scharrison's blog

Association Health Plans are still a bad idea

You're probably better off with no insurance at all:

These types of plans were nixed under the Affordable Care Act, which required all insurance policies to contain 10 essential benefits and disallowed so-called “skinny” plans that provide little beyond basic catastrophic coverage, if that.

Association health plans were green-lighted again under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in October 2017, which was seen by many as a way of undermining former President Barack Obama’s ACA. But the plans also come with a host of caveats. They make some observers nervous because in the past association health plans have produced substandard policies that left some patients with big bills or skyrocketing premiums.

All insurance "pools" are a rarefied version of a Ponzi scheme, but these association health plans are even more so. There's simply not enough money in the pot to pay off all the losers if there's even a slight bump in the percentage of catastrophic health treatments, and the fact these "skinny" plans don't cover well care visits or other prophylactic measures actually increases that likelihood. Instead of fast-tracking boondoggles like this, which will likely only be tempting to those who make over the ACA subsidy threshold, the NCGA should be expanding Medicaid to cover those in the gap. And before approving AHPs, they need to wait and see how the courts and Federal government decide this issue:

Rip van Holding gets three Dem challengers (so far)

holdingasleep.jpg

You need to start rolling that trash can out to the road to get in shape:

Republican Rep. George Holding, the North Carolina congressional incumbent who by one measure had the closest 2018 race, has drawn several Democratic challengers for his 2020 re-election bid.

Wake County Public Schools board member Monika Johnson-Hostler announced her candidacy Wednesday. Retired Marine Scott Cooper, the founder of Veterans for American Ideals, announced in April he would run. Open Table United Methodist Church pastor Jason Butler filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission last month.

Holding is the epitome of an empty-suit bankster barely warming his seat in Congress. He's been there for 6+ years, and has sponsored "two" bills that became law; one to keep sub-Saharan African countries from underbidding American companies, and one to authorize the Supreme Court Police to protect Justices at their homes. Both were within his first term, and apparently he was exhausted from the effort. Not going to endorse anybody in this race, but I have been seeing a lot of this guy on social media for months:

Public investment, private profit? Broadband bill has serious flaws

The need is great, but the need to do it right may be even greater:

(a) A county shall have the authority to construct facilities or equipment of a broadband service as defined by G.S.62-3 for the purpose of leasing such facilities or equipment, in accordance with G.S.160A-272, to one or more lessees who are not a governmental unit as defined in G.S.160A-274.16. (b) A board of county commissioners may utilize ad valorem tax levies authorized under 17G.S.153A-149(c), grants, or any other unrestricted funds in exercising authority granted under this section.

Bolding mine, because caveats kind of piss me off. A few years ago, Republicans in the General Assembly basically outlawed municipalities from constructing and operating broadband networks, ostensibly because they represented "unfair competition" to private companies. Said companies lobbied the hell out of Legislators to make that happen, but since then have done little (or nothing) to bring broadband into areas that desperately need it. The above bill, as you can see, pulls the cost of construction out of the hands (wallets) of taxpayers, and gives whatever profits are made to private sector entities. What happens when said company starts raising rates above what people are willing (or able) to pay? I see no mechanism for the municipality in question to regulate that. There is also no mechanism for the municipality to take over operation in case of mismanagement, or if said private company decides to pull out of the lease agreement. In the absence of those mechanisms, this bill is terminally flawed.

UNC's interim President in hot water over conflicts of interest

You can't serve five masters:

William Roper, the current interim president of the University of North Carolina system and former longtime CEO of the UNC Health Care System, failed to disclose his seats on the boards of major corporations between 2011 and 2019, at the same time as those corporations did business with the state, records show.

None of his corporate board service was disclosed on state ethics forms until last week, when Roper filed amended forms in response to an inquiry from WBTV for this story.

James and I discussed some of these issues on our radio program nine years ago, and finding these potentially unethical connections (or overlaps) is not always easy. Google searches often drill down into corporate press releases, but the names of board members rarely show up in those broad searches. By the same token, when searching an individual, you may not see their corporate affiliation until you get to page 7 of the search. And you can forget LinkedIn, because that is almost exclusively information provided by the member, and if he/she doesn't want a connection to be made, well. Anyway, back to this story, and the dueling salaries involved:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

If not now, when?

They shouldn't have to do this, but Republican leaders have neither the desire nor the courage to protect our citizens.

Federal debt projected to reach 28 Trillion by 2029

I've never been much of a deficit hawk, but this is crazy:

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government — aka U.S. taxpayers — will spend $455 billion on interest next year. By 2029, that figure is projected to rise to $921 billion.

Beginning next year, he said, the federal government will spend more on interest than it will on programs affecting children. By 2025, he said, taxpayers will pay more on interest than they do on national defense. “Our budget will be spending more on our past than we do on our future,” Peterson said. “That’s a stark reminder of what we’re leaving our children here.”

Reaganomics was bad enough, when excessive tax cuts for the wealthy ended up with Social Security recipients paying fricking tax on their own retirement money. But Trumpism has broke the mold, and we will look back on the $1.5 Trillion tax giveaway as the epitome of ignorance by the time 2030 hits. And before you say, "they always do it," take a look at the late 1990's:

Dale Folwell is not a "friend" of state employees

dalefolwell.jpg

Friends don't try to get your children booted off your health insurance:

Since he took office in 2017, Folwell has repeatedly advanced or acquiesced to policies that would ultimately reduce the number of people on the SHP rolls. In May of 2017, for example, state employees received an email and letter sent via “junk mail” rate postage instructing them to resubmit a copy of the first page of their tax returns, or children’s birth certificates in order to prove they are not fraudulently covering spouses or dependents under the SHP.

After receiving the letter, I for one thought that it was a scam since it had all the telltale signs, and I had already recently submitted my tax return to prove that my children are my children, and are eligible to be covered on my plan. Folwell’s letter said I had to submit copies of their birth certificates by July 31 through an online portal, or my children would be removed from my health insurance plan on August 1. Six hundred people were removed from the SHP for the rest of 2017. Of that number, how many were actually fraudulent?

In a sane world, the employees' union would have pushed back on that, and made sure that nobody (or their children) fell through the cracks. But "sane" and "SEANC" probably shouldn't be used in the same sentence. Tweets I saw back then were completely supportive of Folwell's "fraud" claims, and SEANC's website itself published Folwell's entire statement with no comments or rebuttal:

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - scharrison's blog