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Cost of Turning down Federal Medicaid Funding Continues to Climb in Wisconsin

By: WI Budget Project Thursday October 23, 2014 6:28 am

Participation of Childless Adults in BadgerCare Far Exceeds Forecasts, While Parent and Child Enrollment Continues to Fall 

The cost to Wisconsin taxpayers of turning down federal funding for expansion of BadgerCare will be substantially higher the next time the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) makes that calculation.  The potential savings from expanding BadgerCare to 138% of the poverty level and accepting the full federal funding for covering childless adults keeps climbing because the enrollment of those adults continues to grow faster than the Dept. of Health Services (DHS) and the LFB projected.

In an August 14 memo, the LFB estimated that setting the BadgerCare eligibility ceiling for childless adults and parents at 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and accepting the enhanced federal funding could have saved Wisconsin taxpayers $206 million during the current biennium, and reversing that choice would save substantially more than that in the next biennial budget. However, those estimates are far too low because childless adult enrollmentcontinues to climb rapidly. Consider the following:

  • The Fiscal Bureau’s calculations in August assumed that the number of childless adults in BadgerCare would gradually climb to 135,000 by next June.
  • The actual enrollment level already reached 129,361 at the end of September, and has climbed by more than 4,500 per month in each of the last two months.

Even assuming the recent rapid pace of growth slows, it now appears that the number of childless adults in BadgerCare will surge well past the 135,000 figure assumed in August and past the revised figure of 145,000 used in September in the DHS budget request.  As childless adult enrollment climbs, so do the potential savings from expanding BadgerCare and taking the increased federal funding (which would finance 100% of spending for childless adult coverage in 2015 and 2016, and 95% in 2017).

Although the enrollment of adults without dependent children is far greater than anticipated, the number of parents and children in BadgerCare continues to fall.  The following are the enrollment changes from September 2013 to September 2014:

  • The number of parents in BadgerCare (including Transitional Medicaid) has dropped by more than 63,000 and the number of children has fallen unexpectedly by more than 10,700.
  • Among families over the poverty level, the number of parents is down by more than 73,400 and the number of children has dropped by more than 25,000.

As I wrote in a WI Budget Project Blog post in early August, the drop in coverage of children is very surprising because the budget bill assumed that the Affordable Care Act would indirectly cause an increase of about 37,000 children in BadgerCare.  One reason for the difference is that DHS had been assuming a significant drop in the number of kids covered by employer-sponsored insurance, and that hasn’t happened.  Even so, the drop in children’s participation in BadgerCare is very disappointing.

I suspect the decline in the number of kids in BadgerCare and Transitional Medicaid is a result of the large drop in the number of parents after their eligibility ceiling was slashed in April.  Although  the children remain eligible up to 300% of FPL, some parents who are now ineligible might not understand that and might not be renewing coverage for their children when they come up for their annual  review.

When Governor Thompson argued in the late 1990s for covering parents in BadgerCare up to 200% of the poverty level, he contended that the best way to get more kids covered was to cover their parents. That proved to be correct, and we are now seeing that the converse is also true:  covering fewer parents significantly reduces coverage of children.  Of course, there may also be other factors, so WCCF reached out to DHS a couple of months ago to get data that could shed light on some of the potential variables. DHS is still working on that data request, and we will share the results with you soon after we get them from the department.

Although the exact cause of the trend in children’s coverage isn’t totally settled, what is very clear is that the surging participation of adults without dependent children means that state taxpayers are paying far more than previously estimated for the decision to reject the enhanced federal funding for Medicaid expansions.

 

 

Over Easy

By: Ruth Calvo Thursday October 23, 2014 4:45 am

Over Easy

The community that began with Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner continues. Today we collect news from outside the usual, and renew the discussion.

Solar power could be providing energy to the U.K. soon under a plan that gathers transferable units from Tunisia to distribute in homes farther north over lines running from Northern Africa.

Under the scheme, up to 2.5 million UK homes could be powered by Tunisian sunshine by 2018.

The company involved says they have already spent 10 million euros developing the site.

(snip)

The company argues that existing gas pipelines from Algeria that run through Tunisia have operated without a glitch through the turbulence that has followed on from the Arab Spring.

Their plans involve using concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. This allows the developers to store some of the energy generated so that the supply is “dispatchable”. It can be switched on or off on demand.

The company involved says its electricity supplies will be secure, and 20% cheaper than home-grown sources, such as offshore wind.

