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Donald Trump News Today. Fact vs Fiction

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, It is the illusion of knowledge." Stephen Hawking

Obamacare/ ACA

Did you know

Since Obamacare was implemented the uninsured rate is at it's lowest since 1960

If Obamacare is repealed and replaced the uninsured rate will increase to 21% adding 23 million without coverage (conservative review)


Deductibles and Premium rates have increased due to procedure costs, drug costs, taxes and administrative fees

Getting rid of Obamacare will add more to the debt and deficits. Per Forbes Mag repealing the ACA will cost 350 billion over the next 10 years.


Drug prices are on the rise because companies can price them at any amount without government regulation. Countries in Europe, medications are cheaper due to Government involvement. If the medication does not meet standards it doesn't go on the market. Pharma companies will price a medication, private customers like employers hire third party negotiators to drive costs down with contracts. Medicare on the other end rewards physicians for prescribing medications such as IVs, inhalers and so forth. Medicare unlike private companies and employers is not allowed to negotiate drug prices it is illegal. (ncpssm) “The drug companies say they must impose higher prices in the U.S. to pay for research that enables them to innovate and develop new drugs that save our lives. But that’s not true. Half of the scientifically innovative drugs approved in the U.S. from 1998 to 2007 resulted from research at universities and biotech firms, not big drug companies, research shows. And despite their rhetoric, drug companies spend 19 times more on marketing than on research and development.”  Healthcare for America Now 


 Medicare part D costs $80 billion a year and it is on track to double by 2022. Congress has barred Medicare from negotiating drug prices. (congress.gov)


Deductibles/Premiums

Deductible

 A deductible is a specific dollar amount your health insurance plan may require you to pay out of pocket toward covered medical care each year, before your health plan begins to pay for covered medical expenses. 


 Premium
The amount you pay for your health insurance every month. In addition to your premium, you usually have to pay other costs for your health care, including a deductible, copayments, and coinsurance. If you have a Marketplace health plan, you may be able to lower your costs with a premium tax credit.


Co Insurance

 The percentage of costs of a covered health care service you pay (20%, for example) after you've paid your deductible.Let's say your health insurance plan's allowed amount for an office visit is $100 and your coinsurance is 20%.

  • If you've paid your deductible: You pay 20% of $100, or $20. The insurance company pays the rest.
  • If you haven't met your deductible: You pay the full allowed amount, $100.

 Let's say the following amounts apply to your plan and you need a lot of treatment for a serious condition. Allowable costs are $12,000.

  • Deductible: $3,000
  • Coinsurance: 20%
  • Out-of-pocket maximum: $6,850

You'd pay all of the first $3,000 (your deductible).You'll pay 20% of the remaining $9,000, or $1,800 (your coinsurance).So your total out-of-pocket costs would be $4,800 — your $3,000 deductible plus your $1,800 coinsurance.If your total out-of-pocket costs reach $6,850, you'd pay only that amount, including your deductible and coinsurance. The insurance company would pay for all covered services for the rest of your plan year. (Healthcare.gov)



What are the Essential Benefits?

 

  • Outpatient care — This covers most scheduled doctor visits, such as to check a rash, or a non-emergency stomach ache. Insurance companies negotiate deals for these and often designate "networks" of doctors and clinics with approved charges. Individuals who walk in without coverage pay much, much more.
  • Emergency room trips — Insurance policies cover both the ER visit and ambulance trips. Otherwise people can get socked with bills totaling tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps incurred while they were unconscious.
  • In-hospital care — All care people get as hospital patients, such as surgery. Some conservatives argue that people should be able to choose to opt out of this type of coverage and pay lower premiums. Most health policy experts say this is a gamble. "One answer is because someday you may be sick and that's the way that insurance works," says David Cutler, a Harvard University economics professor who helped design the Affordable Care Act.
  • Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care — This one's controversial to some, who ask why men should pay for a service they'll never use. "It is true that women get pregnant but men kind of help them get pregnant," Cutler said. Pre-ACA, 62 percent of people with non-group policies had no maternity benefit.
  • Mental health and substance abuse disorder services — This particular benefit has gotten some attention with the ongoing opioid epidemic. Before the ACA, 18 percent of non-group policies left off mental health benefits.
  • Prescription drugs — Insurance companies usually negotiate discounts. Out of pocket costs for many drugs can be much higher than what an insurer pays for them.
  • Rehabilitative services and habilitative services. These include help recovering from an injury or illness, but also treatment for kids with autism or cerebral palsy.
  • Lab tests
  • Preventive services — This includes vaccines, cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies and, controversially, coverage of birth control.
  • Pediatric services — Including dental and vision care for children.

