Friday, February 24, 2017

Republicans start in motion, expanded police powers, eliminate government dissent, arrest protesters and seize property.

Trumpian heads are spinning after trying to digest two conflicting party movements. One will vilify liberal free speech on campuses, and the other will arrest protesters and seize their assets if they dare speak out against the government.

This is the wet dream vision Republican have of America. Twisted, ugly and vindictive.

What is happening in Arizona is the start of the U.S. unraveling as a country and the Constitution. But first in a related story....

End of Free Speech # 1: Education Sec. Betsy DeVos sent a chill nationwide with this Bizarro World defense of weak-kneed conservatives "victims" who are too afraid to speak out on campus:
DeVos: “Now let me ask you: How many of you are college students? The fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.”
End of Free Speech # 2: This is how liberty dies? What's happening in Arizona is breathtaking and scary, signaling in the beginning of the end of our country or the Republican Party. Treating government protesters like organized crime something I never thought I'd see, and I was there in the 60's:

Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent: Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.

SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.

But the real heart of the legislation is giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side ... sometimes what’s planned as a peaceful demonstration can go south.

But Sen. John Kavanagh (R) said that chilling effect is aimed at a very specific group of protesters.“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder. A lot of them are ideologues, some of them are anarchists. But this stuff is all planned.’’

By including rioting in racketeering laws, it actually permits police to arrest those who are planning events and Kavanagh, a former police officer, said if there are organized groups, “I should certainly hope that our law enforcement people have some undercover people there.’’
 “Wouldn’t you rather stop a riot before it starts? Do you really want to wait until people are injuring each other, throwing Molotov cocktails, picking up barricades and smashing them through businesses in downtown Phoenix?’’

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said “I have been heartsick with what’s been going on in our country, what young people are being encouraged to do. If they get thrown in jail, somebody pays to get them out. There has to be something to deter them from that.’’
The "unintended consequences?"
The legislation does far more ... such a broad law could end up being used against some of their allies. For example, a “Tea Party’’ group wanting to protest a property tax hike might get permits, publicize the event and have a peaceful demonstration. “And one person, possibly from the other side, starts breaking the windows of a car. And all of a sudden the organizers of that march, the local Tea Party, are going to be under indictment from the county attorney in the county that raised those property taxes. That will have a chilling effect on anybody, right or left, who wants to protest something the government has done.’’

Sen. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, said the whole legislation is based on a false premise of how disturbances happen. “This idea that people are being paid to come out and do that? I’m sorry, but I think that is fake news.’’

Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Green Valley, had her own concerns. “I’m fearful that ‘riot’ is in the eyes of the beholder and that this bill will apply more strictly to minorities and people trying to have their voice heard."
And guess what happened...
The 17-13 party-line vote sends the bill to the House.

Tea Party Protesters Paid for by Americans for Prosperity...Projection?

How ridiculous can desperate Trumpian Republican be, claiming the massive nationwide demonstrations are the result of paid protesters. That's one hefty expense for George Soros, who said has not directly funded any of them. 

Projection: Projection is the one major theme that runs through my blog. They've got it bad. Take their latest projection; the women's protest and town halls are filled with paid Trump protesters! Funny, they might be thinking back to when they collected a paycheck or got special interest funding for material and bus rides. Here a picture of conservative radio host Vicki McKenna at a protest paid for by Americans for Prosperity back in 2011 in Madison defending Scott Walker's union busting Act 10. You can't help but notice the sign on the podium?

Could it be any clearer? Yes, the Koch Brother's Americans for Prosperity funded the tea party. Any questions? 

There were statewide bus tours of protesters funded by AFP as well, like the two shown here, to jazz up the sparse crowds. 

 From Raw Story, this confirmation from reporter Jane Mayer:
Perhaps the greatest irony about the “paid protester” line echoed by many in the GOP is that the Tea Party itself benefited from big-money backers, despite its self-styled image as a popular uprising against government overreach. As the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported in 2010, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ political advocacy group, coordinated with the Tea Party in 2009, disseminating talking points, funding protests, and cultivating candidates. Meaning the people who participated in Tea Party protests were, knowingly or not, furthering the Kochs’ political agenda.
Here's a condensed version of Mayer's report:
The advocacy wing of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation—an organization that David Koch started, in 2004—held a different kind of gathering. Over the July 4th weekend, a summit called Texas Defending the American Dream ... 500 people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. 

An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. Peggy Venable—a longtime political operative who draws a salary from Americans for Prosperity, explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channeled “more effectively.” 

And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.” 

In the weeks before the first Tax Day protests, in April, 2009, Americans for Prosperity hosted a Web site offering supporters “Tea Party Talking Points.” The Arizona branch urged people to send tea bags to Obama; the Missouri branch urged members to sign up for “Taxpayer Tea Party Registration” and provided directions to nine protests. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, said the Kochs are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”

Trump not fooling all the people...yet!

One month into the Trump years is unsettling enough, but having to worry about the Trump/Bannon campaign to deconstruct government is eternally depressing. But there's a lot of time for their lies to take hold. PPP

On the brighter side, people don't seem to be the willing dupes most Trump supporters are:
ACA: For the first time ever in our polling we now find an outright majority of Americans in favor of the Affordable Care Act- 50% support it to only 38% who are opposed. Only 33% of voters think the best path forward on the ACA is outright repeal, while 61% think it should be kept with whatever needs to be fixed in it being fixed.

Russia/Putin/Flynn: By a 58/29 spread, voters want an independent investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election and its ties to Michael Flynn. Russia (12/61 favorability) and Vladimir Putin (8/73 favorability) continue to be extremely unpopular with Americans, and they want the government to get to the bottom of their interference in our affairs.

