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The Significant Affirmative Action Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to re-hear an affirmative action case involving university admissions. Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper appeared on Newsmax TV’s “The Hard Line” on September 25 to explain why Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, et al. is such an important case.


First, the case tackles reverse discrimination. “Now, instead of a law that says you can’t come here because of your dark skin color,” said Horace, “we are now looking at rules in the case of the University of Texas which are saying that you can’t come here UNLESS you have dark skin color.”

Second, the case causes us to remember the original intention of affirmative action, and realize how far we have strayed from that ideal. “Affirmative action was a kind of special treatment but it was never supposed to be quotas,” noted Horace. “You know the kind of treatment it was supposed to be? You go to schools and you find really talented and capable people and you sell them on coming to your university. That’s what good football coaches do. That’s what good band coaches do. They recruit exceptionally talented people and they sell them on the advantages of coming to that university.”

Third, the case enlightens us about unintended consequences of affirmative action which threaten to make racial stereotypes even worse. “We’re doing something else that’s also sinister,” pointed out Horace. “When you bring subpar people in and they compete against exceptional people… they learn a bad lesson. You can tell who the poor performer will be based on their skin color. That’s the opposite message that we ought to be trying to get.”

Watch Horace’s entire appearance below.


Four ObamaCare Co-Ops Down, 19 To Go

As “Aleister” puts it at the Legal Insurrection blog, “You can’t even keep your new plan.”  Another ObamaCare Co-Op is going under:

Regulators will shut down Health Republic Insurance of New York, the largest of the nonprofit cooperatives created under the Affordable Care Act, in the latest sign of the financial pressures facing many insurers that participated in the law’s new marketplaces.

The insurer lost about $52.7 million in the first six months of this year, on top of a $77.5 million loss in 2014, according to regulatory filings.

The move to wind down its operations was made jointly by officials from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; New York’s state insurance exchange, known as New York State of Health; and the New York State Department of Financial Services.

Health Republic Insurance is apparently the largest of the Co-Ops, with about 215,000 members. It’s closure drops the number of ObamaCare Co-Ops from 23 to 19, following the closings of Co-Ops in Iowa, Louisiana, and Nevada. Those Co-Ops lost $146 million, $65 million, and $66 million, respectively, in taxpayer loans.  But those three put together don’t total the $356 million in taxpayer startup and emergency solvency loans lost by Health Republic.

Even the Obama Administration acknowledges that the Co-Ops are in trouble.  Sort of:

HHS spokesman Ben Wakana said in a statement that co-ops have played an “important role” in increasing competition in the health law’s marketplaces.

However, he added “as a startup business, we recognize not all will succeed.”

“If a CO-OP has solvency issues, and we cannot rule out that others may this year, we will work with the states so that consumers have affordable options on the Marketplace,” Wakana said.


New Mexico Insurer Does The ObamaCare 3-Step

The ObamaCare Three-Step is a little dance that insurance companies and insurance regulators will partake of more and more in the next few years on the exchanges.  This is how it works:

Step 1. Insurer Takes Big Loss On Exchange And Requests Big Premium Hike For Following Year

Step 2. Insurance Regulator Denies Insurer’s Rate Hike Request

Step 3. Insurer Leaves The Exchange.

In the Land of Enchantment, Blue Cross Blue Shield New Mexico (BCBSNM) and the State Department of Insurance appear to be the first to do the ObamaCare Three-Step.  Earlier this year BCBSNM requested a rate hike of over 50 percent for policies in the individual market, including the exchange, after it lost about $19.2 million.

In early August, the Dept. of Insurance rejected the rate request, offering a 24 percent one instead.  In late August, BCBSNM said it was discontinuing its business on the New Mexico individual market, including the exchange, at the end of 2015.

According to news reports, BCBSNM “covered 35,000 people in [New Mexico] last year. That number amounted to just below one-third of people in New Mexico on individual plans.”  

Not only will thousands of people have to find new insurance, those on the exchange will find a much smaller array of plans to choose from.  For a 27-year-old single person living in Albuquerque, there were 57 plans on the exchange for 2015.  Twenty-five of those are BCBSNM plans, meaning the number will drop to 32 plans for 2016, a decline of 44 percent.