American Health Care Act

Lapse of Coverage/ Interstate Insurance

Under the new law, people will not be denied coverage if they have a pre-existing condition. If you have gone more than 63 days without coverage a surcharge of 30% will be added to your premium as a penalty. (energycommerce.house.gov)


 

Interstate sales will start a race to the bottom by allowing companies to choose their regulator. • Allowing banks to choose their own regulator was a major cause of the current financial crisis. • Insurers will seek the regulations that allow them to most aggressively select the healthiest risk. • While those individuals in pristine health may be able to find cheaper policies, everyone else would face steep premium hikes if they can find coverage at all.  This means premiums will not decrease.

Mandated benefits add, at most, 5% to the cost of a policy. • Interstate sales would allow some insurers to cherry-pick the best customers by avoiding consumer protections that require them to cover individuals with preexisting conditions and limit their ability to charge higher prices for older, sicker customers. • In states with robust consumer protections, insurers could reap huge profits by skirting these rules.  This means mandated benefits are not the main cause for high premiums.

Out-of-state insurers would be able to lure healthy enrollees away from existing risk pools, which would become progressively sicker and more expensive until they ultimately fail. • Insurers that currently comply with state consumer protections would be forced by out-of-state competitors to evade them as well. • Insurance policies would cover less and less, as insurers try to design polices that discourage the sickest customers from applying.  Interstate insurance sales would reduce options available to consumers.

Interstate policies would for the first time allow insurers unlicensed in the purchaser’s state to sell health insurance, which would otherwise be a criminal offense. • Licensure is the key that allows state regulators to take action to protect consumers. • The regulators of one state have no authority to enforce the laws of another state. Instead, consumers will have to hope that the regulator in a distant jurisdiction has the ability and resources to assist consumers nationwide.  This eliminates the ability of insurance regulators to assist consumers. 

(National Association of Insurance Commissioners)





Tax Credits

The AHCA will give tax credits based on age not income like ACA. 

Under 30: $2,000 yr

30-39: $2,500 yr

40-49: $3,000 yr

50-59: $3,500 yr

60 and above $4,000 yr

Individuals that make over $75k or households that earn more then $150k would have their credit decreased. (business insider)

 The cost sharing reductions and the changes in the premium tax credits would increase costs for the average  marketplace enrollee by $2,409 for 2020, with individuals aged 55 to 64 experiencing an $6,971 increase and costs for individuals below 250 percent of poverty increasing by $4,061. (Kaiser Family Foundation)



Charge Limits

The AHCA will now allow insurance companies to charge the elderly five times the amount they would charge a younger patient. The previous law allowed insurers not more than 3x what they charge younger customers.(waysandmeans.house.gov)

Employers will no longer be mandated to offer employees coverage and will not be fined/taxed as was before in the ACA. (health affairs.org)

  These provisions currently reduce out-of-pocket limits and increase the actuarial value of coverage for individuals with incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The repeal of these provisions would result in dramatically higher deductibles and other cost-sharing for these low-income individuals. 


Lifetime limits: Under the ACA lifetime limits are prohibited. Previously  a dollar limit on what they would spend for your covered benefits during the entire time you were enrolled in that plan. You were required to pay the cost of all care exceeding those limits. 


Medicaid

Medicaid expansion will come to an end in 2020.

 

  • Per-capita caps for Medicaid, which depend on each state's number of enrollees, beginning in 2020.
  • Lottery winners will no longer be allowed to enroll in Medicaid programs if winnings are over $80,000
  • Starting in 2020 Medicaid enrolled would no longer be covered under Federal funds. States would have a fixed sum for each enrollee. 
  •  The bill also scraps the ACA requirement that certain Medicaid plans pay for the essential health benefits. "This provision puts Medicaid enrollees at risk of losing mental health and addiction treatment coverage,"  
  •  Chronic conditions like serious mental illness and substance use disorder are especially costly to treat. According to MACPAC, enrollees with a behavioral health diagnosis account for about $131 billion in spending, almost half of total Medicaid expenditures in 2011. 

HSA

 SEC 7530 Excess tax credits can be paid to an HSA
• SEC 16 HSA contribution limits increased to amount of deductible and out-of-pocket limitation
• SEC 18 If a medical expense occurs before establishment of an HSA account, there’s a 60-day window to create the account and apply the expenses 

 • OTC meds now eligible for HRA reimbursements
• Effective taxable years after Dec 31, 2017 


Repeals

 

