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Friday, July 22, 2016

Blogger Guru Jessie Newburn's book on her Uber driving experience now on Amazon


   Locally we bloggers know Jessie for setting up the website HoCo Blogs that publicizes many of our local blogs.  Now we can return the favor by downloading Jesse's self published book on her experiences as an Uber driver.  I have been reading her blog posts on her experiences and have used Uber a few times as a rider and it is fascinating to set the other side of using a service like Uber.   Here is the link to download her Kindle copy free only today.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Some perspective on the Affordable Health Care Act's results

      There is a lot of noise about how the Affordable Care Act is a failure and needs to be repealed and replaced.  The rhetoric is not supported by the facts.   In a recent Journal of the American Medical Association here is what their findings were:

"Findings: The Affordable Care Act has made significant progress toward solving long-standing challenges facing the US health care system related to access, affordability, and quality of care. Since the Affordable Care Act became law, the uninsured rate has declined by 43%, from 16.0% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015, primarily because of the law’s reforms. Research has documented accompanying improvements in access to care (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults unable to afford care of 5.5 percentage points), financial security (for example, an estimated reduction in debts sent to collection of $600-$1000 per person gaining Medicaid coverage), and health (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults reporting fair or poor health of 3.4 percentage points). The law has also begun the process of transforming health care payment systems, with an estimated 30% of traditional Medicare payments now flowing through alternative payment models like bundled payments or accountable care organizations. These and related reforms have contributed to a sustained period of slow growth in per-enrollee health care spending and improvements in health care quality. Despite this progress, major opportunities to improve the health care system remain.

Conclusions and Relevance: Policy makers should build on progress made by the Affordable Care Act by continuing to implement the Health Insurance Marketplaces and delivery system reform, increasing federal financial assistance for Marketplace enrollees, introducing a public plan option in areas lacking individual market competition, and taking actions to reduce prescription drug costs. Although partisanship and special interest opposition remain, experience with the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that positive change is achievable on some of the nation’s most complex challenges.

    The next big improvement to our health care system is to bring back a public option that will provide and alternative to private providers and improve cost control of health care spending.  This improvement was lost in the Senate by only a single vote in the effort to gain closure of the Republican filibuster against the bill.   It is doubtful that the Congress will go along with bringing back this option as long as the Republicans are in control but eventually we will achieve more aspects of a single payer system in spite of political opposition from conservatives.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What is a TIF? Find out here


     Pictured above is a drawing from the Baltimore Sun of the Crescent development in Town Center. We often hear about public support in the form of tax credits or other public support being used to develop private development in Baltimore.  Currently there is controversy about the tax credits being discussed with the Under Armour development of Port Covington for their new headquarters.   A similar public support arrangement is now being discussed for the Crescent downtown Columbia development.  In a nutshell the idea is that the increase in the County tax base with the Crescent development will offset the cost to the County to sell bonds to finance the cost of road infrastructure and a parking garage that are necessary for the Crescent development.   These tax credits are usually controversial especially when they are used for building stadiums.  To learn more about the plans for how TIF would work here is a link to a Baltimore Sun video story.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Howard County restaurant week begins today


     Traditionally July and August are slow months in the restaurant business.  As a result the past few years restaurants have tried to bring customers in with Restaurant Week specials.  Today starts the period of Restaurant Week in Howard County. Slow season for restaurants.  Actually it is a 2 week period this year.  Here is a list of the restaurants in the Restaurant Week program this year.