Tag: Half

Almost Half Of Florida Voters Think Homeboys Jeb And Marco Should Drop Out Of Presidential Race

Poll: Half Of Floridians Say Bush, Rubio Should Drop Out – The Hill

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Almost 50 percent of Florida voters say that former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio should end their respective bids for the Republican presidential nomination, according to a new poll.

A survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) finds that 47 percent of voters in the Sunshine State say Bush should drop out, while 40 percent say he should stick with it.

Forty-eight percent also say Rubio should drop out, while 42 percent say the senator, who has opted to run for president instead of seeking a second term in the Senate, should not drop out of the race.

A similar survey from the polling outfit released last week found that 78 percent of Republicans in South Carolina thought Sen. Lindsey Graham should end his 2016 GOP bid.

Bush and Rubio are thought to be top contenders for the GOP nomination, but are polling in single digits nationally behind billionaire businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

In the latest poll of Florida, which holds its primaries in mid-March, Trump is supported by 28 percent of GOP primary voters, followed by Carson (17 percent), Bush (13 percent) and Rubio (10 percent).

On the Democratic side, the latest PPP poll finds continued support for front-runner Hillary Clinton, who takes 55 percent support in the state despite struggling in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Clinton is followed in Florida by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist-Vt.) at 18 percent and Vice President Joe Biden, who is still considering jumping into the presidential race, at 17 percent.

Trump and Clinton’s front-runner statuses were also seen in a Gravis Marketing poll also released on Monday.

The PPP survey of 814 Florida voters was conducted Sept. 11 to Sept. 13 via phone and the Internet with a margin of error of 3.4 points, while the margin of error for the 377 GOP and 368 Democratic primary voters is 5.1 points.

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Half Of The Clintons’ Charitable Giving In 2014 Went To… The Clintons

Half Of Clintons’ Charitable Giving In 2014 Went To Their Own Foundation – Washington Free Beacon

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Half of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable giving last year went to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, according to a review of the latest financial disclosures from their private foundation.

The Clintons earned more than $28 million in 2014 and claimed around $3 million in income as charitable tax deductions, according to tax returns released by Hillary Clinton’s campaign last Friday. The campaign emphasized Clinton’s charitable giving in a press statement, saying that it “represented 10.8 percent” of her income in 2014. But roughly half of that money – $1.8 million – appears to have been channeled to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

According to the tax returns, the Clintons gave $3 million in 2014 to the Clinton Family Foundation, a small private foundation that the family uses as a pass-through to other charities. Records show the CFF disbursed $3.7 million in 2014, including $1.8 million to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

That contribution was the family’s largest by a significant margin that year. They made numerous smaller donations to other groups, including the University of Arkansas, the American Ireland Fund, and the American Friends of the Peres Center.

The $1.8 million contribution is also by far the largest annual donation the Clintons have made to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation in recent years. In the past five years combined, they gave a total of $1.1 million to the organization. Their last large donation was in 2008, when they gave $1 million.

While the Clintons do not receive direct compensation from the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, they do benefit from travel, and many of their longtime aides have served on its payroll.

The foundation has come under fire for its unusual structure. Charity Navigator put the Clinton Foundation on its “Watch List” earlier this year because it said the organization did not meet its criteria due to its “atypical business model.”

The group is also under review from the Better Business Bureau, after failing to meet its transparency standards in the past.

Clinton’s newly released tax returns, which show that she and her husband have earned $140 million since 2007 could bolster Republican efforts to frame the former secretary of state as a wealthy elitist who is out of touch with average Americans. Vox reported Monday that Clinton has paid more in taxes since 2007 – $57.5 million – than GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush has earned in his entire career spanning back to 1981.

The returns have also opened her up to charges of hypocrisy from critics.

Americans for Tax Reform slammed Clinton on Tuesday for forming an “Article 4 trust,” which the group said appears to be a method to avoid paying estate taxes—a tax Clinton has supported.

“Clinton has consistently voted for the Death Tax throughout her time in public office and forcefully condemned attempts to lower it,” ATF said in a statement. “But when it comes to her own finances, it is a different story. The newly released tax returns buttress earlier reports outlining the ways Clinton uses financial planning strategies that shield her Death Tax liability.”

