The Hidden Costs of Health Care

HHS Secretary Kathlene Sebelius today released a report detailing the hidden costs of health care in America. All kinds of details about us paying more while getting less, the rising cost of deductibles, co-payments, out-of-pocket expenses.

Highlights:

  • A person with employer-based coverage paid an average of $1,522 on health care (not including premiums) in 2006, compared with $1,260 in 2001. When including the added burden of higher premiums, out-of-pocket costs rose even more sharply, with a 30 percent increase from an average of $2,827 in 2001 to $3,744 in 2006.
  • Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job.
  • For preferred provider organization (PPO) plans purchased through an employer, the average family deductible increased 30 percent in just two years, from $1,034 to $1,344. This effect is more pronounced for small firms, where PPO deductibles increased from $1,439 to $2,367 — a rise of 64 percent.
  • In 2004, only one in five people with health insurance through an employer had a co-payment of more than $25, but by 2008 the number jumped to one in three.

Click here to read the report.

Stay tuned for Mitch McConnell to hold a press conference about how fake these America-hating statistics are.

Tuesday Morning of SHOO It Is Hot Outside

The State House adjourned yesterday in honor of Matthew Barzun, who was recently nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Sweden.

Check last night’s coverage of the Senate Appropriations & Revenue Committee meeting where the gambling bill was put to death. [Page One]

The House passed the budget bill but not without criticism. Even the liberals are fed up with it. It’s now clear there really was vote buying going on with the gambling bill. If you voted against it, you didn’t get a school in your district. [Ronnie Ellis]

What will Governor Steve Beshear be known for? Will energy issues be his legacy? In a bad way? Lots of environmentalists seem to think so. Even Brereton Jones thinks he’s walking on thin ice by ignoring tax reform. [Stephenie Steitzer]

The City of Prospect fined that gardening couple again! What an embarrassment. Mayor Todd Eberle and the city council (Loretta Ertel, Stuart Miles, Sandra Leonard, Alan Simon, Sandy Tucci, Mike Scott) should be 100% ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen. You should contact them all to let them know what meddling butt cramps they are. What a waste of tax dollars. [WHAS11 & Prospect Contact Info]

Read the rest of this mess after the jump…

Read moreTuesday Morning of SHOO It Is Hot Outside

Oh Snap Monday! Bruno Should Visit the SBC

Anyone else think it’s borderline hilarious that the Southern Baptist Conventioneers came to town on gay pride weekend? Absolute hilarity in Louisville this weekend. The city was overflowing with the gays and the gay-haters.

And speaking of the SBC, it’s interesting that this Courier-Journal story didn’t mention that while Mohler is a known homophobe, he’s said tons of things that make his arguments empty and hypocritical. Funny how the SBC and SBTS have been good at keeping quiet the comments he’s made about homosexuality not being a choice/being genetic. Thankfully there are tons of good folks at the SBTS who don’t hold archaic views. [C-J]

Also interesting that the C-J didn’t mention that 35 people were laid off by Mohler so he could dump millions into facilities built only for the convention. At least, that’s what we hear from seminary insiders. Even built an on-campus suit store for men only. Nice that the paper included reference to Mohler’s about-face decision to discriminate against women, though. [C-J Q&A]

Read his entertaining rant from 2007 on the ho-mo-sexuals that ends up delving into abortion. [Mohler’s Entertaining Rant]

Despite spin from people like Mitch McConnell, baron of the health insurance campaign contribution fortune, Americans overwhelmingly support government-run health care. 72%. Maybe some day Republicans will wake up to the realization that government-run health care is better than the non-existent health care many people currently, you know, don’t have. [NY Times]

Peep the rest after the jump…

Read moreOh Snap Monday! Bruno Should Visit the SBC

State Agencies Not Compliant with Civil Rights Act

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any state agency receiving federal funds from denying access to programs on the basis of race, color or nation of origin.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy said that, “Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races [colors, and national origins] contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial [color or national origin] discrimination.” Those are words this country has lived by for nearly five decades. Not perfectly by any means, of course, but those words are part of what makes the United States of America the land of the free.

But according to a report just released by Auditor Crit Luallen’s office, Kentucky has major civil rights problems on its hands. Of the 20 agencies submitting civil rights plans (the Office of Energy Policy didn’t submit a plan), auditors tested them for 13 compliance requirements. Nine exceptions were found.

