Archive for Massachusetts

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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Lies, Damned Lies, and Democrat Politics

I’m sick of tired of the lying and the cheating. Enough. It has to stop.

No, not the New England Patriots and “deflate-gate” (Google it if you haven’t heard of it).

Ex-Governor Deval Patrick:

Before Deval Patrick departed office earlier this month, he gave Charlie Baker, his gubernatorial successor, traditional gifts, including a pewter key, a gavel, and a 19th-century Bible.

He left a Massachusetts economy that is, by many measures, humming along.

But Patrick also left Baker something more pernicious: a mid-year budget gap the new governor now pegs at $765 million.

Baker said tax money coming into state coffers so far this fiscal year, which runs from July 2014 through June, has essentially met expectations. Tax revenue is on track to grow about 4.5 percent from last fiscal year to this fiscal year, Baker said.

But spending is set to grow by more than 7 percent, “and therein lies the $765 million problem,” Baker said at a press conference, in which he did not outline any specifics about potential cuts.

Medicaid costs, including fallout from Massachusetts’ bungled health insurance website, are a significant part of the spending side of the deficit, the administration found.

ObamaCare rears its plug-ugly head once again.

Baker has pledged not to raise taxes or fees, cut aid to cities and towns, or take money out of the state’s “rainy day” fund to deal with the deficit. At the press conference, he did not outline a solution to problem.

That’s why we elected a Republican: no new taxes. And a 4% revenue increase with a 7% spending increase is why it’s too late.

PS: And what’s the line about the economy “humming along” doing in the story? What’s the relevance, and where’s the justification? What a crap newspaper the Glob is.

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Fat Lives Matter

I’m beginning to reconsider racism:

Just as tens of thousands of commuters were making their trek to work Thursday morning, protesters blocked traffic on Interstate 93 north and south of Boston, attaching themselves to heavy barrels, State Police said.

A State Police tweet showed two women, each with an arm inside a white steel drum, where they were apparently chained together.

Which one is the 55-gallon drum?

According to one of the protesters, Shannon Leary, the group arrived around 7:20 a.m. Six people chained themselves to four drums filled with concrete, weighing 1,200 pounds, and managed to shut down the highway.

Leary said the protesters were acting solidarity with people who have protested the recent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.

She said the demonstrators were sending a message that society must change.

Like this?

Philip Wood of Rockland who owns a construction company and is working on renovations in the area, said he would have to send a dozen of his workers home without pay because of the protest.

“This entire situation, which I have no control over and I have no part of, has totally destroyed everybody’s lives,” Wood said.

Wood was expecting a concrete truck to arrive at 9 a.m., but it was blocked by traffic resulting from the protest. Without the concrete, his work is stalled and his employees will not receive pay.

Their kids can at least enjoy this story to assuage their hunger pangs:

State Police, and Boston and Milton firefighters draped one protester with a protective blanket as they tried to disengage him, using power saws, hammer, and a chisel.

A Boston firefighter’s power saw generated sparks that flew onto the protester. He screamed in pain because he was being burned. The firefighter stopped, and more blankets and protective tarps were brought to protect the protesters.

Why didn’t they use a fire hose to douse the protestor? The temperature is a balmy 26, and from the looks of them, a shower would make a nice change.

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Fox News Calls Nancy Pelosi a Lush! [UPDATED]

Correction: Fox News called John Boehner, not Nancy Pelosi, a lush. We regret the error.

Correction II: Boston.com, not Fox news, called John Boehner, not Nancy Pelosi, a lush. We regret the error.

[We’re just trying to get hired by Boston.com]

A Boston.com story that made light of a threat against House Speaker John Boehner has drawn the ire of the Ohio congressman, prompting an apology from the website.

Posted online Tuesday night, the story suggested that Boehner has a drinking problem and asked whether anyone would have noticed if Boehner had been poisoned. That comment was in reference to news that a former bartender at an Ohio country club where Boehner is a member has been arrested for allegedly threatening to kill the congressman.

“Stories about Boehner’s drinking have circulated for years,” wrote Victor Paul Alvarez, one of a handful of associate editors at Boston.com, in a passage that has since been removed from the website. “Had he been poisoned as planned, perhaps his pickled liver could have filtered out the toxins.”

