Friday, August 22, 2014

My Dear Girl… Please Remember


Cycle of Life

AARP  -  January 9, 2013

My dear girl, the day you see I'm getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I'm going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don't interrupt to say: "You said the same thing a minute ago"... Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don't want to take a bath, don't be mad and don't embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?
When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don't look at me that way ... remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life's issues every day... the day you see I'm getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I'm going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we're talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can't, don't be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don't let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don't feel sad... just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I'll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I've always had for you, I just want to say, I love you ... my darling daughter.

Original text in Spanish and photo by Guillermo Peña.  Translation to English by Sergio Cadena

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Depression and Suicide Re-Visited in the Aftermath of the Death of Robin Williams

Robin Williams… Humble Hero and Comic Virtuoso Dead at 63

Goodbye Robin Williams… May you rest in peace!!  Thank you for all the joy and laughter you brought into all our lives!!  For the talent you shared and for all your good works!!  May you find the joy, peace and laughter that you were looking for in the next life!!  Read more here

Robin Williams 

By Marion Algier  -  True Health Is True Wealth (THITW)  -  Cross-Posted at AskMarion

The world was shocked to hear of the death of Robin Williams and even more shocked to hear about the details of his death… his suicide after a life of depression.

Two movies that Williams made come to mind when thinking about the events surrounding his death: Dead Poets Society and What Dreams May Come.

How the lessons of ‘Dead Poets Society’ can help us understand suicide and depression:

By Alyssa Rosenberg – Washington Post: As we have absorbed the news that Robin Williams committed suicide at the age of 63, the conversation about his life and legacy has starfished in any number of directions, some of them outrageously ghoulish, many of them thoughtful. I have been struck by many of the pieces that focus on two ideas: the greatness of Williams’ performance in the period private school drama “Dead Poets Society” and attempts to render suicide and depression more comprehensible.

(Credit: Buena Vista Pictures)
(Buena Vista Pictures)

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way,” John Keating (Williams) told the boys in his high school English class in “Dead Poets Society.”

But poetry does more than give us unique perspectives on familiar subjects. It can be a powerful pathway into the mind-sets of profound depression and suicidal ideation that are difficult to render rational to people who are trying to understand them from the outside, and that are flattened by all but the most incandescent prose writers. If we are to truly take Keating’s advice, we ought to examine the same medium that explains to us why we live for insight into why some people choose to die.

Keating teaches his boys Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” with its injunction from the Greek hero, “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, / To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!”

He might have reached back to Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” and the story of Ajax’s suicide. In Sir Samuel Garth and John Dryden’s translation, the mighty fighter, furious that Odysseus has been awarded a prize that Ajax believed rightly his, and unable to understand the logic that permits such a decision, commits suicide. “He who cou’d often, and alone, withstand / The foe, the fire, and Jove’s own partial hand,  / Now cannot his unmaster’d grief sustain, / But yields to rage, to madness, and disdain.”

Or what about the “Aeneid,” which gains so much of its power from a seeming contradiction. When Aeneas meets Queen Dido, he is in awe of her. In Robert Fitzgerald’s marvelous translation, Aeneas marvels “What age so happy / Brought you to birth? How splendid were your parents / To have conceived a being like yourself!”

But Aeneas’s hope that “your name and your distinction / Go with me, whatever lands may call me” carries with it the promise that he will leave. When he does, Dido’s understanding of the laws that are meant to govern gods and men cracks and she becomes fixated on a vision of her own death. Virgil captures the moment before her suicide in stunning verse: “Dido’s heart / Beat wildly at the enormous thing afoot. / She rolled her bloodshot eyes, her quivering cheeks / Were flecked with red as her sick pallor grew / Before her coming death. Into the court / She burst her way, then at her passion’s height / She climbed the pyre and bared the Dardan sword– / A gift desired once, for no such need.”

I sometimes wonder if Keating read the work of Weldon Kees, who disappeared in 1955. Kees’s fate is a mystery, but even if he did not kill himself, his vanishing act is a kind of self-murder.

Kees’s work captures the flatness of depression beautifully. In a series of poems about a character named Robinson, Kees describes the man’s “sad and usual heart, dry as a winter leaf.” Ultimately, Robinson vanishes, his absence throwing a pall over the world: “The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall,” Kees writes, “Reflects nothing at all. The glass is black.  / Robinson alone provides the image Robinsonian.”

Many of Kees’s other poems seem to suffer from infections similar to the ones that ravage Robinson’s spirit.