A 57-year-old couple had a choice of 52 plans in Albuquerque in 2015. That will fall to 29 in 2016 thanks to the departure of BCBSNM, also a 44 percent drop.

The head of the New Mexico exchange asserts she has “had conversations with the [four] other carriers to be sure they would be ready to absorb new membership. They’ve assured us that they are.”

But that’s not the real concern.  Rather, the concern should be whether the Dept. of Insurance is willing to approve big rate hikes for those other insurers in the future, as the sicker patients who were enrolled in BCBSNM plans now migrate to the other four insurers.

Or, will more New Mexico insurers be doing the ObamaCare Three-Step?


Hillary's Health Care Plan: Make Us Sicker

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton outlined her plans for health care.  She focused heavily on prescription drugs.

One of her ideas entails forcing pharmaceutical companies that receive federal money to reinvest more of their profits into research and design. There are, of course, no specifics on how much profit they will be forced to reinvest. That will all be worked out later so as to maximize the ransom donations drug companies give to Hillary’s campaign and foundation.

She defended this idea by saying, “You should be focused on results that benefit us, not just your shareholders and your executives.”

Let’s go back to a little bit of Economics 101.  Why do investors invest in pharmaceutical companies or any company, for that matter?  If you said “to earn a profit,” go to the head of the class.  If the government reduces the profit margin of a particular industry, will investors be as likely to risk their money in that industry?  Or will they put their money in industries that the government hasn’t messed with?  Those are both rhetorical questions.

So, if investors won’t put as much money as they otherwise would into pharmaceutical companies, what happens to the rate at which new drugs are discovered?  If you said the number of new drugs discovered will decline, again go to the head of the class.  

And, of course, it will be the patients whose illnesses cannot be cured because those new drugs don’t come to the market who will suffer.

Thanks Hillary!


The Unforeseen Consequences of Affirmative Action

Project 21, a leader in the promotion of black conservative public policy opinion and activism, recently joined a new legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court opposing racial preferences in school admissions. SCOTUS is preparing to hear the case of Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, et al. for the second time.

Project 21 member Emery McClendon opposes affirmative action in school admissions, and on September 18 he explained why on Newsmax TV’s “The Daily Wrap”:

I have three sons. All three went to college. They have told me stories: “Dad, here’s a guy that comes in. He gets a grant. He gets a scholarship. His scores are low. He goes in, he parties, he spends the scholarship money, he spends the other grants that he gets. He’s kicked out of college with less than three or four months.” And he took [the place of] somebody who was going to be serious, spent that money, wasted that money. Nobody got anywhere.

Also, are American military leaders purposefully altering military reports to fit the White House narrative that America is winning against extremists in the Middle East?  McClendon noted that if the American public is being lied to, both our troops and our enemies know it.

“The guys on the field who know what’s going on, if they’re not doing what these reports say they did, they know that, and ISIS or ISIL also knows the exact same thing,” said McClendon.

“That’s actually a very good point,” responded liberal host Rick Ungar.


Project 21's McClendon Fights Back Against Sharpton's Lies

Project 21’s Emery McClendon is coordinating an “All Lives Matter” rally today prior to Rev. Al Sharpton’s appearance in Fort Wayne, IN.   On September 18, he told NewsMaxTV host Ed Berliner that the Black Lives Matter movement is largely based on lies. 

“In order for America to be great and continue to be great,” McClendon says, “we all have to work together to realize that each and every one of us is valuable.”

“We have to start in the families. We have to start in the churches.  We have to start in the schools.  We have to let them know that America is for everyone; the American Dream is achievable by everyone.  They have to be reeducated because over the years the Democratic Party has taught our race of people… that you have to be dependent upon me.  People like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and so forth.  And over the years, 40 years plus, the same message has been preached over and over and over again but nothing has changed.  It’s all about dependency, money and power.”  

So how can a more positive message permeate throughout the black community?  Parents can teach their children “that you are somebody, you are part of the American Dream.” Churches should “teach them that we need God, we need faith, and we need to believe in ourselves.  And take personal responsibility.”  

