Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Last Call For The Cowards Of The Counties

A sobering analysis of America's uninsured finds that more than half live in just 116 of the country's more than 3,400 counties, mostly in and around large cities.

The numbers are pretty brutal: 2.2 million in Los Angeles County alone, another 1.1 million in and around Houston and Harris County, Texas.  These counties are where federal and state exchange officials are working to sign up people.

Federal officials are focusing on 25 metro areas, the AP said, including Dallas, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and Indianapolis. The feds are less concerned with cities like Los Angeles and New York, where states are running their own health-care exchanges.

These signup will go a long way towards making Obamacare work, despite continuing GOP sabotage.

A Tobacco-Free Workplace

CVS Caremark, one of the nation's largest pharmacy chains, says as of October 1, it will no longer sell tobacco products.  Sarah Kliff goes over the math and concludes it's a long-term win for the chain.

CVS executives said the decision could cost billions of dollars in revenue because cigarettes draw so many customers to their stores. But by jettisoning tobacco products, CVS can further define its pharmacies as full-fledged health-care providers and strike more profitable deals with hospitals and health insurers. CVS stores already are home to more than 750 MinuteClinics, the country's largest chain of pharmacy-based health clinics, offering flu shots and diagnosis of common ailments like ear infections and strep throat. 
"An important and growing part of our business is the work we do with clients and health insurance plans," CVS Pharmacy President Helena Foulkes said in an interview Tuesday. "As we thought about supporting their goals about improving outcomes and lowering costs, we believe that's the future we're looking towards. As we become more connected to their health-care work, this is an important decision for us to make." 
The company plans to phase out all tobacco sales by Oct. 1 and expects it could lose about $2 billion in annual revenue generated by tobacco sales and other products purchased by the same shoppers. The pharmacy chain generates about $125 billion in revenue annually.

So yes, it's about a 2% drop in revenue, but the chain expects to make that up and then some with more health care offerings and partnerships with clinics.

CVS has increasingly moved beyond its traditional role as a pharmacy in recent years, expanding its reach as a health-care provider. Its MinuteClinics services have allowed the company to increasingly enter into contracts with hospitals and health plans, often providing primary care services on the weekends and evenings, when doctors' offices tend to be closed.

CVS chief medical officer Troyen A. Brennan estimates that the company has between 30 and 40 partnerships with health-care systems across the country and is in talks with a similar number about starting additional arrangements.

He said the decision to halt tobacco sales will make it easier to strike such deals, particularly those that include financial rewards for CVS if they can help patients stop smoking and reduce their medical bills.

This is a smart move for both the company and its customers.  Smoking-related illnesses remain the number one cause of preventable deaths in the US, and those illnesses cost billions annually.  Expect to see more health care related chains make moves like this.

Our "Liberal Media" Got Everything Wrong Again

No surprise there.  A number of news outlets got Tuesday's Congressional Budget Office analysis of how Obamacare will affect the labor market completely, totally, 100% wrong.

The Congressional Budget Office issued a new report Tuesday on the federal budget deficit, Obamacare and jobs -- and Official Washington exploded. 
It all centered on one line about how the health care reform law would affect employment. CBO actually said that Americans would choose to work less, for various reasons, and that if you translated the fewer hours worked into full-time jobs, it would equal 2.5 million by 2024 (2.3 million by 2021). It didn't say that Obamacare would cost the country 2.5 million jobs, but Republicans said so anyway
But it wasn't just the GOP, which had a political incentive to take advantage of economic jargon. It was the political press as well. They either misrepresented what the report said -- or shrugged off the actual facts, opting instead to speculate on what the political spin would mean for the horse race.

Forget the fact that FOX News, the Daily Caller, the DC Examiner, all lied about the CBO report.  We know they have no integrity or credibility.  But the NY Times, the Washington Post, and a number of journalists and pundits on Twitter also blurted out the GOP spin, and did almost nothing to correct it.

The pundits' explanation?

Because relating facts and correctly analyzing the situation is just too hard.  Better to bleat idiocies like "If you're explainin', you're losin'" and nod your head like the morons you are, eh Villagers?


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