My vote for Charlie Crist will be Personal

I am a registered Independent African- American voter. I will always remember the prompt response I received from then Governor Charlie Crist’s office in 2007, after I wrote a letter of complaint about the lack of follow- up with the enforcement of a personal matter in the Florida Department of Revenue. The governor’s office intervened and played a pivotal role (I am sure) in the agency’s motivation, to resolve the issue. To this date my daughter benefits from the intervention.

I will do whatever I can in my capacity to garner support for his campaign.

I support his platform to fight for gay marriage because no one should be able to tell anyone who they must love; to make it easier for college students to vote (as the mother of two daughters in college); that he will veto abortion restrictions and protect a woman’s right to choose; that he will attempt to raise the minimum wage; and more importantly, accept federal money for Medicaid expansion- especially on behalf of the poor.

Melissa Bynes- Brooks

Obamacare + 7.8%: Can Obama Recapture the Race at Debate #2

October 10, 2012

By Melissa Bynes Brooks

A decreased unemployment rate to 7.8 percent in September is the perfect backdrop for underscoring President Obama’s credibility and record during the second presidential debate on October 16, 2012. This will be another opportunity for President Obama to passionately state why his model for governing is the best investment in the long term sustainability in the future of America. The success of his polices may be measured by what they have accomplished in terms of growing the economy, creating jobs, supporting small businesses, providing affordable healthcare, and improving government efficiency.

Before President Obama took office, the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. Since then, there have been 31 consecutive months of job growth and 5.2 million new private sector jobs.

Current conditions point to a potential US manufacturing renewal: Industrial output has been slowly rising over the last three years. The US remains one of the world’s largest and most attractive marketplaces: Sales of autos and durable goods are up; factory orders have increased; and the housing market is improving, lifting related construction and retail sectors. The American Auto Industry is thriving again.

The US still boasts the most skilled, highly trained workforce in the world. To maintain that edge, government policies and private initiatives are being implemented. In summer 2011, the Obama administration outlined the expansion of an industry-led worker-training program, Skills for America’s Future, intended to improve partnerships with community colleges and create easier-to-understand, uniform job-training requirement standards for prospective manufacturing employees. They also launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), an initiative to provide more than $500 million to encourage investments in promising technologies. The plan’s objective was to partner with industry to create high-quality, good-paying jobs for American workers.

On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed into law one of the most significant legislative reforms to the patent system in our Nation’s history. The America Invents Act  was passed with the President’s strong leadership last year, after nearly a decade of effort. A year later, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is implementing the legislation in a manner that makes it easier for American entrepreneurs and businesses to bring their inventions to the marketplace sooner, converting their ideas into new products and new jobs while avoiding costly delays and unnecessary litigation, letting them focus instead on innovation and job creation.

Outlays for Social Security and the major federal health care programs are projected to total 12.2 percent of GDP in 2020 under the alternative fiscal scenario, compared with an average of 7.3 percent over the past 40 years, placing increasing pressure on the federal budget. Obamacare reduces costs, manages risks, and improves efficiency in the healthcare delivery system. Contributing factors include a transition from a fee for services payment model to a bundle payment model, incentives for insurance providers and hospitals geared towards pay for performance and quality over quantity, and incentives for the use of health information technology which reduces medical errors. The estimated amount of deficit reduction under Obamacare will be $5 billion. Starting in 2014, insurance companies can no longer reject people with pre-existing conditions.

If Gov. Romney repeals Obamacare, he will add $109 billion to the federal budget deficits over the next 10 years and an estimated 60 million nonelderly people would be uninsured. His current plan would cover pre-existing conditions for people who had health insurance and continue to purchase it, as long as there’s no interruption in coverage of more than 63 days.

The Medicare Program is solvent for a period of 8 more years because President Obama cut $716 billion in wasteful spending from the fee-for-service sector (other than physicians’ services). Payment rates were set up in Medicare Advantage to provide low-income beneficiaries with a sufficient choice of plans without incurring a premium liability. There are reduced Medicare Disproportionate Share Hospital for state DSH payments which are more than the hospital’s eligible uncompensated care costs. Gov. Romney’s promise to restore $716 billion of wasteful spending back into the Medicare program is not congruent with his promise to decrease the federal deficit.

