New York State tells insurance companies to offer Obamacare — or else

New York is sending a clear message to its health insurance plans: Stick with Obamacare’s insurance marketplace — or else.

The state announced Monday that it will bar insurers who quit the marketplace from bidding for future contracts with New York health programs. That’s a big deal: 6.4 million New Yorkers have Medicaid coverage, making those contracts lucrative opportunities that health plans won’t want to miss out on.

I wonder how many years it will take for politicos in New Mexico to stand up on their hind legs and back working folks, this way. Our state has a higher percentage of children born under Medicaid than anywhere else in the United States.

New York already has a competitive marketplace, so it’s not clear how much this step will matter. The state hasn’t had trouble attracting insurers to its marketplace in the way other states have. Every New York county had at least two plans signed up to sell coverage in 2017…

This type of provision would be a lot more meaningful in a place like Missouri or Iowa, two marketplaces badly in need of more competition. New York isn’t likely to struggle with empty Obamacare counties regardless…

New York isn’t the first state to tether Medicaid contracts to marketplace participation…Nevada has a similar regulation on the books. That state gives preference to health insurance plans that want Medicaid contracts if they also sell on the state marketplace.

The provision seems to have been successful in convincing two additional health plans to participate in the Nevada Obamacare marketplace. Medicaid is a lucrative enough program, it seems, that states can use it as a lure to bring insurance plans into other smaller programs like the marketplace…

If you run away – then stay away!

Military communications may have accidentally formed a protective bubble around Earth


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❝ When the Navy wants to send a message to an underwater submarine, it sometimes uses very low frequency (VLF) radio waves. These long wavelengths, beamed from large towers on the ground, are unique in their ability to travel through salty water. But some end up in space instead. There, according to a new report, they may be forming a protective bubble around Earth’s atmosphere.

The discovery comes from the Van Allen Probes — two spacecraft, launched in 2012, that patrol the radiation belts surrounding Earth. The Van Allen radiation belts are zones where charged particles streaming from the sun get stuck in Earth’s magnetic field. These high energy protons and electrons can destroy a satellite’s electronics, which is a constant concern because the belts don’t always stay in one place…

During an intense geomagnetic storm in 2015, a large solar storm knocked back the plasmasphere, but surprisingly the outer Van Allen belt didn’t come any closer to Earth. “The plasma retracted but the belt didn’t follow,” says Erickson. But he and his colleagues noticed something else: “The edge of where these very powerful radio signals stop is the same place where the electrons stop coming in.”

❝ In addition, data from the 1960s suggests that the belt’s inner boundary was much closer to Earth back when VLF transmissions were less common. The team thinks that, nowadays, when electrons shooting out from a solar storm approach Earth, VLF waves deflect them, knocking them off their trajectory and pushing them into the atmosphere, where they get lost.

“The edge of where these very powerful radio signals stop is the same place where the electrons stop coming in.”

“At least in the first hours to a couple of days into a solar storm, the waves seem to halt the electrons from coming in further,” says Erickson. “If you wait longer, the story gets more complicated because they gradually diffuse in…”

❝ Sometime this year, the U.S. Air Force plans to launch the DSX satellite, which will test the feasibility of using VLF waves to deflect space radiation. If it works, humanity may be able to harness these waves to help protect against solar eruptions that dump giant clouds of charged particles into the solar system.

Not a perfect cure for a rare happening. Still, science happening upon a collateral solution is always welcome. Except to beancounter$, of course.

Right-wing moneygrubbers say they are being silenced by the folks who sign the checks

❝ There is a delicious irony when free market zealots become victims of the very system they celebrate…When the market tells them: “You know what? You’re losing us money. We couldn’t care less what you did or how much you made for us yesterday. Get lost.”…

❝ For critics and scholars who have for decades pointed to the acute dangers connected to corporate control of the media, howling from the far-right over O’Reilly, Hopkins and Hannity rings hollow for a couple of reasons.

First, an individual who invokes Nazi ethnic cleaning terminology in relation to Muslims, or was involved in so many sexual harassment lawsuits that his employer had to pay $13m in settlement deals, are hardly poster children for journalistic free speech. At the broader level, however, these are people who have served a political ideology that has pushed deregulated markets conducive to the concentration of corporate control – which in the case of media also means excessive advertiser influence…

❝ Breitbart, Fox News, the Daily Mail and Daily Express are all alive and well. Bill O’Reilly wasn’t replaced by Noam Chomsky. He was replaced by Tucker Carlson, who provides a very similar brand of far-right vitriol … just without the sexual harassment accusations. And will LBC now be bereft of far-right anti-immigration voices? Fear not. You can always tune in to Nigel Farage’s show on the same station.

❝ So when senior people at Breitbart and on-air talent at Fox News start saying they are only now realizing the extent of corporate and advertiser power? Cry me a river. They are liars, naïve or have been in a coma for the last 50 years.

RTFA for more dissecting of rightwing moneybags whining about losing their profitable squeeze. Couldn’t happen to a more perfect class of hypocrites and scumbags. Profits are still more important than people, guys. Isn’t that what you wanted?