Oregon Promotes Obamacare, Enrolls No One

Oregon, a State that spent $3.2 million on ads like this one to ensure its State-run Obamacare exchange would take off with willing customers, has yet to enroll a single living soul in any of its new coverage plans.

Cover Oregon, the State healthcare exchange, is blaming the stillborn launch on computer glitches — a problem that supposedly was confined to the Federal healthcare.gov website for non-participating States.

But Cover Oregon spokesperson Amy Fauver told NPR the disastrous rollout is forcing the program to beg would-be customers to line up in an email waiting queue:

We have on our website right now a place where people who just want to wait, who just want to do it electronically, can give us their e-mail address, and we will e-mail them when the system is fully functional.

Sure enough, the Cover Oregon website doesn’t even offer an option for online enrollment. The site invites residents to fill out a paper application and promises online enrollment is “coming soon.”

Like healthcare.gov, Cover Oregon is anticipating the enrollment glitches should be ironed out by the end of this month. That’s when the real fun begins, because the approximately 7,300 people who’ve attempted to apply for coverage will finally discover whether they’re eligible for the plans they want, as well as how much more they’ll have to pay.

Portland-based KATU News reported last week that residents whose existing plans were dropped because they don’t measure up to the new Obamacare policy mandates (like across-the-board maternity care) are facing extraordinary premiums for new, qualifying policies. One viewer said his new policy would cost him an additional $300 a month.

Another Oregon station, KVAL, reports premium costs will more than double for those who are still able to afford the coverage:

Independent insurance brokers like Skylar Jones of Eugene are waiting to hear from you.

He’s just set up a new venture called Oregon Covered.

“What we’re doing is we’re helping individuals,” Jones said. “We’re setting up enrollment meetings. We analyze their situation from start to finish.”

…He just hopes the promised [Obamacare] subsidies are enough to help his clients.

“In some of my individual clients we’re seeing 100 to 200 percent cost increases, and that causes some huge concerns for our individuals,” he said.

Oregon, of course, offers just one instance of an Obamacare nightmare scenario that’s beginning to play out in several States. All of this news comes at a time when President Barack Obama is walking back his unequivocal promises on how the Affordable Care Act will only help Americans who need insurance and not affect those who already have it.

Obama told a gaggle of Organizing for Action supporters Monday that he never promised everyone they could keep the insurance they were already happy with. According to Obama, what he really said was that “you could keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed.”

Here’s A Map Of Jay Carney’s ‘Small Sliver’ Of Americans Whose Insurance Has Been Canceled Thanks To Obamacare

Remember Jay Carney on NBC’s “Morning Joe” last week, telling a former Bush appointee that “only a sliver or cut” of the American population was getting policy cancelation notices thanks to Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all coverage mandates?

The comment was intended to diminish the strength of criticisms that President Barack Obama had lied about people getting to keep health coverage they liked, as well as to deflect some of the heat the Administration has taken for the egregiousness of the falsehood of one of the President’s most famous statements.

But here’s a map that illustrates just how many people on individual health plans have been dropped by their providers because of Obamacare. Four hundred thousand people in Georgia is not a sliver; nor is 900,000 in California or 800,000 in New Jersey.

canceled

The map reflects only individual policy cancelations and doesn’t consider the effects of Obamacare on employer-sponsored group plans. And it’s a snapshot of a moment in time in the early days of the Obamacare rollout. Across the board, these numbers will increase. And it only shows data gathered from 16 States and Washington, D.C.

Just for fun, here’s a link to a Fox News story about Obamacare’s effect on insurance costs hitting Republican States harder than Democratic States.

And here’s a story about a Virginia school district that’s considering hiring a gaggle of substitute teachers because it can’t afford the ballooning cost of employee benefits for full time teachers under Obamacare.

And one more about doctors at small New York offices defecting from their line of work or retiring early because of the market push toward larger, cheaper, inferior centralized health care that Obamacare is bringing about.

Looks like 2014 is not the year to get sick.

No Love For Hillary Among The People Who Are Supposed To Vote For Her

Is it possible that Hillary Clinton’s star among her most ardent political supporters is on the wane?

A poll released last week by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News suggests the former First Lady and Benghazi-botching Secretary of State has lost major clout with the very demographic groups that progressives commonly take for granted: declared Democrats and young people.

The poll, which gauged the opinions of 800 people, found only 46 percent held a positive general opinion of Clinton, while 33 percent viewed her negatively. That’s a 10 percent drop since the last iteration of the same poll in April:

Overall, 46 percent registered a positive view of the ex-secretary of state, compared to 33 percent who expressed a negative opinion. As recently as April, 56 percent saw Mrs. Clinton in a positive light.

Crucially, though, Clinton’s appeal to people the mainstream press lazily associates with Democratic success appears to be fading:

The new survey shows some weakness among independents, Democrats and people between the age of 18 and 34.

In April, for example, 53% of 18-to-34-year olds had a positive image of Mrs. Clinton in the Journal’s polling. That figure fell to 38% in the new survey.

In that same period, Mrs. Clinton’s support among independents fell from 46% to 35%. Her support among Democrats fell 12 points — from 88% to 76%.