Who should bear the burden of proposed changes in spending cuts and tax increases?

A national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted July 12-15 shows the public supports President Obama on the issue of fairness and tax policies.  By two-to-one (44% to 22%), the public says that raising taxes on incomes above $250,000 would help the economy rather than hurt it, while 24% say this would not make a difference. Moreover, an identical percentage (44%) says a tax increase on higher incomes would make the tax system fairer, while just 21% say it would make the system less fair.

SCOTUS is also relevant to the fairness issue. The Supreme Court’s Impact on the 2012 Presidential Election, conducted on behalf of civil rights groups by Hart Research Associates, found that more than half of the 1,007 people surveyed online in late August, 54 percent, believe that the current Court majority “tends to side with corporations” as opposed to individuals. Thirty-six percent said the Court had struck a balance, and just 10 percent believe the Court favors individuals. Between the two candidates, 46 percent swing voters polled said they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence that Obama would nominate good federal judges and Supreme Court justices if he wins. Only 35 percent of those swing voters said the same about Romney.

It is the role of government to ensure that organizations observe relevant laws and act ethically. Organizations must be legally, socially, and environmentally responsible. It is illegal to mislead consumers who purchase goods and services.

In February 2012, the Obama Administration oversaw the largest consumer financial protection bipartisan settlement in US history which provides $25 billion in relief to distressed mortgage borrowers. The historic joint state-federal settlement was with the country’s five largest mortgage servicers who routinely signed foreclosure related documents outside the presence of a notary public and without knowing whether the facts they contained were correct.  Both practices violate the law.  The mortgage servicers were Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter  Fair Pay Act of 2009 (“Act”).The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. Compensation discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability is illegal.

For the next debate, President Obama must ensure that voters understand and arrive at an implicit understanding of the role of government and public policy which can guide coordinated and measured change towards a stable outcome when the invisible hand fails to restore equilibrium.

There are no quick fixes.

 

Book Reference

Dixit, A. K. and Nalebuff, B. J. (2008). The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life. New York, NY: W. W. Norton, Inc.

 

76% Say It’s Jobs But Millennials Are By No Means Provincial

August 26, 2012

By Melissa Bynes Brooks

Millennial voters are at a crossroads laden with a series of economic, social, and cultural issues to consider as they contemplate whether to vote for President Obama or Mitt Romney on Election Day.

More than three-quarters (76%) say jobs and unemployment represent critical issues facing the country according to a 2012 Millennial Values Survey conducted jointly by Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Even though young people have been impacted the most during the recession, they remain the most optimistic about the recovery of the economy which has added jobs in a slower than desired pace.

From April to July 2012, the number of employed youth 16 to 24 years old rose 2.1 million to 19.5 million, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in August. This year, the share of young people employed in July was 50.2 percent. The number of unemployed youth in July 2012 was 4.0 million, a slight decrease from 4.1 million a year ago. The youth unemployment rate was 17.1 percent in July 2012. The unemployment rate for young men was 17.9 percent, in July 2012, and the rate for women was 16.2 percent. The jobless rate for whites was 14.9 percent, compared with 28.6 percent for blacks, 14.4 percent for Asians, and 18.5 percent for Hispanics.

The impact of past events on present circumstances has never been more apparent. Approximately 7.5 million jobs were lost in the eighteen months from the beginning of 2008 through the middle of 2009. This period was fully shaped by the Bush economic agenda. The takeaway, this is the same agenda Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are campaigning on. Romney-Ryan would like to reinstate the same tax cuts and deregulation policies that resulted in the economic crisis. Romney-Ryan would also cut spending on roads, highways, and other physical infrastructure which would lower output in ways similar to the effects of cuts in private capital investment.

Over the most recent 18 months of the Obama administration, approximately 2.8 million jobs have been added. The average monthly job loss before President Obama’s policies took effect was 417,000. Over the last year-and-a-half, the average monthly job gain has been 155,000. When Congress failed to pass the American Jobs Act, President Obama announced a new initiative called Summer Jobs+ in January 2012. The Federal government and private sector came together to commit to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer. At least 100,000 were for placements in paid jobs and internships.