Never.Give.Up.

Christ Needs to Tap One of Those Rich Dudes in Heaven

By: patrick devlin Wednesday October 22, 2014 2:23 pm

Guru Ramsey postulates if the commonly held interpretation of Matthew 19:24 is true, “then Jesus’ blood that was spilled at Calvary isn’t powerful enough to get a rich man into heaven, I think that’s called heresy.”

Biblical financial self-help pitchman Dave Ramsey, whose get-rich-scheme is to convince followers of the first century homeless preacher called Jesus of Nazareth (who advised cult members to “give up all you own and follow me”) that they can become get-rich-quick-Christians by buying his greed absolving screeds and who is featured weekly on the TV station owned by televangelist-presidential candidate-sect leader Pat Robertson, advised viewers recently that, stunningly, Christ was a heretic.

Ramsey was hawking his latest tract, The Legacy Journey: A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and Generosity when he advised Robertson and his TVland fold that people who interpret the biblical passage, put forth for centuries as the actual words of Jesus; “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” (Matthew 19/23-24) as meaning that it is Christlike to abhor human greed and instead act with humility and charity were “heretics”.

Ramsey said that interpreting the fairly obvious symbols in Christ’s statement as meaning that Christians should not be greedy was not providing a religious interpretation but rather pushing a “political agenda”.

Using logic available to self-recognized religious interpreters, an elite brand of exegesis that centuries of biblical scholars could not grasp but has been gifted to modern ‘get rich quick’ preachers including Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen, Ramsey postulated that, if the long standing and commonly held interpretation of Matthew 19:24 is true, “then Jesus’ blood that was spilled at Calvary isn’t powerful enough to get a rich man into heaven, I think that’s called heresy. I’m pretty sure it is, look it up.”

While acknowledging that it is a “melon-scratcher” for regular folks, Ramsey counseled the faithful, “When you start putting limits on the power of the cross and limits on the power of grace that is extended to us from the Father through the son, based on someone’s wealth, then that’s Gnosticism – the worship of spirit versus materialism versus the worship orthodoxy.”

Ramsey assured the audience of TV watching Christians that if a Bible reader interprets Christ’s analogy of camels and eyes of needles as warning against acting greedily (one of Christianity’s “Seven Deadly Sins) “What that means is that someone just doesn’t understand the Bible.”

Ramsey went on to assert that the Bible “is not inconsistent” and actively calls on the faithful to accumulate wealth (some of which Ramsay hopes watchers will be handing to him as payment for one of his “Get Rich With Jesus” wealth accumulation books).

Meanwhile in Lawton Oklahoma, faithful wife Kristi Rhines told the managers at an El Chico Café Mexican restaurant located in the Central Mall that her husband was on his way to pay for the meal and drinks she had ordered and consumed at the establishment.

After some minutes, and not quite understanding the timeframes Rhines was referring to, the café’s managers asked Ms. Rhines to give them the name of her husband. Although Rhines was unable to produce a marriage license, she advised the business owners that her husband, Jesus Christ, had made a promise (some years ago) that he was ‘returning’ and assured them that he was good for the tab.

Not questioning the Christ of Oklahoma’s ability to pay – but certainly understanding how the ‘downturn in the economy’ has impacted mall restaurant diners across America, the restaurant’s owners (perhaps themselves having read the advance reviews of Jesus’ return as detailed in the biblical Book of Revelation and weighing the prospect of the difficulties of seeking reimbursement from the heavenly husband amongst all the predicted rivers of blood and four horsemen and such) decided to contact local police to handle the unpaid bill situation.

cross posted at the demise

Sentenced to death and later found innocent, one man seeks to bring his story to the big screen

By: Jose Cornejo Wednesday October 22, 2014 1:47 pm

Convicted of murder and sentenced to death, yet innocent. This hell is unimaginable to most people, but it was all too real for Kirk Bloodsworth.

Bloodsworth spent eight years in prison, including two on death row, before becoming the first U.S. prisoner exonerated through DNA testing for a capital conviction. Now Bloodsworth is seeking to share his harrowing story through a full-length documentary.

