Health Care Reform Is Working: National Health Expenditures Reach Historic Low

Nancy-Ann DeParle:

Today, the CMS Office of the Actuary released its report on how much the United States spends on health care now and in the future. The report shows a 3.9 percent growth in health spending in 2010 – an historic low. Overall Medicare cost growth dropped from 7.9 to 4.5 percent between 2009 and 2010. This slow-down occurred at the same time that many seniors with Medicare received cheaper prescription drugs. According to the report, private health spending has and will continue to be low in the next few years. And the report estimates that private benefit spending growth per enrollee will be 3 percent this year, rather than 4.7 percent thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act’s policy that allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plan.

The report concludes that:

Average annual growth in national health spending is expected to be 0.1 percentage point higher (5.8 percent) under current law compared to projected average growth prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (5.7 percent) for 2010 through 2020. Simultaneously, by 2020, thirty million Americans are expected to gain health insurance coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The bottom line from the report is clear: more Americans will get coverage and save money and health expenditure growth will remain virtually the same. But the report doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Affordable Care Act creates changes to the health care system that typically don’t show up on an accounting table. We know these new provisions will save money for the health care system, even if today’s report doesn’t credit these strategies with reducing costs. These provisions include:

The Administration’s Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs, a new private-publicpartnership to achieve two goals: reduce preventable hospital-acquired conditions by 40 percent and reduce hospital readmissions by 20 percent between 2010 and 2013. Over 2,000 hospitals as well as employers, physicians, nurses, and patient advocates have committed to these goals which, over the next ten years, could reduce costs to Medicare by about $50 billion and help put our nation on the path toward a more sustainable health care system.
Support for voluntary Accountable Care Organizations that make it easier for health care providers to work together to coordinate care for an individual patient across care settings – including doctor’s offices, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. The Affordable Care Act rewards ACOs that lower health care costs while providing high quality care, and could generate as much as $960 million in Medicare savings over three years.
Bundled payment programs that will reward doctors and hospitals for working together to provide higher quality care to patients rather than bill for each individual procedure or test.
Demonstrations launched by the new Innovation Center that will build and test models that will save money for both Medicare and the private sector, and then expand the use of the models that work.
Important investments in programs that save money over the long-term like prevention and wellness programs.

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AND, Opposition To Health Reform Falls, Majority Want To Keep It Or Expand It

A new health care tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that as the opposition to the Affordable Care Act has fallen (from 46 percent to 43 percent), a majority of Americans (53 percent) want lawmakers to expand the law or keep it, and 46 percent say they are still confused by it.

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“President Obama to announce a staggering 65% increase in fuel-efficiency standards”

No matter what, he keeps going:

President Barack Obama has struck a deal with the nation’s automakers to raise mandatory fuel-efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025, a staggering 65% increase, National Journal reports.
The new figure represents a compromise between environmentalists, who had asked the government to raise the law from the present 35.5 mpg to 62 mpg, and the automakers, who pushed for 45 mpg.
One auto industry official confidentially told National Journal that the only reason they were able to strike a deal with the administration is that there will be a review in 2018 to re-assess whether the standards still made sense.
“If they’re too low, they’ll be addressed upwards. If they’re too high, they’ll be addressed downwards,” he said.

DADT is dead. One more campaign promise kept.

Hi guys,

I don’t know if you remember, but last month, when PBO had that big LGBT fundraiser in NYC, he said that “in a matter of weeks” the Pentagon will certify that the military is ready to end ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ once and for all. Well, “in a matter of weeks” means “in a matter of weeks”, and today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the official recommendation , and in 60 days this awful, awful law will be dead and buried, never to be seen again (Unless characters like Dan Choi and the rest of the fake-progressives will convince people, yet again, not to vote next year, and then they’ll just deserve whatever comes). 

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Today’s schedule: 

9:30 AM
The President and The Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
11:00 AM
The President participates in a Town Hall on the on-going efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction
College Park—Ritchie Coliseum, University of Maryland
1:35 PM
The President meets with Prime Minister Key of New Zealand
Oval Office
2:20 PM
The President and Prime Minister Key deliver statements to the press
Oval Office
2:45 PM
The President meets with Secretary of Defense Panetta and Admiral Mullen
Oval Office
Closed Press
3:30 PM
The President meets with Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Mrs. Eikenberry
Oval Office

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I have to say that with all due respect to the proven political skills and the enormous experience of a guy like Lawrence O’Donnell – I don’t think he gets this president the way he think. IMO, anyone who really know this man, understand that he’s not engaging in the usual Kabuki in this deficit circus – He is dead serious about doing a big deal, as he shows again in this column he wrote for USA Today:

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….That’s why people in both parties have suggested that the best way to take on our deficit is with a more balanced approach. Yes, we should make serious spending cuts. But we should also ask the wealthiest individuals and biggest corporations to pay their fair share through fundamental tax reform. Before we stop funding clean energy research, we should ask oil companies and corporate jet owners to give up the tax breaks that other companies don’t get. Before we ask college students to pay more, we should ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries. Before we ask seniors to pay more for Medicare, we should ask people like me to give up tax breaks they don’t need and never asked for.

The middle class hasn’t just borne the brunt of this recession; they’ve been dealing with higher costs and stagnant wages for more than a decade now. It’s just not right to ask them to pay the whole tab — especially when they’re not the ones who caused this mess in the first place.

Raising revenues: a bipartisan position

A balanced deficit deal that includes some new revenues isn’t just a Democratic position. It’s a position that has been taken by everyone from Warren Buffett to Bill O’Reilly. It’s a position that was taken this week by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, who worked together on a promising plan of their own. And it’s been the position of every Democratic and Republican leader who has worked to reduce the deficit in their time, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton.

There will be plenty of haggling over the details of all these plans in the days ahead. But right now, we have the opportunity to do something big and meaningful. This debate shouldn’t just be about avoiding the catastrophe of not paying our bills and defaulting on our debt. That’s the least we should do. This debate offers the chance to put our economy on stronger footing, restore a sense of fairness in our country, and secure a better future for our children. I want to seize that opportunity, and ask Americans of both parties and no party to join me in that effort.

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West Wing Week:

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Wall Street Reform first anniversary:

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This must be one of my fave Michelle Obama photos. It moved me to tears. Just look at the variety of faces and colors. Sometimes a picture is worth even more than 1000 words. Well done, Samantha Appleton.

 


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And, thank youChristine for this hilarious shopping bag:

The president is throwing someone under the bus again (Updated with Video)

I’m just not really sure who got stabbed this time, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

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President Obama support the Respect For Marriage Act – the bill to repeal DOMA

 

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The president has “long called for a legislative appeal for the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which continues to have a real impact on families,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at Tuesday’s briefing. He said the president “is proud” to support the Respect For Marriage Act, “which would take the Defense of Marriage Act off the books for once and for all.”

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

In February, the Obama administration announced that the Department of Justice will no longer defend DOMA in court.

On Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the new bill, which would repeal all three sections of DOMA — which federally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman — including section 1, which is the name; section 2, which instructs states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states; and section 3, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legally performed same-sex marriages.

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Couple of good economic news:

Housing starts rise 14.6% to five-month high

Retailers’ weekly sales rise 4.5%

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Here’s the president’s statement about the budget negotiations from earlier today.

“First U.S. troops have left Afghanistan and would not be replaced”

Hi Guys,

Weekly address: It’s Washington Vs. the public.

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This went extremely under the radar yesterday:

U.S. drawdown begins in Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) – The first U.S. troops have left Afghanistan as part of President Barack Obama’s planned drawdown of about a third of the 100,000 U.S. forces there during the next year.
Facing growing political opposition to the nearly decade-old war, Obama announced in June the withdrawal plan, which was a faster timetable than the military had recommended.
The first 10,000 troops will come home by the end of the year, but Obama left the details up to his commanders.
U.S. Lt. Col. Wayne Perry, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said about 650 troops who had completed their rotation in Afghanistan left on Wednesday as scheduled, and would not be replaced.
“As part of the drawdown the first U.S. troops have left Afghanistan,” he said.

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Powerful, powerful clip:

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Finally, I hope everyone is paying attention to the fierce that is ChipSticks over at The Obama Diary, because she’s doing the best job I’ve ever seen of exposing the fraud, the lie and disgust that is the unprofessional left.

Tuesday “most masterful rope-a-dope ever seen by a president” mishmash

Hi guys,

Today’s schedule:

10:00 AM
The President and the Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office

10:30 AM
The President meets with senior advisors
Oval Office

2:15 PM
The President awards Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor; The Vice President also attends
East Room

3:15 PM
The President and the Vice President meet with Congressional Leadership
Cabinet Room

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All kinds of cool stuff:

First, obviously, this Lawrence O’Donnell long and awesome segment from last night – is not to be missed.

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Washington Post Editorial:

Mr. Obama’s debt deal advice: Give peas a chance

PERHAPS THE president’s pea-dissing will not stand him in good stead with the health-conscious, vegetable-growing first lady, but otherwise President Obama got just about everything right in his news conference Monday. Liberals should acknowledge, as he said, that progressive government depends on controlling the national debt. Conservatives should accept that achieving a deal in a divided government will require some give and take, including on revenue. And, yes, it is time for everyone involved in the budget debate to “eat our peas” — to stop talking about how hard this all is and actually get something done.

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NYT Editorial:

Ideology Trumps Economy

There is a huge gap in logic at the heart of the Republican intransigence on a debt-ceiling deal, and President Obama helped to illuminate it on Monday.
The party claims, as an article of faith, if not evidence, that the government’s growing debt is the reason for persistent unemployment and economic stagnation. And yet Republicans are spurning the president’s compromise offers to reduce that debt by trillions over the next decade because he is sensibly insisting that any deal include some increase in tax revenue.

“Where are they?” Mr. Obama asked at his news conference. “I mean, this is what they claim would be the single biggest boost to business certainty and confidence. So what’s the holdup?”

The holdup, of course, is that Republicans are far more committed to the ideological goals of cutting government and taxes than they are committed to cutting the deficit.

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Gerald F. Seib, WSJ:

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But perhaps most important, the big deal would clear the decks for Mr. Obama to focus on other pursuits, without having deficit problems constantly nipping at his heels. If he wins a second term, you can be sure he would rather think about alternative energy, education and immigration than be nicked and cut at every turn by deficit problems.

So those are the factors motivating Mr. Obama. But how would he handle a failure to get that big deal?

For starters, his talking points practically write themselves: I offered three dollars in spending cuts for every dollar in tax increases, and Republicans turned me down. Because Republican leaders wouldn’t accept any tax increases, everybody will pay more for Medicare and Social Security and get less in benefits down the road.

And ultimately Mr. Obama has one time-honored tactic at his disposal: He can use failure to run, Harry Truman-style, against a “do-nothing Congress.”

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Chris Cillizza:

Obama as dad-in-chief

President Obama took a paternalistic approach toward congressional Republicans in Monday’s press conference, using a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone to urge GOP leaders to get something big done on the country’s debt problems.

“It’s time to pull off the Band-Aid, [to] eat our peas,” Obama told reporters gathered in the White House briefing room for the second press conference in as many weeks focused on the onrushing Aug. 2 deadline to cut a deal on raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

Obama repeatedly emphasized that while both sides were going to have to make difficult political choices to get a debt deal done, those sort of hard decisions were part and parcel of governing. Such a compromise would convince people that “this town can do something every once in a while.”

Boil Obama’s message down and you get this: Adults sometimes have to do things that they don’t want to do. This is one of those times. So, let’s get it done.

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Obama has a leg up in this fight thanks to his ability to command the attention of the national media whenever he likes. Obama is set on turning this debt fight into a broader argument about what it takes to be a responsible adult. And it’s a fight that could well serve as the main frame of the 2012 presidential campaign.

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And, I had to bring here this comment by goblue72 over at Baloon Juice:

Healthcare reform that included largest expansion in Medicaid in several generations. ARRA Stimulus with massive spending on green initiatives. Saving the American auto industry. Two liberal broads appointed to the Supreme Court – a Jew & a Puerto Rican. Lilly Ledbetter. Ending DADT. Finding Osama bin Laden and putting a bullet in his head. He even appointed some Asian physicist nerd from BERKELEY to be in charge of our nuclear program fer chrissakes.

All the while dealing with an economic DEPRESSION, with the opposition party being composed of down-and-out neo-Confedrate traitorous scumbags and the entire corporate kleptocracy allied against him.

ALL THE WHILE PRESIDENTING WHILE BLACK. With a Muslim-y name.

Let me repeat – MoFo WON the Presidency. While Black. With a Muslim name.

But no – some white dude in his pajamas and a keyboard knows the politics better than he does.

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I had a revelation today

Barack Obama is indeed not from here. You listen to him and then you listen to the tiny-tiny people around him, and they don’t even speak the same language, nor do they share the courage, the level of integrity or the genuine desire to serve the public. You get such man in the WH once a generation, what a shame that he’s surrounded by emptiness.

This will be a very long months. :)

Meanwhile, in the world of the facts…

Private payrolls rise by 157,000 in June

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Private-sector employment rose 157,000 in June, according to Automatic Data Processing Inc.’s employment report released Thursday, in what could be a signal that the recent economic soft patch may not last long.

The headline number surprised Wall Street, coming in more than double the 70,000 increase expected by economists.

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Stars finally beginning to align for U.S. economy?

Things are finally starting to look more hopeful for the U.S. economy.

It looks like President Obama and the U.S. Congress may actually be getting down to some serious discussions on cutting the deficit and clinching an agreement to raise the Treasury’s borrowing authority by the Aug. 2 deadline. Heck, Mr. Obama is actually talking about aiming big in the talks, and will push negotiators to double their target to US$4 trillion in budget savings over 10 years.

Meanwhile, the beleagured job market is beginning to show some signs of improvement.

If the politicos can stop acting like children and actually get a debt deal and Friday’s non-farm payrolls can follow through with some job creation strength, then the rally that has been building in the market could catch some heat.

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Auto industry, seeing new life, is on hiring spree

DETROIT – Volkswagen opened a plant in Tennessee last month with 2,000 workers. Honda is hiring 1,000 in Indiana to meet demand for its best-selling Civic. General Motors is looking for 2,500 in Detroit to build the Chevy Volt.

Two years after the end of the Great Recession, the auto industry is hiring again – and much faster than the rest of the economy. As an employer, it’s growing faster than airplane manufacturers, shipbuilders, health care providers and the federal government.

The hiring spree is even more remarkable because memories of the U.S. auto industry’s near-death experience are fresh. In 2009, General Motors and Chrysler both got government bailouts and entered bankruptcy, and auto sales hit a 30-year low.

In June of that year, about 623,000 people were employed by the auto industry in the United States, the fewest since the early 1980s. Now the figure is almost 700,000, a 12 percent increase.

Sales are back up, too, and automakers are hiring by the thousands to meet increased demand.

“The buzz is incredible around here about what opportunity we’re going to get if we can build a great product,” says Ben Edwards, who went to work for Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tenn., last year and is now a team leader on an assembly line that installs tires and seats.

Edwards was working as a general contractor until the housing market dried up. He says the pay at Volkswagen, which starts at $14.50 an hour, is fair and the benefits are generous.

Besides hiring 2,000 people itself, Volkswagen figures the plant, where it will make its new Passat, will create 9,000 spin-off jobs in the region, including 500 at auto-supplier plants that are springing up nearby.

Automakers are hiring again because car sales are rising. Americans bought 10.4 million cars and trucks in 2009 and 11.6 million in 2010. This year, they’re on track to buy 13 million or more, and auto companies are adding shifts to meet the demand.

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