  • The $500,000 limit on business expense deductibility for compensation to insurance executives;
  • The tanning tax;
  • The branded prescription drug tax;
  • The health insurance tax;
  • The Medicare tax imposed on unearned income on taxpayers earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers);
  • The “Cadillac” plan tax (which reappears in 2025, apparently to satisfy Senate prohibitions on reconciliation provisions that increase out-year deficits);
  • The prohibition against paying for over-the-counter medications with tax subsidized funds from health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer MSAs, or flexible spending or health reimbursement arrangements;
  • The ACA’s increase in the penalty for the use of HSA and Archer MSA funds for non-medical purposes (reducing the penalty from 20 to 10 percent for HSAs and 20 to 15 percent for MSAs);
  • The $2500 limit on contributions to flexible spending accounts;
  • The medical device excise tax;
  • The requirement that employers reduce their deduction for expenses allowable for retiree drug costs without reducing the deduction by the amount of retiree drug subsidy;
  • The increase in the level of medical expenses that must be incurred to claim a tax deduction, reducing the level back from 10 percent to 7.5 percent;
  • The repeal of the ACA’s Medicare .9 percent tax surcharge on taxpayers with incomes exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers).

Insurance

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High Risk Pools

Before The ACA, High Risk pools were offered in 35 States to the " uninsured" This was a source of non group health insurance. Medically eligible, HIPPA eligible, HCTC eligible and Medicare eligible. High Risk pools were set up for patients who had pre existing conditions and would otherwise be uninsurable.

Last year, HR-2653 was introduced as a bill by The House to repeal the ACA. The bill would authorize $50  million in seed money to help states establish pools. (KFF.org)


The new national plan would subsidize high risk pools with $25 billion over 10 years with Federal money

Researches at Commonwealth Fund estimate this will cost taxpayers almost $178 billion dollars a year. 

Risk pools are more expensive than traditional insurance because you are technically considered medically uninsurable. Premiums are usually 3-5x more expensive than normal premiums. 

 Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program would establish a $15 billion fund to help offset insurers’ expenses for patients with high-cost health conditions, similar to the reinsurance program created by the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. But the invisible risk pool is inferior to traditional reinsurance in two key respects. 


 First, because the fund only covers the costs of certain conditions, consumers and insurers would have to submit paperwork to demonstrate enrollees qualify for the program—putting costly administrative burdens on insurers, enrollees, and doctors alike. By contrast, reinsurance reimburses insurers for any high-cost enrollee, regardless of condition, eliminating the need for time-consuming paperwork. 


 Second, the invisible risk pool would not cover high costs that are unrelated to any previous health condition, such as a sudden heart attack. While the proposal does provide a means for insurers to “voluntarily qualify” individuals for the pool, this would exponentially increase the administrative burden by requiring insurers to undertake the qualification process for every enrollee. For these reasons, the invisible risk pool is not as efficient or effective as traditional reinsurance. 


 Spread over nine years and across millions of enrollees, we estimate that the $15 billion fund could lower annual premiums by about 1 to 2 percent each year, or roughly $100 per enrollee annually. Because the AHCA substantially reduces subsidies and shifts costs onto consumers, even without stripping protections for pre-existing conditions the average enrollee would still see their total costs rise by more than $3,000 by 2020. 


 One study found that insurers quoted premiums as much as 50 percent higher for depression and 100 percent for breast cancer. And one underwriting manual showed that simply being overweight resulted in a 25 percent premium increase for some plans. But such examples are not fully representative of the increased premium costs for people with pre-existing conditions, as many of the costliest people were likely to be rejected. 


 The surcharge for diabetes would be $5,600 per year. Coverage could become prohibitively expensive for those in dire need of care: Insurers would charge about $17,320 more in premiums for pregnancy, $26,580 more for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, and $142,650 more for patients with metastatic cancer. 






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Medicare

  

  • On July 30, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson made Medicare law by signing H.R. 6675 in Independence, Missouri. Former President Truman was issued the very first Medicare card during the ceremony. In 1965, the budget for Medicare was around $10 billion and 19 million individuals signed up for Medicare during its first year. In 1966 Medicare A/B went into effect.
  • When Congress passed the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980, it expanded home health services. The bill also brought Medigap – or Medicare supplement insurance – under federal oversight.
  • In 1982, hospice services for the terminally ill were added to a growing list of Medicare benefits.
  • In 1988, Congress passed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, adding a true limit to the Medicare’s total out-of-pocket expenses for Part A and Part B, along with a limited prescription drug benefit. Most of the Catastrophic Care law was repealed less than a year later after opposition from senior groups over the program’s higher premiums.
  • The new law also allowed states to “Buy-In” individuals over 65 or who qualified before than based on disability but hadn’t paid into the Social Security payroll system. These are known as Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMB), and Medicaid pays their premiums. The QMB program provides a lifeline to low-income Medicare beneficiaries and their families, and helps state Medicaid programs by shifting some costs to the federal government. It was one of the only parts of the 1988 law that was not repealed.  The Affordable Care Act requires more accountability from these plans, including tying the insurers’ incomes to the star rating system – a measure of several different ways the plan’s are required to provide quality care. 
  • People under the age of 65 can apply for Medicare if they have ALS without a waiting period.
  • In 2003 George W Bush signed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, known as part D.
  • With ACA or Obamacare Medicare now pays doctors based on the care and treatment plans they give their patients not based on visits billed.
  • According to The Kaiser Foundation about 49 million people currently have Medicare.

