Obamacare Disaster Update: More Than 160 Million Americans Could Lose Their Health Insurance In 2014

More Than 160M Could Lose Insurance In 2014 – Sweetness & Light

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From Fox News:

Almost 80 million with employer health care plans could have coverage canceled, experts predict

By Jim Angle | November 25, 2013

Almost 80 million people with employer health plans could find their coverage canceled because they are not compliant with ObamaCare, several experts predicted. Their losses would be in addition to the millions who found their individual coverage cancelled for the same reason.

Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute said that in addition to the individual cancellations, “at least half the people on employer plans would by 2014 start losing plans as well.” There are approximately 157 million employer health care policy holders.

Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute added, “the administration estimated that approximately 78 million Americans with employer sponsored insurance would lose their existing coverage due to the Affordable Care Act.”

Once again, it has to be pointed out that most insurance policies cover more than one person. So these 80 million cancelled policies could mean that more than 160 million people will lose their insurance coverage. And 160 million people is a lot of votes. (Obama beat Romney by less than 5 million votes.)

Last week, an analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, showed the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predicted up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.

According to projections the administration itself issued back in July 2010, it was clear officials knew the impact of ObamaCare three years ago. In fact, according to the Federal Register, its mid-range estimate was that by the end of 2014, 76 percent of small group plans would be cancelled, along with 55 percent of large employer plans.

The reason behind the losses is that current plans don’t meet the requirements of ObamaCare, which dictate that each plan must cover a list of essential benefits, whether people want them or not…

And it’s better that people have no insurance at all, than plans that don’t provide ‘free’ breast pumps.

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Top US Hospital Laying Off Staff Due To Obamacare – Daily Caller

The Cleveland Clinic, which is ranked among the top four U.S. hospitals, is making layoffs and cutting its budget more than $100 million as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act, the Daily Caller has learned.

“The cuts for 2014, about half of those are related to the Affordable Care Act… We anticipate a reduction in workforce,” Cleveland Clinic executive director of communications Eileen Sheil said in an interview with TheDC.

The Cleveland Clinic is reducing its 2014 budget by $330 million.

“We offered early retirement to 3,000 employees,” Sheil said, but noted that the early retirement option recently offered to staff was “voluntary” for eligible employees.

“The $330 million cut is not all layoffs,” Sheil said, noting that the Clinic is also cutting operating-room expenses and paying less to vendors.

“We’re taking money out of vendors, renegotiating contracts, looking at where we can reduce duplications, improve supply chain efficiencies… how we can scale back and use less. How we can take costs out of our operating rooms,” Sheil said.

“We were able to take 23 percent out of common operations procedure by doing things more efficiently,” Shiel said.

The Cleveland Clinic is a Top 4 U.S. hospital for 2013-2014, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings. In 2008, Clinic surgeons performed the nation’s first near-total face transplant.

TheDC has extensively reported on Obamacare’s effect on hospitals, including hefty fines and other penalties facing nonprofit hospitals like the one that treated the final Boston Marathon bombing victim.

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Republicans Got It Right About Obamacare: 5 Predictions That Turned Out To Be True – John Hawkins

Republicans Got It Right About Obamacare: 5 Predictions That Turned Out To Be True

Republicans were right about Obamacare and Democrats were wrong. Before Obamacare was passed, when Democrats were telling the public that it would make health care cheaper, better, and would cure cancer right after it makes your bed in the morning and cuts your grass, Republicans were pointing out the very flaws that the American people are bitterly complaining about today. This is why we’re not going to help the Democrats “fix” Obamacare. The fact of the matter is that we’ve been right every step of the way so far and what we’re telling people is that the worst is yet to come. The only real way to “fix” this law is to repeal it. The people telling you that are the ones who pointed out all of these problems that the Democrats lied about and missed like…

1) The cost of insurance will go up: “There is nothing in the House or Senate bills that will enable Americans to have the kind of cost control that the President is promising. No matter how you look at this, health care costs both for individuals and for the country as a whole are going to increase.” – Senior Fellow for Health Policy Studies at Heritage, Robert Moffit in 2009

