Category Archives: Financial News

High Deductible Health Plans Causing Less Use of Hospital and More Bad Debt from Patients

This article explains how 31 people are being laid off from a hospital in Keene, New Hampshire, due to a number of factors including less reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid and problems stemming from high deductible health plans:

Hospital officials said in December recent trends toward high-deductible health insurance plans have apparently led to increases in outstanding bad debt, which includes unpaid patient bills, and also to reductions in the public’s use of some medical services. The number of patients, which at the hospital averages more than 30 filled beds at any one time, is down, and demand for outpatient services is also off.

Link to the Article.

An Argument for Health Care as an Economic Driver

By 2014, if all goes well, we should have something that resembles national health care.  This may mean that millions of people who have suffered in the pool of 17.7% of Americans in the United States without health insurance, may suddenly be seeking care for everything from anxiety to obesity and beyond.

In Rhode Island, this would be a welcome relief from the recent trends in health care in terms of numbers of people with insurance.  The recent trends, according to the Rhode Island Health Commissioner’s office, are that between 2005 and 2010, the number of insured people in Rhode Island dropped by 65,000.  In 2005, there were about 620,000 people insured by the three big insurers, BCBSRI, United, and Tufts, and in 2010 this number had dropped to about 555,000.  During that same time, there was a modest increase in the number of people receiving either Rite Care and Rite Share.  If you look at the study cited below issued in January of 2011 from the Rhode Island Senate Fiscal Office, you will see that in 2009 and 2010, there was a significant amount of stimulus money that was used to cover the costs of the growing Rite Care and Rite Share programs — $35.2 million in 2009, $56.8 million in 2010, and $56.5 million in 2011.

Now, let’s give it some thought.  Let’s just say Obamacare goes through.  Could it be possible that part of the growing economy can be the growing health care provisions that are made for those nearly 50 million people who are newly insured?  Could neighborhoods in South Providence, downtown Woonsocket, and Eden Park Cranston all begin to flourish with new health care providers serving the throngs of people flocking in for health care?  Statistically, the uninsured are more likely to be obese, smokers, and drinkers, so there are plenty of preventative care issues that could be addressed with could treatment plans.

So instead of giving $75 million to Curt Schilling and betting on the idea that we need another MMOG video game on the internet where people will waste time being sedentary and eating junk food while they try to climb inane hierarchies, perhaps we should think about ways that government can promote health care businesses that will likely be in great demand in the very near future.

Link to the report on Privately Insured Rhode Islanders

Link to report on RITE Care and RITE Share Insured Rhode Islanders

How Government Preys on the Poor

Barbara Ehrenreich has a new blog called Economichardship.org, which talks about how the Great Recession is impacting regular folk. This article has some information on how government and law enforcement are getting into the business of making money off the poor.

At the local level though, government is increasingly opting to join in the looting. In 2009, a year into the Great Recession, I first started hearing complaints from community organizers about ever more aggressive levels of law enforcement in low-income areas. Flick a cigarette butt and get arrested for littering; empty your pockets for an officer conducting a stop-and-frisk operation and get cuffed for a few flakes of marijuana. Each of these offenses can result, at a minimum, in a three-figure fine.

And the number of possible criminal offenses leading to jail and/or fines has been multiplying recklessly. All across the country — from California and Texas to Pennsylvania — counties and municipalities have been toughening laws against truancy and ratcheting up enforcement, sometimes going so far as to handcuff children found on the streets during school hours. In New York City, it’s now a crime to put your feet up on a subway seat, even if the rest of the car is empty, and a South Carolina woman spent six days in jail when she was unable to pay a $480 fine for the crime of having a “messy yard.” Some cities — most recently, Houston and Philadelphia — have made it a crime to share food with indigent people in public places.

Being poor itself is not yet a crime, but in at least a third of the states, being in debt can now land you in jail. If a creditor like a landlord or credit card company has a court summons issued for you and you fail to show up on your appointed court date, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. And it is easy enough to miss a court summons, which may have been delivered to the wrong address or, in the case of some bottom-feeding bill collectors, simply tossed in the garbage — a practice so common that the industry even has a term for it: “sewer service.” In a sequence that National Public Radio reports is “increasingly common,” a person is stopped for some minor traffic offense — having a noisy muffler, say, or broken brake light — at which point the officer discovers the warrant and the unwitting offender is whisked off to jail.

Read on:

Preying on the Poor – EHRP.

38 Studios Writes Rubber Check to RI

It just keeps getting better. From the Boston Globe:

Curt Schilling firm to make $1.1m payment, may miss payroll..

38 Studios and the ‘Job Creator’ Logic

The news is not good for the $75 million dollar gamble that Governor Carcieri talked the state of RI into taking. It looks like 38 Studios is already looking for a bailout. From Bob Plain at the RIFUTURE blog:

38 Studios and the ‘Job Creator’ Logic.

Stephen King: Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake! – The Daily Beast

If only more people could cut through the right-wing “protect the rich” talking points like Stephen King, we might actually have a strong middle class again.

Stephen King: Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake! – The Daily Beast.

Maybe the Government Needs to Regulate CEO Pay

After adjusting for inflation, we pay CEOs today four times what they made in the 1970′s.  Pay-for-performance is the idea behind exorbitant CEO pay, but the fact is that CEO’s make big money whether their companies perform or not.  CEO pay is a problem that is affecting us all as we struggle to afford housing, health care and education in the middle class, while the 1% continues to hoard resources.  We need to reach some social consensus on what to do about this problem.  Otherwise, the stratification will continue.  From Time:  Are We Paying Our CEOs Enough: A New Survey From the Wall Street Journal and Hay Group Suggests Maybe Not | Business | TIME.com.

Kiersten Marek:

Scott MacKay considers the question of whether Brown University should pay more to the city of Providence.

Originally posted on On Politics:

  Once again, Providence politicians are looking to the city’s private colleges for money to help shore up the city’s poor finances. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says these non-profit institutions shouldn’t be seen as cash cows for the city.

 There has been more rhetoric than reality in the latest dispute between Brown University and Mayor Angel Taveras and his city council allies. With city government awash in red ink, the pols are hungrily eyeing the tax-exempt Brown property on College Hill as a source of sorely needed money.

You can’t blame the mayor or the city council. Residents are maxed out on real estate and car taxes. Businesses are fleeing. Two iconic downtown buildings – the Jazz Age Superman Building and the Biltmore Hotel – house tenants facing huge financial hurdles.

Now, Taveras and Brown President Ruth Simmons are jousting over how much Brown can, and should, contribute to…

View original 731 more words

David Korten Frames the Issues for Occupy Wall Street

This is an excellent video from an erudite scholar of our economy.  David Korten is the author of When Corporations Rule the World and is here to tell us that we don’t need Wall Street in its current form.  It is just messing up the economy with corruption and financial warrior tactics to protect and further enrich the elite.  We need local banks and local economies.  The notion is radical — what will we all do with our 401K’s if there is no Wall Street?  Go back to having a savings account and earning 3% interest a year. Actually that doesn’t sound half bad.  The problem is banks are paying less than 1% interest right now.

Kmareka Predictions 3 for 3

Well, my far more prescient and wise co-blogger Nancy was responsible for the first two correct predictions, and I can make claim to the third — predicting that Central Falls would be laying off some teachers in the New Year. I’m not sure I should be given any fortune-teller points for this, though. Some things are fairly easy to call.

As for Nancy’s prediction that the Dow would surpass 12,000, that one indeed came true, with a near 500 point cherry on top. But now it looks like now we’re seeing a pullback. Note that Nancy didn’t make any calls on whether the Dow would drop back down below 12,000 after hitting this mark. So, buyer beware as to what comes next after the initial Kmareka predictions. Mayor Taveras in Providence is talking about closing some schools. Wonder if Central Falls will also be thinking in that direction, given that their city is in receivership. I hope all these empty school buildings will be put to good public use, though I doubt there will be a quick turnaround. And if they’re building new schools, they better make sure they aren’t building on former superfund waste dumps. I wonder how the Race to the Top money for charter schools will play into this equation.

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