You can find more info at medicaresources.orgThe Kaiser Family Foundationhealthinsurance.org

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Medicaid

 Medicaid provided quality health coverage for 80 million low-income Americans over the course of 2014. (CBO)

 Since the implementation of health reform’s major coverage expansions in 2014, Medicaid and the new health marketplaces have helped cut the number of uninsured Americans from 43 million to 26 million, RAND estimates.  By 2020, an estimated 14 million more adults and children will enroll in Medicaid and gain access to affordable health coverage. 

 A landmark study of Oregon’s Medicaid program found that beneficiaries were 40 percent less likely to have suffered a decline in their health in the last six months than similar people without health insurance coverage.  They were also likelier to use preventive care (such as cholesterol screenings), to have a regular clinic where they could receive primary care, and to receive a diagnosis of and treatment for depression and diabetes. 

   Children who are eligible for Medicaid do better in school and miss fewer school days due to illness or injury.  They‘re also likelier to finish high school, attend college, and graduate from college.  Kids who are eligible for Medicaid earn more as adults and experience fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations, research shows. 

 The federal government will pay the entire cost of health care for newly eligible beneficiaries through 2016, and many states that have expanded Medicaid have found that it has produced net savings for their budgets.  States will spend just 1.6 percent more on Medicaid and CHIP with the expansion than they would have without health reform, CBO estimates.  Hospitals in expansion states are treating fewer uninsured patients, and the amount of uncompensated care they are providing is declining steeply.  Meanwhile, hospitals in the states that have not expanded Medicaid continue to provide large amounts of uncompensated care, and the states are missing the opportunity to leverage billions of dollars in new federal funding through the expansion. 

 Charges that health reform discourages poor families from working more don’t match reality.  In states that have adopted health reform’s Medicaid expansion, poor parents can earn substantially more and retain their Medicaid coverage.  In addition, some states have used their program flexibility to further encourage work overall among Medicaid beneficiaries by offering a set of supportive employment services. 

 Medicaid, CHIP, and other public health insurance programs cover nearly half (44%) of children with special health care needs . Public insurance, including Medicaid, is the sole source of coverage for over 1/3 (36%) of these children.  Another 8% have public insurance to supplement their private coverage.  Medicaid provides a wide range of medical and long-term care services, many of which are not covered at all or only available in limited amounts through private insurance, and makes coverage affordable for many children with special health care needs and their families. 

 Some children with special health care needs qualify for Medicaid based solely on their family’s low income.  Under the Affordable Care Act, as of 2014, states must cover all children in families with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL, $27,821/year for a family of three in 2016)  although some of these children have special health care needs, their Medicaid eligibility is based entirely on their family’s income, without regard to their health status.  States can expand financial eligibility for children above 138% FPL, and all do:  as of January, 2017, the median financial eligibility level for Medicaid and CHIP children is 255% FPL ($51,408/year for a family of three in 2016). 

 These services must be provided for children, regardless of whether a state chooses to cover them for adults.  Medicaid’s benefit package for children covers traditional medical services like doctor visits, hospitalizations, x-rays, lab tests, and prescription drugs. It also includes behavioral health, dental, hearing, and vision care as well as physical, occupational, and speech therapy and medical equipment and supplies.  Some children may receive therapy through special education at school, and Medicaid supplements those services by covering additional therapies that are necessary for a child to function outside of school, at home and in the community.  For children with chronic needs, Medicaid covers long-term care services, such as private duty nursing, attendant care, and assistive technology, that help children with special health care needs remain at home with their families.  It also offers case management through which a social worker coordinates medical, social, and other services for children with multiple needs. 

 Medicaid covers nearly 9 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries. “Dual eligibles,” the low-income seniors and younger people with disabilities who qualify for Medicaid as well as Medicare, are among the sickest and poorest individuals covered by either program. More than half have income below $10,000 and most have substantial health needs. Medicaid covers Medicare premiums and cost-sharing charges for dual eligibles, as well as critical services – in particular, nursing home and community-based long-term care services – that are excluded or sharply limited in Medicare. These very poor, high-need beneficiaries account for almost 40% of all Medicaid spending. 

 Medicaid is the largest source of funding for safety-net providers and the dominant payer for long-term care. Medicaid is the largest source of funding for health centers and public hospitals that serve the poor and uninsured, often in underserved areas. Children’s hospitals also rely heavily on Medicaid payment. Seven in 10 people living in nursing homes are covered by Medicaid. The program also provides over a quarter of all funding for mental health care. 

