Obamacare Enrollees Anxiously Await Supreme Court Decision That Threatens Their Coverage

Karen Hines is worried about getting two pieces of very bad news this June. The first would be her cancer returning. The second would be her health insurance becoming abruptly unaffordable.

“I’ve got my six-month, regular cancer checkup in June, and so I’m saying I hope they don’t come out with any kind of decision, just in case it’s bad news, until after,” Hines said. “You always get nervous, usually a day before or day of, going for a checkup. But I think I started a little more on the worrying ahead of time.”

Hines, 59, has been relying on health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces to help cover the costs of those checkups. But she has the misfortune of residing in a state, Virginia, where the federal government is operating that marketplace. Because of that, she could end up losing her tax subsidy to help purchase coverage right at the time her health takes a dive for the worse.

The Supreme Court will issue a ruling this month on a lawsuit engineered by conservative activists alleging that a brief phrase in the law — “exchange established by the state” — means subsidies can only be provided to individuals residing in states that set up their own health insurance exchanges. Should the justices side with Obamacare’s critics, Hines would be one of an estimated 6.4 million people in 34 states whose subsidies will disappear. Many will be forced to drop their health insurance because of heightened cost.

For someone like Hines, who has had breast cancer three times, most recently in 2009, this presents a Hobbesian choice. She considers health care coverage essential and must get screenings twice a year to ensure her cancer doesn’t come back. But she has little money to afford insurance on her own. A former public relations professional, she’s devoted her life to caring for her ailing, octogenarian mother, and currently works part-time as an educator at the aquarium near her home in Virginia Beach. Her low income, qualifies Hines for a subsidy that cuts the price she pays by about half, to $200 a month.

“I could probably manage another year,” Hines said when asked if she could afford the coverage without the subsidy. She would have to draw down more of her retirement savings to pay for health care. But doesn’t have enough money to hold on to health insurance until she turns 65 and becomes eligible for Medicare, she said.

“I’m doing what I can to try to prepare for the worst, but I don’t want to think about the worst,” Hines said.

Hines was one of six people the Huffington Post featured in a report this March on the case surrounding Obamacare’s subsidies. At the time, the Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments on the case and the prospect of those subsidies potentially disappearing was becoming less abstract for those in states with federally run exchanges. The clock is ticking even louder now. And so, we decided to catch up with those we interviewed to see how their circumstances, health and mental well-being has changed.

In Pittsburgh, house painter Joe Lucas bitterly keeps up with the news about the Supreme Court case. Like Hines, he lives in a state where his subsidy could disappear. But unlike Hines, he’s sure he’d have to drop his coverage immediately if the court rules with the law’s critics. He can’t pay for the health insurance without it.

“I’m following it very closely, because it has a very profound effect on my life, and I’m very disgusted and tired of being a political football,” said Lucas, 53. “They look upon me as like some kind of moocher,” he said of the Affordable Care Act’s opponents.

Lucas had an aortic aneurysm in 2010, so he has to keep monitoring his heart condition. Even though his most recent tests came up clean in May, Lucas knows the computed tomography (CT) scan he needs as part of his checkup every two years would cost him $11,000 without insurance, instead of $50 now. He also knows his prescriptions would run to $2,600 every three months rather than $65 with insurance. Lucas, who is self-employed, earns $25,000 to $30,000 a year, he said.

Lucas might be shielded from the ramifications of a ruling against the subsidy if Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) persuades the GOP-majority state legislature to go along with his proposal to set up a state-run exchange. But as Lucas takes stock of the court decision to come, he’s struck by what he sees as dramatically misplaced priorities among lawmakers in Washington.

“Billions of dollars in corporate welfare to oil companies and whatnot, you know, and that’s not a problem for them, but I’m a person who gets $2,400 a year in subsidies to help pay for my insurance — and I pay almost three times that much in taxes, so it’s not like I’m taking them on the negative side,” Lucas said.

