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.

  • MrE85

    5) I’m not sure what the father is asking for. Should all the kids have their picture taken in wheelchairs to make him feel better?

    • Chuck

      They could have shoved the rest of the class closer to the edge of the risers, or positioned the boy closer to his classmates in another way, so he’d be part of the group. I’m sure from the photographer’s viewpoint, this is as close as he could get the child without ruining the composition, and it was not maliciously done, but the way the picture turned out is a subtle reinforcement of the idea that such handicapped children aren’t quite part of the group at large.

    • BReynolds33

      I think they could easily have slid the class over to the edge of the bench where he was. Or, perhaps, not used the bench for this particular picture.

      • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

        Looks like there’s a spot over there right in front of the teacher.

        • BReynolds33

          Agreed. So many ways around this, it is amazing they didn’t figure it out.

        • Jim G

          The child should be been in the center of the picture, where the girl in the red dress is sitting.

  • BReynolds33

    #3 – I have made sure that all computer files I need are backed up online. Using a secure system, you should feel comfortable backing up everything. This includes every picture I have a physical copy of, even the old ones. My banking is done via check card and auto pay for bills. If I can’t remember a phone number for a utility, they have a website, and the ability to look up my account info.

    My bug out grab would be… my family, my dog, my phone, and my wallet. The rest of it is just stuff. If I left without my phone or wallet, I still really wouldn’t feel all that bad.

    • Kassie

      I think that’s a nice sentiment, but really that’s it? What about dog food? Toothpaste? Your passport or birth certificates? You or your loved ones medication? Maybe you don’t need your computer stuff, but there lots of things you would want if you were unable to get back to your house for a week or possibly ever.

      • BReynolds33

        All of those things are replaceable. None of my family uses meds that are required to live moment to moment. All the RXs we have can be replaced with a simple call to a pharmacy. Dog food and toothpaste are available at the grocery store. Passports and birth certificates are replaceable, and honestly, not critical to life. I’m not risking my life for those.

    • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

      No computer?

      • BReynolds33

        If it were right there to grab, sure, but my phone does everything my computer does. Problem is, it moves around the house, and can be found in any multitude of locations. If it weren’t right in front of me, not sure I would go searching for it.

        It’s not so much that these things don’t have value to me, but getting my kids in the car, the dog, etc, is never easy. Add on the panic that is sure to be in their blood, and it only amplifies. The physical goods would almost certainly get left behind. My wallet and phone only get to come with because they are usually in my pocket anyway.

        • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

          I’ve wondered about this and during disasters, I’d like to hear more about the connectivity issues and whether you can even reach the cloud. Also, I know in the N. Mpls tornado, one of the big issues was being able to recharge their phones.

          • BReynolds33

            We keep a phone charger in each of our vehicles. Good plan not only for emergencies, but day to day usage.

            When it comes to accessing the cloud, cell companies are usually pretty quick to get service back up and running. Not that I could guarantee it, but I could likely guarantee service is available somewhere in driving distance.

            Please note: I am not trying to sound like I have put a ton of thought into this, nor do I think my way is the best or only way. I just care very little for physical items, especially those easily replaced. Sure, i would miss certain things more than others, but life would go on.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    1. Where were they for the last three years? Little late to the party, folks.

    • John O.

      Another facet of this that I’m starting to hear some chatter about are employers weighing the pros and cons of moving a large swath of employees down to 29 hours a week so as to avoid having to provide health coverage. Fear of the unknown is beginning to set in.

  • Chuck

    Bonus II: I thought “colllege” was the place become educated. It appears that this baseball tournament sucks the education out of people. Or perhaps the communications department let their proofreader go because of budget cuts.