 Medicaid is the largest source of federal funds to states and it fuels economic activity. The federal government matches state spending in Medicaid at least dollar for dollar. These federal Medicaid matching funds are the largest source (45%) of federal funds to states. Medicaid’s joint financing structure allows states to bring in federal funds to support health services, and the federal government pays for 56% of Medicaid spending overall. By bringing revenues to hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, pharmacies, and other providers, Medicaid helps support jobs and economic activity in states and communities. Other industries benefit indirectly from the federal dollars distributed to vendors.  

(Kaiser Family Foundation)


Environment

Gas Mileage standards

 The environment: Lower fuel economy translates into higher carbon emissions. That contributes directly to climate change, which scientists blame for rising sea levels, extreme weather, harsher agricultural conditions, biodiversity loss and health concerns. 

 The Union of Concerned Scientists, which advocates for policies to combat climate change, estimated that the U.S. would save 3 million barrels of oil per day by 2030 if current fuel-economy standards remain in place. 

 The Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, said in a recent report that the average buyer of a 2015 model-year vehicle spent $523 less on gasoline than for a 2005 vehicle. That while the CAFE standards would cost the auto industry $200 billion over 13 years, they would save consumers some $1.7 trillion in avoided fuel costs over the life of the vehicles. 

  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, carbon emissions, in the form of carbon dioxide, make up more than 80 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted in the United States.  The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. 

 The EPA predicts that climate change will cause the demand for water to increase while the supply of water shrinks.  


 According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, carbon emissions are causing warming in California's Central Valley that is projected to significantly reduce the yields of tomatoes, wheat, rice, maize and sunflowers in this region.

 

 CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen about 43% since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the mid-eighteenth century—half of that since 1980. 

 While methane doesn’t linger as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, it is initially far more devastating to the climate because of how effectively it absorbs heat. In the first two decades after its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

 Methane can come from many sources, both natural and man made. But the largest source of industrial emissions is the oil and gas industry. (EDF.org)









The Big Round Earth

According to the United Nations Environmental Program, the U.S. is the second-highest carbon dioxide emitter in the world, after China.

According to Harvard studies coal imposes external costs of $350-500 billion dollars EVERY year in the U.S.

According to UC Berkeley energy efficient jobs far surpress jobs in the coal industry.

13,000 people will die every year from coal pollution (American Lung Association)  Coal pollution is responsible for 200,000 asthma attacks, 20,000 heart attacks and will send 12,000 people a year to the ER

Mercury emissions from electrical generation continues to rise. Mercury in mother's blood and breast milk can interfere with the development of babies brains and neurological systems, which can lead to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, lowered IQ and retardation. (American Pediatric Association)



  •  Gray Wolf State Management Act of 2017This bill requires the Department of the Interior to reissue: (1) the final rule published on December 28, 2011, that removed the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and that removed the designation of critical habitat for that wolf in Minnesota and Michigan; and (2) the final rule published on September 10, 2012, that removed the gray wolf in Wyoming from the list and removed the Yellowstone Experimental Protection Area that was established to facilitate reintroduction of the wolf. 
  • H.J 38  That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement of the Department of the Interior relating to the “Stream Protection Rule” (published at 81 Fed. Reg. 93066 (December 20, 2016)), and such rule shall have no force or effect. 
  •  Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017This bill amends the Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride pollution from the scope of that Act.The bill declares that current law does not authorize or require the regulation of climate change or global warming and nullifies certain final rules relating to: (1) greenhouse gas and volatile organic compounds emissions, including methane emissions, from the oil and natural gas sector; and (2) carbon pollution emissions from the utility power sector.Before proposing or finalizing regulations or policies, the Environmental Protection Agency must analyze the net and gross impact of those regulations and policies on employment. Regulations and policies may not take effect if they have a negative impact on employment, unless they are approved by Congress and signed by the President.  H.R. 637


CLIMATE CHANGE

Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal (NASA)

  1.  The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years. 
  2.  Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate. 
  3.  The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century.2 Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response. 
  4.  Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century. 
  5.  The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
  6.  The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005. 
  7.  Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades. 
  8.  Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa. 
  9. The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events. 
  10.  Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier. 

(Source NASA.org)


The Paris Agreement

 The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework. http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement

Clean Water

 The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The basis of the CWA was enacted in 1948 and was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but the Act was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. "Clean Water Act" became the Act's common name with amendments in 1972. (EPA)

 OW is responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, and portions of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Ocean Dumping Ban Act, Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, Shore Protection Act, Marine Plastics Pollution Research and Control Act, London Dumping Convention, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and several other statutes. 

 Lead exposure occurs through many pathways, including soil, dust, food, and drinking water. Through a series of policies – including the phase-outs of lead in gasoline and paint – the U.S. has made major progress in reducing lead exposure and childhood blood lead levels over the past several decades. Although the LCR has resulted in substantial reductions in lead in drinking water, there is a compelling need to strengthen its public health protections and clarify its implementation requirements. 

