I wrote an email to my congressional representative, Erik Paulsen, asking him to not support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I think congress should make improvements — and should have been doing so for years — instead of wasting time on repealing it. Below is the email I received in response (which I assume is a form letter).

Dear Scott:

Thank you for letting me know of your support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Like you, I believe that health care reform is necessary to lower costs for families, small businesses, and individuals. However, the ACA takes the wrong approach and is hurting more people than it’s helping.

100,000 Minnesotans lost their current health insurance plans as a result of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota’s decision to stop selling the majority of its plans on the state’s health insurance exchange, which was created under the ACA. The instability in the marketplace is causing premiums in the individual market to increase by an average of 50-67 percent next year, and four-out-of-five insurance companies offering plans in the exchange will cap their enrollment.

In fact, individuals, families, and small businesses are continuing to see their health insurance premiums dramatically increase rather than decrease. Americans are losing the insurance coverage they had and liked, they are seeing their full-time jobs become part-time jobs, and they now have fewer choices of doctors and plans.

Many Minnesotans are hurting under the law, such as Pam, who saw her premium increase 61%, and who is expecting to pay at least $2,000 per month in 2017 for a high deductible plan. She and her husband, a small business owner, don’t qualify for a subsidy and are no longer able to afford their insurance. Then there’s Theresa, who has a history of cancer and needs reliable medical care. Her premium increased so much that she had to switch to a restricted plan. Her new plan forced her to change all of her doctors, incur $5,000 in out-of-network costs, and limit her physician visits.

These are just some examples of the harmful impact this law is having. I believe people need more choices and more control over their health care, not more mandates from Washington bureaucrats under a one-size-fits-all approach. By working together, we can fix the current situation, increase competition, and make commonsense reforms that reduce costs, improve quality, protect the doctor-patient relationship, and ensure access and choice for individuals, employees, and families.

Thanks again for sharing your views, as I appreciate hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me whenever I can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Erik Paulsen
Member of Congress

Here is my response, posted publicly:

Representative Paulsen,

Thank you for your response.

You make a number of claims without citing sources. For example, you start out with an unsubstantiated claim that “the ACA… is hurting more people than it’s helping.” I’m not sure how you define hurt vs. help. Twenty-three million people have insurance under ACA that did not have insurance before ACA. http://www.vox.com/cards/obamacare/who-gets-health-insurance-through-obamacare.

Surely getting insurance coverage is helpful not hurtful. Your anecdotes of higher cost can be held against babys with cancer not needing to worry about losing health care; and a former republican campaign staffer being saved by ACA.

The ACA is not perfect and it needs to be improved, not repealed. Repealing without immediately replacing it will cause harm to people and to the economy. Republicans have been too fixated on repealing, with more than 50 votes trying to remove some or all of the plan, rather than making sensible changes to improve it.

“In 2015, the Congressional Budget Office … said that the number of additional Americans who would lose coverage or be unable to get it for the first time would start at 19 million in the first year and increase incrementally before leveling off to 24 million within a couple of years.” http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/jan/05/what-would-be-impact-if-affordable-care-act-repeal/

Some of those people will get hurt at work, or get influenza, or get cancer. Some of those people will not go to the doctor or get prescriptions because they won’t be covered. Some of those people will die because the ACA was repealed. This country CAN AFFORD to continue to provide health insurance until congress finds ways to improve ACA.

Repealing would be a costly mistake to our economy.

“While it acknowledged some uncertainty, the CBO estimated that over a 10-year period, repealing the law would increase federal budget deficits by $353 billion.” http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/jan/05/what-would-be-impact-if-affordable-care-act-repeal/

Additionally, jobs are at stake.

“A collection of reports released in recent weeks indicates that repealing those pieces of the ACA, which contribute massively to state and local economies, would remove millions of jobs and contract economic activity across states.” https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/obamacare-economic-effects-repeal/512618/

The ACA provides protection for people with pre-existing conditions. I am a cancer survivor. Without this protection, I would not be able to get insurance if I left my job and tried to coverage on the open market.

