Monday, October 14, 2013

Illinois' entry in the Health Care Marketplace

Calling Winston Smith from the Ministry of Truth.  He'd appreciate the use of the word "marketplace" in the recent health insurance cartel developments.  Namely, PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), aka Obamacare.

Illinois has 8 providers, including newcomer Land of Lincoln Health.  It was created by MCHC (Chicago Metropolitan Healthcare Council) in November 2011 as a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP for short), which in turn was created by provisions in PPACA.

On December 21, 2012 Land of Lincoln Health received a $160 million grant from the federal government "to create a new kind of healthcare company in Illinois."

April 29, 2013 Land of Lincoln received the mutual insurance license from the State of Illinois.

So who is MCHC?  Well, they claim to have started in 1935 and the board of directors consists of the chief administrators of hospitals in the Chicagoland region.  The executive staff names don't ring any bells, but that doesn't mean they're off the hook yet.  Here's a great Orwellian bio on Daniel Yunker, who is also on the Land of Lincoln staff:
A thought-leader in health care finance, Yunker is a professor of finance in the University of Illinois at Chicago’s master of healthcare administration program, educating the next generation of health care leaders. 

The Chicago Tribune did a fairly decent job reporting Sunday, October 13 2013 on Obamacare in Illinois, including this:
The vast majority of insurance plans for 2014 must include a list of 10 essential health benefits, some of which, like maternity care, weren't necessarily included in all health plans a year ago.
The law also includes mandatory coverage of mental health and substance-abuse treatment, prescription drugs and rehabilitative care. All preventive care, including annual physicals and routine immunizations like flu shots, must be covered at no cost.
Further, insurers are required to take all applicants, regardless of whether they have pre-existing medical issues that may have locked them out of coverage in the past. And they're prohibited from charging their oldest, sickest members any more than three times as much as their youngest, healthiest members, causing premium prices to rise for many younger people.
Costs associated with those mandates are passed along to all members of a health plan.
The Trib did more than most by pointing out younger and/or healthier people would be subsidizing older and/or sicker people.  But a better way to phrase it would have been "they are prohibited from charging their younger/healthier customers anything cheaper than 1/3 of their most expensive.  This phrasing shows that insurers will calculate their most EXPENSIVE premiums first, and then the cheapest versions will be simply 1/3 of that.

Puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

Friday, August 09, 2013

A-Rod and Pete Rose

In the wake of MLB suspending 13 players, 12 agreeing to the suspensions and Alex Rodriguez appealing.  (Well, he did get a 211 game suspension.  On the other hand, he refused to cooperate with MLB and apparently worked hard to obstruct their investigation.)

As expected, this story raised the issue of Pete Rose's banishment from the Hall of Fame.  Guys you'd think would know better, like Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald put forward that Pete Rose the manager shouldn't be allowed in the Hall but Pete Rose the player should - because it was Pete Rose the manager who bet on baseball.

A little disingenuous there, Barry.

1. Pete Rose was a player-manager.  If you concede he bet on baseball as a manager, then he also bet on baseball as a player.

2.  Pete Rose is all over the Hall NOW.  His days with the Big Red Machine, his records - all recorded and displayed in the Hall.  His name is not redacted.

3.  You display a shocking lack of knowledge of baseball's history.  In the first decades of the 20th century, horse racing and boxing were more popular than baseball.  But they did share something in common with America's pastime:  they were populated by gamblers and the mob, and it was common for races/bouts to be fixed.  The 1919 Black Sox weren't outed until the following season, in the wake of a Cubs-Phillies game that was thrown.  And during the 1919 Series, why were Christie Mathewson and Hugh Fullerton* so suspicious so soon?  Because they knew of other games that had been fixed.  And Fullerton had been tipped off before the Series started.  And Edd Roush of the Reds had been approached before the Series by a different syndicate of gamblers to throw the Series.
*Hugh Fullerton covered the Series for Chicago paperse; Christy Mathewson for a New York paper.

The game was rife with fixes and attempts to clean it up before 1919.  The same Christy Mathewson, while manager, suspended 1B Hal Chase in 1916 for offering bribes to players to throw games.  Chase was reinstated shortly thereafter when Mathewson went off to WWI.

