What is the Health Care Law?

This summary is as good as any.

the things I think are most important—stuff readers may not know about, or may want to tell friends or family who don’t follow politics as closely:

— Chief among these is the idea that kids will now be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26. I’ve seen this mocked in some precincts, always by people fortunate enough to have full-time employment. But with unemployment at 10 percent, clearly many people are not fortunate enough to have full-time employment. And if your son or daughter is about to graduate this spring out of high school or college right into the face of the worst labor market since the Great Depression, your family is probably going to be happy about this provision.

— This year, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage. If I were a member of congress who voted yes on reform, I’d be finding a family in my district that this will help and asking repealers why they think sick kids shouldn’t get medical treatment.

— Big increase in funding for community health centers starts more-or-less right away, which is a crucial recession-fighting measure as well as something helpful for the long run.

— Last, in 2011 the ACA provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the gap in prescription drug coverage. That’s a start on full closure of the “doughnut hole” over time.

There’s much more below the fold. But the point is that this kind of stuff is a news story. People want to know “what’s going to change for me and my life?” And the answers to those questions are more interesting and more important than a political story about who called whom what names and why is Eric Cantor so horrible.

Let’s start with how health insurance reform will expand and strengthen coverage:

— This year, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage. Once the new health insurance exchanges begin in the coming years, pre-existing condition discrimination will become a thing of the past for everyone.
— This year, health care plans will allow young people to remain on their parents’ insurance policy up until their 26th birthday.
— This year, insurance companies will be banned from dropping people from coverage when they get sick, and they will be banned from implementing lifetime caps on coverage. This year, restrictive annual limits on coverage will be banned for certain plans. Under health insurance reform, Americans will be ensured access to the care they need.
— This year, adults who are uninsured because of pre-existing conditions will have access to affordable insurance through a temporary subsidized high-risk pool.
— In the next fiscal year, the bill increases funding for community health centers, so they can treat nearly double the number of patients over the next five years.
— This year, we’ll also establish an independent commission to advise on how best to build the health care workforce and increase the number of nurses, doctors and other professionals to meet our country’s needs. Going forward, we will provide $1.5 billion in funding to support the next generation of doctors, nurses and other primary care practitioners — on top of a $500 million investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Health insurance reform will also curb some of the worst insurance industry practices and strengthen consumer protections:

— This year, this bill creates a new, independent appeals process that ensures consumers in new private plans have access to an effective process to appeal decisions made by their insurer.
— This year, discrimination based on salary will be outlawed. New group health plans will be prohibited from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that discriminate in favor of higher-wage employees.
— Beginning this fiscal year, this bill provides funding to states to help establish offices of health insurance consumer assistance in order to help individuals in the process of filing complaints or appeals against insurance companies.
— Starting January 1, 2011, insurers in the individual and small group market will be required to spend 80 percent of their premium dollars on medical services. Insurers in the large group market will be required to spend 85 percent of their premium dollars on medical services. Any insurers who don’t meet those thresholds will be required to provide rebates to their policyholders.
— Starting in 2011, this bill helps states require insurance companies to submit justification for requested premium increases. Any company with excessive or unjustified premium increases may not be able to participate in the new health insurance exchanges.

Reform immediately begins to lower health care costs for American families and small businesses:

— This year, small businesses that choose to offer coverage will begin to receive tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums to help make employee coverage more affordable.
— This year, new private plans will be required to provide free preventive care: no co-payments and no deductibles for preventive services. And beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare will do the same.
— This year, this bill will provide help for early retirees by creating a temporary re-insurance program to help offset the costs of expensive premiums for employers and retirees age 55-64.
— This year, this bill starts to close the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole’ by providing a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the gap in prescription drug coverage. And beginning in 2011, the bill institutes a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the ‘donut hole.’

Two Poker Updates

I was in New Orleans this past weekend. I managed to get to the casino for a little under one hour, at a $1-$2 no limit table. In that 50 minutes, I made $129. My kind of outing. Most of the table wasn’t very good, they were overly aggressive. My motto is, “When they play tight, you play loose. When they play loose, you play tight.” Which I did. The two good hands I had both paid off, and I pulled off a stone cold bluff on my way out, since I had built my rep already.