Despite the ephemeral nature of political polls, across-the board drops like those have to be indicative of something. Losing 12 percent with your party base in a six-month period is particularly problematic for a would-be candidate The Wall Street Journal deemed, in the accompanying article, as “the solid front-runner in the Democratic field” for the 2016 Presidential nomination.

Other political figures, such as Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) fared worse than Clinton in the same poll. But in every case, a significant portion of those surveyed said they simply weren’t familiar with the names of relative political newcomers like Cruz or even Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Clinton’s name, by contrast, was familiar to nearly everyone surveyed — a fact that reveals more deeply entrenched opinions cultivated over her long career hanging out in or around the halls of political power.

“Pure and simple, she’s gone from being the nonpartisan secretary of state to potentially a partisan Democratic nominee for president,” survey consultant Peter Hart told the Journal. “It’s not that voters all of the sudden have seen a new side of Hillary that has caused them to take a second look. She is no longer the non-partisan secretary of state and that brings out the partisan fangs on the part of former supporters.”

Time will tell if the latest poll indicates a real trend, or a mere blip on Clinton’s way to a supposedly inevitable coronation at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Florida Sheriff Nick Finch Acquitted Of Bogus Gun Charge, Reinstated As Liberty County Sheriff

Remember Sheriff Nick Finch? He’s the Liberty County, Fla., sheriff whom Governor Rick Scott suspended for allegedly violating the law by freeing a man who’d been arrested for carrying a gun in his car without a permit. Finch had freed the man and effectively nullified any charges against him in March, saying he believed the 2nd Amendment superseded more restrictive local gun laws.

That got the sheriff in hot water with State prosecutors, who said Finch had no authority to end a criminal proceeding against the suspect — Floyd Eugene Parrish — even though Parrish had never been formally booked into the Liberty County jail during his brief detention.

Last week, a jury demonstrated that common sense and the rule of law can still prevail. After about an hour of deliberation, the eight-member jury acquitted Finch of any wrongdoing. Scott spoke with Finch within moments of the verdict and reinstated him as sheriff of Liberty County.

Finch was charged with a single count of official misconduct (a third-degree felony) and a separate count of falsifying public records after Finch freed Parrish and allegedly used correction fluid to remove his name from the jail log — a move that even the State attorney admitted, during the trial, was an acceptable and common practice in cases of wrongful arrest.

Speaking on Finch’s behalf, defense attorney Jimmy Judkins said the sheriff sided with the Bill of Rights when he released Parrish because law enforcement officers shouldn’t be in the business of “creating felons out of people who are minding their own business and not being a threat to society.”

“[Sheriff Finch] made a policy decision that he’s not going to charge people with gun violations because of the distinct possibility that every now and then, one of y’all’s going to make a mistake,” Judkins said. “And he doesn’t want to create a convicted felon out of an innocent citizen.”

According to The News Service of Florida, James Hoagland, the deputy who originally arrested Parrish for carrying a gun in his car without a permit, held on to copies of the arrest record and only brought the incident to the attention of State prosecutors two months later — after taking another job outside the sheriff’s department.

Obama Executive Order Creates Task Force, Expands Government For Climate Change

President Barack Obama issued an executive order last week that forges ahead with his Administration’s unswerving devotion to the lucrative religion of man-made climate change.

“The impacts of climate change — including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise — are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the nation,” said Obama in issuing the order.

The order calls on new Federal measures to prepare the Nation’s infrastructure to withstand weather-related natural disasters (presumably because he thinks we’re having more man-made weather-related storms). He calls for “engaged and strong partnerships and information sharing at all levels of government” and “risk-informed decisionmaking and the tools to facilitate it.”

But the kicker is the President’s policy introduction of “adaptive learning, in which experiences serve as opportunities to inform and adjust future actions.” That essentially means canonizing man-made climate change into government doctrine.

To support the efforts of regions, States, local communities, and tribes, all agencies, consistent with their missions and in coordination with the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience (Council) established in section 6 of this order, shall:

(i) identify and seek to remove or reform barriers that discourage investments or other actions to increase the Nation’s resilience to climate change while ensuring continued protection of public health and the environment;

(ii) reform policies and Federal funding programs that may, perhaps unintentionally, increase the vulnerability of natural or built systems, economic sectors, natural resources, or communities to climate change related risks;

(iii) identify opportunities to support and encourage smarter, more climate-resilient investments by States, local communities, and tribes, including by providing incentives through agency guidance, grants, technical assistance, performance measures, safety considerations, and other programs, including in the context of infrastructure development as reflected in Executive Order 12893 of January 26, 1994 (Principles for Federal Infrastructure Investments), my memorandum of August 31, 2011 (Speeding Infrastructure Development through More Efficient and Effective Permitting and Environmental Review), Executive Order 13604 of March 22, 2012 (Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects), and my memorandum of May 17, 2013 (Modernizing Federal Infrastructure Review and Permitting Regulations, Policies, and Procedures); and

(iv) report on their progress in achieving the requirements identified above, including accomplished and planned milestones, in the Agency Adaptation Plans developed pursuant to section 5 of this order.

