Archive for the 'Maryland' Category

Maryland’s single payer bill, HB 1125

Delegates Working on Health Care Issues in Maryland

Del. Montgomery is once again setting a high standard for health care legislation in Maryland, reintroducing her bill: (HB 1125) to guarantee health care for all Maryland residents through a “Single Payer” approach.

Under the proposed “Single Payer” system, patients would seek health care from doctors, hospitals, etc. and the State of Maryland would finance the care from general revenues. Del. Manno, Del. Hucker and Del. Mizuer joined several other Maryland legislators cosponsoring this bill. The complete list of HB 1125 sponsors–so far–includes the following Delegates: Montgomery, Manno, Hucker, Ali, Anderson, Barkley, Benson, Bobo, Carr, V. Clagett, Conaway, Doory, Frush, Gutierrez, Hixson, Hubbard, Kaiser, Lee, McIntosh, Nathan-Pulliam, Niemann, Oaks, Pena-Melnyk, Reznick, Rice, Riley, Rosenberg, Taylor, V. Turner, Valderrama, and Waldstreicher.

We need to make sure that whatever passes on the federal level does not prohibit states from doing their own single payer plans

Attn: Maryland, mortgage late? you have options

Home Owners Preserving Equity

If you are having trouble with your mortgage and are worried about losing your home, do not panic. And don’t sign anything you don’t understand. While not everyone will be able to save their home, help is available and there may be a solution to your situation — your home and your family’s financial future are both at stake.

Falling behind on your mortgage or confronting an interest rate reset need not mean you will lose your home. A network of counselors is being strengthened to help Maryland homeowners contact their lenders and servicers and explore other options. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has new programs that will help some homeowners refinance into an affordable mortgage or catch up on missed payments while negotiating a better outcome than foreclosure. The Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation is investigating cases of fraud and foreclosure prevention scams.

Take charge of your circumstances, explore all your options and, most importantly, don’t wait!

How the Washington Post misuses statistics

Bob Somerby

A minor oddity: For the record, there is a minor oddity in the way the Post has presented its data. We don’t know why the Post chose to present the data this way. But this minor oddity tends to shrink the size of the achievement gap we’re hoping to eliminate. And it tends to disguise the groaning problem with Glod’s basic type of analysis.

What is that minor oddity? The Post could have made a direct comparison between low-income kids in Montgomery County and kids of higher incomes. (“Those from middle-class and affluent backgrounds,” to use Glod’s language.) After all, the question we’re asking is fairly simple: Are low-income kids catching up to kids from more affluent backgrounds? But that’s not what the Post chose to do in the data found in its graphic. Instead, the Post compares the passing rates for low-income kids to the passing rates for all Montgomery County students. In that latter measure, the lower passing rate of the low-income kids drags down the overall passing rate–thus obscuring the size of the gap between low-income kids and kids of higher incomes.

Here’s the problem which is caused by with this minor oddity:

For 2008, the Post’s graphic seems to show that roughly 80 percent of Montgomery’s low-income kids passed the state reading test. (That’s a huge jump from 2003, when roughly 40 percent passed.) Since the graphic says that the gap in passing rate was 14 percent, that would mean that roughly 94 percent of all county kids passed the test in 2008. But uh-oh! The low-income kids are included in that latter statistic; this means that, on their own, the higher-income kids must have had an extremely high passing rate. Their passing rate must have approached (or equaled) 100 percent. And that’s where the problem is lurking.

Edit –
Somerby received the following email from a statistician

E-MAIL (10/6/08):Great job pointing out the flaws in the Post article. As a statistician, I cringe whenever I read articles like that. I have a few additional comments:

  1. I think you were a bit kind in your description of their comparison of ‘economically disadvantaged’ kids with ‘all students’ as “a minor oddity”. That is a huge error. No competent statistician would make such a mistake. It completely distorts the picture. In some counties there is a higher percentage of poor students than in other counties. If the percentage is high, then the ‘all students’ curve will necessarily be pulled closer to the ‘economically disadvantaged’ curve than in other counties. So the amount of distortion varies by county.
  2. I’m glad you mentioned the ceiling effect. Clearly, most upper income folks were passing the test. When you have a binary measure of success (pass/fail), you have a very limited story you can tell. If you define achievement as ‘passing the test’, then there are a lot of ways to narrow the ‘achievement gap’. As you implied, if you make the test easy enough (where everyone can pass) there will be no achievement gap at all!
  3. Achievement is probably the wrong word. I think tests like this are aimed at determining if children have obtained grade-level competence. The gap that exists in the percentages of kids that achieve this minimal level of competence might be closing (or the test got easier; or…), but that’s a much weaker claim than was made by the authors.
  • There are ways to close achievement gaps that are not necessarily good. For example, schools could decide to use all of their resources on kids who are not meeting minimal standards, and ignore kids who are. Certainly achievement gaps could be narrowed, but at the expense of kids who started out ahead. There are two issues here. One is narrowing gaps that occur between birth and 5 years of age. Schools don’t have much influence on that, but it should be an area of public policy focus. The other is making sure all children progress in school at a reasonable rate. If low income students are improving at a slower rate than upper income kids, that is a gap the schools should be concerned about.
  • Darlene H. ‘Dar’ Nicholas for Congress

    The blog endorses Darlene H. ‘Dar’ Nicholas for congress in Maryland’s 5th Congressional District
    Libertarian takes on Hoyer, Beltway establishment

    Her congressional platform centers on abolishing the USA PATRIOT Act because it violates individual freedoms and withdrawing American soldiers from Iraq and other volatile foreign nations. Nicholas would also seek to reduce taxes and do away with the Real ID Act of 2005 that established a national identification card for American citizens.