Jared Blitz, a teacher in Mesa, Arizona, with an Obamacare plan, also has a heart problem and little patience for being held in limbo while the Supreme Court decides his fate.
“You know, it sucks,” said Blitz. “The stress isn’t good for the heart.”

Blitz turns 33 on Monday. Since birth, he has dealt with aortic valve stenosis, meaning he has a heart valve that is too narrow. He recently received good news from his cardiologist that he can delay an expensive major operation he thought he’d need this year. But he will have to undergo a less serious procedure at a later date.

All this would be difficult to handle on its own. But it’s compounded by the problems Blitz has had in navigating the health care law. He ended up with a plan he doesn’t recall picking. He lost his subsidy of $30 a month even though his income level should qualify him for some tax credit. And he assumed that his home state would get rid of all Obamacare exchanges entirely if the court ruled against the subsidies (in fact, state Republicans have passed a bill saying that Arizona won’t set up a state exchange. The federal one will remain regardless).

Blitz is in the process of trying to get his subsidy back and is hopeful he can do so. Though the credit is relatively small, for someone making about $29,000 a year, every bit helps.
“Even though it is only $30, it creates a small problem at least getting through the summer,” he said.

Were he to ultimately lose the subsidy, Blitz would figure out a way to pay for his insurance. He calls himself “fortunate” in that regard, compared to those who don’t have savings to dip into or expenses to cut or friends to rely on. But Blitz’s fortune — if you want to call it that — comes at a cost, and it underscores how the damage from a Supreme Court ruling for the plaintiffs extends beyond those who currently receive tax credits.

Without the subsidies, most of the low- and moderate-income people using the health insurance exchanges will exit the exchanges, leaving those with the greatest health care needs — people like Blitz with medical conditions — as an increasing share of the market. Because people with greater medical needs generate more medical bills, that would increase expenses for insurance companies, forcing them to increase premiums. Those higher premiums, in turn, would lead more people to drop coverage. In the industry, they call this a “death spiral.”

Blitz hasn’t thought that far ahead. He lives his life, in many ways, appointment-to-appointment, waiting to hear word on when or if he will need a major medical procedure for the condition he was born with. The current court case is, for him, the type of high-stakes drama he wishes he could avoid.

“There is a lot of information and it gets confusing,” he said. “You are dependent on something, something that is new basically, and you haven’t been able to get access to it in the past and it can make and break your life. That’s frustrating.”

This so called Obama care has been so fucked from the start and continues to get worse. And the only thing the liberals can say is that now there is all these 12 million or so people that now have insurance. Which by the way is not very good, but refuse to talk about the other 300,000,000 people who are getting worse insurance than ever. And being denied coverage.

Pot farm? Not in my backyard

Post courtesy of the Modesto Bee

Written by:

By Jeff Jardine

jjardine@modbee.com

Wayne Seawright Looking at his garden

Wayne Seawright spent nearly seven years as a senior volunteer with the Modesto Police Department.

Now 80 and long retired after a 36-year career at the old James River Co., he takes pride in having made many friends during that volunteer stint, among them then-Chief Roy Wasden, Detective Jolene Gonzalez and others. By Seawright’s own account, he never had a negative brush with the law in any form.

“The last speeding ticket I got was in 1960,” he said, adding, “I don’t think I’d be considered a criminal.”

Wasden, now Turlock’s city manager, agreed.

“He’s one of the finest people I met in 40 years in law enforcement,” Wasden said. He relied on Seawright to calm angry neighbors in the Highway Village area after a police raid went bad and an 8-year-old boy was accidentally shot to death.

So imagine Seawright’s reaction to the letter he received in the mail the day after Memorial Day, accusing him of growing marijuana in his yard.

It bore the heading of the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, composed of officers assigned from local police departments and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. The agency frequently works with state and federal agencies and routinely arrests drug manufacturers and dealers. This particular letter, Modesto police Chief Galen Carroll said, resulted from aerial surveillance from the department’s Modesto Narcotics Enforcement Team.

It told Seawright the office had received information that marijuana was being grown on his property and that he could face jail time and severe fines if convicted. If fined civilly, it could be $250,000 or “twice the gross receipts, whichever is greater.”

