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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Archives

How To Spot A Fake Obamacare Horror Story


Since insurers have begun informing beneficiaries that their health care plans do not meet the new federal requirements of Obamacare, and will be either cancelled or significantly altered, the media has profiled countless middle class Americans who claim that the new health care law will force them to pay more for coverage.

Deborah Cavallaro, for instance, a real estate agent from Los Angeles, was enrolled in an individual plan that cost her just $293 per month. Under Obamacare, Cavallaro says she’ll have to pay over $400 for coverage she doesn’t need or want. But a higher premium doesn’t tell the whole story: while Cavallaro may spend more each month, she’ll be buying more comprehensive insurance with fewer out-of-pocket costs, better benefits that will cover more and cost her less if she actually falls ill, and much more robust consumer protections.

So before you buy into the sticker shock hysteria, here are four questions you should ask:

1. What does the old plan actually cover? ...(more)

2. Did this person go to the exchanges? ...(more)

3. Yes, the premium is low, but what are the co-pays and deductibles? This coverage often forces individuals who do use care to meet high deductibles — the amount you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in — pay high co-pays and co-insurance or limit the number of doctor visits that are allowed. Cavallaro, for instance, must meet a deductible of $5,000 a year and has an out-of-pocket cap of $8,500 a year. The plan covers just two doctors’ visits and each include a $40 co-pay.

4. Does this person qualify for subsidies? ..(more)

many of these stories involve people who had been paying for 'budget plans' (like buying a car with holes in the floor so your feet can reach the pavement so you can provide the motive power for the car --- i.e. by pushing with your feet) because they could not afford real insurance. In these cases often the people will qualify for subsidies.

The Cancer Patient From The Wall Street Journal Will Likely Save Thousands Under Obamacare


Edie Sundby, a Stage-4 gallbladder cancer patient who is losing her individual health care policy in California, could pay less for comprehensive insurance in Obamacare’s health care exchanges.

Sundby’s story first gained national attention after she penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, arguing that Obamacare would cost her more and force her to abandon her cancer doctors. Her high deductible individual health care policy from United Healthcare (called PacifiCare in California) had paid $1.2 million to keep her alive and “never once questioned any treatment or procedure” until earlier this year. In May, the company announced that it would be canceling insurance policies for its 8,000 enrollees and leaving the California market altogether. “Over the years, it has become more difficult to administer these plans in a cost-effective way for our members,” UnitedHealth spokeswoman Cheryl Randolph explained, suggesting that the company had long struggled to compete with insurers like Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente, who control more than 80 percent of the individual market.

Its exit left Sundby in a lurch. During an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday, she described her old catastrophic policy as “fabulous” and “fantastic,” in part because it paid for treatment by both Stanford and UC San Diego doctors. But the policy also came at a high cost. The AARP reported last year in a profile of Sundby’s fight against cancer that the family spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on treatment beyond the cost of coverage. “The results, financially, were ‘traumatic,’” AARP quotes her husband Dale as saying. “But we are, as a family, willing to go to the end, to spend whatever it takes. That’s what vows and commitments are all about.”

And so when ThinkProgress estimated the cost of a high-deductible policy offered by PacifiCare and then compared that plan to a policy in the California exchange, we found that the family would pay slightly less and benefit from a whole host of new consumer protections.


Ultra-High Efficiency Methanol Engines w Advncd Exhaust Energy Recovry: 50% Efficiency gain over ICE

... using gasoline only.

presentation by Leslie Bromberg, Kevin Cedrone, Daniel R. Cohn, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at the
20th International Symposium on Alcohol Fuels (ISAF), March 26, 2013

They are proposing an engine with direct injection and onboard reforming of methanol yielding up 50% efficiency gains over PFI ICE. Marginal cost of $1,500 to $2,500. Annual savings $600 to $1,000 from efficiency gain alone (without considering cost savings on alcohol fuel vs gasoline)

[font size="3"]

–Most efficient, economical liquid fuel to produce from coal and natural gas

–Physical and chemical properties enable ultra-high efficiency engines

• Up to 50% higher efficiency than standard gasoline engine in cars
• 20 - 25% higher efficiency than diesel engine in trucks


–Can be made from natural gas and coal
–Provides similar but lower production and efficiency advantages
–Accepted in US, distribution infrastructure already exists

Ethanol, methanol are liquid fuels produced from biomass/waste most efficiently


Reformer Enhanced Alcohol Engines

Internal Combustion Engine

Due to high RON and evaporative properties, alcohol fuels facilitate higher engine efficiency

• Higher compression ratio
• Downsize, turbocharge, direct injection
• Heavy EGR/lean + H2-rich reformate gas

Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC)

Alcohol fuels as ORC working fluid, 2 options:

• No-condenser option
  • Fuel injected after turbine

• No-condenser, no-turbine option
  • Fuel reformed to H2-rich gas, injected to engine, no turbine


Supreme Court Dismisses Major Attack On Abortion Rights


In an important, if likely temporary, victory for abortion rights, the Supreme Court took a major abortion case off its docket on Monday. The Court’s brief order does not explain the justices’ reason for doing so — it simply provides that “[t]he writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted. Nevertheless, it is likely that the justices decided that a recent Oklahoma Supreme Court decision muddied the issues presented by the case to such an extent that it made sense to wait to decide an important question regarding the ability of states to restrict the use of medication abortions.

