Category: Rising Costs


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) speaks at a meeting with top officials on gas deliveries to Ukraine at his Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on April 10.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) speaks at a meeting with top officials on gas deliveries to Ukraine at his Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on April 10.

By RFE/RL
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a letter to leaders of 18 European countries warning of a suspension of gas supplies to Ukraine if Kyiv does not pay off its $2.2 billion gas debt.

The Kremlin said on April 10 that Putin told the European leaders that the “critical situation” over Ukraine’s debt could impact the transit of Russian gas to much of Europe.

He wrote that the state-controlled energy giant Gazprom would be “compelled to switch over to advance payment for gas deliveries” for Ukraine and that if Ukraine remains unable to settle its debt, Gazprom “will completely or partially cease gas deliveries.”

Putin raised concerns about Ukraine siphoning off gas from pipelines leading to Europe and said Ukraine needed some 11.5 billion cubic meters of gas, worth some $5.5 billion, to fill the country’s underground storage tanks.

Putin also wrote Russia is prepared to take part, along with the European Union, in efforts to restore Ukraine’s economy.

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Aid to Ukraine not forever: Putin

Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW. — Russia does not recognise the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new authorities, but continues its economic assistance to its crisis-hit neighbour, a situation that will not last forever, Russian president Vladimir Putin said yesterday.
“As you know, our partners in Europe recognise the legitimacy of the current Kiev authorities, but are doing nothing in order to support Ukraine; not a single dollar, not a single euro,” Putin said.

“The Russian Federation doesn’t recognise the legitimacy of the authorities in Kiev, but will continue to give it economic support and subsidise Ukraine’s economy with hundreds of millions and billions of dollars for now.

“This situation, of course, can’t continue eternally,” the Russian leader added.
He demanded that Russia remain disciplined and fulfil all contract obligations with Ukraine, but added that the country must be prepared to replace Ukrainian goods and correct state defence orders.

“I ask you to be disciplined and fulfil all contract obligations with our Ukrainian partners, but we need to be prepared for any development in the situation . . . including import replacements,” Putin said during a meeting of senior officials.

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Little expected from Ukraine talks

Updated: 04:53, Thursday April 10, 2014

Little expected from Ukraine talks

The US says it is going into an upcoming meeting with Russia, Europe and Ukraine on the crisis in the former Soviet republic with low expectations.

‘I have to say that we don’t have high expectations for these talks, but we do believe it is very important to keep that diplomatic door open and will see what they bring,’ Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, said on Wednesday.

US and EU diplomats have agreed with Russia to hold four-way negotiations involving Ukraine next week to de-escalate the worst European security crisis in decades.

An EU diplomat said the talks would likely be held on April 17 in Vienna.

In signs that Russia will continue its pressure on the Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has warned the country may begin requiring advance payment for gas supplies unless Ukraine comes to the negotiating table over its unpaid energy bills.

 

Read More Here

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Healthcare cuts canceled after Dem complaints

Getty Images

The Obama administration announced Monday that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage would not go through as anticipated amid election-year opposition from congressional Democrats.

The cuts would have reduced benefits that seniors receive from health plans in the program, which is intended as an alternative to Medicare.

Under cuts planned by the administration, insurers offering the plans were to see their federal payments reduced by 1.9 percent, which likely would have necessitated cuts for customers.

Instead, the administration said the federal payments to insurers will increase next year by .40 percent.

The healthcare law included $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years, in part to pay for ObamaCare.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) on Monday said changes in the healthcare market meant it did not need to make those cuts to Medicare Advantage this year.

It cited an increase in healthy beneficiaries under Medicare, which it said has lowered projected costs for that program.

CMS separately is delaying a risk assessment proposal that was set to take affect under ObamaCare.

