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I was taking a look at the latest GOP budget   - it sort of reminded me of slogging through a sewer barefooted - and came upon this gem:

Our budget addresses this challenge by building a premium support program in Medicare
that will put more power in the hands of seniors and embrace the important role that
patient choices and competition among insurance providers can have in controlling costs.

The program would allow Medicare beneficiaries to choose from a range of guaranteed coverage options, including traditional Medicare, to find a plan that best fits their needs.
Premium support payments would be paid by Medicare, directly to the plan chosen by the
beneficiary.

Payments would be adjusted so that those with illnesses would receive higher payments if
their condition worsened; lower-income seniors would receive additional assistance to
help cover out-of-pocket costs; and wealthier seniors would assume responsibility for a
greater share of their premiums.

...

Moreover, this system would set up a carefully monitored exchange for Medicare plans.
Health plans that choose to participate in the Medicare exchange would agree to offer
insurance to all Medicare beneficiaries, to avoid cherry-picking, and to ensure that
Medicare's sickest and highest-cost beneficiaries receive coverage.

...

Moving to a premium support model would give seniors more freedom to choose the best
plan for them and would force providers to compete against each other on price and
quality. This means the program would work better for patients now and save the
program for future generations of seniors.

...

This includes a
catastrophic cap on annual out-of-pocket expenses, an important aspect of the private
health insurance market to safeguard the sickest beneficiaries who are most in need of
medical services, and which is currently absent from Medicare.

Hmmm, what does this sound like? Step over the thingie and let's take a look.....
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I applaud the growing list (now over 50) of Democrat Senators and House members who have stated they will boycott Netanyahu's anti-Iranian, pro-war screed in the Capital tomorrow.

The problem with the boycott is that House Speaker Boehner has already announced that he will fill the empty seats with Republican House staffers to make sure the chamber is full.

So here's my suggestion: go to the House chamber at the appointed time for the speech, claim your seat, wait for Boehner to introduce Netanyahu, then stand up and walk out.

Not only are the optics much more impressive - the cameras won't be able to stay away from over 50 distinguished members stepping on Republican toes (literally and figuratively) as they file out of the chamber while Bibi and his buddy Boehner hold a 'who can get purpler faster contest, but I have a hard time envisioning Boehner halting Bibi's speech so that staffers can be ushered to the empty seats.

So if you're really wanting to make a point, Democrats - and why else are you boycotting the speech? - then don't just stay in your office..... make a splash!

Cheers.

Poll

What should Senators and CongressCritters do regarding Netanyahu's speech?

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As everyone knows, last Friday Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo announced that everyone flying into their two states who had been in contact with Ebola victims in West Africa (or something) would be subjected to a mandatory 21 day quarantine.

Anyone flying into New York and New Jersey after having contact with Ebola sufferers in west Africa will be subjected to a mandatory 21-day quarantine, the governors of the two states announced on Friday, adding that one returning medic had already been detained.

Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York, said: “We’re just not comfortable with the concept of voluntary quarantine as an effective public health security measure.” He stressed that the CDC had made clear states were entitled to set tougher rules of their own.

Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, said he was prepared to take “whatever steps were necessary to ensure the public health” amid the ongoing risk of Ebola. “New Jersey and New York are going to determine the standards of quarantine, since CDC’s guidance is continually changing,” he said. “We need to set a standard for our two states.”

Armed with their new policy, the guvs scooped up their first detainee. Kaci Hickox, a nurse who worked with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, was grabbed at Newark airport, kept alone in a locked room until she got flustered and had an elevated temperature (measured with a non-contact scanner), then transported to a tent near a hospital. She does not, and never has had, any symptoms of Ebola or other infectious disease.

The details of her incarceration are readily available in the MSM, so I'll jump to the real irony of this policy.......

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ISIS (I'll use that term, although the others are also valid) is certainly the flavor of the month, or even year. Our Secretary of Defense is certainly concerned about them. From a recent press conference:

"They are as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group.

"This is beyond anything we've seen. We must prepare for everything."

