The Rockin Johnny B

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things overheard at state government door
   A while back, I was listening at the state government door, and here’s what I heard.
   Mr. Fed’ral: “Well sir, I am going to give you twenty-million dollars to fix up your insurance programming cause we passed that pesky 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I know it will be complicated and you’ll need some cash to help you get started.”
   Mr. Otter: “No sir. I say Idaho doesn’t want your filthy lucre. We want to spend our own money to set up that pesky and absolutely unneeded gov’ment program. After all, we are Idaho and we know how to handle everything without the help 
of the darned bloated government.”
   Mr. Fed’ral: “Hmmm. Then, Mr. Otter, by your reasoning, you wouldn’t mind if I dropped your education funding, your highway funding and a few other pesky as, you call ‘em, unneeded gov’ment programs which you always accept money from me. That should really make you happy, since you don’t like to accept my — your words — handouts. Besides, Mississippi and Louisiana can use the cash after that pesky big wind.”
   At that point I had to get back to my dithering, knowing my governor had my interests at heart.
   n John Belville, Nampa

Friday, February 17, 2012


Birth control debate comes to Idaho
Proposed legislation would allow employers to refuse insurance coverage of contraceptives
   BOISE — The national debate on mandatory birth control coverage is heating up in Idaho.
   On Thursday, Rep. Carlos Bilbao, R-Emmett, presented legislation to exempt Gem State insurers from a federal requirement to provide coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
   The bill mirrors a similar federal act drafted in protest of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provision requiring insurance 
companies to cover contraceptives.
   The bill would allow employers and insurers to opt out of covering contraceptives and sterilization, and comes in response to the federal health care overhaul. Bilbao, a retired quality manager for Boeing Co., cited his religious convictions as the major reason he drafted the legislation. 
   “The (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage is an attack on my rights of conscience,” Bilbao said, adding his bill doesn’t outlaw abortion or birth control, just the provision that requires employees and insurance companies provide coverage. If passed, an emergency clause would make the law effective immediately.
   Rep. John Rusche, DLewiston, questioned Bilbao’s argument.
   “If a service is available under law but refused by an employer … due to his morals 
or religion, doesn’t that violate the employee’s right to have that service available?” he asked.
   Hannah Brass, legislative director for Planned Parenthood of Idaho, said many women use contraceptives for reasons other than family planning. 
Birth control can be used to treat endometriosis, painful menstrual cramps and other conditions, she said. Brass also said that the religious beliefs of an employer shouldn’t dictate an employee’s choice to use contraception.
   In the same meeting, Bilbao introduced a proposal for the Legislature to encourage Congress to pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, an amendment to the federal health care reform which would 
remove the birth control coverage mandate.
   Monica Hopkins of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho objected to the proposal, arguing that the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is so broad that employers could strip away coverage for any medical procedure, not just contraceptives. She said under the proposed federal law, Scientologists could deny their employees coverage for anti-depressants.
   Because the committee’s agenda wasn’t posted online the day before Thursday’s meeting, as is customary, Chairwoman Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, postponed a vote on the bill until Monday. The committee will take more testimony then, Mc-Geachin said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Insurance Stuff