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, fired back in an e-mail Wednesday.

“I would have thought it would be obvious to any sentient human being that your item mocking the threats against the speaker and his family was completely insensitive and inappropriate,” Steel wrote. “Should you wish to offer an explanation, or – better – an apology, feel free to respond.”

Mike Sheehan, the chief executive of Boston Globe Media Partners LLC, said he spoke with Boehner’s office and sent a note of apology Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s very difficult to hit the epicenter of tasteless, mean-spirited, and humorless in one fell swoop,” Sheehan said in an interview.

In a statement released Wednesday, Boston.com general manager Corey Gottlieb said the Alvarez piece did not reflect the site’s values.

“The original column made references to Speaker Boehner that were off-color and completely inappropriate,” Gottlieb wrote. “We are sorry, and we will do better.”

Boston.com is owned by Boston Globe Media Partners LLC but operates independently from The Boston Globe and BostonGlobe.com.

“There is a really fine line between tongue in cheek . . . and what’s unfair or hurtful,” Gottlieb said, but Alvarez’s story clearly crossed that line. He declined to say whether Alvarez would be disciplined for the story.

Since threatening the life of a Republican is hardly news (until the culprit is awarded a Nobel Peace Prize), you may not have heard:

Last October, Hoyt allegedly told police he was going to kill Boehner, who he claimed was responsible for the spread of Ebola.

Hoyt allegedly said he planned to shoot Boehner and suggested he could poison one of his drinks.

Freedom of the press trumps all to me, so if the snide comment was in an opinion piece, I would defend it from the outside, even if I would have spiked it from the inside. (I run a blog, not a supposedly respectable news site. As editor the latter, I would never have allowed it, even if I might have written something like that here.)

But then, it has to go both ways. You can’t make fun of Boehner’s liver and Sarah Palin’s special needs son, and not let me have a go at Obama’s nicotine addiction, Pelosi’s Botox addiction, and John Kerry’s John Kerry addiction.

UPDATE
The guy got canned.

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We Won WHAT???

There must be some mistake.

The U.S. Olympic Committee’s choice of Boston for its bid to host the 2024 Summer Games thrilled city and state leaders last night, but is expected to launch a vigorous debate over public spending, traffic and development to accommodate the 17-day global sports ?extravaganza.

Boston beat out the favorite Los Angeles, as well as San Francisco and Washington yesterday, to become the U.S. nominee for the 2024 Olympics. Mayor Martin J. Walsh and USOC officials plan a press conference this morning to release details of the bid.

“I think it’s terrific, and we’ve got some work to do,” Gov. Charlie Baker told the Herald last night.

Boston will now compete against other places believed to be seriously considering a bid, including Paris, Berlin, Istanbul and Johannesburg, and the International Olympic Committee is expected to make a final decision in 2017.

Boston? Boston?

It was so cold yesterday that the commuter trains weren’t running. So people had to drive. I can’t find a picture, but it looked something like this:

Except more cars and it was dark.

I’m naturally skeptical. Let’s hear from the other side:

They said we couldn’t clean up Boston Harbor. They said we couldn’t take down the Central Artery and build a third tunnel. They said we couldn’t host a Democratic National Convention.

They said we couldn’t win the World Series.

Actually, “they” was largely “we.”

Where would we be if we listened to our naysaying selves?

Now I am the first to admit hosting the Olympics sounds like a crazy idea, but we’re a region full of bright minds. We’ve done a lot of things people said could not be done. Not just cleaning the harbor, depressing a highway, winning the World Series — but also universal health care and gay marriage.

Really? You want to lead a rallying cry for the Olympics with ObamaCare? And the Big Dig?

Actually, what a great idea! The people who brought you the biggest construction boondoggle and the biggest government overreach in the history of the Republic now bid to bring you the Olympics. What could go wrong?

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Your Government at…Whatever, Dude

Say what you will about the illegal drug trade, it’s efficient.

Say what you will about government, it’s not:

A contractor hired by the state health department to rank companies hoping to open medical marijuana dispensaries acknowledged in internal e-mails that it simply ran out of time to conduct thorough checks of some applications. Still, the health department extended the company’s contract and more than doubled its pay, records show.

