Thanks Barack… 73,000 Marylanders To Lose Current Health Plans Due To Obamacare

About 73,000 Marylanders To Lose Current Health Plans – Capital Gazette

About 73,000 Marylanders will lose their health coverage on or after Jan. 1 due to regulations mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act.

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The Maryland Insurance Administration was notified by nine insurance carriers that they will discontinue some of their health plans starting in the new year, said Joseph A. Sviatko, a spokesman for the agency.

The ACA, passed in 2010, does not require people with health plans purchased before March 23, 2010, to buy new coverage, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Those plans are grandfathered into the new law.

But plans that were changed after March 2010 – including changes to deductibles, co-pay or benefits – must meet new federal requirements.

The ACA mandates all health insurance premiums must cover 10 essential health benefits, including hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity and newborn care.

Approximately 73,000 nongrandfathered plans in Maryland will be discontinued, Sviatko said.

“Those plans are being replaced with stronger coverage that provides more consumer protection, such as guaranteed coverage, mental health parity, and prescription drug coverage,” Sviatko said in an email.

Health care plans that have remained unchanged since March 23, 2010, can be renewed, he said.

CareFirst BlueCross Blue-Shield, which handles about 70 percent of Maryland’s individual insurance market, said close to 76,000 of its customers could lose their current health plans in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., by January.

A CareFirst spokesman said about 60,000 of those cancellations would take place in Maryland.

CareFirst has close to 120,000 individual members in the state.

Sviatko did not know how many health care plans would be discontinued in Anne Arundel County. Most people should receive 90 days notice before their health coverage is discontinued, he said.

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Leftist-Run Detroit Plans Mass Water Shutoffs Over $260M In Delinquent Bills

Detroit Plans Mass Water Shutoffs Over $260M In Delinquent Bills – Detroit News

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has a message for Detroit residents and companies more than 60 days late on their water bills: We’re coming for you.

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With more than half of the city’s customers behind on payments, the department is gearing up for an aggressive campaign to shut off service to 1,500-3,000 delinquent accounts weekly, said Darryl Latimer, the department’s deputy director.

Including businesses, schools and commercial buildings, there are 323,900 Detroit water and sewerage accounts; 164,938 were overdue for a total of $175 million as of March 6. Residential accounts total 296,115; 154,229 were delinquent for a total of $91.7 million.

The department halts cutoffs through the winter because of complications associated with freezing temperatures, such as damaged pipes. But this spring, a new contractor has been hired to target those who are more than two months behind or who owe more than $150 — twice the average monthly bill of $75.

The department says it’s now ready to “catch up” with cutoffs halted because of the unusually harsh winter weather. DWSD is looking to show there are consequences associated with not paying water bills, Latimer said.

“Not everyone is in the situation where they can’t afford to pay,” he said. “It’s just that the utility bill is the last bill people choose to pay because there isn’t any threat of being out of service.”

People pay up more when they see the department out cutting off water to neighbors, and the statistics bear that out, officials said. In July, for example, before contractors started on the shutoffs, the department cut off 1,566 customers. That month, it collected $149,000 in water bills.

Extra contractors started working on cutoffs last summer. Attheir peak in October – before cold weather caused a halt to the disconnects – 3,700 cutoffs occurred. The department collected more than $350,000 in overdue bills that month. That number of cutoffs translated to more than double for warm weather months compared to last year.

“We’re trying to shift the behavioral payment patterns of our customer base right now,” said Constance Williams-Levye, DWSD commercial operations specialist. “And so aggressively we’ll have a team of contractors coming in, in addition to our field teams.”

Up to 20 additional contractor crews are expected to be employed working on the cutoffs, DWSD officials said.

The department bills monthly and sends out notices when bills are overdue. When an account is more than 60 days late, a notice goes out saying service could be cut, Latimer said.

Residents don’t necessarily have to move out but Latimer said there were instances, in the case of households with children, where the department of social services will come in and say the kids will be removed from the home if water is not restored.

“Usually folks will then come in and make some kind of arrangement,” Latimer said.
Long-overdue effort

Department officials say the initiative is unrelated to Detroit’s bankruptcy restructuring and is simply a renewed effort to remedy a longstanding problem. The fear of being stuck with Detroit’s delinquencies, however, has kept suburban leaders from embracing a regional water authority proposed by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the department should have started being more assertive in its collections years ago.

“It’s all about the management responsibility,” Hackel said. “If they’re just getting around to it now, what were they doing before? Collections are just part of a system that’s been neglected for years.”

On Monday, the department is scheduled to send mailings to thousands of customers warning if their overdue water balances aren’t paid, the bill would be considered a property tax lien and could result in foreclosure.

Communities pay a combination of a fixed amount per month as well as an amount for every thousand cubic feet of water – or every 7,480 gallons. Detroit residents, on average, pay about 25 percent less than suburban water customers.

The department also is tightening a policy that allows customers to make multiple partial payments on overdue accounts. That creates a situation in which some go in and out of delinquency status, Latimer said. Plans call for allowing an overdue customer only one payment arrangement per year.
Suburbs remain reluctant

Orr has been trying to convince suburban officials – without success – to buy into the concept of a regional authority that would take over operations and responsibilities of the utility.

In return for greater control of operations, the authority would pay $47 million a year to the city.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has supported the concept of a regional authority. But Hackel and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson have balked at the proposal, in part over concerns that their customers would end up taking on the cost of Detroit’s widespread delinquencies.

This month, Orr sent notices to the three counties on ending negotiations until the suburban leaders gain a consensus on a regional authority creation.

Orr said he is actively moving ahead with a second plan – selling the city-owned system or leasing it to a private management firm. Orr told The Detroit News on Wednesday he will send out requests for information in a couple of weeks or sooner gauging interest from private operators.

He says the regional authority plan was a good deal for everyone – including suburban customers – but recognizes that it isn’t going to happen.

Orr said the regional plan would benefit Detroit by generating about $47 million a year in lease payments to the city. The second plan would generate some $72 million a year through lower interest rates, but that money would go only to the water system, not the city.

Improved collections of delinquent Detroit accounts would be helpful, said Robert Daddow, Oakland County’s deputy county executive.

But far too many questions remain over issues including pension liabilities, cash flow and infrastructure and capital improvements, he said.