Idaho likely to spurn federal cash for exchange
Lawmakers, wary of Washington, shift focus to state program to help with health care funding
   The Associated Press
   BOISE — Opposition from House conservatives has ended Gov. Butch Otter’s plans to use a $20.3 million federal grant for a state-run Idaho insurance exchange required by the federal health care overhaul.
   Instead, discussions between legislators, Otter and the insurance industry have shifted toward a state exchange created without federal money, but that’s still sufficient to reassure U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials that Idaho isn’t blowing them off.  Tricky slope you are on Gov.  The fed isn't gonna let you snub their guidelines.  They'll step in and take over, they where'll you dingbat.
   They’re walking a thin line between keeping a federal exchange from being imposed on Idaho that could disadvantage the state’s insurers, while still letting “Obamacare”-loathing legislators tell constituents they didn’t bend to Washington, D.C.  Don't be fooled.  It's about the money.  The state insurers don't want the so-called Obamacare package because they'll lose millions because they will no longer be in control.  They'll no longer be able to drop you when you get sick.  They will no longer be able to raise your premiums any time they want to.  This is what pisses 'em off...the money!  They don't give a damn about their policy holders.
   “My major concern personally is accepting federal funding,” said Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise. “It would lock us in to what they want us to do.”  Yes!  That's what it's supposed to do, forchristsake.  What's wrong with you Luker.  The insurance industry is broken in favor of the insurance companies.  If you instigate a plan that favors the policy owners, they'll lose MONEY.  Get it?
   The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act envisioned exchanges as a “one-stop shop” to buy affordable insurance. The federal government offered to pay and Otter’s administration won $20.3 million for the effort.  But let's be an idiot and turn it down!  Jesus!
   But with Idaho one of 27 states that sued over the 2010 health care overhaul on constitutional grounds, conservative lawmakers say they want nothing to do with the federal money.  Of course they want nothing to do with the money.  They'll piss off their PACs if they do.
   Consequently, Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, and an insurance agent, says a smaller, undetermined sum — scratched from somewhere in Idaho’s tight budget — will likely be sufficient to at least get started. He said the important thing for Idaho is to not cede an exchange to the federal government, whose version he believes will disadvantage Idaho insurers and offer products that are more-expensive for consumers.  Who's gonna pay for the money?  You are!  Forgodsake, don't you realize these assholes are not in our favor?  Don't take the fed's money, let's try to squeeze some more out of our Idahoans.  Yes, the fed will give us 20 million, but let's not take it.  I simply cannot believe the idiocy of these nuts.
   “It would make it easier to use the federal funds,” Cameron said. “But I haven’t spent much time thinking about that, because I have to deal with the realities of the day.” 
   House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, and a former health insurance industry executive, said letting the federal money slip through Idaho’s fingers simply to win House conservatives’ support is a costly political bargain.  Finally, a voice of reason.  This is why I'm a Democrat.  They have some common sense.
   “How many teachers is $20.3 million?” Rusche said. “We’re going to build this on our own, using our money, instead of putting it into education, with the hope that we’ll be allowed to vary from federal standards. How does that serve Idahoans?”  YES!  This guy's got it right.
   The U.S. Supreme Court is unlikely to deliver 
a final verdict on Idaho’s lawsuit over the overhaul until late June. Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidates are all vowing to repeal President Obama’s signature first-term accomplishment, if they’re elected.  These Reps know this is gonna pass.  It already has.  They wanna take it to the S.C. to postpone it cause it'll look good to their PAC buddies in the insurance industry.  Keep in mind folks, the insurance companies have literally no restraints put on them EVER.  They hate the idea that someone's gonna call 'em on their succubus natures.
   Amid this uncertainty, some including Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri, RDalton Gardens, are urging their legislative colleagues to do absolutely nothing.
   “There is no distinction between a purported state exchange or federal exchange,” Barbieri said. “That’s why I’m suggesting we take an entirely private or market-based approach.”  If we do nothing, the fed will.

Here's what the bill is all about...

PPACA [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] ]includes numerous provisions to take effect over several yearsbeginning in 2010. Policies issued before the law was promulgated are grandfathered from most federal regulations.
  • Guaranteed issue and partial community rating will require insurers to offer the same premium to all applicants of the same age and geographical location without regard to most pre-existing conditions(excluding tobacco use).[17]
  • A shared responsibility requirement, commonly called an individual mandate,[18] requires that all persons not covered by an employer sponsored health planMedicaidMedicare, or other public insurance programs purchase and comply with an approved private insurance policy or pay a penalty, unless the applicable individual is a member of a recognized religious sect, exempted by the Internal Revenue Service, or waived in cases of financial hardship.[19]
  • Medicaid eligibility is expanded to include all individuals and families with incomes up to 133% of the poverty level along with a simplifiedCHIP enrollment process.[20][21]
  • Health insurance exchanges will commence operation in each state, offering a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can compare policies and premiums, and buy insurance (with a government subsidy if eligible).[22]
  • Low income persons and families above the Medicaid level and up to 400% of the federal poverty level will receive federal subsidies[23] on asliding scale if they choose to purchase insurance via an exchange (persons at 150% of the poverty level would be subsidized such that their premium cost would be of 2% of income or $50 a month for a family of 4).[24]
  • Minimum standards for health insurance policies are to be established and annual and lifetime coverage caps will be banned.[25]
  • Firms employing 50 or more people but not offering health insurance will also pay a shared responsibility requirement if the government has had to subsidize an employee's health care.[26]
  • Very small businesses will be able to get subsidies if they purchase insurance through an exchange.[27]
  • Insurance companies are required to spend a certain percent of premiums on certain expenses.[28] In what has been called a "quiet takeover," four of the five largest insurers have begun buying hospitals and medical groups as subsidiaries, keeping this spending within the same parent company.[29]
  • Co-paymentsco-insurance, and deductibles are to be eliminated for select health care insurance benefits considered to be part of an "essential benefits package"[30] for Level A or Level B preventive care.[31]
  • Changes are enacted that allow a restructuring of Medicare reimbursement from "fee-for-service" to "bundled payments."[32][33]
  • Additional support is provided for medical research and the National Institutes of Health.[34]