We've seen the videos of summary executions, watched the news reports of the crisis on Mt. Sinjar and were amazed at the speed that ISIS moved out of eastern Syria into northwestern Iraq, slashing down through Mosul and Tikirt to threaten Baghdad, and across the western desert through Ramadi to Fallujah.

That's a lot of territory - even if 99% of it is roadless and relatively worthless desert - and now that they've gobbled up a large swath of Iraq, what are their prospects for the future?

I don't claim to be an expert, but here are a few things I've learned and some thoughts. I will be glad to correct any factual errors, of course.

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Is this the ultimate gun-fail?

Charles Vacca was a shooting instructorin Nevada who was teaching a 9 year-old girl on vacation from New Jersey how to shoot an UZI.... yeah, an UZI.

For those of you not familiar with the UZI, here's what it looks like:

Yeah, a pretty nasty piece of work, developed in the 1950's for use by the Israeli Army... ummm, I mean the Israeli DEFENSE Force, because hey, the word 'army' has bad connotations, but I digress. It's not an 'assault weapon' because of its small size and limited range, but as a personal or point defense tool it's pretty handy because of its small size and ability to spit out rounds (600 per minute, that's 10 per second!). The US Secret Service uses (or used) the UZI. Here's my favorite UZI picture:
ON GUARD DUTY IN DUG OUT AT SHELACH, NAHAL        SETTLEMENT IN THE NEGEV.
The girl did so well in 'single shot' mode (one bullet per trigger pull) that Mr. Vacca, presumably using all of his vast experience in teaching young girls how to shoot full-automatic military weapons, had her flip the selector to 'full-auto' and pull the trigger while he stood to the left of her.... and guess what happened?
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It appears that at about the same time yesterday that John McCain (R-Confused) was delivering his fiery Senate floor speech in which he excoriated President Obama for having pulled US combat troops out of Iraq (which he did 2.5 years ago, btw) and, it seems, for not having sent them back in already (or something, who can tell for sure).......

Iran was sending its own combat troops into Iraq to prop up the Iraqi government and defend Baghdad, and in another ironic twist, to help re-take Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.

That raises an interesting question for John 'bomb, bomb, bomb.... bomb, bomb, Iran' McCain: If we DO intervene in the Iraq civil war, perhaps by sending in air strikes......

Should we just bomb BOTH SIDES?

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What should we do about the Iraqi civil war?

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| 360 votes | Vote | Results

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just don't shoot into a car and make sure your intended victim is alone. That's what the jury in the 'loud music' trial just said.

I'm outraged. This is a huge travesty, an abomination, a total miscarriage of justice, in every way, shape and form.

It doesn't matter that this guy - Dunn - will likely spend the rest of his life in prison due to the convictions on the lesser counts.

Give a lot of the blame to the prosecutors, who mysteriously went for first degree murder, as if Dunn parked at that convenience store with the express intent to commit murder. This was the easiest prosecution I've ever seen, and Corley and Guy (the same crew that bungled the Martin murder) ought to be fired.

I suspect that the jury - like in the Martin murder trial - had difficulty lowering the bar from murder to manslaughter, and in the end just gave up and took the easy way out.

'I thought I saw a gun.' That WORKS! Just as long as the victim is a young black male.

Sickening. Just sickening. I can only hope the prosecutor's office will clean house (not likely because Angela Corley is boss in that office) and get their shit together to re-try the case.

Have we no sense of justice left? Is this where our country is headed?

This is horrible, just horrible.

Discuss

UPDATE #3: Emilie Speaks! (Be sure to read the original diary and first 2 updates to get the full story)

The Tennessean newspaper did a good story about about Emilie with lupus from  Lawrence, TN. We hear a lot about the political implications of the AFP ads starring this unfortunate young lady, and then there is this paragraph:

When Lamb fell from a horse in 2007, CoverTN took care of her seven surgeries over the next 3½ years, she said. Lamb said one surgical bill ran $125,000, but the insurer apparently negotiated a much lower price, allowing her to stay under the $25,000 maximum. Her total cost for the hospitalizations, she said: $100.

