UPDATE: Gay men are still banned from donating blood in the United States, and have been since the 1980s, although there is a movement in Congress to end this ban.
Once the jubilation over the Supreme Court decision to uphold “Obamacare” dies down it will be time to fully enact the Affordable Care Act – including the provisions to pay for it.
Part of the money will come from cuts to the current health care costs incurred by the government, but the bulk of the $1 trillion that will be spent over the next ten years will come from taxes. Americans will pay an additional 9/10 of one percent on income over $200k to help finance the system. Those with investment income may be subject to a new 3.8% tax on some of their capital gains and dividends.
Businesses that offer what are considered “excellent” or “Cadillac” health care plans will also pay more: plans that cost over $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage will be subject to new excise taxes. Many business analysts claim businesses will try to avoid this tax by reducing their plan offerings or even cutting health care plans altogether. The theory is this will translate to higher wages or higher profits, and thus higher tax revenues – so either way the government is covered.
There is also a new tax deductible cap on “flexible spending plans”, and new regulations that limit what such plans can pay for, plus a 20% penalty for non-qualified expenses.
The limit for deductions for medical expenses will rise from 7.5% of income to 10% – although that provision will not kick-in until 2016 for those over 65 years-of-age.
Those who enjoy indoor tanning salons have been paying a 10% excise tax since 2010, supposedly because of the health care costs associated with irradiating your skin with UV light.
And finally there is the controversial “individual mandate”, that requires those who can afford health insurance but who choose not to get it to pay a penalty. This will be phased-in in a graduated plan between the years 2014 to 2016, starting at $285 per family or 1% of income (whichever is greater), and growing to $2,085 per family or 2.5% of income (whichever is greater). Initially Obama resisted this provision but bowed to pressure from insurers who claim without it people will take advantage of the law’s lack of “preexisting condition” exclusions by waiting to buy insurance after they get sick. The insurers thus need the mandate to turn a profit and stay in business. Under the original proposed law these people would have been served via a “public option” offered directly through the government, but this was gutted from the law by Republicans who considered it to be “socialism” (unlike taking money from the insurance lobby, which is “capitalism”).
The Supreme Court of the United States released it’s decision on the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act of 2010 Thursday, rejecting arguments that the law is unconstitutional. The Court upheld “Obamacare” on a 5-to-4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the Court’s 4 liberal justices.
President Obama immediately made a statement to the nation via just about every media outlet known to humanity, essentially saying “Nyah nyah nyah! Big stinkin’ Tea Party sucking conservatives lost!”
Conservatives immediately made a statement as well, saying “this isn’t the end of this! Well go all the way on this one, and we’ll take it to…uh, take it to…er, ah…is there somewhere to take it after the Supreme Court?”
To which Obama replied “No! There isn’t! Nyah nyah nyah!”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he was disappointed in the Court decision, and added repeal of the law and firing the 5 justices who voted to uphold it to his “Day One To-Do List”, which now has several thousand items on it including “declare polygamy to be legal”, “change the name of the Earth to Utah”, and “install car elevator in White House garage”.
Building 18, the Biosafety Level 3 lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is the subject of a congressional investigation after a potentially dangerous airflow leak. The incident occurred on February 16, when air flowed the wrong way out of a germ lab into a clean-air corridor, rather than through the powerful HEPA filter that cleans the air, congressional sources and CDC officials said.
“At the time work was being done on the ultra-toxic X-1 virus” an anonymous source at the CDC said. “This is the most feared virus in existence because it engenders a sense of integrity and responsibility in the victim – essentially it makes them concerned with the welfare of others and makes them want to do things that basic intelligence and common sense would indicate are desirable for the progress of society and civilization. So it’s instant death to politicians, bureaucrats, and cable news people.”
Soccer star Fabrice Muamba suffered a heart attack during an FA Cup match Saturday. The 23-year-old mid-fielder for the Bolton Wanderers was given 15 cardiac shocks and was technically dead for 78 minutes. He is said to be in good spirits and speaking in both English and French, however all he says is “ass piano” over and over again.
If Texas is going to require a woman have a trans-vaginal ultrasound before undergoing an abortion procedure, it seems only right that the man who impregnated the woman undergo a “trans-urethral” ultrasound as well – otherwise the law is being applied unequally, and that is unconstitutional.
Beef Products Inc., makers of ground beef products that use the filler known as “Pink Slime”, says its “lean finely textured beef” or LFTB is perfectly safe and nutritious. The federal government has plans to buy 7 million pounds of ground beef that includes “Pink Slime”.
“Including LFTB in the national school lunch program’s beef products accomplishes three important goals on behalf of 32 million kids,” BPI spokesman Rich Jochum said. “It 1) improves the nutritional profile, 2) increases the safety of the products and 3) makes us a buttload of money because the stuff in Pink Slime is essentially garbage.”
“Pink Slime” is made from fat and waste trimmings – where salmonella and E. Coli concentrations are highest – and saves as much as three cents per pound of processed ground beef.
“And we’re passing that savings on to you, the consumer” Jochum said. “Sure if you actually saw or smelled this stuff you’d gag on your own vomit, but we’re talking three cents a pound!”