McClendon truly believes all lives matter, and that that extends to unborn lives.  He notes that “most of the abortion clinics are located centrally around most of the black neighborhoods.  Why aren’t they outside picketing those?… We need to stand up for all lives.”

This short excerpt from Newsmax TV’s “The Hard Line,” broadcast on 9/18/15 and featuring Emery McClendon of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Project 21 black leadership network, has been posted under fair use guidelines for the purpose of non-profit, educational public debate by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a 501(c)(3) educational foundation under the Internal Revenue Code. For more discussion of these issues, please visit:


America Was Safer Under GWB Than Obama, Says Project 21's Cooper

Did President George W. Bush keep us safe, as claimed by Gov. Jeb Bush in the recent GOP debate?  RT Network host Thom Hartmann and his “Progressive Roundtable” call this claim a lie, but Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper believes that Americans are less safe under President Obama than they were under President Bush. 

“It was exactly the decision to walk away [from the War on Terror] that has allowed the ISIL problem and the metastasization in the region,” says Cooper.

Cooper also says that the thwarted Times Square terrorist was not afraid of retribution.  “He understood that we were not going to respond with the type of response that we did after 2001.”

Later, Cooper criticized government leaders who have refused to take responsibility for the poisoning of the Animas River in Colorado.

Watch the entire segment from last night’s “The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann” here:



Never Forget



ObamaCare Enrollment Falls Short of CBO Predictions

On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that 9.9 million people had signed up for insurance on the ObamaCare exchanges.  “These numbers are consistent with HHS’s effectuated enrollment target of 9.1 million for the end of 2015,” the press release stated.

While it’s true that the Obama Administration did predict over 9 million people enrolling in the exchanges for 2015, the Administration has never explained why the exchanges have fallen short of predictions from the Congressional Budget Office. (Although, when enrollment in 2014 exceeded CBO predictions, Obama did say, “It’s working a little bit better than we anticipated — certainly, I think, working a lot better than many of the critics talked about early on.”)

Anyway, here is what the CBO predicted in various reports:


If the ObamaCare exchanges enrolled 9.9. million, then they fell about 18 percent short of CBO’s final prediction for 2015.  Don’t expect to see any of the media mention that.  And don’t expect the MSM to question whether the exchanges will reach 21 million in enrollment in 2016. Whatever goal the Administration sets is good enough for them.


Apple CEO Tim Cook Criticized by Justin Danhof on Fox Business

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission should be investigating an email from Apple CEO Tim Cook to CNBC’s Jim Cramer under its Fair Disclosure regulations, Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof told Neil Cavuto today on the Fox Business Network. Is it perhaps Cook’s liberal cronyism that has the SEC looking the other way?

Cook also refused to comply with a Justice Department court order earlier this summer. Watch Justin’s entire interview below. 


Project 21 Members Dominate Media Discussions About 'Black Lives Matter'

Recently the news media has been abuzz with stories about the Black Lives Matter movement and its possible connection to the recent trend of murdered police officers.  And right smack in the middle of the media discussions have been several members of our Project 21 black leadership network.


This past Friday, September 4, the Fox News Channel’s “Kelly File” held a discussion entitled “Black Lives Matter and 2016.”  Project 21 members Stacy Washington and Bishop Council Nedd II were part of the lively discussion.

They began their comments by defending the majority of police officers in light of threats from members of the Black Lives Movement.

Are such threats against police common or simply anomalies?  Stacy recounts the horrific behavior she witnessed firsthand in Ferguson, MO, as protestors stood before police and threatened their wives and families.

Finally, during a discussion of ways the black community can avoid future violence and poverty, Council argued for the importance of training children correctly, and Stacy noted the need for strong fathers within the family structure.

Stacy was on television twice on Friday night.  In addition to “The Kelly File,” she appeared on NewsmaxTV’s “The Daily Wrap,” where she again shared her firsthand experiences in Ferguson, MO, and asked the cutting question, WHICH black lives matter?  According to Stacy:

In St. Louis just a couple of weeks ago we had a 93-year-old Tuskegee veteran robbed twice by two sets of black men in Ferguson. We had a nine-year-old girl shot to death on her bed as she did homework… Not a peep from Black Lives Matter… Why didn’t THOSE black lives matter? Why weren’t there protests for that?