There are many other benefits of the ACA, including coverage for young adults under their parent’s plan, and closing the donut hole in Medicare prescription coverage.

The American Medical Association has urged Congress not to remove coverage for people. http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/312576-doctors-group-warns-against-loss-of-coverage-from-obamacare-repeal

The American Hospital Association warned that repeal without replacement would be a mistake and would cause harm to people http://blog.aha.org/post/170106-hospitals-must-respond-as-congress-begins-repealing-parts-of-the-aca

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget warned that, “According to our latest estimates, repealing the ACA in its entirety would cost roughly $350 billion through 2027 under conventional scoring and $150 billion using dynamic scoring.” They also estimated that, “Repealing ACA would increase the number of uninsured people by 23 million.” http://crfb.org/papers/cost-full-repeal-affordable-care-act

Please reconsider your stance and look at the whole picture. You and the republicans have presented no viable replacement plans. If I am mistaken, please let me know the specifics.

Until then, help to improve the Affordable Care Act. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Scott DeToffol

Ten years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone. As Jobs predicted the iPhone changed the world. Before the iPhone, only the technologically adept were interested in carrying around a pocket computer. Now, most American adults (64% and growing) have a broadband internet enabled multi-touch computer on their person at all times. The ways this is altering our culture, politics and the economy is just starting to be realized.

I blogged shortly after the announcement that “the best feature of Apple’s forthcoming iPhone is the multi-touch display.” In a matter a year or two, all personal computing devices adopted the slab-of-glass multi-touch display. The touch paradigm made computing accessible to the masses.

The touch interface made it accessible, but the real power comes from everyone having a truly personal and powerful internet connected computer. The iPhone led the way and we are never going back.

 

There can be only one top album for me this year: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording). Even though it came out in September 2015, I discovered it in February of this year. This album has been on constant play in our house, car and headphones.

More great music:

The Drive-by Truckers, American Band

Wilco, Schmilco

Hiss Golden Messenger, Heart Like a Levee

Lake Street Dive, Side Pony

Parquet Courts, Human Performance

Bon Iver, 22, A Million

Parker Millsap, The Very Last Day

The Jayhawks, Paging Mr. Proust

Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

Various Artists, Southern Family

Tim Easton, American Folk

Hard Working Americans, Rest In Chaos

Sarah Jarosz, Undercurrent

Green Day, Revolution Radio

Band of Horses, Why Are You OK

Neil Young, Peace Trail

 

If you’re interested in more best of 2016 music lists, check these out:

Paste Magazine “The 50 Best Albums of 2016”

American Songwriter’s Top 50 Albums of 2016

Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2016

No Depression Magazine Reader’s Favorite 50 Albums

 

My next personal computer is probably going to be a Chromebook 

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/ October 13, 2016 / Comments Off on For the record

For the record

Trump is an absurd candidate and has proven to be an epic disaster as the Republican nominee. I never thought he had a chance of winning the presidential election, but I was wrong about that. He has a chance. With less than a month to go, it looks like his self destruction will prevent the unthinkable, but it is way too close to becoming a reality.

As a candidate, Hillary Clinton pales in comparison to Obama, which was clear when she lost the nomination 2008. She probably would have lost against a typical Republican. But she is qualified to be President.

Trump and Hillary are not equally bad candidates. Trump is a historically bad candidate and a villain. I’m confident I’m on the right side of history on this.

Hillary might not end up being good at the job, but she is clearly the better choice between the two. I’m With Her.

I’ve seen some commentary that Trump has ruined it for the Republicans. Bah! Trump is the result of many years of Republican pandering to the fringes of the right. Trump is the monster born from the tea party and Fox News, weened on populism, xenophobia, racism and misogyny.

There is a significant danger that Trump’s attempts to delegitimize the election will take root and grow into a cancer. The Republican party, its leaders and supporters must fight hard against this or risk the destabilization of the government and the permanent destruction of the GOP.

