Dear Fox News Viewer… The ACA (aka ObamaCare) Continues to Work

OK, this is fourth hand (on Liberal Humboldt via Kevin Drum via Andrew Sprung via Covered California) but here is the distilled wisdom.  It looks like we will have decreased increases in insurance rates and some of the reasons California is better off than other states include…

Now, California isn’t necessarily a bellwether for all the other states. Because it’s the biggest state in the union, it has lots of competition that helps drive down prices. A big population also means less variability from year to year. Also: California’s program is pretty well run, and the California insurance market is fairly tightly regulated. All this adds up to a good deal for consumers.

-Kevin Drum @ Mother Jones.

For those of you interested in the numbers (like any EW’s (eeeeww’s) or health-care shoppers who might be reading this) check out Andrew Sprung’s analysis.  He goes into the Silver vs Bronze Plans and Cost Savings Reductions (CSR).  It’s informative and fascinating and is an important waypoint in our attempts to manage out of control healthcare costs.  Here is an example…

For many low-income buyers, silver plan premiums are a hard swallow, and cheaper bronze plans, with their sky-high deductibles, are a serious temptation. But those with incomes under 201% FPL are leaving a really valuable benefit on the table if they fail to access CSR (for those at 200-250% FPL, CSR is much weaker and so more rational to forego).

– Andrew Sprung @ xpostfactoid

Finally, despite Republicans throwing everything at us to include the kitchen sink (King v Burwell), it looks like we will be able to prove again that sometimes the more government the more better.  (Universal health care anyone?)

If only conservatives and Republicans could take a breath, they might be able to appreciate that in part this was originally their idea (Obama’s ACA was based in part on Romney’s MassachusettsCare which was based in part on a Heritage Foundation plan which was a reaction to HillaryCare in the early nineties).  But they won’t and they can’t because it goes against their raison d-etre –  money belongs in the private sector where it can more easily line their pockets.

Today’s post sponsored in part by …. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

My name is Jon Yalcinkaya.  I happen to be an eewww (EW) (Eligibility Worker) with Humboldt’s DHHS.  I love my work and my union-supported job.  The opinions here happen to be my own and no one else’s (including DHHS management).

BTW: FPL = Federal Poverty Level.  200% FPL is ~ $23,500 for a single person.

Times-Standard Letter-to-the-Editor on Our Treaty with Iran

By Chip Skarpe of Bayside…

Iran deal a path to negotiated security 

Who are these people who want to undo an agreement arduously
negotiated to safeguard us and others from precipitous threats of war and nuclear arms? I’m tempted to dismiss them as nervous Nellies made paranoid by living with daily news of ever increasing cruelty and horror.

But that would be too kind.

Underlying these strident objections to a deal with Iran are partisan ambitions of people who choose to ignore that this is a plan carefully crafted by seven nations to hold Iran accountable and block future development of nuclear weapons. These are politicos who believe that they have benefited from past wars. They disregard the immense suffering and lasting mayhem brought us by their wars.

For eons before Ronald Reagan made famous the Russian proverb, “Trust, but verify,” peacemakers have been hammering out verification plans that will allow adversaries to avoid the horrors of war. For love of country and all that is holy, we should all be gratefully supporting this agreement.

So well said.  Thank you!

And on this subject from Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum: I Want to Hear a Good Argument Against Obama’s Deal With Iran …

I don’t want Iran to build a nuclear bomb. It would quite likely set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which is the last place on the planet that we want to have one. And as near as I can tell, this deal is our best chance to keep Iran nuclear free for a good long time. If any conservative can offer a better plan, I’m all ears. Either:

Describe a tougher deal that you can reasonably argue Iran would have accepted.


Explain why some other course of action would be better at keeping Iran nuclear free than a negotiated deal.
No name calling, no comparisons to Neville Chamberlain, no complaints that Iran hates Israel, and no blather about appeasement. Make an argument. A real argument about a course of action that would be better than the deal currently on the table. Let’s hear it.

5000 Years: Beautiful Dynamic Map of the World’s 5 Major Religions

2 minutes of easily-accessible Saturday a.m. brain food.

I can watch this over and over.  So much history captured here I would like to know more about.

What percentage of any day’s  international headlines relate directly to this map?

What do you find fascinating or did you learn?

Me – ●Hinduism in South America,   ●The rapid and discontinuous spread of Judaism in Europe,  ●Googling Judaism and Caspian Sea – The Khazars, ●The intransigence of the Malay Peninsula to Hinduism, then, Buddhism.

Look, I get it’s simplistic and there is a lot going on within the broad colors, but the satellite view over time does give a little perspective, no?  Credit to Alex Kuzoian of, wait, Business Insider? WTH?  Anyway, great job.  It’s a keeper.

