Coastal communities are having their day in appeals court, trying to overturn higher homeowners insurance premiums for coastal residents. The higher rates were agreed in 2008 by then-Commissioner of Insurance Jim Long and the North Carolina Rate Bureau. It sounds like the judges are sympathetic to the counties (not that they are thinking of their own ability to vacation at the beach).
"Suppose the commissioner gets it wrong?" Judge Linda Stephens wondered.
"I don't know of anywhere else where an order can be issued and there's no right to appeal that," Judge Martha Geer said.
Judge Stephens is right to wonder what happens if the commissioner gets the premium wrong. She should recognize that the risk is two-sided. Counties think the commissioner is wrong and has raised prices too much on their property owners. But the commissioner could just as easily have underestimated the cost of insuring coastal properties, which is why the Beach Plan needed to be rescued with higher premiums this year. The problem is coastal communities are more vulnerable to hurricanes and rates there should be higher than in the mountains - Frances and Ivan notwithstanding - so hurricane coverage at the beach should be more expensive.
Fair insurance premiums should not be decided by lone commissioners or three-judge courts, they should be decided by insurers (with help from their actuarials) and consumers.
Why is Martha Coakley in trouble in Massachusetts? The latest reason is her statement that Catholics should not work in emergency rooms if they have a conscience: "You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room."
The health care "reform" bills making their way through Congress would expand the number of people receiving government-funded medical coverage in two major ways. First, they would provide federal subsidies to individuals living at up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line for them to purchase private insurance plans on newly-created "exchanges." Second, there would be a massive expansion of Medicaid eligibility - shifting 15 million more people onto Medicaid, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
This second component will have a major impact on state governments because Medicaid is funded, in part, by the states. In fact, this is the very reason why congressional leaders are using a Medicaid expansion to fulfill their vision of expanding government-funded health care. This strategy allows them to off-load the costs of a federal policy initiative onto hapless state governments. According to the Heritage Foundation, states would face a new $32.2 billion burden by 2019 under the Senate bill and of $60.1 billion in the same time frame under the House bill.
However, if states were to opt out of the Medicaid program entirely, they could realize a combined savings of $652 billion with no change in state spending on long-term care. (For North Carolina alone, it would be $21.2 billion.) Moreover, it's possible that the final version of the health care "reform" bill would have no lower bound for eligibility for the federal subsidies - meaning that individuals currently on Medicaid could simply be shifted into the exchanges with Congress picking up the tab. In fact, under such a scenario, these individuals would likely have greater access to care because Medicaid's low reimbursement rates often results in doctors turning away new Medicaid patients.
I recently proposed the idea of a Medicaid opt-out here in Nevada and the governor's office has picked up on it. He has instructed the state Department of Health and Human Services to examine the feasibility of an opt-out. Legislation on the issue would likely be proposed in an upcoming special legislative session.
If Nevada opts out, I'd expect to see other states follow suit. Uncle Harry won't be pleased.
The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report on a conservative Wake County parents' group's complaint that the public school system released too much information about a private check linked to one of the group's members.
John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, did a special report for KUSI TV out of San Diego earlier this week showing how two key US climate data centers, including the center located in Asheville NC, has been manipulating temperature readings and thermometer data to show warming where there may be none. This was part of a one hour program on global warming. Here is the segment where he and his guests explain what's been going on. This is the link to the entire one hour show.
Even during difficult days of the Depression, innovative North Carolinians started several businesses and created new consumer products and jobs. Among them were Texas Pete and Krispy Kreme. During the decade, Cheerwine was distributed widely and became a household name in the Southeast.
This short YouTube video compares the beginning of the American Revolution in Massachusetts with Tuesday's senatorial election Massachusetts to replace Senator Kennedy. This election could be the "shot heard 'round the world" and the first step in defeating the tyrannical government in Washington:
In this piece the Pope Center has released today, Professor Anthony Papalas of East Carolina comments on the lecture given last November at the school by Gloria Steinem. She got ten grand; the audience got a lot of preposterous baloney about how what she calls capitalism is responsible for the world's woes and especially the oppression of women.