Please, vote.

A great look at one my favorite bands, playing on Minneapolis public TV station KTCA, around the time of their classic album “Hollywood Town Hall”.

Set list:

  • Wichita
  • Two Angels
  • Settled Down Like Rain
  • Waiting For The Sun
  • Crowded In The Wing

The current lineup of The Jayhawks, sans Mark Olsen, have a great new album out called “Paging Mr. Proust”.

Carnarys

The following statements are true, but there are forces at work trying to convince us they are false.

  • Human rights trump religious and national rights.
  • The Earth’s climate is getting warmer, the change is outside of typical patterns we’ve measured in the past, and human activity is a significant contributing factor.
  • Evolution is an accurate explanation for the variety of life on earth.
  • Government is the source of much of what we value as a social animals.
  • Reducing taxes does not necessarily lead to economic growth.
  • Corporations are not people and should not have equivalent rights.

I would like our public institutions to acknowledge these truths and to stop arguing about them. I would like to support companies and politicians that publicly express support for these truths.

The craziness of the current political environment, with fringe candidates getting serious votes in the presidential caucuses and primaries, is a sign that a correction to the center is needed. We need to start with fighting for truth, and that includes not being afraid of calling out people who peddle in falsehoods.

As a kid I hated using telephones. I don’t really know why and I’m sure there are some social anxiety issues at the root. Even today, I’d much rather email or text than call someone. My ideal phone conversation goes something like “I’ll be there in a few minutes and we can talk then.”

That being said, I’ve been fascinated by mobile phones and mobile computing since I was a teenager. My first exposure to a portable phone was at my first job in the late 80’s as a “roadie” for a local Detroit event musical outfit, The Jerry Fenby Band. I would ride along with the Jerry in his van and help haul the gear into the country club or event center and setup the equipment. Jerry had a phone installed in the van, and he’d use it to call his wife, the band’s singer, on the way to the gig. It seemed like a ridiculous luxury and I’m sure it costs $5 per call.

In college I worked at Sears in the computer, word processing and phone department. We sold mobile phones and phone contracts on commission. The paperwork was a nightmare, and most people who applied were denied credit. I learned a lot about phones during this period, but I didn’t own one myself. I attended college before mobile phones were common, which is a significant demarcation between the pre and post connected generations.

I started using mobile phones when my work places started buying them for me. I’ve rarely paid a monthly carrier bill that I wasn’t able to expense. That is definitely a luxury and a big reason why I was an early adopter of smartphones.

At the time of this posting, I’m using the HTC One M8. I’m also using an Android Wear Watch, the LG G Watch, which is a useful companion device. And I have an iPad 3, so I’m familiar with iOS.

UPDATE 9/30/16: My daily driver is now the Samsung Galaxy S7 on Verizon.

Here is a partial list of the mobile phones I’ve used, with a focus on smartphones from the last 10 years.

Motorola Teletac Microtac Alpha Deluxe

Motorola Deluxe Alpha

Motorola StarTAC

StarTAC

Audiovox SMT 5600 (Windows Mobile 2003) (HTC Typhoon)

Blackberry 8830

blackberry 8830

HTC PPC 6700 (HTC Apache) (Windows Mobile 5.0)

PPC 6700

Google G1 (HTC Dream) (Android on T-Mobile) – 2009

HTC Droid Incredible (Android on Verizon) – 2010

Samsung  / Google Nexus Galaxy – 2011 (Android on Verizon)

Galaxy Nexus

HTC EVO Design (Android on Sprint) – 2012

HTC EVO Design

HTC One M7 (Android on Sprint) – 2013

HTC One M7

HTC One M8 (Android on Verizon) – 2015

HTC One M8

LG G Watch – 2015

LG G Watch

Samsung Galaxy S7 – September 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7

I want to believe that Star Wars VII is going to be good. This is a good sign.