So let's unpack this data and see how it squares with what we have learned about Emilie and her insurance.

First, we find that Emilie's major health issues are not lupus-related, as we have been led to believe in the TV ads, but caused by a fall from a horse. My ACA-dar is really alerting here.... remember the original press release quoted her about '...numerous emergency room visits and several major surgeries...'. Are we really to believe that those were lupus-related and the horse fall stuff was in addition? And that her horribly sub-standard 'non-catastrophic' insurance covered everything?

Second, CoverTN - Emilie's previous insurance - had a limit of $10,000 per year for hospital in-patient services (the $25,000 is the annual limit for ALL services). So Emilie is asking us to believe that her $125,000 surgery, which was undoubtedly in-patient, somehow got shoe-horned into a $10,000 annual limit.

Third, we are asked to believe that her 7 surgeries over 3.5 years somehow fit into either the in-patient hospital limit of $10,000/year or the outpatient limit of 2 surgeries per year, and that all of this surgical stuff, PLUS her lupus-related medical care, PLUS any other medical care she needed during this period, fit neatly into all of the limits of CoverTN (like $1,000 per year for prescriptions), so that her TOTAL medical expenses never exceeded $25,000 per year?

Fourth, her TOTAL cost for her hospitalizations was $100! So she had up to 7 hospital admissions, and NONE of them had a cost over $10,000. Has anyone reading this ever had in-patient surgery and come out with a bill less than $10,000?

Now, let's look at the next paragraph:

Lamb said her medical costs were always manageable, despite frequent doctor visits and medication for her lupus. Her out-of-pocket costs, including premiums, were slightly more than $1,000 last year, she said. She expects her out-of-pocket costs will top $6,000 a year under her current BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee plan.
As we know from the ads, Emilie paid $53 in premiums X 12 = $636/year. That leaves her less than $500 for out-of-pocket expenses. CoverTN charges a $15 copay for doctor visits (limit 12 per year), $10 for 30-day prescription (limit $1,000 per year), and $25 for out-patient surgery (limit of 2 per year).

Another little tidbit:

Today, she’s paying $373 a month, even with a small federal subsidy.
By a little backwards math, we now know that Emilie earns about $29,800/yr and her subsidy is about $16 per month. (Isn't it scary how little clues can be use to ferret out stuff like this?)

And let's not forget that Emilie has a Platinum plan with ZERO deductible and $1,500 OOP max. This is the best insurance in the country that I've seen. Of course, since Emilie appears most concerned with her up-front costs - and totally unfazed by
the possibility of running up disastrous back-end bills - she might have chosen one of the lower-premium Gold or Silver plans, but, of course, she didn't.

So where does all this leave us? Here are the choices I see for what's going on with Emilie:

1. She somehow managed to navigate the serious limitations of her CoverTN plan and, despite multiple major surgeries, minor surgeries, numerous visits to the emergency room, lots and lots of doctor visits, and all those prescriptions, and found a way to stay within those limits each and every year since 2006.

2. Emilie's lupus is the less serious version (DLE). This is a skin disease and, while still a serious, incurable condition, as far as I can tell DLE isn't likely to require nearly as much medical care.

Everything I've written so far is taking Emilie at her word. The other possibility, of course, is that Emilie is lying about some of this. I don't really believe she is, but as each piece of the puzzle comes out, we find out things she didn't tell us about before.

Bottom line: I stand by my original assessment: Emilie is one of the big winners of Obamcare. She has spent years teetering on the edge of financial ruin, and now she has some of the best health insurance available anywhere.

And she's aiding and abetting the people who want to get rid of Obamacare and replace it with...... something?

Cheers.

ORIGINAL DIARY

Emilie, as many of us have seen on the AFP tv ads, is a young woman from Tennessee who suffers from the terrible disease of lupus. I have great sympathy for her, and I feel sad that she's had to suffer both from the disease and from the disruption of her health insurance. My purpose in this diary is to explore the story behind these highly provocative ads and present a fuller picture of whether her claims are true, as well as whether her issues really are caused by Obamacare/ACA.