[edit]Summary of funding

The Act's provisions are intended to be funded by a variety of taxes and offsets. Major sources of new revenue include a much-broadened Medicare tax on incomes over $200,000 and $250,000, for individual and joint filers respectively, an annual fee on insurance providers, and a 40% tax on "Cadillac" insurance policies. There are also taxes on pharmaceuticals, high-cost diagnostic equipment, and a 10% federal sales tax on indoor tanning services. Offsets are from intended cost savings such as improved fairness in the Medicare Advantage program relative to traditional Medicare.[35]
Total new tax revenue from the Act will amount to $409.2 billion over the next 10 years. $78 billion will be realized before the end of fiscal 2014.[36] Summary of revenue sources:
  • Broaden Medicare tax base for high-income taxpayers: $210.2 billion
  • Annual fee on health insurance providers: $60 billion
  • 40% excise tax on health coverage in excess of $10,200/$27,500: $32 billion
  • Impose annual fee on manufacturers and importers of branded drugs: $27 billion
  • Impose 2.3% excise tax on manufacturers and importers of certain medical devices: $20 billion
  • Require information reporting on payments to corporations: $17.1 billion
  • Raise 7.5% Adjusted Gross Income floor on medical expenses deduction to 10%: $15.2 billion
  • Limit contributions to flexible spending arrangements in cafeteria plans to $2,500: $13 billion
  • All other revenue sources: $14.9 billion
Doesn't the government always spend other people's money?  What a stupid cartoon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Medical MJ

of Pros medical , cons marijuana in Idaho
   Representative Tom Trail, Republican, of Moscow has a bill called the “Idaho Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.”
   Few subjects are as controversial as marijuana. I know pastors and police who are on different sides of the issue. The major political parties can’t come to an agreement, even 
professional associations (including my own) are strangely silent.
   Rep. Trail’s bill states, “Modern medical research has discovered a beneficial use for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions, as found by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine in March 1999.
   “According to the U.S. sentencing commission and the federal bureau of investigation, ninety-nine out of every one hundred marijuana arrests in the country are made under state law, rather than under federal law. Consequently, changing state law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill people who have a medical need to use marijuana.
   “Although federal law currently prohibits the use of marijuana, the laws of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
   “Idaho joins this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens. States are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law; therefore, compliance with the provisions of this chapter does not put the state of Idaho in violation of federal law.
   “Many patients with severe chronic medical conditions are prescribed costly addictive drugs such as morphine and oxycodone, which can result in additional negative impacts to the health of the patient. The use of medical marijuana can provide significant pain relief to the patient and at the same time be a major cost savings to the patient, their families and the state.
   “Compassion dictates that a distinction be made between medical and nonmedical uses of marijuana. Hence, the purpose of this chapter is to protect from arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture, and criminal and other penalties those patients who use marijuana to alleviate suffering from debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians, primary caregivers and those who are authorized to produce marijuana for 
medical purposes.”
   The problems with legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, however, are numerous. In state after state, city after city where medicinal marijuana has been legalized, adolescent use has also increased. I, personally, have not seen any country, province, state, or city which has figured out how to keep marijuana use limited to those with severe chronic pain and or terminal illnesses. Instead, marijuana use among our nation’s teens is at its highest rate in thirty years.
   This is alarming. For any parent, social worker, counselor, teacher, coach, youth pastor, or youth worker who has seen the debilitating effects of marijuana use on a young person, it becomes difficult to champion legislation that will result in more widespread use.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Obama birth control policy