Dodging Town Halls: Members of Congress who dodge open town hall meetings may be opening themselves up to trouble with their constituents. 81% of voters think they ought to hold town halls, to only 5% who think their members of Congress should avoid them. That includes overwhelming majorities of Democrats (88/2), independents (81/2), and Republicans (73/11) who think members of Congress should make themselves available to the public in that way.

Ryan/McConnell Down: Mitch McConnell (25/45 approval) and Paul Ryan (37/43 approval) are both unpopular, and Democrats hold a 46/43 lead on the generic Congressional ballot.

Trump Conflict of Interest and Tax Returns: 61% of voters think he needs to release his tax returns, to only 33% who don't think it's necessary for him to. In fact by a 57/32 spread, voters would support a law requiring Presidential candidates to release 5 years of their tax returns to even appear on the ballot. Concerns about Trump's business conflicts remain as well- 62% think he needs to fully divest from his business interests, to only 29% who don't think it's necessary for him to.
The surreal Trump spokespeople are scary, Campaign Mode Bad, Impeachment and Right to Protest...:
Steve Bannon (19/42 favorability), Kellyanne Conway (33/46 favorability), and Sean Spicer (32/37 favorability) are all seen in a negative light.

Trump's campaign style rally in Florida last week did not come off well with voters- only 39% think he should continue to hold campaign rallies as President, to 51% who say he should not. Despite Trump's repeated claims of having won the most electoral votes since Ronald Reagan most voters aren't buying that- only 19% think he had the biggest win since Reagan to 58% who say he didn't. Trump's voters do buy the lie though- 43% of them think he had the biggest win since Reagan.

We find this week that support for impeaching Trump is at 41%, with 46% of voters opposed to impeachment. 70% of voters think it should be legal to protest Trump, to 21% who think protesting Trump should be illegal. Among Trump's voters it's closer with 51% thinking protesting the President should be legal to 38% who say they think it should be illegal.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Republicans Suffered the following Obama Disasters....

The Republican was to stop everything Obama tried to do as president, which makes the following list pretty amazing: 

When Trump Voters Say They “Suffered For 8 Years Under Obama,” Here’s The Perfect Response. Copy & paste to share. I hope you will.
So let me ask: Gays and Lesbians can now marry and enjoy the benefits they had been deprived of. Has this caused your suffering?

When Obama took office, the Dow was 6,626. Now it is 19,875. Has this caused your suffering?

We had 82 straight months of private sector job growth – the longest streak in the history of the United States. Has this caused your suffering?

Especially considering where the economy was when he took over, an amazing 11.3 million new jobs were created under President Obama (far more than President Bush). Has this caused your suffering?

Obama has taken Unemployment from 10% down to 4.7%. Has this caused your suffering?

Homelessness among US Veterans has dropped by half. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama shut down the US secret overseas prisons. Has this caused your suffering?

President Obama has created a policy for the families of fallen soldiers to have their travel paid for to be there when remains are flown home. Has this caused your suffering?

We landed a rover on Mars. Has this caused your suffering?

He passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Has this caused your suffering?

Uninsured adults has decreased to below 10%: 90% of adults are insured – an increase of 20 Million Adults. Has this caused your suffering?

People are now covered for pre-existing conditions. Has this caused your suffering?

Insurance Premiums increased an average of $4,677 from 2002-2008, an increase of 58% under Bush. The growth of these insurance premiums has gone up $4,145 – a slower rate of increase. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama added Billions of dollars to mental health care for our Veterans. Has this caused your suffering?

Consumer confidence has gone from 37.7 to 98.1 during Obama’s tenure. Has this caused your suffering?

He passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Has this caused your suffering?

His bi-annual Nuclear Summit convinced 16 countries to give up and destroy all their loose nuclear material so it could not be stolen. Has this caused your suffering?

He saved the US Auto industry. American cars sold at the beginning of his term were 10.4M and upon his exit 17.5M. Has this caused your suffering?

The deficit as a percentage of the GDP has gone from 9.8% to 3.2%. Has this caused your suffering?

The deficit itself was cut by $800 Billion Dollars. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama preserved the middle class tax cuts. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama banned solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. Has this caused your suffering?

He signed Credit Card reform so that rates could not be raised without you being notified. Has this caused your suffering?

He outlawed Government contractors from discriminating against LGBT persons. Has this caused your suffering?

He doubled Pell Grants. Has this caused your suffering?

Abortion is down. Has this caused your suffering?

Violent crime is down. Has this caused your suffering?

He overturned the scientific ban on stem cell research. Has this caused your suffering?

He protected Net Neutrality. Has this caused your suffering?

Obamacare has extended the life of the Medicare insurance trust fund (will be solvent until 2030). Has this caused your suffering?

President Obama repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Has this caused your suffering?

He banned torture. Has this caused your suffering?

He negotiated with Syria to give up its chemical weapons and they were destroyed. Has this caused your suffering?

Solar and Wind Power are at an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?

High School Graduation rates hit 83% – an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?

Corporate profits are up by 144%. Has this caused your suffering?

He normalized relations with Cuba. Has this caused your suffering?

Reliance on foreign oil is at a 40 year low. Has this caused your suffering?

US Exports are up 28%. Has this caused your suffering?

He appointed the most diverse cabinet ever. Has this caused your suffering?

He reduced the number of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Has this caused your suffering?

Yes, he killed Osama Bin Laden and retrieved all the documents in his possession for analysis. Perhaps THIS caused your suffering?

Things are not perfect. Things can always be better. I look forward to understanding what caused you to suffer so much under Obama these last eight years.”

Alt-Right Liberal Fascism? Fake History's Alternative Facts rolled out at CPAC!

The alt-right's effortless fit into the Trumpian Party has Republicans concerned, even as they churn out racist, bigoted and misogynistic apparel their voters wear with pride.