Emilie was diagnosed in 2002, and my awareness of her health insurance situation begins in 2006, from this press release authored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn R-TN. An excerpt:

Emilie, like so many Americans, works in the backbone of our nation’s economy: small business. It was cost prohibitive for her employer to purchase a companywide plan, so Emilie needed to obtain an individual health care plan. Emilie found a plan that was affordable for both her and her employer. Since 2006, Emilie has called it “stellar and affordable” and it has helped her cope with the high costs of numerous trips to the emergency room and several major surgeries. - See more at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/...
Ok, let's stop right there. Ms. Blackburn implies that Emilie has been on the individual health care market, with what Emilie calls 'stellar and affordable' insurance, since 2006.

ACA-dar alert! In one of her TV ads, Emilie says her premium before her policy was cancelled was $53 per month.

Looking around a bit more, I found a slightly different press release from Ms. Blackburn that reveals the truth of Emilie's health insurance:

Emilie, who suffers from Lupus, is one of millions of Americans who had her health insurance plan cancelled because of Obamacare. Since 2006 Emilie received health insurance through CoverTN, which provided her with the affordable care she required for the numerous Emergency Room visits and surgeries she has had to endure to treat her chronic illness. Left without any other choice, Emilie signed up for Obamacare and as a result her monthly insurance premiums increased by 700 percent. Congressman Blackburn has been fighting to help Emilie find a better solution to ensure she continues to receive the care she needs and deserves. - See more at: http://blackburn.house.gov/...
OK, that's better, why did this wonderful health insurance, provided by the state of Tennessee at a cost of $53 per month, get cancelled? From The Tennessean:
The letter states that as a limited-benefit plan, CoverTN does not cover all the services required by the federal law and will no longer exist as of Jan. 1. CoverTN had a $25,000 annual limit on benefits. The federal health law does not allow yearly expenditure caps.
So Emilie really got all of her treatment, including 'numerous trips to the emergency room and several major surgeries' and all those medications we see in her TV ad, for less than $25,000 per year? Really?

But why did Emilie's policy - and those of the other 16,000 needy Tennesseans - get cancelled? Simply put, because they were junk policies, by any definition of the term.

The state of Tennessee, faced with the requirement to bring the CoverTN program into ACA compliance, just folded the entire plan, completely washing its hands of the needs of all those people.

What could they have done differently? Well, first off, they could have turned these policies into real insurance policies, and stopped making these people either pay out of their own pockets for additional, high-deductible coverage, or just hope their costs were low for the year so they didn't get wiped out financially.

Another option would have been that the state could have taken the money they were spending on the CoverTN - my guess is perhaps as much as $25 million - and turned it into some sort of premium support for these 16,000 people. I don't know if that's allowable under ACA, but it's at least a possibility. Did the state try to help these people, having known since mid-2010 that this requirement would take effect on 1/1/2014? There's no sign of that.

Compounding this problem, although presumably not for Emilie because she's employed, is, of course, Tennessee's refusal to participate in the Medicaid expansion program, that is completely paid for by the federal government for 3 years and at least 90% after that.

People unlucky enough to be caught in what I'm now calling the 'Roberts-hole' - those between the top amount for pre-ACA Medicaid qualification and the ACA maximum income for Medicaid - get no subsidy at all. For Tennessee, that is between $0 and $15,282. Anyone in that hole gets no subsidy. That's right, in Tennessee adults in most cases can't qualify for Medicaid at all, and now the people who need it most can't get an Obamacare subsidy. That's perverse to the point of being evil.

So let's summarize: Emilie had junk insurance paid by the state, PPACA outlawed junk insurance almost 4 years ago effective 1/1/14, her state did nothing all that time, then sent her a letter last September cancelling her policy and doing nothing at all to help her. Who's to blame? I'm going to reserve judgement on that until I see what others are thinking. Have at it, folks.

Now, you might ask, what's Emilie doing now?

