Being a customer means having the right to walk away. I am a customer of Best Buy, I am a customer of Amazon.com, I am a customer of Food Lion. I am not a customer, but a prisoner of the IRS. Like prison guards, its agents can be nice to me or they can be mean to me. But for them to say that they provide me with good or bad “customer service” is a farce.
Amidst the three hours of the Senate budget debate, that red carpet within the Senate Chamber certainly reflected the mood of debating politicians. And although the proposed amendment to expand Medicaid to 500,000 North Carolinians was defeated, the argument remains relentless. Apparently the budget’s additional $1.2 billion to the state’s $14 billion entitlement program does not seem sufficient.
The state’s Medicaid shortfall continues to increase – it now stands at a projected total of $333 million by the end of the fiscal year. Another $85 million in cost overruns was announced Tuesday evening by the Department of Health and Human Services – it’s not even June yet.
However, the budget does attempt to save health care costs by forcing medical discretion upon Medicaid recipients. The budget will add more copays to services and limit physician office visits from 22 visits a year to 10 visits effective January 1, 2014. Patients with chronic illnesses are exempt from this provision. Furthermore, there is a potential for savings in mental health drug treatment because prescriptions will be subject to prior authorization to ensure appropriate use and positive outcomes.
But some of the state’s politicians just don’t quite understand that North Carolina, along with the rest of the nation, spends way too much on Medicaid. It eats up funds from other key aspects of the budget – like Education and Transportation.
One would think that the results of the circulating landmark study, the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, would have politicians shouting from the mountaintops that this monstrous government program funded by hardworking taxpayers does not help patients achieve positive health outcomes.
Avik Roy, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and Forbes Contributor, even points out biased factors of the study itself that were still unable to increase Medicaid’s performance:
First, Oregon physicians receive larger reimbursement – 64% of private coverage rates. This increases beneficiary access to care, as one-third of physicians refuse to accept new Medicaid patients due to low reimbursement rates. This also increases the likelihood of physicians delivering better quality care, as they receive high reimbursement rates for providing Medicaid services.
Second, the Medicaid enrollees knew they were receiving Medicaid.
Third, This implies that this subpopulation either truly wanted or needed medical assistance due to the fact that of the 30,169 Oregonians who “won” the lottery to gain enrollment in Medicaid, only 60% of those who were selected bothered to fill out the forms necessary to sign up for benefits.
While the White House continues to peddle the story of a driverless train wreck, taxpayers are being treated to a demonstration of the dangers of an unwieldy and unaccountable administrative state. Look, Ma, no hands!
A “no hands” defense is a far cry from the Shiva presidency of happier times.
Ok, this doesn’t deal with politics or current events, but I saw this and found it enjoyable being a NC native. Enjoy!38 Signs You’re From North Carolina – If you started humming “Wagon Wheel” in your head while reading the headline, then this list is for you.
The Durham GOP is sponsoring an event celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation on Sunday, June 2, in Raleigh. The event will be held at 2 p.m. at the NC Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St.
Speakers include NC Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby and the Rev. Fozard of Mt. Zion Christian Church, who will speak about Republican leadership in the abolitionist movement, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
Prior to the event, attendees may view the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on display at the museum. This was the document that gave the Confederate states 100 days to lay down their arms and rejoin the Union, or else their slaves would be declared free.
Tickets are free, and may be obtained here.
Go here to obtain a full-size PDF of the above flyer.
The broader question here is Obama’s attitude toward press freedom, the First Amendment, and scrutiny of the government he leads. The answer, by the way, cannot be found in Obama’s suddenly revived interest in a media-shield law. That’s because the bill Obama asked Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to resurrect would make it easier for the Justice Department to investigate and jail reporters who refuse to disclose sources for stories deemed threatening to national security. Obama reversed course on press freedoms when he became president, and the shield law he now champions would have provided no protection to the AP.
In the Rose Garden last week, Obama stood next to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said the First Amendment must be balanced against national security threats.
“It’s important to recognize that when we express concern about leaks at a time when I’ve still got 60,000-plus troops in Afghanistan, and I’ve still got a whole bunch of intelligence officers around the world who are in risky situations … that part of my job is to make sure that we’re protecting what they do, while still accommodating for the need for information.”
In a broad national security context, Obama is only willing to accommodate the need for information. Not protect. Not balance. Not uphold. Accommodate. It’s particularly telling that Obama offered this narrow interpretation of the First Amendment in Erdogan’s presence. Turkey is debating its own bleak history of imprisoning and fining journalists and media organizations for criticizing the government. Turkey is also in the middle of rewriting its constitution and deciding how best to apportion press freedoms. Obama’s remarks, at minimum, invited a crabbed interpretation of press freedoms.
My kids moved out! I have two empty rooms in my apartment. Maybe I can rent them? A tourist visiting New York City could have a different experience, and save hotel money. I’d make money. Wouldn’t it be great?
No, says the government of my state.
New York recently passed a law making it very difficult for people to offer short-term rentals via popular websites like Airbnb and Roomorama, which connect room-owners and room-renters. I could be fined $25,000 if I rent to tourists through those services.
New York State Sen. Liz Krueger defended the law.
“Tenants all over the city are begging their legislators for help. They were being harassed by strangers in the middle of night entering their building, moving into the apartments next door … violating the fire code, the safety code, and harassing people, sometimes very aggressively, out of the buildings”
Please. Of course some renters behave badly. But they can be dealt with by building owners. There’s no need for authoritarian governments to ban consenting adults from renting to each other.
Krueger says that despite these services’ rapid growth, their customers are unhappy — and that despite the online customer-satisfaction reviews and ratings that enable everyone to compare thousands of different offerings, and blacklist renters and homeowners who behave badly, customers are being duped.
“They think they’re signing up for a hotel room. They pay through a credit card. They walk into a situation that is not safe, not clean.”
This is how politicians think.
Jia En Teo, co-founder of Roomorama, has a different explanation for why businesses like hers are attacked by politicians: “Short-term rentals have been growing in popularity … that has posed competition to hotels.”
We have just learned that the Internal Revenue Service before the 2012 election predicated its tax-exemption policies on politics. It inordinately denied tax exemption to groups considered conservative or otherwise antagonistic to the president’s agenda.
If the supposedly nonpartisan IRS is perceived as skewing our taxes on the basis of our politics, then the entire system of trust in self-reporting is rendered null and void. Worse still, the bureaucratic overseer at the center of the controversy, Sarah Hall Ingram, now runs the IRS division charged with enforcing compliance with the new Obamacare requirements.
It was also before the 2012 election that some reporters at the Associated Press had their private and work phone records monitored by the government, supposedly because of fear about national-security leaks. The Justice Department gave the AP no chance, as it usually would, first to question its own journalists. The AP had run a story in May 2012 about the success of a double agent working in Yemen before the administration itself could brag about it.
In fact, the Obama White House has been accused of leaking classified information favorable to the administration — top-secret details concerning the Stuxnet computer virus used against Iran, the specifics of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, and the decision-making behind the drone program — often to favored journalists. The message is clear: A reporter may have his most intimate work and private correspondence turned over to the government — Fox News’s James Rosen had his e-mail account tapped into — on the mere allegation that he might have tried to do what his own government had in fact already done. …
… The problem with a powerful rogue government is not just that it becomes quite adept at doing what it should not. Increasingly, it also cannot even do what it should.