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Study: Half Of American Public School Employees Are Non-Teachers

Maybe Johnny Can’t Read Because These Workers Crowd Out Teachers – Daily Signal

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Half of America’s public school employees aren’t classroom teachers, according to a new study. Instead, they’re non-teaching personnel such as instructional aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, secretaries, and librarians.

It hasn’t always been this way.

The study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nonprofit think tank specializing in education policy, found that the number of non-teaching staff grew by 130 percent from 1970 to 2010. Their salaries and benefits account for one-quarter of current education spending.

To show where each state is on the spectrum between least and most non-teaching personnel per 1,000 students, Fordham created this map:

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So why are non-teachers on the rise? The Fordham Institute left that up to school district and state education officials to explain.

By using national, state, and local data, though, “The Hidden Half: School Employees Who Don’t Teach” attempts to draw attention to what some education experts consider an alarming trend.

By a wide margin, Nevada and South Carolina public schools had the fewest non-teaching workers per 1,000 students, at 26 and 28 respectively, the study found. Virginia, Vermont, and Wyoming had the most at 104, as the chart below shows.

Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation, argues for reducing the number of non-instructional and administrative positions in public schools:

States should consider cutting costs in areas that are long overdue for reform and pursue systemic reform to improve student achievement. Specifically, states should refrain from continuing to increase the number of non-teaching staff in public schools.

Michael Petrilli, president of the Fordham Institute, told The Daily Signal that the results of the study should encourage policymakers to “raise tough questions about whether these trends are helping or hurting children.”

Among the most significant findings of “The Hidden Half’,” the authors say in a release on the study:

Since 1950, school staffing has increased nearly 500 percent, and non-teaching personnel played a major part in that growth. Passage of several pieces of federal legislation – Section 504, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, and Title IX (Equal Opportunity in Education Act) – likely were instrumental in changing the makeup of schools.

America spends far more on non-teaching staff (as a percentage of education spending) than do most of the nation’s economic peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The U.S. spends more than double what Korea, Mexico, Finland, Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg, Austria, and Spain do. Only Denmark spends more.

States vary in staffing their schools, but much of the variation is because of differences within their borders. States with a large proportion of the population living in cities tend to have fewer workers per student. (See chart below.)

The category of teacher aides has been the largest gainer over the past 40 years. From 1970 to 2010, aides went from nearly non-existent to the largest group of workers other than teachers.

School districts vary greatly in number of employees, but the differences likely stem from staffing decisions made by leaders. Although factors such as location (rural, suburban, urban) and number of students in special education matter, they don’t explain most of the variation across school districts.

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Half Of Georgia’s Obamacare Enrollees Haven’t Paid Yet

Whoops! Half Of Georgia’s Insurance Enrollees Haven’t Paid Yet – National Review

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This seems rather important:

Georgia insurers received more than 220,000 applications for health coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s exchange as of the official federal deadline of March 31, state officials said Wednesday.

Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, though, said premiums have been received for only 107,581 of those policies, which cover 149,465 people.

“Many Georgians completed the application process by the deadline, but have yet to pay for the coverage,” Hudgens said in a statement Wednesday.

Half? Half? Sure, the nonpayment rates will be a lot lower in other places. But this indicates how much skepticism is warranted for the administration’s much-touted enrollment figures.

When Progressives insist that we’re wrong and Obamacare is more popular than it seems, they’ll point to the enrollment numbers. They dismiss the national surveys, but there’s some indication that Obamacare’s meager support in the polls is actually worse than we think, because it’s being artificially boosted by respondents that are eager to declare the whole thing a success, no matter how their state exchange is actually performing.