 

Read More Here

 

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Obama administration proposes 1.9% cut in Medicare Advantage payments

February 21, 2014 8:08 pm by

Barack ObamaMedicare Advantage plans could see payment reductions of 1.9 percent next year under proposed rates announced Friday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Insurers, who have led a fierce lobbying campaign against payment reductions, have said the combination of the health law’s lower payment rates, new fees on health plans and other factors, including automatic federalspending cuts known as “sequestration,” mean that Medicare Advantage plans will see their Medicare payment rates drop by 6 percent – or even more — in 2015.

CMS said Friday its preliminary estimate is “the combined effect of the Medicare Advantage growth percentage and the fee-for-service growth percentage.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans said they are reviewing the details of the announcement to determine the total impact of the federal payment rates. In a statement, AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni was critical of the proposed rates, saying, “The new proposed Medicare Advantage cuts would cause seniors in the program to lose benefits and choices on which they depend.”

 

Read More Here

 

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Obama flip-flops on Medicare drug coverage

(REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)

The Obama administration, in an abrupt about-face, said on Monday it would drop proposed changes to Medicare drug coverage that met wide opposition on grounds they would harm health benefits for the elderly and disabled.

Late last week, more than 370 organizations representing insurers, drug makers, pharmacies, health providers and patients urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to withdraw changes it had proposed for Medicare Part D.

One of the federal government’s most successful and cost-effective healthcare programs, Part D provides drug benefits for the elderly and disabled through private insurers to 36 million enrollees.

Critics said the changes, if adopted in coming months, could not only undermine Part D benefits but impact drug benefits available through Medicare Advantage, a program that allows Medicare beneficiaries to obtain their major medical coverage through private insurers.

“Given the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input, we do not plan to finalize these proposals at this time. We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner advised in a letter sent on Monday to members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

The proposals were opposed by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The Republican Party had already begun to look for ways to leverage popular anger over the changes into campaign attacks on Democratic incumbents who could be vulnerable in November’s election showdown for control of Congress.

Elated critics of the proposed changes said the government had effectively agreed to start over in the face of broad, bipartisan opposition.

 

Read  More Here

 

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New York Times SundayReview

The Obama administration’s proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage plans — the private insurance plans that cover almost 30 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries — are fair and reasonable. As it happens, they are also mandated by law. Yet Republicans, sensing a campaign issue, are telling older and disabled Americans that the administration is “raiding Medicare Advantage to pay for Obamacare.” The health insurance industry, for its part, is warning that enrollees will suffer higher premiums, lower benefits and fewer choices among doctors if the cuts go into force.

Some of this could in fact happen, although the industry has cried wolf before and continues to thrive. But the key point is this: Over the past decade, enrollees in Medicare Advantage have received lots of extra benefits, thanks to unjustified federal subsidies to the insurance companies. Now they will have to do with somewhat less, unless the insurers are willing to absorb the cuts while maintaining benefits. Enrollment in these private plans, offered by companies like UnitedHealth and Humana, has more than doubled since 2006, in part because of lower premiums and extra benefits, like gym memberships, that are not included in traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

What made these perks possible was, in effect, a subsidy from taxpayers and other Medicare beneficiaries. The federal government paid the private plans, on average, 14 percent more in 2009 than it would cost to treat the same people in traditional Medicare. The insurers used this extra money to reduce enrollees’ costs and add benefits.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act rightly required that these subsidies be reduced, although it stopped short of completely eliminating them. The reductions began to take effect in 2012, and have not, so far, visibly harmed beneficiaries or the plans. Since enactment of the law, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 10 percent, the opposite of what some expected, and enrollment has increased by nearly 33 percent, according to the administration. But as the law intended, federal payments to the private plans dropped — from 7 percent more than services under traditional Medicare in 2012 to 4 percent more last year. The administration now proposes to further reduce the payments to Medicare Advantage plans in 2015. The loudest criticism has come from Republicans, but plenty of Democrats have chimed in.

Read More Here

 

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Price tag for Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500

Published time: March 20, 2014 12:10

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

The price of Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500 per 1,000 cubic meters, as future developments in relations between Moscow and Kiev remain vague.

