doesn’t it seem like the candidates have been campaigning for four years or so? No, it couldn’t be that long, because four years ago, Barack Obama said he wasn’t qualified to serve as President. He said he was a firm believer that you need to know what you are doing when you apply for a job, and that he would have to start running for President right then and there before ever serving a day in the Senate. I think that’s exactly what he did, don’t you?

I have election fatigue. I am tired of it all. I am tired of turning on the television in the morning and hearing about the polls. I am tired of turning on the television or the radio, only to be inundated with ads. But most of all, I am tired of the political double-speak.

I am tired of hearing one thing and seeing another. I am tired of listening to Barack Obama say something about his plans, only to read those plans myself and learn they are completely different than he said they were in his speech.

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