A different contractor was awarded a lucrative no-bid deal to conduct in-depth background checks yet failed to detect that a couple hired by several applicants to run proposed dispensaries had lost their own marijuana business license in Colorado because of violations.

These latest revelations open a wider window onto the state’s troubled effort to grant licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, a process so flawed that regulators spent five months untangling the mess.

A Globe review shows that the state’s licensing process went off the tracks nearly from the beginning, hobbled by too little time, too many conflicts of interest, and questionable work from highly paid contractors.

“I have heard of minor complications in other states. But I have not seen anything that raised eyebrows . . . like in Massachusetts,” said Karen O’Keefe, who tracks state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C., group that lobbies to legalize marijuana.

And that’s before we started smoking dope! Think of how messed up we’ll be afterwards.

More than two years after Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved the medical use of marijuana, not a single dispensary has opened, despite the state’s goal of having the first marijuana companies open in summer 2014. The licensing process, which sparked more than two dozen lawsuits against the state health department, remains mired in controversy, even as officials predict the first dispensaries could open this winter.

“Delays in implementation have been devastating to patients,” said Matt Allen, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance. “Patients are forced into unsafe situations as they continue to go to the black market in search of [marijuana] . . . being robbed, assaulted, or purchasing medicine that is not tested to be free of contaminants.”

If it was good enough for my grandfather, it’s good enough for them. Besides, that’s a terrible slur against the dealer community. At least they have product. Try this kind of stuff with the Knights Templar in Mexico, and you’ll get your head handed to you. Literally.

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Where Our $2,500 ObamaCare Savings Went

Yesterday I labeled Jonathan Gruber a hero for telling the truth about ObamaCare.

But I never said he wasn’t doing well by doing good!

When asked to provide details requested by the committee about $2.5 million in Obamacare related contracts he secured with an estimated eight states, He lawyered up. “Take it up with my counsel,” he said several times.

In addition, he refused to provide any examples of work product related to his Obamacare economic modeling carried out under a $400,000 sole source contract he obtained with the Department of Health and Human Services in 2009.

At the conclusion of the hearings, Issa promised that the incoming Chairman was likely to call Gruber back to provide that information, and that if the information was not forthcoming in 30 days, the Committee would subpoena Gruber for it.

Gruber also lawyered up when Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) asked him to show the work product from his Obamacare model in which he estimated how many people would lose their coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“You can talk to my counsel,” Gruber responded to each question from Chairman Issa and several other Republican members of the committee who wanted to know details about the number and size of his Obamacare related contracts with state governments.

“My counsel says we complied with the committee,” Gruber told Issa when asked about his failure to provide the detailed list of federal and state contracts prior to his testimony.

“No, you didn’t,” Issa responded.

For someone as “glib” as Gruber, lawyering-up has gotta hurt.

But when staying quiet equates to staying out of prison, that’s motivation:

One week after he first requested billing details related to Jonathan Gruber’s contract with the state of Vermont, state Auditor Douglas Hoffer has yet to receive any information about the details of Gruber’s contract from the administration of Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin.

“Nothing yet,” Hoffer told Breitbart News in an email on Monday responding to our inquiry checking up on the Shumlin administration’s response to his information request.

One day before Gruber is scheduled to testify about “health law deceptions” before the federal House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), details of Gruber’s $280,000 contract with the state of Vermont remain shrouded in mystery.

Of course, we know Gruber well around here. He’s at MIT, and he was “architect” of RomneyCare.

Speaking of which:

The Massachusetts Medicaid program spent $35 million on questionable claims for health care provided to low-income immigrants, according to a critical report released Wednesday by state Auditor Suzanne Bump.

The findings reflect “serious weaknesses” in the agency’s claims processing system, Bump concluded, and illustrate the need for tighter controls.

The audit found that the state’s Medicaid agency, known as MassHealth, routinely paid for nonemergency medical care for roughly 45,000 immigrants from July 2011 through December 2012. The review identified 270,167 questionable or unallowed claims for services such as speech therapy, fluoride treatment, and physical therapy.

