WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by German Lopez 09.03.2013
Posted In: News, Health care, Barack Obama, Education at 08:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ohio statehouse

Morning News and Stuff

Charter schools fail, Obamacare lowers costs, Medicaid expansion could help thousands

Ohio charter school have largely failed to live up to their promises, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Charter schools were originally pursued by Ohio lawmakers to help find a suitable alternative to the state’s struggling urban public schools. But in the latest school report cards, charter schools performed just as poorly as urban public schools. Charter schools are allowed to run a profit and skip on certain state rules and regulations, which was supposed to give them some leniency in implementing successful academic models. Obamacare will lower average health care costs in Ohio’s individual market, according to a study from RAND Corporation, a reputable think tank. Although premiums will rise as a result of the law, the tax credits offered in Obamacare will be more than enough to offset the increases. The numbers only apply to the individual marketplaces; anyone who gets insurance through an employer or public program falls under different rules and regulation. Still, the findings are good news for Obamacare as the federal government aims to insure 7 million people — and 2.7 million young, healthy adults among those — to make the individual marketplaces work. As part of Obamacare, states and the federal government will open online enrollment for new, subsidized individual insurance plans on Oct. 1, and the plans will go into effect at the start of next year. The Medicaid expansion could insure more than 42,000 people in Hamilton County, according to the Ohio Poverty Law Center. As part of Obamacare, states are asked to expand their Medicaid programs to include anyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 for a single-person household). If states accept, the federal government will pay for the entire expansion for the first three years then phase down its payments indefinitely to 90 percent of the expansion’s total cost. Earlier this year, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio released an analysis that found the Medicaid expansion would insure nearly half a million Ohioans and save the state about $1.8 billion in the next decade. Gov. John Kasich says he wants to slow down Attorney General Mike DeWine’s facial recognition program and work with the Ohio legislature to review if changes are necessary. Kasich compared the program to federal surveillance programs like the NSA and FISA, which have come under scrutiny in the past few months after leaks unveiled broader snooping and data collection of Americans’ private communications than previously expected. The facial recognition 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. The program was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union because knowledge of the program’s existence was withheld from the public for two-plus months and an independent group never reviewed the program’s privacy-protecting protocols. Democratic City Council candidate Greg Landsman backed the second phase of the streetcar in a column Friday. The endorsement could be vital to the project’s future because Landsman is widely considered a favorite in this year’s City Council race. JobsOhio’s leaders plan to launch a public relations offensive to repair the agency’s image. The privatized development agency has been criticized for its lack of transparency after media outlets uncovered that it was handing out tax credits to companies with direct financial ties to JobsOhio board members. Democrats argue the agency needs more transparency and checks on its recommendations, while Republicans, who created the agency to replace the Ohio Department of Development, claim the agency’s privatized, secretive nature allows it to move more quickly with job-creating development deals. The University of Cincinnati was named public university of the year by The Washington Center. The award recognizes UC for supporting experiential education through its partnership with The Washington Center, an independent academic organization that serves hundreds of colleges and universities by providing internships and other opportunities in Washington, D.C., for school credit. Police busted a $1 million shoplifting ring in Ohio that targeted discount retail stores along the Interstate 75 corridor, such as Walmart, Meijer, CVS and Family Dollar. State law will soon require vaccine immunizations against several diseases for children attending school. Cincinnati-based Kroger is cutting health care benefits for employees’ spouses on Jan. 1, but the plan will also increase pay, stabilize the company’s pension fund and provide more benefits for part-time employees. Obamacare apparently played a role in the decision to cut spousal benefits, but Kroger says the most influential factor was rising health care costs all around the nation — a trend that has been ongoing for decades. Here is a visualization of the urban heat island effect, which will make cities warm up much faster as global warming continues. Could you survive the end of the universe? io9 tackles the question here.
 
 
by German Lopez 08.30.2013
Posted In: News, Health care, Barack Obama at 10:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
barack obama 2

Obamacare to Lower Ohioans’ Health Care Costs

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.
 
