0 Comments · Wednesday, March 5, 2014
At a little before 9:20 a.m. I started,
for the third time, to create an account on the government’s national
Affordable Health Care insurance website, The Marketplace.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The federal government reported slightly
better numbers in January for Obamacare’s once-troubled online
marketplaces, but Ohio and the nation still fall far short of key
by German Lopez
State plans for fracking in parks, mayor to help Obamacare, airport’s flood levee decertified
Gov. John Kasich’s administration in 2012 privately discussed a
public relations campaign to help bring fracking to three state parks. The
plan was apparently abandoned. But ProgressOhio, which released documents showing the discussions, says the plan highlights a trend in the Kasich administration
of looking out for business interests first. Fracking is a drilling technique
in which millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped
underground to unlock oil and gas reserves. In the past couple years,
the technique has been credited with bringing about a natural gas
production boom in much of the United States, including Ohio. But
environmentalists worry the poorly regulated practice contaminates air
and water. CityBeat covered fracking in greater detail here.Mayor John Cranley and Enroll America today plan to announce a partnership to get people enrolled in Obamacare. The goal is to fill the insurance pool
with healthier, younger enrollees, many of whom qualify for financial
assistance through HealthCare.gov, to help keep costs down. CityBeat previously interviewed Trey Daly, Ohio director of Enroll America, about the outreach efforts here.The two Republicans in charge of City Council’s Budget and
Finance Committee want to know why the city decertified a flood levee
surrounding Lunken Airport, instead of bringing it up to federal standards,
without consulting City Council. The decertification forced property
owners around the airport to buy costly flood insurance. City officials
say they made the decision because the city did not have the $20-$100
million it would cost to bring the levee up to standards.The W. Va. chemical spill cost Greater Cincinnati Water
Works about $26,000 in treatment chemicals, or about 11 cents per
customer.Getting ex-prisoners enrolled in Medicaid as they are
released could save Ohio nearly $18 million this year, according to state
officials.Duke Energy plans to sell 13 power plants, including 11 in Ohio. The company says the move is necessary because of the state’s increasingly unpredictable regulatory environment for electricity generators. Last week, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio rejected Duke’s request for a $729 million rate increase.With algorithms now capable of breaking CAPTCHA 90 percent
of the time, companies might need to find other anti-spam
protections.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to email@example.com.
by German Lopez
Local politician faces charges, Ohio boosts solar jobs, Obamacare enrollment improves
State Rep. Peter Beck, a Republican from Mason, now faces 69 felony counts
and increasing pressure to resign. Beck is accused of helping mislead
investors into putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into an
insolvent West Chester startup company and putting some of the funds
from the company into his own campaign. Beck says he's innocent, but
that hasn't stopped top Ohio Republicans from calling for him to resign
to avoid a potential scandal and losing a seat in the Ohio legislature.Ohio ranked No. 8 in the nation for solar jobs in 2013, with solar employment growing by roughly 31 percent over the year, according to the latest census from the Solar Foundation. The report found that U.S. solar jobs grew 10 times faster than overall employment across the country. Environment Ohio applauded the numbers, praising Cincinnati in particular for its own solar-friendly efforts. But the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate is looking into ways to weaken or undo the law that makes many solar projects possible across the state. A report from the Ohio State University and the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy indicates that repealing the law could end up costing Ohioans $3.65 billion on their electricity bills between 2014 and 2025.The federal government reported slightly better enrollment numbers in January for Obamacare's once-troubled website, but Ohio and the nation still fell short of key demographic roles previously perpetuated by the federal government. Specifically, monthly enrollment actually beat projections for the first time since HealthCare.gov launched. But the cumulative amount of young adults signing up through January only reached 25 percent in the country and 21 percent in Ohio — far below the 39 percent goal the White House previously deemed necessary to avoid filling the insurance pool with older, less healthy enrollees who tend to use more resources and drive up costs. With Obamacare's online marketplaces mostly fixed, some groups are now doubling efforts to get the uninsured, particularly young adults, enrolled. CityBeat interviewed Trey Daly, Ohio state director of one of those groups, here.Explainer: Everything you need to know about responsible bidder.Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected a Democrat-backed petition that would create a statewide ballot initiative for a Voter Bill of Rights, but proponents of the initiative say they'll come back with tweaked language. In a statement, DeWine said the proposal ran afoul of federal law in two places. Even if DeWine approved the language from a legal standpoint, supporters would still need to gather roughly 385,000 valid signatures before a July deadline to get the issue on the ballot in November. CityBeat covered the Voter Bill of Rights in greater detail here.Following the large amount of charter school closures last year, State Auditor Dave Yost is launching an investigation into three Ohio charter school sponsors and the Ohio Department of Education.The Cincinnati area could get 2 inches of snow.A Ky. auditor says the former finance director of Covington stole nearly $800,000.Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes posted pictures of downtown Cincinnati circa 1968 here.Sam Adams is pouring millions into a Cincinnati brewery.Grizzly bears could offer a better solution for weight loss.Watch Dale Hansen, a Texas sports anchor, take on the NFL and Michael Sam’s anti-gay haters:
Video | News | Weather | Sports Mon Feb 10 20:43:08 PST 2014Hansen Unplugged: Celebrating our differences Michael Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL; says he knows there will be problems... and they’ve already started. view full articleFollow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopezGot any news tips? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Comment · Wednesday, February 12, 2014
With HealthCare.gov mostly fixed after its glitch-ridden rollout, outreach campaigns are now doubling efforts to get Americans enrolled in Obamacare.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 15, 2014
In the third month of open enrollment,
Obamacare failed to meet crucial demographic goals for young adults in
Ohio and across the nation.