While the project, titled Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man, is still in its funding stages, the film’s latest trailer is engrossing enough on its own. Bloodsworth describes the ineptitude of his trial lawyer and how the murder he was convicted of shook his community. He also recounts the moment his life completely changed:

“It was August 9, at about 2:45 in the morning. I was staying at my cousin’s house; my first wife and I were having problems. I hear this big “BOOM BOOM BOOM” at the door. It was the Baltimore County police. They arrested me for the first degree murder of Dawn Hamilton. I was wearing silk running shorts, no shoes, no shirt. And they bought me out in a police car, and that was the last time I saw Cambridge, Maryland for eight years, ten months and nineteen days.”

At the end of the trailer, Gregory Bayne, the film’s director and producer, calls Bloodsworth’s case “mind-blowing and maddening,” continuing:

“[W]hat I found most compelling about Kirk is that this is an individual that essentially had his life shaped by a crime he had nothing to do with. Yet 30 years later, he’s dedicated his life to ensuring that what happened to him, doesn’t happen to others.

“Over the course of the past three years, I’ve had a number of people say to me that Kirk’s is a story that must be told and should be seen.”

Count me as one of those people. If you agree too, pitch in to the film’s Kickstarter campaign to help ensure that happens. As the death penalty in the U.S. comes under increasing scrutiny and becomes more controversial, America needs to hear Kirk’s story.

October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation is Underway

By: wendydavis Wednesday October 22, 2014 11:22 am

The group’s website says that they have been mobilizing every year since 1996 for a National Day of Protest on October 22, bringing together those under the gun and those not under the gun as a powerful voice to expose the epidemic of police brutality.
The Coalition also works on the Stolen Lives Project, which documents cases of killings by law enforcement nationwide. The second edition of the Stolen Lives book documents over 2000 cases in the 1990s alone. Volunteers are needed to help with the research and editing of cases since then.

Click here to see the Call for the 19th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization

Click here for the list of contacts and assembly points for October 22, 2014

You can follow along on #O22 or #Oct22  Many events will be held this evening, some on Oct. 25.  Please add your own in comments; I’ll add or replace as I’m able…

‘Many thanks to the Alan Blueford Center for Justice for this national promotional video’

Who is selectively leaking information to help Officer Darren Wilson UPDATED BELOW

By: Masoninblue Wednesday October 22, 2014 9:59 am

Cross posted from the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Good morning:

We are witnessing a massive coordinated effort by unnamed officials to unlawfully influence public opinion and the members of a grand jury regarding the Michael Brown shooting by selectively leaking and spinning information in the police investigation file. The purpose of this massive propaganda effort is to discredit eyewitness accounts of the shooting, persuade the public that Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in self-defense and condition the public to accept a decision by the grand jury next month to not charge the officer with a crime.

The St.Louis Post Dispatch reported today,

The official autopsy on Michael Brown shows that he was shot in the hand at close range, according to an analysis of the findings by two experts not involved directly in the case.

The accompanying toxicology report shows he had been using marijuana.

/snip/

A source with knowledge of Wilson’s statements said the officer had told investigators that Brown had struggled for Wilson’s pistol inside a police SUV and that Wilson had fired the gun twice, hitting Brown once in the hand. Later, Wilson fired additional shots that killed Brown and ignited a national controversy.

Now comes the spin.

Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said the autopsy “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.” She added, “If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.”

Sources told the Post-Dispatch that Brown’s blood had been found on Wilson’s gun.

Melinek also said the autopsy did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up.

She said Brown was facing Wilson when Brown took a shot to the forehead, two shots to the chest and a shot to the upper right arm. The wound to the top of Brown’s head would indicate he was falling forward or in a lunging position toward the shooter; the shot was instantly fatal.

A sixth shot that hit the forearm traveled from the back of the arm to the inner arm, which means Brown’s palms could not have been facing Wilson, as some witnesses have said, Melinek said. That trajectory shows Brown probably was not taking a standard surrender position with arms above the shoulders and palms out when he was hit, she said.

Let’s take it one step at a time:

Over Easy: WA Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Backpage.com Online Child Sex Trade Case

By: Crane-Station Wednesday October 22, 2014 4:52 am

In March 2012, 15-year-old “S” was sold in the metro D.C. area as a 19-year-old “Judy.” In June 2012, a 16-year-old from Maryland was trafficked by a pimp who posted her on Backpage.com for a series of days with the subject line “My hour glass body is waiting for you. Apple booty a?? ..” These are examples of underage girls being advertised on Backpage. Three victims have sued, in Washington state. Is Backpage immune from liability for ads placed on its website advertising sex with minors? Yesterday, the WA Supreme Court heard oral arguments on this question.