“Shutting of the water certainly sends a message,” Daddow said. “But this certainly isn’t just the people who will not pay; it’s the people who cannot pay because they don’t have the income level that would enable them to do so.”

In talks regarding the authority, some have asked whether the state could help low-income individuals with water bills. There are statewide programs to help people with their heating bills, for example, including The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), a Detroit-basednonprofit that helps people pay heating bills.

“Why not have something equivalent for water and sewer?” Daddow said. But no such program is currently on the table.

Customers end up paying higher rates on bills for those from whom the utility can’t collect. Detroit residents and businesses – retail customers of the department – pay for negligent accounts in Detroit. Suburban customers pay for noncollectable accounts in the suburbs, Latimer explained.

Suburban communities add charges for their customers in addition to the wholesale rate billed by the Detroit water department to cover infrastructure and operating costs.
Long-term delinquents

The department has been working with Detroit Public Schools for years over delinquent accounts. DPS has a current overdue balance of $2.2 million, department officials say, down from a high of $12 million in 2012.

DPS disputes that number, but has been making monthly payments of nearly $1 million under a payment plan approved in October.

The department also continues to work collecting from suburban communities with delinquent accounts.

The department filed a federal lawsuit in November against Highland Park. The city has racked up $17.4 million in sewerage bills and an additional $1.6 million in water bills, according to DWSD. Last month the city removed the case from the federal courts and filed in state court “where it may be a faster process to gain relief,” according to the department.

The city of Inkster has an outstanding balance of nearly $1.2 million as of this month. But the city is paying on the current bill and making additional monthly payments, said Mathew Kannanthanam, a commercial operations specialist with DWSD. The city entered into a payment plan in April to pay the balance off by June of 2016, according to DWSD.

Melvindale also has an outstanding balance of nearly $1.1 million in water and sewerage bills.

The department is also owed more $670,000 from companies in Redford, Dearborn and Macomb Township for pollutant surcharges related to food and other processing disposals. Detroit-based Uncle Ray’s Snacks owes more than $676,000 in pollutant surcharges.

The company has agreed to a payment plan, according to DWSD records.

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Bankrupt Detroit Pays $32 To Process A $30 Parking Ticket – Independent Journal Review

I could be wrong, but I think I’ve uncovered Detroit’s financial problem: The bankrupt city pays $32 to issue and process a $30 parking ticket. Obviously, they need to issue more tickets to make up the difference.

Not only is the city paying $32 to issue and process a $30 parking violation, it hasn’t adjusted rates since 2001. Even worse? Half of Detroit’s 3,404 parking meters are out-of-order at any given time.

Bill Nowling, spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, says:

“It’s another example of the old, antiquated system and processes the city has that creates impediments for anyone trying to do their job.”

Detroit is considering a proposal from restructuring consultants to bump its current parking fines of $20, $30 and $100 per ticket to a two-tiered structure of $45 and $150.

Proving once again that government will never run like corporate America. Can you imagine owning – or working for – a company that not only loses money on every product it sells, but continues to do so for 13 years? Yeah, me neither.

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Putin Sending Ships, Long-Range Bombers To Latin America; Plans New Bases In Cuba, Venezuela And Nicaragua

Putin’s Quiet Latin America Play – The Hill

Away from the conflict in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is quietly seeking a foothold in Latin America, military officials warn.

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To the alarm of lawmakers and Pentagon officials, Putin has begun sending navy ships and long-range bombers to the region for the first time in years.

Russia’s defense minister says the country is planning bases in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, and just last week, Putin’s national security team met to discuss increasing military ties in the region.

“They’re on the march,” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said at a Senate hearing earlier this month. “They’re working the scenes where we can’t work. And they’re doing a pretty good job.”

Gen. James Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command said there has been a “noticeable uptick in Russian power projection and security force personnel” in Latin America.

“It has been over three decades since we last saw this type of high-profile Russian military presence,” Kelly said at the March 13 hearing.

The U.S. military says it has been forced to cut back on its engagement with military and government officials in Latin America due to budget cuts. Kelly said the U.S. military had to cancel more than 200 effective engagement activities and multi-lateral exercises in Latin America last year.

With the American presence waning, officials say rivals such as Russia, China and Iran are quickly filling the void.

Iran has opened up 11 additional embassies and 33 cultural centers in Latin America while supporting the “operational presence” of militant group Lebanese Hezbollah in the region.

“On the military side, I believe they’re establishing, if you will, lily pads for future use if they needed to use them,” Kelly said.

China is making a play for Latin America a well, and is now the fastest growing investor in the region, according to experts. Although their activity is mostly economic, they are also increasing military activity through educational exchanges.

The Chinese Navy conducted a goodwill visit in Brazil, Chile and Argentina last year and conducted its first-ever naval exercise with the Argentine Navy.

Meanwhile, the U.S. had to cancel the deployment of its hospital ship USNS Comfort last year.

“Our relationships, our leadership, and our influence in the Western Hemisphere are paying the price,” Kelly said.

Some experts warn against being too alarmist, and say Russia, China and Iran do not have the ability or desire to project military power beyond their borders.

Army War College adjunct professor Gabriel Marcella said Russia’s maneuvering is more about posturing than a real threat.

“Latin America is seen as an opportunity to challenge the United States in terms of global presence,” he said. “They want to show the flag to assert their presence and say they need to be counted on the world stage.”

Other experts said the encroachment of rivals has huge economic implications for the U.S., which has more trade partners in Latin America than in any other region in the world.

“[Russia’s presence] serves to destabilize what has become a more stabilized, middle class continent with an increasing respect for the rule of law… Any type of unsettling of that environment will scare off investors,” said Jason Marczak, deputy director at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

“Market economies and democracies are fundamental for trade, for jobs, and for stable investment environments,” he said.

Marczak noted the instability in Venezuela, which is facing civil unrest from anti-government protestors.

“In Venezuela, a lot of the money that’s been able to prop up President Chavez and now Maduro has been Chinese money,” Kelly said.

So far, 31 protestors have been killed in clashes with government security forces.

“I see a real degradation in what used to pass as Venezuelan democracy. There’s less and less of that now,” Kelly said.

And while Chinese investment in Latin America could have positive aspects for the region, it could also make it more difficult for U.S. official to push labor and environmental safeguards that it argues are building blocks for democracy, Marczak said.