Following Scott Walker's declaration that "noisy' government protesters should be ignored, American Conservative Union's Dan Schneider tried to blame the alt-rights hold on the Republican Party to "garden variety left-wing fascists"...ah, it's there in the name, alt-RIGHT, right????

Schneider also made it seem like the term "alt-right" has been around for years, and that it was suddenly stolen by white nationalists...only if late 2008 was a longgggg time ago:
Schneider: "This hate filled left-wing fascist group hijacked the very term 'alt-right.' That term, alt-right, had been used for a long time in a very good and normal way. but this group had hijacked it. Hijacked the term. And they did it intentionally because they wanted to deceive the media, and they wanted to deceive you all and what they stand for..." 
Wiki: In November 2008, Paul Gottfried addressed the H. L. Mencken Club about what he called "the alternative right". In 2009, two more posts at Taki's Magazine, by Patrick J. Ford and Jack Hunter, further discussed the alternative right. The term, however, is most commonly attributed to Richard B. Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute and founder of Alternative Right.
Fast forward to today, at CPAC...which brings me to Dan Schneider's feeble attempt to rebrand the alt-right as "garden variety left-wing fascists ... worming its way into the conservative movement:"
Shortly before White nationalist leader Richard Spencer was escorted away, Schneider made a puzzling argument: The alt-right and its band of Nazi sympathizers were actually a product of the left. “They are nothing but garden variety left-wing fascists,” he said. 

The American Conservative Union’s Dan Schneider denounced him and members of his movement. In a speech titled “The Alt Right Ain’t Right At All,” Schneider said Spencer and his colleagues were part of a “sinister organization” that is trying to “worm its way” into the conservative movement. “They are racists. They are sexists. They hate the Constitution. They hate everything we believe in. They are not an extension of conservatism,” Schneider said.

Schneider: "They are not an extension of conservatism, they are not what Gov. Walker...talked about. They are nothing but garden variety left-wing fascists. (applause) Some in the media are wondering what I mean by left-wing fascists..."

Yes we are. And you didn't make the case. 

Scott Walker "wasn't going to let the NOISE of the protesters..." Noise? That's what those who challenge the government are to him?

It's good to know that real Americans can freely protest their government, just like the Constitution guarantees, but in an authoritarian winner take all dictatorship, just don't expect anyone to listen.
Scott Walker: "A reporter asked me, 'don't the protesters have a right to be heard?' I said absolutely. They absolutely have a right to be heard. This is America. Anyone can say or do whatever they want about the government. They can challenge the government no matter who's in power."
Wow, now that's America...but wait, you're government doesn't have to listen to their "noise,"
Walker: "But then I said to that reporter. I wasn't going to let the noise of the protesters drown out voices of the majority of people who elected us to do the things that we were going to do." 
Noise? Daily demonstrations where  20,000 to 60,000 average Americans protested...topping out at 100,000, not to mention 1 million recall signatures, and that's what Walker calls "noise?"

Walker doesn't really believe what he said at CPAC either. Like the title of his book, "Unintimidated" suggests point blank, he thinks protesters are trying to intimidate him, personally. What an ego.

So protesting, challenging the government, is one big waste of time. And oddly, all protesters are paid by George Soros, big monied special interests, and ordered around by union thugs. Not one or 10 Republicans in the crowd?

Esquire's Charlie Pierce described Scott Walker's bravery and authoritarianism this way:
Alone among the crowd of candidates, Walker most clearly is running on his record of being a complete prick to the right people – which include teachers and nurses and the people who clean up after Alzheimer's patients in group homes. He truly is a remarkable liar, already a far more remarkable liar than even Mitt Romney was, and I didn't think that was possible. For example, the evidence is that while he managed to ram his programs through his pet legislature, he hid behind his capitol police. He took a tunnel to get to the office. He and his pet legislature changed the rules of what was allowed in the Wisconsin capitol building, which always had been open space. He was unintimidated by singing grandmothers because his administration had them arrested and hauled away.​

And, it scarcely needs to be mentioned, when 100,000 of his constituents showed up on his lawn, Scott Walker did not deign to meet with them.

(And, you have to admit, it takes some big clanging brass ones to talk about "taking on the big special interests" a couple of weeks after giving $250 million of that sweet taxpayer cash to the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, to say nothing of riding to victory three times on tidal waves of dark money.)​

Freedom? Paul Ryan thinks..."Freedom is the ability to buy what you want..."

The Huffington Post's Jonathan Cohn is one of the best health care reporters out there, along with Sarah Cliff at VOX. If you're going to trust anybody, trust them. 

Cohn wrote a great piece responding to Paul Ryan's concept of "freedom."

People are slowly coming around to the idea that for Republicans, like Ryan, freedom means buying things; big gulps, incandescent light bulbs, guns, and of course, junk health insurance policies. If you look back at their past arguments, it's always been about buying things. The freedom "to buy what you want" is a God given freedom, untouched by silly man made "constitutions."

On Tuesday, Ryan tweeted an argument that he and other conservative leaders have made many times before: “Freedom is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need. Obamacare is Washington telling you what to buy regardless of your needs.”

There’s some truth in that second sentence. The Affordable Care Act forces insurers to sell to people with pre-existing conditions … must cover “essential” services … cap consumers’ out-of-pocket spending and prohibit insurers from selling plans with annual or lifetime limits on payments … the individual mandate…

But do these requirements really mean less freedom overall, as Ryan argues? For many Americans, these requirements and the law as a whole have led to more freedom … In the old days, people could find themselves owing huge bills for hospitalization, rehab or prescriptions because they only discovered after they got sick that their junk or “mini-med” plans left out whole swaths of services or covered just a few thousand dollars worth of charges ... easy marks for scams.

