Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Last Call For The Heat Is On

Meanwhile, outside in all that nature crap...

You may recall that the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) reported last month that March-May was the hottest in more than 120 years of record-keeping. Well, the JMA reported Monday that last month was the hottest June in more than 120 years of record-keeping.

But locally, it was 54 this morning due to a unseasonable dip in the jet stream this week over the Midwest, so like failed Senate Candidate and Veruca Salt Cosplayer Liz Cheney says, the plan on dealing with climate change is "Nothing".

Liz Cheney did not hesitate when asked Monday what the Republican Party should do to address climate change. 
"Nothing," she immediately replied.

Republicans.  The party of big ideas!

Coal-Hearted Bastards

Looks like the House GOP is making good on their threat to kill all funding for President Obama's new EPA pollution rules for coal plants.

House appropriators on Tuesday approved a $30 billion spending bill designed to block a host of looming Environmental Protection Agency regulations viewed by the GOP as exceeding the agency’s authority.

Republicans on the Appropriations Committee pushed through the Interior and environment funding bill, sending it to the House floor over the objections of Democrats who described it as full of “veto bait” and handouts to big business.

The panel advanced the measure — the seventh, and potentially last for the year, of the 12 annual appropriations bills Congress is supposed to pass — by a 29–19 vote. Even if approved by the House, the bill is unlikely to become law. The Senate has yet to act on a single appropriations bill, and President Obama would likely refuse to sign it.

Still, the bill has become another battleground for the GOP’s escalating assault on Obama’s regulatory agenda. It contains myriad provisions designed to dial back or altogether block a wide range of EPA regulations.

House Republicans are betting that the Senate will pass and the President will sign the bill rather than shutting down the entire Department of the Interior, including national parks, monuments, and memorials.  Of course, the last time the House GOP shut down national parks, it didn't go so well for them.  It looks like they're willing to do it again in order to gum up the EPA's coal plant rules however.

We'll see how far this gets, but yes, I would fully expect another shutdown battle this fall.

Health Insurance Companies Are Still Pretty Scummy

Jonathan Cohn reminds us that one of the major reasons the ACA was passed was because health insurance companies are basically awful, awful people who do awful, awful things in order to keep from paying out on insurance.

Perhaps the most alarming I’ve seen comes from Florida, where the AIDS Institute and National Health Law Program accuse four insurers of discriminating against customers and potential customers who are HIV-positive. According to an official complaint, filed with the Department of Health and Human Services, the insurers have structured their drug formularies in ways that make key HIV drugs much more expensive. 
It could be coincidence, naturally, but the groups think it’s a deliberate effort to scare away customers that would run up high medical bills. It’s precisely the sort of trick that insurers have played for generations. And while the Affordable Care Act’s regulations are supposed to stop such practices, some insurers have undoubtedly found ways to circumvent and undermine the new rules. 
Does this mean Obamacare is a bad deal for people with HIV? Of course not. Before the law, people with pre-existing conditions frequently had even worse coverage—or no insurance at all. But given the anecdotes and history of private insurance in America, it’s clear that state and federal officials need to be regulating the plans aggressively. In some places, I’m not sure they are.

So we're pretty much all in agreement on three things: 1) The ACA still has problems and loopholes that are being exploited.  2) They need to be fixed.  3) It will never happen as long as Republicans are in charge of either or both halves of Congress.

The root cause of the issue is of course, part 3 there.  That's what we have to do something about in November.  Remember, Republicans want to take us back to an era where insurance companies can discriminate against HIV-positive people and MS sufferers and breast cancer survivors and say "we won't cover you."  And they have zero solutions to that problem, literally, nothing.

So why would we send them back to Congress?


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