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Apr 28, 2012

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Minneapolis, MN

GOP Support for Tea Party Down to 41%

Support for the movement nationwide drops to 22% by Frank Newport PRINCETON, NJ -- About four in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents classify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party, while 11% are opponents and 48% are neither. This continues to be a significant drop from the Tea Party's high-water mark in November 2010, when 61% of Republicans were supporters of the Tea Party. In the past three and a half years, levels of support and opposition for the Tea Party among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have changed relatively little. These data are from a April 24-30 Gallup survey and underscore both the existing division of opinion in relationship to the Tea Party among Republicans and the shift in support since the last midterm election. The role of the Tea Party in the selection of Republican nominees for Senate and House seats this year continues to be a high-profile issue. The Tea Party was perceived as suffering a setback on Tuesday, when Thom Tillis, the candidate widely perceived as representing the GOP establishment in the North Carolina Republican Senate primary, soundly defeated Greg Brannon, who was positioned as the Tea Party's choice. Tillis will now face incumbent North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in the fall general election. The drop in support for the Tea Party among Republicans is mainly responsible for the drop in support among all Americans since November 2010, from 32% to today's 22%. Support has fluctuated in the intervening time period, but has been remarkably steady at 22% in the last three Gallup polls conducted since September of 2013. The percentage of Americans who classify themselves as Tea Party opponents, however, has risen to 30%, tied with two measurements in 2010 as the highest in the history of tracking this question.  (May 8, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Hospitals see steep drop in uninsured admissions

Hospitals see steep drop in uninsured admissions in states with Medicaid expansion A number of publicly traded hospital operators in Tennessee, which operate in other states, are bullish on Obamacare, particularly about the big decline in the number of uninsured people showing up in emergency rooms after Medicaid expansion. It's happening to a certain extent in states that didn't expand, as well, because of all the new Medicaid enrollments that came from people who didn't know they were eligible until they showed up to get insured. Community Health Systems CFO Larry Cash told investors and analysts during the company’s first-quarter earnings call Wednesday that the ACA should decrease self-pay admissions from about 8 percent to about 4 percent over a three-year period. The company has seen some early moderate impacts, especially in Medicaid expansion states where self-pay admissions have already begun to drop, Cash said. "We believe we have recognized, although on a roughly calculated basis, at least $10 million from the 'woodwork effect' [in which people currently eligible for Medicaid but who had yet to sign up will now do so because of the ACA] and the Affordable Care Act for additional Medicaid business," Cash said. […] "So far and as expected, the new health care law has been a net positive for LifePoint with respect to Medicaid expansion," CEO Bill Carpenter said during the call. "In the seven states where we operate that have expanded coverage, we saw increasing Medicaid and decreasing self-pay volumes. Increases in Medicaid membership and health insurance exchange participation contributed measurably to our results in the quarter. While we don’t expect additional states to expand coverage in 2014, we’re optimistic that more conversions will occur over time." Another hospital group, HCA said that in the four states in which it operates that have expanded Medicaid, they'd seen a 29 percent decline in admissions of people without insurance, but a 5.9 increase in the non-expansion states.  (May 8, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

A $900 billion slowdown in health care spending? Thanks, ...