Manager John McGraw co-owned a saloon in NYC with Arnold Rothstein.

In the wake of the 1919 Series trial, creating of the Commissioner's office, and banishment of the White Sox 8, Hal Chase was also banished from the game.  Later, in 1926 reports of Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker consorting with gamblers and fixing games cropped up.  In 1927 Landis cleared Cobb & Speaker, returned them to active status (AL Pres. Ban Johnson had suspended them in 1926).  But it is believed Landis did so in spite of the evidence to repair baseball's reputation.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

While Cyprus was happening Netherlands nationalized 4th largest bank - SNS

Reggie Middleton (Boom Bust Blog) had me looking at Irish banks last week. Too bad I missed the stories last week that 3 Dutch banks had major system errors.

From the Real Currencies blog:

So what does this computer malfunction mean? It’s an exercise. And probably not for Holland itself. The Dutch economy is midsized and a good place for a drill for something bigger. Like the US, which is the real target here. Two weeks ago, Chase Manhattan had some problems too: accounts were suddenly drained and set to zero. Interestingly, this was also going on with ING.
I also had missed the JPMorgan Chase story back in mid-March.

Back to the Dutch banks. reports: More Problems for ING as online banking fails.

Friday 05 April 2013Internet banking customers were faced with more problems in buying goods and services online on Friday afternoon, following major disruption to the iDEAL online payment system.
'We are working hard to restore normal service,' a spokesman for iDEAL operator Currence told the Financieele Dagblad. 'Some of the problems have been solved but not all.'

Although the iDEAL failure has affected ING, Rabobank and SNS clients, ING users have also been hit by an internet breakdown and could not access their accounts for several hours, various media reported.

Reuters on the Dutch banking disasters: Dutch bank ING's online customers find wrong balance in accounts. Maybe it was the right balance, after they had been Cyprus'd. From the article:
ING said that it had a problem with processing payments on Tuesday night and that balances online appeared incorrect even though the actual balances in the accounts were not affected. It said the problem was not caused by computer hacking.

Separately, rival Dutch lender Rabobank said that it also had problems with its online banking on Wednesday. Rabobank's problems, which were unrelated to those at ING, prevented customers from requesting loans online.
While looking for more details on SNS' woes I learned that the Netherlands had nationalized it, while the Cyprus story was consuming everyone's interest.  That is, everyone who was following those kinds stories.  Certainly not the mainstream U.S. press.  And by the way, I learned of the nationalization from a Malta newspaper - the Independent.
Sunday, 31 March 2013, 09:00 , by Noel GrimaThe Netherlands nationalized its fourth-largest bank on Friday week, injecting €2.2 billion to recapitalise SNS Reaal NV and head off the possibility of a messy collapse that would threaten the country’s fragile economy and financial system.
The total cost to the Dutch government will be at least €3.7 billion, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told a press conference. That’s enough to ensure that The Netherlands’ budget deficit in 2013 will be higher than the three per cent allowed under EU rules, unless the Cabinet – which has already taken a series of unpopular tax hikes and spending cuts – comes up with further austerity measures.
Now this gets curiouser and curiouser because it was this same Dijsselbloem who said Cyprus was a template in an interview with Reuters and the Financial Times.
BRUSSELS | Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:40am EDT
(Reuters) - A rescue programme agreed for Cyprus on Monday represents a new template for resolving euro zone banking problems and other countries may have to restructure their banking sectors, the head of the region's finance ministers said.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Juncker's Luxembourg in the Eurogroup's crosshairs

Diesel-b*mb calls out Jean-Claude Juncker's Luxembourg, pointedly remarking they better get their asset-to-GDP ratio down.

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem fanned the flames in an interview this week, advising Luxembourg to cut leverage in its financial system and slim down its banks. “Deal with it before you get into trouble,” he said.
The comments caused fury in the Grand Duchy. “We do not attract Russian money to Luxembourg with high interest rates. The Luxembourg financial centre is based on several pillars, we are characterised by the breadth of our product range,” said premier Jean-Claude Juncker.
This recalls to mind Juncker's indignant interviews in April/May 2011 where he ultimately admitted "when it becomes serious you have to lie."  I suppose Luxembourg coming under attack would be a serious enough situation that one would have to lie.

