HHS Inspector General finds that private Medicare Advantage plans denied over 80,000 requests for pre-authorization of medical care in 2019, even though Medicare proper would have covered that care. Medicare Advantage also denied payment for claims nearly one-fifth of the time, even though (again) Medicare would have required payment. And how many people give up rather than challenge these denials? Think on all of that when you imagine that privatized Medicare is "better." Privatized Medicare is better for health insurance CEOs, but not for our seniors.
Former white supremacist Evan McLaren -- who, among other things, marched for the wrong side in Charlottesville in 2017 -- disavows his association with white supremacy in a statement published on Substack. We've been burned by others who "left" the movement only to still hate Jews, but Mr. McLaren's statement took my breath away, frankly; I'll quote the last paragraph in its entirety: "I apologize to everyone who was affected in any way by my past activities. The main purpose of this statement, however, is not to apologize. I do not realistically expect to repair my public reputation, to the extent that it meaningfully exists, or to heal rifts with people I have alienated. I don’t hope or expect to be forgiven. My only purpose here is that, on those occasions when someone happens to explore the Internet search results related to my name, they might also find this statement as an indication that, while I was a source of toxic energy and opinions in the past, I am at least not that anymore." Now that's an apology -- no ifs about it! Joe Rogan might do well to study it before his next screw-up.
From the "I Shouldn't Have to Explain This" file: no, California will not "legalize infanticide" by passing AB 2223, because "don't automatically investigate stillbirths" and "never, ever investigate stillbirths" are not the same thing. Of course the right-wingers who created this drama in the first place knew that; they were just hoping you didn't know that. Now you do, and you can move on to more important things, like making sure polluters and financial predators go to jail.
Nick Vachon wonders "Where Are All the 'Pro-Worker' Republicans Now?" after Amazon and Starbucks workers win organizing efforts, but of course he poses the question rhetorically: Marco Rubio's "support" for Amazon workers hinged entirely on Amazon's refusal to sell some of his favorite right-wing books. No, I'm not inferring here; he spelled that out! And I can't help but think he supported the Bessemer, AL Amazon workers because he suspected their effort would fail. I guess there's a limit to how much point-scoring Republicans will try to do against these "woke" corporations. And, frankly, Democrats are little better, what with their deep abiding love of white-collar workers and their utter cowardice in pushing populist (and popular!) solutions. I could help them with that.
Kevin Kuehn and Kevin King at The Conversation discuss teenagers' self-harming behavior and how to combat it. I wouldn't pay too much attention to recent teen self-harming data -- teens were in lockdown for a big chunk of 2020, after all -- but you won't be surprised to learn that "participants reported higher levels of distress right before they self-harmed or thought about suicide, and reported significantly reduced levels of distress immediately following." I mean, you wouldn't do it otherwise! I would suggest that self-harm gives at least some teens the illusion of control over situations over which they otherwise have very little or no control. Remedies for self-harm include more connection with more people (as with drug addicts) and validating feelings that prompt self-harming behavior without validating the behavior itself.
Finally, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) vows to investigate the "origins of COVID," which scientists have already determined, should Republicans win the Senate and he get a Committee Chair. Maybe he should concentrate on winning re-election first! If Charles Booker focuses on insulin prices and Ukraine policy -- two subjects he's discussed a lot already, and two areas where Rand Paul's weak -- Mr. Paul could be in for a big surprise. (No, the fact that Mr. Booker's a Black Lives Matter activist won't be a liability in the state that killed Breonna Taylor.)