Poll

Is Obamacare to blame for Emilie's health insurance woes?

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Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia taught a class recently at the University of Hawaii, and afterwards he dropped these pearls of wisdom:

Scalia was responding to a question about the court's 1944 decision in Korematsu v. United States, which upheld the convictions of Gordon Hirabayashi and Fred Korematsu for violating an order to report to an internment camp.

"Well of course Korematsu was wrong. And I think we have repudiated in a later case. But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again," Scalia told students and faculty during a lunchtime Q-and-A session.

Scalia cited a Latin expression meaning, "In times of war, the laws fall silent."

"That's what was going on — the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot. That's what happens. It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It's no justification, but it is the reality," he said.

Earth to Scalialand! Come in please! Oh, never mind, I know you're not concerned with such little details as Guantanamo Bay, where we have over 100 people interned for nothing more than their ethnicity and religion. Most of those men have never even been charged with a crime, much less brought in front of a REAL court of law to be given a chance to defend themselves.

And that is directly the work of the Scalia faction of the Supreme Court, which has repeatedly refused to honor the spirit and letter of our Constitution, and perpetuates the concept that there is some group of people who are not to be afforded basic human rights. Little stuff like facing their accuser in a court of law, trial by a jury of their peers, etc.

On top of all those rights, there is one individual right - and only one - that was so important to the founders that they actually put it in the body of the Constitution as opposed to the Bill of Rights: the right of Habeas Corpus.

Yet here we are, almost 9 years after the seminal case - Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld - which granted the right of habeas corpus to Hamdan, the former driver of Osama bin Laden..... and even now, over 100 men languish in Gitmo without ever appearing before a REAL judge in a REAL court.

Gee, Antonin Scalia, even with your great legal mind, which has the demonstrated ability to tie itself into pretzel shapes in order to justify some of your unbelievable opinions, are you unable to see the parallels between the internment of Japanese in WWII and the internment of Muslim men in the 'Global War on Terror'?

[Insert your version of the anti-Scalia rant - I don't want to ruin my whole day by thinking about him]

OK, rant over.

Cheers.

Discuss

UPDATE #3: BIG h/t to MartyM (from the comments)... HE went there!!!

 I called the company, Simonetta's spoke with a nice lady....they have 7 employees and have purchased small group insurance through a broker for years - but THIS YEAR he didn't tell them about the LOWER premiums available on the Exchange - which would negate HIS usefulness.
 No telling how much he's making by ADDING HIS commission to their premiums!
 She said they were looking into the Exchange, but some employees had already paid the HIGH deductible which they'd never get back.
Those poor people, used and abused like pawns for ideological purposes. I hope Mr. Moore enjoys the publicity from this stunt. I am so happy they are getting the information they need and deserved to get from their 'broker', and hope they either sue or shame him into refunding them any money he needlessly caused them.

I also just posted this to Simonetta's Facebook page: (right before I read about MartyM's fantastic phone call)

Did your broker inform you that if your premium cost exceeds 9.5% of your pay, you are eligible to get individual insurance from the Obamacare exchange? Including being eligible for subsidies? For example, Judy and one child could get a 500/1000 Platinum policy with 10% copays and $3,300 max family OOP, with $50,000 income for $725/month. Please, for your own sakes, do some research, reach out to help, go on the Exchanges, it probably isn't as bad as you thought.
Yet another successful group effort. Now I'm on to looking at 'Emilie with Lupus' who AFP is pushing as yet another Obamacare victim. Guess what? The truth is a bit different..... surprised?

UPDATE #2: I'm deleting my request that the players in this issue not be contacted, because the story has gotten plenty of attention from outside dKos.

Also, I haven't had the pleasure of a reply from the TV news anchor.

And I'm deleting my negative jab at local Faux stations, after being rightly informed that they aren't necessarily related to the national Faux news. Thanks for that.

Have at 'em, kossaks!

URGENT: PLEASE do not go off on your own and contact any of the people involved in this diary. You are probably as upset as I am about this, but our chances of helping these folks will be greatly increased if we present a united front and don't deluge them. Thanks.