Angel Rabasa, a senior political scientist at RAND, said cuts to the defense budget are going to accelerate a long trend of U.S. neglect and disengagement with Latin America.

According to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), there are 10 countries in Latin America that currently have no U.S. ambassador because they either haven’t been nominated yet or confirmed, a sign that the region is seen as a low priority.

“We will be losing the ability to influence developments in a region that is very important to us because of proximity,” Rabasa said.

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Leftist Nightmare Update: Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M

Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M – Fox News

Maryland could end up spending as much as $30.5 million as a result of a glitch in its ObamaCare website, as the Obama administration steps in to help states with problematic exchanges.

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Because of Maryland’s defective exchange, the state cannot determine whether customers remain eligible for Medicaid, according to a report by state budget analysts released Thursday.

As a result, the state has agreed with the federal government to a six-month delay in determining eligibility, meaning that payments will continue to be made to customers who are not eligible until the system is fixed. The delay will cost the state $17.8 million in fiscal 2014 and $12.7 million in fiscal 2015, the analysts estimated.

On Friday, the Obama administration said it would suspend some Affordable Care Act rules to help the 14 states with their own ObamaCare sites, particularly Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Oregon, which have had the most problems.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan, completed a day earlier, states the federal government will help pay for “qualified” health-insurance plans for customers in those states who because of “exceptional circumstances” had to buy plans outside of ObamaCare exchanges, as reported first by The Washington Post.

The administration made the change before the end-of-March deadline for Americans to enroll in ObamaCare this year.

In Maryland, the exchange cannot convert income data from the existing Medicaid enrollment system into a calculation needed to review whether enrollees are qualified “because of a variety of system architectural flaws,” according to budge analysts.

The exchange has been plagued by computer problems that have made it difficult for people to enroll in private health care plans since its debut Oct. 1.

State officials have decided to stick with the exchange through the open enrollment period that ends March 31 but is evaluating alternatives with an eye toward the next enrollment period that begins in November.

Among the possibilities is adopting technology developed by another state, joining a consortium of other states, partnering with the federal exchange or making major fixes to the existing system.

Thirty-six states use the federal HealthCare.gov site, which crashed and had other major problems in the first two months of enrollment.

The Maryland report said the state may need to develop an interim solution while a long-term solution is being developed. However, that process would likely take at least nine to 12 months, pushing up against the next open-enrollment period.

The report also states the development of the exchange was “a high risk undertaking” from the outset, in large part because of contractors woes, tight deadlines, constantly evolving requirement and its need to interface with work-in-progress federal databases.

The administration changes this week are not the first to ObamaCare, to be sure.

In November, Obama helped Americans about to lose policies because they didn’t meet new minimum requirements by allow the substandard plans to be sold through the end of this year.

And administration officials has twice this year given medium- and large-sized employers more time to offer health insurance to most full-time workers.

However, the change this week is significant because it marks the first time the federal government has agreed to help pay for policies bought outside the new exchanges.

The coverage in the outside policies would have to be comparable to those offered on the exchange. And customers would have to start paying premiums, then get the subsidies after the state exchanges could determine their income eligibility.

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange official told The Post earlier this week that roughly 7,000 applications are stuck in state’s system, but all of them might not need insurance and that officials were still looking over the administration’s offer.

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45-State Study: Obamacare Offers Less Choice, Higher Prices, Breaking Another Promise – Washington Examiner

A new and comprehensive comparison of health insurance options offered by Obamacare versus private websites finds that President Obama’s program offers less choice and higher prices than promised by the White House and leading Democrats.

Adding to the list of broken health care promises, the study from the National Center for Public Policy Research found that there were more and cheaper options available on websites outside the health insurance exchange in 2013 than on healthcare.gov and state Obamacare exchanges.

The report, “Obamacare Exchanges: Less Choice, Higher Prices,” looked at options available for a 27-year-old single person and a 57-year-old couple in metropolitan areas across 45 states.

The report found that a 27-year-old male had about 10 more policies to choose from on eHealthinsurance.com and finder.healthcare versus the exchange. The older couple had about nine more policy choices.

Ditto for the cost findings, with the 27-year-old male having access to 32 policies that cost less than the cheapest Obamacare offering, and the 57-year-old couple access to 29 cheaper policies.

“In general, consumers had substantially more policies to choose from on private websites such as eHealthinsurance.com and Finder.healthcare.gov than they presently have on the exchanges,” said the study.

“Obamacare supporters, including the president himself and Nancy Pelosi, claimed the exchanges would yield more choice and lower prices,” said the study’s author, David Hogberg. “This study shows those claims do not stand up.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, describes itself f as a “non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.”

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House Subcommittee Chairman: Obama Administration Policy Would Eliminate Half Of All Existing Medicare Part D Plans – Daily Caller

The Obama administration’s new proposed rule for Medicare Part D would eliminate half of all Medicare Part D plans and raise prescription drug premiums for millions of seniors by up to 20 percent, according to a U.S. House subcommittee chairman.

“Today, the average senior has 35 different [Medicare Part D] plans to choose from this year. This rule would reduce that choice to two plans. 50% of the plans offered today will be gone, and the health care that seniors like may go with it,” House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Pitts said in a statement at a Feb. 26 hearing attended by a top administration health official.

“Limiting seniors’ choices like this will inevitably lead to higher costs. By some estimates, the restriction on the number of plans that can be offered could cause premiums to rise by 10%-20%. Costs to the federal government may increase by $1.2-1.6 billion according to a study by Milliman,” Pitts said. “… I urge Secretary Sebelius and Administrator Tavenner to rescind this rule.”

The study Pitts cited also showed that the new rule would increase out-of-pocket drug costs for 6.9 million seniors who do not qualify for low-income subsidies, and would raise federal taxpayer costs for six million seniors who do qualify.

President Bush signed Medicare Part D into law in 2003 to subsidize prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.

The Daily Caller reported that the administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently introduced a new proposed rule on the Federal Register called “Medicare Program: Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs.”

The new rule “would revise the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and prescription drug benefit program (Part D) regulations to implement statutory requirements; strengthen beneficiary protections; exclude plans that perform poorly; improve program efficiencies; and clarify program requirements,” according to the Federal Register.

The rule states that it also aims “to implement certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.”

The new rule’s stated desire to “strengthen our ability to identify strong applicants for Part C and Part D program participation and remove consistently poor performers” would give the Obama administration new authority to limit health insurance and prescription drug providers under the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D programs.

