Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another Health Insurer Getting Out Of The Way Of The Train Wreck

HotAir is reporting:
Earlier this summer, three of California’s largest insurance companies announced that they were disinclined to participate in the state’s ObamaCare health insurance exchange system, and it didn’t take long for both Aetna and United Health to decide to stop offering plans through the individual insurance market altogether and instead opt to focus their activities on offering insurance through employers only.
Now, Anthem Blue Cross — California’s largest insurer for small businesses — is announcing that they have no intention of getting involved in the exchanges that ObamaCare plans to set up for the use of small business, and would much rather stick to going it alone.
From The Los Angeles Times:
Health insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross is spurning California’s new insurance market for small businesses, a potential setback in the state’s rollout of the federal healthcare law.
Anthem, a unit of WellPoint Inc., is California’s largest insurer for small employers. The company’s surprising move raised concerns about the state’s ability to offer competitive rates and attract businesses to its new Covered California exchange that opens Jan. 1. …
Friday’s disclosure made Anthem the first big insurer in California to publicly pass on the small-business pool. Some other big names, such as UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Aetna Inc., have already opted out of California’s larger exchange for individual consumers.

O'BamaScare Data Base To Be Biggest American Data Base On Americans Ever

Finally, others are talking about the same thing -- even the IRS data base is not as big as the HHS data base will be. EVERYONE has to file a report to document medical care. 

I've mentioned this several times in the past, as recently as March 25, 2013.

Saturday Morning Links, News, And Views

WSJ Links

Off Duty: --


This little essay was way too short; I wish she would have written about 5,000 words -- long enough for a New Yorker magazine article: novelist Peggy Riley on the Song "Hotel California"

I could be wrong, but there certainly seem to be a lot of new books (this past year) on WWII. Another one is reviewed in today's Journal. I "give" WWII about five more years; by 2020 it will be as forgotten as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and WWI are now forgotten, though the latter war was never remembered by very many Americans from the start. It was a "world war" in name only. It was, when you get right down to it, a European war.

Business & Finance:

A Buffett Fortune Fades in Brooklyn: an interesting human interest story about a hospital closing on Long Island. Many story lines: lawyers, malpractice, and "it certainly gives one pause when considering charitable giving." The 800-lb gorilla in this story was the frivolous malpractice lawyer.

Nymex, Brent crude prices converge.
Domestic oil has for years traded at a discount to global crude, the result of a combination of booming North American oil production and a shortage of pipelines that could bring the oil to market. Newly exploited oil deposits from North Dakota and Canada piled up at storage depots in the Midwest.
In recent months, however, pipeline and railroad companies have laid new routes allowing that crude to get to refiners on the Gulf Coast. Other refineries that had been down for maintenance have recently resumed operations.
U.S. oil inventories are down 27 million barrels in the last three weeks, according to the Energy Information Administration. Earlier this year, supplies were at a record high. 
The Front Section:

Fifteen years after autism panic, a plague of measles erupts.
PORT TALBOT, Wales—When the telltale rash appeared behind Aleshia Jenkins's ears, her grandmother knew exactly what caused it: a decision she'd made 15 years earlier.
Ms. Jenkins was an infant in 1998, when this region of southwest Wales was a hotbed of resistance to a vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Many here refused the vaccine for their children after a British doctor, Andrew Wakefield, suggested it might cause autism and a local newspaper heavily covered the fears. Resistance continued even after the autism link was disproved.
The bill has now come due.
A measles outbreak infected 1,219 people in southwest Wales between November 2012 and early July, compared with 105 cases in all of Wales in 2011.
One of the infected was Ms. Jenkins, whose grandmother, her guardian, hadn't vaccinated her as a young child. "I was afraid of the autism," says the grandmother, Margaret Mugford, 63 years old. "It was in all the papers and on TV."
Medicine is no longer science; it's social engineering. And more:
U.S. critics, including some who questioned vaccines in general, continued to campaign against the vaccine. Among them, former Playboy model and actress Jenny McCarthy, who has been named a co-host of ABC's "The View," became a leader of the anti-vaccine movement in the U.S. several years ago when in televised interviews she linked her son's autism to vaccinations. A publicist for Ms. McCarthy, who wrote the forward to a 2010 book by Dr. Wakefield, didn't respond to requests for comment.
That's where Americans get their medical advice: from "The View."