 

GOP Continues Playing Politics with Ohioans’ Health

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Ohio officials announced on July 23 that they’ll take a hands-off approach to promoting the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), leaving it to the federal government to inform citizens about opportunities and benefits provided under the law.   
by German Lopez 07.22.2013
Posted In: News, Health care, Health at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ohio statehouse

Poll: More Than 1.25 Million Ohioans are Uninsured

Ohioans increasingly reliant on public health insurance

A poll analysis released today suggests more than 1.25 million Ohioans between the ages of 18 and 65 are uninsured, representing about 17 percent of the state’s working-age population. The poll also found that working-age Ohioans are obtaining health insurance less through employers and more through public insurance programs like Medicare, Medicaid and veteran benefits. About two in 10 working-age Ohioans use public programs in 2013, up from 12 percent in 2006. At the same time, 52 percent now get insurance through an employer, down from 64 percent in 2006. The numbers are relatively unchanged from 2012, according to the analysis from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. Nearly one in 10 of those who did have insurance also reported losing it in the past 12 months. “Certain groups are more likely to experience insurance instability,” said Jennifer Chubinski, director of community research at the Health Foundation, in a statement. “Almost half of adults living below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, African-Americans and adults with less than a high school education were uninsured currently or at some point in the past year.”The analysis also concluded that Ohioans with health insurance are generally healthier than those without it. The results came from the 2013 Ohio Health Issues Poll, which between May 19 and June 2 interviewed 868 Ohio adults by phone. The poll had a margin of error of 3.3 percent. It was conducted by the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research for the Health Foundation. The poll’s findings could spur efforts to widen Medicaid eligibility in Ohio, which has become a contentious political issue fueled by mostly Republican opposition and Democratic support. Under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), states are asked to expand the public insurance program to include everyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or roughly $15,856 for a single-person household. If a state agrees, the federal government will pay for the entire expansion for the first three years then phase its support down to 90 percent, where it would indefinitely remain. The offer presents a great deal for the state, according to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. The think tank’s analysis found the expansion would insure roughly half a million Ohioans and generate about $1.8 billion in revenue for the state in the next decade. But the Republican-controlled General Assembly rejected the expansion in the state budget, despite Republican Gov. John Kasich’s pleas to embrace the Obamacare initiative. Legislators say they’re concerned the federal government won’t be able to uphold its commitment to Medicaid in the future. That, they argue, would leave Ohioans stranded if the state is forced to pare back benefits. The federal government and states have jointly funded Medicaid programs around the nation since 1965. About 57 percent of the cost is carried by the federal government.Still, the legislature will in the fall consider a standalone bill that would take up the expansion. But that bill will likely face continued opposition from tea party groups that are historically opposed to increased government spending at any level. Whatever the case, legislative approval may be politically prudent: Earlier-reported results from the Ohio Health Issues Poll found 63 percent of Ohioans favor the Medicaid expansion.
 
 
by German Lopez 05.24.2013
Posted In: News, Health, Health care at 02:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
medicaid

Phone-a-Thon to Help Enroll Ohio Children into Medicaid

Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati hosting event on May 29

A "phone-a-thon" is seeking to address one of the main issues public officials have faced when trying to provide health coverage to low-income Americans: awareness. The event could help reach some of the estimated 15,000 children in southwest Ohio who are uninsured but qualify for Medicaid.The event, which is being hosted by WCPO and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati on May 29, will reach out to families with uninsured children who qualify for Medicaid. It's part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign, a nationwide effort to enroll more children into free and low-cost health insurance programs."Medicaid provides eligible children the coverage they need to address asthma and allergies, as well other benefits to keep children healthy," the event's release said. "Children in a family of four earning up to $47,100 a year may qualify for free or low-cost health insurance. Medicaid not only covers allergy and asthma treatment, but also regular check-ups, immunizations, doctor and dentist visits, hospital care, mental health services, prescriptions and more."For public officials, raising awareness has been one of the biggest hurdles to ensuring widespread health coverage. As the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") kicks in, the problem is becoming even more pronounced as state and federal governments attempt to inform Americans of new insurance options, including health exchanges and expanded Medicaid programs."There's a segment of the population that hasn't interacted with these programs in the past," says Trey Daly, senior attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. "Those folks don't typically know they're eligible."Daly says there's also a segment of the population that has used Medicaid services but stopped after "bad experiences." For those situations, the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati explains the benefits of Medicaid coverage, but it also files forms and applications for participants to help them avoid the bureaucracy and paperwork required for enrolling into Medicaid.The Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati's efforts are funded by a federal grant. Since the program began in 2009, the seven counties in southwest Ohio covered by the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati — Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, Clinton, Brown and Highland — have increased their Medicaid enrollment of children by 12 percent. The rest of the state has increased enrollment by 4 percent.At the legislative level, there is currently a bill in the Ohio House that would expand the state's Medicaid program with federal funds provided through Obamacare. Republican Gov. John Kasich originally proposed the expansion in his budget plan, but Republican legislators opposed the measure and took it out of their own budget bill.Still, Kasich has continued pushing the expansion, along with Democratic support. A March report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found the expansion would save the state money and insure half a million Ohioans in the next decade. To participate in the "phone-a-thon," call 513-749-9400. The event will be on Wednesday, May 29, between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
 