The rule would also violate the Medicare Part D’s law’s “non-interference provision that prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from interfering with the negotiations between drug manufacturers and pharmacies and sponsors of prescription drug plans,” according to testimony by American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin, violating “congressional intent.”

Rep. Pitts expressed confusion and anger at CMS’ new rule.

“CMS itself says that 96% of the Part D claims it reviewed showed seniors saved money at preferred pharmacies, and nearly 25,500 seniors in my district have chosen Part D plans with a preferred pharmacy network. Yet CMS would take that away from them,” Pitts said.

“The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit is a government success story. Last year, nearly 39 million beneficiaries were enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan,” Pitts said.

“Competition and choice have kept premiums stable. In fact, in 2006, the first year the program was in effect, the base beneficiary premium was $32.20 a month. In 2014, the base beneficiary premium is $32.42 – a 22-cent increase over 9 years – and still roughly half of what was originally predicted,” Pitts added. “More than 90% of seniors are satisfied with their Part D drug coverage because of this. African-American and Hispanic seniors report even higher levels of satisfaction, at 95% and 94%, respectively.”

“The program has worked so well because it forces prescription drug plans and providers to compete for Medicare beneficiaries – putting seniors, not Washington, in the driver’s seat. Part D should be the model for future reforms to the Medicare program,” Pitts said.

House Energy and Commerce committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton joined with Pitts at the hearing in criticizing the new rule.

“The proposed rule, issued on January 6, 2014, appears to be a direct assault on the competitive structure of the program. It inhibits the ability of plans to obtain discounts for beneficiaries, limits the range of market segments in which they may compete, and usurps the responsibility of states to license those able to prescribe. This 700-page proposal makes numerous changes,” Upton said.

CMS principal deputy administrator Jonathan Blum testified that limiting Part D sponsors to providing only two plans per region will “promote needed clarity of plan choices for beneficiaries.”

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Leftist Nightmare Update: Obamacare Enrollees Finding It Impossible To Cancel Plans (Video)

Obamacare Enrollees ‘Finding It Impossible To Cancel Their Plans’ – Weekly Standard

A Florida TV station reports that a man has spent 50-60 hours trying to cancel his Obamacare plan, and he still can’t get off it:

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“We are hearing about a new problem that involves the Affordable Care Act,” said the anchor. “People who signed up for coverage are finding it impossible to cancel their plans. Channel 9′s Lori Brown spoke with an Orlando man who has been trying unsuccessfully to cancel for more than six weeks now.”

“Andrew Robinson was looking forward to getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. He has a small publishing business and works part time, so he hasn’t had coverage. In early January he signed up for a plan that cost nearly $300 a month. About a half hour later he and his wife realized they could barely afford that. They quickly found a less expensive plan through Humana for $116 a month,” says the reporter.

“I immediately called back the Florida Blue and asked them to cancel the policy I just set up,” says Robinson.

“But he quickly learned canceling Obamacare is no easy task… More than six weeks later after spending 50 to 60 hours on the phone his policy is still not canceled and he is still waiting for the payment Florida Blue withdrew from his account to be refunded.”

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How Many Obamacare Customers Have Actually Paid For Their Plans? Less Than You May Think

How Many Obamacare Customers Have Paid For Their Plans? – Daily Caller

Democrats claim three million people have enrolled in private health insurance through Obamacare. But how many have actually paid for their plans?

Several state exchanges have begun reporting the number of customers that did pay their first premiums, and some results are as low as 51 percent.

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The Obama administration defines HealthCare.gov enrollees as those who have simply selected plans, but not paid. If the limited data available plays out for more states, actual enrollment could be much lower than the three million private insurance signups currently claimed.

Only five of the 15 state exchanges clearly differentiate between paid enrollments and selected plans or completed applications. The remaining 35 states operating under HealthCare.gov make no such distinction.

While the number of states reporting this information is small, they actually make up a good chunk of Obamacare’s currently accepted 3 million nationwide enrollment total. According to the Obama administration’s most recent detailed report on enrollment data, these five states – New York, California, Washington state, Nevada and Rhode Island – account for a third.

California’s exchange last reported that three-fourths of its reported enrollees had paid their first premiums, according to California Healthline; Washington’s totals released Tuesday indicate that only 51 percent have purchased their plans.

New York’s numbers are fuzzier, since the exchange itself doesn’t separate applications for Medicaid and private plans. It counts 412,221 enrollments for public and private coverage (just 251,000 are private plans), but notes that another 697,000 customers have completed applications on the exchange website. If the entire 421,221 have paid (or accepted the low- to no-cost Medicaid coverage), New York’s payment rate is only 59 percent.

Nevada’s payment rate is just 66 percent – 14,999 out of 22,597 so far – and Rhode Island has by far the best total, with 14,086 paid customers out of 16,512, for a payment rate of 85 percent.

Even analysts who are pessimistic about Obamacare’s chances of success hbelieve most states will have a fairly high proportion of consumers follow through and pay their premiums. Health industry expert Bob Laszewski estimates that around 20 percent of so-called enrollees won’t end up purchasing their coverage – just under Rhode Island’s rate.

But the data available so far indicates a much lower share of fully-paid customers.

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How Obama’s EPA Plans To Kill Jobs And Reduce Your Income

How The EPA Plans To Kill Jobs And Reduce Your Income – The Foundry

How’s your heating bill? If you feel like you’re not paying enough, you’re in luck.

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President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing new regulations on power plants – regulations that will kill jobs, jack up your energy costs, and even end up reducing families’ income because of the impact on the prices of everything you buy.

As Heritage experts Nicolas Loris, Kevin Dayaratna, and David Kreutzer explain:

<blockquotThese regulations will act as a major energy tax that would negatively impact American households. Americans will suffer through higher energy bills, but also through higher prices for goods and services, slowing the economy and crippling the manufacturing sector.

…It will cost more to heat, cool, and light homes, and to cook meals. These higher energy prices will also have rippling effects throughout the economy. As energy prices increase, the cost of making products rises.

The EPA’s war is against coal, which is the main source of electricity for 21 states. In their research, Heritage experts analyzed a phase-out of coal (thanks to the EPA’s regulations) between 2015 and 2038.

