Redistricting helped the GOP win the House, and it almost caused the fiscal cliff
0 Comments · Thursday, January 3, 2013
Over the past few weeks, the political
drama in Washington, D.C., has circulated around the “fiscal cliff,” a
series of tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in for 2013. On Jan.
1, U.S. Congress narrowly avoided the fiscal cliff. But the close call
left some wondering: Could it have been more easily prevented,
particularly through redistricting reform?
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)
will lead to an increase in Ohio’s raw health care premiums, but the
increase will be more than offset by the law’s tax credits.
by German Lopez
Individuals’ premiums will rise, but tax credits will more than make up for the increase
The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) will lead to an
increase in Ohio’s raw health care premiums, but the increase will be
more than offset by the law’s tax credits, according to an Aug. 29 study from the RAND Corporation, a reputable think tank.
Specifically, health care premiums will rise to an average
of $5,312 under Obamacare in 2016. Without the law, premiums would
reach an average of $3,973 that year.
But when Obamacare’s tax credits are plugged in, the
average Ohio individual will only pay a premium of $3,131 — $842 less
than an individual Ohioan would pay without the law.
The tax credits will be available to individuals between 100 percent ($11,490 in annual income) and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 in annual income). The subsidies will be smaller for
higher income levels, and the raw premium will vary depending on the insurance plan, so the premium and subsidy numbers don’t apply perfectly across the board.
The numbers also only apply to Ohioans in the individual
health insurance market. Under Obamacare, individuals will be able to
enroll for health insurance through an online marketplace. The majority of Americans who get health insurance through their
employers or public programs fall under different rules and regulations.
Obamacare will help more non-elderly Ohioans get health insurance. Without the law, 14.9 percent of
non-elderly individuals would lack insurance. With the law, only 6.2
percent will go without insurance.
RAND attributes the difference in insurance rates to tax credits, which make health insurance more affordable, and the individual
mandate, which requires certain Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine.
The numbers are good news for Obamacare, which needs a certain amount of young adults to enroll to avoid causing health care costs to skyrocket. Federal officials
say they expect to enroll 7 million people through individual
marketplaces, but 2.7 million must be young adults. That’s because
young adults tend to be healthier, which will help balance out sicker, older
people flowing into health care plans.
The online marketplaces are supposed to open enrollment on Oct. 1. The actual plans will go into effect on Jan. 1.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 03:50 PM | Permalink
Food stamp program losing temporary funding boost
With a temporary boost to the federal food stamp program
coming to an end this November, more than 1.8 million Ohioans — 16 percent of the state’s population — will receive significantly less food aid, according to an Aug. 2
report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
The report calculates that the cut is the equivalent to
taking away 21 meals per month for a family of four. After the cut,
the food stamp program will provide each person with less than $1.40 per meal,
according to CBPP’s calculations.
Citing research from the USDA that shows many low-income
families still fail to meet basic standards for food security, CBPP says
the cuts will hit families that arguably need more, not less, help:
“Given this research and the growing awareness of the inadequacy of the
current SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefit
allotments, we can reasonably assume that a reduction in SNAP benefit
levels of this size will significantly increase the number of poor
households that have difficulty affording adequate food this fall.”
Although the federal food stamp program has been cut
before, it’s never been cut to this extent, according to CBPP. “There
have been some cuts in specific states, but these cuts have not
typically been as large or affected as many people as what will occur
this November,” the report reads.
The reductions could also have a broader economic impact:
Every $1 increase in food aid generates about $1.70 in economic
activity, according to progressive think tank Policy Matters Ohio.
“Ohio’s foodbanks and hunger charities cannot respond to
increasing hunger on their own,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive
director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, in a statement released
by Policy Matters. “SNAP takes Ohioans out of our food pantry lines and
puts them into grocery store checkout lines. It provides supplemental
food to the most vulnerable among us. Now is not the time to further
reduce this already modest assistance to struggling families.”
About 48 percent of Cincinnati children are in poverty, according to a 2011 study from the National Center for Children in Poverty. Despite that, city funding to human services that benefits low-income families has been cut throughout the past decade. CityBeat covered that issue in greater detail here.
The cut to the federal food stamp program kicks in
automatically in November instead of the original April 2014 sunset date
as a result of laws passed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and
Congress. Obama and congressional Democrats are now urging legislation
that would remedy the situation, but it’s unlikely anything will pass
the gridlocked Congress.
Republicans are preparing a bill that would further cut
the food stamp program, which they see as too generous and expensive.