Though the Supreme Court agreed to hear Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice earlier this year, it also asked Oklahoma’s highest court to resolve two questions regarding the scope of an Oklahoma law banning certain forms of non-surgical abortions induced by medication. Last Tuesday, Oklahoma’s justices answered these questions by explaining that the state law at issue in Cline outlaws all medication abortions — including methods of terminating a pregnancy that were specifically approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Thus, if the U.S. Supreme Court were to rule on Cline they would have to answer the much larger question of whether an abortion procedure that’s specifically been approved by the federal government can be banned by a state, rather than considering a narrower question of whether specific methods of abortion lacking FDA sanction can be targeted by states.

In the short term, Monday’s order means that a conservative Supreme Court that’s shown considerable eagerness to restrict abortion rights in the past will not decide a major abortion case. In the medium term, however, the question of medication abortions is likely to be in front of the justices again very soon. Texas recently enacted a law that, among other things, includes restrictions on medication abortions that are narrower than the restrictions in Oklahoma. A challenge to the Texas law is barreling towards the Supreme Court, and would likely present the justices with the opportunity to decide a medication abortion case if they choose to do so.

Nevertheless, the fact that the justices turned aside an opportunity to uphold the very broad Oklahoma law may offer a small ray of hope to supporters of abortion rights. For the moment, the justices seem uninterested in endorsing an expansive ban on medication abortions, even if there may be five votes to uphold a narrower ban like the one in Texas.

Why is broadband (so much) more expensive in the US?


Home broadband in the US costs far more than elsewhere. At high speeds, it costs nearly three times as much as in the UK and France, and more than five times as much as in South Korea. Why?

Men's haircuts, loaves of bread... it is surprising how much more expensive some things are in the US than the UK. Now home broadband can be added to that list.

The price of basic broadband, TV and phone packages - or bundles as they are known - is much higher in American cities than elsewhere, suggests the New America Foundation think tank, which compared hundreds of available packages worldwide.

Looking at some of the cheaper ones available in certain cities, at lower to mid download speeds, San Francisco ($99/£61), New York ($70) and Washington DC ($68) dwarf London ($38), Paris ($35) and Seoul ($15).

Cost of broadband around the world:


Senate Vampires Working Overtime This Halloween - Common Cause


The legislative vampires who’ve turned the U.S. Senate into a chamber of horrors in recent years were up to their old tricks this Halloween, using the filibuster rule to drain a bit more of the lifeblood from constitutional government, Common Cause said today.

"Two weeks after the government shutdown and a trip to the brink of financial disaster, the Senate has reverted to form," said Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause’s senior vice president for policy and programs. "Today’s votes stifling debate and blocking action on the confirmations of Rep. Mel Watt and Judge Patricia Millett illustrate again how a relative handful of obstructionists can use the filibuster to achieve a shutdown by other means.

"By now, we should be long past the 'gentlemen’s agreements' that treat the symptoms of the Senate’s dysfunction but ignore the disease. These nominees, both found qualified in committee, are at least entitled to a full and fair debate and an up-or-down vote; the Constitution, and the principle of majority rule that underlies it, demand no less."

A Common Cause lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the filibuster rule and the 60-vote supermajority requirement it imposes for Senate action is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

- See more at: http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4773613&ct=13379581#sthash.Wl3cyk96.dpuf

5 People Who Could Be Confirmed To The Supreme Court Once The Filibuster Is Nuked


Last July, the fight over whether the party that controls neither the White House nor the Senate may nonetheless veto nominees to top government jobs reached a momentary ceasefire. On Thursday, Senate Republicans blew up that ceasefire by filibustering two of President Obama’s nominees, including his nomination of Patricia Millett to the second most powerful court in the country.

These Republicans may ultimately come to regret their decision to reignite the filibuster wars. To date, President Obama has been far more timid than his predecessor when it comes to judicial nominations. Indeed, Millett is a perfect demonstration of this timidity. Millett is one of the best lawyers in the country, but she is also a pro-business lawyer in a large corporate law firm with nothing in her record to suggest that she will be a liberal lion if confirmed.

Similarly, Senate Democrats have historically been reluctant to change the filibuster, though they’ve grown more and more willing to do so as the minority’s tactics escalated. Now, however, with the Senate Minority Whip openly admitting that he’s blocking the D.C. Circuit nominees in order to prevent more Democrats from joining the court, the Senate GOP’s latest tactic could very well prove a bridge too far for the Democratic majority.

If Democrats finally remove the filibuster, everything changes in the judicial nominations space. Here are five potential nominees to the Supreme Court that would enrage Republicans, and that would be virtually unconfirmable in a 60 vote Senate. But that could easily be confirmed to the nation’s highest Court if Senate Republicans push their Democratic colleagues to invoke the nuclear option:


I stand with Alan Grayson. The Tea Party IS like the Ku Klux Klan.

this probably has been posted before, but it deserves another shot, if only for those (like me) who missed it!