A couple of lessons from this bit of polling research by Jonathan Easley at the Morning Consult: Healthcare.gov is uniquely and perhaps disproportionately disliked by survey respondents, and some people just tell pollsters what they want to be true, not what is actually true:

In a testament to how political affiliation potentially colors an individual’s view of the law, Morning Consult polling from November through April found that people reported more positive experiences in states with largely broken exchanges versus people who used the federal exchanges. And that includes states where the exchanges never were fully operational…

We separated states into three different groups to do this analysis. The “broken” state exchange group included Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont. (While it is an inexact measurement, we put states where healthcare officials struggled throughout the enrollment period to fully launch their exchanges into the “broken” category.) The second group of states – those with relatively well running exchanges – included Washington, Rhode Island, New York, Kentucky, Colorado, Connecticut, California and the District of Columbia. All other states where included in our third group, as they used the federal exchange website to enroll customers.

Among these groups, you might expect the states with barely (or not-at-all) functioning exchanges to rank last when it comes to users’ experiences. But the federal exchanges took that spot in almost every measure. The poll has a margin of error of two percentage points, and approximately 2,000 interviews were conducted in each poll from November through April.

The analysis notes, “In the 2012 election, President Obama won all of our “broken” exchange states. That perhaps explains the rosier view voters in those states have of the law, even though the exchanges in many cases barely worked.” In other words, there’s a strong possibility some Obama voters declared their state health insurance exchanges to be success even when they personally experienced its failure.

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Leftist Nightmare Update: Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M

Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M – Fox News

Maryland could end up spending as much as $30.5 million as a result of a glitch in its ObamaCare website, as the Obama administration steps in to help states with problematic exchanges.

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Because of Maryland’s defective exchange, the state cannot determine whether customers remain eligible for Medicaid, according to a report by state budget analysts released Thursday.

As a result, the state has agreed with the federal government to a six-month delay in determining eligibility, meaning that payments will continue to be made to customers who are not eligible until the system is fixed. The delay will cost the state $17.8 million in fiscal 2014 and $12.7 million in fiscal 2015, the analysts estimated.

On Friday, the Obama administration said it would suspend some Affordable Care Act rules to help the 14 states with their own ObamaCare sites, particularly Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Oregon, which have had the most problems.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan, completed a day earlier, states the federal government will help pay for “qualified” health-insurance plans for customers in those states who because of “exceptional circumstances” had to buy plans outside of ObamaCare exchanges, as reported first by The Washington Post.

The administration made the change before the end-of-March deadline for Americans to enroll in ObamaCare this year.

In Maryland, the exchange cannot convert income data from the existing Medicaid enrollment system into a calculation needed to review whether enrollees are qualified “because of a variety of system architectural flaws,” according to budge analysts.

The exchange has been plagued by computer problems that have made it difficult for people to enroll in private health care plans since its debut Oct. 1.

State officials have decided to stick with the exchange through the open enrollment period that ends March 31 but is evaluating alternatives with an eye toward the next enrollment period that begins in November.

Among the possibilities is adopting technology developed by another state, joining a consortium of other states, partnering with the federal exchange or making major fixes to the existing system.

Thirty-six states use the federal HealthCare.gov site, which crashed and had other major problems in the first two months of enrollment.

The Maryland report said the state may need to develop an interim solution while a long-term solution is being developed. However, that process would likely take at least nine to 12 months, pushing up against the next open-enrollment period.

The report also states the development of the exchange was “a high risk undertaking” from the outset, in large part because of contractors woes, tight deadlines, constantly evolving requirement and its need to interface with work-in-progress federal databases.

The administration changes this week are not the first to ObamaCare, to be sure.

In November, Obama helped Americans about to lose policies because they didn’t meet new minimum requirements by allow the substandard plans to be sold through the end of this year.

And administration officials has twice this year given medium- and large-sized employers more time to offer health insurance to most full-time workers.

However, the change this week is significant because it marks the first time the federal government has agreed to help pay for policies bought outside the new exchanges.

The coverage in the outside policies would have to be comparable to those offered on the exchange. And customers would have to start paying premiums, then get the subsidies after the state exchanges could determine their income eligibility.

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange official told The Post earlier this week that roughly 7,000 applications are stuck in state’s system, but all of them might not need insurance and that officials were still looking over the administration’s offer.

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Related article:

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45-State Study: Obamacare Offers Less Choice, Higher Prices, Breaking Another Promise – Washington Examiner

A new and comprehensive comparison of health insurance options offered by Obamacare versus private websites finds that President Obama’s program offers less choice and higher prices than promised by the White House and leading Democrats.