Last night was not so good. I got demolished again at bar poker. You start with 1,000 in chips (And I got another 300 for ordering a meal there). In the fairly early going I had pocket 10s and raised the blinds to 100. I got two callers, and then one guy came over the top with a raise to 400. I called, the other two dropped out. The flop was K-x-x. He put in 500. I grudgingly folded. So I was already short-stacked. After that I never saw another good set of cards. We were leading into chip-up time. I was down to 520 and the blinds were going to 50-100. With a pair of 7s, I went all-in. One person called me, the girl who had four shots, with A-10. (I’m not saying it was a bad call, just annoying when someone doesn’t put any thought into it.) Two more Aces came out, and I came out to the car. Blech.
How come I can’t beat these idiots at the bar?

Still, $129 to the good over the last week.

Obama’s Comments to the Democrat Caucus

I call it comments rather than a speech because the text was not prepared. It is worth reading in full. Go for it.

The end is inspirational.

And I decided finally to get involved because I realized if I wasn’t willing to step up and be true to the things I believe in, then the system wouldn’t change. Every single one of you had that same kind of moment at the beginning of your careers. Maybe it was just listening to stories in your neighborhood about what was happening to people who’d been laid off of work. Maybe it was your own family experience, somebody got sick and didn’t have health care and you said something should change.

Something inspired you to get involved, and something inspired you to be a Democrat instead of running as a Republican. Because somewhere deep in your heart you said to yourself, I believe in an America in which we don’t just look out for ourselves, that we don’t just tell people you’re on your own, that we are proud of our individualism, we are proud of our liberty, but we also have a sense of neighborliness and a sense of community — (applause) — and we are willing to look out for one another and help people who are vulnerable and help people who are down on their luck and give them a pathway to success and give them a ladder into the middle class. That’s why you decided to run. (Applause.)

And now a lot of us have been here a while and everybody here has taken their lumps and their bruises. And it turns out people have had to make compromises, and you’ve been away from families for a long time and you’ve missed special events for your kids sometimes. And maybe there have been times where you asked yourself, why did I ever get involved in politics in the first place? And maybe things can’t change after all. And when you do something courageous, it turns out sometimes you may be attacked. And sometimes the very people you thought you were trying to help may be angry at you and shout at you. And you say to yourself, maybe that thing that I started with has been lost.

But you know what? Every once in a while, every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made in all those town meetings and all those constituency breakfasts and all that traveling through the district, all those people who you looked in the eye and you said, you know what, you’re right, the system is not working for you and I’m going to make it a little bit better.

And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service. This is why I’ve made those sacrifices. Because I believe so deeply in this country and I believe so deeply in this democracy and I’m willing to stand up even when it’s hard, even when it’s tough.

Every single one of you have made that promise not just to your constituents but to yourself. And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine. We have been debating health care for decades. It has now been debated for a year. It is in your hands. It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow.

Links o’ Interest

Palin in 2012


Where do all the f*cking roads go?

Canadians going to the bathroom during the big hockey game. Fantastic graph.

Single Ladies, done real Motown style

I dream of owning this

See your name as an equation. Math geek everywhere are drooling.

Ladies room graffiti

Why the GOP is scared of Obama

Burger Wars: A Map of the USA with territory claimed by the big chains. More detail here.

Wedding invitation

Does your Mom know you’re here?

Failbook: Please don’t breed

Applied philosophy

The absurdity of British libel laws: One of the best science writers in the country quits.

All-star cast does presidential history on Funny or Die

2009 World Press photo awards. Pictures of the Olympics, 1 and 2

Academy Award winning Trailer

A heck of an ending to a police chase

OK Go does it again. Another bad song with an amazing video.

Betting on The Blind Side

Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5. That is not a typo, $5!

Infant starves to death while parents raise virtual child online

How to Play Craps: A Simple Guide (Part II)

Last post we learned the basic pass line bet in craps. Now we’re going to expand into a few other bets.