Religion:  Is there anything outside of loved ones we feel more deeply and personally connected to?  But as this video demonstrates, is there anything more outside of our personal control?  Religion is more a function of our tribe than ourselves, isn’t it?

We’ll see where the future will lead us and how these maps change over time.

Four and a Half Hours by the Speed of Light

From the NYT

That’s how long New Horizon’s information packet will take to reach all of us (minus a few on the International Space Station) on Earth.

That is at the speed of light which is 670,616,629 miles per hour.

It took the New Horizons spacecraft 9 years to travel the 3 billion miles.

All this (mostly) to do 22 hours of work.

We lost contact with New Horizons at 8:17 PM PST last night and it won’t be until 1:20 PM PST this afternoon until the spacecraft will send “a message it survived and a brief summary of how the day went” (NYT).

It will take 4.5 hours to receive that message.  Expect to hear about it then at about 5:50 PM.  Bon Chance inanimate spacecraft.

Links from the NYT:

Pluto to Get a Close-Up After New Horizons’ 3-Billion-Mile Journey

Interactive Guide to The Fly-by

Video: Fast and Light to Pluto

After Pluto, What Should NASA Explore Next

Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, as seen from the Cassini spacecraft. Credit NASA (Caption from NYT)

Reaching Pluto, and the End of an Era of Planetary Exploration

“Happy Semi-annual End of the World Day” – Honey (via The Oatmeal)

My pooch Honey is not a huge fan of July 4th or January 1st for that matter.  Something obvious dog-lover and brilliant internet cartoonist Matthew Inman of understands.

If you’ve never visited The Oatmeal before, bookmark it.  You’re welcome,  Happy Fourth!

Back St. Joe’s Workers, Not St. Joe’s Administration

Eurekans might have seen signs calling for the end to poverty wages pop up on our daily commutes.  This is a topic that LoCO has covered and St. Joe has taken out full page ads to tout how “generous” a partner it IMG_0402has been to our community.

The thing is, as always in our economy the generosity is blanketed on those with money and spread out with very careful accounting to the needy, while the middle class and the blue (and pink) collar workers are squeezed even further.

Below is a graph from the Union sponsored report LoCO reprinted.  Notice the $10 wage (SJHE = Eureka’s St. Joe, RMH = Fortuna’s Redwood Memorial, SRMH = Santa Rosa’s Memorial Health, and MMC = Redding’s Mercy Medical Center).  I can hear you saying, yeah but, we get paid less up here behind the redwood curtain and that’s just the way it is.  Really?

It is the way it is, but why?  I contend it is a conservative business and government governance we’ve simply accepted as fact.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

Below is a quick tablenoting a couple of income indicators from the Amazing Census ™.  Santa Rosa (SRMH above) does have significantly higher income indicators*, but Redding?  Why do our workers have to suffer the indignity of low wages.  I really don’t feel there are good reasons other than this region has been used to union-busting management for decades.

Regional Income

If you don’t believe me, you can just read it between the lines in St. Joe’s polished full page ad.  It starts out with … (highlights mine)

“Recently, you may have read materials from large out-of-town union representatives that have misleading information about our St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County ministries — St. Joseph Hospital Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital. We want to make sure you hear directly from us on this important topic.”

It continues with this fun right wing canard – darn government regulations.  They don’t seem to mention that these regulations have helped to expand Medi-Cal roles by 30% since the ACA began.

“While government regulations and economic pressures are reducing our reimbursements, and asking us to continue to provide better care, we have continually re-invested in our communities.”


“We want you to be well informed about our pay and benefit practices and to know how privileged we are to work with so many talented and dedicated individuals who do their very best to serve you”

If this is true, then how can we accept such comparatively low wages?  Wages that are below living wages in a local economic sector that is flush with financial success?  Any questions about that success – simply drive by the palace/hospital St. Joe’s has built itself in the past 5 years.

Is it just me, or should a religious institution be leading the way in the employee salaries, especially those traditionally lower-paid, while making capital investments only once the laborers are getting their fair share?

What can we do?  Pass the idea of these yard signs forward.  Continue to let friends and family know that we need to start fighting for living wages for our employees.  Write letters to the editor.  Start taking back arguments about the importance of private sector unions.

Eventually, we’ll be able to crack the rhetorical lock the right has and the 10% have on unions and living wages.  We’ve bought into this rhetoric for years, but finally as we are confronted with reality their rhetoric will increasingly seem hollow and the simplest of remedies will finally, again, seem like common-sense.

We’ll get there.

*  This also might be due to an interior Santa Rosa that is more well-to-do than its suburbs and exurbs.  It’s very likely that the workers and community Memorial Hospital serves has household incomes more in line with Humboldt’s than Santa Rosa proper.

