Category Archives: Culture

Observations on life in America, the environment, politics, and more.

Dropped by the Helping Hand of Obamacare – An Update

I gotta be me, and me is have to be fair.

So I was complaining to my tax consultant about the denial of a subsidy to help with my health care coverage. I had been informed by a heath care advocate I was too poor to qualify. My tax pro interrupted me and said, “This doesn’t sound right. I know the local health care advocate. I’ll call her for you and see what the deal is.”

As it turned out, the deal is (or was, or whatever) that a mistake had been made. I contacted the advocate who apologized for the error and recalculated my eligibility. The Happy Ending is that I now have health care thanks to a healthy subsidy.

Well, maybe it’s not quite such a happy ending for the taxpayers who have to pick up the cost of my subsidy. I still don’t think it’s right for the government to force me to either buy health care or pay a fine. Of course, they don’t call it a fine; they call it a “shared responsibility payment.” But a fine by any other name is still a fine.

My local daily newspaper The Missoulian ran an interesting opinion piece today by George Will. Within the article, Mr. Will asserted that the ACA may be unconstitutional as it violates the Origin Clause. Mmm. It’s worth checking out here.


Dropped by the Helping Hand of Obamacare

Help! I’ve fallen through the cracks and I can’t get up!

Recently I decided I’d better sign up for Obamacare, so I telephoned my local application counselor for help. She suggested I make an appointment with her, but I had some questions first.

I started with, “Is the Website secure?”

I could hear some fancy dancing in the background. “Well, personally I’ve never had a problem.” She continued, “No Website is totally secure.”

True dat, I thought.

She added, “You can’t believe everything you hear in the media.”

True dat, too. So I continued.

“What about income requirements for a subsidy? My wife has Medicare, but I’m not yet old enough for Medicare so I’m the only one who needs health insurance. Right now I don’t have any health insurance at all.”

She said, “To qualify for a subsidy you must have an adjusted gross income above $15,210.”

I responded, “Our adjusted gross income was $4,856 last year. Does this mean I can’t get Obamacare?”

“No, you can still buy health insurance on the Marketplace. You just don’t qualify for a subsidy.”

I paused. “Without a subsidy, what will health insurance cost me per month?”

“Oh, $400-500.”

“You mean I  don’t qualify for any help?”

“Well,” she said, “You could have qualified for Medicaid, except the Montana legislature voted against an expansion of Medicaid last year. Unless they vote to expand Medicaid, I’m afraid nothing can be done.”

This brought up my last question: “I can’t afford $400-500 per month. Does this mean I’ll have to pay the fine?”

“Oh, no, sir; you won’t have to pay the fine. You’re eligible for a Hardship Exemption.”

I’m feeling a little dizzy. I think I’ll go the Emergency Room.

Numbed Down

Aaron Alexis of Texas was a whack job. That’s all I can conclude, although as of today law enforcement officials still have no inkling as to why Alexis sprayed bullets into a crowd of innocent people at the Washington Navy Yard in our nation’s capitol yesterday. Before police took him out, Alexis had killed 12 people and wounded three.

When I read the article yesterday in my local newspaper I thought, Yet another mass shooting. Ho-hum. But then I caught myself. Ho-hum? HO-HUM??? Where was my outrage? Where was my indignation? Where was my fury? Have I now heard of so many mass shootings that I have become heartless? Insensitive? Even numb?

And where was God? Could He not have prevented this? Could He not have prevented Newtown? And if He could have prevented these things, why didn’t He?

It’s these last four questions indie film maker Albert Salaz Jr. of Diego Productions considers in his latest film short Moretti, which competed last week at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival. I was privileged to screen a prerelease version of Moretti just a few days ago.

Moretti is powerful. Moretti is thought-provoking. Moretti is outrageous. And if you’re sensitive to the F-bomb being dropped a couple of times, you’ll want to plug your ears when the bombs fall from the sky. But to me, the assault on my sensitivities was worth it. The trailer is available online (minus the F-bombs).

A fifth question occurred me as the full film concluded. If you decide to view the full version of Moretti when it’s pubically available, this question may also occur to you –

How far does the grace of God extend?

Americans Don’t Like to Think

Is my title true or false? Think about it!

And think about YOU, especially when it comes to films and/or reading (you DO read, don’t you? Not just on the Internet, but I mean really READ. As in BOOKS.).

Truth is, thinking is hard work and that’s why most of us would rather be entertained than think. Even it we’re readers, most of us would rather read pulp fiction than literature. And we’d rather (especially if we’re male) watch the car chase in the film The Shooter than unravel, for example, the complexities of films like The Kings Speech.

I think of myself as a thinker. Therefore I don’t want people to TELL me what to think; I want to THINK what I think! So I like films that make me think; that’s why I’m a big fan of independent films, or “indie” films as some call them. In consideration of all of the above, that’s why I loved the indie film I just screened called, Leave My Flowers Alone produced, written and directed by Albert Salaz Jr.

In just under 16 minutes, Leave My Flowers Alone interweaves multiple themes and delivers an ending with a punch: an ending that not only entertains, but leaves you thinking, “What if?”

If you’ve ever struggled to overcome things things in your past, this film is for you.

If you have secrets in your past and wonder whether or not to reveal them, this film is for you.

If you’re a man and get frustrated and take it personally when you can’t “fix” things (or people) this film is for you.

Check out the trailer. And let me know what you THINK!