Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 23rd, 2023

Biden Plan to Cut Billions in Medicare Fraud Ignites Lobbying Frenzy

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As Dan Froomkin notes, “Health insurers are spending millions to protect their ability to overbill billions to the government. Doesn’t that make you angry?”  Reed Abelson and Margot Sanger-Katz report in the NY Times:

“How’s the knee?” one bowler asked another across the lanes. Their conversation in a Super Bowl ad focused on a Biden administration proposal that one bowler warned another would “cut Medicare Advantage.”

“Somebody in Washington is smarter than that,” the friend responded, before a narrator urged viewers to call the White House to voice their displeasure.

The multimillion dollar ad buy is part of an aggressive campaign by the health insurance industry and its allies to stop the Biden proposal. It would significantly lower payments — by billions of dollars a year — to Medicare Advantage, the private plans that now cover about half of the government’s health program for older Americans.

The change in payment formulas is an effort, Biden administration officials say, to tackle widespread abuses and fraud in the increasingly popular private program. In the last decade, reams of evidence uncovered in lawsuits and audits revealed systematic overbilling of the government. A final decision on the payments is expected shortly, and is one of a series of tough new rules aimed at reining in the industry. The changes fit into a broader effort by the White House to shore up the Medicare trust fund.

Without reforms, taxpayers will spend about $25 billion next year in “excess” payments to the private plans, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a nonpartisan research group that advises Congress.

The proposed changes have unleashed an extensive and noisy opposition front, with lobbyists and insurance executives flooding Capitol Hill to engage in their fiercest fight in years. The largest insurers, including UnitedHealth Group and Humana, are among the most vocal, according to congressional staff, with UnitedHealth’s chief executive pressing his company’s case in person. Doctors’ groups, including the American Medical Association, have also voiced their opposition.

“They are pouring buckets of money into this,” said Mark Miller, the former executive director of MedPAC, who is now the executive vice president of health care at Arnold Ventures, a research and advocacy group. Supporters of the restrictions have begun spending money to counter the objections. . .

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Written by Leisureguy

23 March 2023 at 11:15 am

Media coverage of Trump indictment should stick to the (highly incriminating) facts

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Dan Froomkin writes at Press Watch:

There appears to be ample evidence that Donald Trump violated a number of state laws when he told attorney Michael Cohen to pay hush money to a porn star days before the 2016 election, then wrote the expense off as “legal fees”.

We also know that Trump was “Individual-1,” the unindicted co-conspirator in the successful federal criminal prosecution of Cohen for violating campaign finance laws. Ample documentation proved that “Individual-1” directed Cohen to make the illegal payments.

Trump’s protestations of a “witch hunt” and his at times racist attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg do not constitute a defense, and are immaterial to the central issue of Trump’s criminality.

So what is his defense? Trump’s attorneys don’t contest that he had Cohen pay off the porn star, Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet. They don’t contest that Trump reimbursed Cohen by paying him for “legal services.”

His actual “defense” appears to be primarily that he would have paid off Daniels regardless of his political campaign, simply to avoid embarrassment, so it was all just a personal matter.

That’s a laughable defense.

So those are the facts of the case: the evidence of a crime and the defense.

But the facts of the case has not been the focus of the coverage by the elite corporate media. Its coverage is seemingly about everything else, most monotonously an endless litany of articles about imagined legal hurdles and the “political firestorm” surrounding the case.

It’s certainly true that Trump could get off due to a legal technicality. But the coverage of that one factor is disproportionate and only feeds into the false but dominant media narrative that this is a tough decision for the prosecutor that should be made with a view toward the political implications.

That is a toxic view that makes a mockery of the rule of law.

As Protect Democracy’s Aaron Baird recently wrote to me in an email, the . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

23 March 2023 at 10:39 am

The love-child of Edwin Jagger and iKon #101

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A shaving brush with black knot and base and red handle next to a tin of shaving soap labeled "Savannah Sunrise," with a peach as a rising sun. Next is a brown glass bottle of Savannah Sunrise aftershave with the same overal design but with a logo "Dr. Jon's" show a moustachioed man with a top hat and glasses. In front is a DE razor with a stainless handle and a brown head.

We have at last arrived at mild days — I did yesterday’s walk (2.33 miles) without a jacket (but still long sleeves) — so Dr. Jon’s Savannah Sunrise came to mind: “Orange Blossom, Peach, Gardenia, Jasmine, and Honeysuckle.” The link is to the Vol. 3 version of the soap; mine is the earlier formulation, which still produced an excellent (and exquisitely fragranced) lather, thanks in part to my RazoRock Amici brush, a cute little number that does a good job.

A double-edge safety razor lying on its side and shown view up toward the baseplate. The base of the knurled stainless steel handle shows a maple leaf, and the razor's head has a comb guard on one side and a bar guard on the other.

As the post title indicates, the razor I used has characteristics of both the Edwin Jagger and the iKon Shavecraft #101. As you see in the photo at the right, showing the bottom of the baseplate, the razor is asymmetric in style — comb guard on one side, bar guard on the other — though not in feel and performance: both are quite symmetric, so I use the razor as though it were symmetric. This is the #101 resemblance.

The EJ resemblance is in the drainage design. The #101 has large troughs for the lather to collect and drain, but this one works in that regard more like the EJ, plus there’s an EJ look to the bottom of the baseplate, which in the #101 is concave rather than convex. In fact, if you look at the razor head in profile, facing one end of the head, it looks exactly like the EJ head.

I thought this must be either a Maggard or a Yaqi head. (Some Maggard heads have a similar finish.) It turns out to be a Yaqi head (and an incredible bargain at that price). Despite the illustration at the link, there are no markings on the head to indicate its origin, a violation of the first rule of marketing. (You’ll note that the handle I used is clearly marked to show its Maggard origin — it’s the MR-11.)

Full disclosure: I got to looking at the Yaqi heads and I’m ordering a few. The prices are extremely good, and my experience with Yaqi heads has been very positive. They have a couple of slants I want to try.

The razor has much the feel of the #101: comfortable and efficient — unobtrusive but does an exceptionally good job. This is a keeper and goes now into my regular rotation.

Three passes left a BBS result (some credit to the Personna Lab Blue blade). A good splash of Savannah Sunrise aftershave (a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel), and the day begins. 

The caffeine this morning is a blend. I put two tablespoons each of three Murchie teas — Assam Tippy Golden, Ceylon Kenilworth, and Keemun Extra Superior — into an empty tin and stirred and shook it well to mix, then used some of that to make my morning cup. It’s very tasty. I’ll call this Leisureguy’s Blend.

Written by Leisureguy

23 March 2023 at 10:15 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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