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Employment Picture Remained Steady

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Washington DC, yesterday the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported ,total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000 in December, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care, construction, and social assistance.

Continue reading Employment Picture Remained Steady

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Health Coverage does Not Equal Health Care


Ridgewood Nj,one again many have demonstrated selective anesthesia, so here is a reminder of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber bragging about deceiving the American people, who he thinks are stupid.

Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber not only twice admits fooling stupid Americans but admits the concerted effort in the to mislead what the ACA or Obamacare is all about and what it goals are .

In a report, released by the Alliance for a Just Society,in 2015 is the result of a yearlong study that included a survey of 1,200 low-income people in 10 states and was conducted in Spanish, Cantonese and English. It found that people of color, families in rural communities and those with language and cultural barriers still struggle to get health care and pay for it.

The conclusion was , “cost was a struggle even in states that expanded Medicaid, where insurance premiums paid by people every month can be high.” “While the racial barriers are significant, the biggest barrier for enrollment for people of color was premium cost,”

The Heritage foundation came up with the exact same conclusion in 2013 . Many of Obamacare’s beneficiaries have already discovered or will eventually discover that there’s a big difference between insurance coverage and access to health care services.

Today, the New York Times highlighted a report by the Department of Health and Human Services that shows access to care in the Medicaid program is very limited.

The study, conducted between July 2013 and October 2013, concludes that more than half of providers could not offer appointments to Medicaid managed care enrollees with 35 percent of providers listed under an erroneous location. Nor were those the only issues, according to the report:

Among the providers who offered appointments, the median wait time was 2 weeks. However, over a quarter had wait times of more than 1 month, and 10 percent had wait times longer than 2 months. Finally, primary care providers were less likely to offer an appointment than specialists; however, specialists tended to have longer wait times.

This is neither surprising nor a new conclusion. The Medicaid program has a long and well-documented history of limited access to care and poorer health outcomes for beneficiaries compared to those with private insurance.


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N.J.’s top pensions adviser: 5 ways to cut property taxes


Updated February 27, 2017
Posted February 27, 2017

Property taxes in New Jersey are the highest in the nation. Since 2000, they have doubled and have risen at over twice the rate of inflation. No wonder people are forced to move; no wonder we have the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

Property taxpayers suffer because raising this tax is the path of least resistance. When the income tax goes up, people blame politicians in the Statehouse. For property taxes, it’s not clear who’s to blame: the state blames local governments. The towns who collect the taxes for school districts and counties blame those entities for not controlling costs. The towns, school districts and counties all blame the state for cutting state aid.

Everyone is to blame. No one is responsible.

The obvious way to control property taxes is to hold the line on expenses, but this is fraught with political consequences, especially for Democrats. Public-sector unions like the NJEA and the two police unions, whose members’ salaries and benefits are largely paid by property taxes, wield enormous influence in both general elections and, particularly, Democratic primaries.

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Financial Planning Association of New Jersey “Know Your Money” Series Talks Taxes


The second installment of a video series asks people about taxes, underscoring the importance of the role a CFP® and other professionals make.

January 19,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ,  The Financial Planning Association of New Jersey (FPANJ) continues its five-part video series to stress the importance of learning about your money, and how a Certified Financial Planner(TM) can play a role in reaching your financial goals.
After a launch in November covering estate planning, the latest subject is a timely one: Taxes.
The entire series features “man on the street” interviews with people, asking them questions based on topics that are important to know, yet many people can’t answer, even with a cash reward ($1) on the line.  Additional subjects will be released throughout the year and will include

College Planning, Social Security, and Health Care

 “Everyone is impacted by taxes,” said FPANJ President Rob Rafano. “It can be eye-opening for many who watch the video to realize what they don’t know. The purpose is to demonstrate all of the various issues that CFP®s help clients handle, and why not knowing what you don’t know can keep you from building wealth. The good news is that enlisting the help of professionals can help you reduce your tax liability, year in and year out.”
#FPAKnowYourMoney: Taxes
S #FPAKnowYourMoney: Taxes

The second installment of the Know Your Money on Taxes can be viewed on the FPANJ’s You Tube Channel. Additional videos can also be found there to help the public get to know FPANJ and learn more about their finances.

“We hope to continue the conversation among consumers on how to get started learning more about their finances, saving and investing more, and leaning on the expertise of financial professionals to get them there,” Rafano said, adding, “we are also relying on our local media to help educate the public, as there is always something happening in the news that these videos relate to.”


