Big savings!

In figuring out the cost of one-third of states refusing Medicaid expansion, the real information isn’t in the answers. It’s in asking the right questions. This story includes no information about how much money those uninsured people will eventually cost the taxpayers under other line items — like the programs that exist to pay for their medical bills, administered through hospitals, or the projected increase in Social Security disability claims. Nor does it address the human cost of having three million uninsured people. But as we know, we are all merely disposable digits in the grand national austerity movement! Sarah Kliff:

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its analysis of how the Supreme Court decision will impact the Affordable Care Act’s budget. The big ticket takeaway is this: The non-partisan scorekeeper estimates that 3 million people fewer people will gain coverage due to states opting out of the Medicaid expansion, resulting in $84 billion less in federal spending.

Let’s break down those numbers a bit. The Congressional Budget Office does not list out which states could pass up the Medicaid expansion. But it does predict that “some states will probably forgo the expansion entirely.”

The CBO then estimates that for every person who does not enroll in Medicaid because of that, and goes uninsured, the federal government saves $6,000 in spending by 2022. For the average person who does not enroll in Medicaid, but instead gets subsidized coverage from the health insurance exchange, the federal government spends $9,000 – $3,000 more than they would have had those individuals been in Medicaid.

“With about 6 million fewer people being covered by Medicaid but only about 3 million more people receiving subsidies through the exchanges and about 3 million more people being uninsured…the projected decrease in total federal spending on Medicaid is larger than the anticipated increase in total exchange subsidies,” the CBO concludes.

Letterman: ‘We’re screwed’

It’s good when normally non-political (at least, publicly) celebrities like David Letterman come out and attack corporate greed, because I suspect it has more of an impact. Letterman’s right, of course – but no one’s going to do anything to stop it because you can never really have enough money in your campaign chest:

David Letterman held nothing back last week when he voiced his concerns over fracking, calling the oil companies greedy, he plainly explained to America, “we’re screwed.”

The Late Show host went on to point out the issues with water contamination as a result of fracking, saying, “The Delaware Water Gap has been ruined. The Hudson Valley has been ruined. Most of Pennsylvania has been ruined. Virginia, West Virginia has been ruined. Colorado has been ruined. New Mexico has been ruined.”

Fracking is a controversial drilling method used for extracting natural gas. It has spread throughout the U.S. in recent years, despite growing acknowledgement of the risks involved. It has come under even more press in New York state recently, where activists are currently fight against reports that Governor Andrew Cuomo may allow fracking to take place in several counties.

Letterman joins fellow commedian, host of Late Night, Jimmy Fallon, who also recently discussed fracking on his show. Fallon joined Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono on stage for a song, titled “Don’t frack my mother.”

Luntz poll: NRA members support gun control

Smart move! Mayors Against Illegal Guns hired Frank Luntz to poll a sample made up of 50 percent NRA members, and found a real split between their support for sensible gun laws – and that of the rabid NRA leadership. It will be oh-so-interesting to hear what the usual talk-radio suspects have to say about this:

Mayors Against Illegal Guns today released the findings of a survey by GOP pollster Frank Luntz showing that NRA members and gun owners overwhelmingly support a variety of laws designed to keep firearms out of dangerous hands, even as the Washington gun lobby prepares to spend unprecedented millions supporting candidates who pledge to oppose any changes to U.S. gun laws. The poll also dispels the myth among many Washington pundits that there is a lack of public support for common-sense measures that would help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and keep Americans safe. Among the survey’s key findings:

  • 87 percent of NRA members agree that support for 2nd Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
  • There is very strong support for criminal background checks:
    • 74 percent support requiring criminal background checks of anyone purchasing a gun.
    • 79 percent support requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on all employees – a measure recently endorsed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry.
  • NRA members strongly support allowing states to set basic eligibility requirements for people who want to carry concealed, loaded guns in public places. By contrast, the NRA leadership’s top federal legislative priority – national reciprocity for concealed carry permits – would effectively eliminate these requirements by forcing every state to allow non-residents to carry concealed guns even if they would not qualify for a local permit.
  • NRA members support many common state eligibility rules for concealed carrying:
    • 75 percent believe concealed carry permits should only be granted to applicants who have not committed any violent misdemeanors, including assault.
    • 74 percent believe permits should only be granted to applicants who have completed gun safety training.
    • 68 percent believe permits should only be granted to applicants who do not have prior arrests for domestic violence.
    • 63 percent believe permits should only be granted to applicants 21 years of age or older.

The NRA rank and file also supports barring people on terror watch lists from buying guns (71 percent) and believe the law should require gun owners to alert police to lost and stolen guns (65 percent).

A different approach to mass shooting tragedy

This happened a week ago in Toronto, one of the worst shootings in the city’s history:

Toronto police are concerned about possible retaliation in the wake of one of the worst incidents of gun violence in the city’s history, which left two people dead and another 23 wounded.

Shooting erupted at a block party in a Scarborough neighbourhood on Monday night, which police believe was attended by at least 100 people. The shooting left crowds of people fleeing the neighbourhood near Morningside Avenue and Lawrence Avenue East, as police arrived at the scene.

Police soon determined that two people were dead and nearly two dozen others were wounded in the spray of bullets. One person was trampled as panicked partygoers fled the scene.

Det. Sgt. Graham Gibson identified the deceased during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon as Joshua Yasay, 23, of Ajax, Ont., and Shyanne Charles, 14, of Toronto.

The news coverage had a distinctly different tone than the Aurora coverage here. News coverage included public demands for stricter gun laws, and public officials demanding that the government step in with stable funding to deal with the city’s gang problems – not just more money for police, but for community prevention efforts.

It was really disorienting, to read of public officials discussing the root causes of a problem — and sounding like they had every intention of attacking them.

I also learned that Canadians blame increasing gun violence on the easy flow of guns from… guess where?

There was also a palpable sense of mourning over the loss of Joshua Yashay, a recent criminology honors graduate who wanted to be a cop, as someone who was really going to make a difference in his community:

Pallbearers dressed in white suits carried in the casket as onlookers broke down outside the church.

“He was the type of guy that was fighting to curb this type of violence and unfortunately he got caught up in it,” said Yvette Nelson, whose daughter was a close friend of Yasay’s.

Nelson added that those affected by Yasay’s tragic death can become angry and lose perspective on the issue, by calling the shooters “senseless” and “thugs”, but added “obviously they need help.”

“We have to forgive and we have to have that compassion and we have to help them, otherwise I don’t know, maybe the killing just continues, the shootings just continue.”

You know what I didn’t find anywhere? A public figure saying that if only more people at that cookout had guns, Shyanne Charles, 14, and Joshua Yasay, 23, would still be alive. That was refreshing. Apparently we haven’t infected the Canadians with the wingnut virus quite that badly yet.

But they didn’t get away scot-free. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a man who’s well-funded by American conservatives, started decrying recent court decisions that struck down mandatory sentences for gun crimes.

Why I heart charter schools

Because they’re such an efficient use of taxpayer dollars:

A charter school mogul was charged today in a multimillion-dollar fraud case by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Dorothy June Hairston Brown, who received accolades for students’ test scores and gained notoriety for collecting large salaries and suing parents who questioned her actions, was indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering.

Brown, 75, and four executives from her charter schools, were charged with defrauding three charter schools of more than $6.5 million in taxpayer funds.

U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger announced that a federal grand jury had returned a 62-count indictment against Brown and four of her trusted employees.

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