Hidden Stories – Health Care, Economics, Gay Supreme Court Candidates

One would think that a newspaper called the NEW YORK Times would have thought this bit of “news” was important to publish before Obama’s health scam was perpetuated on the nation. We heard a lot of disjointed information about Massachusetts health care but never about New York health care.

Only now, as the scam is still rejected by a majority of Americans does the New York Times decide to publish a story that is relevant to the health care debate. The allegedly New York Times writes today:

“When her small executive search firm in New York City canceled its health insurance policy last year because of the recession and rising premiums, April Welles was able to buy her own plan and still be covered for her cancer and multiple sclerosis.

She was lucky to live in New York, one of the first states to require insurance companies to offer comprehensive coverage to all people regardless of pre-existing conditions. But Ms. Welles, 58, also pays dearly: Her premium is $17,876 a year.

“That’s a lot of groceries,” she said.”

Only now, in April of 2010 does the New York Times decide to inform readers that New York State is a “laboratory for the core provision of the new federal health care law”.

New York’s insurance system has been a working laboratory for the core provision of the new federal health care law — insurance even for those who are already sick and facing huge medical bills — and an expensive lesson in unplanned consequences. Premiums for individual and small group policies have risen so high that state officials and patients’ advocates say that New York’s extensive insurance safety net for people like Ms. Welles is falling apart.”

Is that not a rather relevant series of revelations that should have been put before the public months, if not years ago? Where was the New York Times? The New York Times was, and still is, shilling for Obama. The publication of “news” so late in the day as to render it “not news” is a key reason why Big Media is losing its grip on the American public – although it still has a great hold on those that bow to its power. Here’s more:

“The problem stems in part from the state’s high medical costs and in part from its stringent requirements for insurance companies in the individual and small group market. In 1993, motivated by stories of suffering AIDS patients, the state became one of the first to require insurers to extend individual or small group coverage to anyone with pre-existing illnesses.

New York also became one of the few states that require insurers within each region of the state to charge the same rates for the same benefits, regardless of whether people are old or young, male or female, smokers or nonsmokers, high risk or low risk.

Healthy people, in effect, began to subsidize people who needed more health care. The healthier customers soon discovered that the high premiums were not worth it and dropped out of the plans. The pool of insured people shrank to the point where most of them had high health care needs. Without healthier people to spread the risk, their premiums skyrocketed, a phenomenon known in the trade as the “adverse selection death spiral.”

Where was the New York Times with this relevant information when it mattered? Here at Big Pink and anywhere where the concern was about action, not words, it was clear that the Obama plan was nothing but a scam. Now the New York Times finally does what should have been done a long time ago – write about the facts. Here’s more which encapsulates in the first sentence what we wrote about from the very beginning (because we actually care about the issues not the glorification of Mess-iah Obama):

You have a mandate that’s accessible in theory, but not in practice, because it’s too expensive,” said Mark P. Scherzer, a consumer lawyer and counsel to New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage, an advocacy group. “What you get left clinging to the life raft is the population that tends to have pretty high health needs.”

Since 2001, the number of people who bought comprehensive individual policies through HMOs in New York has plummeted to about 31,000 from about 128,000, according to the State Insurance Department.

At the same time, New York has the highest average annual premiums for individual policies: $6,630 for single people and $13,296 for families in mid-2009, more than double the nationwide average, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry group.”

Should not the New York Times have examined the New York State insurance system before all Americans became laboratory rats in the Obama health scam? And the Obama claims that “regulators” will solve the problems? Not quite if the New York Times is accurate about “regulators” in New York State.

“The new federal health care law tries to avoid the death spiral by requiring everyone to have insurance and penalizing those who do not, as well as offering subsidies to low-income customers. But analysts say that provision could prove meaningless if the government does not vigorously enforce the penalties, as insurance companies fear, or if too many people decide it is cheaper to pay the penalty and opt out.

Under the federal law, those who refuse coverage will have to pay an annual penalty of $695 per person, up to $2,085 per family, or 2.5 percent of their household income, whichever is greater. The penalty will be phased in from 2014 to 2016.

“In this new marketplace that we envision, this requirement that everybody be covered, that should draw better, healthier people into the insurance pool, which should bring down rates,” said Mark Hall, a professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University. But he added, “You have to sort of take a leap of faith that that’s going to happen.