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Financial Planning Association of New Jersey Launches “Know Your Money” Campaign

November 28,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, The Financial Planning Association of New Jersey (FPANJ) is launching a new, five-part video series to stress the importance of learning about your money, and how a Certified Financial Planner(TM) can play a role in reaching your financial goals.
The series features “man on the street” interviews with people, asking them questions based on the following topics:
  • Estate Planning
  • Taxes
  • College Planning
  • Social Security
  • Health Care
“These are topics that everyone – regardless of their income – is impacted by every day, whether or not they want to think about it,” said FPANJ President Rob Rafano. “The purpose is to demonstrate all of the various issues that CFP®s help clients handle, and why not knowing what you don’t know can keep you from building wealth, planning for retirement and so much more.”

The first installment of the Know Your Moneyseries will be on Estate Planning, and can be viewed on the FPANJ’s You Tube Channel. Its debut coincides with a presentation on December 13 on Estate Planning issuesregarding elder law that every CFP® should be aware of.

“We are hoping that this will start the conversation among consumers about how to get started learning more about their finances, saving and investing more, and leaning on the expertise of financial professionals to get them there,” Rafano said, adding, “we are also relying on our local media to help educate the public, as there is always something happening in the news that these videos relate to.”
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AeroScout RTLS Helps The Valley Hospital’s Staff Feel Safer


The Stanley Healthcare solution includes Wi-Fi RFID badges that nurses, physicians and other personnel can use to identify their locations and call for assistance.
By Claire Swedberg

Sep 27, 2016—

The Valley Hospital, in Ridgewood, N.J., has been using a real-time location system (RTLS) to monitor the locations and identities of staff members who press their emergency badge. Before the hospital deployed the system, only 50 percent of personnel reported a sense of workplace safety. Once those workers began utilizing the RTLS, provided byStanley Healthcare, that figure rose to 85 percent.

The Valley Hospital rarely experiences violence in its ER, but there have been incidents in which employees have indicated feeling uncomfortable, the hospital reports. After members of a patient’s family prevented a nurse from leaving that patient’s room, that nurse asked the hospital to institute a better means of protecting personnel. The facility, which treats 74,000 patients in its emergency department each year, already offered wired emergency alarms in each room, but it decided that a wireless system would provide greater support to employees wherever they were in that department. The solution consists of Stanley Healthcare Wi-Fi-enabled call badges and software that helps security personnel identify who has placed a distress call, as well as where that person is located and what he or she looks like.

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Obamacare Insurance Markets on Verge of Collapse


3 Sep 2016

Citing the financial unsustainability of Obamacare, both the insured and insurers are fleeing Obamacare in increasing numbers, leaving President Obama’s takeover of the nation’s healthcare system on the verge of collapse.

The administration has claimed Obamacare — officially designated the Affordable Care Act — to be a great success, insisting that 20 million previously uninsured Americans now have insurance. But according to a report at The Guardian, that “success” comes at the expense of all the features that were supposed to make the law sustainable.

President Obama and his cohorts imagined that since Obamacare was to be compulsory, millions of healthy young Americans would immediately sign up, and the massive influx of cash paid into the system as insurance premiums would help pay for the higher costs in care doled out to older, sicker enrollees.

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Readers Not Sympathetic to Ridgewood Teachers Demands

Ridgewood EA teachers protest

Sick and tired of hearing some the highest paid teachers in the State complain. Get a grip – the real world does not get automatic increases every year and in many case each year the contribution towards health insurance increases and coverage changes to economize. Let them strike and fire them. Lots of fresh new faces with lots of energy or teachers working in lower paying districts would love to have your jobs and be happy to work for a lot less

Teachers voted for Obamacare which is why health premiums are rising faster than wages. But now they want taxpayers to carry the extra cost so they can keep their Platinum health benefits? Give us all a break. Its great the REA can’t bully our BOE members as parents like they’ve done in the past with former BOE members. These are hard working volunteers trying to protect Ridgewood taxpayers from hostile and abusive REA/NJEA who has no interest in negotiating in good faith. They just want to keep screwing Ridgewood taxpayers as our school rankings keep declining. $102mn school budget for a town of 25,0000 and yet the REA wants more! This is abject greed.

NJEA and the REA is shameless trying to bully BOE members and their families. We can only guess the abuse the hard working volunteers have faced privately from the REA and NJEA thugs, and if they did have kids in the local schools what challenges that might present. If you don’t like your health benefit premiums, then downgrade to Bronze level coverage like the rest of us in the private sector. Remember, it was your union who supported Obamacare. So now accept that taxpayers are done subsidizing better health benefit plans for you elite teachers at everyone else’s expense. The rate of contribution is determined by your salary, simply the more money you make the more you are forced to contribute. Lower contribution levels don’t work for taxpayers, so suck it up like the rest of us and enjoy your paid summer vacation.