    Normally I don’t have much use for Libertarian candidates. I saw Nicholas on TV and was very underwhelmed. However, what are we supposed to do? How can anyone support Hoyer given his role in bankruptcy deform, FISA abuse, and now the Wall Street sell out bail out? There has to be some way of communicating to him that his actions are unacceptable. If Nicholas were to even get as much as 20% of the vote it would send a powerful signal to Hoyer that he needs to change.

    Maryland bloggers react to financial scam proposal

    The proposed taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall St. – what can we expect from some local politicians?

    Looks like Cardin has already folded and Steny Hoyer isn’t far behind.

    Sign the Purple Line Petition

    Coalition for Smarter Growth
    Sign the petition for the Inner Purple Line

    The fight for single payer in Maryland

    Study group on single payer health insurance system

    SEVENTH SESSION: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 7:30 PM
    St. John’s United Methodist Church
    St. Paul St. at 27th St., Baltimore

    WHAT: One time study sessions on what a single payer health insurance system could look like in the United States. Each month the topic will be the same and we’ll cover pretty much the same ground.

    THE TOPIC: “Single payer” is a technical sounding term that simply means that only one agency will pay for medical services- this in contrast to the roughly 1500 insurance companies now operating in the US. Private insurance companies would be effectively eliminated from the medical market. The rough model for most single payer advocates in the US is the Canadian system. Another way of simplifying: An expanded and enhanced “Medicare for All.”

    The main national vehicle for single payer is HR 676 whose principal sponsor is Congressman John Conyers of Michigan.

    Maryland voting machines. again.


    Ok, this is a developping situation. Polling places are intermittedly open and closed in Montgomery County, and election judges are refusing to follow the direction of the board of elections. They are not willing to come in to a centralized location with their voting machine memory cards, because the roads are icy and they are tired and underpaid. I don’t know about Prince George’s.

    This is a messed up situation considering the serious problems in 2006. Returns that we know of in Montgomery, which are Donna’s base, are simply hugely advantageous for Donna. The campaign is furious and negotiations are happening. Last cycle there were substantial irregularities in Donna’s base precincts, due to, you guessed it, undertrained and underpaid polling workers. It’s horrible out and people are very cold and tired. Normally in a situation like this police would get the ballots and bring them to the board, but there aren’t enough police because of the bad weather.

    Lawyers are fighting. This is a problem in ‘only a handful of precincts’, but the board of elections won’t tell us which ones. I don’t mean to overdramatize this, it doesn’t look as bad as it was last cycle considering that there really is a good reason for the problems (weather).

    I’m guessing that Donna has probably won the race but we don’t know right now and we may not know until tomorrow morning.

    … The board of elections has alerted a judge about the possibility of a need for court intervention so that sheriffs would be ordered to go to the judges and secure the materials, both the machines and the memory cards. Intuitively, the board is hoping that the threat of this action will get them to cease and desist their ‘rebellion’.

    It’s just silly.

    The time to do something about the voting machines is before election day.

    Vote Trust Maryland

    Picking unecessary fights, smearing Democrats

    Matt Stoller smearing Democrats who endorse Al Wynn

    First of all, I hope Senator Currie listed those letters as in-kind contributions to Al Wynn’s campaign. I also wonder what else those guys said at the press conference that might circumvent election law.

    Wow, Stoller accuses Democrats of violating the law for no reason save that they endorse someone he does not like? Not just saying they’re endorsing the wrong Democrat, but actually accusing them of breaking the law? That is not the sort of accusation you throw around, not even against a Republican.

    This is a Democratic District, so if Edwards wins, she will win the general. However, in a competitive district, this sort of insult would make it very difficult to campaign for Edwards. Netroots still does not understand that a primary is different from a general, those you compete with today will be part of your coalition tomorrow.

    Stoller draws no distinctions between organizations and machines. Political machines are held together with money and intimidation. Organizations are loose associations of political allies. People in Maryland have turned to these leaders for years, you cannot smear them and remain credible, not unless you have something solid to back it up.

    Moreover you have no credibility about calling Democrats to uphold the Democratic brand (a horrible word for a political party) and turn around and smear Democrats for no reason save that you disagree with them concerning a primary.

    In asking Democrats to replace Wynn with Edwards we are asking voters to give up a committee chair in favor in an unknown. In this case, where the committee chair has consistently used that power against his constituents, when the unknown has a solid record of community activism, then the new face is the correct choice. But netroots needs to recognize the choice that they are asking voters to make and make their case. In no case should they toss around unsupported accusations, especially against fellow Democrats. That is not building the party or a movement.

    Shame on Stoller and shame on netroots for rewarding that sort of smear.

    And finally, Yay Edwards, because she really does deserve to win.

    FISA roundup

    Maryland is disappointed with Mikulski. West Virginia agrees with Digby. (The Rockefellers have always been a bit of a loss.) Missouri wants McCaskill to show a little leadership. Sinfonian says that Bill Nelson hates the Constitution.