Here are their dire warnings. By the end of 2023, they project:

* Employment falls by nearly 600,000 jobs (270,000 in manufacturing).
* Coal-mining jobs drop 30 percent.
* A family of four’s annual income drops more than $1,200 per year, and its total income drops by nearly $24,400 over the entire period of analysis.

And for what?

Certainly not helping the environment. The authors sum it up: “President Obama’s climate plan would have a chilling effect on the economy, not the climate.”

They explain that “regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have no meaningful effect on global climate change. The EPA admitted this in its own proposed rule.”

So – hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, thousands in lost income, higher prices across the board—and “no noticeable climate impact.” That’s what these regulations mean.

It’s important to remember that these rules are being developed by unelected bureaucrats at the whim of the Obama Administration. We’ve already learned that the Administration delayed a number of controversial regulations, including energy-related ones, conveniently until after the 2012 election. Why? Because they’re harmful to Americans.

The authority to make such sweeping changes doesn’t belong to these unelected bureaucrats, the Heritage experts say. Congress should take back its power and prevent these rules from inflicting harm on the economy – and our wallets.

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Socialist Catastrophe Update: Obamacare Plans Exclude Top Hospitals

New Affordable Care US Health Plans Will Exclude Top Hospitals – Financial Times

Americans who are buying insurance plans over online exchanges, under what is known as Obamacare, will have limited access to some of the nation’s leading hospitals, including two world-renowned cancer centres.

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Amid a drive by insurers to limit costs, the majority of insurance plans being sold on the new healthcare exchanges in New York, Texas, and California, for example, will not offer patients’ access to Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, two top cancer centres, or Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals in the country.

Experts say the move by insurers to limit consumers’ choices and steer them away from hospitals that are considered too expensive, or even “inefficient”, reflects the new competitive landscape in the insurance industry since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare law.

It could become another source of political controversy for the Obama administration next year, when the plans take effect. Frustrated consumers could then begin to realise what is not always evident when buying a product as complicated as healthcare insurance: that their new plans do not cover many facilities or doctors “in network”. In other words, the facilities and doctors are not among the list of approved providers in a certain plan.

Under some US health insurance plans, consumers can elect to visit medical facilities that are “out of network”, but they would probably incur high out of pocket costs and may need referrals to prove that such care is medically necessary.

The development is worrying some hospital administrators who see the change as an unintended consequence of the ACA.

“We’re very concerned. [Insurers] know patients that are sick come to places like ours. What this is trying to do is redirect those patients elsewhere, but there is a reason why they come here. These patients need what it is that we are capable of providing,” says Thomas Priselac, president and chief executive officer of Cedars-Sinai Health System in California.

One of the biggest goals of “Obamacare” was to make subsidised healthcare plans that are being sold on the new exchanges as affordable as possible, while also mandating that certain benefits, like maternity care, were covered and that people with pre-existing medical conditions could not be denied access.

Amid these new regulatory restrictions, says Tim Jost, a health policy expert, insurance companies have had to come up with new ways to cut the cost of their products. In this new era, limiting the availability of certain facilities that are seen as too expensive – in part because they may attract the sickest patients or offer the most cutting edge medical care – is seen as the best way to control costs.

“It’s like buying a Mercedes-Benz or a Chevy. You have to decide whether you want to pay for the highest product out there, which is probably pretty good quality, or the less expensive product,” Mr Jost says. “Everyone is in favour of competition until they see what it looks like. Then they think, maybe it’s better for someone else just to pay for the whole thing.”

Kathleen Harrington, who heads government relations for the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, says that access to the famous clinic was initially limited in the Rochester, Minnesota area until officials at the healthcare exchange board in the state encouraged insurers to expand their network options.

While the Mayo Clinic will now be available on seven different plans offered by two different insurance carriers in Rochester, Ms Harrington says the long-term concern for the hospital is that intense focus on bringing down costs will hurt “centres of excellence” like Mayo that attract the most complicated medical cases in the country.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that a significant portion of the Mayo base are very sick patients. You don’t come here for primary care. We do treat the sickest of the sick. We do experimental treatment. This is where you come for innovative treatments for life threatening illnesses,” she says.

“If healthcare, the full spectrum from primary to top speciality care, becomes commoditised, it becomes a concern for the American healthcare system,” she adds.

When the Obama administration was asked whether the new healthcare exchanges were offering adequate network options to new consumers, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) emphasised that the new exchanges would “vastly increase” the access to medical providers to millions of uninsured Americans.

“Decisions about which private health insurance plans cover which doctors is a decision currently made by insurers and providers and will continue that way,” said an HHS spokeswoman.

The top lobby group for US health insurance plans, America’s Health Insurance Plans, said the new healthcare law brought “new costs” to the industry and that selecting hospitals and physicians that meet “quality standards” was one way of making health plans more affordable for consumers.

But Mr Priselac at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles says the creation of ever more narrow provider networks by insurers is being driven by price alone, and not by quality. He says the hospitals that are being excluded are leaders in innovation, which saves billions of dollars for the healthcare system in the long run.

“There is confusion between price and efficiency,” he says. “The major teaching and research hospitals are more expensive not because they are inefficient but because of what they do.”

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Obamacare Catastrophe Update: 185 Times More Health Plans Canceled Than Selected On Exchange

Congressman: 185 Times More Health Plans Canceled Than Selected On Federal Exchange – Daily Caller

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Republicans are continuing to hammer the point that vastly more people have lost their health care than gained new health insurance coverage under Obamacare.

In a Friday memo, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp emphasized that the number of people who have had their individual health insurance plans canceled due to Obamacare is 185 times the number of people who have selected an insurance plan on the federal Obamacare exchange.

Camp’s memo – released a day after President Obama announced his “fix” to allow people to retain their current coverage until after the midterms – pointed out the 5 million Americans who have had their plans canceled due to Obamacare and the mere 106,185 people who have actually signed up for the exchange, with just 26,794 people enrolling through the federal exchange.

“What they didn’t say was that the data represents not just those who purchased a plan, but also those who have selected a plan – aka placed in their ‘shopping cart,’” The memo explains of the enrollment data. “This inflated number (what the Administration calls pre-effectuated enrollment) still falls well below the Administration’s month-by-month projections included in a memo obtained by the Ways and Means Committee.”