Last night, in a comment to my previous ACA-relateddiary, I noticed a comment from chrisirob with this link in it: (sorry, haven't figured out embedding video yet)

WTAE-PA Video

My ACA-dar started alerting as soon as the broker handed out 'private' premium notices, and when the people began telling what they were being made to pay in premiums, it went on full active mode, ACA-con 5. When Judy sadly told us that the premium for herself and her child was raising from $929 to $1316, I wanted to scream at the screen 'STOP! THAT CAN'T BE!'.

As usual, it took less than 5 minutes on healthcare.gov to collect data that validates my ACA-dar. Here is what I found and posted in a comment last night:

I went to healthcare.gov and found that in the small business exchange, a company with 6 employees aged like the people in the video, a Gold plan with 1,500/3,000 deductible and 2,200/4,400 OOP would cost a TOTAL of $2,036/month, for a per-person cost of

$339 per month per person

There is absolutely no reason why a 53 year old mother of 1 - identified as 'Judy' in the video - should be paying $1316 per month. If she went on the individual market - which I believe she could do because that amount is certainly more than the 9.5% cap for 'affordable' premium - she would get 1,500/3,000 deductible policy for her and her child for about $550 depending on her income level.

This is ridiculous. My first take is that the broker is taking that company for a ride, but even if that's not it, something isn't right here.

I am going to attempt to contact the reporter who did the story, try politely to open a conversation and offer to provide her with some better information on what is available.

Thanks for the head's up.

Then I traced the video back to TV station WTAE in Pittsburgh, found the storythat accompanied it, and sent this e-mail to the reporter who wrote it:
Hi Wendy,

I saw a clip of your visit to Simonetta’s and I am concerned that the employees of this company are not being given correct information about what their health-care insurance costs should be.

Small-business health insurance is available through the ACA on-line exchange, and while I don’t know the particulars of this business, here is an example of what is available:

For a company of 20 people, there is a policy called Small Business Advantage Premium Platinum 40. It features $0 deductible, $1,000/2,000 out-of-pocket maximum, $10 primary doctor co-pay and $8 generic prescriptions. The cost for 20 employees is $8,276 per month, or $414 per person. This figure doesn’t count dependents, but children don’t cost much to insure.

Here is a link to the page on healthcare.gov that has this information on it: (you can easily go to the site and search for plans yourself, and I’d be happy to assist you in doing that as well)

https://www.healthcare.gov/...

How can Judy in your video clip be forced to pay $1,316 for herself and one child? That’s just not right. Even without a subsidy, on the ACA exchange, Judy can get a Platinum policy, with $500/1,000 deductible and 1,650/3,300 out-of-pocket max, for $725 per month. And because Judy’s company plan premium is certainly more than 9.5% of her income, she most likely will be able to get a subsidy on the exchange.

I don’t know if your are familiar with the complexities of the Affordable Care Act and the exchanges, but I am, and something just smells wrong about this. I am very suspicious of the broker, and, as I stated above, am concerned that the employees of this company are not getting a fair shake.

They obviously don’t know anything about what might be available to them as an alternative to their broker’s offering.

I would be happy to discuss this issue with you, and perhaps help you understand better what options might be available to these people.

I’m bringing this to you first because you ran the story and I hope you feel a sense of responsibility to help these people if you can. If you’re not interested, I will certainly reach out to Gary Simonetta.

I look forward to hearing from you soon so we can work on helping these people.

Cheers,

No response yet, but Wendy Bell does all the evening news, so she works until midnight.

I went to bed fairly convinced that something is seriously wrong at this company in McKeesport, and woke up to find this comment from chazbritfield:

Charles E. Moore, the gentleman presenting the new policies to the employees, is a rabid conservative...  Here is a link to some of his writings:

http://www.americanthinker.com/...

From Cardinal Fang, who corroborated my initial reaction:
Simonetta is contributing nothing to the employees' premiums, as far as I can tell.