Don’t Pass:

dont pass

This is the exact opposite of the Pass Line bet. If it wins, this loses and vice versa. There is one exception so that the house can keep the edge. If a 12 is rolled on the come-out roll (buck is OFF) the Pass Line bets loses but this bet doesn’t win. It doesn’t lose either, the money stays out there untouched. Otherwise the rules are directly opposite of the Pass Line bet. The comeout roll of 2 or 3 wins, 7 or 11 loses. Any other roll becomes the point and the Don’t Pass bet wants a 7 to come up before the point does.

You can take odds behind the line with a Don’t Pass bet also. Example: A point of 10 is established. The true odds of getting a 10 before a 7 are 2-to-1 against, so you have to put out $20 to win $10.

The Don’t Pass bet is rare. Craps is a very social game. Everyone wants the roller to do well, no one wants them to crap out. The Don’t Pass bet actually has slightly better odds than the Pass Line bet (1.40% to 1.41% against you), but you will be a social pariah if you make this bet.

Field Bet:
This bet only applies to the next roll of the dice. It has nothing to do with comeout rolls and points and all of that. If the next roll is 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12, you win. 2 and 12 pay double, $2 for every $1 bet. The other numbers ( 5, 6, 7, 8 ) lose. Pretty simple, eh?

Come Bet:

If you understand how the Pass Line bet works, you understand the Come bet. The only difference is when they start rolling. The Pass Line bet starts when the buck is OFF, on the comeout roll. The Come bet starts at any other time. The Come bet is actually the exact same bet as the Pass Line bet, but shifted in time, so for just that Come bet, the next roll is treated as the comeout roll. It’s like saying to the casino staff, “Hey, I missed the come out roll. Can I put some money out and we’ll all pretend the next roll is the comeout roll? Yeah, just for this bet. C’mon, pretending is fun!”

The Come bet can also have odds behind the line, and there is a Don’t Come bet also. Everything works exactly like their equivalent bets. The only difference is the shift in the sequence of dice rolls, all the rules are the exact same.

Example: It is the comeout roll. No Come bets are allowed. An 8 is rolled. The 8 is the point. You put down a come bet. An 11 is rolled. For your Come bet it was the comeout roll, so this is a win. It has no effect on the pass line bet (because only an 8 or a 7 matter for the pass line bet). You put down another Come bet. A 7 is rolled. Your Come bet won, and all the pass line bets lose.

I love the Come bet. It’s hard to understand initially but once you get it, it’s extremely easy, it’s a good bet, you can make awful sex puns, and you look like a sophisticated player.

In my opinion, you should stop there. “Placing” on the 6 and 8 is also a very reasonable bet, but everyone who does that starts putting action on the other numbers and those are bad bets.

Congratulations. Now get out there and win some money lose money slower!

How to Play Craps: A Simple Guide

Intimidated by craps? It looks like a hard game to learn. There is a lot of yelling and a lot of different bets going on. But the basics of craps are very simple. You can learn them in less than 5 minutes, and I’m going to show you how.

The first thing to learn is that most bets in craps are sucker bets. Most of the yelling going on is people throwing their money away. True, all the bets in craps are losing bets (see the end of this article for the possible exception), but some are worse than others.

The basic bet in craps is called the “Pass Line” bet. You place money down on the playing table in the space marked with “Pass Line”.
Pass Line

The Pass Line bet has two simple rules. Each roll of the dice is governed by one of these rules. To know which one to use, look at the buck. craps buck The buck is a large disc. One side is black with the word “Off”, the other side is white with the word “On”.

The Pass Line bet is placed, and begins, when the buck is Off.

  1. Rule 1 (Buck is Off): If a 7 or 11 comes up, the pass line bet wins. Every dollar you put down gets another dollar back. If a 2, 3, or 12 comes up, the pass line bet loses. If it’s anything else (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) the number that was rolled is now called “the point”. You haven’t won or lost yet. The buck is flipped to “On”, placed on top of the point, and we move to the Rule 2.
  2. Rule 2 (Buck is On): Only two numbers matter, the point and the number seven. If a seven comes up before the point, you lose. If the point comes up before the seven, you win. Nothing else matters for the pass line bet, nothing happens if any other number comes up.

That’s it. You know now the basics of craps. Let’s try an example.