Some of the biggies?

  • The Office of the Governor failed to identify all programs and activities subject to Title VI
  • The Finance and Administration Cabinet failed to describe the race of its staff
  • The Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education did not have sufficient evaluation procedures and failed to properly describe the race of all agency staff
  • The Kentucky Department of Education did not have adequate compliance procedures, evaluation procedures, record keeping and report procedures documented in its plan
  • Kentucky Educational Television failed to identify programs and activities within its agency subject to Title VI

We’re pretty sure no one is surprised. But we’re shocked (shocked!) that Governor Steve Beshear’s Administration hasn’t done a much better job on the civil rights front. Doesn’t appear that non-compliance this year is purposeful, but, uh… There is simply no excuse for lack of compliance.

Click here (Warning: PDF Link) to download a full copy of the report from the Auditor of Public Accounts.

Anonymous Teacher Evaluation of Sheldon Berman

By now you’ve all heard about the anonymous evaluation Jefferson County teachers gave Superintendent Sheldon Berman, right? No?

Then let’s dig in with the general responses.

Nearly 1,000 teachers took part in the survey and the results are rather telling. 2% of the 987 respondents are in early childhood, 46.3% at the elementary level, 20.8% at the middle school level and 30.9% at the high school level.

  • 57.1% either disagree or strongly disagree that they are satisfied with the current administration. Only 31.6% agree or strongly agree. Telling, eh?
  • 64% disagree/strongly disagree that Berman has taken steps to make workloads more manageable
  • 56.8% disagree/strongly disagree that Berman has become a full partner in the JCPS community
  • 60% disagree/strongly disagree that Berman exhibits effective leadership that fully supports them as a teacher
  • 62.9% disagree/strongly disagree that Berman promotes and supports sound collective bargaining relations with the Jefferson County Teachers Association

See the full-on juicy, juicy – including the scandalous comments – after the jump…

Read moreAnonymous Teacher Evaluation of Sheldon Berman

Kentucky Has Big Tax Problems, No Real Hope

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (a D.C.-based “think tank”) has released a new report on Kentucky’s inadequate tax structure.

The report, Tax Reform in Kentucky: Serious Problems, Stark Choices, examines two key problems with Kentucky’s tax structure. It’s not only insufficient, failing to produce enough revenue for public services, but is also inequitable, forcing low-and-middle-income residents of the Commonwealth to pay more in taxes than wealthier individuals and families– relative to their incomes.

Two tax measures presented to the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue (last week) are also examined. Bill Farmer introduced House Bill 51 PHS (repeal personal and corporate income taxes, repeal limited liability tax, reduce sales tax to 5.5%), which would seriously exacerbate the main problems we’re facing by aiding the wealthy. And HB 262/HB 223 (raise taxes for the super-wealthy, offer tax credit based on earned income, reinstate estate tax, lowering taxes for the poor), presented by Jim Wayne, would improve the adequacy and equity of the system.

You’ll want to check the report out for yourself:


CLICK FOR PDF

Our favorite bit of the report? This bit about Farmer’s ridiculous HB 51, showing that had the legislation been implemented in 2007, the provisions would have:

  • Increased taxes markedly for the very poorest Kentuckians. Families and individuals with 2007 incomes below $14,000 would have, on average, paid $136 more in taxes had HB 51 PHS been in effect; this is the equivalent of 1.6 percent of their income on average.
  • Reduced the taxes paid by middle-class Kentuckians by roughly 1.1 percent of income on average. That is, Kentucky taxpayers with incomes ranging from $27,000 to $45,000 in 2007 would have seen their taxes go down by $373 on average if HB 51 PHS had been made law.
  • Reduced taxes dramatically for the very wealthiest Kentuckians. In 2007, the top 1 percent of Kentucky taxpayers consisted of individuals and families with incomes in excess of $329,000. These taxpayers would have received an average tax cut of $40,910 – or 4.4 percent of income – due to the changes contained in HB 51 PHS.

Obviously not a good thing for most Kentuckians.

What’s your favorite part of the report?

Observation: Let’s not hold our breath about real tax reform in Kentucky. It’s pretty clear that no one in Frankfort is going to answer our prayers.