In “For My Daughter,” he darkly speculates about the fates that a woman can meet, “Parched years that I have seen  / That may be hers appear: foul, lingering  / Death in certain war, the slim legs green. / Or, fed on hate, she relishes the sting  / Of others’ agony; perhaps the cruel / Bride of a syphilitic or a fool.” The poem ends in a surprising place. “These speculations sour in the sun,” Kees admits. “I have no daughter. I desire none.”

In “The Upstairs Room,” he uses that same sense of surprise to talk cruelly about “The floor my father stained,” not with varnish but with “The new blood streaming from his head.” The characters in “Five Villanelles” are paralyzed, prevented even from acting to protect themselves: “Here in the kitchen, drinking gin, / We can accept the damndest laws. / We must remain until the roof falls in.”

“Dead Poets Society” is set in 1959, at the same moment that the confessional poets were emerging as a significant force in American letters.

If Keating’s teaching took, I can imagine the young men of that film encountering Anne Sexton’s sharp observation in “Wanting to Die” that “But suicides have a special language. / Like carpenters they want to know which tools. / They never ask why build.” Or maybe they would be touched by Robert Lowell’s report of his stay in a mental health facility in “Waking in the Blue” that “We are all old-timers, / each of us holds a locked razor.” Lowell himself recalled Dido in “Falling Asleep over the Aeneid.” His character dreams that he is Aeneas, holding the sword that Dido used to kill herself, when he is visited by a bird who counsels him “Brother, try, / O Child of Aphrodite, try to die: / To die is life.”

Sexton and Sylvia Plath captured the grinding drive towards annihilation in “The Double Image” and “Lady Lazarus.” In the former, Sexton watches leaves fall off the trees with the daughter she has failed to parent because of her suicide attempts and stays in institutions. “I tell you what you’ll never really know,” she tells the little girl, “all the medical hypothesis / that explained my brain will never be as true as these / struck leaves letting go.”

“This is Number Three.  / What a trash / To annihilate each decade,” Plath writes in an expression of extreme weariness.

In Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” she counsels readers that ” It’s evident / the art of losing’s not too hard to master / though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.” It is good advice. But poetry can help us see that while we are supposed to recover from losses like Bishop’s, or John Keating’s loss of a student and a job, not all of our brains work the same way.

What Dreams May Come also deals with depression, death and suicide and attacks the religious stance that there is not escape from suicide, that once you go down that path you will spend all eternity in Hell.

What Dreams May Come - Special Edition

There is such a profound sense of drama, magic and emotion behind the story in "What Dreams May Come," a film based on the novel by Richard Matheson. There is a strong story with which anyone who loves someone else can identify, as well as an ostentatious and elegant scope of visual and auditory imagery that jumps right for your eyes onscreen. Matheson's visions of heaven and hell are magnificently realized here, as well as the love between two people that is unbreakable, even after death. 

The movie begins with the chance meeting of two American tourists traveling in Switzerland. Soon after, Chris and Annie become inseparable, and after their wedding, they bear two children. Many years later, Ian and Marie are killed in a car collision, leaving their parents distraught yet overcoming. Another couple of years later, Chris dies in a car accident as well, on his way to celebrate the "Double D" anniversary of his wife's emotional recovery from their childrens' deaths. This begins his trip into heaven, which is rocky at first during his attempts to console his living wife, then graduating into his acceptance of his immortality and ascemding into heaven, which turns out to be the creation of his own thoughts and settings. When he realizes that he is not completely happy without Annie, he becomes depressed, so it is no surprise that when Annie commits suicide and is sent to hell, he readies himself to rescue his wife from her emotional confines that keep her in her prison of eternal darkness.

The story for this movie is very ambitious, as are the filmmakers who bring it to life. There is an abundance of vivid memories in the form of flashbacks, many of which are precisely used to move the plot along and keep the story moving. Instead of becoming bored with the ongoing story of Annie and Chris's married and parental life, I found myself becoming more and more entranced as their lives unfolded, and say what you will, but the only way to tell a story like this is through flashbacks. If you were to take all of the memories and place them in order at the beginning of the movie, the audience would forget about the important moments that have an effects on the actions and events that take place in later instances of the film. Each one is a separate piece of the puzzle, and they all fit together quite well.