Two days earlier, Stacy appeared on NewsmaxTV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show” to discuss the Iran deal, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis and whether Black Lives Matter is a hate group.  

Regarding whether the Iran deal is pandering to Iran rather than representing American interests: “We don’t do our foreign policy based on how other people feel [but] now we’re going to govern through feelings… Feelings don’t matter in war.”

Regarding Black Lives Matter: “Their rhetoric of late has sounded a lot like a hate group. I would not call them a hate group, but I think they need to tone down their language.”

Stacy wasn’t the only Project 21 member with multiple media appearances last week.  Carl Pittman knew fallen Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth personally, and he responded to Goforth’s murder and other recent murders of law enforcement personnel on several radio and television shows.

On August 31, Carl was interview by Dr. Drew Pinsky on HLN’s “Dr. Drew” show.

“The political leadership has literally approved of bad behavior,” said Pittman. “A lot of people are taking this as some sort of green light to go out and continue to act in these lawless ways, and I fear we are going to see this get much much worse before it gets better.”

Pittman was also interviewed on NewsMaxTV’s “The Hard Line” on September 3. 

“I do believe the rhetoric that we’ve heard as of recently - the march where they were chanting ‘Pig in a Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon’ - that is very very dangerous rhetoric where someone that might be easily manipulated might follow through and try to carry something like that out,” said Pittman.



Unemployment News a Hollow Victory - About Those Jobs Numbers for August

When the monthly jobs report from the Obama Administration came out last Friday, there was unwarranted celebration at the White House.  Any “good” news truly rings hollow – that’s what Project 21 member Derryck Green thinks.

Case in point, the labor force participation rate – the number of people who are actually working or looking for work – is stuck at a low that has not been seen since the Carter era.  And it’s this unsettling factor that is likely driving down the official unemployment rate rather than robust job creation.

The stock market initially cratered in the news of the jobless report.  Yet Obama celebrated.

There’s a staggering, underreported crisis affecting the American workforce, and Obama seems to be ignoring it while he twists the report into something he’s using to threaten a veto of any forthcoming budget bill from Congress daring to cut spending.

Black is white.  Up is down.  Day is night.  Hollow victories are being treated as if they are major breakthroughs.

Trying to make some sense of it all is Derryck with his monthly “About Those Jobs Numbers” report for August’s unemployment report:

Based on a recent report from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, officials at the U.S. Department of Commerce determined that the second quarter of 2015 saw GDP grow at a rate of 3.7 percent.  This is above the initial estimate of 2.3 percent.

It’s a hollow victory for the Obama Administration, which constantly seems to be on the lookout for alleged “good” news it can report about its stewardship of the American economy that the Preisdent promised to fix seven long years ago.

But the celebration should be tempered.  When the revised GDP output from the first quarter is taken into consideration, the economy’s growth is only a measly 2.25 percent for the year.

Consider the continuing crisis of American unemployment.  Private payroll processor Automatic Data Processing (ADP) estimated the private sector created 190,000 jobs in August, which is above July’s revised number of 177,000 but still below the 210,000 jobs that analysts were expecting.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 173,000 jobs were created last month.

Despite this poor showing, the unemployment rate nonetheless was reported to have fallen to 5.1 percent.  Based on the pallid job creation numbers, it certainly wasn’t due to expanded hiring.

One of the obvious reasons the jobless rate dropped is because people stopped looking for work and are no longer counted among the unemployed.  The back-to-school season may also be responsible for the some of the unemployment rate drop.

Though economists sought out by reporters will no doubt cheer what they have perpetually regarded as an economy on the mend, this economy has allegedly been improving for six years while managing to never recover back to pre-recession levels.  Other economic indicators, as they usually do, demonstrate the economy is nowhere near recovered despite the spin of the Obama Administration and its allies in the media.