 
by German Lopez 04.12.2013
Posted In: News, Budget, Health at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover-kasich-2

Medicaid Expansion Unites Common Enemies

Governor, Democrats, mental health advocates criticize Ohio House Republicans’ budget

Ohio House Republicans are poised to reject the Medicaid expansion and the $500 million per year in federal funding that would come with it for the next two years — a move that has united Republican Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Democrats, mental health advocates and other health groups in opposition. The Medicaid expansion is part of a measure in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that encourages states to expand their Medicaid programs to include anyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level with the use of federal funds. For the first three years, the federal government would pick up the entire tab for the expansion. After that, payments would be phased down over time so the federal government would be paying 90 percent of costs. Ohio House Republicans oppose the measure because they say they’re worried federal funding will dry up in the future, even though there is no historical precedent of the federal government failing to pay its commitment to Medicaid. Kasich’s proposal for the Medicaid expansion includes an automatic trigger that would immediately stop and retract the expansion if federal funding falls through, but Ohio Republicans previously voiced concerns in hearings that the trigger would hurt Ohioans who have become accustomed to government-provided health insurance without any plan to make up for the lost coverage. A report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found the expansion would help insure 456,000 Ohioans by 2022 and save the state money in the next decade by producing economic growth and shifting health-care expenses from the state to the federal government. For advocates of mental health and addiction treatments, Ohio House Republicans’ rejection of the Medicaid expansion and other budget items means mental health and addiction services will miss out on $627 million per year, according to a report from the Office of Health Transformation. Ohio House Republicans’ budget plan would include $50 million more annual funding for mental health and addiction services, but that’s also not enough to make up for the $140 million in annual funds cut around the state since 2002 and the $17 million being cut over two years through the dissolution of the tangible personal property tax replacement funds. Cheri Walter, chief executive officer of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA), says the Medicaid expansion is a great opportunity to emphasize mental health services around the state. “On the mental health side, ... sometimes it can take two or more years for someone to get a disability determination that makes them Medicaid eligible,” she says. “In addition to making more people Medicaid-eligible, it will speed up the process for many others.” Walter says for addiction patients in particular, getting access to health services can be difficult because alcoholism and other forms of addiction are not technically disabilities. By including more income levels in the Medicaid program, less people will fall through the cracks, she says.OACBHA was one of the many groups that rallied at the Ohio Statehouse Thursday in support of the Medicaid expansion. The crowd, which received support from Ohio Democrats and Kasich, was estimated to reach 2,500. Until the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion was required, but the court ruled that states must be allowed to opt in and out. The Medicaid expansion was one of the few parts of Kasich’s budget plan that Democrats and progressives approved, while the two other major proposals in Kasich’s plan — school funding and a tax cut proposal — were criticized for disproportionately benefiting wealthy Ohioans (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20).
 
 

Religious Birth Control Exemptions Are a Double Standard

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.  

Worst Week Ever!: Jan. 16-22

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
WEDNESDAY JAN. 16: Newport on the Levee has added a new wrinkle to the movie-watching experience. The seldom-used arcade has been replaced by MacGuffins Bar & Lounge, which is now open and serving drinks that can be brought into the movie.   
by German Lopez 11.19.2012
 
 
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Plan Cincinnati hearing tonight, fiscal cliff threatens schools, Kasich declines exchanges

