Wednesday Hump-day Post
Posted August 20, 2014on:
Good Wednesday to you Widdershins. I have a couple items here I’ve had bookmarked and thought I’d share with you. One is on Obamacare and a poll that was conducted and the other item is a piece on a new tactic in the fracking wars.
A recent poll showed that two states (and in the South yet!) States that embraced all facets of the healthcare law showed a “significant drop” in the number of uninsured in their state (Okay big duh!), while those that did not, saw less of a change. (Kinda makes sense, right?)
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found an overall drop of 4 percentage points in the share of uninsured residents for states accepting the law’s core coverage provisions. Those are states that expanded their Medicaid programs and also built or took an active role managing new online insurance markets.
For the states that took neither of those actions, the drop was just 2.2 percent. And the states with the biggest drops were Kentucky and Arkansas!
Leading the nation were two southern states where the law has found political support. Arkansas saw a drop of about 10 percentage points in its share of uninsured residents, from 22.5 percent in 2013, to 12.4 percent by the middle of this year. Kentucky experienced a drop of nearly 9 percentage points, from 20.4 percent of its residents uninsured in 2013, to 11.9 percent.
What was also interesting to see was the contrast between neighboring states that took different approaches to the implementation of obamacare:
— While Arkansas had the 10-point decline in its uninsured rate, the drop in Tennessee was just 2.4 percentage points.
— The uninsured rate in West Virginia fell 5.7 points after the state agreed to Medicaid expansion, but there was no change for neighboring Virginia, where Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been blocked by a Republican-led legislature.
— Colorado’s uninsured rated dropped 6 percentage points with Medicaid expansion and a state-run exchange, while Utah’s didn’t budge. That state has a federally-run exchange and is still weighing whether to expand Medicaid.
Robert Blendon, a public opinion analyst at the Harvard School of Public Health said it’s still too early to see any big shifts in perceptions of the law. He says that the negative perceptions about the law are driven by folks who already have health insurance and who believe that the expansion of health care coverage will cost them more or affect their quality of care. “Why isn’t the bill more popular?” asked Blendon. “Rightly or wrongly, people who are not directly aided by it are worried.”
Below is a handy-dandy list of the Top Ten states with the largest reduction in uninsureds:
An even clearer number is given here where states expanded Medicaid and state exchange-partnerships and those with only one of the two:
And here’s the thing with this: The more people who get covered by some type of preventative care, the fewer people will be seen in emergent care facilities (emergency rooms). Those folks will be seen in a clinical scenario as opposed to waiting until an illness such as diabetes, hypertension and the like force them to seek care at the e.r.’s. That in turn should drive down costs across the board.
The Frack you say!
Here’s an interesting take on the fracking front: A company in Pennsylvania wants to offer you $50,000 upfront so you won’t sue them.
EQT Corporation is one of the largest producers of natural gas in Pennsylvania. They use hydraulic fracking as the mechanism to get to the gas. And they have been busy around Finleyville they’ve drilled over a dozen wells on one site. It wasn’t long before the residents there started complaining of noise, odors, and general “quality of life” issues with the company. EQT initially offered to do noise studies and even to offer vouchers so folks could stay in a hotel to avoid the noise and fumes. Soooo…EQT got the brilliant idea of offering residents $50k in exchange for not filing any types of lawsuits regarding their fracking operations.
The liability agreements EQT has used in Finleyville — they are often known as nuisance easements — have been used in other circumstances. Residents living close to airports, for instance, are often offered such easements as compensation for having to bear with the noise, vibrations and fumes from air traffic. Property owners close to landfills and wind farms may also sign similar agreements.
release the company from any legal liability, for current operations as well as those to be carried out in the future. It covered potential health problems and property damage, and gave the company blanket protection from any kind of claim over noise, dust, light, smoke, odors, fumes, soot, air pollution or vibrations.
The agreement also defined the company’s operations as not only including drilling activity but the construction of pipelines, power lines, roads, tanks, ponds, pits, compressor stations, houses and buildings.
Doug Clark, a Pennsylvania attorney who specializes in gas leases and mainly represents landowners said:
“The release is so incredibly broad and such a laundry list,”…”You’re releasing for everything including activity that hasn’t even occurred yet. It’s crazy.”
Some folks have taken the money and said that the company has been completely fair with them. Others have considered it an insult.
“I was insulted,” said Gary Baumgardner, who was approached by EQT with the offer in January. “We’re being pushed out of our home and they want to insult us with this offer.”
Baumgardner says he has had to leave his house at least three times so far because the gas fumes from the well site were too much to bear. A local health group has installed air quality monitors in his home and several of his neighbors. Last year when the one of the monitors began flashing red, his daughter, pregnant at the time, fled the house. She has since moved away after her doctor advised her not to live close to a drilling site.
The $50k may sound tempting but I would have to think long and hard over an offer like that. That’s a relatively paltry amount for giving up the quality of your life in your own home.
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