… And the list goes on.

What are those councils and task forces Obama mentions?

One is a new interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. That panel is to be co-chaired by a triumvirate composed of the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (did you even know that was a thing?) and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. The Mission of the CCPR:

Mission and Function of the Council. The Council shall work across agencies and offices, and in partnership with State, local, and tribal governments (as well as the Task Force established in section 7 of this order), academic and research institutions, and the private and nonprofit sectors to:

(i) develop, recommend, coordinate interagency efforts on, and track implementation of priority Federal Government actions related to climate preparedness and resilience;

(ii) support regional, State, local, and tribal action to assess climate change related vulnerabilities and cost-effectively increase climate preparedness and resilience of communities, critical economic sectors, natural and built infrastructure, and natural resources, including through the activities as outlined in sections 2 and 3 of this order;

(iii) facilitate the integration of climate science in policies and planning of government agencies and the private sector, including by promoting the development of innovative, actionable, and accessible Federal climate change related information, data, and tools at appropriate scales for decisionmakers and deployment of this information through a Government-wide web-based portal, as described in section 4 of this order; and

(iv) such other functions as may be decided by the Co-Chairs, including implementing, as appropriate, the recommendations of the Task Force established in section 7 of this order.

The CCPR will replace the Interagency Climate Change Adaptive Task Force, which the Obama Administration set up in 2009.

But don’t worry, Obama created a new task force in the new order: the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. That new group is to be co-chaired by the CEQ chair and the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. The new task force focuses on more pragmatic ways to dangle the carrot of climate change policy before corporate movers and shakers:

Mission and Function. Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Task Force shall provide, through its Co-Chairs, recommendations to the President and the Council for how the Federal Government can:

(i) remove barriers, create incentives, and otherwise modernize Federal programs to encourage investments, practices, and partnerships that facilitate increased resilience to climate impacts, including those associated with extreme weather;

(ii) provide useful climate preparedness tools and actionable information for States, local communities, and tribes, including through interagency collaboration as described in section 6 of this order; and

(iii) otherwise support State, local, and tribal preparedness for and resilience to climate change.

“Provide useful climate change preparedness tools…” Is the Obama Administration getting ready to put Al Gore on the global warming evangelical circuit?

Senate Democrats Haunted By 2010 Vote That Paved The Way For Policy Cancellations Under Obamacare

A partisan Senate vote in 2010 that sealed the fate of millions of people whose health insurance policies are now being canceled under Obamacare could come back to haunt the Democrats who made it happen.

Incredibly, considering the source, that’s the conclusion that CNN investigative correspondent Chris Frates reached last week when he reviewed the legislative history of the Affordable Care Act.

The so-called “grandfather” rule that is now all but forcing the insurance business to drop current policies established guidelines for what kinds of policies could continue into the Obamacare era without modification. “Democrats argued then that the rule was necessary,” writes Frates, “to insure that insurance companies weren’t able to drastically change their plans and still remain exempt from Obamacare.”

The rule essentially prevents insurance companies from keeping their grandfathered status if they make changes to their plans. In practice, insurance companies are loath to leave their plans unchanged so grandfathered plans are disappearing, and people are being forced to change their plans to meet Obamacare’s more robust coverage requirements.

“More robust” can be read as “unnecessary coverage,” such as compulsory maternity care even for policyholders who, because of age, gender or circumstance, don’t need it.

Republicans had attempted to block the grandfather rule in September 2010, arguing that its provisions essentially guaranteed that coverage providers would be compelled, under the law, to drop existing policyholders in droves in order to meet Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all insurance requirements. They didn’t have the votes in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the override bill was defeated in a partisan vote.

Now Democratic incumbents are backing away from their Obamacare voting record in an attempt to position themselves for the 2014 elections. Of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs in 2014, 21 are held by Democrats. Republicans would need to retake six seats in order to claim a Senate majority.

As campaign season gears up, get ready to see a litany of preemptive, “I-told-you-so” strikes from Republicans. CNN’s story dug up exactly one such warning from 2010, when Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said this:

The District of Columbia is an island surrounded by reality. Only in the District of Columbia could you get away with telling the people if you like what you have you can keep it, and then pass regulations six months later that do just the opposite and figure that people are going to ignore it. But common sense is eventually going to prevail in this town and common sense is going to have to prevail on this piece of legislation as well.

The administration’s own regulations prove this is not the case. Under the grandfathering regulation, according to the White House’s own economic impact analysis, as many as 69 percent of businesses will lose their grandfathered status by 2013 and be forced to buy government-approved plans.

This Video Shows Why Law Enforcement Lies To Justify Revenue-Generating Speed Zones

Although produced in Canada, this video by filmmaker Chris Thompson shows that government (on both sides of the border), the insurance industry and the mainstream media all gain by mindlessly reciting the simplistic, decades-old “speed kills” mantra – even though statistics continue to demonstrate that the majority of people drive most safely when they drive at the speed that’s comfortable for them.