EPA

EPA

 

  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
  • all parts of society -- communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
  • the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment. (EPA.org)
  • HR861 was passed to terminate the EPA  in 12/2018 (congress.org)
  • Bill H.R.861  This bill terminates the Environmental Protection Agency on December 31, 2018. (congress.gov)

Education

Did You Know?

 30 years ago America was the leader in quantity and quality of high school diplomas. Today we are ranked 36th. (The Home Economist)
If the 1.3 million dropouts from the Class of 2010 had graduated, the nation would have seen $337 BILLION dollars more in earnings over the course of the students lifetimes.The average annual base salary of a public school teacher is $49,600 (The Home Economist)When it comes to Public Schools vs Private Schools. 52% of public school teachers had masters degrees  The Department of Education shall Bill H.R. 899 terminate on December 31, 2018. (congress.gov) Public school systems will employ about 3.1 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers in fall 2016, such that the number of pupils per FTE teacher—that is, the pupil/teacher ratio—will be 16.1. This ratio is not measurably different from the 2000 ratio of 16.0. A projected 0.4 million FTE teachers will be working in private schools this fall, resulting in an estimated pupil/teacher ratio of 12.2, which is lower than the 2000 ratio of 14.5 (nces.edu.gov In fall 2016, some 20.5 million students are expected to attend American colleges and universities, constituting an increase of about 5.2 million since fall 2000 (nces.gov.edu) Females are expected to account for the majority of college students: about 11.7 million females will attend in fall 2016, compared with 8.8 million males  Increasing numbers and percentages of Black and Hispanic students are attending college. Between 2000 and 2014, the percentage of college students who were Black rose from 11.7 to 14.5 percent, and the percentage of students who were Hispanic rose from 9.9 to 16.5 percent. In 2014, about 73.5 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor's or higher degree in the labor force had year-round, full-time jobs, compared with 65.8 percent of those with an associate's degree, 61.6 percent of those with some college education, 65.3 percent of high school completers, and 55.1 percent of those without a high school diploma or its equivalent. (nces.edu.gov) 

STEM

 STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics .Currently, nearly 28 percent of high school freshmen declare an interest in a STEM-related field. As a result, the Obama administration announced the 2009 "Educate to Innovate" campaign to motivate and inspire students to excel in STEM subjects.projections estimate the need for 8.65 million workers in STEM-related jobs. (stemconnector.org)The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2018, the bulk of STEM careers will be:

  • Computing – 71 percent
  • Traditional Engineering – 16 percent
  • Physical sciences – 7 percent
  • Life sciences – 4 percent
  • Mathematics – 2 percent

Much of the STEM curriculum is aimed toward attracting underrepresented populations. Female students, for example, are significantly less likely to pursue a college major or career. Though this is nothing new, the gap is increasing at a significant rate. Male students are also more likely to pursue engineering and technology fields, while female students prefer science fields, like biology, chemistry, and marine biology.  (livescience.org)According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, women in fields commonly referred to as STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) made up 7 percent of that workforce in 1970, a figure that had jumped to 23 percent by 1990. But the rise essentially stopped there. Two decades later, in 2011, women made up 26 percent of the science workforce.According to the Atlantic Monthly magazine's cover story in May, "Half a dozen global studies, conducted by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Columbia University, have found that companies employing women in large numbers outperform their competitors on every measure of profitability."Women with technology experience may have an advantage in the boardroom. In 2016, women on corporate boards (16%) were almost twice as likely as their male counterparts (9%) to have professional technology experience among 518 Forbes Global 2000 companies.Among the highest degree-holders working full-time in science and engineering in the United States in 2013, women made 31.3% less than men in median annual salary: $55,000 for women compared to $80,000 for men (Catalyst.org)

Private Schools

  Private school full tuition averages were:

  • $7,770 for elementary schools;
  • $13,030 for secondary schools; and
  • $13,640 for combined schools.

In school year 2013–14, some 5.4 million students (or 10 percent of all elementary and secondary students) were enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools.

 In 2013–14, some 38 percent of all private school students were enrolled in Catholic schools. The number of private school students enrolled in Catholic schools decreased from 2.5 million in 2003–04 to 2.1 million in 2013–14. The decrease in the number of students enrolled in Catholic schools was primarily due to a decline in the number of students enrolled in Catholic parochial schools (1.2 million in 2003–04 compared to 740,000 in 2013–14). The numbers of students enrolled in conservative Christian (707,000) and affiliated religious (565,000) schools in 2013–14 were also lower than in 2003–04, while the number of students enrolled in unaffiliated religious schools (758,000) in 2013–14 was higher than in 2003–04. The number of students enrolled in nonsectarian schools (1.3 million) in 2013–14 was not measurably different from the number enrolled in 2003–04 

(NCES.ed.gov)


Higher Ed (College)

 College graduates with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 66 percent more than those with only a high school diploma; and are also far less likely to face unemployment.