A majority of Milennials report that education (54%) is another critical issue facing the nation.  President Obama signed an overhaul of the student loan program into law, increased funding for Pell Grants and allowed for direct student loans while preventing student loan interest rates from doubling. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invested heavily in education both as a way to provide jobs and lay the foundation for long-term prosperity. The Act provides $5 billion in competitive funds to spur innovation and chart ambitious reform to close the achievement gap and includes over $30 billion addressing college affordability and improving access to higher education.

Mitt Romney proposes tightening eligibility requirements for federal student financial aid and decreased funding for Pell grants. This may present a problem for lower income families by limiting their access to affordable higher education. He also opposes gainful employment regulations which help to prevent students from increasing their student debt while working towards degrees issued by sub-par schools. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Paul Ryan’s budget plan to cut federal spending for education such as loans or grants may lower productivity by reducing people skills.

Only 1-in-5 Milennials think social issues like abortion (22%) or same-sex marriage (22%) are critical issues. 53% think abortion should be legal, 43% do not, while 35% don’t know. One point of consideration is that the next president of the United States may have an opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice. This will be of particular interest for voters with concerns regarding women’s reproductive rights and the future of Roe v Wade. In 1973 the United States Supreme Court ruled that a right of privacy was protected by the Fourteenth Amendment under the Constitution and guaranteed a woman’s right to have an abortion under certain circumstances. Voters will determine whether to elect Obama- Biden who supports a woman’s right to choose or to elect Romney- Ryan, a team at odds on the issue. Romney opposes abortion with an exception for cases of rape, incest and risk to the mother’s life while Ryan objects to abortion in all circumstances except when the mother’s life is at risk. Paul Ryan, if he’s vice president, will literally be a heartbeat away from being the president so this makes his perspective relevant.

Access to affordable and preventive healthcare is important. Millennials broadly favored proposals that all Americans have insurance, that the government provides help for those unable to afford it, and supported a government health insurance plan to compete with private plans. A Pew Research Center poll taken via landlines and cellphones on September 22 through October 4, 2011 reflected that 56% of Millennials do not feel the government is doing enough for elderly Americans. They also feel more should be done to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.

Millenials have an innate sense for tolerance and treating others fairly irrespective of class, race, gender, or sexual orientation and are more racially and ethnically diverse. Only 59% are white non-Hispanic. They are more open-minded than previous generations, suggests an analysis of studies by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, part of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. They are also more inclined to support President Obama’s position of prosecutorial discretion when confronting illegal immigration and agree that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This generation is by no means provincial and there will be consequences, whatever the presidential choice.

Melissa Bynes Brooks is the editor of BrooksSleepReview.

Contact information: melissabynesbrooks@comcast.net

Follow on Twitter @Mlbbrooks

.

“Largest Mass Shooting in U.S. History: A Rational Call for Stricter Gun Control”

July 20, 2012

By Melissa Bynes Brooks

Recent gun violence in Chicago was not enough to commence debate on Capitol Hill for stricter gun control laws. Maybe the largest mass shooting ever in the United States on July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colorado will. The massacre ended with a gunman killing 12 people and wounding 59 others during a midnight showing of ‘Dark Knight Rises.’

It was perfectly legal for James Holmes, the 24 year old suspect, to acquire all of the weapons he used in the massacre according to the state laws of Colorado. The gunman did not have a criminal record or history of mental disorder.  Aurora Police Chief, Dan Oates, said officers found an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 12-guage shotgun, a .40-caliber Glock handgun in the theater, and another identical handgun in the car.

While the suspect’s purchase may have been legal, serious proponents against gun violence are wondering, “Shouldn’t there be a meeting of the minds for developing some kind of “red flag” database system to alert law enforcement officials to (at least) multiple purchases of firearms?” In this case, all purchases were made within the last six months at Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain Guns.

Seriously, why would a 24 year old need a drum magazine capable of holding more than 100 rounds of ammunition if he’s not employed in law enforcement or on active duty in the military?

I don’t get it and I totally believe in the Second Amendment which gives all citizens the right to bear arms. I also believe that law abiding citizens, like me, who would not otherwise consider legally carrying a concealed weapon– are rethinking that option today because of inadequate gun control laws that are incapable of protecting them from gun violence.