  • On the first roll (which is also called “The Comeout roll”), a seven comes up. What happens? (You win.)
  • On the first roll, a 3 comes up. What happens? (You lose.)
  • On the first roll, a 9 comes up. What happens? (We switch to Rule 2. The buck is flipped to On and placed on top of the number 9. 9 is now the point.)
  • The point is a 9. A 6 comes up. What happens? (Nothing.)
  • The point is a 9. A 10 comes up. What happens? (Nothing.)
  • The point is a 9. A 6 comes up. What happens? (Nothing. As you can see, it can take a while to settle the bet under Rule 2. This is part of the appeal, this effectively makes it cheaper to play craps.)
  • The point is a 9. A 3 comes up. What happens? (Nothing. A 3 only loses under Rule 1 and we’re operating under Rule 2.)
  • The point is a 9. A 9 comes up. What happens? (We win! The buck goes to Off and you can place a new Pass Line bet.)
  • The point is a 9. A 7 comes up. What happens? (We lose. This is called “crapping out”. The dice are moved to a new roller. All the fancy bets that have been going on lose also. The buck is flipped to Off.)

That’s it! Congratulations!

But if you want to know more, read on.

The Pass Line bet has an optional feature, called odds behind the line. Odds behind the line is the best bet in the entire casino. To play them, wait until a point has been established. You can now put more chips down behind your pass line bet. The chips should not go in the pass line area, but should be clearly aligned with your original pass line bet. Casinos vary in how much you’re allowed to put down. It is always a minimum of whatever your pass line bet is, and the maximum can be anywhere from twice that to one hundred times your original bet.

How does it work? This bet pays off at true mathematical odds.
If the point is:

  • a 4 or a 10: The odds are 2-to-1 against you, and the odds behind the line pay off at 2-to-1.
  • a 5 or a 9: The odds are 3-to-2 against you, and the odds behind the line pay off at 3-to-2.
  • a 6 or an 8: The odds are 6-to-5 against you, and the odds behind the line pay off at 6-to-5.

Example: You put down $10 on a pass line bet. The come out roll is a 9. You put an addition $20 down behind the line. After a few meaningless rolls the 9 comes up. You win! How much? Your original $10 pass line bet wins an additional $10. The $20 you put down behind the line pays off at 3-to-2, so you get another $30 there. You won $40, on top of your original $30 bet.

Because these pay off at true odds, neither you nor the casino has an advantage. So the casino will let you do something you can’t do anywhere else – you can change your bet after you’ve placed it. As long as the buck is On, you can keep adding and subtracting money from the odds behind the line bet and they won’t get mad. Just don’t touch the original pass line bet!

Why did I say that odds behind the line are a possible exception to every bet being a losing bet? It depends on your viewpoint. The odds behind the line bet pays off at true odds and is not a losing bet. But you can’t place the odds behind the line until you have made a Pass Line bet. The Pass Line bet is close to even, but the edge is with the house.

Want to learn more? Go to Part II. Another simple guide is here.

Links o’ Interest

God covers Beyonce

This movie stars brands. Try it.

Upside down celebrities

Stay classy Canada

Financial Planning

Pirate vs Legal movies.

Found in a 1st graders backpack

Wes Anderson directs Spiderman

Babies with laser eyes.


The real America. Sadly.

Supercut of mirror scares

Traffic girls from North Korea are hypnotic

Redundant Clock

A letter from 14-year old Slash, apologizing for talking about his guitar so much.

School uses spycams installed in take-home laptops to monitor students. At home. Unreal.

Antarctica is bleeding.

Understanding the Bush years and Desert Storm.

Networking passive aggressive notes

UPS Update

Bad timing

A brief history of pretty much everything

6 crazy coincidences

It happened

After hours at the airport

Understanding the derivatives market. I’m sure there’s a logic hole somewhere, but I can’t find it.

Atheist 1, Women preacher 0

Americas top 50 franchises

The man who escaped into Auschwitz.

On Catholics and torture. Worth reading in full.

Roger Ebert’s Last Words. And his remembrance of Gene Siskel.

Lighting a cigarette from the Olympic torch – that’s an arrest.

The science of touch.

Triumph of the Cyborg Musician

How Google works.