by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
The latest labor statistics and health care statistics refute the false claims being made against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by Obamacare opponents. The claims and facts below are summarized from an excellent op/ed in Forbes magazine by Rick Ungar, which can be found here:
CLAIM: Obamacare will lead to a decline in full-time employment as employers reduce hours to below 30 per week to avoid providing health benefits.
FACT: Numbers just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), shows that part-time workers in the U.S. fell by 300,000 since the Affordable Care Act became law. This past year, the first full year of Obamacare health coverage, full-time employment grew by over 2 million. Part-time employment leaders who oppose Obamacare. Fewer cops, fewer teachers, fewer folks providing essential social services in the public sector all to make political point.
CLAIM: Millions of Americans are losing their individual health insurance policy due to Obamacare.
FACT: A new study by Lisa Clemans-Cope and Nathaniel Anderson of the Urban Institute found that prior to the Affordable Care Act the number of people kept their individual policy was very low with just 17 percent retaining coverage for more than two years.” The Urban Institute conducted a survey last December that asked 522 people between the ages of 18 and 64, “Did you receive a notice in the past few months from a health insurance company saying that your policy is cancelled or will no longer be offered at the end of 2013?” Only 18.6% said their plan was cancelled because it didn’t meet ACA coverage requirements, while the expected cancellation rate was 17% in the years prior to Obamacare. You can find the following bar graph and read more in Health Affairs.
The 18.6 percent who lost individual health insurance coverage due to the ACA requirements amounts to about 2.6 million people. According to the Urban Institute researchers over half of these folks will be eligible for coverage assistance. Still, roughly one million people will have to replace their cancelled policy with something that may cost them more. This isn’t good but it is less dramatic than what has been reported and most of these individuals would have been in the same boat prior to the ACA.
Facts matter – The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index was also just released. It reveals that 15.9 percent of American adults are now uninsured, down from 17.1 percent for the last three months of 2013. That translates roughly to 3 million to 4 million people getting coverage who did not have it before. The the number of Americans who still do not have health insurance coverage is on track to reach the lowest quarterly number since 2008.
There are currently 5 to 8 million people who can’t access Medicaid because their political leaders oppose Obamacare. That means the number of people being denied access to Medicaid expansion for political reasons is greater than the number who have signed up for Obamacare so far. The Rand Corporation recently analyzed 14 of the states with governors who oppose the Medicaid expansion and found their actions will deprive 3.6 million people of health coverage under Obamacare. These states will forgo $8.4 billion in federal funding. Moreover, their political opposition to Obamacare will cost these states $1 billion for programs that partially compensate medical providers who care for the indigent. (see Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/03/medicaid-expansion_n_3367301.html).
Below is an excerpt and table of the uninsured by state that is taken from the Health Affairs Blog, which you can goto at: http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2014/01/30/opting-out-of-medicaid-expansion-the-health-and-financial-impacts/
Clearly, if the extreme efforts underway to by politicians to derail the Affordable Care Act was instead focused towards making it work, Obamacare would be wildly successful.
Examining the numbers. The number of uninsured people in states opting in and opting out of Medicaid expansion is displayed in Exhibit 1. Nationwide, 47,950,687 people were uninsured in 2012; the number of uninsured is expected to decrease by about 16 million after implementation of the ACA, leaving 32,202,633 uninsured. Nearly 8 million of these remaining uninsured would have gotten coverage had their state opted in. States opting in to Medicaid expansion will experience a decrease of 48.9 percent in their uninsured population versus an 18.1 percent decrease in opt-out states.
Exhibit 1: Uninsured Population by State, Pre- and Post-ACA
Here is a link to a website where you can check out state-by-state enrollments using an inter-active map: https://www.statereforum.org/tracking-health-coverage-enrollment-by-state?gclid=COCG7ffPob0CFYt9OgodPTQALQ
And this link is to an inter-active map showing the state-by-state status on Medicaid expansion: https://www.statereforum.org/Medicaid-Expansion-Decisions-Map?gclid=CJ_i4L3Rob0CFYuXOgod2RMA4g
by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
Coal ash is what’s left after coal is burned. It’s a toxic stew containing heavy metals including arsenic, lead and mercury. For many years Duke Energy has mixed coal ash with water and pumped this cocktail from coal fired power plants into huge open pits. In February, one of the sludge pits located in North Carolina began releasing millions of gallons of toxic coal ash into the Dan River, a source of public drinking water for thousands of people.
Duke Energy spent millions over the years to keep government from properly regulating their waste products. For all those decades the stockholders and upper management of Duke energy have profited from this arrangement. Now that the inevitable has occurred, clean up effort will take years and cost a billion dollars. Millions more will have to be spent to correct the improper disposal problems that Duke Energy has practiced for decades.
Safely storing coal ash should have been a cost of doing business for Duke Energy all along, but they have deferred that cost to boost their profits. Now Duke Energy’s president and CEO, Lynn Good, thinks taxpayers should bear the cleanup costs. She said, “Ash pond closure has been a plan for very long time. And because that ash was created over decades for the generation of electricity, we do believe that ash pond disposal costs are ultimately a part of our cost structure.” She believes the burden of this clean up should be shared by everyone equally. (Corporate socialism? Again?)
Corporation are legally obligated to maximize profits for their shareholders. This would be fine if they were also legally obligated to paid the full cost of doing business without cutting corners. Cleaning up toxic spills is far more expensive than preventing themand regulations to enforce safe disposal are less expensive in the long run. But asking the victims of their environmental crimes to pay for cleaning up their mess and fixing their problem should not be an option.
(See also: http://www.politicususa.com/2014/03/14/republican-hypocrites-force-nc-taxpayers-pay-duke-energys-toxic-coal-ash-dumping.html )