But does this compound the problem?

These are the criteria for purchasing guns in the state of Colorado.

  • Colorado allows people to “possess a handgun in a dwelling, place of business, or automobile.” But they cannot “carry the weapon concealed while transporting it into your home, business, hotel room, etc.”
  • Colorado allows a person to carry a firearm in a vehicle, loaded or unloaded, if its use is for lawfully protecting that person’s property or another person’s property.
  • Concealed weapons permits can be obtained in the county in which a person lives.
  • Colorado prohibits gun registration.

At the end of the day and “yes, when the cameras are gone,” one can only hope that calls for stricter gun control laws will gain some traction. But the topic of gun control is such a politically polarizing issue. So, all bets are off and it is highly unlikely that we will see a healthy debate resulting in practical solutions among those advocating for stricter gun laws and those advocating for more gun rights.

Despite the cynicism, the call for action goes on.

Earlier this year in March, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition Co-Chairs which is a coalition of mayors advocating for stricter rules on gun sales and ownership, urged the U.S. Senate to reject bills that would override state laws on concealed, loaded guns.  New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino  joined  more than 625 mayors, police officers, prosecutors and domestic violence experts who oppose legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate that removes state rules for who can carry a concealed, loaded gun in public.

On Friday following the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Mayor Bloomberg called on President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to share with the American people what they would do to reduce gun violence. Stay tuned…

“Soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country,” Mayor Bloomberg said.

“I don’t think there’s any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have,” Bloomberg said. “We have more guns than people in this country.”

So, let’s put the people’s interests before the special interests of the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

Melissa Bynes Brooks is the editor of BrooksSleepReview.

Contact information: melissabynesbrooks@comcast.net

Follow on Twitter @Mlbbrooks

 

 

 

Brother’s Keeper: 6 Examples of Eric Holder Having Obama’s Back

June 23, 2012

By Melissa Bynes Brooks

It’s no secret U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, is in the line of fire of the Republican Party. They continue to lambast him at every opportunity, in the hopes of driving him out of office.

Evidence of this became more apparent in the Congressional hearings about Operation Fast and Furious which grew out of Project Gunrunner, set up by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to combat gun trafficking along the Southwest border in 2006.

For all intents and purposes, all parties involved agree that Operation Fast and Furious was a botched investigation which left much to be desired from the participating agencies. It was a gun trafficking investigation gone awry. It was mishandled, resulting in a threat to public safety and the 2010 border shooting that killed a U.S. border agent, Brian Terry.

Likewise, a 2010 review done by the Office of the Inspector General shows there was poor coordination, collaboration, and inadequate information sharing between ATF and other Department components, as well as the Mexican government in ATF’s overall management of Project Gunrunner.

ATF has since proposed to implement a revised Cartel Strategy for combating firearms trafficking, to increase its dissemination of intelligence information to its Mexican partners, to increase coordination with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and improve its coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Inquiries and investigations to hold people accountable and determine the root cause of the problems in order to prevent them from happening again is to be expected. Furthermore, Eric Holder has made necessary personnel changes in the Department’s leadership and has instituted policy changes to ensure better oversight of significant investigations. Nevertheless, Republicans continue in their quest to discover criminal activity on the part of Mr. Holder.

It won’t play.

President Obama has demonstrated that he is his brother’s keeper. He has pulled out all the stops to protect Eric Holder and his administration by asserting his Executive Privilege to withhold documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, deemed vital to national security interests.

Republicans were admittedly surprised. Conceivably, they got it twisted because in 2007, then Senator Obama opposed President George W. Bush’s assertion of Executive Privilege. White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten wouldn’t testify under oath or provide subpoenaed information about the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. The dispute led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R) California, proceeded anyway with vote for a contempt citation against Eric Holder. The vote was lockstep within party lines. However, it was much ado about nothing in light of President Obama’s prior action.

Perhaps the prelude to the contempt citation really is a dictum of the anxiety Republicans have for Eric Holder in his role as President Obama’s keeper. Likely flashpoints involving Eric Holder come to mind.