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Obamacare Is Now on Life Support

obamacare_theridgewood blog

By Edward Morrissey
December 10, 2015

Democrats gained the political muscle to push the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through Congress on three basic arguments.

First, they argued that the United States had too many uninsured people, with estimates ranging from 30 million to 45 million.

Second, the rise in costs for health care outstripped inflation, and the market required an intervention that would bend the cost curve downward.

Third, Democrats claimed that insurance companies made too much profit and shorted most consumers on care, while those with generous health plans – so-called “Cadillac plans” – drove up utilization rates and costs for everyone else.

The only solution for these ills was a massive government intervention, complete with mandates for all participants in the market, including providers, insurers, and consumers. Once government ran this market, Democrats promised, consumers would see their premiums decrease (by $2,500 a year, according to Barack Obama), insurers would gain access to vast numbers of new consumers who couldn’t get insurance before, and the lifting of cost burdens would spark a job-creation surge that would lift the economy.

Such were the promises of Obamacare five years ago. The reality began looking much different in the fall of 2013, when the first open-enrollment period turned into a disaster. Millions of insurance policies were canceled even though the health care exchanges failed to work properly.

In 2014, premiums spiked, and then in 2015 they exploded again along with deductibles so high that many decided not to be insured at all. Over half of Obamacare’s co-ops collapsed this year, most of them this fall, and now the providers who took their clients may end up stuck with the bills.

“Health care providers could get stuck with unpaid bills in a half dozen states where co-op plans have collapsed,” reports Politico Pro’s Paul Demko. “That’s because there’s no financial backstop in those states if the failed nonprofit startups backed by Obamacare loans run out of money before paying off all of their medical claims.” The failure of the co-op Health Republic Insurance of New York left $165 million in unpaid bills, and a survey showed 64 percent of New York providers waiting for payment. Had a private-sector insurer defaulted in a similar manner, these providers would have been compensated from a guaranty fund set up by the industry.

Obamacare co-ops had no such backstop, and more than 600,000 Americans will have to find insurance that is more expensive or do without.

Still, as bad as the news has been over the past five years, the remaining illusions were shattered by the CBO and the White House itself this week. Obamacare didn’t make much of a dent in the uninsured rate, it has forced costs to rise faster than before, and it will kill millions of jobs that otherwise would be created.

“The labor force is projected to be about 2 million full-time-equivalent workers smaller in 2025 under the ACA than it would have been otherwise,” the CBO concludes in the latest analysis of Obamacare’s impact on the economy. Much of the reason — the CBO puts it at 75 percent — comes from the net increase of effective tax rates on labor, which will incentivize potential workers to stay out of the work force. Democrats claim that this is a feature rather than a bug, as people can choose not to work. However, even with that rose-colored glasses view, it means that the rest of the taxpayers will have to subsidize the health care of those who opt out, whether happily or unhappily.

The depressing impact on job growth is not the only illusion shattered, either. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) published a study on Obamacare’s impact on costs and on reducing the numbers of uninsured — and it fails on both counts. The CBO estimated after the passage of Obamacare that the number of uninsured would drop 19 million by 2014 from a 2010 benchmark. Instead, it has only dropped 12.6 million. As Avik Roy points out at Forbes , the 2010 level of uninsured was artificially high due to the impact of the Great Recession. Using 2008 as a benchmark, the number of uninsured has dropped by only 6.7 million.

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IG report: 300,000 vets died while waiting for health care at VA


file photo Boyd Loving

Published September 03, 2015

WASHINGTON –  More than 300,000 American military veterans likely died while waiting for health care — and nearly twice as many are still waiting — according to a new Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general report.

The IG report says “serious” problems with enrollment data are making it impossible to determine exactly how many veterans are actively seeking health care from the VA, and how many were. For example, “data limitations” prevent investigators from determining how many now-deceased veterans applied for health care benefits or when.

But the findings would appear to confirm reports that first surfaced last year that many veterans died while awaiting care, as their applications got stuck in a system that the VA has struggled to overhaul. Some applications, the IG report says, go back nearly two decades.

The report addresses serious issues with the record-keeping itself.

More than half the applications listed as pending as of last year do not have application dates, and investigators “could not reliably determine how many records were associated with actual applications for enrollment” in VA health care, the report said.

The report also says VA workers incorrectly marked thousands of unprocessed health-care applications as completed and may have deleted 10,000 or more electronic “transactions” over the past five years.

Linda Halliday, the VA’s acting inspector general, said the agency’s Health Eligibility Center “has not effectively managed its business processes to ensure the consistent creation and maintenance of essential data” and recommended a multi-year plan to improve accuracy and usefulness of agency records.

