Parts of the health care law that kick in

Now that it’s 2011, parts of the Health Care Reform Bill kick in.  The linked article summarizes changes in Medicare, giving seniors cheaper prescription drugs and giving them some free preventative tests.  Also a $2.5 billion tax on the pharmaceutical industry, which can only mean higher prices and less money to invest in new miracle drugs. Here are some of the changes that will affect everyone:

For those insured outside Medicare, 2011 starts a new requirement that insurers must spend 80% of revenue for small-group plans and 85% of revenue for large-group plans on medical care. The requirement is designed to rein in industry profit and administrative costs. Carriers that don’t meet the requirement will have to issue rebates to consumers, though those won’t go out until 2012.

Consumers will no longer be able to use their flexible spending accounts—tax-free funds set aside for medical costs—to pay for most over-the-counter items unless they are purchased with a prescription.

For many consumers, Jan. 1 will mark the first opportunity to tap into a slate of benefits that began taking effect Sept. 23. That’s when the law called for insurers to allow parents to keep a child on their policy until their 26th birthday, among other things. Employers didn’t need to make that batch of changes until they started a new plan year.

Nurse midwives also will see change in the new year. Until now, certified nurse midwives were paid 65% the rate of physicians for performing the same services by Medicare. Now they will be paid at the same rate.

via Big Health-Care Changes Arrive in New Year – WSJ.com.

I don’t understand.  First of all, 80% of revenue for one thing plus 85% percent of revenue for something else adds up to 165%.  That must be a misprint.  But it seems wrong for the government to “rein in profits and administrative costs.”  How does the government know how much administrative costs will be, much less how much profit a business should be allowed to make?

And why limit flexible spending plans?  How will that help consumers?  And how will paying midwives as much as doctors hold down health care costs?

How is any of this a good thing?

Congress acknowledges the Constitution

This story in the Washington Post takes a dismissive and snarky tone, but I think this is a splendid idea.  Especially the part about requiring each bill to cite its constitutional authority.

When Republicans take over the House next week, they will do something that apparently has never been done before in the chamber’s 221-year history:

Two new rules will give Constitution a starring role in GOP-controlled House

They will read the Constitution aloud.

And then they will require that every new bill contain a statement by the lawmaker who wrote it citing the constitutional authority to enact the proposed legislation.

Call it the tea party-ization of Congress.

via Two new rules will give Constitution a starring role in GOP-controlled House.

To just associate this with the tea party in that condescending way is out of line.  Why would any lawmaker object to this?  They take an oath to defend the Constitution.  Why shouldn’t they defer to it?  Or do some journalists and politicians really believe in unlimited government?

At any rate, this could at least be an educational experience.  As Ezra Klein of the Washington Post told an interviewer, “The issue of the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done.”  The thing dates way back to 1911 at least, so it surely can’t be binding on us postmodernists.

People often say that everything can be interpreted any number of ways, but I wonder about that. What part of the Tenth Amendment, the basis for that “radical” requirement to specify the constitutional authority for each bill, is so open-ended in its possible meanings?

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Your predictions for 2011

So, what do you predict will happen in 2011?  The more specific you are, you more amazed we will be if you are right.   Around this time next year, we will check the results to praise you for your foresight, or not.  (See below.)

Checking your predictions for last year

It’s time to revisit the predictions some of you made last year around this time.

The big winner:  Chryst, who predicted that Matt Harrison would be elected LCMS president on the first ballot with 54% of the vote.  He actually received 54.95%, but that is close enough and an amazing feat of prediction, especially for last January when Harrison’s prospects seemed dim.

Dan Kempin also nailed the political developments, though he squandered his prophetic title by predicting the dominance of the Vikings and the apotheosis of Brett Favre.

Other football predictions were outrageously wrong.  So, fortunately, were the predictions about terrorism.

Several people predicted fairly well what would happen to the economy.  As for tODD, I can’t tell if he is right or if he would have been stoned in the Old Testament days.

The biggest loser was Cindy R., who, however, due to her last prediction, like last year, also was one of the biggest winners.

Well, see for yourself.  Who else deserves praise or ignominy?:

EricM

1 – (not too much of a prediction here but…) Health care reform passed with no public option and no funding for abortion. The President and Democrats declare victory as they didn’t want to drag the issue too far into 2010 since it is an election year. It will be hard to call it reform as many of the original goals (covering the uninsured, decreasing costs) are not achieved.

2 – The economy continues a long slow recovery. Unemployment is an issue for most of the year as the percentage of unemployed does not go below 8%. However, the decrease in unemployment (from 10%) is seen as a victory in the press leading into the 2010 election. Regulations are increased on a number of industries such as banking which provides the appearance of stability while limiting the economic recovery.

3 – The 2010 election decreases the Democrat majorities. There are two possibilities as to the extent of the decrease: a) if the Republicans continue doing what they have been doing (i.e. not returning to their roots of lower taxes and smaller government) then they are still the minority in both houses with a 55-45 split in the Senate. b) if the Republicans see their error and go back to their roots their victory is much bigger. They win the majority in the Senate and are very close in the House. State elections follow a similar trend. Unfortunately, I think it will be more (a) than (b).