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has crunched those great Obamacare numbers from the Congressional Budget Office last month, and has figured out that there will be a $900 billion slowdown in federal health care spending, and it pinpoints where those savings come in. Chart showing categories for slowed federal health care spending. attribution: CRFB That big $710 billion chunk in the above graph represents an expected reduction in health spending, compared to previous estimates, because of the slowed growth in health care costs over the last four years. Until about 2010, health care spending grew at a much greater rate than overall economic growth. That's changed, and it's now increasing at about the same rate as the general economy. Exactly why it's slowed so much isn't easy to pinpoint. The great recession and continued economic woes mean people are foregoing health care. But Obamacare has actually played a good part in that. Buoyed by a 23 percent drop in the cost of Medicare Part D and a 15 percent decline in the projected costs of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) new coverage through Medicaid and the exchanges, this remarkable slowdown has been a bright spot amidst an otherwise still dim fiscal outlook. While the slowdown has garnered much attention, much less writing has focused on pinpointing where the downward revisions have occurred. Relative to the size of the program, the largest reduction actually occurred in Medicare Part D, with nearly the largest nominal dollar reduction in spending despite being very small compared to major federal health care programs. This downward revision is in large part due to the broader slowdown in prescription drug costs stemming from the so-called "patent cliff," as a number of widely used, high-cost drugs have come off patent recently. The program's costs have also consistently been revised downward since its implementation. One of the things this data analysis can do is point the way to where further reforms might be most effective. For example, that Medicare Part D—prescription drug coverage—23 percent reduction is really, really big. Just think what the federal government could save there if it could negotiate drug prices for Medicare like it does for the Veterans Administration. Even with the expected increase in the rate of health care spending this year—millions of people now gaining insurance and using it will increase spending—the outlook for Obamacare and for health care spending looks pretty good for the next several years, perhaps a decade. That doesn't preclude further reforms, because we're still spending an insane amount of money on health care in this nation, relative to every other developed country on Earth. But it should buoy up policymakers, and encourage them to keep going with the reform. It also, by the way, is another nail in the Republican's anti-Obamacare coffin. That's always a good thing.  (May 8, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Changing political fortunes on Obamacare on display

If Thursday's confirmation hearing for Sylvia Mathews Burwell to lead Health and Human Services is any indication, Senate Republicans are giving up on the evils of Obamacare as the be-all and end-all of the 2014 election. The actions of one vulnerable Democrat at the hearing helps to show why: Obamacare is working and Medicaid expansion is becoming more and more salient in red states. While Republican senators mostly went through the motions with their anti-Obamacare talking points or outright endorsed Burwell as Kathleen Sebelius's replacement, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) used her time to trumpet the benefits of Medicaid expansion—and emphasize the downside of not expanding. […] "Last year in North Carolina, our state legislature and governor decided against expanding the state's Medicaid program," Hagan said as she started her questioning, "and as a result, about 500,000 people who would have qualified for coverage through Medicaid are not now able to do so." "These are some of the most vulnerable in our society," she said, "who will continue to seek care in emergency rooms and then will leave chronic conditions unmanaged, which we know is detrimental to their health and the economy." […] In contrast to Hagan's aggressive pro-Obamacare performance, Republican senators were reserved. Almost none of the expected fire made an appearance. They hit the necessary talking points—canceled health plans, the Medicare payment board characterized as "death panel" by the far right and the disastrous launch of—but rarely pressed Burwell on her responses. Two Republicans, Sens. Johnny Isakson (GA) and Richard Burr (NC), didn't even ask her about Obamacare. Isakson must have thought he was in some other hearing, because he kept talking about a port project in Georgia that he wants to see approved, and Burr questioned Burwell on public health issues, and then used a good chunk of his time giving her a rousing endorsement, saying he supports her nomination because "[s]he doesn't come with a single experience that would make her a good secretary. She comes with a portfolio of experience." Maybe Senate Republicans were chastened by the total debacle of the House Republicans' hearing Wednesday, in which they just could not get insurance industry executives to say the words they wanted to hear: "Obamacare is a failure." Senate Republicans have another chance to create an Obamacare circus in the second hearing Burwell will endure, in the Finance Committee. That one hasn't been scheduled yet. But one really gets the sense that their heart just isn't in it anymore, particularly on the Senate side. Maybe one Republican circus at a time is enough for them.  (May 8, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

U.S. Retailers Post Best Monthly Sales Gain Since 2011

U.S. retailers posted a 6 percent comparable-stores sales gain in April, the biggest increase since September 2011, as better weather and the late Easter as well as aggressive promotions attracted shoppers. The jump in sales at stores open at least a year handily beat the 3.9 percent gain that was the average of analysts’ estimates, researcher Retail Metrics Inc. said today. Combined March and April sales rose 4.8 percent from a year earlier. The firm said retailers may not entirely be in the clear yet. Positive sales results would need to follow in May to confirm the trend, and discounts of as much as 50 percent may hurt retailers’ first-quarter earnings. “We need to carry through with solid Mother’s Day and Memorial Day weekend sales leading to a solid May result before we would feel more comfortable the consumer is back,” Ken Perkins, president of the Swampscott, Massachusetts-base d firm, said in a statement today.  (May 8, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

US Doctors' Group Tackles Gun Deaths, Calling Them a 'Pub...