From April 1 the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas will go up to $360-$370 per 1,000 cubic metres, after Russia cancelled the discount agreed in late December, Pavel Zavalny, the head of Russian Gas Society told Izvestia newspaper.

In the worst case scenario, and Ukraine decides to take over Russian property, as well as new threats from radical nationalists, the price could jump to as high as to $500, the paper added.

 

Read More Here

 

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Russia to redirect trade elsewhere in case of EU-US sanctions

Published time: March 19, 2014 16:59

Russian President's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russia will switch to other trade partners if economic sanctions are imposed by the US and the European Union, the Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has said.

“If one economic partner on the one side of the globe impose sanctions, we will pay attention to new partners from the globe’s other side. The world is not monopolar, we will concentrate on other economic partners,” RIA news quotes Peskov.

According to him, possible economic sanctions by the US and EU on Russia are unacceptable, and the Russian Federation intends to offer further economic cooperation with the European Union.

“We want to keep good relations with the EU and with the US. Especially with the European Union as it is the main economic, investment and trade partner of the Russian Federation. Our mutual economic dependence assumes that we shall have good relations,” the Russian President’s Press Secretary declared. He also emphasized that discussion of global economic problems without involvement of Russia can’t be a complete discussion.

In a Tuesday telephone conversation between Russia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry they discussed the situation in Ukraine, and Lavrov said sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union against the Russian Federation are absolutely unacceptable and won’t come without consequences.

According to data from the EU’s Eurostat, Russia accounts for 7 percent of imports and 12 percent of exports in the 28 European Union bloc, making it the region’s third most important trading partner, behind the USA and China.

In turn, the EU is Russia’s biggest trade and investment partner, with trade turnover estimated at $330 billion in 2012.

 

Read More Here

 

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One Third of Uninsured Won’t Sign Up for Obamacare

The Fiscal Times

March 17, 2014

As the White House scrambles to get people signed up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline, many uninsured Americans say they are still planning to take their chances and remain without coverage.

A new study by Bankrate.com shows that about one third of uninsured Americans are going to remain without coverage and opt to pay the penalty.

The survey results suggest that the administration’s outreach to uninsured people may be falling short, with more than half of people without insurance unaware of the March 31 deadline—and even more unaware of subsidies that could make their policies more affordable.

Related: Obamacare May Be Failing the Uninsured

Bankrate surveyed 3,005 people and found that 41 percent of those who were uninsured said they plan to stay uninsured because they think that health insurance is too costly. Meanwhile, about 70 percent said they were unaware of subsidies available under the new law that could make their health plans more affordable.

The study’s findings are worrisome for the Obama administration since the key goal of the president’s health care law was to extend access to health coverage for the uninsured.

A separate study by the McKinsey consulting firm found just 27 percent of Obamacare enrollees were uninsured. That means that the majority of those signing up for Obamacare had previous insurance of some kind—whether they were kicked off their old policies, or they found a better deal on the exchanges. Though not confirmed by the White House, if accurate, that could mean the law is failing to meet its intended goal.

Related: Gallup: Employment, Obamacare Lower Uninsured Rate

Gary Cohen, an official for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the administration has not been tracking how many of the Obamacare enrollees were previously uninsured.

Read  More Here

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Breitbart

Eight Ways to Opt Out of Obamacare

With the deadline to sign up for Obamacare having come and gone, many Americans have decided to “opt out” of President Obama’s signature health care reform law, choosing instead to pay the $95 penalty for sidestepping the individual mandate.

“For many Americans opting out of Obamacare is the best decision they can make, but it’s important that they do it the right way—just refusing to buy health insurance and not having another way to pay for catastrophic medical expenses is a mistake,” Sean Parnell, author of the newly-released The Self-Pay Patient, told Breitbart News. “People who want to opt out should be looking at alternatives to conventional health insurance, such as joining a health care sharing ministry or purchasing a fixed benefits policy.”