Continue reading “Back St. Joe’s Workers, Not St. Joe’s Administration”

Coming July 14th: Completing the Historic Era of Planetary Exploration

“Who knows what wonders await us?”  Probably not meeting extraterrestrials, sorry!

But don’t let that dissuade you from the universe of inorganic interest and intrigue for us inquisitive humans.

Also, common, let’s enjoy Pluto as a planet just a little longer, k?

Continue reading “Coming July 14th: Completing the Historic Era of Planetary Exploration”

The F Word?

Change in format this morning.  A question for the 7 of you.

In your opinion, what is the  most important word or concept for Americans?

At least rhetorically and therefore the one that is at the basis of the politics of both parties.

I think I’m headed somewhere with this.

“The ACA Is Here To Stay”

ACA is here to stay

What a relief.  This was a joke of a lawsuit and it showed in the results thanks to Chief Justice Roberts and swing-vote Justice Kennedy.

From the DailyKos

This decision is frankly, as good as could be hoped for progressives. There was no expansion of any federalism doctrine. In addition, by rejecting Chevron deference, the court has closed the book on interpretation of this provision of ACA. No future GOP Administration can reopen the question.

The dissent is from the usual suspects, Scalia, Alito and Thomas.

From the New York Times

The 6-to-3 ruling means that it is all but certain that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017, and has a greater chance of becoming an enduring part of America’s social safety net.

Look, the ACA isn’t the ultimate healthcare solution, but it is an important step in the right direction.  It has dramatically improved access to health care and begins to level the once exponential rise in health spending – both by the government and Americans generally.   It’s also the first major initiative the left has had since … (I’m thinking)…

The ACA also is the first time in a while we’ve attempted to mend a glaring hole in our social safety net.  It’s done by a government initiative which, if smart, we on the left can use to again prove to the anti-tax, anti-government right that together we can do lots of stuff that makes things gooder.

Times Standard Medi-Cal Editorial Cartoon

Fun (sarcasm) editorial cartoon in the Times Standard this morning.  The Pacific Northwest’s Monte Wolverton hits all the fun right wing memes – sexism, government incompetence, welfare entitlement.

So lets take a look at what is actually happening.  From another Wolverton cartoon.

30% of Californian’s insured under Medi-Cal.

From the Kaiser Foundation in March 2015, there were 12,248,555 Californian’s on Medi-Cal or a 34% rise since the Affordable Care Act when Medi-Cal insured 9,157,000.

Medi-Cal is our state’s version of Medicaid.  This is a program that people have to apply for and if found eligible can often have what is known as a “zero share of cost” or 100% of covered medical procedures are paid for.

This is an incredibly important safety-net program for those of us that might be on either temporary or more permanent hard times.  As Franklin Roosevelt might have framed this, freedom from want.

Medi-Cal is now a part of an imperfect but improving attempt national, state and county governments are making to insure all of us are insured.  All other OECD countries outside of Mexico have figured out that universal health care is the way to go.  Because of bad timing, Truman could not convince our national conservatives of this when we had the chance and since then they’ve owned the political discourse.  Result – we are spending way too much to cover way to few with disastrous expectations.  The silver lining is, those with money have the best care money can buy.

There should not be a stigma against Medi-Cal.  It’s an incredible program allowing all of us to enjoy what a society should be able to provide.  Medical coverage for all.  We shouldn’t have to lose our livelihood, our homes, our families if we are unlucky enough to suffer a debilitating sickness or accident.

We obviously have a long way to go to solve these problems and they solutions will necessarily involve politics, government, the medical profession, not-for-profits, consumer activists, etc.  In other words, all of us.  Having the privilege of earning a living being on the front lines of this myself* I can tell you we are making progress.  One of the big ones is for many people Medi-Cal is no longer a property-based program.  This alone is such a big deal that is not being discussed.  The property-based program was (and, ironically, still is for the most vulnerable) a poison pill that only serves to increase those aspects of the program the editorial is criticising.

The irony is, the editorial is fueling the exact attitude that lead to the lawmakers that would make Medi-Cal eligibility a property-based program in the first place.

It’s complicated and that cartoon isn’t helping.  For a large percentage of the people who have been on the other side of that phone call, I’m going to guess they have had the opposite experience, at least here in Humboldt County.  In other words, not only is it not helping, it’s not true.  I’d challenge the T-S to fact check it, but I know they don’t have the budget to do that.

* CAVEAT:  My name is Jon Yalcinkaya.  I am an eligibility worker at Humboldt County’s Department of Health and Human Services.  The opinions expressed here are my own and are only generally associated with day-to-day, client-to-client experiences at the DHHS.

Continue reading “Times Standard Medi-Cal Editorial Cartoon”