This film is one of those movies that showcases the possibilities for filmmaking in the future. Really, when you think about it, there is no way that the movie could have been made thirty years ago and still have the same impact as it does now. The settings and scenery play the most important role of the movie, for they provide the reason for the emotion and action that affects our characters. The beginning shots in Switzerland show us beautiful vistas of mountains and lakes, which will later become the inspiration for Chris's heaven, as well as many of the paintings Annie creates. Their home bursts forth with color and brightness, proving that color plays a big role in the film. When everyone is alive, everything seems light and airy. After Chris's death, all is dark, and the walls of the home seem dismal and gray. One scene in particular is a scene in which Chris watches his children being driven away in their van down a long line of lilac trees, a slight fog covering the scene. Their is that brilliance of color, yet the dark fog makes us uneasy, hence the accident that kills their children.

Heaven is elegantly portrayed in this film, and is done so with a new twist: that each person has their own private heaven created in the image of their own personal desires and thoughts. Chris's heaven is based on the paintings of his wife, from the mountains of Switzerland to a small island in the middle of a mountain lake with an opulent, airy house. The filmmakers give each scene the precise look of a painting, even after the special effects fade, using vivid colors, lots of flowers and mountainous backdrops, to transport us into Chris's new world. This is one of the most incredible film achievements ever, taking us to a special place that is warm, inviting, and personifies every thought we, as an audience, have ever had for beauty and vision.

Hell is given a truly horrifying and intense treatment, displaying visions of suffering as well as the personal and emotional pain of life that haunts us all. Somewhat like the way in which Heaven is created, Hell is seen as a persons's "life gone wrong," which allows for the creation of their pain-driven eternity. The gateway to hell is a stunning visual image, a vast, smoky graveyard of smoldering shipwrecks that creak and groan. There is also a dismal, endless sea of decrepit faces of hell's inhabitants, that groan and scream at one another. The most striking of all the settings is the overturned cathedral, where Annie resides. The columns rise from the ceiling and go on forever into the darkness, which gives the whole place a sense of the neverending.

There is a unique chemistry between the two leads that carries on the film's emotion and power. Robin Williams is charming, humorous and bold as Chris Nielsen, and through his acting and talent, he is able to make us believe in the love that Chris holds for Annie. Annabella Sciorra is moving as Annie, embodying all of the emotions and grief that set the stage for the second half of the story. When the two are together onscreen, they are happy and in love, and we buy it because they make it appear very authentic. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays the angel that brings Chris to heaven, doing well in his performance of helping Chris through his struggle to realize his death. Max von Sydow, whose part is not as big as others he has had, is the tracker who takes them all to hell, and his words of wisdom keep the film's informative angle moving.

"What Dreams May Come" will go down in history as one of the most innovative and spectacular films ever made, full of ambition and inspiration. In its story, we are taken on a journey of the human heart, as well as a striking vision of what may lie in store for everyone under God's eye.

When I hear ridiculous statements from people like '”Robin Williams’ suicide or any suicide was a cowardly act,” it shows me how little progress we have made in this realm and how uninformed people really are.

I lost my Mother to suicide after a long bout with depression that also involved the shooting of My 21-year-old brother; all ultimately caused by the untimely death of my father from colon cancer and the events that followed.  It is a story for another time.  But as Dennis Miller said on the O’Reilly Factor, “If a gentle and cool cat like Robin Williams could be lost to this disease, we all can!” 

Who should you be calling today that can use your help?

Depression: Approximately 21.5 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a depressive disorder. Nearly twice as many women (12.0 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder each year. These figures translate to 13.7 million women and 7.8 million men in the U.S.

  • Pre-schoolers represent the fastest-growing market for antidepressants. At least four percent of preschoolers—more than one million—are clinically depressed.
  • The rate of increase of depression among children is 23%.
  • In most developed countries, 15% of the population suffers from severe depression.
  • An estimated 30% of women are depressed.
  • 41% of depressed women are too embarrassed to seek help.
  • 80% of depressed people are not currently receiving any treatment.
  • An estimated 15% of depressed people commit suicide.
  • By 2020, depression will be the second largest killer after heart disease. Furthermore, studies indicate that depression is a contributing factor to fatal coronary disease.