When Congress passed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, they intended to encourage freedom of expression on the internet rather than limit it. Toward that end, they passed the law to shield from liability providers and users of an “interactive computer service” who publish information provided by others:

In analyzing the availability of the immunity offered by this provision, courts generally apply a three-prong test. A defendant must satisfy each of the three prongs to gain the benefit of the immunity:

1. The defendant must be a “provider or user” of an “interactive computer service.”

2. The cause of action asserted by the plaintiff must “treat” the defendant “as the publisher or speaker” of the harmful information at issue.

3. The information must be “provided by another information content provider,” i.e., the defendant must not be the “information content provider” of the harmful information at issue.

If people could sue a site owner every time they felt like they were mischaracterized, it would create a chilling effect on the free-flow of information on the internet. That makes sense as long as everybody is acting in good faith. The problem is that the owners of Backpage, while they may not have penned the ads themselves, know what is going on, and they are encouraging it, by promoting their “escort” ads. They are the online go-to for prostitution. President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, John D. Ryan writes:

Boston Bombing News: More McPhee Maxim

By: pbszebra Tuesday October 21, 2014 11:07 pm

In a previous BBN post, “What’s Up Michele McPhee” by woodybox, we learned a of new piece written by Michele McPhee about the Tsarnaev family.  When I first opened the Newsweek site, I was unable to read the article.  I couldn’t get past the first few words, it was so repulsive and ridiculous.  I have since been able to scan over the article just to see if there was anything new in her words.  No new knowledge to be had, same old MM trash.  This article reminds me of another.  Did MM write The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev?  Seems eerily similar.  No, I guess that was Patricia Wen.

It appears MM thinks herself to be a great writer.  It appears that she wants us to see her work and speak of her “great” ability to tell a story. So I’d like to revisit MM’s writing and continue our previous conversations.

From her website, MM’s bio it reads, She was also a witness to the carnage unleashed by two homegrown terrorists who detonated two pressure cooker bombs secreted in backpacks placed in the crowd along the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 and is currently at work on a book about the FBI’s involvement with accused bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  Wow.  That IS dramatic MM!  “A witness to the carnage.”  I believe there were hundreds, if not thousands, of “witnesses” as you describe yourself.  But most of them don’t brag this fact, they are actually humbled and wish they hadn’t been such a witness.

The MM website also says she was the first reporter in the country to obtain a picture of accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s anti-American missive scribbled on the side of a Watertown boat where he hid for hours during a massive police manhunt.  Yes she was.  It was an exclusive.  MM and ABC were also exclusive in the release of Todashev’s handwritten “confession” just before he was killed.  Exclusive aka leak tool?

Another one of McPhee’s dramatic headlines, FEDS WANT ACCUSED MARATHON BOMBER IN COURT AT NEXT HEARING.  This came from the September status conference in which AUSA Weinreb asked the judge to compel Tsarnaev to appear at a scheduled status conference (October 20th).  Judge O’Toole said, “the decision belongs to the defendant.”  Well there’s something Tool did right and by the law.  Make note of this one!  In addition, bombing victim Marc Fucarile said he wants to see Tsarnaev in court. “I’d like to see him have to face us and see us. …. So he has to face what he did.  He’s a coward,’’ Fucarile said, adding that after the bombs exploded, killing an 8-year-old boy and two young women, Tsarnaev allegedly fled the carnage. “He walked away. If he was a real man he would have stayed there.”  Nice Mr. Fucarile.  Now don’t get me wrong, I completely sympathize with the victims and their families.  They have been wronged.  But Mr. Fucarile’s attitude and words here to the press only show his ignorance and thirst for revenge.  He, like so many others, appears to believe what he has been told and has latched on to the idea that Dzhokhar is already guilty.  Be patient, Mr. Fucarile, you and all the others will have what you desire soon enough when the trial starts and Dzhokhar actually appears in court.  You will be able to sneer at him and watch for his “smirks” all afternoon.

On a more pleasant note, how about those protesters at the 8th status conference?  I believe that was pretty brave of them, all seven of them!  In particular, I understand it was Elena Teyer who organized the protest.  According to reports, she held a placard with photos of son-in-law Ibragim Todashev which read, “I am dead because I knew Tsarnaevs.  I knew the truth.”  This protest was reported by multiple news agencies including CBS Boston, Reuters, The Huffington Post and more.  These protests are a good thing, in my opinion.  It feels like they tip the scales back towards level, even if just a little.