In a state-by-state comparison of the Obama administration’s projections for the first month of October and the recently released enrollment data, just New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut exceeded their expectations.

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The House is set to vote on a Republican plan to allow insurance providers to continue to provide and sell plans that do not meet the Obamacare requirements.

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Expert Says It’s Logistically Impossible Now For Insurance Companies To Let People Keep Their Plans (Video)

Insurance Expert: It’s Logistically Impossible Now For Insurance Companies To Let People Keep Their Plans – Right Scoop

Bob Laszewski says that insurance companies can’t just turn on a dime at the whim of the president and start offering old plans. Considering what’s entailed in offering plans to people, Laszewski lays it out step by step and says it would be logistically impossible for insurance companies to do as Obama suggested today because there just isn’t enough time.

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Over 3 Times More People Have Read The Daley Gator Than Have Enrolled In Healthcare.gov Plans Since 10/01/13

Breaking: Fewer Than 50,000 People Have Enrolled In Health Plans Via ObamaCare Website Thus Far, Says WSJ – Hot Air

Add in another 50,000 people or so who’ve signed up on the individual state exchanges and you’ve got roughly 100,000 total enrollees through all of October and 10 days of November. The program’s target for October alone was 494,620. And that figure represents what they thought would be a “slow” month, as the public gradually got up to speed on the need to sign up before December 15th. If you’re looking at the bigger picture, they’re aiming for seven million new enrollees by March 31 of next year. They’re 1.4 percent of the way there with almost 25 percent of the initial enrollment period having already elapsed.

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They’re in trouble.

So far, private health plans have received enrollment data for 40,000 to 50,000 users of the federal marketplace, the people familiar with the figures said. The federal marketplace uses an industry-standard format to exchange enrollment information, known as an 834 transmission…

In some cases, insurers have reported duplicated 834s and other data-integrity problems, but the people familiar with the matter said they believed these figures reflected an accurate count of enrollments through late last week…

The initial federal numbers set for release this week are expected to show enrollment only through the end of October, so the figures are expected to be lower. Efforts to clean up the data and reduce duplications could further cull the formal count…

The administration hasn’t said whether it will release demographic data such as ages when it announces the number of enrollees.

Fearless prediction: They’re not going to release the demographic data. The only way to make these numbers look more dismal than they are is if it turns out that many, or even most, of the 100,000 who’ve enrolled are older people or people with preexisting conditions. Which, in fairness to the feds, was always likely to be the case in the first weeks after launching the exchange, even if things had gone swimmingly with the website otherwise. It stands to reason that the people most eager to get coverage are those who’ve been locked out of it or been paying higher premiums in the past. It’s one thing to make that point, though, when you’ve got 500,000 new enrollees on the books and can cite such a robust figure as proof that the “young healthies” are out there and are on their way into the risk pool. It’s another to make that point when you’ve got one-tenth that number, which means a skewed pool and circumstantial evidence that maybe the “young healthies” have now been discouraged from even trying to sign up. In fact, the Journal published a story just a week ago quoting insurers as saying the early enrollees thus far are older than they expected. If, for the reason I just gave, they were already expecting an older, sicker crop among the early enrollees, how much older and sicker must the data they’re seeing be for them to be surprised at the extent of it?

Peter Suderman says it’s time to start thinking about worst-case scenarios:

The potential problems are not confined to the near term either. Very soon, the short-term technical troubles could begin to have meaningful longer-term policy consequences. Insurers must decide what plans to offer and what rates to charge in the first half of next year. If enrollment is low, if the exchanges are still broken, and if the president and his administration are still losing credibility and popularity as a result of the rollout debacle, how will insurers react? By pulling plans from the market? By raising rates?…

This could still be turned around, perhaps even soon. But it’s time to start considering the worst-case scenarios: that the exchanges continue to malfunction, that plan cancellations go into effect, that insurers see the political winds shifting and stop playing nice with the administration, and that significant numbers of people are left stranded without coverage as a result. Rather than reforming the individual market, which was flawed but did work for some people, Obamacare will have destroyed it and left only dysfunction and chaos in its wake.

Yuval Levin said not long ago that you can’t start talking about a “death spiral” until things have actually spiraled – not just higher rates next year, in other words, but higher rates year after year as the cost of maintaining coverage becomes prohibitively expensive for more and more middle class people and they end up dropping it, leaving only older, sicker people in the pool. As Suderman notes, if low enrollment persists into the spring and the 2015 rates are set based on that data, we might have our first full downward turn in the spiral. Exit question: How long before Obama announces some sort of extension of next year’s enrollment deadline? Over/under is Friday.

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Leftist Utopia Update: Democrat-Run Detroit Plans To Cut Pensions By 84%

Another Democrat Success Story… Detroit Plans To Cut Pensions By 84% Or 16¢ On The Dollar – Gateway Pundit

The 23,500 pensioners in Detroit are going to have to adjust their budgets. The city plans on cutting pensions by 84 percent.

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Doug Ross and Reuters reported:

On Friday, city financial consultant Kenneth Buckfire said he did not have to recommend to Orr that pensions for the city’s retirees be cut as a way to help Detroit navigate through debts and liabilities that total $18.5 billion.

Buckfire said it was clear that the city did not have the funds to pay the unsecured pension payouts without cutting them.

“It was a function of the mathematics,” said Buckfire, who said he did not think it was necessary for him or anyone else to recommend pension cuts to Orr.

“Are you saying it was so self-evident that no one had to say it?” asked Claude Montgomery, attorney for a committee of retirees that was created by Rhodes.

“Yes,” Buckfire answered.

Buckfire, a Detroit native and investment banker with restructuring experience, later told the court the city plans to pay unsecured creditors, including the city’s pensioners, 16 cents on the dollar. There are about 23,500 city retirees.

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Thanks Barack… 300,000 Floridians Have Health Insurance Plans Cancelled Because Of Obamacare

300,000 Floridians Just Had Their Health Insurance Plans Cancelled Because Of Obamacare – Poor Richard’s News

It’s happening to millions of people all over the United States. Health insurance companies, no longer allowed to offer certain kinds of plans due to new regulations in Obamacare, are sending out cancelation notices.

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From NBC:

But the cancellation notices, which began arriving in August, have shocked many consumers in light of President Barack Obama’s promise that people could keep their plans if they liked them.