 Over the course of a lifetime, the average worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $1 million more than a worker without a post secondary education. 

 By 2020, an estimated two-thirds of job openings will require post secondary education or training.

 Over the past three decades, tuition at four-year colleges has more than doubled, even after adjusting for inflation .

 Even after historic investments by the Obama Administration, the maximum Pell Grant in 2015 covers only about 30 percent of the cost of a four-year public college education.

 

In 2010, the Obama Administration made a landmark investment in Pell Grants, ending student loan subsidies for private banks and shifting over $60 billion in savings back to students and taxpayers.

  Students from low-income families are also less likely to enroll in and complete college than their peers, even when academic ability is taken into consideration.

 The median debt of borrowers who default is under $8,900, which is barely half of the median debt load for all students, and the average debt for students in default is $14,500, which is half the average debt of those who graduate. 

*  Hillman, Nicholas W. "College on Credit: A Multilevel Analysis of *Student Loan Default." The Review of Higher Education 37.2 (2014): 169-95.  

* FSA analysis and TICAS Project on Student Debt figures  

 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). The Condition of Education 2015  

Children With Disabilities

A federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools create an IEP for every child receiving special education services. Kids from age 3 through high school graduation or a maximum age of 22 (whichever comes first) may be eligible for an IEP.

 

  • A statement of your child’s present level of performance (PLOP)—this is how your child is doing in school now
  • Your child’s annual educational goals
  • Special education supports and services that the school will provide to help your child reach goals
  • Modifications and accommodations the school will provide to help your child make progress
  • Accommodations your child will be allowed when taking standardized tests
  • How and when the school will measure your child’s progress toward annual goals
  • Transition planning that prepares teens for life after high school.

 The school can’t start providing special education services until you give your permission, which the law refers to as “consent.” You may be asked at the end of the IEP meeting to give your consent to the proposed IEP. 

 Private schools aren’t required by law to provide special education services. If your child is in a private school, you can ask the public school district to evaluate your child for special education services. If the district agrees to your request, the evaluation will be conducted at no cost to you.IDEA requires school districts to set aside some public funding to provide special education services to students in private school. But this funding is limited. If your child’s school agrees to work with the district, they may work together to create what’s called a “services plan.” This plan is likely to provide fewer services than your child would receive in a public school. 

 IDEA has been amended several times since Congress first passed it in 1975. (At that time it was called the Education for All Handicapped Children Act.)  

 

  • To protect the rights of children with disabilities. IDEA ensures students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), just like all other children. Schools are required to provide special education in the least restrictive environment. That means schools must teach students with disabilities in general education classroom whenever possible.

 

  • To give parents a voice in their child’s education. Under IDEA, you have a say in the educational decisions the school makes about your child. At every point of the process, the law gives you specific rights and protections. These are called procedural safeguards.

 As of 2012, about 5.8 million school-age children in the United States receive special education services as a result of IDEA. More than 40 percent—roughly 2.3 million—are students identified with a specific learning disability. 


 In school year 2013–14, a higher percentage of children and youth ages 3–21 received special education services under IDEA for specific learning disabilities than for any other type of disability. A specific learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. In 2013–14, some 35 percent of all students receiving special education services had specific learning disabilities, 21 percent had speech or language impairments, and 13 percent had other health impairments (including having limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes). Students with autism, intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, or emotional disturbances each accounted for between 5 and 8 percent of students served under IDEA. Students with multiple disabilities, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairments, visual impairments, traumatic brain injuries, or deaf-blindness each accounted for 2 percent or less of those served under IDEA. 

 The percentage of students ages 14–21 served under IDEA who graduated with a regular high school diploma in 2012–13 differed by type of disability. The percentage of students ages 14–21 served under IDEA who graduated with a regular high school diploma was highest among students with visual impairments (77 percent) and lowest among those with intellectual disabilities (43 percent). The percentage of students served under IDEA who received an alternative certificate was highest among students with intellectual disabilities (33 percent) and lowest among students with speech or language impairments (9 percent). The percentage of students served under IDEA who dropped out in 2012–13 was highest among students with emotional disturbance (35 percent) and lowest among students with autism (7 percent). 

NCES.edu.gov

IDEA.gov


Education Bills

Bill 610 (proposed)

 This bill repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limits the authority of the Department of Education (ED) such that ED is authorized only to award block grants to qualified states.The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds among local educational agencies (LEAs) based on the number of eligible children within each LEA's geographical area 


Bill 610


 (1) distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child, and (2) do so in a manner that ensures that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.To be eligible to receive a block grant, a state must: (1) comply with education voucher program requirements  

More Bill 610

 and (2) make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect to enroll their child in any public or private elementary or secondary school in the state or to home-school their child. 