In this respect, the current rules on insurance are no different than any other set of consumer protections … For buyers, such regulations mean the freedom to eat without getting sick or the freedom to drive without getting killed.

The Affordable Care Act more generally, leads to more freedom rather than less … Prior to 2014 many people with pre-existing conditions could not buy useful coverage … millions of people simply didn’t have enough money to pay for it. Any insurance-related freedom these people had was purely imaginary, like the freedom of the poor to buy a yacht or a mansion, or the freedom of those without savings to retire at age 50.

The taxes and rules mean that fewer people end up worrying about crippling medical expenses, while more people get treatment for painful, debilitating or even deadly ailments.

The health care law has also provided another type of freedom: A real option to leave a job with a large employer in order to start a new business or to work part-time or to stay at home to care for a child or sick relative. “It is really incredible that this shift from involuntary part-time to voluntary part-time is not more widely known,” Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research, has written. “It is a very important outcome from the ACA.”

Ryan in particular keeps asking why people in good health should have to pay extra for policies that cover medical services they figure they won’t need anytime soon. This is a perfectly legitimate argument. But a major goal of insurance is to protect against the unknown ― the possibility of developing cancer, having a debilitating car crash or contracting a severe infection … random accidents of birth or circumstance ― whether it’s a congenital condition like cystic fibrosis that will need a lifetime of care, pollution-induced asthma that will cost thousands for inhalers and medications, or two X-chromosomes that will likely lead to some form of reproductive health services.

Conservatives once attacked Medicare, too. In 1961, Ronald Reagan warned that if it became law, then “you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” More than half a century later, Medicare hasn’t created a totalitarian dystopia. Instead, it has allowed generations of seniors to access the medical care they need, while sparing them the hardship and indignity of financial ruin. That’s arguably a huge increase in freedom.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trump tanks in Poll, tell a disinterested true believer.

A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Trump with a negative 38% to 55% job approval rating, his worst net score since he took office.
  • 55% to 40% say he is not honest
  • 55% to 42% say he does not have good leadership skills
  • 53% to 44% say he does not care about average Americans
  • 63% to 33% say he is not level-headed
  • 64% to 32% say he is a strong person
  • 58% to 38% say he is intelligent
  • 60% to 37% say he does not share their values
Said pollster Tim Malloy: “President Trump’s popularity is sinking like a rock. He gets slammed on honesty, empathy, level headedness and the ability to unite. And two of his strong points, leadership and intelligence, are sinking to new lows. This is a terrible survey one month in.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Silent no longer, Doctors and Major Medical Publications get behind Single Payer!!!

While the U.S. is now on the verge of instituting a fully privatized health care system based on profits and limiting corporate risks, doctors nationwide are speaking out:
In a dramatic show of physician support for making a decisive break with the private insurance model of financing medical care - 2,231 physicians called today for the creation of a publicly financed, single-payer national health program that would cover all Americans for all medically necessary care. The proposal was drafted by a blue-ribbon panel of 39 leading physicians. A 2008 survey of physicians found that 59 percent supported "legislation to establish national health insurance," up from 49 percent five years earlier.
Doctors are now on the side of universal health care, big time. Why? Check out the following statement from "Dr. Adam Gaffney, a Boston-based pulmonary disease and critical care specialist, lead author of a recent editorial and co-chair of the Working Group that produced their proposal:"
"Caring relationships are increasingly taking a back seat to the financial prerogatives of insurance firms, corporate providers, and Big Pharma. Our patients are suffering and our profession is being degraded and disfigured by these mercenary interests."
But with Paul Ryan's repeal and replace fiasco, we're going in the opposite direction, walking away from the following benefits actually supported by doctors:
Under the national health program (NHP) outlined by the physicians:
1. Patients could choose to go to any doctor and hospital. Most hospitals and clinics would remain privately owned and operated, receiving a budget from the NHP to cover all operating costs. 

2. Physicians could continue to practice on a fee-for-service basis, or receive salaries from group practices, hospitals or clinics.

3. The program would be paid for by combining current sources of government health spending into a single fund with modest new taxes that would be fully offset by reductions in premiums and out-of-pocket spending. Co-pays and deductibles would be eliminated.

4. The single-payer program would save about $500 billion annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of insurance firms, and the massive paperwork they inflict on hospitals and doctors.

5. The administrative savings of the streamlined system would fully offset the costs of covering the uninsured and upgraded coverage for everyone else, e.g. full coverage of prescription drugs, dental care and long-term care. Savings would also be redirected to currently underfunded health priorities, particularly public health.

6. The "single payer" would be in a strong position to negotiate lower prices for medications and other medical supplies, yielding additional savings and reining in costs.
This puts the people and doctors in the drivers seat. In an editorial supporting single payer....

Proposals floated by Republican leaders won't achieve President Trump's campaign promises of more coverage, better benefits, and lower costs, but a single-payer reform would, according to a commentary published today in Annals of Internal Medicine, one of the nation's most prestigious and widely cited medical journals.

In today's Annals commentary, Longtime health policy experts Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein warn that the proposals would slash Medicaid spending for the poor, shift the ACA's subsidies from the near-poor to wealthier Americans, and replace Medicare with a voucher program, even as they would cut Medicare's funding and raise the program's eligibility age.
Point by point, single payer continues to save money and free people and businesses from crippling bills:
Single-payer reform could provide comprehensive first-dollar coverage to all Americans within the current budgetary envelope because of vast savings on health care bureaucracy and profits.

1. $504 billion annually on health care paperwork and profits, including $220 billion on insurance overhead

2. $150 billion in hospital billing and administration

3. $75 billion doctors' billing and paperwork. They estimate that an additional $113 billion could be saved each year by hard bargaining with drug companies over prices.