Thompson notes that roads with artificially low speed limits see fewer crashes once officials agree to raise the speed limit. In fact, he persuasively argues, law enforcement is perpetuating a hypocrisy by claiming that lying in wait and ticketing motorists is a safety deterrent intended to benefit society.

It’s a bit on the long side – but it’s entertaining and informative. Pass it along.

AP Cries Over Access To Obama; ‘SNL’ Obamacare Parody Turns Out To Be True; Herding Mentally Ill Prisoners With Pepper Spray; Handing The President The Keys To The Debt Limit; Obamacare Enrollees Mostly Medicaid – TGIF Friday Morning News Roundup 11-1-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Editors of The Associated Press condemned the White House’s refusal to give photojournalists real access to President Barack Obama, who prefers to circulate press release-style pictures taken by his own paid photographers. These official photographs are little more than propaganda, according to AP director of photography Santiago Lyon. Source: The Daily Caller…

 

  • A “Saturday Night Live” parody of Obamacare and the healthcare.gov website got a lot of laughs when “SNL”‘s Kate McKinnon portrayed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Little did the cast know how accurate its over-the-top satire would be when she joked only six people could use the website at once. Source: WTOP

 

  • Videotapes released Thursday by a federal court show mentally ill prisoners in California being forced from their cells by guards who douse them repeatedly with pepper spray. Source: Los Angeles Times…

 

  • Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would grant President Obama, and subsequent presidents, the authority to increase the legal limit on the federal government’s debt unless Congress subsequently voted to disapprove the increase. The bill would effectively take elected members of Congress off the hook for approving an increase in the debt. If the president certified that he was going to increase the debt limit, Congress could simply let him do it without taking a vote–and putting members on the record. Source: CNS News…

 

  • The first month of the new health law’s rollout reveals an unexpected pattern in several states: a crush of people applying for an expansion of Medicaid and a trickle of sign-ups for private insurance. This early imbalance — in some places, nine out of 10 enrollees are in Medicaid — has taken some experts by surprise. The Affordable Care Act, which expanded Medicaid to cover millions of the poorest Americans who couldn’t otherwise afford coverage, envisions a more even split with an expanded, robust private market. Source: The Washington Post…

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Obama Pans 150th Anniversary Of Gettysburg Address

President Barack Obama has appropriated the mythos of President Abraham Lincoln in facile little ways, using the Lincoln Bible at both his inaugurations and announcing his candidacy on the steps of the Old Illinois State Capital in Springfield. But he’s declined a Congressional invitation to speak Nov. 19, when Gettysburg marks the 150th anniversary of one of Lincoln’s most enduring legacies: the 16th President’s 1863 dedication speech for the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, known to generations both past and yet to come as the Gettysburg Address.

The White House declined a bipartisan invitation from Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa.) without offering a reason for the President’s planned absence.

Area newspaper the York Daily Record noted that months passed without an RSVP until, finally, the White House notified the Congressional delegation that Obama was sending Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior. Historian James McPherson will join Jewell in delivering the event’s two keynote speeches.

The Daily Record was among a number of local newspapers that unloaded on Obama once it became clear this week that he would be a no-show in Gettysburg. In an editorial headlined “Obama’s rejection of Gettysburg Address invitation unacceptable,” the editorial staff offered this:

How could he not pay his respects to those whose ultimate sacrifices made his presidency possible?

How could he not visit and acknowledge the new birth of freedom that is his — and our nation’s — inheritance of that battle?

Well, he’s not coming.

The National Park Service this week said the president was instead sending Interior Secretary Sally Jewell — a former oil, banking and outdoor gear accessory executive who was born in England.

With all due respect to Ms. Jewell, she is an unacceptable substitute for the President of the United States.

If crucial matters of state demand the president’s attention that day, the least he could do is send the vice president.

…But whatever the reason, the declined invitation is unacceptable.

 

Barack Obama is the most powerful man on earth. If he wanted to be here on Nov. 19, he could make that happen.

The fact that he is uninterested or unwilling to do so is deeply disappointing — and likely to lead to further division in our politically cleft nation.

…President Obama could have used this occasion to offer words of healing and reconciliation — as his Illinois forefather once did.

Instead, he is sending us a little-known Cabinet member to do the job of a president, of a statesman, of an orator.

Unacceptable.

Writing for The Patriot News, a Harrisburg newspaper, Donald Gilliland’s remarks were similar:

Obama will be a no-show at the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. For a president who has so demonstrably associated himself with Lincoln…this is nothing less than a profile in cowardice.

In the end, Barack Obama simply didn’t have the stones.

It’s sad.

And telling.

Nurse Assaulted By Police For Abiding By Protocol Files Federal Lawsuit For Use Of Excessive Force

Exactly two years ago, Lawrenceville, Ga., police shocked a registered nurse with a Taser and arrested her after she refused to grant the cops access to a patient suspected of sexual assault at the psychiatric unit where she worked. Now, the woman has filed a Federal lawsuit against them.

Marthe Bien-Aime, who is suing officers Christy Vice, Mark Tinkey, C.L. Hyatt and Shawn Humphreys, alleges the police subjected her to excessive force in the Oct. 31, 2011 incident. Bien-Aime greeted the police when they showed up in response to a call alleging the patient had sexually abused another patient, but she would not allow them access to the suspect until she had obtained permission from her unit supervisor.