340 million people in the world suffer from depression and rising. 1 in 4 women will suffer from depression. Postnatal depression affects 14 per cent of new mothers. 1 in 10 men will suffer from depression (this statistic is not absolutely correct because more women are apt to see their doctor for depression than men do.) Depression strikes all races, rich and poor.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 121 million people worldwide have some form of depression, although less than 25 percent have access to effective treatment [source: WHO]. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 14.8 million adult Americans experience clinical depression in any given year — or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population over 18 [source: NIH Depressive]. Women are more likely to have major depression than are men, and the average age for a bout of clinical depression to set in is 32 years old. Older adults also are depressed, however. In fact, people 65 years and older commit suicide at a higher rate than the national average [source: Senior Health]. The good news is that NIH statistics show that the percentage of all adults in the U.S. who are depressed went down a full percentage point from 2007 to 2008… but something tells me that the figures from 2008 to 2014 will have gone in the other direction!!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Obama Administration Lied About Insurance Company Bailouts

A Damning Report

By: Dan McLaughlin (Diary)  |  August 5th, 2014 at 02:00 PM – RedState

Ocare Age Mix

It can be difficult to keep track of all the untruths the Obama Administration has told in the process of selling Obamacare to a disbelieving public, and it is tempting to write these all off as history, more than four years later. But the untruths have never stopped coming. A House oversight report released last week reveals that the Administration has been misleading the public about the likelihood that it will have to bail out insurance companies that sold policies under Obamacare. I highly recommend you read both the report and Jeffrey Anderson’s excellent story in the Weekly Standard summarizing it, as well as Phil Kerpen’s blow-by-blow of the emails over at The Federalist. The upshot is that, even after the Administration’s hard sell and coercive mandates forced millions of Americans to buy policies from the big health insurance companies, we should expect a billion-dollar bailout of those companies because the mix of people buying them is older and sicker than projected (unexpectedly!), and we should expect going forward to face a choice between premium increases and even bigger bailouts.

The Oversight Report covers a variety of close contacts between the Administration and the insurance companies, which in and of themselves are an eye-opening up-close look at corporatism in action and the sheer hypocrisy of an Administration that loves to bash insurers publicly while working hand in glove with them and catering to their needs behind the scenes – an Administration where, by President Obama’s own account, he commonly asks CEOs why they aren’t spending more of their shareholders’ money lobbying for his policies on immigration, the environment and education. The quid pro quo in that arrangement is that Administration carrot-and-stick control over the big insurers has kept many of them publicly on the reservation, parroting pro-Obamacare talking points and shying away from public criticism, all so that the Administration can tout their silence as proof the program’s critics are all wet. There’s only so much you can blame the insurers, who after all are for-profit companies that by now have no real choice but to do business with Leviathan. But we’ve come a long way from the idealistic “new politics” rhetoric of 2008 to the grubby details of bailing out big corporations from a mess entirely of this President’s own making.


The bailouts are at the heart of this web of deceit. Pre-Obamacare, insurers had to price their policies mainly by reference to market forces (albeit in an already heavily-regulated market): charge enough to cover the actuarial cost expected for each enrollee, but not too much to lose business. Guess wrong and you lost money. But under Obamacare, consumers no longer have the choice whether or not to buy policies, and insurance companies no longer face any risk of losing money, because they’ve been promised a bailout. Money will still be lost, but it will be taxpayer money, and you never run out of that, do you?


    Obamacare Enrollees Older and Sicker Than Projected

Obamacare has three separate programs (the “3Rs”) that make up this bailout: Reinsurance, which pays companies to subsidize particular policies; the Risk Corridor program, which taxes companies that end up with less-expensive mixes of policyholders and subsidizes those that have more-expensive mixes; and the Risk Adjustment program, which does the same at the insurance plan level. The mechanics of these are all more complex than that (but trust them, they have top men working on all these details), but the general idea is that, if Obamacare works as projected, the Reinsurance program will provide a subsidy of up to $20 billion over the next three years, but the other two programs will be budget-neutral. In other words, there will be an equal balance of winners and losers subsidizing their fellow comrades in glorious workers’ paradise without pestering the taxpayers.

But the data provided by the insurers – insurance companies and co-ops covering about 80% of the market, from which the overall numbers are extrapolated* – makes clear that the Administration’s public stance of no-net-bailouts is at odds with what those insurers expect and have been telling the White House:

As of May 2014, twelve of the 15 traditional health insurers expect to receive payments from the Risk Corridor program, one of the insurers expects to make payments into the Risk Corridor program, and two insurers expect no net payments. These 15 insurers project they will receive approximately $640 million in net payments through the Risk Corridor program for the 2014 plan year.

As of May 2014, of the 23 co-ops, seven expect to receive payments from the Risk Corridor program, two expect to make payments into the Risk Corridor program, and 14 expect no net payments. These 23 co-ops expect to receive approximately $86 million in net payments through the Risk Corridor program for the 2014 plan year.