Parnell also strongly advises Americans against opting out and simply paying the “list” price for medical visits and prescription drugs without shopping around, or by relying solely on the local hospital emergency room for routine medical care.

“This approach leaves people who opt out vulnerable to sky-high medical expenses at inflated ‘list’ or ‘chargemaster’ rates, and can result in an inability to obtain needed care because of cost,” Parnell writes on his blog, selfpaypatient.com.

Instead, Parnell recommends the following eight options for those who have opted out of ObamaCare:

1. Join a health care sharing ministry, which are voluntary, charitable membership organizations that share medical expenses among the membership.

Parnell states that Samaritan Ministries, Christian Healthcare Ministries, and Christian Care Ministry are open to practicing Christians, while Liberty HealthShare is open to those who are committed to religious liberty.

Healthcare sharing ministries “operate entirely outside of ObamaCare’s regulations, and typically offer benefits for about half the cost of similar health insurance,” says Parnell. “Members are also exempt from having to pay the tax for being uninsured.”

Read More Here

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ALERT! Flood Insurance Rates to Skyrocket After FEMA Redraws Flood Maps!

DAHBOO77·

Published on Feb 27, 2014

IT’S ABOUT TO HIT THE FAN FOLKS ! This move also makes me think that they KNOW , We have severe flooding coming down the pike!

http://wwlp.com/2014/02/27/flood-insu…

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FEMA has quietly moved the lines on its flood maps to benefit hundreds of oceanfront condo buildings and million-dollar homes, according to an analysis of federal records by NBC News.

Investigations

Image: The Turquoise Place condominium buildings rise above Orange Beach, Alabama, before sunrise.

John Brecher / NBC News

Why Taxpayers Will Bail Out the Rich When the Next Storm Hits

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Flood-zone residents outraged over new insurance rates

CBS News CBS News

Published on Sep 28, 2013

Residents and business owners in Broad Channel, N.Y., are protesting skyrocketing insurance rates that are part of a new federal law designed to keep FEMA afloat. The new law increases the number of areas that are deemed flood zones and stipulates that homeowners in those areas raise their houses or face increased premiums. Don Dahler reports.

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Congress tried to cut subsidies for homes in flood zones. It was harder than they thought.

Back in 1968, Congress first began subsidizing flood-insurance policies for homeowners across the nation. That change allowed more Americans to move into coastal areas and floodplains without paying full price for the risks involved.

Flooding during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 (The Washington Post)

Flooding during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 (The Washington Post)

By 2012, however, lawmakers were rethinking the whole scheme. The National Flood Insurance Program was subsidizing premiums for 1.1 million policies and running multi-billion-dollar deficits. On top of that, scientists were predicting that sea-level rise would make flooding even more common in the years ahead. Environmentalists and fiscal conservatives alike argued that it made little sense to encourage building in high-risk areas.

So, that summer, Congress voted to revamp the program.* The Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 aimed to end subsidized rates for 438,000 insurance policies in flood zones  — mainly second homes, businesses, and repeatedly flooded properties. Subsidies for the rest (about 715,000 properties) would get rolled back more gradually, as the homes got sold. A separate set of properties could also face premium hikes as the government revises its flood maps.

Read More Here

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The legitimate questions to ask at this point in time  would  be …….

Exactly  what money  would  the low and  middle-income  earners  be  putting aside for  savings?

Considering the  unemployment  rate  and the  rising  number of the homeless how realistic or  honest  would this  proposal  be?  

In a  world where the  working  middle class are disappearing and the poor can barely feed themselves and their  families , are retirement  savings accounts truly an achievable reality?

 

~Desert Rose~

 

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New Geography . com

The U.S. Middle Class Is Turning Proletarian

drill-press.jpg

The biggest issue facing the American economy, and our political system, is the gradual descent of the middle class into proletarian status. This process, which has been going on intermittently since the 1970s, has worsened considerably over the past five years, and threatens to turn this century into one marked by downward mobility.

