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Well, it seems the worm has turned in a very strange way, and I have to admit that I’m feeling a little bit smug about it all.

The Supreme Court is going to be looking at a provision in the Affordable Care Act to see if the Internal Revenue Service overstepped its authority. The provision was to give tax credits to health exchanges that provided the coverage for the now nearly 9 million people who’ve signed up for it.

Bundesverwaltungsgericht
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The reason for the case is that Congress is usually the entity that passes tax law and determines how credits work. The question is whether passage of the ACA allowed the IRS to take on this role or not.

The reason I’m kind of smug? Because back in 2012 I stated in post titled 4 Financial Implications Of The Health Care Bill that hospitals would do well under this bill because more payments would come to them on high cost procedures and long term stays.

There were many hospital finance people who lamented that this act was going to hurt them. It turns out that, per this story from CNBC, I was right on that front. Seems many hospitals are now worried that the Supreme Court could overturn what the IRS has done, the ACA could be crippled enough to make it go away, and hospitals will be thrown back into the old system where they’ll once again be scrambling for cash. If people wanted hospitals in their communities to close or merge with other hospitals and now have to drive further for some services, you should be celebrating… maybe…

You know what else in interesting? It seems that many of the states that had Republican governors who said that they weren’t going to allow the ACA in their state, which was their right, not only ended up bringing it into their states but now are worried themselves that it could go away and cause them problems with coverage as well.

Not only the states, but Republican politicians are also worried, though more about their political future than the people themselves (my opinion). For instance, this from the LA Times:

Ultraconservative Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) laid out the consequences starkly this week in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Chemotherapy turned off for perhaps 12,000 people, dialysis going dark for 10,000. The horror stories will be real. What will happen next is predictable: A deluge of attacks on Republicans for supposedly having caused this.”

Wow; what a turnabout eh? So, what’s your take on this? Here’s mine.

Like almost everything else, it’s going to come down to partisan politics. I predict a 4-4 split, which once again will leave it all up to Chief Justice Roberts, who made the deciding vote that allowed the ACA to go live in the first place. Here’s the thing; the entire thing pinges on just a few words in the entire bill; does the Supreme Court throw out an entire bill that could affect so many millions of people because of a few words?

I don’t know, but since I’m on a winning streak I’ll go out on a limb and say no. It would be an amazing move, knowing how many lives it would affect. Not that the Supreme Court has always gone the route of the populace, but it’s rare that they’ve taken extraordinary steps against people (Dred Scott and Jim Crow laws notwithstanding).

So, we’ll see. I do have a personal stake in this since, because of the ACA, I now have coverage. At the very least I might not have coverage and save about $1,000 a month, which is a double edged sword because anything catastrophic that happens to me will be back on the citizens of my state. If this law is taken away… I can live with that.
 

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Trying to save on resources in your home is not only economically logical, but it can be ecologically logical as well. Here are four ideas on how you can have both of these in your daily living.

1. Monitor how you use your water.

Faucet
Creative Commons License Joe Shlabotnik via Compfight

For instance, when you’re brushing your teeth do you leave the water running while you’re actually brushing? One way to save on water is to start off with water in a cup or glass and then turn off the tap. When you brush your teeth, rinse with some of the water that’s in the cup, brush some more, and use more water that’s in the cup to rinse out your mouth and clean up your brush. That type of thing can save a lot of water over time.

The same thing goes for washing dishes. If you use a dishwasher, there’s often a setting for saving water. It uses less water to clean your dishes, and obviously it works otherwise the setting wouldn’t be there. You can also reduce water consumption if you’re washing your dishes by hand by not having the water on full while you’re doing them, instead stopping up water to wash and rinse the dishes with.

2. Unplug appliances you’re not using.

You might not know this, but any item that’s plugged in that’s not in use still uses a little bit of electricity. On its own an appliance that’s not in use probably isn’t costing you a lot of money, but if you have a lot of appliances that are plugged in that aren’t being used, it could start totaling up to some significant dollars. Of course significant dollars depends on the item that’s plugged in and how much electricity is in your area, but any waste that you can eliminate could help out.

3. Make sure your household products are in a well ventilated area.

It’s probably better if you can buy products that have very few chemicals in them to begin with, but if you’re going to buy some standard products you need to make sure that they’re kept in a very well ventilated area. The reason for this is that when certain chemicals mix with each other, even just fumes, they can create either poisonous or explosive gases, neither of which is good for your home. You should probably never keep any of these items in your bathroom either, though most people tend to keep these things under the sink which is another bad place for them. A well ventilated area might be something like a laundry room where you can put things on shelves instead of putting them in small enclosed cabinets. True, things can still mix, but the concentration levels will be much lower and therefore less dangerous.

4. Take advantage of some natural resources.

If you’re trying to warm up your house in the winter time and you have an area that has a lot of sun, open up your windows and let the sunlight help warm your house. If your house feel stuffy and you don’t have the ability to open up the doors and windows, add some plants to the room since they help to reduce carbon dioxide levels and increase oxygen levels. If you have a dry room, you can get some benefit by putting either pans or bowls of water in strategic areas as opposed to using humidifiers.
 

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This week President Obama first floated the balloon, then put out the message in his State of the Union address that he’d like to make college free. Well, that’s not quite accurate. He wants to make community college free for everyone across the country, with the caveat that they get at least a 2.5 GPA and have a commitment to get that associates degree or are working towards transferring to a 4-year school after 2 years.

Downing College, Cambridge
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It’s based on programs in the state of Tennessee and the city of Chicago, which means this isn’t just a Republican or Democratic plan. The ideas are two-fold. One, it would help many students reduce their college debt if they could knock out some of their early classes at community college; two, it would encourage more students to better prepare before they went to college because, for many, a 2-year degree is all they need for many professions.

Of course the cost is what anyone against this plan is looking at, and it wouldn’t be cheap. The President advocates that the federal government would pay 75% and the states would pick up the the rest, and it’s estimated to cost at least $60 billion a year. I’m not fully sure where that money would come from, but it seems that someone would be getting taxed for it.

By the way, this wouldn’t be a gimme. Students would still have to be approved based on their high school grades and of course some might have to change majors to get in, like I had to when I went to college. And if the qualification is that 2.5 GPA then there’s either some penalty for those who don’t achieve that grade or… well, I’m not sure what happens if they’re bounced. Does someone else get their spot if they get bounced in the first semester? Also, it would put more onus on community college to make sure students are taking the proper courses for a career track, no matter which degree they’re ultimately shooting for; I couldn’t tell you if they do that now.

I like this idea, although I’d love to know how it’s going to be paid for. As the title suggests, this isn’t really new, just a revisiting of something some states have had in the past. For years, all state colleges in California were free to residents for the longest time. In NYC, City College was free until 1976 when it couldn’t be supported anymore when the city was having major financial difficulties.

It’s also not unique to just the federal government this time around, as the governor of Arkansas stated in 2013 that it was his wish to attempt to make college free to its residents as long as they maintained that same magical 2.5 GPA.

Leaving the question of how it will be paid for, I have to say this would help way more than it would hurt. There would still be costs associated, such as buying books and paying to live in a dorm, but those costs would be way less without having to pay for school also. Right now there are many kind who have the grades to go but can’t get loans, and we’re losing some great minds who need some kind of degree to have opportunities they can’t get without one.

Also, more loan money would then be available for those students who decide to go straight to a traditional university, since many of those students can’t get loans based on some of the qualifications they and their families have to get beyond first.

As I said, I like the plan, and I’d love to see what many of you think. Still, the money thing is going to be the most important thing, and I’m not as worried about federal money as I am about the states being able to contribute.
 

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