Although the Risk Adjustment program is required to be budget neutral, many more insurers expect to receive payments than make payments. As of May 2014, the companies surveyed by the Committee expect net payments through the Risk Adjustment program of about $346 million. Moreover, insurers expect to receive nearly twice as much in net Risk Adjustment payments than they did on October 1, 2013. This provides additional evidence that insurers expect enrollees in ObamaCare-compliant plans to be less healthy than originally anticipated. In fact, enrollment information provided by insurers show that insurers enrolled a much older risk pool, on average, in their ObamaCare-compliant plans than they anticipated.

While the exchange plans were always susceptible to adverse selection because of how expensive the law made insurance for younger and healthier individuals, several delays and modifications to the law by the Obama Administration worsened the adverse selection problem….Insurers directly lobbied the White House for the Administration to make the 3R programs more generous to insurers, and the Administration obliged. Insurers and co-ops now expect a third more from the Risk Corridor taxpayer bailout than they did on October 1, 2013. It is impossible to know how much of the increase in the industries’ expectation for the size of the bailouts is the result of a less healthy exchange population than originally anticipated and how much of the increase is from the Administration’s rule changes to make the bailouts more generous…

This is, as the Oversight Report notes, dramatically different from the February 2014 CBO analysis that Democrats uniformly trumpeted as evidence that there would be no net bailout; the House went straight to the insurers because “the CBO estimates were inconsistent with widespread sentiment among actuaries and health policy experts”. The actual insurance company data paints a picture quite different from the CBO’s report, in part because (as set forth in the graph at the top of this post), the mix of enrollees has turned out to be older and likely sicker than projected, mainly due to a drastic shortfall in the enrollment of families with children (always a demographic overlooked by this Administration). In other words, as usual, reality has failed to conform to the assumptions provided to the CBO. As the report notes:

The large increase in insurers’ expectations for Risk Corridor payments and Risk Adjustment payments between October 1, 2013, and the present are consistent with recent media reports about a high degree of adverse selection in exchange plans. An April report from Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits manager, showed that early exchange plan enrollees were spending much more money on drugs than individuals in group plans. On June 24, 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that exchange enrollees are about 70 percent more likely to have significant health issues than people enrolled in the individual market in 2013. According to an analysis of the early claims data, healthy individuals largely chose to keep their existing non-ObamaCare-compliant plans while those with greater health concerns have opted for exchange coverage. Patrick Getzen, chief actuary for Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, told the Wall Street Journal, “[i]t’s even worse than what we thought. … We’re seeing more chronic conditions than we would have expected.”

The Committee has obtained two pieces of information that further demonstrate that people enrolled in exchange plans are significantly older and less healthy than initially expected by insurers. The first is that insurers anticipate much larger payments through ObamaCare’s Risk Adjustment program than they did on October 1, 2013. The second is that insurers have reported to the Committee that they have enrolled a substantially older population in their exchange plans than they projected prior to October 1, 2013.

    Obama White House Is Warned But Downplays The Risk

The Oversight Report details the communications between insurance company executives concerned about potential mounting losses and Valerie Jarrett and other White House officials who were eager to keep them singing from their script, and who eventually agreed to a more generous bailout package in order to tamp down pressure to raise rates even further than planned. Anderson summarizes a key exchange:

[T]he administration declared that the risk-corridor program would be budget-neutral. In reply, according to the Oversight report, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Chet Burrell emailed Jarrett and then talked on the phone with her later that same day. The next day, he emailed her again, attaching a memo that said, “Until very recently, the position of the Administration had been that the law requires the Federal government to fully fund the Risk Corridor payments if amounts paid in by the ‘winners’ turn out to be inadequate — as they likely will.’” Otherwise, he added, “carriers will have to increase rates substantially (i.e., as much as 20% or more beyond what they would otherwise file) to make sure that premiums adequately reflect expected costs.” In other words, the administration had a choice: provide a bailout, or face the unpleasant prospect of having insurers price their products honestly.

…Soon thereafter, the Obama administration abandoned the claim of budget-neutrality, writing in a release from Health and Human Services (HHS), “In the unlikely event of a shortfall for the 2015 program year, HHS recognizes that the [Patient Protection and] Affordable Care Act requires the Secretary to make full payments to issuers. In that event, HHS will use other sources of funding for the risk corridors payments, subject to the availability of appropriations.”

