Friday, March 30, 2012

According to the Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster, the effects of Obamacare on Medicare would lead to dramatic cuts in the reimbursement rates of physicians to levels even lower than that of Medicaid. This would lead to widespread shortages:
In the Office of the Actuary‟s April 22, 2010 memorandum on the estimated financial effects of the Affordable Care Act, we noted that by 2019 the update reductions would result in negative total facility margins for about 15 percent of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies. This estimated percentage would continue to increase, reaching roughly 25 percent in 2030 and 40 percent by 2050. In practice, providers could not sustain continuing negative margins and, absent legislative changes, would have to withdraw from providing services to Medicare beneficiaries, merge with other provider groups, or shift substantial portions of Medicare costs to their non-Medicare, non-Medicaid payers.

And Democrats say that Ryan's plan would end Medicare as we know it? h/t:Avik Roy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crony Capitalism at its worst:
Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are being pushed to reduce borrowers' mortgage balances in order to shield U.S. banks from taking losses on distressed housing debt, the companies' regulator said in a Financial Times interview published on Sunday. "If you do principal forgiveness, who is it benefiting? ... Doing principal forgiveness is what would protect the big banks," said Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

DeMarco argued that writing down the principal on first mortgages would amount to a transfer of taxpayer wealth to the biggest U.S. lenders, whose "second mortgages" are normally subordinate to the primary mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Some officials in the Obama administration, the Federal Reserve and Congress have called on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to write down the value of mortgages they own or guarantee as part of an effort to help the U.S. housing market recover from a deep slump that saw one third of property values wiped out since 2006.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to be cut loose.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why does the US have higher infant mortality rates than most other OECD countries? Well, the US is one of few countries that reports a "live birth" according to WHO definition. In addition, the US has higher proportion of at risk births, as a result of higher levels of in vitro fertilization and lower levels of abortion of at risk pregnancies.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is it true that American health care produces shorter life expectancy than other, nationalized systems? Well, to find that out, you would have to correct life expectancy figures for deaths not impacted by medical care, specifically fatal injuries like automobile accidents and homicide. Interestingly, once those are removed from the equation, the US, and Switzerland, the two most free market health care systems, lead the pack:

h/t Avik Roy

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nir Rosen has an interesting backgrounder on Syria. I don't necessarily agree with some of the predictions in the international arena, but the analysis of internal Syrian divisions is worthwhile:

The insurgency will gradually carve out autonomous zones, from Idlib to Hama to Homs and approaching the suburbs of Damascus. Foreign intelligence agencies will eventually provide covert assistance to the insurgency. But Iranian - and possibly Russian - advisers will likely provide advice to the regime in counter-insurgency. So parts of the country will fall into opposition hands, and parts will remain in the hands of the regime. Alawites in Homs may flee to the villages they originally came from. Christians will flee to their former villages or to Damascus. Both of these trends have already started. Sunni remaining in Latakia will be vulnerable, and in the event of Alawites returning to Latakia's mountain villages, fleeing from other parts of the country, the region's Sunni may also be forcibly displaced.

In this scenario, some villages in rural Hama and Homs governorates will fight between each other. Damascus will see further assassinations and bombings. Working class Alawite neighborhoods of Damascus, where members of the security forces live - such as Ish al Warwar, Mazze 86 and Sumeria - will be besieged, or face reprisals from angry Sunni. In Aleppo, powerful rival Sunni clans - who hate each other and have access to arms - will turn on each other and feud as soon as the state weakens. The elites of Aleppo might once have preferred for the Assads to stay in power, but increasingly they are giving up hope that he can pull them back from the abyss.

The divide in Syria is not merely between Sunnis and Alawites. In Daraa and Suweida, Druze and Bedouins may clash once again. So too with other sects further north in Misyaf.

Avik Roy on why Obamacare will reduce patient access to healthcare.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pew research into online behavior: Liberals are nearly twice as intolerant as Conservatives:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Anonymous: their technical knowledge is as naive as their politics.
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