by German Lopez
Early voting tomorrow, Obamacare enrollment to open, pension amendment cuts benefits
Have any questions for City Council candidates? Submit them here and CityBeat may ask your questions at this Saturday’s candidate forum.
Early voting for the 2013
City Council and mayoral elections begins tomorrow. Find your voting
location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.
Tomorrow is also the first day of open enrollment at Obamacare’s online marketplaces, which can be found at www.healthcare.gov.
At the marketplaces, an Ohio individual will be able to buy a
middle-of-the-pack health insurance plan for as low as $145 a month
after tax credits, while a family of four making $50,000 will be able to
pay $282 a month for a similar plan, according to Congressional Budget Office numbers.
Starting in 2014, most Americans — with exemptions for religious and
economic reasons, the imprisoned and those living outside the country —
will be required to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
Organizations from around the state and country will be working over
the next six months to help insure as many Ohioans and Americans as
possible, but some of those efforts have been obstructed by Republican
legislators who oppose the president’s signature health care law, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Meanwhile, the federal government is nearing a shutdown because of Republican opposition to Obamacare, including local Reps. Steve Chabot and Brad Wenstrup.
A report from the conservative Buckeye Institute echoes claims made by both sides in Cincinnati’s pension debate:
A tea party-backed amendment, if approved by voters, would
reduce retirement benefits for new city employees by one-third. At the
same time, the city’s unfunded pension liability might be $2.57 billion,
or three times what officials currently estimate. The amendment would
semi-privatize Cincinnati’s pension system by forcing future city
employees to contribute to and manage their own individual retirement
accounts, which would imitate private 401k plans commonly seen in the
private sector. Under the current system, the city pools pension funds
and manages the public system through an independent board. The pension
amendment is backed by tea party groups, some of who may reside outside Cincinnati and Ohio, and will appear on the ballot as Issue 4.
To celebrate early voting, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who’s running for mayor against ex-Councilman John Cranley,
will name her vice mayor today. Qualls is expected to select
Councilman Wendell Young. Cranley and Qualls are both Democrats, but
they’re heavily divided on the streetcar project and parking plan, both
of which Qualls supports and Cranley opposes. The mayoral candidates mostly focused on the two issues in their first post-primary mayoral debate,
which CityBeat covered here.
Jeffrey Blackwell, Cincinnati’s new police chief, starts on the job today.
He’s replacing former Police Chief James Craig, who left in June to
take the top police job in his hometown of Detroit. The city has praised
Blackwell for his 26 years at the Columbus Division of Police, where he
reached out to youth and immigrants, advanced the use of technology,
worked closely with community members and helped reduce operating costs.
Cincinnati Councilwoman Pam Thomas today announced that
she’s introducing a motion to hire a 40-member police recruit class. The
motion addresses a drop in the amount of Cincinnati police officers in
recent years: Staffing levels since the last recruit class have dropped
by 15.2 percent, according to Thomas’ office. “Our police staffing
levels are dangerously low,” Thomas said in a statement. “We cannot
afford to sacrifice our public’s safety by not hiring this recruit
class.” In this year’s budget, the city managed to prevent cutting
public safety jobs by slashing other city services, including city
parks. But Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan argues that Cincinnati’s public
safety forces, which are proportionally larger than most comparable
cities, need to be “rightsized” and reduced over time.