As part of the political bargain to get insurance companies to support insurance for all regardless of risk, called community rating, New York State deregulated the market, allowing insurers to charge as much as they wanted within certain profit margins. The state can require companies to retroactively refund overcharges to consumers, but it seldom does.[snip]

Mark L. Wagar, the president of Empire BlueCross BlueShield, said New York’s problem was not deregulation of rates, but the lack of an effective mandate for everyone to buy insurance. To illustrate, he offered a statistic on how many people in the 18-to-26 age group, who are largely healthy, have bought individual insurance coverage through his company: 88 people out of 6 million insured by his company statewide.

New York is “the bellwether,” Mr. Wagar said. “We have the federal health reform on steroids in terms of richness and strictness.”

Where was the New York Times with this information before the Obama health scam vote? Why didn’t the New York Times note that Big Insurance wants more laboratory rats which is what Obama gave them? Troy Oechsner, the deputy superintendent for health at the State Insurance Department, is one of the regulators the laboratory rats are supposed to rely on to keep premiums down.

“To a large extent, insurance companies police themselves, according to Mr. Oechsner. From 2000 to 2007, insurance plans reported that they exceeded state profit allowances just 3 percent of the time, resulting in about $48 million in refunds to policyholders, Mr. Oechsner said. Yet subsequent Insurance Department investigations found that insurers should have refunded three times as much.”

So much for the “regulators” on health care. What about financial reform, the latest pet project of the Obama bamboozlement squad? We heard cheers yesterday because of regulator action against Goldman Sachs. But what is the real story? Maybe its more collusion:

“In his self-styled war against Wall Street, President Obama appears to have a powerful ally: Goldman Sachs.

The nation’s largest investment bank, famously cozy with top government officials in both parties, has tipped its hand to its shareholders, indicating that major financial “reform” proposals will help Goldman’s bottom line.”

Watch the actions, not the words.

“These are the very “fat cats” to whom Obama directed his trash talk in January: “If they want a fight, that’s a fight I’m willing to have.” Well, it looks like they don’t really want a fight. It looks like they want more regulation. The question is: What’s in it for Goldman?

If you take Blankfein and Cohn’s word, stricter federal liquidity and capital requirements would amount to regulators doing Goldman’s work for Goldman. They want Uncle Sam to mitigate “uncertainty about counterparties’ balance sheets.” That is, they want the government to reduce the risk that Goldman’s debtors or insurers will run into trouble.”

Actual regulation is needed, but we need to be careful of yet another scam perpetuated with flowery words. If there is not real regulation that protects ordinary Americans but rather scams Americans into once again becoming Wall Street laboratory rats then count us out.

As impossible as it is to say, Republicans are winning the battle on the economic front as well as the health front. That’s not us talking, that’s Ron Brownstein. Brownstein writes in the National Journal:

“The ferocity of this week’s Senate Republican attack on Democratic financial reform legislation was the surest sign yet that the GOP believes it is winning the argument over the economy.

Last year, amid the aftershocks of the most catastrophic financial meltdown since the Depression, opposing tougher financial regulation might have seemed a suicide mission to all but the most safely entrenched conservatives. And enough Senate Republicans might still recoil at being portrayed as defenders of Wall Street to eventually allow Democrats to pass a strong bill. But the fact that so many Republican senators feel comfortable starting with “Hell, no!” resistance to the Democratic plan demonstrates the GOP’s confidence that it has convinced voters that Big Government poses a greater threat to prosperity than Big Business, especially when they can portray the former as the servant of the latter.

More than a few Democrats worry that such Republican confidence is eminently justified. When Democracy, a center-left journal, recently asked leading liberal thinkers to assess President Obama’s performance, a recurrent theme was fear that he had lost control of the economic debate. Robert Reich, President Clinton’s Labor secretary, lamented that Obama’s failure to provide “a larger narrative” to explain the causes of the crash and his response to it had left the public “susceptible to [conservative] arguments that its problems were founded in ‘Big Government.’ ”

The Republicans’ “narrative” about Obama’s economic agenda — articulated again in Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s attack on financial reform — has been straightforward and unrelenting. In their telling, Obama is transforming the United States into a sclerotic European social-welfare state; forcing the strained middle class to fund both a “crony capitalism” of bailouts for the powerful (the charge McConnell leveled against the financial bill) and handouts for the poor (through health care reform); and impeding recovery by smothering the economy beneath stultifying federal spending, taxes, and regulation.”

