5 x 8: Time to pay more attention to the health care law

The Monday Morning Rouser:


The chances are pretty good that few people are paying a lot of attention to the creation of the patchwork of health insurance plans that will make up so-called “Obamacare.” The insurance mandate takes effect next year and time is running out to get such a large program in place. We might want to pay closer attention to how it’s developing.

Late last week, MPR reported, however, that the big question — how much? — will stay a secret until this fall in Minnesota. It’s a chess game between regulators and insurers to try to drive costs down.

And this morning, MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki has even more information on how the online marketplace — MNsure — is going to work, and some people aren’t happy. The program needs nonprofit organizations and others to help sign up people. But while it’s paying “consumer assistance partners” $75 to give people information about and sign up people for a commercial health plan, it’s giving only $25 to those who help sign up low-income people — people who have to rely on Medicaid.

Before it’s even out of the gate, some people are claiming it creates a caste system for health care, the one thing a health care program was designed to eliminate.

In many ways, the new health care law is designed to fail because so much of the power behind it is still left to the states. The New York Times reports today that in many states, consumers are going to get no more choice than they have now, which theoretically means that the health care people can’t afford now is the health care people will be required to have next year.

“What we’re seeing is a reflection of the market that already exists,” Timothy S. Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia who closely follows the health care law, tells the Times.

Related: To Find Out How The Health Law Affects You, Ask The President. (NPR)


Photo: Courtesy of Imperfect Jumps

The weather forecast looks favorable for Kevin Burkart on Wednesday. He’s got a history of trying to raise money for Parkinson’s research by jumping out of an airplane over and over again. He made 100 jumps in one day in 2008. He made 200 in one day a week or so later. He was going for 300 but he was seriously injured in a a snowmobile crash and lost the use of an arm, and the attempt had to be called off last year.

On Wednesday, he’s going to start jumping in Baldwin, Wi., and see how many jumps his one good arm can stand.

He’s raising money for Parkinson’s, because his father has it.


It appears summer has finally arrived in the Upper Midwest and the Minnesota tornado season should be underway any day now (June is the most active month). If you only had 15 minutes to flee your house in the face of some advancing threat, what would you bring?

Maryn McKenna, a Minnesota resident at one time, got caught in the Atlanta severe storms last week and had to flee. She acknowledges in a Wired.com article that her tornado bug-out skills had deteriorated since leaving flyover country. She hadn’t prepared in advance and did it on the fly.

This morning, I checked their contents. To be honest, I give myself a C. I grabbed the cat’s food and dishes, but didn’t think to take the medication I give her twice a day. I took all the devices that access my stuff in the cloud, but didn’t recall that I keep some things out of the cloud for security; I should have taken the external back-up that sits on my desk. And, if things went very bad, I might have had a hard time dealing with the details; I relied on having web-based banking, but I didn’t think to take the phone or account numbers for any of the utilities. And I committed those fails despite minimal things to distract me: my spouse (aviation engineer) and I (epidemics and disasters journalist, pilot) are pretty accustomed to emergencies; we had only one pet to wrangle; and we didn’t have any small children or mobility-challenged elders to keep calm. And, most fortunate of all, we ended up not having to run.

So, this is a plea, or at least a piece of unsolicited advice: Spare a thought now for what you’ll do on the kind of evening I had. Especially think what might go in your “go bag” — the stuff you’ll need when you need to leave quickly — and consider going ahead and packing one. Mike Coston, who thinks about such issues a lot — he’s not only an emerging-diseases blogger, but also an emergency medical technician and a Florida resident — calls it a BOB, for “bug-out bag,” and has great resources on his blog about how to prepare for hours, days and weeks when things go bad. If it seems overkill to keep a bag packed, or you live somewhere where there’s no storage space, then consider making a “go list,” of what you would need when it’s time to bolt. Print it out — what if it’s in your desktop and the power fails? – and put it in a location that is easy to remember. Spare yourself the burden of making decisions when your system is flooded with adrenaline and you’re not sure what to do first.


Should people be required to compost food scraps?

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg says a pilot program of voluntary composting worked so well, he’s expanding it to the entire city. And, it was reported this weekend, he may make it mandatory.

Warning: If you’ve struggled for years to get your compost bin to crank out nice black compost, you probably don’t want to look at the pictures in the story. (NY Daily News)


Photo: Don Ambridge

Miles Ambridge brought his class picture home to show his father recently. It showed his son, who has spinal muscular atrophy, sitting apart from his class, leaning in to be part of it.

His father took pen to paper, he tells the CBC.

“It basically said, ‘I find this photo disgusting. Please throw it out. I don’t want it in my house.’ Painful, very painful. It still hurts to see it.”

Bonus I: Starting a Rhubarb (Idea Peepshow)

Bonus II:
The college world series has opened. Confuse it not with a spelling bee.

(Photo: Associated Press)

Bonus III: Now where on earth would a young hockey player learn this fighting stuff? (CBC)

Bonus IV: Why didn’t Edward Snowden include the New York Times when he was disgorging the nation’s secrets?

How should U.S. immigration laws change?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The Supreme Court will release opinions in major cases concerning affirmative action, voting rights and gay marriage, this month. These opinions, like other high profile opinions before it, will leave their mark American life. They could also give court watchers greater insight into the workings of “the Roberts Court”.

Second hour: The downside of multitasking.

Third hour: Music. Guests: Jim McGuinn, program director of The Current; Jessica Hopper, music and culture critic, music editor for Rookie.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of the book “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Facebook used to be the gathering place for teens online. Now, they communicate across plenty of apps: Instagram, Kik, and Tumblr, just to name a few. And their complex social media choices tend to mystify adults. Teens talk about which platforms they use, when, and why. Its part of the NPR series on kids and media.