No Hungry Kids Act

 No Hungry Kids ActThe bill repeals a specified rule that established certain nutrition standards for the national school lunch and breakfast programs. (In general, the rule requires schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in school meals; and meet children's nutritional needs within their caloric requirements.) 


More Important Facts

LGBTQ History

In 2014, the FBI reported that 20.8% of hate crimes reported to police were perceived sexual orientation. 61% were against gay men. 

 July 5, 1978 – A gang of youths armed with baseball bats and tree branches assaulted several men in an area of Central Park  

 May 15, 1988 - Tommy Lee Trimble and John Lloyd Griffin, two gay men, were harassed and later shot by Richard Lee Bednarski in Dallas 





10/27/1992 U.S Petty Officer Allen Schindler was murdered in Japan by a shipmate. Schindler repeatedly complained to the military for the anti-gay harassment. This case would now be known as " Don't ask, don't tell."

10/07/1998 Matthew Shepard was tortured and tied to a fence and abandoned, and later died. His attackers are serving 2 life sentences.

12/12/2011 Terrianne Summers a trans woman, activist from Florida was murdered in her front yard. No arrests have been made.

04/06/2009 11 year old boy from Springfield Mass committed suicide by hanging himself after being bullied all year from peers.


 August 2003 – Emonie Spaulding, a black 25-year-old trans woman, was shot to death in Washington, D.C. by Derrick Antwan Lewis after he discovered she was trans 

 February 10, 2008 – Sanesha Stewart, a 25-year-old black trans woman was stabbed to death in Bronx, New York 

 On April 29, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend federal law to classify as "hate crimes" attacks based on a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity (as well as mental or physical disability). 


From 1969-2016 218 men and women from the LGBTQ community have been killed, targeted sexual orientation and or gender identity.

** You can find these statistics and many more at lgbthatecrimes.org

wikipedia.com

Nytimes.com




American Government

Checks and Balances, principle of government under which separate branches are empowered to prevent actions by other branches and are induced to share power. Checks and balances are applied primarily in constitutional governments. (   The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica)


This was put into place to protect the people from tyranny.


The Government is made of 3 levels.

Executive which includes the President, and 5,000 workers

Legislative which is Senate and House of Representatives (Congress) 100 Senators and 435 Representatives.

Judicial Is The Supreme Court and 9 Justices. 





Immigration

 

A study from The American Action Forum shows if The US were to deport roughly 11 million undocumented people it would cost the government between 400-600 billion. Gitis and Varas found that by doing this would hurt the economy in a major way.

"Removing all undocumented immigrants would cause private sector output to decline by between 381.5 billion to 623.2 billion." This information was found in The Huffington Post

Undocumented immigrants paid 100 billion into Social Security over the last decade. Last year $13 Billion dollars and only withdrawing 1 Billion that is a surplus of $12 Billion dollars. Figures are from Stephen Gross, the chief actuary at the Social Security Administration.

Without legal residence, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for government assistance. (Huffington Post)

Refugees...

Must pay back the Government for the cost of their travel, stipend and are required to obtain a job. Refugees do not get special rates or housing when they arrive in the US and are on their own after 3 months. (US NEWS)

About Me

My background

I have been in the healthcare business for 15 years. My primary focus and expertise is in reimbursement, benefits, and for several years I carried an active pharmacy license. From Private pay, Medicare and Medicaid, I live and breathe insurance type issues.

My background

I have been in the healthcare business for 15 years. My primary focus and expertise is in reimbursement, benefits, and for several years I carried an active pharmacy license. From Private pay, Medicare and Medicaid, I live and breathe insurance type issues.

My top issues

The purpose of this site is to decode fact vs fiction. An unbiased approach to allow the public to look up issues and see how it relates to them and if currently policy changes will directly affect them. Hot topics such as Obamacare, LGBT, Immigration, the environment and education. 

My top issues

The purpose of this site is to decode fact vs fiction. An unbiased approach to allow the public to look up issues and see how it relates to them and if currently policy changes will directly affect them. Hot topics such as Obamacare, LGBT, Immigration, the environment and education. 

My involvement

I recently had the privilege of doing The Women's March in Boston with 2 amazingly empowering women in my life my mother and my aunt. To see a well organized group of intelligent, kind, articulate of women get together to only lift each other up was a once in a lifetime for me. 

My involvement

I recently had the privilege of doing The Women's March in Boston with 2 amazingly empowering women in my life my mother and my aunt. To see a well organized group of intelligent, kind, articulate of women get together to only lift each other up was a once in a lifetime for me. 

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