The Intermittent Kevin

As rarely and randomly updated as most blogs

Archive for March 2010

Accountable-care organizations in the HCR bill

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Real quick followup to my previous post: I poked around and discovered that, indeed, the HCR bill includes some promising provisions for expanding the use of accountable-care organizations (ACOs) like you see at the Mayo Clinic and in other communities.

I actually took a crack at reading the bill itself, which is incredibly dense in some places but pretty straight-forward here. To wit:
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Written by Kevin Miller

March 28, 2010 at 6:59 pm

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Health care: For excessive medical care, call (956) 911

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After being re-linked to it by my friend Peter, I finally got around to reading one of the most-cited pieces about HCR:

McAllen, Texas and the high cost of health care

To overstate things a bit, this article is a classic in the media discussion of health-care reform, at least from the number of times I’ve seen it referenced. Here’s the main points I took away:
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Written by Kevin Miller

March 26, 2010 at 7:13 pm

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Health care: Abortion whatnow?

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We’re about to talk about abortion for awhile, so let’s start off with a precious kitty:

Except it's a baby, which reminds you of abortion. Dammit.

Okay, so. It seems like the abortion issue is one of the more bizarre aspects of the debate—and it’s been a very bizarre debate—because people have been so diametrically opposed on the facts of the matter. On the one hand, a Republican yells out “Baby killer!” (or It’s a baby killer, depending on who you believe) during debate on the bill. On the other hand, some liberal blogs I’ve read have described the bill as the “biggest step backwards in reproductive rights” in many years. So conservatives think the HCR bill loves aborting fetuses, whereas liberals believe that it firebombs Planned Parenthood clinics on its days off.

The good news is this is a matter of fact, not speculation. So we can sort out the actual truth of the matter. Right? Lessee…
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Written by Kevin Miller

March 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

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Health care: Okay, so what’s in the bill?

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3/22 Update: One thing that my list below didn’t convey is how much of the plan will be rolled out over time; for example, the Cadillac plan tax isn’t implemented until 2018. This excellent Reuters article outlines the whole plan in chronological order:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1914020220100319

In the interests of not exploding from near-constant frustration, I’ve deliberately avoided blogging about (or, as much I can, thinking about) the health-care debate as Congress has been even more ridiculous than usual bringing it to fruition.

To review: on November 7, 2009, the House passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act by a vote of 220-215. On Christmas Eve, the Senate passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (what’s with these names, honestly) by a vote of 60-39. In the 2½ months since, Congress has done a spectacular job getting a whole lot of nothing done, and the filibuster, that most delightful of obstructionist legislative tools, has turned into the Republicans’ new best friend:

Way to govern, amigos.

But. Despite the GOP’s most valiant of efforts… despite President Obama being surprisingly aloof through most of the adventure… despite the American public becoming justifiably fed-up with the whole affair… it’s finally come together. And even in its worst, most compromise-weakened form, it’s still the most dramatic reform of American health care since Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

First of all, just the facts. Rumors and implications and unintended consequences aside, exclusions and rejected ideas aside, what does this bill actually do? Well, a whole hell of a lot, actually. Unlike the vast majority of Congressional legislation, it’s a grab-bag of new laws, restrictions, taxes, allowances, and three or four kitchen sinks.
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Written by Kevin Miller

March 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm

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A modest music recommendation: Ben Rector

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(If you plan on skimming this blog post, at least don’t miss the YouTube videos below.)

It takes some encouragement to get me downtown to a show in the middle of South by Southwest. I’m not the most musically-inclined guy on earth, and my tastes in most things are pretty damn conventional. (Quick, ask me to name my favorite Cheap Trick song. …Actually, any Cheap Trick song.) So the musical side of SXSW, and the allure of wandering a crowded downtown just to see what acts I happened across, wasn’t the first thing that I felt compelled to do.

But then Ben Rector had to come along and screw it up for me.

Jerk.

I honestly don’t remember how I heard about this guy. It was the magic of the Internet: I clicked some link, and saw a reference to some obscure musician, and it had a list of songs he had worked on, and one of them was called “Disarm”:


If you like it, buy it, son!

I was kinda floored. Maybe it’s just my weakness for the piano, or maybe it was just an especially catchy chord progression, but I was an instant fan of this Ben Rector fellow. It took me a few days to stop sticking the song on repeat.

As a singer-songwriter, Ben has gotten started at a pretty young age— Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kevin Miller

March 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm

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Why does Obama hate space? (Part 2)

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Previously, on Why does Obama hate space: NASA designed a next-generation Apollo capsule, an awesome new rocket, and started planning a trip to the moon… until THIS GUY came along and cancelled everything.

Pictured: Neil Armstrong, moments before punching the President.

What the heck, Barry? You’re gonna let the Commies beat us back there?


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Written by Kevin Miller

March 3, 2010 at 10:55 pm

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