2) People will lose their jobs or be cut back to part-time because of Obamacare: “Additional taxes on employers and new government mandates that dictate acceptable insurance will place new and crushing burdens on employers. These are burdens that will ultimately fall squarely on the backs of workers in the form of reduced wages, fewer hours or lost employment. CBO agrees that ‘[e]mployees largely bear the cost of… play-or-pay fees in the form of lower wages.’ According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business association, an employer mandate of this magnitude will disproportionately impact small businesses, triggering up to 1.6 million lost jobs. Two-thirds of those jobs would be shed by small businesses.” – House Majority Leader John Boehner in 2009

3) More Americans will lose their health insurance because of Obamacare than will be covered by the law: “This new regulation appears to ignore the impact it will have in the real world. It’ll drive up costs and reduce the number of people who will have insurance.” – Republican Senator Mike Enzi, 2010

4) “If you like your doctor, you keep your doctor” was a lie: “Remember when the president said, ‘If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor’? Not true. In Texas alone a record number of doctors are leaving the Medicare system because of the cuts in reimbursements forced on them by Obamacare.” – Former governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin in 2010

5)”If you like your plan, you can keep it” was a lie: “The District of Columbia is an island surrounded by reality. Only in the District of Columbia could you get away with telling the people if you like what you have you can keep it, and then pass regulations six months later that do just the opposite and figure that people are going to ignore it. But common sense is eventually going to prevail in this town and common sense is going to have to prevail on this piece of legislation as well.” – Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in 2010

These are just five examples of what most conservatives thought would happen with Obamacare and we were spot on. In fact, conservatives predicted every problem with Obamacare other than the utter and complete failure of the website, which if anything shows that we may have given Obama too much credit. What should really scare you is that the same people who got so much right about the bill so far are predicting tens of millions of Americans will lose their plans when the employer mandate comes online and there will be death panels, doctor shortages, a dramatic decline in the quality of care, and massive cost increases that will dwarf anything we’ve seen so far, even though tens of millions of Americans still will remain uninsured under the law.

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Over 600 Hardware And Software Defects In ObamaCare Exchange; ‘The Longest List Anybody Had Ever Seen’ – Fox Nation

On a sultry day in late August, a dozen staff members of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gathered at the agency’s Baltimore headquarters with managers from the major contractors building HealthCare.gov to review numerous problems with President’s Obama’s online health insurance initiative. The mood was grim.

The prime contractor, CGI Federal, had long before concluded that the administration was blindly enamored of an unrealistic goal: creating a cutting-edge website that would use the latest technologies to dazzle consumers with its many features. Knowing how long it would take to complete and test the software, the company’s officials and other vendors believed that it was impossible to open a fully functioning exchange on Oct. 1…

An initial assessment identified more than 600 hardware and software defects – “the longest list anybody had ever seen,” one person involved with the project said.

Read more at nytimes.com

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27 Democratic Senators Who Promised You Could Keep Your Health Coverage – Byron York

President Obama has taken a lot of heat for promising that if Americans liked the health coverage that they had before Obamacare, they would be able to keep it under the new law. But the president wasn’t the only Democrat in Washington who made that false promise. Many, many other Democratic officeholders said the same thing.

In fact, the keep-your-coverage pledge was key to some Democrats’ decision to support the Affordable Care Act. For example, when the bill was being debated, New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said, “[A] requirement that I have for supporting a bill is that if you have health coverage that you like you should be able to keep that.” For many Democrats, the keep-your-coverage pledge was not a throwaway line; it was a fundamental part of their case for Obamacare.

How many Democrats made the promise? There’s no comprehensive list of all of them, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office has compiled a list of 27 Democratic senators who pledged that Americans could keep their coverage under Obamacare. The list includes the entire Democratic leadership in the Senate as well as Democrats facing tough re-election races in 2014, like Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich, and Kay Hagan. Here is that list, compiled by McConnell’s office:

SEN. HARRY REID (D-Nev.): “In fact, one of our core principles is that if you like the health care you have, you can keep it.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.8642, 8/3/09)