Bien-Aime, who was working at the Summit Ridge mental health facility in Lawrenceville, told the cops she had sworn an oath to protect her patients and that she simply needed to call her nursing director for permission to let the officers into the unit where the suspect was being treated.

But the officers claimed to have an arrest warrant for the patient and threatened to arrest her for obstruction unless she broke her own code of professional ethics, for which she herself is accountable before the law, by giving them immediate access to the patient.

From the complaint:

21. The Defendant officers had a piece of paper that they said was a warrant, but they did not allow Nurse Bien-Aime to read it, so she was unable to confirm whether it was a warrant or what patient it was for.

22. Nurse Bien-Aime then called the Director of Nursing, Shelley Beaubrun, and told her what was happening with the police officers. Ms. Beaubrun asked to speak with the officers and Nurse Bien-Aime held out the phone so that they could speak to her.

23. The officers refused to speak with Ms. Beaubrun and said they were going to arrest Nurse Bien-Aime for obstructing justice.

24. As Nurse Bien-Aime remained behind the counter in the nurse’s station, waiting for guidance from Ms. Beaubrun on the telephone, Lt. Tinkey burst through the door to the nursing station, followed by Officers Hyatt and Humphreys, and Defendant Vice grabbed the phone and began speaking to Ms. Beaubrun.

25. Lt. Tinkey, Officer Hyatt, and Officer Humphreys grabbed Nurse Bien-Aime’s hands and arms and began twisting her arms backward. Then they threw her to the floor with great force and shackled her wrists with a chain and handcuffs.

26. Nurse Bien-Aime cried out in pain due to the tightness of the handcuffs, as well as from the aggravation of an old left shoulder injury and new injuries to other parts of the body resulting from Defendants’ unreasonable and unjustified use of force against her.

27. She asked the Defendant officer several times to loosen the handcuffs but they would not do it.

28. When they got her off the floor and began escorting her out, Nurse Bien-Aime had difficulty walking and the Defendant officers kept shoving her.

29. After going through a set of double doors in the hallway, Nurse Bien-Aime lost her balance and fell to the floor. The Defendant officers yelled for her to get up but she was not able to, and they told her they would drag her if she didn’t get up.

30. Officer Vice said “let’s tase her” and then they proceeded to do so.

Bien-Aime was taken to the Gwinnett County Detention Center, subjected to a body search, given ice for her bruises and — after waiting for an arrest warrant to be issued — charged with obstruction of justice.

Atlanta’s WSB-TV News recently obtained a video of the incident. Recorded by a surveillance camera inside the mental health facility, the video shows four officers throwing Bien-Aime to the ground and handcuffing her. “Then,” reporter Craig Lucie writes, “two officers dragged her out of the nurse station and one of the officers hit her on the back.”

At the moment the officer struck Bien-Aime, she was already safely in custody with her hands cuffed behind her back. She was walking down the hallway with an officer escorting her at either side.

I Pay Dead People: Medicare and Medicaid Misspent $23 Million On Benefits For Dead Patients

A report released Thursday by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reveals the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – the same agency responsible for setting the  Obamacare rollout in motion – paid more than $20 million in false benefits to dead people in 2011.

According to the report, CMS paid $23 million to providers, suppliers, Medicare Advantage organizations and prescription drug plan sponsors for dead patients, as well as $29 million in drug payouts for illegal aliens.

Altogether, the payments represent a fraction of the total amount of Medicare payouts in any given year. But the misspent money still elicited recommendations from the Inspector General’s office on how CMS must tighten the vetting process.

“The OIG offered a handful of recommendations,” The Hill reported Thursday, “such as taking action against providers and suppliers that had high numbers of claims with service dates after a beneficiary’s death, as a way to minimize further inappropriate payments.”

CMS administrator Mailynn Tavenner said the Medicaid agency accepts the findings, but she didn’t elaborate much.

“We agree that in cases where the information indicates an individual is not lawfully present in the United States, that individual should not be permitted to enroll or to remain enrolled in a Part D plan during the period where he or she is not eligible to receive federal benefits,” Tavenner said.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) criticized CMS for the finding, noting that the agency had been cautioned of the potential for such egregious abuses five years before they were uncovered.

Third Firearms Company Announces Relocation From Gun Control-Crazed New York

Two gun companies in New York have already announced they are relocating their operations out of the State in the wake of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s hasty signing of the SAFE (Secure Ammunition and Firearms) Act early this year. Now a third company is following suit.

American Tactical Imports, which ships other manufacturers’ firearms and also manufactures its own weapons, has announced it will relocate to Summerville, South Carolina in a move that is expected to transfer 117 jobs as part of a new $2.7 million investment.

Company officials attribute their decision to New York’s restrictive gun control stance, as well as to their belief that South Carolina offers a legal climate that hews more closely to the 2nd Amendment.