Turns out the Underwear Bomber was an inside job

Remember the Underwear Bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab from way back on December 25, 2009?  Turns out he was never a threat.  The whole thing was staged.  Reuters reported way back on 2012-05/18 on a press conference by now-CIA Director John Brennan (then White House adviser on counter-terrorism) who said "the plot was never a threat to the U.S. public or air safety because Washington had 'insider control' over it."

Richard Clarke, former chief of counter-terrorism for the Clinton White House and participant on the Brennan call said on ABC's Nightline there was a Western spy or double-agent in on the plot.
This vindicates Kurt Haskell, a passenger on that flight, who stated from the beginning he saw Abdulmutallab walked through airport security and airline security at the gate by without a passport by a "sharp dressed man."  So we know what one of the double-agents looks like.  And surprise, surprise - the airport's security video footage from that day is lost.

The whole-body scanners (aka naked body scanners) were rolled into airports on the heels of this story. 

The news, when it had a negative slant on this story which wasn't often, focused on who was getting rich from this deal:  Michael Chertoff.

From Mother Jones on January 4, 2010:
Yet the rush toward full-body scans already seems unstoppable. They were mandated today as part of the "enhanced" screening for travelers from selected countries, and hundreds of the machines are already on order, at a cost of about $150,000 apiece. Within days of the bombing attempt, Reuters was reporting that the "greater U.S. government shift toward using the high-tech devices could create a boom for makers of security imaging products, and it has already created a speculative spike in share prices in some companies."
Which brings us to the money shot. The body scanner is sure to get a go-ahead because of the illustrious personages hawking them. Chief among them is former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, who now heads the Chertoff Group, which represents one of the leading manufacturers of whole-body-imaging machines, Rapiscan Systems. For days after the attack, Chertoff made the rounds on the media promoting the scanners, calling the bombing attempt "a very vivid lesson in the value of that machinery"—all without disclosing his relationship to Rapiscan.

And there it is.  When there's something a government wants to do and the bad guys won't cooperate by doing something, anything to permit the government to respond to, they just go ahead and do it and pin it on some guy, group, or nation.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Views of a Chicagoan on gun control

I've let some people down, when much to their surprise they discovered I am against gun control.  It belatedly occurs to me that I should provide background on my position.  (Not trying to change anyone's pro-gun control position; this is purely background material on my position.)

Living on the front lines of extreme gun control, aka Chicago, has shown Chicagoans that gun control legislation results in only criminals and cops with guns.  And you'll see from recent reports I recount below that the two groups are more similar than not.
*Note: All reports are from December 2012 and January 2013.

Chicago is currently dealing with its own horrific version of a Newtown-type tragedy, and personally I think ours is WORSE.  On December 29 (Saturday) Nathaniel Beller doused his two kids, their mother, and the apartment with accelerant and set them all on fire.  The mother died, then Nathaniel died, then his daughter.  His son is still alive, struggling to survive 3rd degree burns on 35% of his body.

The press and public are not baying for an accelerant ban.

The press is reporting, however, that the Cook County State's Attorney office had a chance to charge Beller in September 2012 for threatening to SET HIS KIDS ON FIRE and passed on it.  He even had the bathtub filled with gasoline.

These are not the people I would outsource my self-defense to.

The comments in that Sun-Times story refer to the same crack Cook County State's Attorney office role in the Koschman case, where a Daley nephew accidentally killed a young man in 2004 and then both CPD and the State's Attorney office conspired to cover it up.  The Sun-Times exposed it in 2011 - conveniently after Mayor Daley left office.

Then there's the civil suit the CPD lost in 2012 where they were found guilty of "having a code of silence" in the case of off-duty Officer Abbate, who kicked the shit out of female bartender who asked him to leave.  The code-of-silence description particularly rankles me - if you or I engaged in this behavior they'd throw the RICO act at us.

And to wrap up this post, there is the ongoing shame regarding CPD Commander Jon Burge, who tortured dozens, if not hundreds, of black suspects in the 1970s and 1980s.  And again, with a then-State's Attorney Rich Daley riding shotgun, so to speak.  CPD "lost" or destroyed untold amounts of records to protect the department.  Then they tried to stall to get past the statute of limitations and almost made it.