Sunday, November 15, 2015

Last Call For Deductible Deductions

Republicans are screaming about this New York Times article, the latest "proof" that "Obamacare has failed" and must be repealed before America is swallowed by lava bees or something.

In many states, more than half the plans offered for sale through, the federal online marketplace, have a deductible of $3,000 or more, a New York Times review has found. Those deductibles are causing concern among Democrats — and some Republican detractors of the health law, who once pushed high-deductible health plans in the belief that consumers would be more cost-conscious if they had more of a financial stake or skin in the game.

“We could not afford the deductible,” said Kevin Fanning, 59, who lives in North Texas, near Wichita Falls. “Basically I was paying for insurance I could not afford to use.”

He dropped his policy.

OH GOD WHAT HAVE WE DON...oh wait.  A lot of Bronze-level Obamacare plans are mostly catastrophic coverage plans with very low premiums and high deductibles.  They were designed that way...and that's why people who need to use their health insurance on occasion need Silver-level plans, as Kevin Drum points out.

The answer, for many low-income people, is to choose a silver plan. It's a little more expensive, but the terms of the insurance are far more generous. That's especially true if you take into account Cost Sharing Reduction, a feature of Obamacare that low-income families qualify for automatically but don't find out about until they're at the very end of the application process. It doesn't show up if you're just window shopping. However, as Andrew Sprung points out today, CSR changes the picture considerably.

But once again Republicans are screaming about health care features that they have pushed for decades: high-deductible catastrophic coverage plans for younger, healthier Americans. Obamacare gives a number of choices, and that's the entire point.

The Great Debate Debate, Con't

Last night's Democratic candidate debate turned into a referendum on foreign policy in the wake of Friday's attacks in Paris, and all three candidates had similar views on using the military against ISIS.

Clinton said the fight against ISIS cannot be just an American one, and that U.S. leadership is essential in the coalition. She said she agrees with Obama supporting those who take the fight to ISIS.

"We have to look at ISIS as the leading threat of an international terror network," she later said on Saturday. "It cannot be detained, it must be defeated."

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont has previously said ISIS poses a real threat, and that he fully supports the notion that the group needs to be stopped. Sanders believes the U.S. can't lead the effort to defeat ISIS on its own, and that a coalition with countries in the Middle East leading the effort is the best way to combat the group.

In his opening remarks at the debate on Saturday night, Sanders called ISIS a "barbarous organizaion."

"This is a war for the soul of Islam," he said. "Those Muslim countries are going to have to lead the effort, which they are not doing now."

Clinton disagreed with Sanders, commending Jordan's efforts in combating ISIS. She said she agrees that Turkey and other Gulf nations need to be clear about where they stand.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said on stage on Saturday that "ISIS is an evil in this world." The U.S. has a role in the fight against ISIS, he added, but the country must work collaboratively with other countries.

"We must anticipate these threats before they happen," he said during his opening remarks, alluding to the Paris attacks. "We have a lot of work to do to better prepare our nation."

"Our role in the world is not roaming the world to look for new dictators to topple," he later said. "But our role in the world is to confront evil when it arises."

So it doesn't look like any of the Democrats would have too much of a different take on dealing with ISIS than President Obama has right now: coalition partners with Muslim states to fight ISIS with US resources and air power and special operations troops to advise on the ground.

However, if you think there's little difference between where the Democrats are now and where Republicans want to go with using Paris as an excuse for all out war, please think again.

Sunday Long Read: To Forgive, Divine

The survivors of June's Charleston church massacre talk to Time Magazine and tell their stories of forgiveness and spirituality.

The word story might seem trifling here. Yet there are all kinds of stories, including true and tragic and momentous ones like this. But a story so freighted with shock and pain doesn’t end like a Hollywood movie, with the President singing and a divisive symbol coming down as the music swells. The dead are still dead, and sleepless nights of sorrow drag on. Loss is an aching void. And anger abides, even if the frank acknowledgment of it is now off script.

In the wake of the murders, families have split over the question of forgiveness. Church members have felt abandoned by their congregation. Hairline fissures in a wide network of relationships have burst under the pressures of sudden fame and grinding grief. And as the months have passed, the survivors of Emanuel and others in Charleston have continued to search for the meaning of this story, through a process that is intensely personal and sometimes uncomfortably public.

At the heart of that struggle are two complicated subjects: history and forgiveness. The murders at Emanuel must be fitted into the long and tangled history of race relations, racial violence and oppression that stem from America’s original sin. The accused killer, who published a manifesto of white supremacy before setting out on his hateful mission, made sure of that.

At the same time, the forgiveness expressed by some surviving family members left as many questions as it answered. Can murder be forgiven, and if so, who has that power? Must it be earned or given freely? Who benefits from forgiveness—the sinner or the survivor? And why do we forgive at all? Is it a way of remembering, or of forgetting?

In Charleston, survivors projected magnanimity and peace to the world. But feelings of outrage and demands for justice are every bit as real and long—lasting. Understanding what happened in the remarkable days after that act of evil requires a hard, relentless reckoning with all that has been lost and suffered.

There's a lot here, and if you're wondering why the usual Sunday Long Read post was late this week, it's because I was busy reading this and thinking about what it truly means to forgive someone who has taken a person you loved, and still love, through nothing more than hate and random circumstance.

This is some pretty weighty stuff, even for me.  It's worth the read, however.
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