What, illegal alien kids are supposed to get cavities?

Yes, illegal:

Bump’s office examined Medicaid’s Limited Program and its payment of medical bills for this pool of immigrants, who are entitled to emergency medical services under the program’s rules. The auditors said they believe that roughly 89 percent of the immigrants were in the United States illegally during the time of the audit.

By my rough math, $31 million out of that $35 million went to elocution lessons for people with no business being here, let alone taking millions in taxpayer money.

But you don’t know the half of it:

But the Executive Office of Health and Human Services disputed much of the auditor’s findings regarding its coverage of medical treatments for immigrants.

“We respectfully disagree with the state auditor’s definition of emergency services, which would preclude coverage under this program for critical medical conditions including kidney failure, broken bones, ectopic pregnancy, appendicitis, aortic aneurysms, insulin for diabetics, and other life-threatening injuries and conditions,” the agency said in a statement.

“MassHealth is required under both state and federal law to cover these emergency services for families and children who would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid but for their immigration status,” the agency’s statement said.

Hey, I don’t want to deny insulin to diabetics, either. But if immigration status isn’t relevant, why should geography be? Why aren’t we Bay Staters providing insulin to diabetics in Tegucigalpa without those families and children having to schlep up here? Give us your tired, your poor, your ectopic pregnancies, and aortic aneurysms. Forget hi-tech coders, we want sick people. Expensively sick people.

In government-run health care, illegal aliens and Jonathan Gruber thrive. The rest of us have to wait for the next available doctor.

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Hating on the Hebrew: High School Edition

Hamass a terrorist organization? Tish-tosh, what piffle. They’re the Elks, the Lions, the Hyenas:

Parents groups are up in arms after a recent report found public schools in Newton, Massachusetts presented whitewashed versions of Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA) charters, as well as other materials posing the destruction of Israel as acceptable.

The findings were made through an investigation of classroom materials by the independent watchdog group Verity Educate, which discovered “repeated instances of bias against Israel, bias against the US and its actions in the Middle East, and bias that sanitizes the ideology and actions of terrorists.”

Parents groups are up in arms after a recent report found public schools in Newton, Massachusetts presented whitewashed versions of Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA) charters, as well as other materials posing the destruction of Israel as acceptable.

The findings were made through an investigation of classroom materials by the independent watchdog group Verity Educate, which discovered “repeated instances of bias against Israel, bias against the US and its actions in the Middle East, and bias that sanitizes the ideology and actions of terrorists.”

“The use of anti-Israel material in this affluent suburb, which prides itself on the quality of it’s self-proclaimed ‘world-class’ schools, has been a controversial issue for the past three years, ever since a fourteen-year-old student found a false, anti-Israel passage in required reading for a high school World History class,” notes PENS.

The group adds that while that text three years ago was removed, the recent report shows the anti-Israel bias is alive and well in Newton.

What the article neglects to mention is that Newton has a fairly large Jewish population. I would say that this makes the story even more offensive, but for all I know the idiot liberal Jews in Newton either support this hatred, or at least feel too shamed to stop it.

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From Brookline to Jerusalem

He was one of us:

One of the four people killed in an attack Tuesday at a Jerusalem synagogue was from a prominent local Jewish family.

Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, graduated from Brookline’s Maimonides School in 1973. In a statement, the school, which was founded by Twersky’s grandfather, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, said it “is engulfed in grief and outrage” at his slaying.

Twersky lived in Jerusalem for more than 30 years, the school said, and was dean of a Jewish academy he founded there.

According to The Jerusalem Post, “Twersky lived in the Har Nof neighborhood close to the ‘Kehilat Yaakov’ synagogue where the terror attack was carried out.”

The Post added:

Twersky was the elder son of renowned rabbi and author Rabbi Yitzhak (Isadore) Twersky of Boston, and a grandson of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, one of the principle philosophers and founders of the Modern Orthodox movement.

The late Yitzhak Twersky was a professor of Hebrew literature at Harvard University and served as founding director of its Center for Jewish Studies.

Barry Shrage, president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, says Moshe Twersky was in Jerusalem continuing his family’s focus on religious education.