Brownstein’s lament is that Obama is not emitting words fast enough. Brownstein calls it a “narrative gap”. Brownstein parenthetically notes about Bill Clinton “During Bush’s two terms, the economy created only one-fourth as many jobs as it did under Clinton; poverty rose sharply; and the median family income declined, after rising 14 percent under Clinton.” We repeat that information to amuse ourselves as we watch the current bumbler in chief. Brownstein, wants more campaign words from Obama to allow himself to forget the Obama record:

“When Obama first arrived, he often arraigned his predecessor’s record. The first chapter of Obama’s initial budget document was “Inheriting a Legacy of Misplaced Priorities.” Obama still delivers some similar jabs. But more often, he diffuses blame for the downturn across “a perfect storm of irresponsibility… that stretched from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street.” Obama, at other points, has emphasized his continuity with Bush’s approach, particularly on financial bailouts. (Liberal critics such as Reich believe that link extends beyond rhetoric to policy.) The result is that Obama has mostly shelved what political scientist Stephen Skowronek of Yale University calls “the authority to repudiate.” That’s the effort, employed by consequential presidents, such as Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, to build support by portraying their agenda as the remedy for their predecessors’ failures.

Absent such a framework, public opinion about the economy is clearly shifting toward the GOP as the downturn persists. Obama’s economic approval rating has sagged to around 40 percent, and his lead over congressional Republicans on managing the economy has virtually evaporated.

These trends are compounding Democratic anxiety about the November election and fueling the Republican confidence apparent in the financial debate.”

The American voter too has the power to repudiate – a power which will be exercised in November.

What Obama says and what Obama does are always two different things.

* * * * * *

A few brief comments on Elena Kagan one of several potential Gay Supreme Court nominees. When we wrote our tongue-in-cheek call for Zac Efron to be nominated to the Supreme Court (if not Zac, we’ll take Cate Blanchett for the same reasons) we were going to mention the gay angle to the Elena Kagan candidacy. We choose not to because we wanted to take a more humorous look at the nomination to come. But we knew, about the rock solid rumors about Kagan. Most everyone did.

At the time we researched Kagan the “gay” stories were all over the place. The stories were posted at mostly “gay” websites but could be found just about anywhere for many years (this one dating back to May 2009 from a Left gay website). This was almost uninteresting news that we would write about if Kagan was nominated. Then the White House decided to denounce the gay rumors about Kagan and has now turned this non story into a story.

CBS news, which had reported that Elena Kagan is gay did the White House bidding and scrubbed the story – making the news “hidden”. It reminded us of the outrage from Lynne Cheney (who had written some Lesbian scenes in her earlier books) when the story of her daughter Mary Cheney being a Lesbian became public fodder years ago. Mary Cheney promoted gay events when she worked at Coors Beer and her long term relationship with a woman was well known. Alan Keyes also has a gay daughter who helped him in his campaigns even as he denounced gay people. Keyes eventually disowned his daughter but not much was said about that hideous display of “family values”. Instead it was all hush-hush hidden news. It was odd then, and it’s odd now.

These are sensitive issues but it’s the White House that has now made this a story. The many articles on Kagan being Gay were well handled. There was no right wing attack on Kagon on this issue. Now there will be because the White House has tried to kill a story which is in all likelihood true. Ben Smith writes:

“The flap began with a conservative blogger on CBS’s website mentioned in a rumor that she was a lesbian (something that has been hashed out at some length on gay blogs), saying it made her more likely to be nominated. When the chatter hit CBS, the White House decided to kill it, going hard at CBS and calling the claim “inaccurate” and even “a false charge,” as though she’d been accused of something bad.

Now Human Rights Campaign is piling on, calling the flotation of the rumor a trick “straight out the right-wing playbook.”

That’s ridiculous. The gay blog Towleroad, not typically an arm of the right-wing conspiracy, has been cheerfully speculating for months. Republicans on the Hill decided last year, when two open lesbians were considered for the court, that they wouldn’t make an issue of it. And that’s a good political decision: Most Americans don’t think sexual orientation should be a factor in hiring.”

We were denounced in our comments section once for noting the many hypocrisies of Arianna Huffinton, including her attacks on the validity of Hillary Clinton’s marriage, while Arianna used her openly “gay husband’s money and reputation to advance herself”. We thought the openly gay husband was public news and worthy of discussion and necessary to put the Arianna years of lies into context. We’ll continue to discuss hidden news whether it brings us catcalls or cheers.

Hidden news is the order of the day in the Age Of Fake but not here.

[No Hidden news for us here. We’ll discuss Bill Clinton’s comments on the Tea Party movement in our next article.]

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