There are six examples:

1 — A decision in 2009 to prosecute five men accused as co-conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks in federal court in Manhattan despite criticism that holding such a trial presented greater risks than a military commission

2 — Support of President Obama’s initial desire to shut down Guantanamo Bay which was believed to drive recruitment for anti-American groups because of the mistreatment of prisoners. The alternative would have been to transfer its inmates to prisons in the United States.

3 — The 2010 challenge of the state of Arizona’s immigration law, S.B. 1070, in federal court as unconstitutional. The law attempted to establish Arizona’s own independent immigration policy and created new immigration crimes that were non- existent under federal law. The law also required police to verify citizenship when a person was believed to be undocumented and provided for their arrest. The private right of action against law enforcement officials failing to fully enforce the law was authorized.

4 — A notice to Congress in 2011, when he informed them of the Executive Branch’s determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional regarding the legal definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman when applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law. DOMA violated the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.

5 — An active commitment to fight voter discrimination and fraud across the country, while protecting the integrity of elections systems, and robustly defending Section five of the Voting Rights Act- which contains several special provisions applicable to jurisdictions showing evidence of ongoing violations or a history of interfering with the rights of minorities to vote.

6 — The recent filing on June 12, of a complaint against the State of Florida for violating Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The State continued to conduct a systematic purge of voters from its voter registration rolls within 90 days of an election for federal office. The complaint included Florida’s use of inaccurate and unreliable voter verification procedures.

While improving standard operating procedures is important, Congress could make better use of its time by working in a bipartisan way to improve the economy and pass the American Jobs Act, Dream Act, and an agreement to prevent the doubling of interest rates on federal student loans, on July 1.

Melissa Bynes Brooks is the editor of BrooksSleepReview.
Contact information: melissabynesbrooks@comcast.net
Follow on Twitter @Mlbbrooks

References

Bill Text 104th Congress (1995-1996). Retrieved June 22. 2012, from H.R.3396.ENR http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c104:h.r.3396.enr:

Castillo, M. and Mears, B. (2012). Executive privilege: A rocky legal and political road in U.S. history. Retrieved, June 22, 2012, from http://articles.cnn.com/2012-06-20/politics/politics_executive-privilege-history_1_miers-and-bolten-executive-privilege-contempt-citation?_s=PM:POLITICS

Holder, E., U.S. Attorney General (2011). Defense of Marriage Act. Retrieved June 22, 2012 from, http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/February/11-ag-223.html

Holder, E., Attorney General Department of Justice (2012). Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Vote. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/June/12-ag-776.html

Justice News (2011). Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez Speaks at the American Constitution Society. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from, http://www.justice.gov/crt/opa/pr/speeches/2011/crt-speech-111201.html

Justice News (2010). Citing Conflict with Federal Law, Department of Justice Challenges Arizona Immigration Law. Retrieved June 22, from http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/July/10-opa-776.html

Operation Fast and Furious (2012). House Oversight Committee Votes 23-17 to Hold Attorney General Holder in Contempt of Congress. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from http://issues.oversight.house.gov/fastandfurious/

Sage, A. (2011). Attorney General vows to close Guantanamo. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/09/us-france-guantanamo-holder-idUSTRE74850M20110509

Savage, C. (2009). Holder Defends Decision to Use U.S. Court for 9/11 Trial. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/19/us/19detain.html?_r=1

U.S. Department of Justice FY 2013 Performance Budget (2012). Congressional Submission Office of the Inspector General. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from http://www.justice.gov/jmd/2013justification/pdf/fy13-oig-justification.pdf

U.S. Department of Justice (2012). Recent Activities of the voting Section. Retrieved June 22, 2012, from, http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/whatsnew.php

What Happens to the Poor If SCOTUS Repeals ‘Obamacare?’

June 27, 2012
By Melissa Bynes Brooks

Since 2000, hospitals of all types have provided more than $326 billion in uncompensated care to their patients. This was no small feat considering there were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ─ the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.

The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 49.0 million in 2009 to 49.9 million in 2010. The percentage covered by Medicaid was 15.9 percent. In 2010, 9.8 percent of children under 18 (7.3 million) were without health insurance.
The poverty calculation is based solely on money income and does not reflect the fact that many low-income persons receive noncash benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, and public housing.

The passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 has provided for health care insurance at lower costs for everyone by allowing the uninsured and poor to either become eligible for the Medicaid program or get coverage through the new health exchanges.

The health care law has expanded access to care for 30 million Americans. An estimated 32.5 million people with Medicare received at least one free preventive benefit in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit, since the health reform law was enacted.

Hospitals across the nation had a vested interest in meeting the new regulations. As a result, hospitals have transformed their business models as the law entails placing the necessary policies in place. Some of the changes have included an increased implementation of health information technology (HIT); a transition from a fee for services payment model to a bundle payment model; and insurance providers and hospitals receiving incentives geared towards pay for performance and quality over quantity.

The law dictated that under Sec. 9007 of PPACA, a charitable hospital organization shall not be treated as an Internal Revenue Code Sec. 501(c) (3) organization unless it meets specific new requirements. Specifically, hospitals would only be exempt from the tax on corporations by rising to challenges in the way that hospitals would be expected to, to deliver health care to the nation’s indigent population.

The changes included conducting and implementing ongoing community health needs assessments, maintaining a financial assistance policy which incorporates new measures for notifying patients of financial assistance policies available to them, implementing limits on certain charges to uninsured, indigent patients, and meeting new billing and collection requirements.

Essentially, there was now a mandate for hospitals to perform with the safety net mission of placing a high priority on the treatment of low-income patients defined as Medicaid, charity care, or self-pay patients.

As defined by the Office of Management and Budget and updated for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four in 2010 was $22,314 and $11,139 for an individual person.

“What will happen to the ability of hospitals to provide indigent care for the poor if the Affordable Care Act is struck down?”

There are essential benefits applicable to the Medicaid program which would also be included in the health care insurance exchanges. For example, there will not be an opportunity to expand this low cost insurance to adults without children with incomes below 133 percent of the poverty line. This indigent population would be ineligible for Medicaid coverage and would have a decreased ability to pay for care. Eligible Medicaid patients, despite having insurance, would have trouble gaining access to health care services because of the historically low program payment rates.

The uninsured and those disproportionately affected by poverty will be less likely to seek preventive health care services that are now provided for by the Affordable Care Act such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults.

These groups would also be less likely to follow up on necessary health care recommendations from their physicians, instead seeking treatment in an emergency room or urgent care facility which is a more expensive alternative and further compounds sky rocketing health care costs.

Finally, hospitals must have funds to operate, pay staff, and purchase the necessary equipment. This is directly related to pricing which in turn increases costs. With decreased access to federal support for the provision of services in tandem with increased debt generated by indigent and uninsured patients, hospitals would be compelled to increase prices while decreasing services for all consumers, those with insurance and those living in poverty.

Melissa Bynes Brooks is the editor of BrooksSleepReview.
Contact information: melissabynesbrooks@comcast.net
Follow on Twitter @Mlbbrooks

References

111th Congress Public Law 148 (2009-2010). Entitled The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ148/html/PLAW-111publ148.htm

Affordable Care Act (2010). Rights and Protections. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/rights/index.html

Alliance for Excellent Education (2006). Healthier and Wealthier: Decreasing Health Care Costs by Increasing Educational Attainment. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://www.all4ed.org/files/HandW.pdf

American Hospital Association (2012). American Hospital Association Uncompensated Hospital Care Cost Fact Sheet. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://www.aha.org/content/12/11-uncompensated-care-fact-sheet.pdf

Analysis of the Joint Distribution of Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments (2002). A Policy Framework for Targeting Financially Vulnerable Safety Net Hospitals. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/02/DSH/ch2.htm

Carpenter, D. (2012). Health Care Organizations Start Overhauls for a New Delivery Model. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://www.hhnmag.com/hhnmag_app/jsp/articledisplay.jsp?dcrpath=HHNMAG/Article/data/05MAY2012/0512HHN_FEA_ManagingTransition1&domain=HHNMAG

Healthcare Finance News (2012). Retrieved June25, 2012, from http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/resource-topics/community-benefit
Results.org (2011). Medicaid. Retrieved June 25, 2012 from http://www.results.org/issues/us_poverty_campaigns/health_care_for_all/medicaid/

U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012 (2012). Income, Expenditures, Poverty, and Wealth Retrieved June 25, 2012 from http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/12statab/income.pdf

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012). Frequently Asked Questions Related to the Poverty Guidelines and Poverty. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/faq.shtml#official

Got Game Theory? Obama’s Clever Immigration Move

June 17, 2012
By Melissa Bynes Brooks

There is vast concern among conservatives about reaching a long term consensus for resolving the immigration issue as America’s DREAMers celebrate with glee following the Obama Administration’s policy approach for reconciling the deportation quandary faced by undocumented immigrants.