The amount of local children and teens going to the hospital with a concussion massively increased
between 2002 and 2011, and the number is expected to increase further
because state law now requires medical clearance to continue playing
sports after a concussion.
Ohio gas prices are back below the national average.
AdvancePierre Foods, Cincinnati's largest private company, got a new CEO.
Earth may have stolen its moon from Venus.
by German Lopez
Obamacare misses target, state to investigate CPS staff, chemical spill forces local measures
In the third month of open enrollment, Obamacare failed to
hit key demographic targets for young adults in Ohio and across the
nation. White House officials say about about 39 percent of those who
sign up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state-run
marketplaces must be young adults. The idea is to get enough young,
healthy enrollees to hold down costs as an older, sicker population
signs up for health insurance made more easily available through
Obamacare’s systems and regulations. But in December, only 19 percent of
signups in Ohio and 24 percent of signups nationwide were young adults.
The Ohio Department of Education will recalculate report
card data and investigate whether to punish staff after Cincinnati
Public Schools (CPS) and six other Ohio school districts that scrubbed
student attendance data. By manipulating the data, schools can appear to
be performing better, but the actions obviously jeopardize the
authenticity of Ohio’s school accountability system. CPS says its
internal investigations found no evidence of deliberate manipulation and
the data errors shouldn’t be enough to alter the school’s standing in
state report cards. For CPS and the six other school districts, the
issues began after the state auditor in 2012 launched an investigation
into school data scrubbing.To avoid contamination from a W. Va. chemical spill,
Cincinnati Water Works will shut down its water intake system along the
Ohio River and instead rely on the water intake system at the
groundwater treatment facility in Fairfield. Mayor John Cranley said the
shutdown will last two days, or more than twice the roughly 20 hours
required for the chemical slick to pass by. Consumers shouldn’t notice a
difference, according to Water Works officials.
In the coming weeks, the U.S. Coast Guard will decide
whether to allow fracking wastewater to travel along
the Ohio River and other federal waterways and how strictly regulated
the shipments should be. Fracking is a drilling technique in which
millions of gallons of water are pumped underground to unlock oil and
gas reserves, but the process produces a lot of wastewater as a result. CityBeat previously covered fracking and the controversy surrounding it in further detail here.
With legislation repealing Ohio’s energy rules now
stalled, Champaign County residents are challenging the
constitutionality of Ohio’s in-state renewable energy requirements in
court. Supporters of the law claim the rules help foster a green energy
sector in the state, while opponents argue the rules increase costs for
businesses and consumers. CityBeat previously covered State Sen. Bill Seitz’s legislative attempts to repeal the rules here.Another tea party-backed candidate might challenge Gov.
John Kasich in the Republican primary. The reveal comes just days after a
tea party leader abruptly dropped his challenge against the incumbent
governor.If state legislators approve, Gov. Kasich will hold his state of the state address this year at Medina, Ohio, on Feb. 24.Three judges will cover for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter while she fights felony charges in court.
State Rep. Pete Beck of Mason, who was indicted on 16 felony counts for alleged fraud and theft, is facing a primary challenger.Cincinnati repaved 130 lane miles of road in 2013, according to city officials.Duke Energy cut a check for the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority today to help redevelop Bond Hill and Queensgate.A blind student is suing Miami University for alleged discrimination that prevented her from completing coursework.One vote made the difference in 43 of Ohio’s 2013 elections, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.Ky. developers are still pursuing the Noah’s Ark theme park, despite troubles raising funds for the project.Today is the last day to vote for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.An infection can turn swarming locusts into solitary grasshoppers, a study found.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
State lags behind national average for enrolling young adults
In the third month of open enrollment, Obamacare failed to meet crucial demographic goals for young adults in Ohio and
across the nation.