While the official unemployment rate reported in the media and hailed by President Obama and his supporters was at 5.1 percent for August, it is relatively unknown to most that there’s an alternative jobless rate that is more than double that.  The U-6 rate, a measure that is considered to be a better indicator of the complete employment situation because is measures those looking for work as well as those who are underemployed and have quit looking for work altogether, is a sky-high 10.3 percent.  For a good portion of the Obama presidency, this U-6 rate has doubled the official rate.

This jobless rate is a hollow victory.  Obama cannot legitimately claim the employment situation is getting better when one considers the devil in the details.

And, as usual, the demographic groups the President considers to be his base didn’t fare well compared to the general population.  Women’s unemployment, for instance, was at 4.7 percent.  That sounds good, but this rate is still worse that during the George W. Bush Administration.

For blacks, the rate ticked up to 9.5 percent.  For black teens, the unemployment rate went up almost three points to 31.3 percent.  For Hispanics, the jobless rate was 6.6 percent.

In all, more than 94 million Americans were not in the workforce in August, including more than 56 million women.  The civilian labor force participation rate of 62.6 percent for the third consecutive month – a 38-year low (that’s October, 1977, to be precise!).

These statistics alone make it certain that the jobless situation is much, much worse than official reports.  The month Barack Obama was inaugurated, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent and the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent – with roughly 80.5 million people not in the workforce.  Now, the number of people not in the workforce has jumped 15 million, and the labor force participation rate is 3.1 percent lower.  Yet the unemployment rate is a little more than two percent lower.

It sounds like Common Core math to me.

It’s a hollow victory.

And things aren’t getting better elsewhere in the economy.  For example:

  • According to consultancy firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, employers planned to cut 41,186 workers from payrolls in August.  This is a 61 percent decline from the 105,696 jobs that were cut in July.  Based on their data, this brings the jobs cuts for 2015 to date to 434,554.
  • Data from a recent Gallup poll shows more Americans are losing confidence in the economy.  According to Gallup, the U.S. Economic Confidence Index “slid three points to -17 after also declining three points the prior week.  This is the lowest the index has been since September 2014, and comes as international markets struggle amid volatility in China’s stock market.”
  • The U.S. manufacturing sector lost 17,000 jobs last month, the first decline in this sector since 2013.  On the same low note, the nation’s service economy added more than 26,000 jobs for bartenders and waiters.  So, if those who have given up hope in finding work or those who aren’t working full-time need to cry in their beers over the poor economic situation, there are enough bartenders and waiters to accompany a very large pity party.
  • A study conducted by the left-leaning National Employment Law Project noted that take-home pay for American workers was either stagnant or had fallen since the so-called recovery began back in 2009.  The greatest declines were among the lowest-paid workers such as those in the home health care, food preparation and retailing sectors.  Jobs without great wages is certainly a hollow victory.  At least that’s what the left always says, right?
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that, because of record tax revenue and plateaued spending, the federal deficit and debt were reduced to $426 billion in fiscal year 2015.  This marks the lowest deficit of Obama’s reign.  At the same time, however, the CBO predicts that by 2018 spending will increase while the economy slows once again, making the debt unsustainable.  And Obama is threatening to veto any budget from Congress and shut down the government if lawmakers don’t increase spending.
  • Wall Street didn’t react too kindly to the less-than-stellar jobs report.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 272 points – or 1.7 percent – ending the week at a loss of over three percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.  This ends a particularly bad two weeks for the Dow, which dropped significantly during the past two weeks of August as a reported result of China’s weak economic outlook.  Hollow.
  • The national average for a price of gas is $2.42, the lowest price per gallon for a Labor Day weekend since 2004.  AAA predicts the national average for gas to be at or below $2 per gallon at Christmas.  OK – so there is some good news!

Despite the reported drop, the fine print shows that the August jobs numbers weren’t good news.  And, while more and more Americans find themselves on the outside of the workforce looking in, President Obama seems disconnected from his duty to help manage our nation’s economic recovery.  Instead, he’s busy renaming mountains and continuing to push the scam of “climate change.”  He’s taking selfies (again), and lying to the world about how great his Iran deal will be (well, great for Iran; read it).

In other words, it seems Obama appears willing to ride out the remaining months of his presidency as an absent leader, taking what amounts to taxpayer-funded vacations and likely securing donations for his presidential library while his administration enacts more economy-killing regulations prolonging the financial suffering of more and more Americans. 


