July 8, 2013

Ohio SOS race will be a ‘lesser of two evils’ contest

Filed under: Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:45 pm

This column went up with minor changes at Watchdog.org earlier this afternoon.

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The 2014 race for Ohio Secretary of State is shaping up as a quintessential “lesser of two evils” contest.

Last week, Nina Turner (D-Senate District 25) officially declared her candidacy. She is attempting to unseat Republican incumbent Jon Husted.

Those who wish to see Ohio return to having a relatively fraud-proof, tamper-proof elections process — something the state had until late 2005, when a cowardly Republican General Assembly passed legislation allowing early voting and no-excuses absentee balloting – will find little about which to cheer in either candidate. It’s prohibitively unlikely that Turner or Husted will face a primary challenge, or that a credible third-party general-election contender will appear.
(more…)

Yeah, That’ll Work (ObamaCare Subsidy Apps Will Be on ‘Honor System’)

Filed under: Health Care,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:08 am

WaPo (HT Hot Air):

Health insurance marketplaces will not be required to verify consumer claims

The Obama administration announced Friday that it would significantly scale back the health law’s requirements that new insurance marketplaces verify consumers’ income and health insurance status.

Instead, the federal government will rely more heavily on consumers’ self-reported information until 2015.

After encountering “legislative and operational barriers,” the federal government will not require the District and the 16 states that are running their own marketplaces to verify a consumer’s statement that they do not receive health insurance from their employer.

The rule also scaled back states’ responsibilities to double-check the income levels that consumers report, which determine any tax subsidy they receive.

… It is not unprecedented for the government to use the honor system in situations in which it collects data on millions of individuals … For example, people are expected to report their cash tips to the Internal Revenue Service as income.

“As crunch time is coming, they’re just muddling through and figuring out short cuts,” he (Ian Spatz, a senior adviser at Manatt Health Solutions) said. “It might not be elegant, but this is how they’re trying to make the law work.”

The annual amount of fraud in Medicaid and Medicare is an estimated $65 billion.

What I believe will be tens of billions in subsidies (it could be in the hundreds of billions, but that will require more digging) are going to be handed out without verification. Scam artists are salivating.

To be clear, the draft forms for getting the subsidies appears to be so complicated that many people will improperly fill them out and unknowingly get more or less of a subsidy than the law’s formulas envision. This will in turn technically make them law violators.

If there’s a more obvious example of incompetent, nonchalant, and negligent stewardship of tax dollars, I don’t know what it is.

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (070813)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

Positivity: Stem-cell therapy wipes out HIV in two patients

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Boston, from a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Mynamar (HT Rush Limbaugh):

Wed Jul 3, 2013 7:53am EDT

Two men with HIV have been off AIDS drugs for several months after receiving stem-cell transplants for cancer that appear to have cleared the virus from their bodies, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Both patients, who were treated in Boston and had been on long-term drug therapy to control their HIV, received stem-cell transplants after developing lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.

Since the transplants, doctors have been unable to find any evidence of HIV infection, Timothy Henrich of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston told an International AIDS Society conference in Kuala Lumpur.

While it is too early to say for sure that the virus has disappeared from their bodies altogether, one patient has now been off antiretroviral drug treatment for 15 weeks and the other for seven weeks.

Last July Henrich first reported that the two men had undetectable levels of HIV in their blood after their stem-cell treatment, but at that time they were still taking medicines to suppress HIV.

Using stem-cell therapy is not seen as a viable option for widespread use, since it is extremely expensive, but the latest cases could open new avenues for fighting the disease, which infects about 34 million people worldwide. …

Go here for the rest of the story.