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: “We believe – and we stand by this – if you like your current health insurance plan, you will be able to keep it, plain and simple, straightforward.” (Sen. Durbin, Congressional Record, S.6401, 6/10/09)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “If you like your insurance, you keep it.” (U.S. Senate, Finance Committee, Bill Mark-Up, 9/29/09)

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-Wash.): “Again, if you like what you have, you will be able to keep it. Let me say this again: If you like what you have, when our legislation is passed and signed by the President, you will be able to keep it.” (Sen. Murray, Congressional Record, S.6400, 6/10/09)

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-Mont.): “That is why one of the central promises of health care reform has been and is: If you like what you have, you can keep it. That is critically important. If a person has a plan, and he or she likes it, he or she can keep it.” (Sen. Baucus, Congressional Record, S.7676, 9/29/10)

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-Iowa): “One of the things we put in the health care bill when we designed it was the protection for consumers to keep the plan they have if they like it; thus, the term ‘grandfathered plans.’ If you have a plan you like – existing policies – you can keep them. …we said, if you like a plan, you get to keep it, and you can grandfather it in.” (Sen. Harkin, Congressional Record, S.7675-6, 9/29/10)

THEN-REP. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-Wis.): “Under the bill, if you like the insurance you have now, you may keep it and it will improve.” (Rep. Baldwin, Press Release, 3/18/10)

SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-Alaska): “If you got a doctor now, you got a medical professional you want, you get to keep that. If you have an insurance program or a health care policy you want of ideas, make sure you keep it. That you can keep who you want.” (Sen. Begich, Townhall Event, 7/27/09)

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-Colo.): “We should begin with a basic principle: if you have coverage and you like it, you can keep it. If you have your doctor, and you like him or her, you should be able to keep them as well. We will not take that choice away from you.” (Sen. Bennet, Press Release, 6/11/09)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-Calif.): “So we want people to be able to keep the health care they have. And the answer to that is choice of plans. And in the exchange, we’re going to have lots of different plans, and people will be able to keep the health care coverage they need and they want.” (Sen. Boxer, Press Release, 2/8/11)

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-Ohio): “Our bill says if you have health insurance and you like it, you can keep it…”(Sen. Brown, Congressional Record, S.12612, 12/7/09)

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-Md.): “For the people of Maryland, this bill will provide a rational way in which they can maintain their existing coverage…” (Sen. Cardin, Congressional Record, S.13798, 12/23/09)

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-Pa.): “I also believe this legislation and the bill we are going to send to President Obama this fall will also have secure choices. If you like what you have, you like the plan you have, you can keep it. It is not going to change.” (Sen. Casey, Congressional Record, S.8070, 7/24/09)

SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-N.C.): ‘People who have insurance they’re happy with can keep it’ “We need to support the private insurance industry so that people who have insurance they’re happy with can keep it while also providing a backstop option for people without access to affordable coverage.” (“Republicans Vent As Other Compromise Plans Get Aired,” National Journal’s Congress Daily, 6/18/09)

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-La.): “If you like the insurance that you have, you’ll be able to keep it.” (MSNBC’s Hardball, 12/16/09)

SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-Vt.): “[I]f you like the insurance you now have, keep the insurance you have.” (CNN’s “Newsroom,” 10/22/09)

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-N.J.): “If you like what you have, you get to keep it” “Menendez is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which is expected to release a bill later this week. He stressed that consumers who are satisfied with their plans won’t have to change. ‘If you like what you have, you get to keep it,’ he said.” (“Health Care Plan Would Help N.J., Menendez Says,” The Record, 6/19/09)

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-Oreg.): “[E]nsuring that those who like their insurance get to keep it” “The HELP Committee bill sets forward a historic plan that will, for the first time in American history, give every American access to affordable health coverage, reduce costs, and increase choice, while ensuring that those who like their insurance get to keep it.” (Sen. Merkley, Press Release, 7/15/09)

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D-Md.): “It means that if you like the insurance you have now, you can keep it.” (Sen. Mikulski, Press Release, 12/24/09)

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-W.Va.): “I want people to know, the President’s promise that if you like the coverage you have today you can keep it is a pledge we intend to keep.” (U.S. Senate, Finance Committee, Hearing, 9/23/09)