Prior to the launch of HealthCare.gov, the Obama
administration said it needs to enroll about 2.7 million young adults
out of 7 million projected enrollees — nearly 39 percent of all signups —
for the law to succeed.The reasoning: Because young adults tend to be healthier,
they can keep premiums down as sicker, older people claim health
insurance after the law opens up the health insurance market to more Americans.But the numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services Monday — the first time the agency provided
demographic information — show the law missing the target both
nationally and in Ohio.Roughly 19 percent of nearly 40,000 Ohioans who signed up for Obamacare
were young adults between the ages of 18 and 34, according to the
report. Not only does that fall below the 39 percent goal, but it also
lags behind the national average of 24 percent.In defense of the demographic numbers, HHS Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a blog post Monday that enrollments are
demographically on pace with the 2007 experience of Massachusett, where state officials implemented health care reforms and systems similar to
Obamacare through Romneycare.Indeed, a report from The New Republic found just
22.6 percent of enrollees through the third month of Romneycare were young adults. That number rose to 31.7
percent by the end of the law’s first year.If Obamacare ends up at Massachusetts’ year-end rate, it will still
fall behind goals established by the White House. Still, Obamacare would be in
a considerably better place than it finds itself today.
The disappointing demographic figure comes after months of
technical issues snared HealthCare.gov’s launch. Most of the issues
were fixed in December, which allowed Obamacare to report considerably
better enrollment numbers by the end of the year.
But the enrollment numbers — nearly 2.2 million selected a
plan between Oct. 1 to Dec. 28 — still fall below the administration’s
projections to enroll 3.3 million by the end of December.It’s also unclear how many of those signing up for
Obamacare actually paid for their first premium, which is the final step to becoming enrolled in a health
Given how Romneycare worked out in Massachusetts, it’s
possible signups for Obamacare could pick up before open enrollment
closes at the end of March. Based on previous statements from the White
House, Obamacare’s success could depend on it.
by German Lopez
Bill could reduce voting, panel wants facial recognition limits, governors debate Obamacare
A Republican-proposed bill in the Ohio legislature is drawing criticism from voting rights advocates
because they say it would unnecessarily limit absentee voting. The bill
would permit the secretary of state to send out absentee-ballot
applications on even years, when gubernatorial and presidential
elections are held, only if the legislature funds the mailings, and it
would prevent county election boards from mailing out additional ballot
applications beyond what the state sends out. Previously, some counties
mailed unsolicited ballot applications to all voters to potentially
reduce lines on Election Day. Voting rights advocates say the bill will
dampen and reduce voter participation, but State Sen. Bill Coley, the bill’s sponsor, argues
it’s necessary to bring uniformity to county-by-county absentee voting.
A nine-member panel of criminal justice officials on Friday recommended limiting access and improving oversight
of Ohio’s controversial facial recognition program, following a
two-month review of the system and public criticisms over the program’s
secrecy and alleged lack of oversight. The facial recognition program,
which is part of a state database of criminal justice records known as
the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG), was live for more than two
months and 2,677 searches before Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
formally announced its existence in August. The program allows police
officers and civilian employees to use a photo to search databases for
names and contact information; previously, law enforcement officials
needed a name or address to search such databases.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear debated Obamacare on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Beshear pointed to his state’s successful rollout of Kynect,
a Kentucky-operated online marketplace for state-based health insurance
plans. The Kentucky marketplace has already enrolled 26,000
Kentuckians, although 21,000 are Medicaid enrollees. Meanwhile, Kasich
criticized the rocky launch of the federal portal HealthCare.gov, which only applies to states, like Ohio, that declined to run their own online marketplaces. The federal portal has been practically unworkable
for a huge majority of Americans since it launched on Oct. 1. Kasich
also claimed Obamacare will increase health insurance costs in Ohio — a
claim that goes against
findings in a national premium model developed by Avik Roy, a
conservative health care expert who is typically critical of Obamacare. CityBeat covered Obamacare’s Ohio rollout in further detail here.
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson is questioning why WCPO used a man named Jim Kiefer as a source
after he posted racist insults aimed at her on social media. WCPO
quoted Kiefer in a story as a John Cranley supporter, but the Cranley
campaign quickly distanced itself from Kiefer upon learning of his
history of bigoted posts on his Facebook wall, which was public at the
time but is now private. Kiefer told CityBeat the posts were supposed to be jokes.
The ongoing mayoral race looks like the most expensive since Cincinnati began directly electing its mayors in 2001.
City Council could move forward with a plan next month to reduce the noise freight trains make overnight.
Emma and William were the most popular names in Cincinnati in 2012.
Ohio gas prices dipped this week after two straight weeks of increases.
The furthest confirmed galaxy shows off light from just 700 million years after the Big Bang.
Early voting is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are extended. Check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements for the 2013 election here.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez