February 2007
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Day February 6, 2007

An outsider’s view of the MA health reform plan

cross-posted from Daily Kos to provide a different perspective on MA health care reform

Mandated Health Insurance plans by Goldberg & Murphy  by DrSteveB on Daily Kos 2/1/07

  1. Did you know that “Mandated Health” is already a failure…?

  2. Which was the first state to enact a universal system?

  3. Who is Rube Goldberg and why is he designing my health care system?

If you said Massachussetts you’d be only half wrong…

Those of you who have been working on health care reform for many years likely came up with Hawaii. Yet you don’t hear much anymore about Hawaii’s universal system. Why is that?  After all, soon after the enactment of Hawaii’s health insurance law, those lacking insurance dropped to 2 percent. Following “success” in Massachusetts, we are hearing about mandated plans from governors in California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Surely Hawaii should be touted as proof that Mandates work? Surely Massachusetts is well on its way to success…?

(read on…facts are important even though they can, at times, be disappointing)

The MTA’s White House Tactics

I never had much love for the Glove. He was a lousy, hands off governor, who started running for president the day he beat Shannon O’Brien.

But if anyone had any doubts about him being ready for the White House, think again. He’s got Karl Rove’s tactics and President Bush’s ethics. He wasn’t terribly helpful to his LT when she was running for governor, but pretending we could reduce tolls on the Turnpike was helpful to his grander plan.

Now it turns out, while he was calling the tune on tolls, Massachusetts voters were paying the piper. How much did it cost us? Over half a million dollars in consultant fees. (The reduction and the planned shift of the most of the Turnpike to regular state highway control, it turns out, isn’t quite legal.)

Here’s the Globe:

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority paid a cadre of consultants nearly $591,000 to try to bolster the Romney administration’s plan to eliminate the western tolls, an initiative that was declared all but dead yesterday by one of its champions on the Turnpike board.

In November and December, the agency paid seven consultants, including four law firms, to review legal, environmental, labor, and financial issues associated with the complex proposal to take down the tolls from Weston to Springfield.

The plan was first proposed by Governor Mitt Romney just three weeks before Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey’s Election Day showdown with Democrat Deval Patrick.

The board will not make a final decision until Patrick administration officials meet with Turnpike Authority chairman John Cogliano later this week, according to authority officials, but several board members acknowledged yesterday that the plan appears to be doomed.

Boston Bashes 18+ Events

In a piece titled Further Civic Paranoia, the Weekly Dig writes: On Friday January 26th, the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing issued a directive to all venues operating underage events in the city of Boston. It states that venues operating underage events must have their events over by 11pm, and can not have a secondary event after the fact. Events lasting later than 11pm must be 21+.(emphasis mine) For example Harpers Ferry, which celebrates its 30th year of hassle-free entertainment today, now has to make the choice: ditch the high school battle of the bands, or the now 21+ WBCN Rumble – because Boston says ya can’t do both, son. I called the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing to ask about this, but the person who answered the phone wasn’t even able to confirm for me what the new regulation is – just that there is a new regulation regarding underage events.  “The Director isn’t in right now.”  I pointed out how displeased I am that Boston issued such a significant new regulation without even making basic information about it available to people who call, then called the Mayor’s office to register my displeasure. Why are […]

Al Franken and Chris Gabrielli

Al Franken is all set to announce his candidacy for the Minnesota Senate Seat now being held by Norm Coleman.  It seems like only yesterday that Coleman was the lucky recipient of a seat that came his way through the tragic death of Paul Wellstone–who would have been a major contender for the 08 Presidency.

Franken will be a good candidate, but his departure from Air America is bad news for the media landscape of our country. 

MA Businessman: Employers should pay MORE towards health insurance

Yeah, this is a few days old … How about this: A business leader who doesn’t like subsidizing non-insuring employers! Go figure. Robert A. Baker , president of the nonprofit Smaller Business Association of New England, said most of his 700 members already contribute more to employee health coverage than the standards require. The reform plan signed last year by former governor Mitt Romney specifies that companies are exempt from a $295 per employee annual assessment if they make a “fair and reasonable” contribution to employees’ healthcare. Specifically, businesses can avoid the fee if 25 percent of their workers participate in a company-sponsored plan, or the companies pay at least one-third of the insurance premium. “Most of our people provide 50 to 80 percent premium contribution, and very few provide less than 50 percent,” said Baker. “Thirty-three percent seems to be abnormally low if you want to keep good people working for you.” Fifty percent, he said, “should be the standard.” See, someone’s going to pay for that care if the non-insuring employers don’t. And passing the vast costs off to employees — or the state, for that matter — is trying to get blood from a turnip. The new […]

War kills special people

WBUR had a profile on Centerville’s Army Sgt. Alex Fuller, killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He was 21. His wife is pregnant. A nicely done story. Check it out.

Biden, Obama, Eagan….”articulate”

Margery Eagan’s column today: (Biden’s) apology emphasis: the word “clean.” Apparently we have now moved on to the word “articulate.” Some African-Americans say a white man calling a black man “articulate” is subtle racism. Meanwhile many whites, like Biden, claim “articulate” is just an innocent adjective intended, however ham-handedly, to compliment. What this all means: yet another O.J.-verdict-like indicator that blacks and whites see the world completely differently. I googled for a minute and found: “He can clearly win the general election. He is a very smart, telegenic, articulate and forceful speaker and presence.” That was about Rudy Giuliani.  “Mr. Corzine says Hillary Clinton is articulate and disciplined but not charismatic.” American Prospect: “A frequent guest on television shows, McCain is seen as a credible, articulate straight shooter.” * * * One can imagine charges of racism if Obama were NOT called articulate.  Update: Huffington Post columnist makes same argument via John Edwards.  “Clean”?  Surely all agree that’s a weird word choice (though “clean-cut” would have been okay).  But no one should go nucular over “articulate.” 

How to Use Comment Ratings on Blue Mass Group

Community blogging & discussion sites and collaborative posting sites of all sorts allow users to vote posts (comments, links, items) “up” or “down” or on a scale, but there are no clear Internet-wide standards on what these votes mean.  Instead, each site develops its own voting/rating culture.  For example, on reddit, in the discussion threads, you vote “up” if you agree with something and “down” if you disagree.

Here, the Blue Mass Group three have given us clear guidance, both in comments they’ve made, and in the text labels they gave to the various ratings:

On Blue Mass Group, comment ratings do not reflect agreement or disagreement with the content of a comment, they reflect the community’s consensus on how worthwhile and in-place that comment is.

I often give 5′s and 6′s to comments I strongly disagree with, and sometimes 4′s or even 3′s to comments I agree with.

Unfortunately, not everyone follows this standard.  I frequently see comment ratings that seem to be based on agreement or disagreement, and when these are mixed in, the rating system becomes less useful.

Here’s my proposed guide on what the ratings we have available here mean, based on how I use them:

Just Because He Repeats It, Doesn’t Mean It’s True

It was announced today that Boston has extracted $2 million from Turner Broadcasting.  From the Globe:

  Turner Broadcasting and Interference Inc. also issued a statement accepting responsibility and acknowledging that authorities responded appropriately to the publicity campaign gone awry.

  Coakley and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the settlement and statement show that police did not overreact.

  “So I just have to say the folks who second-guessed us because we did go out there and do our work, shame on them, because it’s important that we did it,” Menino said.

The mayor and the attorney general need a logic lesson.  The only thing this shows is that you can get a company to say anything in a press release if it gets them out of a jam.