The scary part to Seawright and wife Tommie, who live on their retirement income, came at the end of the first paragraph.

“You should consult an attorney concerning this letter,” it read.

Tommie had open-heart surgery a few years back, and she certainly didn’t need that kind of excitement.

So what happened? How did a law-abiding couple of retirees, who raise tomatoes, sunflowers and are still waiting for their cucumbers to break the soil in their backyard garden, somehow become the Crommelin Street Cartel?

Carroll said MNET’s drug agents began doing aerial inspections several years ago. The first one revealed more than 100 backyard pot farms in the city and county pockets within the city. Letters went out. The next year’s flight turned up about 40 grows. This year, there were very few.

The letters warn suspected pot growers “to knock it off,” Carroll said, adding that the agents are well-trained in recognizing marijuana plants from the air. The vast majority of the time, they are right, he said.

“This one was wrong,” he said, with the photo at his fingertips as we talked on the phone.

Wayne Seawright years ago fashioned heavy wire frames to help his tomato plants handle the weight of the fruit as it grew and gained weight before picking. When the plants first go in the ground in early April, he covered them with clear plastic that allows the sunlight in while protecting them from spring storms that can produce brief but damaging rain or hail.

“They don’t look like tomatoes in the photo,” Carroll said.

Beneath that plastic on a bright, sunny day, the plants look greener from the air and can resemble the translucence of healthy pot plants. And while some of the people on the Modesto force might remember Seawright, the agents see only the addresses and send the information to clerks who send out form letters, Carroll said.

Many of the folks Seawright knew well, including Wasden, Dave Funk and Dave Gianotti, left the department or retired years ago. The institutional memory within any agency wanes with such transitions. Sgt. Kelly Rea, who heads MPD’s drug unit, worked under Funk in the Northwest Area but didn’t remember Seawright.

Seawright knows only that the department he served voluntarily for more than six years treated him, on paper, at least, like a drug dealer when his only crime is growing more tomatoes than he’ll ever need.

“We give them out in the neighborhood,” Seawright said.

He went to the police station the morning after receiving the letter, hoping to talk to Lt. Clint Raymer, who signed it, or Carroll, who happened to be away from the office.

“I went down there. I’ve called and left voice mails saying, ‘Please call me and get this straightened out today!'” he said. “All you have to do is stop by and I’ll walk you through the house, the shop, the garden – the whole place. No warrant needed. Anything they want to look at. All they had to do was to call me or come over.”

Rea returned the call and told Seawright that the drug unit gets 100 to 200 complaints a year about marijuana.

“I was at a community meeting (Wednesday) night and I had four people come up and complain about pot grows,” Rea told me Thursday. “I get more complaints about marijuana than about meth or any other drug. We investigate at least 50 outdoor grows a year. We don’t have the resources to do more, or we would. So we send a letter to discourage people from growing pot.”

Many of the outdoor grows are done on rental properties. Landlords who live elsewhere often first learn of the illegal activity from the letters, Rea said.

“They’ll say, ‘Thanks,’ and take care of the problem.”

Residents like Seawright who call the agency to complain about these letters actually make Rea’s job easier, he said.

“I tell them, ‘I take you at your word and we’re done with it,'” he said. “The ones who are growing it aren’t going to call me.”

I remember the good ole days when police actually went out and investigated potential crimes before threatening someone.


Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/jeff-jardine/article23300931.html#storylink=cpy

Clear your browser history go to jail…………..

In the early 2000s, former US Congressmen Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Michael Oxley (R-OH) crafted a bill that would put pressure on corporations to comply with federal prosecutors during investigations. It was largely a response to 2001’s Enron scandal, when the energy company was able to hid billions of dollars in debt due to corporate loopholes and a little creative accounting. The bill, known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.

It could carry up to a 20-year sentence

Since then, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has subtly provided the legal groundwork for prosecuting people for something as simple as deleting their browser history. One such case is that of Khairullozhon Matanov, a 24-year-old former cab driver who ate dinner with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev the night of the Boston Marathon bombings. Federal prosecutors have charged Matanov under Sarbanes-Oxley for destroying evidence, The Nation reports.