The decline has less to do with the power of the “one percent” per se than with the drying up of opportunity amid what is seen on Wall Street and in the White House as a sustained recovery. Despite President Obama’s rhetorical devotion to reducing inequality, it has widened significantly under his watch. Not only did the income of the middle 60% of households drop between 2010 and 2012 while that of the top 20% rose, the income of the middle 60% declined by a greater percentage than the poorest quintile. The middle 60% of earners’ share of the national pie has fallen from 53% in 1970 to 45% in 2012.

This group, what I call the yeoman class — the small business owners, the suburban homeowners , the family farmers or skilled construction tradespeople– is increasingly endangered. Once the dominant class in America, it is clearly shrinking: In the four decades since 1971 the percentage of Americans earning between two-thirds and twice the national median income has dropped from 61% to 51% of the population, according to Pew.

Roughly one in three people born into middle class-households , those between the 30th and 70th percentiles of income, now fall out of that status as adults.

Neither party has a reasonable program to halt the decline of the middle class. Previous generations of liberals — say Walter Reuther, Hubert Humphrey, Harry Truman, Pat Brown — recognized broad-based economic growth was a necessary precursor to upward mobility and social justice. However, many in the new wave of progressives engage in fantastical economics built around such things as “urban density” and “green jobs,”  while adopting policies that restrict growth in manufacturing, energy and housing. When all else fails, some, like Oregon’s John Kitzhaber, try to change the topic by advocating shifting emphasis from measures of economic growth to “happiness.”

Read More Here

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Feb. 21, 2014, 5:00 a.m. EST

Obama plan: Cut tax breaks for richest retirement savers

Plan designed to spur saving by low-, middle-income earners

By Robert Powell, MarketWatch

President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress in early March, as part of his fiscal 2015 budget, to reduce some of the tax advantages for employer-sponsored retirement plans for higher-income earners, according to published reports.

Plus, the president wants to limit the value of all tax deductions, defined contribution exclusions and IRA deductions to 28% of income — and include an overall cap on all retirement accounts, including pensions, that could bring in $1 billion a year in new tax revenue, according to a Pensions & Investments report. Read Companies bracing for 1-2 retirement punch .

According to the report, the proposals are designed to direct more of the tax preference for retirement savings toward getting more low- and middle-income people into the habit of saving.

Based on current tax brackets, Pensions & Investments reported that the 28% limit would reduce the tax advantages of retirement savings for people earning more than $183,000 or couples earning more than $225,000. And the overall cap for all tax-preferred retirement accounts would limit them to providing an annual retirement income of $205,000, which would currently cap tax-preferred accounts at $3.4 million, but could go lower as interest rates rise.

So, who might feel the effects of this proposal? Largely, the top 5% of tax payers. According to the Tax Policy Center, a partnership between the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, there are about 6.07 million Americans who earned above $200,000 in 2011 and they make up the top 4.2% of taxpayers, according to published reports. Read more about the president’s tax proposal here: Who makes more than $250k, and are they rich?

And what do experts have to say about what the president might propose? In the main, they say the rich need not worry that their tax breaks for saving for retirement will be cut.

“We’ve heard these kinds of proposals being discussed in policy circles for a couple of years now,” said Skip Schweiss, president of TD Ameritrade Trust Co. and managing director of TD Ameritrade Institutional. “It would not surprise me to see these ideas become more formalized through President Obama’s 2015 budget proposal.”

But even though experts expect the president to propose reductions to some of the tax advantages for employer-sponsored retirement plans for higher-income earners, few expect any congressional action. “Given the congressional divide, it’s hard to see something like this becoming law, but of course one never knows,” said Schweiss.

 

Read More Here

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Working poor Texans struggle in Medicaid, ACA gap

by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist PETER HULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on February 5, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Updated today at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN — For 28-year old Irma Aguilar, raising four young children while working a full-time job is difficult enough.

