Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

In jobs news, it was reported today:
"The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance for the first time jumped last week, according to government data released Thursday. There were 460,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended April 3, up 18,000 from an upwardly revised 442,000 the previous week, according to the Labor Department's weekly report."

I thought the great Obama "stimulus" package was supposed to be doing great things and eliminating this problem. Guess not...

By the way, Reason mag today has a terrific piece on what health insurance reform has done at the state level recently. Basically it's busted budgets--and so will ObamaCare:
"As spectacular failures go, it's hard to do worse than Tennessee. This early state attempt to dramatically increase health coverage, dubbed TennCare, started off promisingly. In 1994, the first year of its operation, the system added half a million new individuals to its rolls. Premiums were cheap—just $2.74 per month for people right above the poverty line—and liberal policy wonks loved it. The Urban Institute, for example, gave it good marks for "improving coverage of the uninsurable or high-risk individuals with very limited access to private coverage." At its peak, the program covered 1.4 million individuals—nearly a quarter of the state's population and more than any other state's Medicaid program—leaving just 6 percent of the state's population uninsured. But those benefits came at a high price. By 2001, the system's costs were growing faster than the state budget. The drive to increase coverage had not been matched by the drive to control costs. Vivian Riefberg, a partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Company, described it as having "almost across the board, no limits on scope and duration of coverage." Spending on drug coverage, in particular, had gone out of control: The state topped the nation in prescription drug use, and the program put no cap on how many prescription drugs a patient could receive. The result was that, by 2004, TennCare's drug benefits cost the state more than its entire higher education program. Meanwhile, in 1998, the program was opened to individuals at twice the poverty level, even if they had access to employer-provided insurance. In other words, the program's costs were uncontrolled and unsustainable. By 2004, the budget had jumped from $2.6 billion to $6.9 billion, and it accounted for a quarter of the state's appropriations. A McKinsey report projected that the program's costs could hit $12.8 billion by 2008, consuming 36 percent of state appropriations and 91 percent of new state tax revenues. On the question of the system's fiscal sustainability, the report concluded that, even if a number of planned reforms were implemented, the program would simply "not be financially viable."

Kansas City 3, Detroit 2 (11 innings): the Tigers get a solid start from Max Scherzer. That's great--they'll need him. But the offense can't do much, and closer Jose Valverde blows this one in the 11th after the Tigers had taken a lead. The bullpen won a game the other day; but this time they lose it.
Blue Jays 7, Rangers 4: the key to this game was Rangers' starter Rich Harden's walks--5, too many. And the fact that the Rangers mustered only 5 hits.