According to The Nation, Matanov learned that the Tsarnaevs were suspects in the bombing a few days after the dinner, and went to talk to local police in Quincy, Massachusetts. He reportedly told a few lies to the police, including when he and Tamerlan had last prayed together. And then he wiped his internet browser history and deleted videos from his computer. In May 2014, after being tracked by the FBI for more than a year, Matanov was charged with four counts of obstruction of justice, with one count for “destroying any record, document, or tangible object with intent to obstruct a federal investigation,” which carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison, The Nation reports.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is largely related to corporate financial reporting, but one section, Section 802, imposes severe penalties for “destroying, mutilating, concealing, falsifying records, documents, or tangible objects” with intent to impede or stall a federal investigation. Its vague and far-reaching rhetoric allows it to be applied to even non-tangible, personal information like stored records of online activity.

There is a precedent for this kind of prosecution. In 2010, University of Tennessee student David Kernell was convicted under Sarbanes-Oxley for deleting certain information from his computer and clearing his web browser’s cache after hacking into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account, according to The Nation.

Intent is difficult to prove

Such broad interpretation of a law that was originally meant to apply to large corporations highlights already simmering questions of what the federal government’s access to citizens’ data should actually look like. Because intent is difficult to prove, the current interpretation of Section 802 could make it possible for the feds to charge citizens for deleting data at any point in time, were it to end up becoming potential evidence at a later date.

From the Never should have happened file


Petco apologized Thursday for the death of a dog who was left in a dryer too long during a grooming appointment. The company also fired the workers involved in the incident.

“We take full responsibility for what happened in Midlothian, and remain heartbroken over Colby’s untimely passing,” the company said in a statement sent to USA TODAY Network.

Colby, a 2-year-old golden retriever, died of possible heat stroke after being left in a drying unit for too long at a Petco located in Midlothian, Va., owner Allison Marks told ABC News in an interview Monday. The incident happened on Friday, May 29.

Woman wants justice after dog dies during grooming at Petco

An investigation by Petco found that “animal care protocols” were not followed during Colby’s appointment and the people involved have been let go from the company, according to the statement. Petco also removed the type of dryer used in this case from all store locations.

 

 

This happened to my dog I would seriously have someone’s ass and it would not be pleasant…….

Retro of the day: Charlie Daniels

The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is a song written and performed by the Charlie Daniels Band and released on their 1979[1] album Million Mile Reflections.

The song is written in the key of D minor. Vassar Clements originally wrote the basic melody an octave lower, in a tune called “Lonesome Fiddle Blues”. The Charlie Daniels Band moved it up an octave and put words to it. The song’s verses are closer to being spoken rather than sung (i.e., recitation), and tell the story of a boy named Johnny, in a variant on the classic deal with the Devil. The performances of Satan and Johnny are played as instrumental bridges. The song was the band’s biggest hit, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100.[2] It is featured in the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy, whose choreographer, Patsy Swayze, claims that she set the song’s tempo. “How fast can you dance it?” Daniels asked. “How fast can you play it?” Swayze replied.

 

The song is an uptempo bluegrass song about the Devil‘s failed attempt to “steal” a young man’s soul through a fiddle-playing contest that involved enticing the young man’s participation using a worldly prize. The song begins with a disappointed Devil arriving in Georgia, having stolen far fewer souls than expected, when he comes upon a fiddle-playing young man named Johnny. At that moment, Johnny happens to be playing his fiddle impressively “hot.” Out of desperation, the Devil, who as it turns out also plays the fiddle, offers Johnny the wager which involves challenging the young man to a fiddle-playing contest. The Devil offers to give Johnny a golden fiddle if the young man plays better than he does; otherwise, the Devil will gain Johnny’s soul. Although Johnny believes taking the Devil’s bet might be a sin, he wagers his soul without fear, confidently boasting he is “the best that’s ever been.”