Yes, Obama, Premiums Are Going Up

Back in early Summer when some insurers on the exchanges requested hefty premium hikes for 2016, one lefty pundit counseled, don’t pay too much attention to scare stories about gigantic increases in Obamacare premiums next year.”  One reason, he said was that a “few months from now, the real rate increases—the ones approved by state and federal authorities—will begin to trickle out.”

President Obama agreed with him:

“My expectation is that they’ll come in significantly lower than what’s being requested,” he said, saying Tennesseans had to work to ensure the state’s insurance commissioner “does their job in not just passively reviewing the rates, but really asking, ‘OK, what is it that you are looking for here? Why would you need very high premiums?’”

And how has that worked out?  According to the Wall Street Journal:

That commissioner, Julie Mix McPeak, answered on Friday by greenlighting the full 36.3% increase sought by the biggest health plan in the state, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. She said the insurer demonstrated the hefty increase for 2016 was needed to cover higher-than-expected claims from sick people who signed up for individual policies in the first two years of the Affordable Care Act.

Several regulators around the country agree with her, and have approved all or most of the big premium increases sought by the largest health plans in their states for the new sign-up season that begins Nov. 1.

As the below graphic from the WSJ shows, of the 10 insurers asking for an average premium increase above 10 percent, half have had their rates approved by regulators, three are still pending, and only two have been denied—and one that was denied had requested a 12 percent hike and had a 10 percent increase approved by regulators.


As I warned, “Ignore the premium hikes at your own risk.


Veterans Health Administration: Over 300,000 Not Served

A new report from the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General found that as “of September 30, 2014, over 307,000 pending ES [Enrollment System] records were for individuals reported as deceased by the Social Security Administration.” That’s about one-third of those who are the VA’s waiting list.

Am I shocked?  Well, yes.  I’m surprised it’s that low.

It’s been well known for a while now that the VA has had trouble getting timely treatment to veterans. Unfortunately, the report is unable to shed light on a very important question:

However, due to the data weaknesses identified in…we cannot determine specifically how many pending ES records represent veterans who applied for health care benefits or when they may have applied. [Italics added.]

This occurred because VHA [Veterans Health Administration] lacked adequate procedures and management oversight to identify and implement necessary updates to the individual’s status and the method for identifying deaths was inadequate. Unless VHA adopts effective procedures to identify individual deaths and takes action to improve the data integrity of ES, it cannot accurately and reliably report on the status of pending applicants, enrollees, and other beneficiaries in the VA health care system. 

Thus, we don’t know how many of those 307,000 veterans died because they had trouble getting health care.  But it’s probably a safe guess that more than a few did.

Remember back when the VA had the best health care system in the country?  I’ll bet that intellectuals like Phillip Longman do. 


A Rare Moment of Agreement on Immigration

On August 26, Project 21’s Kevin Martin appeared on the talk show of liberal host Thom Hartmann, who was having his usual fun mocking conservatives.  However, on the issue of immigration, we heard a rare response from Hartmann: “I agree with you.”

Specifically, Hartmann and Martin were agreeing that comprehensive immigration reform should include the prosecution of employers who hire illegal immigrants.  They also agreed that people of color are disproportionately hurt by unchecked immigration.

Earlier in the program, Hartmann and Martin and the other panelists discussed whether more gun restrictions would have saved the lives of Virginia journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward.  Martin was outraged by the idea that he should have to undergo counseling before being allowed to own a gun, when the burglar breaking into his house didn’t have to jump through the same hoop.

Also discussed on the RT Network’s “The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann”: the Fight for 15 movement that calls for a $15/hour minimum wage, Social Security privatization and whether Alabama’s closing of DMVs affects the procurement of voter IDs.


You Can Rate Anything on the Internet--Anything!

If you thought you could only rate things like hotels, books or plumbers on the internet, well then this screenshot will edify you:

One gentleman gave Greensville a really bad review, and, well, he should know:

Google isn’t the only place you can rate a prison.  Here’s Yelp:


Apparently, Pocahontas is much better than Greensville:

Back to regularly scheduled health care blogging tomorrow.