More than 32,000 people die each year in the U.S. as a result of guns, making them the second leading injury-related cause of death after motor vehicle crashes. In response to the continued high number of gun fatalities and injuries, one of the nation’s largest physicians' groups has released recommendations aimed at preventing unnecessary deaths. The key, they say, is moving the conversation about gun violence beyond just politics and the courts. “We concluded that firearm violence is not just a criminal justice issue, but also a public health threat that requires the nation’s immediate attention,” said Dr. Thomas Tape, chair of the American College of Physicians’ (ACP) Health and Public Policy Committee, in a press release. “As an organization representing physicians who have first-hand experience with the devastating impact of firearm-related violence, ACP has a responsibility to participate in efforts to mitigate needless tragedies.”  (May 8, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Legal Guns Kill: 4-year-old pulled trigger of gun, killin...

By Stan Finger The Wichita Eagle The innocent play of three young children took a tragic turn, police officials said, when one of them reached into the drawer of a nightstand and pulled the trigger of a handgun stored there, fatally wounding his little brother. “It was a terrible, terrible tragedy,” Lt. Todd Ojile said Wednesday in describing how the 19-month-old boy died at Wesley Medical Center, less than an hour after he was shot in the chest shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday. The toddler was in a bedroom of the small house at 1312 N. Pennsylvania with his 4-year-old brother and 3-year-old half-sister, Ojile said. The 33-year-old father of the children and his brother were in the living room, and the door between the two rooms was open. The two mothers of the three children “were out picking up some things from a store and getting ready to go to work,” Ojile said. A 9mm handgun was stored in a nightstand drawer in the bedroom where the children were playing, he said. Read more here: http://www.kansasc /4992907/police-4- year-old-pulled-tr igger.html#storyli nk=cpy  (May 8, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Legal Guns Kill: Family of 4 killed by gun registered to ...

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Authorities: Family of 4 found dead in burned Florida home was shot; gun registered to father.  (May 8, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Legal Guns Kill: Naples man faces murder charge after sho...

Deborah Moulton told a police dispatcher Sunday, "I told you you'd have a bloodbath." After 10 years of disputes between Robert Moulton and Sergey Chepchugov in which police had been called to the house more than 40 times Deborah Moulton, was correct. Robert Moulton, 61, of 1075 Hilltop Drive, was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of his neighbor Chepchugov, 41. He was being held at the Naples Jail Center on $500,000 bail following his first appearance Monday. Chepchugov was taken to Naples Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a report from the Collier County Sheriff's Office. According to news partner, WINK, reports that deputies had visited the homes 46 times in the past decade, and Collier code enforcement was at each of the houses nine times in that span. Also, Chepchugov's wife, Olga Kolesnikova, had taken out a 10-day restraining order against Deborah Moulton, saying she "feared for her life."  (May 6, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Legal Guns Kill: Boy accidentally shot & killed

So by your logic we should legalize crack cocaine, remove speed limits and repeal food and drug safety laws. Brilliant.  (May 6, 2014 | post #3)

Minneapolis, MN

Why Hillary wins in 2016

Simple: look at the pathetic right wing arguments in this forum. All the right wing extremists have is insults and lies. You KNOW they are desperate when the best they have is to dredge up Monica from 20 years ago and someone imply that Hillary is to blame. So funny!  (May 6, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Brilliant takedown of right-wing's hypocritical Benghazi ...