So, the Administration was continuing to call a bailout “unlikely” as insurance company CEOs were warning the White House that the industry believed it was in fact “likely,” and were pressuring the White House to guarantee a bailout precisely for that reason. As the Oversight Report details, the expected bailout has increased significantly since the October 2013 launch of Obamacare, and now tops $1 billion. And as Anderson details, there is no way Congress will appropriate money for such a bailout, and the Administration’s basis for claiming it can be funded without an appropriation is exceptionally shaky. But then, this White House won’t be stopped by such minutuae as Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution.

    Rate Hikes A-Comin’

All of this matters because rate hikes are on their way, and the bailout appears to be the only thing holding them back from getting even worse. We just saw the Florida insurance regulators project a 13% increase in premiums for 2015, some of which will hit policyholders and the rest of which will – like the bailout – be absorbed by taxpayers. This is in line with other states as well:

According to officials in the State of California, insurance premium increases in the first year of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, ranged from 22 percent to 88 percent….According to press reports, they will rise by an average of 15 percent in Indiana, 12 percent in New York, 11 percent or more in Arizona, 11 percent in Iowa, 5 percent in Delaware…by double digits in Tennessee and Louisiana, and as much as 15 percent in Virginia. More and more states are likely to announce rate increases in the weeks ahead.

The Administration’s fear of unpopular rate hikes seems to have motivated the bailout, as the insurers were pointedly warning Jarrett that she needed to move to reassure them on bailouts before the next set of deadlines for publicly filing their next year’s rates. There’s an election coming, after all.

As the Oversight Report notes, even with all of this governmental support, a number of the co-ops and at least a few insurance companies seem to be underpricing policies in a way that will be unsustainable and lead to ever-growing demands for bigger bailouts down the road, creating a fiscal death spiral for the program:

[T]axpayers appear to be on the hook for bailing out co-ops that significantly underpriced their plans in 2014. Moreover, policyholders with coverage through these co-ops should expect large premium increases in future years when the co-ops can no longer rely on taxpayers to heavily subsidize their revenues.

In addition to the co-ops, many other insurers also appear to have underpriced exchange plans for the 2014 plan year, likely due to their expectation of receiving a taxpayer bailout. The Committee has learned that, as of October 1, 2013, many large insurers expected to receive payments through the Risk Corridor program. Of the 15 insurers, six expected payments through the Risk Corridor program prior to the start of open enrollment while none expected to make payments into the Risk Corridor program.

Obamacare is the gift that keeps on giving – from you to a big industry that President Obama only pretends to hate.

* – The Oversight Report’s estimates are based on the White House’s frequently touted figure of seven million Obamacare enrollees, although it expresses skepticism about that as well, see page 15 of the Report.

Ebola – Don’t Panic But Don’t Underestimate The Virus

The Razor: Originally Posted: 4th August 2014, 05:39 pm

As someone who is married to a doctor who spends her vacations in Africa treating rural villagers I take Ebola very seriously, especially since quite a few medical personnel have died from the virus. Although this virus has been infecting people since the 1970s we know very little about it. In the past it has burned itself out by pretty much killing everyone who came into contact with it in the African bush. This time around it has made it to the cities, and news stories are circulating that it has left Africa and made it to Europe and perhaps the US.

The crazies are beginning to take notice. Michael Savage has slammed the CDC for bringing two Ebola victims, an American doctor and nurse, to the US for treatment. He asks, “Why have they brought an infected doctor and another patient from the area of contagion to Emory University in the U.S. when these individuals could treated just as well in Africa? Perhaps they are using these two patients as guinea pigs in a trial for a new vaccine from which billions are to be made if successful.”

Evidently Savage has never spent time in an African hospital. I have seen my share, and if your idea of a hospital is an American public high school nurse’s office except with fewer drugs, then you have a pretty good idea of what constitutes the average African hospital. They simply do not have the resources that Emory does. Could we bring Emory over there? Perhaps in a few months sure, but the Americans had hours to live. Was there a risk to bringing them here? Absolutely, but that risk had to be weighed against the likely outcomes for the two Americans. A few weeks ago someone found a stash of old smallpox vials that had been forgotten. We’ve been experimenting with dangerous biological organisms here in the US for decades; it’s not like this is the first time a virus as notorious as Ebola has been brought to US shores. So the risk was miniscule compared to the odds against the two Americans suffering from the virus. In my view it was the right decision. Oh, and Michael, the gist of your argument makes you sound as wackadoodle as the anti-corporate progressives.

Ebola is a frightening virus, but the way forward is to combat the virus with scientific research, not throwing up the walls and cowering in fear. And it certainly isn’t by using one’s favorite whipping boy to stifle a vaccine.