Three ObamaCare Co-Ops Down, 20 To Go

Under ObamaCare, health Co-Ops—non-profits that provide insurance—are allowed to receive federal grant money to start up operations in the ObamaCare exchanges.  There are 23 such Co-Ops.

Or, rather, there were.  In January, the state insurance regulator of Iowa decided to liquidate CoOportunity Health, which served Iowa and Nebraska.  Basically, the money CoOportunity collected in premiums couldn’t cover its medical claims.  The cost to taxpayers: $146 million.

Last week, Nevada Health Co-Op announced it would be discontinuing business at the end of this year. “’It is with deep sadness that based on challenging market conditions, the Board made a painful decision to wind down operations of the Nevada co-op at the end of the year,’ co-op member and Board Director Stacey Hatfield said in a statement.”  

And it is with even deeper sadness that I announce this cost taxpayers $65 million in federal solvency loans.

I wonder, was it really “challenging marketing decisions” that were the problem, or was this just a bad idea from the word go?  As Ed Haislmaier of the conservative Heritage Foundation put it, “It was a badly done attempt to reinvent the wheel with some genius deciding to make it oval instead of round.”

That comes on the heels of the failure of the Louisiana Health Cooperative back in July.  This one, though, had a typical Louisiana twist:

Louisiana Health Cooperative’s then-Chief Executive Officer Terry Shilling signed a $4 million, four-year contract with a consulting firm last year in which he is a principal, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner….

The Examiner also found that Louisiana Health Cooperative’s leadership ranks include seven of Shilling’s business associates, and the new co-op agreed to pay an additional $3.3 million annual fee to the consulting firm, which is registered in Georgia as Beam Partners.

Besides Shilling, individuals from Beam fill three of Louisiana Health Cooperative’s director positions, two vice president slots and the chief financial officer. Eight of the top 11 co-op managers are from Beam.

On top of the $4 million contract and $3.3 million annual consulting fee, Louisiana Health Cooperative also agree to an additional 20 percent “performance fee” to be paid to Shilling’s firm….

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon told the Examiner his department would take a look at any conflicts of interest concerning the contract, saying, “that is a matter under review.”

Well, let’s hope that if he finds criminal wrong-doing, he can get back some of those consulting fees.  It would offset the $66 million in taxpayer loans Louisiana Health Cooperative received.

And the future for most of the remaining 20 Co-Ops?  Not too rosy, according to reports for A.M. Best, Standard and Poor’s, and the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. 


Savings of ObamaCare's ACOs Declined 28 Percent!

One of the, ahem, “reforms” ObamaCare introduced to Medicare was Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).  ACOs were supposed to save money for taxpayers and improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.  (To understand what an ACO is, go here.)

In 2013, ACOs saved Medicare about $492 million.  If that savings was extended to all Medicare beneficiaries (not just those in ACOs), I estimated it would save Medicare about one percent (0.96 percent to be exact).

Early last week the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services boasted that “Medicare ACOs Provide Improved Care While Slowing Cost Growth in 2014.”  For the Shared Savings ACO program, total “net savings to the Medicare Trust Funds was $465 million.”  For the Pioneer ACO program, it’s not clear how much Medicare saved, although a good guess is about $38 million, since total savings were $120 million and 11 of the Pioneer ACOs qualified for “shared savings payments of $82 million.”  That’s a total savings to taxpayers of $503 million ($485 million + $38 million).

How much savings would that generate if all 54 million Medicare beneficiaries were in ACOs?  There were about 7.8 million people in ACOs in 2014, which means the ACOs saved about $64.64 per beneficiary ($503 million divided by 7.8 million).  Multiply $64.46 by 54 million and you get about $3.5 billion.  That $3.5 billion represents about 0.69 percent in savings of the roughly $505 billion Medicare budget.

Since 2013’s projected savings was about 0.96 percent, then the savings rate for ACOs has declined by about 28 percent ((.69-.96)/.96).  

In conclusion, and I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think this ACO idea is going to solve Medicare’s $41 trillion unfunded liability problem.