Halliday’s report came in response to a whistleblower who said more than 200,000 veterans with pending applications for VA health care were likely deceased.

The inspector general’s report substantiated that claim and others, but said there was no way to tell for sure when or why the person died. Similarly, deficiencies in the VA’s information security — including a lack of audit trails and system backups — limited investigators’ ability to review some issues fully and rule out data manipulation, Halliday said.

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For next president, a way out of the health care fights?


APRIL 19, 2015, 10:36 AM    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2015, 10:36 AM

WASHINGTON — Republican or Democrat, the next president will have the chance to remake the nation’s health care overhaul without fighting Congress.

The law signed by President Barack Obama includes a waiver that, starting in 2017, would let states take federal dollars now invested in the overhaul and use them to redesign their own health care systems.

States could not repeal some things, such as the requirement that insurance companies cover people with health problems. But they could replace the law’s unpopular mandate that virtually everyone in the country has health insurance, provided the alternative worked reasonably well.

A Democrat in the White House probably would use the waiver to build bridges to Republican governors and state legislators opposed to the law. The “state innovation” provision, Section 1332 of the nearly 1,000-page law, has gotten little public attention.

But “you would be hard pressed to find a state that doesn’t know what Section 1332 is,” said Trish Riley, executive director the National Academy for State Health Policy, a nonpartisan forum for state policymakers. “It provides some opportunity for taking the rough edges” off the Affordable Care Act, as the law is known.

For a Republican president, state waivers could be the fallback option to avoid the political cost of dismantling Obama’s law and disrupting or jeopardizing coverage for millions of newly insured people, not to mention the upheaval for insurers, hospitals and doctors.

“If you were a Republican on record as opposing or wanting to repeal the ACA, but really felt deep down that you couldn’t accomplish that even as president, then you could say your second preference would be to use this provision to go down a completely different road,” said Stuart Butler, a health policy expert at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution.

Butler, who was with the conservative Heritage Foundation for 35 years, has long been a voice for Republican thinking on health care policy. “The short answer is, this presents a tremendous opportunity for either party,” he said.

The state waiver was the idea of Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who has a record of crossing party lines in search of ways to tackle health care costs and coverage.

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In Hospitals, Board Rooms Are as Important as Operating Rooms



In Hospitals, Board Rooms Are as Important as Operating Rooms

If you or a loved one is having a heart attack, your most pressing concerns probably include how quickly you can get to the hospital and the quality of care you’ll receive. You’re probably not thinking about the hospital’s board room, even though quality of care for heart attacks and many other conditions may be determined in large part by decisions made there.

Several studies show that hospital boards can improve quality and can make decisions associated with reduced mortality rates. But not all boards do so.

”Most board members are community leaders, serving on the board to support fund-raising goals,” said Ashish Jha, a Harvard physician. “They don’t think it’s their job to hold management accountable for performance. Board members often feel like clinical quality is physicians’ jobs, and they don’t want to step on doctors’ toes.”

The trouble with this perspective is that boards, and other hospital management, can influence care in ways that individual physicians cannot. They can promote protocols that ensure that crucial information is conveyed to the right people at the right time. They can establish systems so that equipment and supplies are available when needed. They can set expectations for a culture of high performance, not just from individuals but from teams of them that must work together. And they can require quality to be monitored against goals with incentives to push it toward those targets.

”I’m a much better doctor in a well-managed hospital where the systems are in place to help me do my best work,” Dr. Jha said. “Even a great chef can’t produce a good omelet with eggs that are stored in the freezer or the stove doesn’t work reliably.”

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OK Missed the Deadline Where You Can Buy Health Insurance After Today


OK Missed the Deadline Where You Can Buy Health Insurance After Today
Amy Payne
March 31, 2014 at 6:30 am

UPDATE (April 2): We wrote on March 31 (below) that Americans would still be able to buy health insurance in the individual market—outside Obamacare’s exchanges—after the Obamacare deadline. The Associated Press reported the same thing on April 1:

Buyers can always go directly to an insurance company, but it may be expensive. Plans bought outside the marketplaces don’t come with government subsidies that hold down the cost for people with low or mid-level incomes. But they do include the law’s consumer protections. For example, insurers can’t turn down customers because of pre-existing medical conditions.

Even after the deadline, buying a plan that meets the law’s essential coverage standard reduces the penalty owed, which is based on the number of months without coverage.

When the law was passed, Obamacare indicated that insurance companies offering coverage in the individual market would have the leeway to determine their own enrollment periods, if desired. But now that the open enrollment period has closed for the Obamacare exchanges, it appears that in most states, so has enrollment in the individual market.