“As one of the gun industry’s top importers and manufacturers of firearms and firearm related accessories, ATI’s decision to relocate is two-fold,” the company explained Monday in a press release. “ATI believes it is imperative that a firearms importer and manufacturer do business within a state that is friendly to the Second Amendment rights of the people.”

Two other New York-based companies have announced relocation plans this year as a result of the State’s latest round of restrictions on firearms. Officials with the Kahr Firearms Group said in August their company would relocate to Pennsylvania. Remington Arms, which has been based in New York for more than 150 years, began searching in August for a site in Tennessee to relocate its 1,200-employee operation.

Is All That Technology Just A Big Headache? Yes (Literally)

As ever more-sophisticated smart phones, tablets and portable computers continue their creep into everyday life, people who grudgingly cave in to buy an iPhone or Android device can often find the learning curve to be a major pain. But reports suggest that those headaches your cell phones are giving you may be very real.

A recent series of studies has documented everything from mild nausea after viewing animations on tiny phone screens to headaches from focusing on the artificially-deep viewing plane created by advanced operating system layouts.

Apple’s newest iPhone operating system, iOS7, has even prompted some developers to come up with workaround apps to alleviate users’ headache and vertigo complaints from staring at the interface’s brightly-colored graphics and zooming, fluid animations.

But if the headaches aren’t getting to you, the strange sensation of feeling your phone vibrate when it’s not anywhere near you might. A professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Ft. Wayne, Ind. found that 89 percent of her tech-savvy students had experienced so-called “phantom pocket vibration syndrome,” a phenomenon during which a person perceives that the cell phone is vibrating in their pocket – even though the phone is somewhere else.

That condition is supposedly caused by the way in which the brain becomes conditioned to repetitive and anticipated physical stimuli.

“I think that these two phenomena, [Fear of Missing Out] and phantom vibration syndrome, both capture the same prevailing issue,” wrote psychology professor Larry Rosen earlier this year. “We are now so primed with anxiety about our electronic world (and particularly that which involves communicating such as text messages and social media) that we misinterpret a simple signal from our neurons located below our pocket as an incoming message rather than an itch that needs to be scratched. As we are finding out, it really seems to be all about anxiety that builds up when we are not allowed to check in with our social media which young people appear to check extremely often.”

Another School To Allow Concealed Carry For Teachers

It’s only been two days since we told you about an Oregon school district that had elected to allow teachers to lawfully carry concealed weapons on campus. Well, it looks as though the dominoes are continuing to fall – this time in rural Colorado.

A school in the small town of Briggsdale, Colo., located north of Denver in rural Weld County, will begin allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons so long as they agree to participate in ongoing training that requires shooting a minimum of 100 rounds each month at a firing range.

According to NBC 9 News, school superintendent Rick Mondt said the decision, “is a benefit, we believe, to the security of our students,” stems in part from the fact that police and emergency medical response times for the small school are too great to compromise security by asking teachers and students to sit on their hands if a violent situation arises.

Weld County sheriff John Cooke, who joined other Colorado sheriffs earlier this year in taking a stand against enforcing the State’s recently-passed gun control legislation, said he fully supports the plan.

Briggsdale doesn’t have a municipal police department, and emergency responders can take 20 minutes or more to arrive. Devising a way for rural Colorado schools to deal with active shooter situations was discussed in the State Legislature after last December’s headline-grabbing massacre at a school in Sandy Hook, Conn., but a proposal to allow school systems to autonomously decide whether to allow armed teachers died during the session.

According to The Daily Caller, rural schools have attempted to get past the restriction on concealed carry by having some staff members serve double duty as trained security guards. In Briggsdale, though, the school system decided to open that dual-service role to any employee who wishes to participate and to maintain their training. Four of the school’s 18 teachers have reportedly signed on, though the school is (sensibly) declining to disclose their identities.

Halloween Special: The Dreaded Obama Mask Offends Again

A guy or girl – the offender was wearing a mask – got the suits at a Kentucky hospital all up in arms recently after participating in a Halloween costume contest while wearing a straitjacket and sporting the dreaded mask that gets everyone in trouble – the grotesque mask representing the likeness of President Barack Obama.

obamaKYcostume

WZTV Nashville reported Tuesday that the vice president of human resources at Jennie Stuart Medical Center was apologizing to hospital staff and taking personal responsibility for the incident, and was asking that “employees refrain from political, religious, ethnic and gender-based costumes at other functions.”

A hapless rodeo clown at this year’s Missouri State Fair pioneered the Obama-impersonating martyrdom phenomenon when he dared to look like this at a rodeo back in August:

obamarodeo

But if you’re a “True Blood” fan, perhaps you’ll remember this scene from season five (that’s way back in 2012), when a gang of gun-toting rednecks rode around the fictional town of Bon Temps, La. doing target practice on anybody whose existence they felt constituted a violation of the natural order of things:

truebloodobama

Remember the National flap that proceeded from HBO’s misappropriation of Barry’s mug in the portrayal of – oh, my goodness – a hate group? That’s because there wasn’t one.

As for the hospital staffer who wore the Obama mask, at least there’s a silver lining: The group featuring the Obama character earned third place in the costume competition.