Suffering from a damaged disc in her neck and debilitating high blood pressure that leaves her dizzy and bouts of anxiety, she needs medical coverage. An assistant manager at a national pizza chain, the San Antonio resident earns too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for discounted plans on the health insurance marketplace.
“It just makes me feel like, how am I supposed to get help? I thought that working hard for your money was supposed to help you go on in life and help you get some kind of insurance, and we can’t even get that,” said Aguilar. “We’re the ones working hard. We’re the ones doing everything, and we can’t even get a penny out of it. We don’t get nothing. So, do I have to stop working and let my kids drain and me drain so that way I can get help? It’s just not fair to me, and it’s not fair to my kids.”
Roughly 1 million Texans are in a similar situation: unable to qualify for Medicaid under Texas’ stringent restrictions and unable to afford to purchase plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, representatives of dozens of organizations gathered at the Texas Capitol to launch a new campaign demanding something be done for them.
“It’s a moral responsibility to address this situation,” said Sister J.T. Dwyer of the Seton Health Care Family. “Our mission is to care for and improve the health of those we serve with a special concern for the poor and vulnerable. So, wouldn’t we be interested in this? These are the vulnerable people who are left out.”
With 6 million uninsured individuals, Texas leads the nation in the number of residents without health care coverage. A project of the Cover Texas Now Coalition, Texas Left Me Out is a campaign to compel lawmakers to develop a solution to insuring Texas’ working poor who fall in the coverage “gap” resulting from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to require states to expand Medicaid to those unable to afford coverage through the health insurance marketplace.
“The problem is that, because the law was written assuming that the Medicaid piece would be there, they said nobody below the poverty line is going to get the sliding scale of subsidies with premiums in the new health insurance marketplace,” said Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the progressive Center for Public Policy Priorities.
For a $15 billion investment in state money, over the next 10 years Texas would draw down about $100 million in federal funds, which Texans will be taxed for regardless. Gov. Rick Perry has opposed expanding Medicaid, calling the system “broken.” Instead, Perry has advocated for a block grant which the federal government has thus far seemed disinclined to provide.
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‘Obamacare’ will reduce US workforce, report finds

Kentucky – cancer capital of the US – is deeply divided on “Obamacare”

The reductions will begin in 2017 after the law’s provisions take full effect, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in its report.

Lower-income workers will be hardest hit, limiting their hours to avoid losing federal subsidies.

Conservatives and the White House promptly clashed over the findings.

In Tuesday’s report the nonpartisan CBO said work hours would be reduced by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers by 2021. The watchdog had previously estimated the healthcare law would result in 800,000 fewer workers.

‘Making it worse’

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, will result in a slower rate of employment growth over the next decade, according to the findings.

The congressional analysts say there will be fewer workers because healthcare subsidies would “reduce incentives to work” and pose an “implicit tax on working” for those returning to a job with health insurance.

The CBO said some US businesses might decide to reduce their workforce to fewer than 50 full-time employees to avoid having to provide health insurance as mandated under the law.

The report also found older US workers nearing retirement may opt to work shorter hours to retain healthcare subsidies until they qualify for Medicare, a federal health programme for the elderly.

Employees may also face lower wages due to tax levees and penalties against their employers, the report found.

The CBO findings provided fodder for congressional Republicans who are likely to make the health law a major issue in November’s midterm elections.

“The middle class is getting squeezed in this economy, and this CBO report confirms that Obamacare is making it worse,” Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said in a statement on Tuesday.

Read More Here

‘Obamacare’ setbacks

  • Oct 2013: Obama says “no excuse” for healthcare.gov website meltdown
  • Nov: President is excoriated for “broken promise” that customers can keep their existing health insurance
  • 27 Nov: Year’s delay in online insurance enrolment for small businesses, the latest in a string of postponements
  • Feb 2014: Analysts find the law will result in 2.3m fewer full-time workers by 2021
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Susie Quick of Midway, Ky., has resorted to wearing more layers while at home to help lessen her electric bill which has tripled.
Jonathan Adams / for NBC News
Susie Quick of Midway, Ky., has resorted to wearing more layers while at home to help lessen her electric bill which has tripled. When the temperature drops, Quick climbs into bed with her dog Roscoe to battle against the rising cost of heating her home.