“I don’t feel like I need to change, but I have to,” said Jeff Learned, a television editor in Los Angeles, who must find a new plan for his teenage daughter, who has a health condition that has required multiple surgeries.

An estimated 14 million people purchase their own coverage because they don’t get it through their jobs. Calls to insurers in several states showed that many have sent notices.

Florida Blue, for example, is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.

Read the rest

When all is said and done, the bulk of that 14 million people who purchased their own health insurance may end up losing their plans that President Obama promised them repeatedly that they could keep.

My wife and I have already lost our insurance plan that we were perfectly happy with. Have you received a cancelation notice? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Thanks Barack… Ten States Where Obamacare Wipes Out Existing Health Care Plans

Ten States Where Obamacare Wipes Out Existing Health Care Plans – Daily Caller

President Barack Obama famously promised, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” He later got even more specific.

“If you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have,” Obama said.

But as Obamacare’s rollout approaches, we have learned this is not true. Here are the ten states where consumers may like their health care plans, but they won’t be able to keep them.

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1) California: 58,000 will lose their plans under Obamacare. The first bomb dropped in California with a mass exodus from the most populated state’s Obamacare exchange. Aetna, the country’s largest insurer, left first in July and was closely followed by UnitedHealth. Anthem Blue Cross pulled out of California’s Obamacare exchange for small businesses as well.

Fifty-four percent of Californians expect to lose their coverage, according to an August poll.

2) Missouri: Patients of the state’s largest hospital system – which spans 13 hospitals including the St. Louis Children’s Hospital – will not be covered by the largest insurer on Obamacare exchanges, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield. Anthem covers 79,000 patients in Missouri who may seek subsidies on Obamacare exchanges, but won’t be able to see any doctors in the BJC HealthCare system.

3) Connecticut: Aetna, the third largest insurer in the nation, won’t offer insurance on the Obamacare exchange in its own home state, where it was founded in 1850. The reason? “We believe the modification to the rates filed by Aetna will not allow us to collect enough premiums to cover the cost of the plans and meet the service expectations of our customers,” said Aetna spokesman Susan Millerick.

4) Maryland: 13,000 individuals covered by Aetna and its recently-purchased Coventry Health Care won’t be able to keep their insurance plans if they want Obamacare subsidies on the exchanges. Aetna and Coventry canceled plans to offer insurance in the exchange when state officials wouldn’t allow them to charge premiums high enough to cover costs.

5) South Carolina: 28,000 people were insured by Medical Mutual of Ohio, SC’s second-largest insurance company, until it decided to leave the state entirely in July due to Obamacare’s “vast and quite complex” new regulations. Company spokesman Ed Byers said Medical Mutual’s patients would be switched over to United Healthcare plans instead.

6) New York: Aetna pulled out of New York’s exchange in late August in an effort to keep their plans “financially viable,” said Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener.

7) New Jersey: 1.1 million Aetna customers are at risk in New Jersey, where the leading insurer also won’t be a part of the exchange. Just 2,600 patients purchase individual plans with the company, but any looking to take advantage of subsidies on the exchange for unaffordable employer-based insurance won’t be able to do with Aetna.

8) Iowa: Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Iowa’s largest health insurer, decided not to offer plans in the Obamacare exchange. It sells 86 percent of Iowa’s individual health insurance plans.

9) Wisconsin: Two of the three largest insurers in the state won’t offer plans on the exchange. United Healthcare and Humana patients will have to get a new health insurer to buy insurance on Obamacare exchanges.

10) Georgia: Just five insurers are participating in Georgia’s Obamacare exchange. Medical Mutual of Ohio left Georgia and Indiana as well as South Carolina, due to Obamacare regulations. Aetna, along with Coventry, also decided against participating in the George health exchange.

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ObamaCare About To Screw 106,000 New Jersey Residents Out Of Their Existing, Low-Cost Insurance Plans

ObamaCare Takes Affordable Insurance Away From 106,000 New Jersey Residents – Downtrend

ObamaCare is more properly known as The Affordable Care Act. That name would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

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As 106,000 New Jersey residents are about to learn, their healthcare insurance option, known as the “basic and essential” (B&E) plan, is about to go away and be replaced with something more expensive. So not only is their health insurance going to cost more, but they also won’t be able to keep the insurance that they originally had. That’s two broken promises of ObamaCare in one sad story.

The B&E plan only covers basic services, as the name implies. It covers doctor’s visits and treatments that don’t call for a stay at a hospital. It’s also a very affordable plan, costing as little as a couple of hundred bucks a month for some people.

The problem is this: the B&E plan doesn’t cover certain services mandated by ObamaCare. In addition to that, ObamaCare also caps out-of-pocket fees for the insured. So, after December 31 of this year, the B&E plans will not be renewed by insurers because they can’t meet those requirements.

Larry Altman, vice president at the Office of HealthCare Reform for Horizon Blue Cross Blue shield sums the whole issue up this way: “In general, richer products translate into higher premiums.”

Really? Does he mean that when the government forces insurance companies to provide certain levels of coverage (e.g., insuring children up to age 26) that those companies will then incur additional costs which will be passed along to… wait for it… the people who are paying for the insurance? Well, that might come as a surprise to the Democrats who were selling this monstrosity known as ObamaCare by bragging about the benefits of those regulations without ever talking about the consequences.

We’d like to say that Democrats regularly prove that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. However, we’re not certain that the leadership of the Democratic Party has any good intentions for this country.

When those 106,000 New Jersey residents lose their B&E insurance, they “will be left with what may be a choice among pricey, pricier and priciest,” according to The Newark Star-Ledger.

The Affordable Care Act isn’t. It’s not affordable to people who need insurance. It’s not affordable to our nation.

It’s a disaster.

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10 Colorado Counties Move Forward With Secession Plans

Rebellious Colorado Counties Move Forward With Plans To Secede – Daily Caller

Representatives of 10 rural Colorado counties met Monday in the sleepy plains town of Akron, about a half an hour from the Kansas border, to advance a plan that has been both hailed and ridiculed in recent weeks: A bid to split from Colorado and form the country’s 51st state.

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Eye-rolling critics have dubbed the state-to-be “Weldistan,” after the county leading the charge and alluding to the heavily conservative values of the northeast region considering secession.

Proponents have called it an inevitable result of what they say is a loss of representation in Denver, where Democrats have controlled state government and, in the minds of many rural Coloradans, ignored them in favor of liberal, urban interests.