A Perspective on Harris County Deputy's Death by a Project 21 Member Who Served with Him

Last Friday, Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth was essentially executed as he fueled his patrol car in a Houston suburb.  The alleged shooter, who walked up and shot the unsuspecting deputy while he was standing and then fired several more rounds after he fell, is now in custody and will face capital murder charges.

Details are still sparse and there has been no declared motive, but a major focus is that the deputy was white and the shooter is black.

It comes as radical activists are loudly condemning police in general for alleged harsh disparate treatment of blacks.  Officers have become targets of violence apparently incited by this anger in jurisdictions other than this Texas county.  Despite the danger to law and order and civil society, this radical rhetoric seems to be condoned by liberal political leadership that may go as high as the Oval Office.

Project 21 member Carl Pittman is a criminal investigator for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, where he has served since 2001.  Pittman knew Deputy Goforth, and he has made this statement about the shooting and its ramifications he believes are related to it:

The loss of any innocent life is tragic, regardless of race.

Unfortunately, there are those in our country – within our government and outside of it – who have fueled a war against law enforcement officers.  They have made officers out to be uncaring, calculating killers of minorities – especially blacks.  They want to name streets after and march in the name of people who have done nothing but act badly.

We are out of time.  Deputy Darren Goforth is out of time.

Darren put on his uniform a few evenings ago and left his family with an expectation and a right to return to them.  But he didn’t leave without knowing the risk.  In fact, he was the very definition of bravery.

Knowing the risk, he went anyway.  But a coward – a menace to humanity with a blatant disregard for law and order – decided to steal the future that belonged to Darren with his wife and children.

This rhetoric of “black lives matter” is very incomplete – and, yes, very racist.  I am greatly offended!

My God, what have we become?  You see, all lives matter – regardless of the color.

Where is the outrage from the Obama White House?  Where is the condemnation from the race-baiting Reverend Sharpton?  You two have this blood on your hands.  You have divided this nation because it suited your sick agendas.

As I see it, there are truly only two races of people – good and bad.  Does this black murderer killing this white deputy somehow make you feel better?

I am from the old school.  God forgives, but his warriors arrange his appointments.  This is a call to arms to all law enforcement officers to keep protecting and serving the good people of all colors in our communities.  You took an oath to do so, and to hunt those down and bring to justice those who wish to destroy us.

To the evil ones who wish to start a war against the righteous – don’t start something that you are ill-prepared to finish.

Rest in peace, Deputy Darren Goforth.  We’ve got it from here!


Are Amputees Medicare's Next Victims?

Let me start this blog post with a thank you to Brad Knollenberg and AccessRX America for doing an interview with me about my book, Medicare’s Victims: How the U.S. Government’s Largest Health Care Program Harms Patients and Impairs Physician.  The interview focuses a lot on the Part D portion of Medicare and how it impacts community pharmacists.  The issues surrounding community pharmacists were not my area of expertise, so thanks to Brad for providing me with a lot of information.  Interview is here.

On other matters, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed new regulations for Medicare’s treatment of amputees.  Although the issues are complicated, in short the new regulations will likely make it harder for amputees to qualify for prosthetic limbs.

From the theory advanced in my book, this is fascinating—although from the perspective of amputees, it must be unnerving, to say the least.  As I argue in Medicare’s Victims, the sickest are often likely to be victims of Medicare because they lack political power—that is, they lack the ability to influence Congress on Medicare policy. First, not that many people get seriously ill in a given year, seldom enough to amount to much at the ballot box. Second, they are seldom in any condition to be organizing, protesting, donating to Congressional campaigns, etc. that are the sorts of things that can persuade Congress to make changes in Medicare policy. 

There are only about 2 million amputees in the U.S., and not all of them are on Medicare.  That’s probably not enough to have much impact at the ballot box.  On the other hand, most amputees don’t have a debilitating illness.  They can engage in protesting, getting media attention and other activities that can influence Congress.  And they are not alone in this fight, as prosthetic manufacturers aren’t crazy about the proposed rules either.

Right now, the Amputee Coalition and the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association are fighting CMS.  It will be interesting to see who prevails.