The Four-Year Old: Clash of the Titans

Out of nowhere, the four-year old suddenly said,
“Everyone got mad at God. Then they killed him with a cross.”
“Er, right.”
“Jesus is everywhere Dad. Even the air is Jesus!”
“Okay. Sure.”
“Dad, I’m punching Jesus!”
We turned around. Sure enough he was flailing his fists around, punching Jesus.

What is the Health Care Law?

This summary is as good as any.

the things I think are most important—stuff readers may not know about, or may want to tell friends or family who don’t follow politics as closely:

— Chief among these is the idea that kids will now be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26. I’ve seen this mocked in some precincts, always by people fortunate enough to have full-time employment. But with unemployment at 10 percent, clearly many people are not fortunate enough to have full-time employment. And if your son or daughter is about to graduate this spring out of high school or college right into the face of the worst labor market since the Great Depression, your family is probably going to be happy about this provision.

— This year, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage. If I were a member of congress who voted yes on reform, I’d be finding a family in my district that this will help and asking repealers why they think sick kids shouldn’t get medical treatment.

— Big increase in funding for community health centers starts more-or-less right away, which is a crucial recession-fighting measure as well as something helpful for the long run.

— Last, in 2011 the ACA provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the gap in prescription drug coverage. That’s a start on full closure of the “doughnut hole” over time.

There’s much more below the fold. But the point is that this kind of stuff is a news story. People want to know “what’s going to change for me and my life?” And the answers to those questions are more interesting and more important than a political story about who called whom what names and why is Eric Cantor so horrible.

Let’s start with how health insurance reform will expand and strengthen coverage:

— This year, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage. Once the new health insurance exchanges begin in the coming years, pre-existing condition discrimination will become a thing of the past for everyone.
— This year, health care plans will allow young people to remain on their parents’ insurance policy up until their 26th birthday.
— This year, insurance companies will be banned from dropping people from coverage when they get sick, and they will be banned from implementing lifetime caps on coverage. This year, restrictive annual limits on coverage will be banned for certain plans. Under health insurance reform, Americans will be ensured access to the care they need.
— This year, adults who are uninsured because of pre-existing conditions will have access to affordable insurance through a temporary subsidized high-risk pool.
— In the next fiscal year, the bill increases funding for community health centers, so they can treat nearly double the number of patients over the next five years.
— This year, we’ll also establish an independent commission to advise on how best to build the health care workforce and increase the number of nurses, doctors and other professionals to meet our country’s needs. Going forward, we will provide $1.5 billion in funding to support the next generation of doctors, nurses and other primary care practitioners — on top of a $500 million investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Health insurance reform will also curb some of the worst insurance industry practices and strengthen consumer protections:

— This year, this bill creates a new, independent appeals process that ensures consumers in new private plans have access to an effective process to appeal decisions made by their insurer.
— This year, discrimination based on salary will be outlawed. New group health plans will be prohibited from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that discriminate in favor of higher-wage employees.
— Beginning this fiscal year, this bill provides funding to states to help establish offices of health insurance consumer assistance in order to help individuals in the process of filing complaints or appeals against insurance companies.
— Starting January 1, 2011, insurers in the individual and small group market will be required to spend 80 percent of their premium dollars on medical services. Insurers in the large group market will be required to spend 85 percent of their premium dollars on medical services. Any insurers who don’t meet those thresholds will be required to provide rebates to their policyholders.
— Starting in 2011, this bill helps states require insurance companies to submit justification for requested premium increases. Any company with excessive or unjustified premium increases may not be able to participate in the new health insurance exchanges.

Reform immediately begins to lower health care costs for American families and small businesses:

— This year, small businesses that choose to offer coverage will begin to receive tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums to help make employee coverage more affordable.
— This year, new private plans will be required to provide free preventive care: no co-payments and no deductibles for preventive services. And beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare will do the same.
— This year, this bill will provide help for early retirees by creating a temporary re-insurance program to help offset the costs of expensive premiums for employers and retirees age 55-64.
— This year, this bill starts to close the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole’ by providing a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the gap in prescription drug coverage. And beginning in 2011, the bill institutes a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the ‘donut hole.’