City Council’s Livable Communities committee is expected to hear about and likely vote tonight on the city’s first master plan in more than 30 years. The plan, which CityBeat previously covered, seeks a renewed emphasis on Cincinnati’s urban core through new infrastructure and transportation options. It was put together largely based on public feedback. The “fiscal cliff,” which is really more of a self-induced austerity crisis from the federal government, could seriously hurt Ohio schools. Educators around the state, including Cincinnati schools, are expecting a cut of about 8 percent in federal funding. A Cincinnati Public Schools levy was recently renewed after a decade of cuts and problems at the school district. Gov. John Kasich has finally made a decision for Obamacare: The state will not run the health exchanges that are a big part of the plan. With the governor’s decision, managing the health exchanges now falls to the federal government. Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, defended the governor’s decision by pointing out that even if the state managed the exchanges, the federal government would always have the final say, creating an arrangement “just doesn’t make sense for the state.” Exchanges are subsidized, heavily regulated insurance markets that will go into effect in 2014 as part of Obamacare. They are supposed to bring down costs by offering more transparent, open competition through a fair, regulated marketplace. Cincinnati’s economy is being carried largely by manufacturing, and that looks likely to continue. Business schools at the University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Xavier University and Northern Kentucky University were found to be among the nation’s best, according to the Princeton Review. Still, none of the schools made the top 10 rankings for the review’s 11 categories. City Council is holding a public hearing today to find out what the city should do with casino revenue. Some of the council members already have plans, but City Council wants public feedback to shape the final decision. In other council news, the Human Services Advisory committee recommended funding for 56 out of 58 programs. The two programs left out are the Over-The-Rhine Kitchen and a social education program offered by the Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati. Cincinnati’s Metro bus service will be getting a revamp in the next few years. The company released a comprehensive plan with short-term and long-term goals that focus on increasing travel speed and reach. Charter schools are where a large amount of Ohio kids are getting their education. This is despite the fact that, in general, traditional public schools perform better than charter schools, according to state standards. Food stamps for Ohio families are getting reduced by about $25 a month. The good news is the cut is lower than expected. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction released a “re-inspection report” for the Lake Erie prison owned by Corrections Corporation of America. According to the new report, CCA has come a long way and corrected many of the violations the state originally found in the private prison. The last report found the prison, which CCA bought in 2011, was riddled with problems. CityBeat looked at private prisons, their problems and the shady connections between state officials and CCA in an in-depth report. A report found more Ohioans are taking advantage of a national settlement that lets households refinance their mortgages. In total, more than 4,500 Ohioans have refinanced for $165 million in consumer relief. Still, many eligible Ohioans are not taking advantage of the opportunity. Here are pictures of a tiny octopus, fighting female robots and an orange-powered battery.
 
 
by German Lopez 11.16.2012
Posted In: Governor, News, Health care at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
kasich_2

Kasich Says No to State-Managed Health Exchanges

Decision means federal government will take over

Gov. John Kasich is refusing to work with Obamacare. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the governor today declined to have the state government run its health insurance exchange. With the move, the federal government will be put in charge of managing Ohio’s exchange. Exchanges are subsidized, heavily regulated insurance markets that will go into effect in 2014 as part of Obamacare. They are supposed to bring down costs by offering more transparent, open competition through a fair, regulated marketplace. As part of Obamacare, states have to decide by Dec. 14 whether they’ll manage the exchanges or let the federal government do it. Conservatives were quick to praise Kasich's decision. Americans for Prosperity applauded the choice in a statement. The Buckeye Institute put up a blog post calling the move “the right decision for Ohio.” The Coalition Opposed to Additional Taxes and Spending (COAST) called the move the right choice. At first, the choice seems like a contradiction for conservatives. After all, they’re the group that normally rails against a big federal government. Why let the federal government take over a new, major part of the health-care system? Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, justified the decision in a statement: “Ohio would have no flexibility to shape an exchange to our needs and its costs will be so high that it just doesn’t make sense for the state to operate a health exchange under Obamacare.” In other words, even if the state managed the exchanges, it would still have to answer to the federal government. In his letter, Kasich also stated Ohio will not give up its right to regulate the insurance market. So the federal government will have the final say on exchanges, but Kasich wants to keep the rest of the market under state regulatory control. The state will also keep control over deciding Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) eligibility. Ohio is not alone in declining to supervise exchanges. Other states have signed off on letting the federal government manage them, including Florida and Texas. Still, Republicans may want to proceed cautiously. Recent polling has shown that support for repealing Obamacare has massively dropped. That shift could reflect reality catching up to public opinion. Republicans tend to rail against Obamacare by saying it’s too expensive, but a Congressional Budget Office report found repealing Obamacare would increase the deficit by $109 billion between 2013 and 2022.
 
 

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