4. The savings would cover the cost of expanding insurance to the 26 million who remain uninsured despite the ACA, "plugging the gaps in existing coverage.

5. Abolishing copayments and deductibles.

6. Covering such services as dental and long-term care that many policies exclude."
The lead author of the commentary, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, said: "We're wasting hundreds of billions of health care dollars on insurance paperwork and profits. Private insurers take more than 12 cents of every premium dollar for their overhead and profit, as compared to just over 2 cents in Medicare. Meanwhile, 26 million are still uninsured and millions more with coverage can't afford care.

Dr. David Himmelstein, the senior author, said, “Polls show that most Americans—including most people who want the ACA repealed, and even a strong minority of Republicans - want single-payer reform.

And doctors are crying out for such reform. The Annals of Internal Medicine is one of the most respected and traditional medical journals. Their willingness to publish a call for single payer signals that it's a mainstream idea in our profession."

Ryan to Plunder Seniors life savings Shopping in Medicare "Marketplace."

Even after debating the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act for six years, reporters have done little to bone up on the subject. They still aren't asking the right questions of our politically motivated free market reformers.

Turning Medicare into a Shopping Experience? There's an odd dynamic here; while Rep. Paul Ryan has called the health care marketplace a disaster, he wants to turn Medicare into a health care marketplace...with subsidies.

Even worse, Ryan actually thinks seniors should be shoppers, ignoring cognitive aging, age-related financial vulnerability, dementia and Alzheimer disease.

I truly believe Ryan isn't just fully aware of the problem, but is purposely targeting seniors hard earned money and possessions for insurer plundering in the marketplace.

ALERT: What about Cognitive Aging and Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability, or AAFV?
Cognitive Aging: Part of the aging process is cognitive aging as it relates to driving safety and financial decision-making, (which the latter) would be problematic shopping for health care. As a person ages there is a gradual, but marked change in these cognitive functions, which is referred to as "cognitive aging." Cognitive aging is not a disease or a level of impairment—it is a lifelong process that affects everyone.
But the bigger problem comes with Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability (AAFV), something reporters should be asking guys like Paul Ryan about, especially when they blissfully talk about seniors shopping for insurance every year.
Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability: Managing money can be difficult at any age. For older adults, changes in physical condition and life circumstances can lead to changes for the worse in financial behavior, putting their well-being in danger. It's a pattern of financial behavior that places an older adult at substantial risk for a considerable loss of resources such that dramatic changes in quality of life would result ... a condition different from dementia, which already is recognized as putting older adults at risk of causing themselves financial harm.

1. Other potential contributing factors may include cognitive changes, such as a lessened ability to discern a person's trustworthiness, and psychosocial problems, including loneliness or depression.

2. In addition, the finance industry has identified older adults as an untapped market, which can lead to them being overwhelmed by the "dizzying array of financial products and services," according to Han and co-author Mark Lachs, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and co-chief of geriatrics and gerontology at Weill Medical College in New York.

"In my discussions with Dr. Lachs about our experiences with the heart-breaking effects of financial vulnerability among our older patients, we decided that naming the problem may be a useful first step to addressing the issue."- Duke Han, PhD, co-author of the study.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trump's Authoritarian State and Regime Change..."we have at most a year to defend the Republic." -Prof. Timothy Snyder

The following interview about Trump can be easily applied to Scott Walker, because both have vilified their opposition, especially the media and protesters. The authoritarian lust for power has never been more obvious or frightening:
In an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder said the threat posed by President Donald Trump means “we have at most a year to defend the Republic” and highlighted the role chief strategist Stephen Bannon is playing in that threat.

In addition, Snyder explains that Bannon’s use of the term “opposition” when describing the media is an indicator of talk about an “authoritarian state” because it suggests some type of regime change. When you say that the press is the opposition, than you are advocating a regime change in the United States. When I am a Republican and say the Democrats are the opposition, we talk about our system. If I say the government is one party and the press is the opposition, then I talk about an authoritarian state. This is regime change. 

During the campaign Trump used the slogan “America First” and then was informed that this was the name of a movement that tried to prevent the United States from fighting Nazi Germany and was associated with nativists and white supremacists. He claimed then not to have known that. But in the inaugural address he made “America First” his central theme, and now he can’t say that he doesn’t know what it means.

And of course Bannon knows what it means. America First is precisely the conjuration of this alternative America of the 1930s where Charles Lindbergh is the hero. This inaugural address reeked of the 1930s. They don’t get that a “disruption” can actually destroy much of what they take for granted. They have no notion what it means to destroy the state and how their lives would look like if the rule of law would no longer exist. I find it frightening that people who talk about the destruction of the American state are now in charge of the American state.

In the February 7 interview, Snyder commented on Bannon’s interaction with the media specifically, noting that he “says in essence that he misleads the public and the media deliberately” and that Bannon’s goal is “the extinction of the whole political system.”

The idea is to marginalize the people who actually represent the core values of the Republic. The point is to bring down the Republic. You can disagree with them. but once you say they have no right to protest or start lying about them, you are in effect saying: We want a regime where this is not possible anymore.

“ When the president says that it means that the executive branch is engaged in regime change towards an authoritarian regime without the rule of law. You are getting people used to this transition, you are inviting them into the process by asking them to have contempt for their fellow citizens who are defending the Republic. You are also seducing people into a world of permanent internet lying and [away] from their own experiences with other people.

Getting out to protest, this is something real and I would say something patriotic. Part of the new authoritarianism is to get people to prefer fiction and inaction to reality and action. People sit in their chairs, read the tweet and repeat the clichés; “yes, they are thugs” instead of “it is normal to get out in the streets for what you believe.” He is trying to teach people a new behavior: You just sit right where you are, read what I say and nod your head. That is the psychology of regime change.