If ECU had brought in a speaker to talk about astrology that would have been just as academically indefensible, but it would have done less harm. Propagating false ideas about make-believe is merely a waste of time; propagating false ideas about the real world is the exact opposite of what a university should be doing.
University of Arkansas professor Jay Greene explains the results of a rigorous study of Head Start:
As I described last week, the Department of Health and Human Services has been sitting on an evaluation of the Head Start government run pre-school program. Well, today the study was released (and it’s not even a Friday!).
As the leaks suggested, the study found virtually no lasting effects to participation in Head Start. The study used a gold-standard, random assignment design and had a very large nationally representative sample. This was a well done study (even if it mysteriously took more than 3 years after data collection was complete to release the results).
For students who were randomly assigned to Head Start or not at the age of 4, the researchers collected 19 measures of cognitive impacts at the end of kindergarten and 22 measures when those students finished 1st grade. Of those 41 measures only 1 was significant and positive. The remaining 40 showed no statistically significant difference. The one significant effect was for receptive vocabulary, which showed no significant advantage for Head Start students after kindergarten but somehow re-emerged at the end of 1st grade.
The long and short of it is that the government has a giant and enormously expensive pre-school program that has made basically no difference for the students who participate in it. And folks are proposing that we expand government pre-school to include all students. Those same folks have some bridges they’d like to sell.
In one of the greatest in-your-face slam dunks of all time, Dorothy Rabinowitz lays bare the ugly history of Massachusetts candidate Martha Coakley. Read all about it here.
Rabinowitz won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the astounding Fells Acres Day Care case where prosecutors eager to make names for themselves relentlessly pushed a case alleging child abuse. Eventually, appellate court judges in Massachusetts would ream out the prosecution and several of the defendants were released -- but not Gerald Amirault. Evidently, keeping some member of the family behind bars was important to the prosecutors who wanted to save face and continue to look tough. So Martha Coakley went ballistic to keep him from being released from prison after the parole board had voted 5-0 to release him.
What kind of person does that?
Someone so intent on keeping up her public image that justice for an individual does not matter.
Hmmmmmm..... You might be a progressive if you declare your commitment to "social justice" but couldn't care less if you let an innocent person rot in jail.
Coakley is a great role model, though. FDR kept the Japanese-Americans in prison camps long after it was evident that they posed no threat to national security. (Actually, they never did.)
From Kimberly Strassel's latest column in the Wall Street Journal:
They hadn't caught a new poll that is all the congressional gossip right now, showing that North Carolina freshman Democrat Larry Kissell remains relatively popular in his conservative district and easily leads potential Republican opponents. Mr. Kissell was a no vote on health care. What makes the poll particularly relevant is data that shows that among the 44% of voters who incorrectly believe Mr. Kissell voted for the bill, the matchups are tied. Among the 29% who correctly understand he voted against the legislation, Mr. Kissell wins huge. [emphasis added]
A little discussed aspect of the health care bills being debated in Congress is the new role for the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM). In brief, OPM would create a public option by expanding the current health care program that it administers for all federal employees.
The Heritage Foundation is sponsoring presentations by two former OPM Directors including my old boss Don Devine who headed OPM in the Reagan administration (1981-1985). See the details here.
No longer an umpire in the annual competition among private health plans vying for federal workers’ business, OPM would become the official sponsor
of at least two national health plans that would compete against
private health plans in every state in the union. What impact would OPM
have on the nation’s health insurance markets? How much authority would
OPM have? What special regulatory powers would OPM exercise as the
sponsor of the federal government’s select insurance plans?
Now that the U.S. House and Senate have approved competing versions of ObamaCare, what happens next? What is the final deal likely to mean for taxpayers, patients, and the uninsured? John Hood addresses those questions in the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.
Meanwhile, Michael Sanera will join us to explain how governments misuse the concept of “blight” to seize property through eminent domain. Terry Stoops will tackle misconceptions about the value of nationally board-certified teachers in North Carolina classrooms.
Wake Forest University political scientist John Dinan will discuss the importance of state constitutions. Plus Alan Gura, lead counsel in a landmark federal gun-rights case, will offer his thoughts about a North Carolina Supreme Court ruling addressing gun rights for nonviolent ex-felons.