The Tea Party IS very close to the Ku Klux Klan. They're only at the barely-veiled-threat stage of the violence spiral, but they've got that same violence gene as the Klan. They've certainly got the same bigotry.

Alan Grayson has nothing to apologize for. He made a valid comparison, which shows how dangerous the Tea Party really is.

Let's keep the comparison going. How did the Ku Klux Klan look back in earlier eras? Look at their heyday, in the 1920's. The Klan was popular. The Klan was mainstream. It wasn't just a few meth-heads and child molesters wearing those white sheets back then. The Klan numbered in the millions, they were part of mainstream politics, they had political machines that got their people into elected office, and they wielded power.

Sound familiar?

group insurance premiums expected to be up 6% - 7% (2013-2014) by benefits consultant, Aon Hewitt


Reuters) - Benefits consultant Aon Hewitt predicted that healthcare premium costs for large U.S. employers would rise about 6 percent in 2013, but when it tallied up its numbers for the year, the increase was only about 3.3 percent.

A similar shift happened in 2012. The forecast was 7 percent, and the actual rise in premiums turned out to be 4.9 percent.

The projection for 2014 costs is again in the 6-percent-to-7-percent range, Aon Hewitt said on Thursday. Based on actual tallies of healthcare usage, the forecast is on track, while the last two years are anomalies, the company says.

Companies use Aon Hewitt's forecasts to determine how much comes out of employees' paychecks each month for health insurance. When healthcare costs are 3 percent lower than expected, there is money left over - for somebody.

CalPERS Committee Recommends Health Premium Rates for 2014 - a 3% increase over 2013

[font size="4"]“Requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act accounted for about 2 percent of the 2014 premium rate increases,” said Dr. George Diehr, Vice Chair of the PHBC.[/font]


SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s (CalPERS) Pension and Health Benefits Committee (PHBC) today recommended the Board of Administration approve a 2014 health care package that would raise overall premiums next year by an average of 3 percent for the Pension Fund’s nearly 1.3 million health program members, the lowest average increase since 1998. The rate is lower than the 9.6 percent increase in 2013. If the full Board approves the new premium rates, they will take effect January 1, 2014.

[font size="3"]“Requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act accounted for about 2 percent of the 2014 premium rate increases,” said Dr. George Diehr, Vice Chair of the PHBC.[/font] “However, the lower rates most members will see next year are the result of successful rate negotiations with existing and new health plan providers that incorporated the underlying premise of CalPERS health initiatives: providing quality health care to our members at the lowest possible cost.”

The recommended rate package will increase Basic HMO plan coverage by 3.8 percent, PPO plans by 2.5 percent and Association plans by 6 percent. Medicare HMO plans will increase about 5.8 percent, PPO plans will decrease 8.7 percent, and Association plans will increase 2.2 percent.

[font size="3"]Workers share of heath insurance costs to increase 9.4% 2013-2014. Average annual Increase over 2004-2014: 9.5%[/font]


Of the total premium, employees are projected to pay 22.4 percent of the total, or $2,499. The worker premium is rising about 10 percent from $2,303 this year.

What’s more, employees are projected to see a jump by more than 10 percent in their out-of-pocket costs – which include co-payments and deductibles – to $2,470 from $2,239 this year.

“These projections mean that over the last decade, employees’ share of health care costs—including employee contributions and out-of-pocket costs—will have increased almost 150 percent from $2,011 in 2004 to $4,969 in 2014,” Aon Hewitt said in a statement accompanying its annual health care cost report.

Total Premiums plus Out of pocket costs 2004-2014
2004: $2,011
2014: $4,969

Log(4969/2011)/10 = 2.470909995/10 = 0.039285693

10^0.039285693 = 1.094676242 = 9.5%

OUt of Pocket cost increase: 2013 - 2014
2013: $2,239
2014: $2,470 ....10.3%

Premium cost plus Out of pocket costs increase: 2013 - 2014
2013: $4,542
2014: $4,969 ....9.4%

Everything That’s Happened Since Supreme Court Ruled on Voting Rights Act



<> TEXAS: Last year, a federal court rejected Texas’ voter ID law, calling it “the most stringent in the country.” The panel also rejected the state’s redistricting maps, finding that they protected white incumbents while altering districts with minority incumbents.

But on the very day of the Supreme Court ruling, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state would “immediately” enact both measures.

The photo ID law requires voters to present an approved form of photo identification, where before they could present mail, utility bills or other proof of voter registration. The Justice Department had refused to approve the law based on the state’s findings that Hispanic registered voters were far less likely to have the approved photo IDs. The new law also requires the photo ID presented on voting day to match the state’s voter rolls — complicating voting for some married women and others with name changes.

The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the newly enacted photo ID requirements and joined an ongoing lawsuit against the disputed redistricting maps.

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