Trump's Enemy the News Media...then we're talking about an authoritarian state. "This is regime change."

From the early iterations of the Trump campaign, the press was always the enemy, the liars filtering Trump's message to deceive and destroy.

With the help of conservative online news rag Breitbart, Steve Bannon, and a resentful base of emotional basket cases, the established news media is about to lose its relevancy.

In a few last gasps, CNN and Fox News tried and failed to even get even a passing nod of sympathy. The video clip below features Chris Wallace calling out Reince Priebus, who after whining about anonymous sources, used of an anonymous source in an answer. But that was different? Wallace doesn't let up for second:

Yale University History Professor Timothy Snyder wrote a great piece on Trump and Steve Bannon. The following is just a short relevant passage that relates to "the media is the enemy of the American people.":
In an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder said the threat posed by President Donald Trump means “we have at most a year to defend the Republic” and highlighted the role chief strategist Stephen Bannon is playing in that threat.

In addition, Snyder explains that Bannon’s use of the term “opposition” when describing the media is an indicator of talk about an “authoritarian state” because it suggests some type of regime change. When you say that the press is the opposition, than you are advocating a regime change in the United States. When I am a Republican and say the Democrats are the opposition, we talk about our system. If I say the government is one party and the press is the opposition, then I talk about an authoritarian state. This is regime change.

McCain attacks Trump in speech to World.

John McCain maybe the guy who gave us Sarah Palin, but he also gave us this incredible take down speech of Trump, a must see and proud moment his fellow Republicans will ignore completely:
During a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, the Republican senator from Arizona delivered a pointed and striking point-by-point takedown of Trump's worldview and brand of nationalism. McCain didn't mention Trump's name once, but he didn't have to.

In his speech, McCain suggested the Western world is uniquely imperiled this year — even more so than when Barack Obama was president — and proceeded to question whether it will even survive.

“In recent years, this question would invite accusations of hyperbole and alarmism; not this year. If ever there were a time to treat this question with a deadly seriousness, it is now.”

"[The founders of the Munich conference] would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood and race and sectarianism.”

“They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see towards immigrants and refugees and minority groups -- especially Muslims.”

“They would be alarmed by the growing inability -- and even unwillingness -- to separate truth from lies.”

"They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent."
McCain concluded, by taking on Trump's low bar for world leadership:
Two weeks ago, you may recall, Trump suggested the United States didn't exactly have the moral high ground on Russia. Asked by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly about wanting good relations with a “killer” like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump demurred.
“There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?
McCain then concluded with another direct shot at Trump.
“I refuse to accept that our values are morally equivalent to those of our adversaries,” he said. “I am a proud, unapologetic believer in the West, and I believe we must always, always stand up for it. For if we do not, who will?
McCain also defended the press:

Texas Republicans responsible; 600 women a year died from complications related to pregnancy, after clinics closed.

The Republican Party keeps racking up more and more American fatalities in the U.S. each year, without a care, and it looks like they're about to double down under Trump. What a plan. It's what keeps people on edge, ignored, resentful and feeling left behind by their government.

Republicans must know their policies ends up killing hundreds of thousands of people each year, but they can't help themselves. People are dying prematurely through free market policies; air pollution, loose safety standards, medical malpractice, unaffordable health care, and "live by the gun, die by the gun" policies. Not exactly pro-life.

Add another deadly policy that might go national to their list:
Republican-led budget cuts that decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics.
Texas Republicans aren't panicking either over the following frightening statistics. Yawn.
Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world, study finds: As the Republican-led state legislature has slashed funding to reproductive healthcare clinics, the maternal mortality rate doubled over just a two-year period.

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.
We're talking about the U.S. here:
The finding comes from a report, appearing in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, that the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.
Similar to proposals now in other states, Texas was there first with women's health clinic cuts:
In 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services – such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams – to only half as many women as before.

At the same time, Texas eliminated all Planned Parenthood clinics – whether or not they provided abortion services – from the state program that provides poor women with preventive healthcare. Previously, Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas offered cancer screenings and contraception to more than 130,000 women.

After "Day without Immigrants" protests, conservative Teacher comments begs the question; still want them in our classrooms?

The "Day without Immigrants" protests didn't go over well with a few conservative teachers in a predominantly Latino Southern California school district the other day, and now they've been put on administrative leave.  

This whole thing reminded me of the argument we're having today. In Wisconsin, Republicans like Rep. Robin Vos want more conservative viewpoints in our schools (college in this case), to counter the supposed liberal ideas kids get from their teachers.
"I challenge the UW System this school year to find more ways, beyond a two-page policy statement, to ensure that all perspectives, including conservative ones, are present in the classroom."
Fair enough, let's take a look at what conservative teachers like social science teacher Geoffrey Greer, art teacher Robin Riggle, science teachers Allen Umbarger and Chuck Baugh, agriculture teacher Rhonda Fuller, and Patricia Crawford, a guidance coordinator, would quietly bring to the classroom:

WaPo: Six high school employees ... were placed on administrative leave after they posted social-media comments insulting students who skipped classes to participate in the “Day Without Immigrants” protest. The employees said classes were quieter and grades higher with the students gone. 
Why do conservatives hate protesting so much, the most fundamental First Amendment right people have in this country? Do they really believe protesters are paid by millionaires, take orders from "union thugs," or are trying to "intimidate" elected officials instead of sending a message of opposition to policy?
Cesar Jimenez, who said he graduated from Rubidoux High School in 2014, told The Washington Post the teachers should not have dismissed the students’ decision to join the nationwide boycott as a mere excuse to skip classes. Those students aren’t just kids; rather, they’re teenagers who are developing their own political views and wanted their voices to be heard.

