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Iowas found a new, likely legal way to ignore Obamacare

By Sarah Kliff 4, 2018

Iowa is moving forward with a controversial new plan to exempt certain health plans from Obamacare regulations.

Two days ago, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill that allows certain health plans to discriminate against those with preexisting conditions and exclude certain benefits, anything from prenatal care to prescription drugs.

It does this in a way that most experts think is perfectly legal — by making clear in new legislative language that these products are not health insurance. The insurance department in Iowa won’t regulate these plans as health plans. Therefore, they don’t have to play by Obamacare rules.

So while Idaho had its plan for expanding non-Obamacare plans rebuffed by the federal government, Iowa seems to be pursuing a more legal path to a similar outcome. It’s one that other conservative states are likely to notice and possibly replicate.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers aren’t allowed to screen enrollees for certain health conditions. They’re barred from rejecting patients who they expect will have especially high costs.

Iowa’s new plan creates a carve-out for the Iowa Farm Bureau, a long-standing agricultural association that has historically served the state’s farming communities. It says organizations like this one can offer something called a “health benefit plan” that is explicitly not health insurance. So it can do things like offer coverage for doctor visits — but it won’t have to abide by Obamacare insurance rules.



Posted by Hermit-The-Prog | Thu Apr 5, 2018, 03:40 AM (5 replies)

Flint residents are being punished for not paying for poisoned water

The ‘fix’ for Flint promised by politicians never came, instead residents face a final indignity – residents’ water supply is being cut off for unpaid bills for water that made them sick

Anthony Baxter Wed 4 Apr 2018

Nakiya Wakes, who lives in Flint, refuses to pay for the water supply that made her family sick. “I refuse to pay for poison,” she told me. Because she owes $1,983.59 to the city of Flint in unpaid water bills, the city cut off her water supply last month. She turns the taps, and they run empty.

Nakiya showed me the boxes of bottled water stacked up on her porch outside. The state has shut a number of free bottled water pick up sites in Flint – or PODs as they’re known here locally. It is feared the remaining four will soon face the axe. That means more residents are forced to buy the bottled water they need.

Nakiya and her son begin to pour bottle after bottle of Nestle water into the cistern of their toilet. “It takes two cases of bottled water for just one flush,” Nakiya tells me. “And so we can wash, I pour bottled water into a pan and heat it up in the microwave.” Those costs add to Nakiya’s $180 a month bill for power and light. And the trash in Nakiya’s bathroom is overflowing with crushed plastic bottles.

Nakiya, who holds down a low paid part-time job and lives paycheck to paycheck, stopped making any further payments on her outstanding water bill over a year ago. She and her family underwent tests which revealed an alarming rise in the level of lead in their blood. Her son has learning difficulties. Her daughter has suffered a seizure. Nakiya blames drinking Flint’s poisoned water – as she does for the loss of her unborn twins.



[TrumPutin and his cronies are not the only GOPers doing ongoing damage to us all.]

Posted by Hermit-The-Prog | Thu Apr 5, 2018, 03:31 AM (0 replies)

Mississippi Inmates Lawsuit Describes Violence and Neglect in a Private Prison

“This is a trip back to the old days of prison conditions.”

Madison Pauly Apr. 4, 2018

Last August, when Terry Beasley and other inmates noticed a man had died in his cell, they pounded on the window of their dayroom for at least 30 minutes. “Still wouldn’t nobody come on the zone,” Beasley recalled. Finally, an officer opened the door to their housing area, allowing an inmate to slip past and run to get help from the guard captain. Knowing how long it took to get help in an emergency “made me feel kind of scared,” Beasley said, “because I’m a diabetic, and you don’t know when my sugar might drop.”

Beasley described life inside the East Mississippi Correctional Facility during the first week of a federal trial over conditions at the for-profit state prison located 90 miles east of Jackson. EMCF is the state’s designated facility for inmates with psychiatric needs, and around 80 percent of the prison’s roughly 1,200 inmates have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Five years ago, prisoners there sued the Mississippi Department of Corrections, claiming that its top officials had failed to keep tabs on the prison’s corporate operators and allowed dangerous conditions to go unaddressed. The prisoners’ class-action lawsuit describes a crumbling facility with broken locks on cell doors, frequent assaults by inmates, and a critical shortage of guards and medical staff.

“What I’ve seen at East Mississippi Correction Facility, I have not seen for decades,” said Elizabeth Alexander, one of 13 attorneys representing the inmates. “This is a trip back to the old days of prison conditions.” The case went to trial in March after multiple failed attempts to settle outside of court, according to American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Carl Takei. It’s being heard by US District Judge William H. Barbour, Jr., who will decide whether the state has been “deliberately indifferent” to conditions at EMCF that posed serious risk of harm to inmates.



[For-profit prisons are wrong for many reasons.]
Posted by Hermit-The-Prog | Thu Apr 5, 2018, 03:24 AM (3 replies)

Responsibility Deflected, the CLOUD Act Passes

[I missed seeing this evil little mess before, in all the other distractions.]

UPDATE, March 23, 2018: President Donald Trump signed the $1.3 trillion government spending bill—which includes the CLOUD Act—into law Friday morning.

“People deserve the right to a better process.”

Those are the words of Jim McGovern, representative for Massachusetts and member of the House of Representatives Committee on Rules, when, after 8:00 PM EST on Wednesday, he and his colleagues were handed a 2,232-page bill to review and approve for a floor vote by the next morning.

In the final pages of the bill—meant only to appropriate future government spending—lawmakers snuck in a separate piece of legislation that made no mention of funds, salaries, or budget cuts. Instead, this final, tacked-on piece of legislation will erode privacy protections around the globe.

This bill is the CLOUD Act. It was never reviewed or marked up by any committee in either the House or the Senate. It never received a hearing. It was robbed of a stand-alone floor vote because Congressional leadership decided, behind closed doors, to attach this un-vetted, unrelated data bill to the $1.3 trillion government spending bill. Congress has a professional responsibility to listen to the American people’s concerns, to represent their constituents, and to debate the merits and concerns of this proposal amongst themselves, and this week, they failed.


Make no mistake—you spoke up. You emailed your representatives. You told them to protect privacy and to reject the CLOUD Act, including any efforts to attach it to must-pass spending bills. You did your part. It is Congressional leadership—negotiating behind closed doors—who failed.

Because of this failure, U.S. and foreign police will have new mechanisms to seize data across the globe. Because of this failure, your private emails, your online chats, your Facebook, Google, Flickr photos, your Snapchat videos, your private lives online, your moments shared digitally between only those you trust, will be open to foreign law enforcement without a warrant and with few restrictions on using and sharing your information. Because of this failure, U.S. laws will be bypassed on U.S. soil.



[Surely we didn't just give up sovereignty.]
Posted by Hermit-The-Prog | Sat Mar 31, 2018, 08:45 PM (9 replies)
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