Adding to the list of broken health care promises, the study from the National Center for Public Policy Research found that there were more and cheaper options available on websites outside the health insurance exchange in 2013 than on healthcare.gov and state Obamacare exchanges.

The report, “Obamacare Exchanges: Less Choice, Higher Prices,” looked at options available for a 27-year-old single person and a 57-year-old couple in metropolitan areas across 45 states.

The report found that a 27-year-old male had about 10 more policies to choose from on eHealthinsurance.com and finder.healthcare versus the exchange. The older couple had about nine more policy choices.

Ditto for the cost findings, with the 27-year-old male having access to 32 policies that cost less than the cheapest Obamacare offering, and the 57-year-old couple access to 29 cheaper policies.

“In general, consumers had substantially more policies to choose from on private websites such as eHealthinsurance.com and Finder.healthcare.gov than they presently have on the exchanges,” said the study.

“Obamacare supporters, including the president himself and Nancy Pelosi, claimed the exchanges would yield more choice and lower prices,” said the study’s author, David Hogberg. “This study shows those claims do not stand up.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, describes itself f as a “non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.”

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House Subcommittee Chairman: Obama Administration Policy Would Eliminate Half Of All Existing Medicare Part D Plans – Daily Caller

The Obama administration’s new proposed rule for Medicare Part D would eliminate half of all Medicare Part D plans and raise prescription drug premiums for millions of seniors by up to 20 percent, according to a U.S. House subcommittee chairman.

“Today, the average senior has 35 different [Medicare Part D] plans to choose from this year. This rule would reduce that choice to two plans. 50% of the plans offered today will be gone, and the health care that seniors like may go with it,” House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Pitts said in a statement at a Feb. 26 hearing attended by a top administration health official.

“Limiting seniors’ choices like this will inevitably lead to higher costs. By some estimates, the restriction on the number of plans that can be offered could cause premiums to rise by 10%-20%. Costs to the federal government may increase by $1.2-1.6 billion according to a study by Milliman,” Pitts said. “… I urge Secretary Sebelius and Administrator Tavenner to rescind this rule.”

The study Pitts cited also showed that the new rule would increase out-of-pocket drug costs for 6.9 million seniors who do not qualify for low-income subsidies, and would raise federal taxpayer costs for six million seniors who do qualify.

President Bush signed Medicare Part D into law in 2003 to subsidize prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.

The Daily Caller reported that the administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently introduced a new proposed rule on the Federal Register called “Medicare Program: Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs.”

The new rule “would revise the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and prescription drug benefit program (Part D) regulations to implement statutory requirements; strengthen beneficiary protections; exclude plans that perform poorly; improve program efficiencies; and clarify program requirements,” according to the Federal Register.

The rule states that it also aims “to implement certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.”

The new rule’s stated desire to “strengthen our ability to identify strong applicants for Part C and Part D program participation and remove consistently poor performers” would give the Obama administration new authority to limit health insurance and prescription drug providers under the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D programs.

The rule would also violate the Medicare Part D’s law’s “non-interference provision that prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from interfering with the negotiations between drug manufacturers and pharmacies and sponsors of prescription drug plans,” according to testimony by American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin, violating “congressional intent.”

Rep. Pitts expressed confusion and anger at CMS’ new rule.

“CMS itself says that 96% of the Part D claims it reviewed showed seniors saved money at preferred pharmacies, and nearly 25,500 seniors in my district have chosen Part D plans with a preferred pharmacy network. Yet CMS would take that away from them,” Pitts said.

“The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit is a government success story. Last year, nearly 39 million beneficiaries were enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan,” Pitts said.

“Competition and choice have kept premiums stable. In fact, in 2006, the first year the program was in effect, the base beneficiary premium was $32.20 a month. In 2014, the base beneficiary premium is $32.42 – a 22-cent increase over 9 years – and still roughly half of what was originally predicted,” Pitts added. “More than 90% of seniors are satisfied with their Part D drug coverage because of this. African-American and Hispanic seniors report even higher levels of satisfaction, at 95% and 94%, respectively.”