“Condensing it down to just looking for an excuse to get drunk and be lazy, that’s just irresponsible on his part (Greer). That undermines the whole motive because it’s not about that. It’s about bringing attention to the fact that there are initiatives in our current administration that are pushing against immigration. These issues need to be brought to light.”

Trembling Trump frightened by "...what's happening last night in Sweden!"

I couldn't resist posting this. It's a small but yugely significant point about Trump's hyperbolic rhetoric, it's all bullshit. Here's the headline...:
Sweden has no idea what Trump meant when he said, ‘You look at what’s happening … in Sweden:’ But if you believe President Trump, something happened in Sweden on Friday night that deserved the attention of the world. However, nobody knows what that might be so far, least the Swedes.
Swedish citizens were stumped:

Without hesitation, Trump delivered this completely made up..."you look at what's happening last night in Sweden...who would believe this..." no we wouldn't believe this lunacy:
Trump: “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”

Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter:
The White House already faced criticism this month after it included an incident in the Swedish city of Malmö on its list of allegedly underreported attacks. In October, arson caused smoke damage at an Iraqi community center in Malmö. A judge, however, decided that there was no evidence for treating the incident as a “terror attack” — months before the White House released the list that referred to the incident.

"What's happening in Sweden" has had it's upside...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

DeVos backs Online Charter Schools despite lousy record!!! Parents know better?

It's kind of an interesting dynamic; Scott Walker says he wants to spend money on public education, a smaller amount than he originally cut, knowing he'll never get it from the legislature. Aw shucks, he tried, right? 

But it's the money taxpayers are losing just under the radar with virtual online schools: 
The Nation: In Wisconsin … in March of 2011, while busting the teachers unions in his state, Walker lifted the cap on virtual schools and removed the program’s income requirements. State Representative Robin Vos, the Wisconsin state chair for ALEC, sponsored the bill codifying Walker’s radical expansion of online, for-profit schools. Vos’s bill not only lifts the cap but also makes new, for-profit virtual charters easier to establish.
The latest study, the K-12 Academic Report, took a look at Wisconsin Virtual Academy's scores, compared to the states public schools. Here's the graph:

Horrible? Yes. So imagine how embarrassed the guy pushing virtual schools must be now, when voters realize those "evil" teachers were right all along when they tried to stop the movement:
Bob Reber, President of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families, said “Despite their millions of dollars, dozens of lawyers and and army of lobbyists who tried to stifle this innovation, virtual schools are a permanent reality and are alive and well in Wisconsin.”
Check out this story from 2010: $12 an Hour for Teachers, $1.7 Million a Year for the Teachers’ Boss: Your Property Tax Dollars at Work in McFarland-Posted on October 12, 2010

Education Sec. Betsy DeVos backs every effort of privatization, despite the scores shown above. Here are a few of her comments:
School choice’s many components“We think of the educational choice movement as involving many parts: vouchers and tax credits, certainly, but also virtual schools, magnet schools, homeschooling, and charter schools.” 2013.  "One long-term trend that’s working in our favor is technology. It seems to me that, in the internet age, the tendency to equate ‘education’ with specific school buildings is going to be greatly diminished.” 2013.
Online Charter Schools...what could go wrong? Wow, the internet age!!! And yet, the bad news keeps  rollin' in on those charter online schools:
Online Charter Students in Ohio Perform Far Worse Than Peers, Study Finds: Students in Ohio's burgeoning full-time online charter schools perform far worse on state assessments than similar students in brick-and-mortar charter and regular schools, according to a new study from researchers at New York University and the RAND Corporation.
1. The schools, which deliver instruction entirely or primarily via the internet, tend to attract lower-income, lower-performing white students, then fail to provide those children with the supports they need, the study concluded.

2. "Students in Ohio e-schools are losing anywhere between 75 days and a full school year of learning compared to their peers in traditional public schools and brick-and-mortar charter schools. If kids are in e-schools for a long time, they're likely going to fall very far behind their peers," a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation said in an interview. 

3. Closely mirrors a nationwide 2015 study of cyber charter school performance by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes, which found that more than two-thirds of the country's 200 or so cyber charters perform worse than comparable traditional schools.
And because taxpayers have money to burn, how about court battles with the privateers?
EdWeek: Ohio state officials contend the nine schools were paid for more than 9,000 students who did not complete enough coursework to be considered full-time. The state's largest e-school, the 15,000-student Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, has contested the results via a lawsuit and administrative appeals.
The Nation article went on to point out the money to be made through the virtual school scam:
Florida was one of the first states to undertake a program of “virtual schools” … In addition, twelve states have expanded virtual school programs or online course requirements this year.

This legislative juggernaut has coincided with a gold rush of investors clamoring to get a piece of the K-12 education market. It’s big business, and getting bigger: One study estimated that revenues from the K-12 online learning industry will grow by 43 percent between 2010 and 2015, with revenues reaching $24.4 billion.

The rush to privatize education will also turn tens of thousands of students into guinea pigs in a national experiment in virtual learning—a relatively new idea that allows for-profit companies to administer public schools completely online, with no brick-and-mortar classrooms or traditional teachers.

DeVos on Public Teachers: "They're waiting to be told what they have to do..."

Public schools are about to get dismantled under Trump, and Betsy DeVos isn't wasting one minute. Perhaps she didn't like the protesters that greeted her as she visit her first public school? I'm writing this because this is one hell of a way to start out...
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had a hard time getting inside the District’s Jefferson Middle School Academy last week when protesters briefly blocked her from entering. But at the end of her visit, (she said) teachers at Jefferson were sincere, genuine and dedicated, (but) they seemed to be in “receive mode.”