From Fox News:
“Reps. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, two
Republicans who helped design the bill, said the legislation would find
the savings by tightening eligibility standards and imposing new work
requirements. It would also likely try to reduce the rolls by requiring
drug testing and barring convicted murderers, rapists and pedophiles
from receiving food stamps.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The President confuses British chancellor with his favorite R&B singer, Macklemore & Ryan
Lewis unaware of Goodwill's latest "Thrift Shop"-jacking marketing campaign and Jay-Z will have to wait until real people buy his new album before it can become a million-seller.
Drones to deliver beer at music fest, Jay-Z gets a presidential diss and Ghost B.C. release cheeky box-set
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 1, 2013
A South African music festival announced new "beer drone technology," whereby fans order by phone and have their order dropped from a drone above, will debut at August event. Plus, Jay-Z gets a mini-roast from the President at the White House Correspondents' Dinner and Swedish Doom Metal band Ghost B.C. treats fans to a sacrilicious new box set, complete with band-branded sex toys.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Economy
at 04:00 PM | Permalink
Cuts affecting education, housing, environment
Policy Matters Ohio released a report
Monday that gives a hint of how federal sequestration, a series of
across-the-board federal budget cuts that kicked in March 1, will affect
Ohio. The impact of sequestration is already being felt in various areas, including
education, housing and the environment.
In Cincinnati, the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community
Action Agency plans to carry out $1 million in cuts by dropping 200 kids
from the Head Start program, which helps low-income families get their
children into preschool and other early education programs.
Cuts will be spread out all around the state, leading to
cuts in tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency,
reduced research programs at major universities and the elimination of
military jet flyovers at certain events.
Wendy Patton, a senior project director at Policy Matters, says the cuts are only the beginning.
“We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg now,” Patton
says, citing cuts in Chillicothe that will force the Chillicothe
Metropolitan Housing Authority to serve 47 less families through the
housing voucher program. “We will see this kind of information come out
across Ohio’s 88 counties as the months roll by.”
In February, the White House outlined how sequestration
cuts will affect Ohio in its efforts to convince Congress to stop the
cuts. The White House estimated about 26,000 civilian defense department
employees would have to be furloughed, nearly $6.9 million in funding
to clean air and water would have to be cut and 350 teacher and aide
jobs would be put at risk, among other cuts.
Even the unemployed will be hurt through cuts to
unemployment insurance benefits — bad news in an
already weak economy. In Ohio, about $5.3 million in federal grant money
going toward unemployment insurance will be cut in a way that particularly affects the long-term unemployed, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.
“We already have a problem with the long-term unemployed,”
says Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters. “This just
makes it worse for these folks.”An analysis from The Washington Post found employers often discriminate against anyone who has been unemployed for a considerable time during the hiring process.
1 Comment · Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Attorney General Mike DeWine says Obamacare infringes on religious liberty, but Republicans just want special economic rules for religious institutions.
by German Lopez
DeWine says DACA recipients should be eligible to obtain driver's licenses
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles has been reviewing its
driver’s license policy for the children of illegal immigrants for nearly
two months now, but if it was up to Attorney General Mike DeWine, those
people would already be eligible for driver’s licenses.
In a letter to the Latino Affairs Commission dated to March 19,
DeWine wrote, “It appears that the BMV would have to accept driver’s
license applications from individuals that fall under the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative because they can provide
all of the information necessary.”
DACA is an executive order signed by President Barack
Obama that allows the children of illegal immigrants to qualify for a
social security number and work permit. According to DeWine, that should
be enough to qualify for an Ohio driver’s license: “With these
documents and any other documents normally required by the BMV, an
individual can provide the BMV with the information necessary to receive
a driver’s license.”
The BMV has been reviewing its driver’s license policy for DACA recipients for nearly two months. A previous CityBeat report
found the BMV is granting driver’s licenses to some of the children of
illegal immigrants, but what qualifies a few and disqualifies others is
DeWine’s letter is not legally binding, but since it’s
coming from the state’s top legal adviser, it could put
pressure on the BMV’s legal team as it continues reviewing the Ohio’s driver’s
“I encourage any citizen who is concerned about a law or
policy to contact their legislators and voice that concern,” DeWine
wrote. “As Attorney General, I do not have the authority to introduce or
vote on legislation.”
CityBeat originally broke the story regarding the
BMV policy through the story of Ever Portillo, who was not able to receive a driver’s license despite being a DACA recipient (“Not Legal Enough,” issue of Feb. 6).
CityBeat later heard stories and received documents showing what seemed to be internal confusion and conflict about the policy at the BMV. Between January and February, there was a
noticeable shift in the BMV’s messaging from flat-out barring DACA
recipients from obtaining driver’s licenses to reviewing the entire
process — a change that might be attributable to the barrage of statewide media coverage on the issue after CityBeat's coverage.