4 – Iraq stablizes and we continue to pull troops out.

5 – Afganistan is a mess. The government is not stable (due to the corruption). President Obama is forced to dance around his promise of troop withdrawal. In the end, the President searches for some way to declare victory and to start bringing troops home but he is unable to find one.

John

I predict that Israel will smuggle a truck carrying a low altitude nuclear incendiary device (LANID) into Tehran and obliterate Iran, but make it look like North Korea did it.

Peter Leavitt

We may predict a further strengthening of Christian theological orthodoxy and a further weakening of the dominant secular liberal elites.

We may predict that the the 2010 elections will yield enough Democratic defeats to deter Obama and the Democratic Congress from furthering their large spending, radical agenda.

We may predict further strenuous though largely civil debate on this excellent blog-site.

A.D.P.

You, Dr. Veith, will eat popcorn several times this year.

tODD

I think it’s easy to predict that Republicans will increase their numbers in Congress in this year’s elections. But by how much? I have no real idea, but I’ll predict that Democrats maintain control of both houses. That way, if I’m right, I’m right. And if I’m wrong, we have more gridlock. Win-win!

I’ll also be so bold as to predict that there will be an increase in the number and tenor of partisan complaints against Obama and Democrats in general. Some of these will be justified, but the vast number will be silly and overblown. (If it helps, I will point these instances out to you in the months to come.)

The US will move away from a terrorism policy of expensive state-based wars and towards quick-strike actions, many covert. (Is this really a prediction?) Naturally, this will be derided by Republicans and conservatives for not taking the “war on terror(ism)” seriously.

And, defying all odds (and logic), the Rice Owls will win the Super Bowl. (Certainly a long shot, but man, if that does happen, just think of the glory!)

Booklover

What is a Rice Owl???

I predict that the baby of the family will barely graduate, causing me to have a shock-induced stroke, causing me to have a vision of Obama beckoning, “We will take caaarrrre of you,” causing me to pass on and be with Jesus, causing the rest of you to be left on this earth enviously where you don’t belong.

I just had a fabulous date with hubby and am in a weird mood. Please indulge.

Chryst
I predict Matt Harrison will be elected as LCMS president by a vote of 54% on the first ballot.

Cindy R.

I predict that Texas will defeat Alabama in the BCS national championship game, and Colt McCoy will be named the game’s MVP. The BCS will revamp their system before the government steps in to do it for them.

The Packers will meet the Vikings in the NFL playoffs, and the Packers will win.

Dan Kempin

I’m a little late, but here goes:

In 2010, the political opposition will accuse the president of gross ignorance and incompetence, pointing out that he clearly has no idea of the consequence of his actions. They will also accuse him of being a shrewd, though evil, genius who is manipulating events masterfully according to a larger plan.

Problems with the economy will be placed at the feet of the president and his party (possibly dusting off the old classic, “It’s the economy, stupid,” though I am not sure about that detail.) The president, in turn, will respond to this criticism by blaming his predecessor.

All of this will lead to a political movement for “change in Washington,” using such words as “groundswell,” “grass roots,” and “backlash.”

That is my prediction for 2010.

I would also like to submit this prediction for all future years of this contest, and if possible submit it retroactively for every year I have been alive.

Dan Kempin

I also predict that the Viking will be superbowl champs, thus cementing Brett Favre’s legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time.

(That way, like tODD, if I’m right, I’m right, and if I’m wrong, the Vikings lose. Win-win!)

Jonathan
Would that I were wrong, a major terrorist attack on the U.S., leading to a third front in the war.

Economist Doug

I predict the economy will fall back into recession later this year (although it may not be recognized until early 2011).

Unemployment will fluctuate between 8.5% – 10.5% fairly randomly.

Housing will begin another slump (if the buyer’s tax credits are ever taken away).

In 2009 Michigan, Maine and Rhode Island lost population. This year several more states will lose population.

A spate of suspicious deaths of wealthy elderly people will occur in 2010. The deaths will be linked to the scheduled dramatic rise in the Estate Tax in 2011.

Cindy R.

I predict that, 355 days from now, I will be declared the biggest loser of the 2010 predictions contest.

Top religious developments of 2010

What do you think were the major developments in the world of religion for 2010?  I think we can do better than the lists from religious journalists that I’ve seen.  Look not only for events but also for trends that came into view in the preceding year but that might have a longer lasting effect.

I’ll go first:

–With the election of Matthew Harrison to the presidency, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod made a U-turn in direction, from a church body that officially wanted to emulate the rest of American Christianity to a church body that other American Christians may want to emulate.  The new president stands on the Lutheran confessional distinctives without being insular, and pushing the denomination in a winsome, compassionate, internationally-engaged direction.

–Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral went bankrupt.  Other positive-thinking, prosperity gospel ministries and believers ran up against the economic collapse.   Does this herald the end of that particular heresy?  Does it herald the decline of the megachurch?

Top cultural developments of 2010

What do you think were the most notable cultural events, trends, or developments of the fast-fading year?

By “culture,” I mean any combination of “high culture” (notable novels, works of art), “pop culture” (mass produced work such as movies and popular music) and sociological culture (develops in our society, such as the new and increasing social acceptance of homosexuality).


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