Facebook Software Could Soon Track Where Your Cursor Goes On Screen

The private tech sector is playing with new marketing-driven surveillance methods that borrow from the much-reviled tactical thinking that has made the NSA an object of public outrage. If a test of Facebook’s new tracking software is successful, someone somewhere could know where your mouse is pointing anywhere on an open Facebook page – all without your knowledge.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is trying out technology that “would greatly expand the scope of data that it collects about its users” by following a site visitor’s passive behavior – such as how long a mouse cursor stays hovered over a link or a picture – down to a minute level of detail.

Facebook analytics chief Ken Rudin told the Journal Tuesday the company could use the additional data for myriad purposes, from ad targeting to behavioral research in the development of new offerings:

Facebook collects two kinds of data, demographic and behavioral. The demographic data—such as where a user lives or went to school—documents a user’s life beyond the network. The behavioral data—such as one’s circle of Facebook friends, or “likes”—is captured in real time on the network itself. The ongoing tests would greatly expand the behavioral data that is collected, according to Mr. Rudin. The tests are ongoing and part of a broader technology testing program, but Facebook should know within months whether it makes sense to incorporate the new data collection into the business, he said.

It’s all benign until someone gets hurt. As we’ve seen our government allows the private sector to do much of the heavy lifting in its endeavor to reap boundless information on private citizens’ Internet habits, probable cause be damned.

If Facebook and other companies deploy tracking technology that essentially watches your every move as you go about your business, it won’t only be the Facebooks of the world that know more about you than most of your buddies. Because you can guarantee the government, through subpoenas and less-legal means, will have access to that same info, too.

Food Stamp Riots? Nation’s Largest Food Bank Sees Falling Skies Over Expired Food Stimulus

The CEO of the Food Bank for New York City, reportedly the Nation’s largest food outreach program, is insinuating that riots could erupt if program cuts slated to kick in this weekend are allowed to take effect.

According to Margarette Purvis, president and CEO of the Food Bank, the scheduled expiration of food stimulus money will shrink the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $5 billion dollars and create instant havoc among entitlement recipients – a recipe for rioting that could boil over as soon as this weekend.

“If you look across the world, riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food,” Purvis told Salon Monday:

Purvis said that the looming cut would mean about 76 million meals “that will no longer be on the plates of the poorest families” in NYC alone – a figure that outstrips the total number of meals distributed each year by the Food Bank for New York City, the largest food bank in the country. “There will be an immediate impact,” she said.

“The fact that they’re going to lose what’s basically an entire week’s worth food” each month, said Purvis, “it’s pretty daunting.” She told Salon that while policymakers “are attempting to punish people for being poor,” and “people are comforted by believing that they know that a person has to have done something wrong in order to be poor,” in reality, “I can tell you that more and more folks have more than one job and are still needing help.” …Purvis added that cutting food stamps was “not even good business sense,” because each dollar of food stamps infuses over $1.70 of spending into the economy.

Purvis went on to add that “the first line of defense against hunger is a food stamp.”

Who knew?

Meanwhile, Neil Cavuto at Fox News has speculated that a recent $80 million outlay by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is directly related to an anticipated (or perhaps hoped for) Food Stamp riot event. DHS spent the funds to beef up armed security at government buildings in upstate New York, adding to the department’s growing list of questionable militarization measures presumably aimed at U.S. citizens who would create civil unrest by galvanizing against government policy.

“November 1st could be a very, very iffy kind of a day,” Cavuto intoned on his Fox News program. “…This could be ‘all-hell-breaks-loose day’…[O]n November 1st, the food stamp program is set to start decreasing the amount that is allocated to food stamp recipients….and they’re worried that violence will ensue.”

The whole chicken-little tone of this impending SNAP disaster almost smacks of bloodlust. The hyperbole coming from the far left and the far right – coupled with the indisputable fact that government itself is incrementally hoarding military-style armaments and equipment for uses that are ostensibly of a “civil” nature – indicate that at least a few rapturous policymakers and pundits are longing for a doomsday episode in which America’s leaders turn against American citizens.

Libertarians Don’t Identify With Tea Party Thanks To Social Issues

There’s a little bit of tea party overlap – but not a lot of lockstep agreement – among people who think of themselves as libertarians. Social issues like recreational drug use, gay marriage, abortion and the role of religion in government are the chief reasons why the majority of self-described libertarians say they don’t see eye to eye with the Tea Party movement.

Across the Internet, including on websites like this one, libertarianism and Tea Party conservatism are often conflated by casual outside observers. But a new survey, done by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), finds that 61 percent of libertarians say they don’t identify with the Tea Party.

From the survey synopsis:

The annual look at religion, values and public policy in America from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute finds libertarians make up a smaller portion of the Republican Party than other conservative constituency groups. Twelve percent of self-identified Republicans are libertarian, compared to 20 percent of Republicans who identify with the Tea Party and 33 percent who say they belong to the religious right or conservative Christian movement.

Libertarians are also half as likely as those who identify with the Tea Party movement to say they consider themselves part of the Christian right. Only 1-in-5 (22 percent) libertarians say they belong to the religious right or conservative Christian movement. However, about half (52 percent) of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement say they are a part of the Christian right, a connection that has held steady since PRRI began tracking this relationship in 2010.