“The program has worked so well because it forces prescription drug plans and providers to compete for Medicare beneficiaries – putting seniors, not Washington, in the driver’s seat. Part D should be the model for future reforms to the Medicare program,” Pitts said.

House Energy and Commerce committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton joined with Pitts at the hearing in criticizing the new rule.

“The proposed rule, issued on January 6, 2014, appears to be a direct assault on the competitive structure of the program. It inhibits the ability of plans to obtain discounts for beneficiaries, limits the range of market segments in which they may compete, and usurps the responsibility of states to license those able to prescribe. This 700-page proposal makes numerous changes,” Upton said.

CMS principal deputy administrator Jonathan Blum testified that limiting Part D sponsors to providing only two plans per region will “promote needed clarity of plan choices for beneficiaries.”

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Breakin’ The Law: Obama Regime Has Missed Half Of ObamaCare’s Statutory Deadlines

CRS: Half Of All ObamaCare Statutory Deadlines Missed – Hot Air

It’s been called a “train wreck” by its author, Democratic Senator Max Baucus, and an unpublished report from the Congressional Research Service demonstrates why. Forbes‘ Avik Roy discovers that the Obama administration has missed at least half of its statutory deadlines for ObamaCare already, and only a small minority of those have anything to do with Congressional appropriations:

The new CRS memo, dated June 5, 2013, is an addendum to a series of previous reports in which the agency examined missed deadlines during the law’s first two years. The CRS excluded from its analysis deadlines that don’t reflect on the administration’s competence; for example, as states expand Medicaid, the federal spending associated with those expansions occurs more or less automatically. Deadlines that the law imposes on non-federal government actors, like state governments and private companies, were also excluded.

As of May 31, 2013, when the CRS analysis was completed, the White House had yet to meet 9 of 12 deadlines from the first year after the Affordable Care Act was enacted. It failed to meet 22 of 53 deadlines in the second year; another 8 became moot after Congress did not appropriate funds to complete the assigned tasks. In year three, the administration missed 10 out of 17 deadlines. That’s a total of 41 out of 82 deadlines missed.

If you exclude the 9 deadlines that became moot because Congress never appropriated the funds to meet them, the Obama administration missed 41 out of 73 deadlines, or 56 percent.

In analyzing the CRS report, I erred on the side of generosity. If the administration missed a particular statutory deadline by a week or less, I counted it in their favor as a “met” deadline. In any case where there was ambiguity in the CRS report, I assumed that the administration had met the deadline. So these 50-56 percent missed deadline figures should be seen as slightly conservative.

Roy charted the data:

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This puts paid to the myth pushed by the White House and its apologists that the “train wreck” is a result of Republican sabotage of ObamaCare. Only that small subset of deadlines got missed for lack of funding. Nearly three times as many were missed despite the funding necessary, and almost double again were missed but eventually completed. If the only deadlines missed were those involving a lack of appropriations, then ObamaCare would be a raging success instead of the wheels-off “train wreck” that it is.

For instance, one of the big selling features of ObamaCare was that the law would force providers to work toward health outcomes rather than the traditional fee-for-service model that exists in… well, every service market, including health care. HHS was supposed to have built reporting models for private insurers to track progress to that goal “to improve health outcomes, prevent hospital readmission, ensure patient safety and reduce medical errors, and implement wellness and health promotion activities.” It also required Kathleen Sebelius “to promulgate regulations that provide criteria for determining reimbursement structure to improve quality,” in order to complete that transformation.

That was due on March 23, 2012, eighteen months ago this week. So far, HHS hasn’t uttered or written one word about this statutory deadline, which means that insurers have no idea how HHS wants them to go about achieving the outcome-based reimbursement model. It’s not even clear if HHS has any idea at all how to achieve that goal. In fact, it can be assumed at this point, 42 months after ObamaCare passed Congress, that the White House has no idea how to fulfill that pledge.

With this much failure and ambiguity, there is no value at all in proceeding with ObamaCare, especially as its perverse incentives remakes the labor market for the worse. It’s time to call a halt to the train wreck before it takes out the whole system.

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