Questions about how to proceed with such a rare initiative as starting a new state covered a wide spectrum at Monday’s meeting. They ranged from whether to include like-minded counties in Nebraska and Kansas to how to ensure, if the effort is successful, that urban areas in the newly formed state wouldn’t also begin to ignore less-populated areas and become yet another out-of-touch capital.

But for all the uncertainty, there was one common thread: barely veiled anger at how rural counties perceive they’ve been treated by the Democrat-controlled state legislature this year.

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway called it “a nightmare session.”

“This was the worse legislative session I’ve ever seen,” he said, “how they treated people, how they called bills up on the same day without giving people a chance to testify.”

Colorado has made national headlines this year in having passed a full slate of progressive laws, including tough new gun-control laws, new rights for illegal immigrants, regulations for legal marijuana, and many other controversial pieces of legislation.

Several commissioners said the back-breaker was Senate Bill 252, a new measure that requires rural electrical cooperatives to double the amount of renewable energy they offer to customers by 2020. Gov. John Hickenlooper recently signed it into law, despite heavy lobbying to veto it. The bill’s opponents say it will increase rural customers’ electricity bills by mandating what they say are unrealistic – and expensive – goals.

Many of the more than two dozen county commissioners attending the meeting noted that SB 252 was their final straw.

“[Senate Bill] 252 is a perfect example of where they rammed it down our throat,” said Yuma County Commissioner Trent Bushner. “They turned a blind eye to satisfy [Hickenlooper’s] buddies in the environmental groups.”

“I’m excited about what we can learn from this and where we can take it,” he said, “but quite honestly, I want this to be a shot across the bow for them to start listening to us.”

Like some others, Bushner wasn’t convinced that a statehood bid would be successful, even though Weld County Attorney Bruce Barker said that it was a fairly straightforward process – at least from a legal perspective.

The first step, he said, was for each county’s citizens to vote to officially exclude their county from the state of Colorado. Once those votes were conducted, counties that passed the secession measure – assuming they all shared a border – would ask voters from all of Colorado to amend the Colorado Constitution to remove their combined area from the state, and require that the state legislature submit a formal request that Congress recognize its 51st member.

If that statewide measure passes, and Congress agrees to enter it into the union, “North Colorado” – or whatever official name is eventually chosen – will be created.

Not all the commissioners were sold, with many expressing concern that there hasn’t been a groundswell of organized citizen support for the idea, even though many have told them to “go for it.”

“Do I think this has a snowball’s chance in hell of passing?” Bushner asked. “Not really.”

But others weren’t so pessimistic.

“I’ve heard the phrase ‘snowball’s chance in hell,’” said Weld County Commissioner Douglas Rademacher. “I’m looking forward to the day hell freezes over.”

“North Colorado” has a lot going for it, according to Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, noting that the 10 counties in the consortium account for 10 percent of Colorado’s assessed value, in terms of its agricultural and oil and gas production.

The area, she said, accounts for 40 percent of the assessed value of the state’s oil and gas.

Overall, she said the counties looking to secede give to the state’s treasury more than they get in return.

Regardless of the many yet-to-be-answered questions, the group will move forward, agreeing to invite to the next meeting representatives of other counties – both inside and outside Colorado – who have shown interest in forming a new state.

Conway said the next steps include hiring a professor from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley to do an in-depth economic assessment of the counties in question, and to work on developing ballot language to take to voters in November.

To make the next election, commissioners have to move fast: The deadline to submit ballot measures is in early August.

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Sarkozy To Dodge New 75% French Tax Rate By Moving To London, Setting Up £1B Private Equity Fund

Sarkozy’s Plans ‘To Dodge New 75% French Tax Rate By Moving To London With Wife Carla And Setting Up £1bn Private Equity Fund’ – Daily Mail

Nicolas Sarkozy is preparing to move to London to set up a billion pounds plus investment fund, it was claimed today.

If the move goes ahead, the controversial Frenchman will become the latest to escape a potential top tax rate of 75 per cent in his home country.

He and his former supermodel third wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy would be likely to settle in an affluent district like South Kensington – so becoming the most high profile Gallic celebrity couple in the city.

But the former president is under investigation for corruption in France, and if he does cross the Channel there will be outrage.

Details of the planned move were uncovered during a raid by fraud police on Sarkozy’s Paris mansion last June.

It came within weeks of Mr Sarkozy losing his immunity against prosecution after being defeated by Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the May presidential election.

Now the hugely respected investigative news site Mediapart reports that the ‘first draft’ of Mr Sarkozy’s London project was found by detectives examining his computer files.

A judge has since made Sarkozy an assisted witness in the so-called Bettencourt Affair, in which he is accused of using illegal cash from France’s richest woman to fund his 2007 election campaign.

Mr Sarkozy is said to have taken the money from Liliane Bettencourt, the I’ Oreal heiress – a claim the politician denies, but for which he could still receive a prison sentence.

He is also being investigated over numerous other funding scandals, including one linked to arms sales to Pakistan, and another in which he is said to have used millions in taxpayers’ money to pay friends to produce opinion polls while he was in office.

Mediapart suggests that the planned London move would create a ‘conflict of interest’ – not only because Sarkozy is being investigated, but because a former French president should not choose the UK as a base to make his fortune.

Bernard Arnault, the luxury goods magnate and France’s richest man who owns property in London, and Hollywood star Gerard Depardieu are among Frenchmen who have come under intense criticism for trying to escape Mr Hollande’s new tax regime.

The socialist is introducing a top tax rate of 75 per cent on anyone earning more than 1 million euros a year because he disapproves of the kind of vast profits made by speculators in places like the City of London.

Mr Sarkozy, however, is a committed capitalist, whose close friends include former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has himself earned millions since leaving office.

The French former president’s new private equity fund would aim to raise 1 billion euros – something he hopes to achieve with the help of French entrepreneur and political advisor Alain Minc.

Mr Sarkozy has recently had meetings with numerous movers and shakers in the world of high finance during high-profile trips to places like Qatar and London. But today Mr Sarkozy played down the Mediapart reports through his aides, with one saying that they were the result of ‘intellectual constructs’.

Like Mr Blair, the former head of state has always been extremely secretive about his financial dealings, and would be unlikely to discuss a wealth fund in public.

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