There’s a lot of agreement between Tea Party conservatives and libertarians on fiscal policy. But the divide widens greatly on “hands-off” personal issues that elicit strong support among conservatives – particularly religious conservatives – for government regulation.

“While libertarians are aligned with other key conservative constituencies on economic issues, they are at odds with other conservative groups on a range of social issues,” said PRRI research director Daniel Cox. “A majority of libertarians oppose making it more difficult for women to obtain an abortion, and strongly support legalizing both marijuana and physician-assisted suicide.”

The survey, which randomly sampled 2,317 adults living in the U.S., interviewed respondents both online and by telephone between Sept. 21 and Oct. 3 of this year.

Read the full report of the 2013 American Values Survey here.

Pelosi Tries To Leverage Boehner On Bringing Comprehensive Immigration Reform To House Vote

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pre-gamed an anticipated battle over comprehensive immigration reform today by placing the ball in House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) court.

Posting on a question-and-answer session hosted on her Facebook page Tuesday, Pelosi boasted that such a plan would clear the House – if Boehner will give the legislation a chance.

“With 28 Republicans having publicly expressed support for a path to citizenship, we believe the votes are there on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill,” she wrote. “It’s just a question whether Speaker Boehner can muster the will to schedule a vote….There are Republicans who support this effort, we must make sure their voices are heard. The time for excuses is over — it’s time to pass this bill and get the job done for the American people.”

Supporters of the plan indeed have claimed 28 Republican House members as backers of comprehensive reform – although the definitive comments of some of those listed over at the web page for amnesty advocate America’s Voice reveal a bit of interpretive leeway in arriving at that number.

Here’s a chart listing those 28 GOP’ers who supposedly share a single mind on the amnesty question:

28gopHeads

Survey: Influence Of Tea Party Conservatism Equals That Of Obama’s Progressivism

Ah, the Tea Party. So reviled in the mainstream press. So marginalized by Congressional RINOs, Democrats and, of course, President Barack Obama. So…inconsequential.

Why, then, do polls consistently show the Tea Party’s influence to be more or less on par with that of the President?

The latest iteration of a Rasmussen survey that periodically tracks such things shows, once again, that the well-hated, amorphous conservative movement appeals to at least as many Americans as the President himself does.

From the report:

Voters are evenly divided when asked whether they agree more politically with President Obama or with the average member of the Tea Party. But an enormous partisan gap colors virtually all opinions of the Tea Party.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% of Likely U.S. Voters think the president’s views are closest to their own when it comes to the major issues facing the country. But just as many (42%) say their views come closest to those of the average Tea Party member instead. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

The survey collected the opinions of 1,000 likely voters between Oct. 26 and 27. The results reflect a small dip in the relative prestige of the Tea Party’s involvement in national politics; a similar Rasmussen survey done in April revealed more people who identified with the Tea Party (48 percent) than with the President (44 percent).

The gulf separating the ideological positions of Tea Partiers and Obama supporters is vast, though. As a recent Rasmussen poll demonstrated, “voters who approve of the president’s job performance were slightly more likely to consider the Tea Party a bigger terrorist threat to the United States than radical Muslims.”

The loyalty to both camps, predictably, aligns equally along party lines, with 77 percent of Democrats saying the President’s views most closely reflect their own, while 76 percent of Republicans, along with 51 percent of unaffiliated voters, saying they share more in common with the Tea Party and its self-identified “members.” That 51 percent is crucial to the future success of either political party – and despite what the mainstream media reports, conservative views are nowhere near the minority fringe of American political opinion.

Oregon School District Allows Concealed Carry For Teachers

A school district in Oregon has decided to allow teachers to carry concealed firearms in classrooms as long as they possess a permit, and locals are embracing the move.

The board of the St. Helens School district voted 4-1 last week to lift a restriction on allowing on-campus employees to carry concealed. Board chairman Marshall Porter told ABC News the board agreed it was punitive to forbid teachers to exercise rights available to other Oregonians, under State and Federal law.

“The current law in Oregon allows for anybody to concealed carry on school grounds,” said Porter. “To exclude our staff seems like they’re being punished. They should have a right to protect themselves if they so choose.”

Not to mention their students, should the need arise.

“If [employees] were faced with a horrific choice, if they had to defend themselves against a kid – which has been the thing – I think it would be a hard decision for them, one that they would educate themselves on,” he added. “I do believe we’re talking about educators, people who have the interest of the children in mind.”

Porter also noted that only one parent has objected to the decision, even as he’s received several emails applauding the change. “I’ve had more parents email me saying that they approve of our decision than not,” he told ABC.

The concealed carry vote will affect seven St. Helens district schools, including two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and three alternative schools. The district lies just north of the Portland-Vancouver metro area.

The St. Helens vote represents yet another decision by suburban and rural school boards to afford teachers the opportunity to protect themselves and their students. In August, an Arkansas school board defied a State attorney general’s advisory opinion by approving a concealed-carry plan for employees who have undergone training.