“They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child,” DeVos told a columnist for the conservative online publication Townhall. “You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”
Of course DeVos would notice something like this, having never been in any of our public schools:
Jefferson teacher Caroline Hunt said, “I find it very interesting that the chancellor saw teachers that were pushing rigorous learning, students asking each other high-level questions and cultivating high-level responses, and teachers who take initiative and give their lives to the education of these children. DeVos saw something so different. … Maybe if DeVos knew more about education she would realize just how amazing the students, teachers and staff are.”

Jefferson is one of the fastest-improving schools in the city’s public school system. While fewer than half of students are meeting or approaching grade-level expectations, according to new Common Core tests, the school’s growth has won it classification as a “rising” D.C. school.
DeVos trashes Protesters: The public continues to get in the way of our new authoritarian masters who are hell bent on destroying public education so they can "save" it with "change and new ideas" through privatization:
DeVos kicked off her first public speech by casting the protestors who sought to block her from visiting a Washington, D.C., middle school last week as part of a divisive opposition that's resistant to fresh ideas.
"By keeping kids in and new thinking out, Friday's incident demonstrates just how hostile some people are to change and to new ideas.” 
Magnet Schools praised, But on GOP Hit List for Elimination: GOP policy chaos can be found in their educational contradictions:
DeVos praised magnet schools, which are public schools organized around a particular subject area such as arts or technology, as "the original school choice option."

The House Appropriations Committee, though, is seeking to eliminate funding for the program altogether in its fiscal year 2017 spending bill. Magnet schools lag behind charter schools federal funding ... currently receiving about $96 million a year, compared to charters, which get about $333 million from the feds. 
Religion via Taxpayer Funding: DeVos' "change and new ideas" includes finding every way possible to publically fund religion by gaming the First Amendment:
A policy manifesto from the influential conservative group Council for National Policy, with ties to the Trump administration, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, urges the dismantling of the Education Department and bringing God into American classrooms … a “restoration of education in America” that would minimize the federal role, promote religious schools and home schooling and enshrine “historic Judeo-Christian principles” as a basis for instruction.

DeVos’ mother, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, was named on the council’s board of governors. Her father-in-law, Amway founder Richard DeVos Sr., twice served as president.
So yea, we've got a serious problem looming ahead.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Conservative Estimates say 165,000 Wisconsinites will Spend More and/or lose Health Insurance!

Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is going to force tens of millions of Americans off their health care plans. 

Let's take a look at Wisconsin, district by district, and see who's constituents will suffer the consequences of a purely political decision:
Between 20 and 30 million people will lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed by Congressional Republicans with no replacement plan. Charles Gaba, a Michigan-based health care analyst and owner of, wants to remind people that “each one of those numbers is a real, live human being.” That’s why he decided to break down the number of people who could potentially lose insurance after a full repeal of Obamacare by congressional district, so people could get a sense of the impact a repeal would have in their own community.

Estimates are fairly conservative—does not account for the number of people under the age of 26 who could be thrown off their parents’ plans or the repeal’s affect on Medicare. The actual number of people who would lose insurance is likely greater (a recent estimate from the Urban Institute puts it at 32 million).
Paul Ryan to the Rescue? While Paul Ryan waits for the cost estimates for his repeal and replace health care plan from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, news outlets obtained the actual outlined repeal/replace Republican plan. 

I think "driving off a cliff" best describes what the Republicans have in mind. There is no global example where a country thought this was a good idea, or for that matter, worth trying.

With a "free market" health care plan corporate profiteering will kick into overdrive as time goes on, forcing "consumers" with cancer, heart conditions, and victims of accidents to pay a majority of the bills headed their way. It's not like anyone can afford to stick $2,000 to $12,000 away in a savings account.

Warnings have been issued from both political camps on the dangers of destroying the taxing sources needed to fund the Republican plan. Remember, Republicans have pledged never to raise taxes, so just keeping in place Obama's ACA's taxes would help the GOP keep that pledge and fund their plan:
Republicans want to change all of that. To lower the cost of healthcare, Republicans would provide relief from all the Obamacare tax increases, including: 
• The tax on health insurance premiums • The medicine cabinet tax • The tax on prescription drugs • The tax on medical devices • The increased expense threshold for deducting medical expenses. 
My very well off younger brother mentioned that he had one major pet peeve over ObamaCare; he thought it was unfair his higher earnings prevented him from getting subsidized help. Well, that's no longer a problem:
The credit is not based on income. This will help simplify the verification process and expand access for Americans who have been left behind by Obamacare.
The CBO has already panned every one of Ryan's previous versions of this cruel profit based plan for sick people that assumes medical treatment is a consumer product that we shop for. Not one of the following items lowers the cost of health care, unless you consider not having decent coverage a good idea:
1. Americans would no longer be required to purchase health insurance.

2. The plan also calls for ending the health insurance exchanges.

3. The federal income-based subsidies given to Americans will also go away.

4. The government would offer refundable tax credits based on age.
Taxpayers, Not Insurance Companies Pay For Sick: The most insulting part of Ryan's plan is his no nonsense admission that taxpayers will be footing the bill to treat sick people, instead of insurance companies, who are left with health premium paying Americans. Here's what Ryan said when asked who would pay for taking care of the sick:
PAUL RYAN: By having taxpayers, I think, step up and focus on, through risk pools, subsidizing the care for people with catastrophic illnesses. Those losses don't have to be covered by everybody else, and we stabilize their plans.
The House GOP plan also seeks to provide "State Innovation Grants" so states can establish insurance pools for high-risk consumers with preexisting conditions. The grants could be used to establish something similar to the Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan (HIRSP) Wisconsin had in place prior to Obamacare taking effect. The goal is to reduce out-of-pocket costs like co-payments, premiums and deductibles for people who have more health coverage needs.