Our staff visited, where individual policies are usually available, testing one ZIP code for every state. For all but two states, we received this message: “Now that the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) has ended, you’ll need to experience a qualifying life event to enroll in a qualified health insurance plan.” (Qualifying life events include marriage, loss of a job, and the birth of a child, for example.)

In these early days of April, Oregon and Nevada were the two states where policies were still available for purchase. We know that the Oregon Obamacare exchange extended its signup deadline to April 30 because of its own website woes.

It makes sense for insurers to follow the same enrollment period as Obamacare, because one of the law’s mandates is that insurers must issue a policy to anyone at any time, regardless of pre-existing conditions. Observing a set enrollment period makes it more difficult for people to wait until they are sick to buy coverage.

Note: People who are eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can apply for those programs year-round.

The original post follows.


Today is kinda-sorta the deadline to sign up for Obamacare, though if you want to say you’re “in line” for coverage, the administration is okay with that. (If your state is running its own Obamacare exchange, it may be keeping its deadline firm, so check with your state.)

When we wrote about the Obamacare deadline and penalty recently, a reader brought up a great question: Can you still buy health insurance after March 31?

She asked, “If I chose to go uninsured, but end up with a massive medical issue,” could she “just buy insurance and be covered, you know, since they must cover pre-existing conditions”?

The answer is yes. If you don’t have Obamacare-compliant health insurance by today, you could pay the penalty for this year—depending on the amount of flexibility the administration decides to offer in its latest delay—or you could still purchase a policy anytime in the individual market outside the Obamacare exchanges. The amount of time you go without coverage determines your penalty—or as the IRS calls it, your “shared responsibility payment.”

Under Obamacare, the new pre-existing conditions rule means that you can wait until you develop a health problem to get your policy. This isn’t great for the system, because healthy people’s premiums are needed to pay for the sick people. So if fewer healthy people buy health insurance, the system has a problem.

That’s why the Obamacare system has a mandate forcing everyone to buy insurance, a (somewhat) set enrollment period, and a financial penalty to back it up.

If you don’t already have employer-sponsored insurance or coverage through a government health program, your options are the Obamacare exchange or the individual marketplace. Policies in both have to comply with all of Obamacare’s rules and benefit mandates, so the big difference is the taxpayer-funded subsidies.

The subsidies are supposed to be the big draw of the Obamacare exchanges—but it turns out they aren’t as simple as they seem. And holding onto a subsidy can encourage people to stay stagnant in a job—or worse, not seek employment. As Heritage experts have explained and the Congressional Budget Office has confirmed, “The law gives millions of Americans new incentives not to work—or not to raise their income levels—because they may lose federal insurance subsidies.”

Today’s deadline marks the end of the open enrollment period to buy subsidized coverage in the exchange. Enrollment for subsidized coverage doesn’t officially start again until November 15 of this year.

As we’ve noted, however, there are now quite a few ways you can qualify for an exemption from the individual mandate, in addition to the new box you can supposedly check on to indicate that you need more time to sign up.

Whether it’s your state or the federal government running your nearest Obamacare exchange,the goal remains the same. Heritage experts Robert Moffit and Ed Haislmaier described the transition from the old individual market to “private coverage in name only”:

The primary goal of the Obamacare exchanges is to establish federal control over state health insurance markets by enforcing new federal insurance rules and requiring federal standardization of health benefits.

And policies in the remaining individual market must, by law, look exactly the same. You can buy them anytime, but the benefit design isn’t likely to be much different. (Just watch how long you go without coverage, or the penalty for being uninsured will kick in.) Obamacare doesn’t improve on the old health insurance market—which is why we need patient-centered reformsthat give people more choice.

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Obamacare Architect: ‘You Don’t Need a Doctor for Every Part of Your Health Care’


Obamacare Architect: ‘You Don’t Need a Doctor for Every Part of Your Health Care’

March 5, 2014 – 6:54 AM
By Susan Jones

A medical assistant takes a patient’s blood pressure as her husband and baby look on at the Country Doctor Community Clinic in Seattle. (AP File Photo)

( – Under the Affordable Care Act, the Health and Human Services Department is spending billions of dollars to expand community health clinics, which are mainly staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

“It’s going to be one part of a complex part of the health care system,” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of Obamacare, told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly Tuesday night. “So if your kid has a sore throat and you want to find out if it’s strep throat, or your kid has what appears to be an ear infection and you want to find out if it’s otitis media — you really don’t need to go to the pediatrician. You can go to these clinics.”

– See more at: