Archive for Health Care

Grubby Gruber

Aw, gee. I hope he doesn’t turn to terrorism:

Jonathan Gruber, the consultant who said ObamaCare became law due to the “stupidity of the American voter,” was fired from the board of the Massachusetts health exchange on Wednesday.

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) asked Gruber, an MIT professor, to resign, along with three other members of the board, accoring [sic] to the governor’s office.

All three complied.

The architect of ObamaCare is in trouble in another New England state:

In a 54-page memo, Vermont State Auditor Doug Hoffer confirms that embattled Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber overbilled the state in invoices he submitted for work Gruber claims was performed by research assistants.

“The evidence suggests that Dr. Gruber overstated the hours worked by the RA, but we have insufficient documentation to say any more about his inconsistencies and questionable billing practices. I have referred the matter to the Attorney General for his consideration, which is standard procedure in such circumstances,” Hoffer said in the conclusion of his memo, released Monday.

As Breitbart News reported earlier, Gruber also faces unanswered questions about his billing practices for work performed for the State of Minnesota.

Take a number, Minnesota. The line to sue this son of a bitch forms to the right.

The whole house of cards Gruber built is falling down around him, and the architect of ObamaCare is revealed to be the Joker that everyone should have seen him to be.

More here.

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More Government Than I Need, Less Freedom Than I Want

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was a liberal, no one represented the forces of evil to me more than Senator Phil Gramm, Republican of Texas.

What was my problem?

On March 4 the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, with a decision expected in late June. If the court strikes down the payment of government subsidies to those who bought health insurance on the federal exchange, Republicans will at last have a real opportunity to amend ObamaCare. Doing so, however, will be politically perilous.

Republicans need a strategy that is easy to understand, broadly popular and difficult to oppose. It must unite Republicans and divide congressional Democrats, while empowering Republican governors and legislators to resist administration pressure. I believe that strategy is what I would call “the freedom option.” Every American should have the right to decide not to participate in ObamaCare: If you like ObamaCare and its subsidies, you can keep it. If you don’t, you are free to buy the health insurance that fits your needs.

The freedom option would fulfill the commitment the president made over and over again about ObamaCare: If you like your health insurance you can keep it. If Republicans crafted a simple bill that guarantees the right of individuals and businesses to opt out of ObamaCare, buy the health insurance they choose from any willing seller (with risk pools completely separate from ObamaCare), millions of Americans would rejoice and exercise this freedom. Such a proposal would be easy for Republicans to articulate and defend. And it would be very difficult for Democrats to attack.

Taking a cue from our racist, sexist friends in Hollywood, the simplest pitches are the best ones. Hot Tub Time Machine (I or II) takes no effort to decipher. Snakes on a Plane will have snakes on a plane, and Samuel L. Jackson mf-ing his way from cockpit to rear lavatory to kill them. The ninety-four minutes between opening and closing credits practically film themselves.

Even the Affordable Care Act is a model of packaging. Call it what it isn’t, and you can make it as impenetrable and obscure as Last Year at Marianbad, with Alain Resnais as the forbear of Jonathan Gruber in making people endure the unendurable.

But Gramm conquers all: “the freedom option”. Obama eliminated plans people liked and relied on for years. (He called them “bad apples”—the plans, not the people) Gramm restores them. You pick the plan you want, not the government. It’s not only tidy packaging, it’s Republican thinking.

The opposition would come solely from those who understand that ObamaCare is built on coercion—and that unless young, healthy Americans are forced into the program to be exploited with above-market insurance rates, the subsidies will prove unaffordable. That will be an exceedingly difficult case to make to the public.

By extinguishing coercion, the freedom option would put ObamaCare on the path to extinction. Without the ability to exploit the young and healthy, the Affordable Care Act will collapse under its own funding weight, all but guaranteeing a 2017 revision of the entire law.

[V]ictory will require a determination to govern. The alternative will almost certainly be a long or a short path to capitulation.

Government by choice, or government by coercion. I’m thinking, I’m thinking!

PS: My favorite Gramm line of all time was this: “I have more guns than I need, but less guns than I want.” Even as a tsk-tsking liberal, I admired the pith and confrontational attitude of the line—also its genuine Texan questionable grammar, corrected for the bumper sticker:

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Good Point!

As the regime exalts its haul of over 11 million sign-ups to ObamaCare, James Taranto makes this observation:

Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, weighed in last week with a USA Today piece imaginatively headlined “Affordable Care Act Is Working.” Here’s the best bit:

As of midnight Sunday, about 11.4 million Americans selected Marketplace plans or were automatically re-enrolled, including 8.6 million through the HealthCare.gov platform, and—based on preliminary data provided to us by the State-Based Marketplaces—2.8 million through these state Marketplaces.

Enthusiasm and demand for Marketplace insurance were clear: In the final day, more new consumers signed up for health coverage than any other day this open enrollment or last.

That’s like saying people are enthusiastic about filing their income taxes because so many of them do it on April 15.

Exactly. Waiting until my last clean pair of underwear isn’t clean anymore is no way to demonstrate my love of laundry.

Who’s dumber? These guys for feeding us this crap; or us for swallowing it?

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Many Unhappy Returns!

About a million of ‘em!

The Obama administration says it sent about 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers the wrong tax information, and officials are asking those consumers to delay filing their 2014 taxes.

The tax error disclosed Friday is a self-inflicted injury that comes on the heels of what President Barack Obama had touted as a successful enrollment season, with about 11.4 million people signed up.

California, which is running its own insurance market, just announced a similar problem affecting about 100,000 people in that state.

The errors mean that nearly 1 million people may have to wait longer to get their tax refunds this year.

Another 50,000 or so who already filed may have to resubmit their returns.

That’s not even counting those who will have their refunds seized to pay any penalties they might owe under this obscene Act.

I think this deserves the full guffaw. Haw-haw-haw!!

Maybe CNN is right about the right-wing extremists (see post below), just a little early. The revolution will commence after April 15th.

Haw-haw-haw!!

PS: Spoke too soon, Mr. President!

“The Affordable Care Act is working,” the President said. “And I’ll tell you, everywhere I go around the country, I’m meeting individuals who come up and thank me. How passionate they are about the difference its made in their lives, it really reminds me why we do all of this.”

You don’t know from passionate!

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Obama Administration Has Found New Technique To Punish Folks Without Health Insurance

Those folks don’t get their refund checks any time soon

Deana Ard wants her tax refund as soon as possible. She says she files her return in mid-January every year and receives her refund within two weeks.

This year, Ard said her refund is taking longer — and she’s blaming Obamacare.

Ard, who went without health insurance last year, doesn’t mind having to pay a $160 Obamacare penalty as part of her 2014 tax return. But she says her $7,124 refund is on hold, and the IRS won’t tell her why.

Ard is not alone. Scores of readers have written CNNMoney that they too were subject to the Obamacare penalty and that their refunds are taking longer than usual. Ard has rallied more than 1,000 people to a Facebook page devoted to those in a similar situation.

IRS is denying this, natch.

Jessica Johnson is one of those caught in limbo with a TC 570 after paying a $281 penalty. The married mother of three, whose return was accepted on Jan. 20, is waiting for a $9,450 refund from the IRS to pay credit card bills and add to her savings. Last year, she said she got her refund in less than 10 days.

Johnson, who now has insurance under her husband’s plan, has called the IRS nine times.

“I’m frustrated,” said Johnson, who lives in Savannah, Ga. “I just want to know what’s going on. It’s ridiculous that I am being penalized again for being honest about not having healthcare.”

Here’s the best one:

For Daniel Flowers, an $8,153 refund means being able to keep the lights on and his car running. The Cincinnati, Ohio, resident was counting on having the funds in a week, which is how long it usually takes. He’s called the IRS, but they say they can’t tell him anything until after 21 days has passed.

Flowers, who works in a hotel and paid $190 for not having insurance, may not have that kind of time. He’s gotten his landlord and others to give him some extensions, but the lights will go off next week.

“I need this refund. I worked hard for this,” said Flowers, who takes care of his two young nieces. “I can’t access my own money.”

Yes, Daniel, that is what liberalism is all about. They want your money, they need your money, they take your money. What a nasty, vindictive crew this administration is.

– Aggie

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Hey, You Six Million!

How do you like him now?

As many as 6 million people will have to pay a penalty under ObamaCare for going without health insurance in 2014, federal officials suggested in projections released Wednesday.

That means between 2 percent and 4 percent of all taxpayers lacked medical coverage for all or part of the year and do not qualify for an exemption under the individual mandate, according to the Treasury Department.

Another 10 to 20 percent of taxpayers — or 15 million to 30 million people — were uninsured but will qualify for an exemption from the mandate, shielding them from paying $95 or 1 percent of household income when they file their taxes.

What did we just learn the other day? That ObamaCare will end up costing $2,000,000,000,000 and still leave almost 30,000,000 uninsured? (I just busted my 0 key.)

The best-case scenario described by the CBO would result in ‘between 24 million and 27 million’ fewer Americans being uninsured in 2025, compared to the year before the Affordable Care Act took effect.

Pulling that off will cost Uncle Sam about $1.35 trillion – or $50,000 per head.

The numbers are daunting: It will take $1.993 trillion, a number that looks like $1,993,000,000,000, to provide insurance subsidies to poor and middle-class Americans, and to pay for a massive expansion of Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) costs.

Offsetting that massive outlay will be $643 billion in new taxes, penalties and fees related to the Obamacare law.

So, all this wasn’t about controlling costs or covering the sick. It was about power. By that metric, it has been a raging success.

Who has the last laugh?

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CBO Releases Truly Terrible ObamaCare News When The Media Is Obsessing Over Snowstorm

ObamaCare will cost $50,000 per insured, and fewer people will be insured than prior to ObamaCare

They picked the perfect day to release this:

Obamacare program costs $50,000 in taxpayer money for every American who gets health insurance, says bombshell budget report
Stunning figure comes from Congressional Budget Office report that revised cost estimates for the next 10 years
Government will spend $1.993 TRILLION over a decade and take in $643 BILLION in new taxes, penalties and fees related to Obamacare
The $1.35 trillion net cost will result in ‘between 24 million and 27 million’ fewer Americans being uninsured – a $50,000 price tag per person at best
The law will still leave ‘between 29 million and 31 million’ nonelderly Americans without medical insurance
Numbers assume Obamacare insurance exchange enrollment will double between now and 2025

WE NEED SINGLE PAYER! Quick, somebody get ahold of Nancy Pelosi!!

It will cost the federal government – taxpayers, that is – $50,000 for every person who gets health insurance under the Obamacare law, the Congressional Budget Office revealed on Monday.
The number comes from figures buried in a 15-page section of the nonpartisan organization’s new ten-year budget outlook.
The best-case scenario described by the CBO would result in ‘between 24 million and 27 million’ fewer Americans being uninsured in 2025, compared to the year before the Affordable Care Act took effect.
Pulling that off will cost Uncle Sam about $1.35 trillion – or $50,000 per head.

How stupid, exactly, are Democrats? I think $1.35 trillion stupid is a rough estimate.

– Aggie

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Death Panels, UK-Style

I was among several acquaintances the other day when someone who was telling a story about a trip to the doctor concluded the tale with the sarcastic line “the wonders of for-profit health care”. I chimed in that if one thinks socialized medicine is better, just read up on Britain’s NHS. “It’s falling apart over there,” I concluded. The first guy challenged me: where did I get my information? Before I could finish saying the Daily Mail, he interrupted. “Terrible source!” he screamed. “The worst!” Maybe so. But the stories I read are personal accounts or drawn from official reports, not opinion pieces.

But omit any stories from the Daily Mail, and see if you still don’t agree with me.

I particularly like this one from the Telegraph (also a conservative paper, but so what?):

A test to determine if elderly patients will die within 30 days of being admitted to hospital has been developed by doctors to give them the chance to go home or say goodbye to loved ones.

Health experts say the checklist will prevent futile and expensive medical treatments which merely prolong suffering.

The screening test looks at 29 indicators of health, including age, frailty, illness, mental impairment, previous emergency admissions and heart rate and produces a percentage chance of death within one month and 12 weeks.

Researchers say the aim of Critera for Screening and Triaging to Appropriate aLternative care, or CriSTAL for short, is to kick-start frank discussions about end of life care, and minimise the risk of invasive ineffective treatment.

CriSTAL. From the Same people who brought you the rationaing body, NICE:

The NHS is to delay the introduction of a highly expensive drug that can save the lives of people infected with the hepatitis C virus. The move by NHS England is unprecedented, because the NHS rationing body, Nice (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has approved the drug. Nice says sofosbuvir is cost-effective, because it is a cure for people who would otherwise run up huge NHS bills.

Back to CriSTAL:

Earlier this week Professor Sir Mike Richards, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals for the Care Quality Commission, warned that dying patients are receiving wide variations in care because of hospital failure to replace the Liverpool Care Pathway.

The controversial end-of-life plan was scrapped after a review of the regime found that hospital staff wrongly interpreted its guidance for care of the dying, leading to patients being drugged and deprived of fluids in their last weeks of life.

Most people I know, even old and infirm people, don’t want to be kept alive at any cost (personal or financial). But do we really want the government, with no higher appeal, making the last call? Especially with the history of the Liverpool protocol? And so much more evidence that NHS incompetence has led to thousands of deaths?

Don’t take my word for it. Google it yourself.

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PPACA

Out: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

In: Patently Preposterous and Achingly Complex A**wipe

I think I was wrong about this thing: it’s comedic gold.

A controversy has erupted in Massachusetts over an obscure provision of the federal Affordable Care Act that small health insurers say will force them to write fat checks to support the state’s dominant insurer.

Hahahahaha!!!

“Fat checks”! Heeheeheehee!!

“Obscure provision”! Hhohohohoho!!! Oh my sides.

The law requires states to redistribute income among health insurers, so those whose members tend to be healthy will pay into a state-run pool, while insurers saddled with a high proportion of expensive, sick patients receive payment from the pool. The payments will be made for the first time this summer, based on 2014 data.

The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans contends that the state is using flawed data and bad methodology, threatening the futures of smaller insurers while shoring up the market’s behemoth, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Blue Cross, which is not a member of the association, counters that the federal requirement is necessary to level the playing field in a market in which insurers can design their plans to attract the healthy while discouraging the sick from joining.

What do you expect from something designed by Jonathan Gruber? And peddled by Pajama Boy, Ethan Krupp?

But if you’re swayed by the journalist’s writing about “fat checks” to “behemoths”, read on:

Andreana Santangelo, Blue Cross senior vice president and chief actuary, said Blue Cross covers a disproportionate share of sicker, costlier patients, and thus expects to receive a payment to compensate. She noted that the company, with 2.1 million members in Massachusetts, is losing money despite its size.

The federal law prohibits insurers from rejecting or charging higher premiums to people who are sick, and Massachusetts law has done the same for many years.

But insurers can still manipulate the market by the way they craft benefits. For example, a plan can offer a narrow network of providers that would be unattractive to people who see many doctors, or it can exclude from its preferred drug list medications popular with people who have an expensive illness, such as diabetes. Such plans tend not to appeal to sicker patients.

The behemoth is actually doing the Lord’s work, while the insurance Davids to Blue Cross’s Goliath can pick and choose whomever they want.

But the most important thing is that they hate each other, thanks to government intrusion into the marketplace, and cry like squealing brats to Mommy that the other isn’t being fair. That’s Obama’s “signature achievement”, and I thank him for it.

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With a Friend Like Him, Who Needs an Enemy?

As part of his pandering to “the middle class”, Obama touted the “success” of his “health care” plan (odd, then, that it is administered by the IRS):

[I]n the past year alone, about 10 million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage. (Applause.)

At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years. (Applause.) This is good news, people. (Laughter and applause.)

Lying sack of s**t (Laughter, applause, thunderous ovation, tears of joy, rending of garments):

At first glance, Colorado would seem to be one of the federal health law’s clearest success stories, offering nearly 200 plans and average premiums nearly unchanged in the coming year.

But zoom in closer, and it is clear that a kind of pricing pandemonium is underway, one that offers a case study of the ambitions and limits of the Affordable Care Act during this second year of enrollment.

An analysis by The New York Times shows, for example, that the cost of one midlevel silver plan in Colorado rose 36 percent west of the Rocky Mountains this year, while another dropped nearly 40 percent in the northeastern plains.

The wild disparity in prices results from many insurers trying to attract more customers by pricing plans as low as they can. But it is not at all clear that the low prices will be sustainable, so prices may well swing sharply upward as time goes on. Nationwide, some of the plans that offered the least expensive prices for 2014 raised premiums sharply for coverage this year. One insurer, CoOportunity Health, has been taken over by state regulators because of losses.

Shouldn’t that be called “predatory insuring”? Offering a deal to lure a customer in and then whack up the rates the next year when they can’t get out? Where’s Lizbeth Warren’s Consumer Protection Bureau?

And while she uses her advanced Native American tracking skills, maybe she can follow this trail:

When you apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, dozens of data companies may be able to tell that you are on the site. Some can even glean details such as your age, income, ZIP code, whether you smoke or if you are pregnant.

The data firms have embedded connections on the government site. Ever-evolving technology allows for individual Internet users to be tracked, building profiles that are a vital tool for advertisers.

Connections to multiple third-party tech firms were documented by technology experts who analyzed HealthCare.gov, and confirmed by The Associated Press.

“As I look at vendors on a website…they could be another potential point of failure,” said corporate cybersecurity consultant Theresa Payton. “Vendor management can often be the weakest link in your privacy and security chain.”

Where’s the “health care” in an act that exposes your personal information, may bankrupt you, and is enforced by the T-men from the IRS? Not only can you not keep your doctor, you can’t keep your Social Security number!

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Liaress of the Jungle

This post pales in comparison to the two below, but it’s worth reporting:

The leader of the agency charged with the ObamaCare rollout is stepping down after five years on the job.

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), announced her departure Friday, which will take effect next month.

Tavenner is leaving after five turbulent years overseeing the agency. Her tenure included the disastrous rollout of the government’s HealthCare.gov website as well as, most recently, an inflated tally of total ObamaCare enrollment.

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee last month grilled Tavenner about the miscount, which had helped push the first-year enrollment total for ObamaCare past 7 million — a milestone that was celebrated by the administration at the time.

Tavenner said some figures were “inadvertently” double-counted, an explanation that was greeted with deep skepticism from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), whose staff identified the error.

“Tavenner had to go,” Issa wrote Friday in a statement provided first to The Hill.

“She presided over HHS as it deceptively padded the Obamacare enrollment numbers. It was a deplorable example of an agency trying to scam the American people. They weren’t successful this time because of Congressional oversight. We deserve better.”

And then there’s this:

Tavenner’s chief of staff, Aryana Khalid, also announced Friday that she would be leaving the agency.

The pair of departures come about a month after that of CMS’s deputy administrator, Cindy Mann. The agency’s No. 2 official left her post in January.

Maybe it doesn’t matter that no one’s left to run the damn program. As we’ve been noting, it’s in the hands of the IRS now.

As for the deception and the scam, it’s all part of the Obama strategy: lie all the time; they can’t catch you in all of them.

PS: The same IRS that empowered Lois Lerner, remember.

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Synergy

A socialized-medicine-global-warming-nonsense story all in one!

NHS staff have been coming into work voluntarily and unpaid to help their hospitals cope with extreme winter pressures, MPs were told today, as the country’s top emergency doctor warned over a dramatic increase in A&E visits.

Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said that the additional patients coming to A&E this year could fill “eight or nine extra emergency departments”. MPs on the Health Select Committee were taking evidence yesterday on accident and emergency services in England, in response to a string of major incidents declared at hospitals throughout the country last week, as A&E waiting times rose to their highest levels in a decade.

Winter happens every year, and they were unprepared? Either winter is colder, or the NHS had its head up its ass. Still, typical British grit for the staff to work without pay.

This is a more typical NHS story:

The head of a special NHS fund for cancer medicines in England has said there will need to be further cuts to the treatments it funds.

This week it was announced 25 different cancer treatments would no longer be paid for by the Cancer Drugs Fund.

But Prof Peter Clark, an oncologist who runs the fund, said the rising cost of drugs was a problem.

He added that the system for chemotherapy drugs was “broken”.

This is also typical:

Sitting in the casualty department of one of the best-known hospitals in Britain, I can’t help but notice it’s packed to the rafters.

Yet it’s not a hectic Saturday night, but a Monday lunchtime at the beginning of December and everyone seems sober.

Despite this, I struggle to find a seat, even though it is obvious I’m in deep shock and on the point of passing out in agony. This is by far the worst pain I’ve ever suffered.

I know my upper arm is broken — I fell off a step and heard the crack — and fully expect at least a four-hour wait.

A woman having a cigarette outside warned me as I arrived: ‘Hope you’ve set aside the whole day. I’ve been waiting ages!’

As I look around the crowd, I see little evidence of painful injury. I ask the woman next to me what she’s come for — a headache, no less. ‘No point calling the GP. You can never get seen,’ she says.

It’s the same story with the worried-looking father a few rows back. With a feverish young son lying listlessly on his lap, he explains he came straight to the hospital. He didn’t even think to start with his GP.

It’s clear evidence that casualty is becoming the first port of call whether it’s an accident, emergency or just feeling a bit poorly. No wonder the staff at the Royal Free Hospital in North London look so strained.

Her broken arm put her at the top of the waiting list. (Don’t know how long the dad waited with his kid.) But her travails were only beginning:

The consultant recommended surgery.

I was to be admitted on the Wednesday evening and was told to get my necessary blood tests done in advance. And that’s when the trouble started. The blood test queue filled a large waiting room and stretched, snake-like, along the corridor.

My number was 365 — and 210 had just been called. It was two-and-a half hours before they got to me. Just as well I’d set the whole day aside.

Wednesday came and I still had no information about when and where, or indeed if, I should turn up that evening.

I called admissions. They hadn’t a clue. I emailed the surgeon’s secretary, and at 5pm I finally had a call. I was to arrive at the orthopaedic ward around 7.30pm. They’d finally found me a bed.

I’ll leave it to you to get the rest of the story. Suffice it to say, in medicine as in so much else, you get what you pay for.

And another kick in the teeth for global warming:

The prospects of a January thaw are dropping right off the map. Even the chances that the U.S. East Coast will hold on to some above-normal temperatures into the last week of the month are fading like cheap paint in the bright sun.

Instead of displaying the gold and orange of milder weather, the maps have turned blue across the Midwest, which may be the same color your lips will be when the temperature drops. For the East, the outlook is for seasonal readings, and given that it’s January, you can color those cold, too.

“The big story this week is that our expected January thaw next week has been obliterated, and that the models keep getting colder and colder in general, starting next week through the end of January,” said Todd Crawford, a meteorologist with WSI in Andover, Massachusetts.

One more on one of my favorite subjects:

January’s shivering start has led to a rapid expansion of ice cover on the Great Lakes during the first half of January.

Combined, 34.2 percent of the five Great Lakes are covered in ice as of Jan. 14, 2015, according to data from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. This is up from just 5.65 percent on New Year’s Day.

Last year, the Great Lakes were 21.2 percent ice-covered on Jan. 14, making this year’s ice cover 13 percent higher to date.

That’s it, you’re free to go!

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