SEN. JACK REED (D-R.I.): “If you like the insurance you have, you can choose to keep it.” (Sen. Reed, Town Hall Event, 6/25/09)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.): “‘If you have coverage you like, you can keep it,’ says Sen. Sanders.” (“Sick And Wrong,” Rolling Stone, 4/5/10)

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-N.H.): ‘if you have health coverage that you like, you get to keep it’ “My understanding… is that… if you have health coverage that you like you can keep it. As I said, you may have missed my remarks at the beginning of the call, but one of the things I that I said as a requirement that I have for supporting a bill is that if you have health coverage that you like you should be able to keep that. …under every scenario that I’ve seen, if you have health coverage that you like, you get to keep it.” (Sen. Shaheen, “Health Care Questions From Across New Hampshire,” Accessed 11/13/13)

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D-Mich.): “As someone who has a large number of large employers in my state, one of the things I appreciate about the chairman’s mark is – is the grandfathering provisions, the fact that the people in my state, 60 percent of whom have insurance, are going to be able to keep it. And Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that. That’s a strong commitment. It’s clear in the bill… I appreciate the strong commitment on your part and the president to make sure that if you have your insurance you can keep it. That’s the bottom line for me.” (U.S. Senate, Finance Committee, Bill Mark-Up, 9/24/09)

SEN. JON TESTER (D-Mont.): “‘If you like your coverage, you’ll be able to keep it,’ Tester said, adding that if Medicare changes, it will only become stronger”. (“Tester In Baker To Discuss Health Care,” The Fallon County Times, 11/20/09)

SEN. TOM UDALL (D-N.Mex.): “Some worried reform would alter their current coverage. It won’t. If you like your current plan, you can keep it.” (“What I Learned: About Health Care Reform This Summer, By Your Lawmakers In Congress,” Albuquerque Journal, 9/8/09)

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-R.I.): “…it honors President Obama’s programs and the promise of all of the Presidential candidates that if you like the plan you have, you get to keep it. You are not forced out of anything.”(Sen. Whitehouse, Congressional Record, S.8668, 8/3/09)

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Leftist Disaster Update: Thousands Of Doctors Dropped By Insurer After Obamacare Funding Cuts

Thousands Of Doctors Dropped By Insurer After Obamacare Funding Cuts – News Max

UnitedHealth Group has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks, leaving many elderly patients unsure whether they need to switch plans to continue seeing their doctors, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

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The insurer said in October that underfunding of Medicare Advantage plans for the elderly could not be fully offset by the company’s other healthcare business.

The company also reported spending more healthcare premiums on medical claims in the third quarter, due mainly to government cuts to payments for Medicare Advantage services.

“Medicare Advantage, an alternative to traditional Medicare, combines hospital and doctor coverage and often includes prescription drugs and perks like gym memberships,” the Journal explained. “Enrollment has more than doubled since 2004 to 13 million in 2012, which represents about 27 percent of Americans on Medicare.

“The federal government pays private insurers a per-capita fee to manage the benefits. The rate is currently about 12 percent more than the average Medicare patient spends annually. The Obama administration plans to cut those extra payments to insurers by about $150 billion over the next 10 years to help pay” for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Some experts told the Journal that they expect enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans to decline sharply if that occurs.

The Journal report said that doctors in at least 10 states were notified of being laid off the plans, some citing “significant changes and pressures in the healthcare environment.” According to the notices, the terminations can be appealed within 30 days.

Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesperson, was not immediately available for comment when reached by Reuters.

At least two state medical societies are seeking temporary restraining orders against UnitedHealth and other state attorney generals are investigating the firm.

Attorneys in Connecticut, acting on behalf of the Hartford and Fairfield County Medical Associations, filed suit Friday after UnitedHealth dropped doctors serving the popular Medicare program, The Courant reported.

Other states expressed similar anger over the changes. In Rhode Island, the state’s attorney general and health department director on Friday sent letters to UnitedHealth’s New England CEO, asking him to reinstate doctors until a full plan for such a transition could be put in place, Rhode Island Public Radio reported.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Health Department director Michael Fine told United Health that they are concerned the continuity of care will be lost in the shakeup. They also noted that UnitedHealth has not notified customers of the changes, leaving that up to doctors.