Their teeth are chattering and their budgets are bursting like frozen pipes.

In nippy Dixie, some are dialing down the thermostats, then dressing in layers — inside their homes — and inviting pets into their beds to share the warmth, cursing their power bills as “hate mail.”

In the arctic northeast, some are canceling vacations, shelving clothes shopping, and even — horror of horrors — buying cheap wine, while fully admitting these are “first world problems.” But from north to south, scores of Americans are finding innovative ways to slash spending as they shovel more bucks into utility costs amid the nasty cross winds of soaring home-heating prices and blistering cold snaps.

“Dinners out? What IS that?!” asks Susie Quick, a resident of Midway, Ky., who is purposely injecting a chill into her home and her spending due to a monthly power bill that’s leaped from $90 to $300. Several southern states recently have shivered through the lowest temperatures in years.

“I walk around my house like a lumberjack in layers of silk underwear, plaid flannel shirt, down vest, scarf, hat, sweater leggings and furry faux UGGs. I only wish I could grow a beard for added warmth,” said Quick, who lives on a horse and cow farm, and who works as a medical editor at the University of Kentucky. Her house is electrically heated.

On recent nights, she’s been allowing her 45-pound coonhound and two cats to sleep with her — “if there was room for my horse, I’d bring him in, too.” As for food, she’s a “non-elective vegan” but said she can’t afford “pricey” fake meat like tofu hot dogs and tempeh burgers. Instead, she dines on rice and beans, and greens. Going to a hair salon is too expensive so she’s become “my own amateur hair stylist and colorist and I’m really afraid it shows.”

“I have three rooms shut off with towels down at the door bottoms to prevent drafts. My furniture is also lumberjack-chic and covered in blankets and throws. I refuse to succumb to a Snuggie, though a Thuggie has appeal. So House Beautiful this is not,” said Quick, who refers to her heating bills as “hate mail.”

Read More Here

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goptvclips goptvclips

Published on Jan 30, 2014

WTAE-PA: Pennsylvania Small Business Hit With Skyrocketing Health Costs From ObamaCare (January 29, 2014)

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Opposition to ObamaCare now 2:1 … among the uninsured

posted at 10:41 am on January 30, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Behold, your chart of the day. This comes from Kaiser Health News, which has regularly polled on health-related policies, and in particular the uninsured in relation to ObamaCare. Since 2011, the support and opposition have remained fairly close together, but now that ObamaCare has been implemented, a dramatic change has taken place — and one the White House and Democrats won’t like:

kaiser-poll-uninsured

KHN says, presumably without irony, that the reason for the sudden shift is unclear:

Uninsured Americans — the people that the Affordable Care Act was designed to most aid — are increasingly critical of the law as its key provisions kick in, a poll released Thursday finds.

This month’s tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 47 percent of the uninsured said they hold unfavorable views of the law while 24 percent said they liked it. These negative views have increased since December, when 43 percent of the uninsured panned the law and 36 percent liked it. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.)

The poll did not pinpoint clear reasons for this drop, which comes in the first month that people could start using insurance purchased through the online marketplaces that are at the heart of the law. It did point out that more than half of people without insurance said the law hasn’t made a difference to them or their families. In addition, the pollsters noted that almost half of people without coverage were unaware the law includes subsidies to offset premium costs for people of low and moderate incomes.

Among all Americans, the sentiment was also negative, with 50 percent holding unfavorable views of the law and 34 percent supporting it. Views on the law have not been even since the end of 2012. Despite this, just 38 percent of the public wants the law to be repealed.

One reason could well be that there are more uninsured, and this time because of ObamaCare.

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