"When uninsured Americans begin enrolling in Obamacare’s new health care exchanges on Oct. 1, the overwhelming majority — 95 percent — will face health care premiums that are 16 percent lower, on average, than the government had previously projected, according to a new report released on Wednesday by the Obama administration.

In the 36 states where the federal government supports or fully runs the Health Insurance Marketplace, a 27-year old who does not qualify for tax credits will pay, on average, $163 for a plan that covers approximately 60 percent of health care expenses (a so-called bronze-level plan), while a 27-year-old with an income of $25,000 could pay $83 dollars per-month after subsidies. Individuals up to 30 years old will also have the option of buying cheaper catastrophic coverage outside of the marketplaces, though they will not qualify for subsidies. A family of four in Texas with an income of $50,000 would pay as little as “$57 per month for the lowest bronze plan after tax credits,” the report finds. "

New Report: For 95% Of Americans, Obamacare Will Cost Much Less Than Expected | ThinkProgress http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/09/25/2675821/95-of-uninsured-will-pay-less-than-expected-for-obamacare-coverage/




"There's a showdown underway in Congress.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to keep the government running only if the Affordable Care Act is defunded, and the Democratic-controlled Senate isn't likely to go along with that plan. If the two sides can't resolve their differences by Oct. 1, the U.S. government will shut down.

[NPR] asked you what you wanted to know about the potential government shutdown, and journalists from NPR's Washington Desk tracked down the answers:"

Your Government Shutdown Questions, Answered : It's All Politics : NPR http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/09/25/225453255/your-government-shutdown-questions-answered




"Panera Bread Chief Executive Ron Shaich can afford to eat just about anywhere. But for one week the millionaire is shelling out no more than $4.50 a day as part of an effort to see how people on food stamps live.

Called the SNAP challenge, the experiment involves buying food using only what a family would receive on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp program.

Shaich, who is blogging about the experience on the career site LinkedIn, is taking up the cause just as the House of Representatives is set to take up a proposal that could cut SNAP funding by $40 billion over the next decade.

"I can't stop thinking about food," he wrote. "You probably think I'm joking (or think that must be normal for me since I work for a food company after all), but I promise you it's not."

"Over the last few days, my thoughts have been consumed with food. When is my next meal? How much food is left in my cabinet? Will it get me through the week? What should I spend my remaining few dollars on?"

Shaich said the worry first set in last week when he went food shopping with a budget of $31.50. He realized that loading up on carb-heavy foods and avoiding pricier -- and healthier -- items was his only option.

"I was forced to choose foods that were filling -- items that my Italian mother-in-law would have said will 'stick to my ribs,'" he wrote. "But it isn't lost on me that I wasn't able to afford the fruits, vegetables and meats that most would say belong in a balanced diet."


Panera Bread CEO tries food stamp challenge, lives on $4.50 a day - latimes.com http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-panera-ceo-food-stamps-20130916,0,2313385.story.

See also http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/06/food-stamps-child-health/ (Wired Mag.  How Cuts to Food Sttamps Threaten Children's Health.)


From the Private Attorney Forum (published here with permission of the author.)

I just had three attempts to withdraw a hearing request denied. ODAR said my language wasn’t specific enough. Finally a claims rep there had mercy on me and told me what was wrong. They said that in January they had training on dismissals / withdrawal of hearing requests. The Appeals Council got flooded with claimant’s claiming their case was dismissed without their knowledge, or that they didn’t understanding the effect of withdrawing the hearing request. The AC is remanding a lot of cases because they don’t like the specific letter reps are using. She read me some of the training, and it said they are getting so picky about specific language because 1) interests of claimant must be protected, and 2) the HALLEX requires it.

They said there are two required lines, and she read them to me verbatim.

“The claimant wishes to withdraw their Request for Hearing” and “The effect of withdrawal has been specifically discussed with the client and the client understands the effect.”

Also, the AC issued a specific instruction on cases in which you are amending the Alleged Onset Date to after the Date Last Insured (since this effectively withdraws the Title II application) . The amendment letter must say:

“The claimant wishes to amend their Alleged Onset Date” and “The effect of withdrawing the Title II application has been specifically discussed with the client and the client understands the effect.”

I’m still thinking about this one, and there could be problems I haven’t thought of yet with the amended AOD language, but I’m definitely using the withdrawal of hearing request language.

Also, be sure an attorney or someone with a 1696 signs the letter.

I received this gem from an SSA insider, with the insider's editorial comments in brackets.



Refer To: ACL 13-1175



August 8, 2013



All Hearing Office Personnel


Debra Bice /s/

Chief Administrative Law Judge


Providing Representative Referrals to Unrepresented Claimants– REMINDER


20 CFR 404.1706 and 416.1506 require that ALJs notify unrepresented claimants of their right to, and options for, obtaining a representative (See also HALLEX I-1-1-3 and POMS GN 03910.030).  However, any information furnished must be consistent with the Social Security Administration [newly announced] policy of neither encouraging nor discouraging representation.  ODAR personnel should not suggest or recommend that a claimant obtain representation. [A judge now is not allowed to tell a claimant that the case presents complex problems of fact or law that will weigh against him.  A judge may not advise the claimant that his chances of success are increased very significantly, recently by better than 50 %, by having representation.]


A representation referral list is the only referral information that may be provided to claimants. ODAR personnel may not recommend any specific attorney, firm, or organization. HALLEX I-1-1-3 requires that the hearing office (HO) must have available and distribute one or more lists of representative referral services and of legal service organizations provided by the field offices (FO) serviced by the HO. In addition, these lists must meet the following criteria:


  • any organization included on the list must indicate a willingness to appear on the list, be located in or close to the HO service area, or be able to refer a claimant to a participating service provider located in or close to the HO service area, and not make a profit from the referral service;

  • no individual person (i.e., attorney or non-attorney) or any for-profit firm or organization will appear on the list; and

  • the list will show the organizations that provide free legal services separately from the organizations that charge fees for services or make referrals to service providers who charge fees. Each subcategory will show the organizations in alphabetical order. POMS GN 03910.030A.3.


Please contact your regional office with questions.  The staff contact for regional inquiries is Dean Syrjanen, Attorney Adviser, who can be reached at 703-605-7355


cc:    Associate Chief Administrative Law Judges

         Regional Chief Administrative Law Judges

         Regional Office Management Teams

         Hearing Office Management Teams