“[The family] had a huge impact on Jewish thought, and on the development of Jewish thought, here in Boston and throughout the world,” Shrage said. “The loss can be incredibly deeply felt because there’s just no one to replace him.”

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If You Need a Reason to Vote Republican…

Or at least not-Democrat:

Few politicians have more riding on today’s midterm election than U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has spent the last year stumping coast to coast for Democrats.

The Massachusetts progressive has been a central figure in her party’s efforts to retain control of the Senate, embarking on a hectic travel schedule to back candidates in a host of states from New Hampshire to Colorado.

One reason for Warren’s popularity, which has fueled an effort to draft her in the 2016 presidential race, is that her pro-working-class message is effective on the podium, said Democratic strategist Mike Lux.

“I think the country right now is moving in an economic populist direction,” Lux said.

As of today, Warren has made personal appearances, taped robo-?call messages or made fundraising appeals on behalf of Democrats in nearly every contested Senate race in the country.

I somehow feel I ought to apologize to the rest of America for putting you through that. But then I think how she claims to be “Okie to the core” or “Cherokee”, and I say let them apologize.

But then I come to understand Oklahoma didn’t send Betty Buckskin to the Senate. The Cherokee Nation doesn’t even acknowledge her as a member of the tribe.

Only in Massachusetts. Sorry.

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We Lost a Great Bostonian Today

No, not Mayor Menino.

Tom Magliozzi, Click (or was it Clack?), one of the Tappett Brothers:

Tom Magliozzi, half of the “Click and Clack” team of brothers who hosted NPR’s “Car Talk” radio show, died Monday. He was 77.

NPR reported the death Monday afternoon. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease, the radio network said.

In a statement, his brother Ray remembered a jovial partner.
“We can be happy he lived the life he wanted to live; goofing off a lot, talking to you guys every week, and primarily, laughing his ass off,” he said.

NPR has been airing archival material since the Magliozzis stopped making original shows two years ago. Berman told NPR that Ray would like the shows to continue as a tribute to his brother.

While all (or most) of the Democrat phonies are paying tribute to someone who essentially ran a party machine here (may he rest in peace)…

…someone who really spoke for the city (and sounded like it) passed. No disrespect to Mayor Menino, but my thoughts will be with another Italo-Bostonian tonight.

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Mayor Menino, RIP

Boston’s longtime mayor, Thomas Menino, died this morning. He had been battling cancer, and had recently ended treatment. He left office earlier this year, after serving five terms.

I will not speak ill of the dead, but I never got the attraction people felt toward him. That’s due, in part, to my not from being from around here (we moved here two years into his first term). He was a thoroughly townie guy, which was his strength and his weakness. A strength in that he had no pretensions, no delusions of grandeur. As local scribe (and merciless Menino gadfly) Howie Carr liked to recall, he was a driver for another Democratic hack in the old days, before winning a seat on the City Council from the Hyde Park District. Serving a decade on the council, he eventually became its president.

When Bill Clinton appointed then-Mayor Ray Flynn to be Ambassador to the Vatican, Menino seen his opportunity, and he took it. He won the eight-person (seven of whom ere exceedingly forgettable) primary with less than 27% of the vote, but romped in the general with over 64%. Only once in following elections did he get less than 60% of the vote. For the “Shitty of Boston” (as he pronounced it), he was Mistah Mayah. Like I said, as an outsider (even one almost two decades in residence), and one living outside of Boston proper, I didn’t get it.

I heard the malapropisms, the small-town mentality, even sometimes the mean-spiritedness (toward gun-owner’s rights and toward Chick-fil-a—only the Second and First Amendments to the Constitution). I always considered him an uninspiring leader for a great city (or at least a pretty good one).

But what do I know? Boston was run fairly well (or no worse than expected) on his watch (if you don’t blame him for the Big Dig). This is a city of neighborhoods (even parishes in some minds), and he certainly represented that point of view. He stayed close to the people.

That’s what I’ve been hearing the last few weeks, and most of all today. People liked him. They felt they knew him, that he was one of them. For better or worse he was. Again, that would not be my first criterion for civic leader, but the self-styled Athens of America resembles Mayberry more than it likes to admit.

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