Last night, Jon Stewart examined all the right-wing "outrage " over Benghazi, which he contrasted with other stuff that maybe should've gotten them even more outraged. I think I see the problem. Here's your problem. You're asking people to get outraged about an intelligence failure that tragically led to some Americans losing their lives. One intelligence failure. And then, I mean, imagine the outrage if there had been a second intelligence failure right after that one that tragically led to even more Americans losing their lives!  (May 6, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Obamacare's future in saving lives

A new study by health economists of the Massachusetts health care reform has potential good news for Obamacare and the potential for the law to save lives. The Massachusetts law, the model used for Obamacare, passed in 2006 and took effect in 2007, and this study tracks mortality in the state in the five years before and after the law. The results: in the four years after the law went into effect, a 3 percent decline in mortality. The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged. A national 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 would mean about 17,000 fewer deaths a year. “It’s big,” said Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on life expectancy. Professor Preston, who was not involved in the study, called the study “careful and thoughtful,” and said it added to a growing body of evidence that people with health insurance could reap the ultimate benefit — longer life. The researchers looked specifically at causes of mortality "amenable to health care." Those are diseases like cancers, heart disease, and other chronic serious health concerns that can be treated and that people can survive with regular medical care. Where they got it—Massachusetts—t here was a 3 percent lower mortality rate than where they didn't get it. There are a bunch of caveats that go with this, primarily that Massachusetts has a more white and more affluent population in general than most states. The control group the researchers used were people in 513 counties in 46 other states that matched pre-reform Massachusetts in terms of demography, income, and rate of insurance. But that makes for a huge data set—4 million in Massachusetts and 44 million in the control group, a large enough population to make the findings statistically significant. It was also a large enough group to get detailed enough information to look for other factors beyond health insurance. The authors didn't find any other factors that could account for this mortality drop.  (May 6, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Fracking Result: USGS issues 'damaging earthquake' adviso...

In a joint release, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Oklahoma Geological Survey are warning advising that the increase of earthquakes above 3.0 on the Richter Scale since October last year has raised the possibility of a "damaging " quake of 5.0 magnitude or higher in central Oklahoma. Possible cause: injection of wastewater associated with hydraulic fracturing ("fracking') of tight rock formations to pry out oil and gas. [T]he agencies reported that 183 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater occurred in Oklahoma from October 2013 through April 14, 2014. This compares with a long-term average from 1978 to 2008 of only two magnitude 3.0 or larger earthquakes per year. As a result of the increased number of small and moderate shocks, the likelihood of future, damaging earthquakes has increased for central and north-central Oklahoma. [...] The joint statement indicates that a likely contributing factor to the increase in earthquakes is wastewater disposal by injection into deep geologic formations. The water injection can increase underground pressures, lubricate faults and cause earthquakes – a process known as injection-induced seismicity. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed and approved for this purpose. The recent earthquake rate changes are not due to typical, random fluctuations in natural seismicity rates. More large earthquakes than Oklahoma has experienced in the past have been traced since 2009. In 2011, the epicenter of the second-largest Oklahoma quake in recorded history—5.6—occurr ed near Prague, a town of about 2,200. Like just about every criticism of the oil and gas industry, the very idea of quakes being caused by fracking or wastewater injection related to it has been widely ridiculed by flacks and shills. Less than five years ago, nearly anybody who even suggested it got laughed out of the room. It's getting new attention now. As well it should given that there are, according to a tally by the Environmental Protection Agency, 144,000 injection wells throughout the nation. At the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America last week, after an all-day session looking at research into "Induced Seismicity," scientists called for more investigation into connections between fracking wastewater disposal and earthquakes.  (May 6, 2014 | post #1)

Minneapolis, MN

Charlie Crist: Bigots are a ‘big reason’ I left GOP

Democrat Charlie Crist is offering up a new and inflammatory reason he left the GOP: Too many Republicans oppose President Obama because he’s black. Crist made the remarks Tuesday in an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos that instantly drew rebukes from Republicans who said the party-switching former governor was playing the race card. But Crist said the bigotry against Obama was a “big reason” for his decision to leave the party. “I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs, and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president, I’ll just go there,” Crist said. “I was a Republican and I saw the activists and what they were doing, it was intolerable to me.”  (May 6, 2014 | post #1)

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Grand Rapids, MN