Two Poker Updates

I was in New Orleans this past weekend. I managed to get to the casino for a little under one hour, at a $1-$2 no limit table. In that 50 minutes, I made $129. My kind of outing. Most of the table wasn’t very good, they were overly aggressive. My motto is, “When they play tight, you play loose. When they play loose, you play tight.” Which I did. The two good hands I had both paid off, and I pulled off a stone cold bluff on my way out, since I had built my rep already.

Last night was not so good. I got demolished again at bar poker. You start with 1,000 in chips (And I got another 300 for ordering a meal there). In the fairly early going I had pocket 10s and raised the blinds to 100. I got two callers, and then one guy came over the top with a raise to 400. I called, the other two dropped out. The flop was K-x-x. He put in 500. I grudgingly folded. So I was already short-stacked. After that I never saw another good set of cards. We were leading into chip-up time. I was down to 520 and the blinds were going to 50-100. With a pair of 7s, I went all-in. One person called me, the girl who had four shots, with A-10. (I’m not saying it was a bad call, just annoying when someone doesn’t put any thought into it.) Two more Aces came out, and I came out to the car. Blech.
How come I can’t beat these idiots at the bar?

Still, $129 to the good over the last week.

What Does Health Care Reform Mean To You?

I don’t like the idea of this. The point of government policies isn’t always getting “mine”. The point of government is to think about the “ours”. But nevertheless, The Washington Post has a neat little calculator showing how much reform will cost you personally.

The answer is, for almost anyone reading this, absolutely nothing.

Obama’s Comments to the Democrat Caucus

I call it comments rather than a speech because the text was not prepared. It is worth reading in full. Go for it.

The end is inspirational.

And I decided finally to get involved because I realized if I wasn’t willing to step up and be true to the things I believe in, then the system wouldn’t change. Every single one of you had that same kind of moment at the beginning of your careers. Maybe it was just listening to stories in your neighborhood about what was happening to people who’d been laid off of work. Maybe it was your own family experience, somebody got sick and didn’t have health care and you said something should change.

Something inspired you to get involved, and something inspired you to be a Democrat instead of running as a Republican. Because somewhere deep in your heart you said to yourself, I believe in an America in which we don’t just look out for ourselves, that we don’t just tell people you’re on your own, that we are proud of our individualism, we are proud of our liberty, but we also have a sense of neighborliness and a sense of community — (applause) — and we are willing to look out for one another and help people who are vulnerable and help people who are down on their luck and give them a pathway to success and give them a ladder into the middle class. That’s why you decided to run. (Applause.)

And now a lot of us have been here a while and everybody here has taken their lumps and their bruises. And it turns out people have had to make compromises, and you’ve been away from families for a long time and you’ve missed special events for your kids sometimes. And maybe there have been times where you asked yourself, why did I ever get involved in politics in the first place? And maybe things can’t change after all. And when you do something courageous, it turns out sometimes you may be attacked. And sometimes the very people you thought you were trying to help may be angry at you and shout at you. And you say to yourself, maybe that thing that I started with has been lost.

But you know what? Every once in a while, every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made in all those town meetings and all those constituency breakfasts and all that traveling through the district, all those people who you looked in the eye and you said, you know what, you’re right, the system is not working for you and I’m going to make it a little bit better.

And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service. This is why I’ve made those sacrifices. Because I believe so deeply in this country and I believe so deeply in this democracy and I’m willing to stand up even when it’s hard, even when it’s tough.

Every single one of you have made that promise not just to your constituents but to yourself. And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine. We have been debating health care for decades. It has now been debated for a year. It is in your hands. It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow.

Links o’ Interest

Palin in 2012


Where do all the f*cking roads go?

Canadians going to the bathroom during the big hockey game. Fantastic graph.

Single Ladies, done real Motown style

I dream of owning this

See your name as an equation. Math geek everywhere are drooling.

Ladies room graffiti

Why the GOP is scared of Obama

Burger Wars: A Map of the USA with territory claimed by the big chains. More detail here.

Wedding invitation

Does your Mom know you’re here?

Failbook: Please don’t breed

Applied philosophy

The absurdity of British libel laws: One of the best science writers in the country quits.

All-star cast does presidential history on Funny or Die

2009 World Press photo awards. Pictures of the Olympics, 1 and 2

Academy Award winning Trailer

A heck of an ending to a police chase

OK Go does it again. Another bad song with an amazing video.

Betting on The Blind Side

Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5. That is not a typo, $5!

Infant starves to death while parents raise virtual child online