Detroit bankruptcy likely to spark a pension brawl. And it could very well mean the end of municipal bonds as we know them. Motor City looking for a jump-start.
Still, the response was denial. Anyone who forecast that GM's market share would fall below 38% was "smoking opium," the company's then-president declared. It's market share today: 18%.
Denial was the strategy for the city, as well. Inner-city factories were closing, and new ones were going up in suburbs and elsewhere far from Detroit, including the South, where taxes were lower and labor cheaper. People began to follow the jobs; homes sprang up in former corn fields. The construction of freeways through Detroit carved up many downtown neighborhoods, making it easier to hold a job in the city while living in one of the new subdivisions that sprawled across the northern suburbs.
Detroit's leaders tried to stem the tide by encouraging development of new downtown monuments. But they balked at attacking the root causes of the outflow of people and money to communities with lower taxes, better services and stronger schools.
The city and GM also failed to engage in the showdowns with their respective unions made necessary by their reversals of fortune. GM sold cars; Detroit sold the experience of living in the city. Not enough people were buying either. That meant money wasn't there to finance generous deals struck with employees in the fat years for retirees' pensions and health care.
After some bruising skirmishes in the late 1990s, GM's leaders shied away from a war with the United Auto Workers. Instead, they opted for labor peace and a bet that the company could sell enough vehicles to offset noncompetitive factories and retiree legacy costs.
Detroit's leaders also spent the relatively prosperous 1990s and early 2000s betting that some development downtown—casinos, new stadiums for the Detroit Lions and Tigers, some corporate offices enticed by tax breaks—could give the city breathing room.
Pension payouts may turn on whether state or federal law prevails: laying the groundwork for a federal bailout. A lot of Bakken millionaires will help fund union pensions in Detroit is my hunch.


Global Partners (a name familiar to regular readers) is getting stymied in Cambridge, Massachusetts
The locals love ethanol. But please don't put it on a train and send it through the home of Harvard and MIT.
Detroit's bankruptcy is so 1990s: when we reach the promised land, quantitative easing will be for everybody.
Detroit's filing has a proximate cause. Kevyn Orr, the city's emergency manager, refused to give the city's bondholders and other creditors money they wanted. This made them mad.
But Mr. Orr should be mad too. Everybody should be mad. Why should a bondholder, or a municipal handyman, or a retired cop or fireman go without money they want and need?
GM had similar problems. It made large pension and health-care promises to its employees. But President Obama put $50 billion into GM and now the problem is fixed and the government's stake in GM came out to $40 billion.
But, you ask, doesn't that leave a $10 billion shortfall for someone to shoulder? That's old-style economics. Under the new economics, it's possible to have losses without anybody recognizing losses. This is the lesson taught by Japan's approach to its banking crisis in the 1990s and Europe's treatment of its current fiscal woes.
But deeper matters are also at work in Detroit's bankruptcy. "All along, the state's involvement—including Mr. Snyder's decision to send in an emergency manager—has carried racial implications," the New York Times points out, referring to Michigan's white governor Rick Snyder.
And so it goes. Those who are against a federal bailout for Detroit are racists.

Week 29: July 14, 2013 -- July 20, 2013

It's official: government says fracking did not cause contamination; can we move on, now, to the next crisis?
Government won't give up: still talking about the need for federal fracking regulations
Red Wing, MN, to lift moratorium on sand mining

Brent-WTI spread
WTI exceeds Brent for first time in almost three years
Surge in price of WTI not due to geopolitical events

Statoil's Beaux-tiful wells in the Banks oil field; possibly a new IP record
WPX with eleven wells in one spacing unit 
Whiting's drilling plan for the Bakken/Three Forks
Every Bakken well one day last week coming off confidential list went to DRL status; are "we" behind or what?
Increasing number of wells on multi-well pads
Six new Hay Draw wells in one section in Little Knife oil field
North Dakota sets oil and natural gas record; oil and gas record
Three Forks Well: 37,000 bbls in 17 days
Whiting with some great wells in Westberg oil field
Estimates of future North Dakota oil production

US fuel exports surge
Ethane from Tioga/Hess to Canada; huge pipeline approved by US State Dept

WTI Exceeds Brent For First Time In Almost Three Years

Bloomberg is reporting:
West Texas Intermediate crude became more expensive than Brent for the first time in almost three years as pipeline and rail shipments helped clear a bottleneck that reduced the price of the U.S. benchmark.
WTI hadn’t been higher than Brent since Aug. 17, 2010. The move was in intraday trading. WTI averaged $17.47 less than Brent in 2012 and traded as much as $23.44 lower than its European counterpart Feb. 8.
Improved pipeline networks and the use of rail links are helping to ease the North American oil glut created by rising production of crude from shale formations. WTI has jumped 18 percent this year, while Brent has decreased 2.5 percent as North Sea supplies stabilized after maintenance.
“The price change reflects the changing balance in the market,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “It’s the perception of traders that you are not going to have the surplus in the U.S. longer term. We are having more rail and pipeline capacity.” 
It was back on May 15, 2012, we asked the question. It took awhile, but "we" are "here."