GOP vows to reverse Obama birth control policy

   The Associated Press
   WASHINGTON — Republicans vowed Wednesday to reverse President Barack Obama’s new policy on birth control, lambasting the rule that religious schools and hospitals must provide contraceptive coverage for their employees as an “unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country.”
   The White House pushed back in the face of a political firestorm, arguing that Obama was sensitive to the objections and looking for a way to allay the concerns. Democratic women lawmakers put up a united front in defending the administration.
   “Women’s health care should not depend on who the boss is,” said Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky.
   The fight over the administration mandate escalated as House Speaker John Boehner accused the administration of violating First Amendment rights and undermining some of the country’s most vital institutions, such as Catholic charities, schools and hospitals. He demanded that Obama rescind the policy or else Congress will.
   “This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country cannot stand, and will not stand,” Boehner, a Catholic and Ohio Republican, said in a floor speech rare 
for the speaker.
   The contentious issue has roiled the presidential race and angered religious groups, especially Catholics, who say the requirement would force them to violate church teachings and long-held beliefs against contraception.
   It also has pushed social issues to the forefront in an election year that has been dominated by the economy. Abortion, contraception and any of the requirements of Obama’s health care overhaul law have the potential to galvanize the Republicans’ conservative base, critical to voter turnout in the presidential and congressional races

Come on folks.  This has nothing to do with religious freedom, it has to do with women's freedom.

Time to stand up, fight for the unborn
   “Oh, but it’s a choice.” Tell that to the baby who is about to be slaughtered.  Wow, talk about emotional outrage.  Baby?  Slaughtered?
   If women are honest with themselves, they realize killing the unborn is attempting an easy fix for the immediate situation. They know they have a child within, or they would not request someone to remove the very small child.  Hmmm, this goes to the old question, when is a baby a baby?  At birth?  At conception?
   Abortion does not help the mother in crisis, it only adds to the burden she must endlessly endure.  What about the child that must endlessly endure an inept mother who creates a dysfunctional attitude in the child who later grows up to be a dysfunctional adult?
   For the last 40 years the only reason abortion has been tolerated is that women have been duped, lied to, threatened and coerced, being led to believe that this is compassion. What a contradiction in the blindingly white, sterile, cold, “clean” clinical death chamber.  The reason abortion is tolerated is because women were having quacks cutting out their unwanted baby and them dying by septicemia.
   Now we are faced with a mandate, an order, by the government, to provide health/“death” care insurance for those who demand to use it. You or employers have no choice, no ability to use one’s own conscience for decision-making. Your conscience is no longer of value. Your tax dollars will fund the onslaught and butchering of innocent, unborn children.  The argument is so trite, I debated whether or not to blog about it, but decided I had to.  This woman is living in the 18th century where a woman's body was not her own but her husband's: love, honor and OBEY.
   “Evil persists when good men do nothing.”  She's right about this.  That's why we voted in Rowe V Wade.
   Are you ready to do something? Will you stand and fight for the unborn? Haven’t we been sitting quietly long enough and letting the evils prevail?  God NO!
   Here’s one way to let your opinion be recognized: get factual information, go to www.stophhs  . com/sign-the-petition Also write to our congressmen.
   Wouldn’t it be wonderful if mothers’ wombs were as safe as cars? Ninety people died each day in 2010 from car accidents but 3,700 
(yes!) babies die each day by the abortionist’s hand, and 93 percent of them because the babies are an “inconvenience.” (Statistics from Guttmacher and Centers for Disease Control. Who knew? Pregnancy is a disease?) 54,000,000-plus dead babies is enough!
   Don’t you agree with your mother’s choice?  How would I know?  I wasn't there when she 'chose.'
   Susan Hamilton, Nampa

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Football BCS

Again I see the BCS is trying to placate the fans who want a playoff system...