Got game theory?

Game theory provides a method for strategic thinking. It is the art of outdoing your adversary while recognizing they are trying to outdo you.

While anticipating Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s next move, the Obama administration displayed their skills by making a preemptive tactical decision on immigration last week. They were adept at using the rules of looking ahead and reasoning backwards based on experience, in order to evaluate and analyze their position along the way, before going forward to try and win the presidential election this November.

Last Friday, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security released a memorandum in which she stated, “I am setting forth how, in the exercise of our prosecutorial discretion, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should enforce the Nation’s immigration laws against certain young people who were brought to this country as children and know only this country as home.”

She further indicated, “Additional measures are necessary to ensure that our enforcement resources are not expended on these low priority cases but are instead appropriately focused on people who meet our enforcement priorities.”

“Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people,” said President Obama.

“Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.”

Janet Napolitano and President Obama both emphasized this policy change does not offer a substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship.

Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights. It remains for the executive branch, however, to set forth policy for the exercise of discretion within the framework of the existing law.

Immediately, there was reaction from the right in moderate and vehement contexts.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio (FL), a Cuban- American born of immigrants and potential Mitt Romney vice presidential running mate, called the move “a short-term answer to a long term problem” accusing President Obama of sidestepping Congress.

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took a little while longer to make a comment. His delay conveyed a sense of the complexity of his arguements during the Republican Primary season. During that time, he revealed his intentions to double down and enforce deportation laws for undocumented immigrants if he is elected President.

Eventually, he did finally say, “I’d like to see legislation that deals with this issue, and I happen to agree with Marco Rubio.” He also said, “If I’m president, we’ll do our very best to have that kind of solution.”

Many from the far right, including Rush Limbaugh, accused President Obama of declaring “amnesty for young illegals in what many people are calling a “jobs program” for illegals.

The dilemma for conservatives was three-fold. They were not happy.

First: there was the element of surprise through the Obama administration’s invoking of Prosecutorial Discretion which created much distress and a missed opportunity for Republicans to “block” the agenda.

Second: President Obama gained momentum and obvious increased support from the Hispanic community.

Last: conservatives were placed in a position of being observers rather than participants and were not privileged to be a part of the process.

It will be impossible to predict all of the sequential moves and counter moves from the two presidential candidates over the next five months.

But, this election season is going to play like a game of chess.

Melissa Bynes Brooks is the editor of BrooksSleepReview.
Contact information: melissabynesbrooks@comcast.net
Follow on Twitter @Mlbbrooks

References

Dixit, A. K. and Nalebuff, B. J. (2008). The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life. New York, NY: W. W. Norton, Inc.

Foley, E. (2012). Mitt Romney Argues Obama Immigration Decision Makes Reform More Difficult. Retrieved June 17, 2012, from, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/mitt-romney-immigration-obama-rubio_n_1601260.html

Napolitano, J. Secretary of Homeland Security (2012). Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children. Retrieved June 17, 2012, from http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/s1-exercising-prosecutorial-discretion-individuals-who-came-to-us-as-children.pdf

RushLimbaugh.com (2012). CNN’s Jessica Yellin Shills for the Regime; Daily Caller’s Munro Interrupts Kardashian. Retrieved June 17, 2012, from http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/06/15/cnn_s_jessica_yellin_shills_for_the_regime_daily_caller_s_munro_interrupts_kardashian

Wilson, L. (2012). President Obama: “It’s the right thing to do.” Retrieved June 16, 2012, from http://www.barackobama.com/

Yi, K. (2012). Rubio: Obama’s Immigration Policy is ‘Short-Term Answer. ‘Retrieved June 17, 2012, from http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Rubio-Obamas-Immigration-Ruling-is-Short-Term-Answer-159216575.html