But the insurer told the WSJ that its provider networks were always changing and that it expected its Medicare Advantage network to be 85 percent to 90 percent of its current size by the end of 2014.

UnitedHealth is participating in about a dozen new state insurance markets that launched on October 1 to offer subsidized health coverage under Obamacare. The insurer had said previously it planned to withdraw from some markets in 2014 because of the government funding cuts.

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Foreign Policy Disaster Update: Obama Says Bombing Iran’s Nukes Will Make Them Want To Build Nukes

Obama: I Don’t Want To Attack Iran’s Nukes Because That Will Inspire Them To Build Nukes – Pat Dollard

Obama is determined, come hell or high water, that Iran get a nuclear arsenal. This has been a core goal of the Democrat party for decades.

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Excerpted from The Jerusalem Post: US President Barack Obama said Thursday that no matter how powerful the American military, a strike against nuclear facilities in Iran could lead the Islamic Republic to “pursue even more vigorously nuclear weapons in the future.”

“No matter how good our military is, military options are always messy,” Obama said. “Any armed conflict has cost to it.”

At a press conference in the West Wing of the White House, Obama, speaking primarily about changes to his signature health care law, said he hoped Congress would hold off on new sanctions against Iran as negotiations proceeded in Geneva – “if, in fact, we’re serious about trying to resolve this diplomatically.” Keep reading

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8 Reasons ObamaCare Is An Epic Disaster (Kyle Becker)

8 Reasons ObamaCare Is An Epic Disaster – Kyle Becker

While Democrats were spiking the football after the passage of ObamaCare, most of the country was doing a collective facedesk. Check out just seven reasons this massive program is bombing…

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1. Employer Mandate Bombs

“The ObamaCare employer mandate requiring businesses to provide their workers with health insurance will be delayed by a year, the administration said.” [The Hill] If ObamaCare is so fantastically awesome, why delay the awesomeness until after the 2014 midterm elections?

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2. ‘Honor System’ Train Wreck

“The federal government will scale back oversight of what applicants say they earn. Knowing an applicant’s salary is crucial for the Affordable Care Act: Their income determines what kind of tax subsidy they receive, if they get any assistance at all.” [WaPo] Honor system? Yeah, because that works so well with cell phones and food stamps.

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3. Rate Spikes

Insurance rate and premium spikes are taking place across the country. For example: “The Ohio Department of Insurance predicts premiums in 2014 will rise by 88 percent, a direct result of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” [Washington Times]. Even in Washington State, which implemented ObamaCare-like reforms in 1993, “Obamacare will still increase the underlying cost of individually purchased health insurance by 34 to 80 percent, on average.” [Forbes]

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4. Fire Tornado of Paperwork

“Obamacare has so far cost $30.8 billion and 111.4 million hours to complete paperwork to individuals, healthcare institutions, and small businesses, according to a new report. The American Action Forum, a Washington-based advocacy group that has long opposed the health law, said 55,742 employees – working 2,000 hours per year – would be needed to process all the red tape associated with Obamacare.” [NewsMax]

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5. Trillions More in Debt – Economic Collapse

“Obamacare will increase the long-term federal deficit by $6.2 trillion, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report”… “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future,” Obama told a joint-session of Congress in September 2009. [NRO] President Obama also said in an ABC News interview in 2009 that if Congress did not pass health care legislation that brought down costs, the federal government “will go bankrupt.”

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6. ‘Round in Circles – Still Doesn’t Cover 26 Million

“[T]he landmark overhaul will expand coverage to about 30 million uninsured people, according to government figures. But an estimated 26 million Americans will remain without coverage – a population that’s roughly the size of Texas and [hypothetically] includes illegal immigrants and those who can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for health insurance.”[Business Insider]

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7. Not Everyone Will Keep Their Plans

“Many people who buy their own health insurance could get surprises in the mail this fall: cancellation notices because their current policies aren’t up to the basic standards of President Barack Obama’s health care law. They, and some small businesses, will have to find replacement plans – and that has some state insurance officials worried about consumer confusion. Also, it doesn’t seem to square with one of the president’s best known promises about his health care overhaul: ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.’” [AP]

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8. Politicians Want Exemption

“Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.” [Politico] It’s official – ObamaCare is a nuclear-grade disaster.