   The Associated Press
   The Big Ten, which helped squash the notion of a four-team playoff to crown a national champion in college football several years ago, is taking another look.
   BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said Tuesday night that’s good news.
   “Our process is working perfectly,” Hancock said. “One of the good things about our process is that there’s no timetable so that a deliberate and thoughtful decision can be reached.
   “The tricky part is our 11 conference commissioners and the Notre Dame AD may have 12 different opinions about the direction we should go over the next six to eight months.”
   Hancock, who still expects a conclusion in July, said the group of BCS decision-makers will meet again at the end of this month.
   Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said all of the Big Ten athletic directors are comfortable 
exploring the possibility of a four-team playoff.
   “Four is better than two,” Hollis said.
   Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith agreed and said the discussions stem from feedback “that we need to do something different,” especially after the recent BCS title game between LSU and Alabama drew lower ratings than other championship games.
   “The fans have been loud and clear,” Smith said. “We also recognize that structurally there’s things that we want to try and change with the bowl system — how teams get in the bowls. It’s time to be curious about everything.”
   The BCS title game pits the nation’s top two teams based on poll and computer rankings. The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that one idea before the Big Ten calls for playing the two semifinal games on the campuses of the higher seeded teams, with the national championship held in a city awarded hosting rights — like the 
Super Bowl.
   The so-called plus-one format — two semifinals plus the title game — was proposed in 2008 by the commissioners of the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference. It was shot down by the leaders of the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big East, Big 12 and Notre Dame.
   “I am pleased to hear there is renewed interest in the plus-one format, the same format we introduced for consideration in 2008,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement to the AP. “There are many details that need to be considered and it is premature to be campaigning for any particular plus-one model.”
   The 11 Bowl Championship Series conferences have already met to discuss possible changes to the system starting in 2014. NCAA President Mark Emmert has said he supports a four-team championship playoff and is strongly against a 16-team format. 
   Emmert has also said there has been talk of using a Final Four model, a scenario which could have matched LSU against Stanford and Alabama versus Oklahoma State this season, with the winners advancing to the title game.
   Despite the Big Ten’s interest in a playoff, there is at least one big hurdle: The Rose Bowl, with its storied history to two of the nation’s biggest conferences.
   “The Rose Bowl is extremely important to Michigan State just as it is to every school in the Big Ten and Pac-12,” Hollis said. “There are more questions than answers about how any format 
would work, including where the games would be played and what the bowltype experiences would be like in a championship format.
   “My eyes are always open to explore all opportunities, but I don’t think we want to exceed 15 games.”
   Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, who is open to any option that includes keeping the conference and Pac-12 tied to the Rose Bowl, said he’s not sure the plus-one model will please everybody.
   “I know a lot of people would love to see one more great football game, but I’m not sure this type of playoff will make it more fair,” Brandon said. “At some point, you have to draw the line. With four teams, there will be controversies about who those four teams should be because it’s usually not clear.”
   Smith said there are too many bowl 
games, lagging ticket sales and teams are already playing “too deep into January” with players who happen to be students, too. He had reservations about a playoff where students play back to back games.
   Still, he said there was a need to discuss the format now.
   “This is the window of time before we go and do something with another partner, or current partner, we don’t want to just do the same thing without trying to address some of those issues,” he said. “But if we ended up with a plus-one playoff, it would be exciting for fans but there’s a lot of issues around it.”
   Hancock has said 50 to 60 possibilities for various changes were presented during a meeting in New Orleans, where Alabama beat LSU in the BCS title game last month.

They still don't get it.  A four team playoff is not a playoff at all.  It's a four team game schedule.  If you want a playoff system go for it, don't piddle around with four teams.  Here's how:

Take the top 16 teams and have an 4 week playoff, or have a 2 week play off.  Four would be better cause teams could relax a bit before the next game.  Here's how it would work...

Week one:  Team 1 plays team 16
                  Team 2 plays team 8
Week two:  Team 3 plays team 15
                  Team...etc., until in 4 weeks you've reached the top two teams.

God, is it that complicated?  Can't be.  The bball guys have been doing it for years.  So has the NFL.  Let's make the BCS fair.