It's unusual for a group policy to have different premiums for each employee. It looks like Simonetta & Moore just selected a Gold plan for each employee. Is this a group policy at all?

At this point it appears that we have an ideologically-motivated insurance broker setting up insurance policies with needlessly high premiums for unsuspecting - and trusting - employees..... but we don't know for sure.

As was suggested (and worked so well) in the previous diary, this is a perfect issue for 'crowd-sourced investigated journalism', so I need your help, please.

Would some of you who read this diary please do some research to validate my findings, particularly on the approximate cost and eligibility for small business group health insurance on the Pennsylvania exchange? As a numbers and data guy, I always feel least confident in my numbers (I know, that's silly)

My next move is going to be to write another e-mail to the news reporter, informing her of what we found out about the insurance broker, in hopes of piquing her interest further in this story.

After that, I'm going to wait until I hopefully hear back from the news reporter. I believe that she is the absolute best person to deal with this situation, as long as she is fully cognizant of the situation, armed with facts, and sees this as a public-service opportunity.

I am also looking for suggestions, critiques, insights, etc. from all of you. This is a bothersome situation, with some scary bits to it. If somebody can show me that I am wrong about this, PLEASE do so.

I don't want to mess things up further for these employees, but every time I watch the video and look at their faces, I know I can't just sit here.

If any kossaks live in the Pittsburg area, there may be some point in this where live, in-person contact may be of use - but not yet, please.

Lastly, to reiterate my caution at the beginning: PLEASE do not contact any of the people involved. Let's do some research, (hopefully) get the news reporter involved, and plot out a good plan.

Cheers.

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In their frantic attempt to either 1) deny they are waging a war on women or 2) win the non-existent war, the Republicans sent out a woman to give their response. At least it wasn't Michele Bachman... or Virginia Foxx.... or Marsha Blackburn.

I now know lots about Cathy McMorris Rodgers - she was previously only noticeable as the token female standing behind Speaker Boehners whenever he gave a statement - but absolutely nothing about any plans the Republicans have to make our country better.... other than they have a plan and 'it' is great, and they'll tell us about it... sometime.

Naturally she had to tell us that Obamacare is a failure, and here's how she did it:

Not long ago I got a letter from Bette in Spokane, who had hoped the president’s health care law would save her money but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month. We’ve all talked to too many people who received cancellations notices they didn’t expect or who can no longer see the doctors they always have. No, we shouldn’t go back to the things -- the way things were, but this law is not working. Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s, and that whether you’re a boy with Downs syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you.
The last part - "...and that whether you’re a boy with Downs syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you." seems a bit over the top to me, considering that this is precisely what Obamacare does. I assume she's smart enough and well-informed enough to know this, so her statement is at best disingenuous.

What really caught my eye, however, was the letter from Bette in Spokane who claims that her health care premiums are going up 'nearly $700 a month' because of Obamacare. That alerted my 'ACA-dar', and bothered me all night, so I decided to take a look.

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From the HuffPo story:

Guadagno said she looked forward to inquiries into the controversy so the truth would emerge.

"I deny any suggestions made by Mayor Zimmer that there was ever any condition placed on the release of Sandy funds by me," she said, adding that she was "surprised that Mayor Zimmer has chosen to mischaracterize the conversation I had with her about development and job creation in Hoboken."

So Guadagno ADMITS to discussing 'development and job creation in Hoboken' and doesn't deny that the conversation happened in the parking lot as claimed by Mayor Zimmer.

Guadagno says Mayor Zimmer 'mischaracterized' that conversation...... that's pretty weak tea.

Mayor Zimmer has detailed notes from her journal..... the Lt Gov has.... ummmm.... wait for it..... 'I'm a Sandy victim'.

There are lots of ways to get across a message without blurting it out, and a private discussion between 2 politicians in a parking lot could be parsed in different ways, leaving the Lt Gov with the excuse of being mischaracterized.

But when that Lt Gov is part of an administration led by a heavy-handed thug, those protestations seem a bit over-the-top.

I think I'll go with the mayor on this one.

Cheers.

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