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Obamacare’s Insurance Exchanges Are Already Turning Into A Disaster

Obamacare’s Insurance Exchanges Are Already Turning Into A Disaster – Investors Business Daily

Devoted users of Internet radio apps like Pandora may soon hear unexpected sound bites on their favorite music channels – ads touting ObamaCare.

That’s right. In an attempt to drum up support for the law’s health insurance exchanges, some states are planning advertising campaigns that could include everything from pro-ObamaCare coffee-cup sleeves to spots on popular music-streaming sites.

But no amount of advertising spin can obscure the fact that ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges are shaping up to be disasters – saddling some consumers with higher premiums and state taxpayers with significant new spending obligations.

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ObamaCare calls for the creation of state-administered health insurance exchanges, where Americans without employer-provided coverage can shop for government-approved policies. Enrollment is scheduled to begin Oct. 1, and coverage will take effect in 2014.

Those with incomes between 133% and 400% of the federal poverty level – up to $92,200 for a family of four as of 2012 – will qualify for federal subsidies.

States were given the choice of setting up their own exchanges, partnering with the federal government, or letting the feds handle things entirely.

Nineteen have opted for the first choice, and seven have signed on for a partnership.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is among the 25 governors who have refused to set up a state-based exchange. As Walker noted, “No matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the health care policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents.”

Walker is right. The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) dictates that all policies sold on the exchanges must meet one of four classifications: platinum, gold, silver or bronze. These categories indicate the percentage of health costs a plan covers for the average person: 90% for a platinum policy, 80% for gold, and so on.

Deductibles for all plans will be capped at $5,950 for individuals and $11,900 for families, with the limits adjusted over time for inflation. Such mandates prevent insurers from offering low-cost products that may best fit a family’s budget.

ObamaCare doesn’t just set the rules – it also tasks states with enforcing them.

Running an exchange could therefore get pricey. Indeed, the law indicates that states with their own exchanges must devise a source of revenue for running them independently beginning in 2015.

That’s one reason New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has opted not to set up an exchange, arguing that “the federal government cannot tell us what it will cost.”

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Daily Benefactor News – Explosion At Second Japanese Nuclear Power Plant

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Explosion At Second Japanese Nuclear Power Plant – BBC News

A second explosion has hit a Japanese nuclear plant that was damaged in Friday’s earthquake, but officials said the reactor core was still intact.

A huge column of smoke billowed from Fukushima Daiichi’s reactor 3, two days after a blast hit reactor 1.

The latest explosion, said to have been caused by a hydrogen build-up, injured 11 people, one of them seriously.

Soon afterwards, the government said a third reactor at the plant had lost its cooling system.

Water levels were now falling at reactor 2, which is to be doused with sea water, said government spokesman Yukio Edano.

A similar cooling system breakdown preceded the explosions at reactors 1 and 3.

Japanese officials are playing down any health risk, but the US said it had moved one of its aircraft carriers from the area after detecting low-level radiation 100 miles (160km) offshore.

Technicians have been battling to cool reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant since Friday, following the quake and tsunami.

In other developments:

* Two thousand bodies have been found on the shores of Miyagi prefecture, Japanese media are reporting

* The government said it would pump 15 trillion yen ($182bn) into the economy to prop up markets, but the Nikkei slumped more than 6%

* Prime Minister Naoto Kan postponed planned rolling powercuts, saying they may not be needed if householders could conserve energy

The BBC’s Rachel Harvey in the port town of Minamisanriku says everything has been flattened until about 2km inland.

It looks unlikely that many survivors will be found, she adds.

Japanese police have so far confirmed 1,597 deaths, but the final toll is expected to be much higher.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area around Fukushima Daiichi plant.

At least 22 people were said to be undergoing treatment for radiation exposure.

The government said radiation levels were below legal limits after Monday’s explosion. Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the plant, said the reactor’s containment vessel had resisted the impact.

The operators say the thick containment walls shielding the reactor cores have so far remained intact.

Even if the fuel rods do go into meltdown there should not be a release of radioactive clouds, they say.

The BBC’s Chris Hogg in Tokyo says radiation has been detected outside the plant, but at low concentrations.

At one point it rose to a level similar to that one is exposed to during an X-ray, our correspondent says.

Experts say a disaster on the scale of Chernobyl in the 1980s is highly unlikely because the reactors are built to a much higher standard and have much more rigorous safety measures.

Earlier, the prime minister said the situation at the nuclear plant was alarming, and the earthquake had thrown Japan into “the most severe crisis since World War II”.

The government advised people not to go to work or school on Monday because the transport network would not be able to cope with demand.

The capital Tokyo is also still experiencing regular aftershocks, amid warnings that another powerful earthquake is likely to strike very soon.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of relief workers, soldiers and police have been deployed to the disaster zone.

Preliminary estimates put repair costs from the earthquake and tsunami in the tens of billions of dollars.

The disaster is a huge blow for the Japanese economy (the world’s third largest), which has been ailing for two decades.

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice to warn against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and north-eastern Japan.

British nationals and friends and relatives of those in Japan can contact the Foreign Office on +44(0) 20 7008 0000.

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*VIDEOS* Haiti Earthquake Devastation

Haiti Earthquake: Bodies Piled Up On The Streets As Disaster Leaves ‘Thousands’ Dead – Daily Mail

* Red Cross fears around three million people affected by 7.2 quake
* Up to 100 UN staff believed dead after headquarters collapse
* Charities launch emergency appeals to help stricken survivors
* Presidential palace crumbles, hospital collapses and houses swept away
* Britain sends emergency team as Obama vows ‘unwavering’ support

Bloodstained bodies are piled high in the streets of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince today amid fears that thousands have died in a catastrophic earthquake.

Rescuers have been forced to dig through rubble with their bare hands to free trapped survivors as the Red Cross said up to three million people may have been affected.

British and international aid agencies are rushing to assist today as the full horror of the disaster began to emerge.

It is still unclear how many have been killed in the earthquake, which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale, but aid agencies fear thousands are dead.

Haitian president Rene Preval described the scene in Port-au Prince as ‘unimaginable.’

‘Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,’ he said.

Among the fatalities were up to 100 UN staff, including Hedi Annabi, the Secretary General’s special envoy, who were working inside its five-storey headquarters when it collapsed.

The Roman Catholic Arcbishop of Port-au-Prince Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot also died. His body was found in the ruins of the archdiocese office.

Around 200 people are also feared dead after a hotel crumbled to dust, the National Palace is in ruins and a major hospital also destroyed.

The destruction is said to be staggering, even in an impoverished nation accustomed to tragedy and disaster.

Eyewitnesses said gravely injured Haitians were crying out from the rubble, pleading for doctors as night fell.

With the country in chaos and facing still more damage from a series of 30 aftershocks, their cries went mostly unheard.

The quake, the most powerful in the region for 200 years, was centred about ten miles west of the Haitian capital, a city of two million people, many of them living in flimsy shanty slums.

It struck at 4.53pm yesterday and was followed by as many as 30 aftershocks, one of them as strong as 5.9 on the Richter scale, a sizeable earthquake in its own right.

The centre was also relatively shallow, less than ten miles below ground, raising the risk of damage.

Survivors held hands and sung hymns as they waited for help to come. But many people spent the night fighting for their lives.

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UPDATE: Haitian Official: Death Toll May Reach 500,000 – Delaware News Journal

Officials say thousands of people — and perhaps many, many more — are dead after Tuesday’s major earthquake. A leading Haitian senator says the death toll may reach 500,000 based on the amount of the destruction, but there are no firm figures.

The prime minister told CNN that hundreds of thousands of people died.

Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital today after the quake flattened the president’s palace, the cathedral, hospitals, schools, the main prison and thousands of homes.

The bodies of the dead were everywhere in Port-au-Prince. Bodies of tiny children were piled next to schools. Bodies of women lay with stunned expressions frozen on the street as flies began to gather. Bodies of men were covered with plastic tarps or cotton sheets.

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