Where Was I?

ACA Aftershow

April 17, 2014 · Leave a Comment


I made my usual weekly appearance on The Stephanie Miller Show this morning and fielded a lot of questions for which I didn’t have all the information handy. So as promised, here are some explanations and links to help you navigate a few of the issues that came up.

1. My husband and I are married but file taxes separately. Can we get subsidies through the health insurance exchange?

It looks like the answer to that question is no. According to Healthcare.gov, your spouse and you must file a joint tax return in 2014 in order to access the possibility of qualifying for  health insurance premium assistance. H/t to @secondgen on Twitter for the link.

2. I am trying to help my sister in Arkansas qualify for a health insurance subsidy but am having difficulty finding the answers I need. What else can I do?

US News and World Report has a good, comprehensive Arkansas health insurance resource page which includes how to reach the Arkansas Insurance Department Consumer Services Division should you still have difficulty finding what you need through Healthcare.gov.  In fact, USnews.com has a health insurance guide with a drop-down menu for every state.

3. When I retire, I will have a lower income than I do now. I may qualify for a subsidy. What income do I include when estimating how much I am going to make?

The tax link in answer 1 also includes this information. Here it is again. Note the drop-down menu at the bottom has some additional questions and answers.

4.  Are newly available dental benefits under Medi-cal due to the Affordable Care Act?

Nope. It looks like the good news comes as the result of a state Assembly Bill that restores some dental benefits starting May 1, 2014. You can read more about it here (pdf) and here.  The main website for these links is here.

Feel free to contact me either on Twitter  (@jackischechner) or Facebook (/jackischechnertv) should you have any additional questions or concerns. Hope this helps!

→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized

Is That True, Blue?

March 31, 2014 · Leave a Comment

bcbs billboard




I posted the following on my personal FB page about an hour ago. Reposting for wider consumption:

I’ve found that here in CA – as well as in other states – Blue Shield is offering plans through the Affordable Care Act exchanges that have limited networks. For example, the PPO you buy on CoveredCalifornia is not the same as the PPO you buy directly from Blue Shield. This is not supposed to happen. The exchange is supposed to be simply a marketplace where you can comparison shop for plans. It’s not supposed to be a marketplace for substandard plans.

So I sent a note to Blue Shield, and the letter below is what I got back. They’re claiming the on- and off-exchange plans should be the same. Oh really? Then why are they picking and choosing which doctors they include in their on-exchange networks? Every doctor I’ve spoken with has said this is the case. The doctors also tell me that when they are invited to participate – IF they are invited to participate – the reimbursement rates for on-exchange plans are prohibitively low.

The letter also says to check the website for which providers are in or out of network. That’s comical because the website is inaccurate, and people are signing up for plans thinking their doctors are covered and finding out once they get to the office that they aren’t. (In many cases, patients will call and ask their doctors if they are in network, and the doctors themselves don’t even know because the insurance company has been totally unresponsive). My GP says he has contacted Blue Shield several times now asking they either include him in the network or take the information that he is in-network off the site, and they have yet to do anything about it.

See, it benefits Blue Shield to keep the errors because they can draw in more customers with that misinformation. This way the networks appear to be larger than they truly are.

Letter from Blue Shield of California

→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized

Feeding a Need

February 13, 2014 · Leave a Comment


A caller this morning on The Stephanie Miller Show wanted to talk  about the donut hole and Medicaid – explaining (incorrectly) the term referred to the people being stranded by Republican lawmakers refusing to expand health care coverage for the poor. We ran out of time to get into the issues on the air, but her confusion reminded me that people genuinely are baffled by most general health care-related terminology.

So for starters, let’s address Medicare v. Medicaid and that pesky donut hole.

Medicare is the federal government-sponsored health insurance program for people over 65. Some younger people with disabilities and some people with  permanent kidney failure also can get Medicare. But the majority of the time, when we’re talking about people on Medicare, we’re talking about seniors.

Medicare has 4 parts (A, B, C, and D) and the official Medicare website has a very simple explanation of those 4 different parts. It’s worth a read.

Medicaid – without mincing words – is a government-sponsored health insurance program for the poor. Both the federal and state governments fund Medicaid, but the states are in charge of deciding who gets help. Each state is different, and while no state is required to provide Medicaid, all do.

Before we passed health care reform, low-income adults with dependent children and people with certain disabilities were able to get Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act expanded the pool to include all adults making less than 138% of the poverty level – whether or not those adults had dependent kids. Under the law, the federal government would pay for 100% of the cost of expanding Medicaid coverage for the first three years and then at least 90% of the cost after that. But the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that states had the right to choose whether or not they wanted to participate in the Medicaid expansion plan, and if they opted out, they could not lose their current levels of federal funding.

Sadly, many Republican governors and state legislatures decided against expanding Medicaid, leaving many of their neediest residents uninsured and unable to access affordable health care.

The Healthcare.gov website has a good tool for finding out whether or not your state has expanded Medicaid and whether or not you may qualify.

Now to that donut hole thing…

Most Medicare Part D plans (the plans that seniors buy to help them afford prescription drugs) have a significant gap in coverage. It’s called the donut hole, and it’s nothing like the pastry. It’s neither adorable nor delicious.

Again, the official Medicare website is a good resource for more detail, and it’s an easy read. But the gist is that if you have a Medicare prescription drug plan, it gives you a discount until you (or you and your insurance company) spend $2800. Then you pay everything until you reach an out-of-pocket limit of $4550. At that point, aid kicks in again.

I should say the gist was because health care reform is closing the donut hole, and by 2020, it won’t exist anymore. One more thanks to Medicare.gov for this chart showing how the donut hole is shrinking gradually over the next 6 years.

I hope this is helpful. Next week, I’ll be joining Stephanie on Monday morning from 8-9am PT because I’ll be traveling the second half of the week. But for regular health care chat, you can tune in every Thursday morning from 11-12pm EST/8-9am PT or watch online at FreeSpeech.org.

→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized


January 31, 2014 · Leave a Comment

I got a chance to hang out with the old crew and check out the new studio this morning. Here’s a screen grab (courtesy @Fan_From_NJ) from FreeSpeech.org  and the first 10 minutes posted on SoundCloud. Listen here.












→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized

I’m a Helper

August 24, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Now that Current.com has been wiped off the face of the Interwebs for a reason that still remains an utter mystery to me, all my “You’re Not Helping” columns have disappeared.  I, however, still have them and think they should be online and accessible in perpetuity – especially since they bring up some pretty important issues. With that said, here’s a “reprint” of the first:

From 6/5/2012:

I’m not sure how I feel about the term “War on Women,” but I do know that if there is one, we – as women – don’t need to be handing the enemy free ammo. It’s time to call out the women – and sometimes the men fighting alongside them – whose actions set us back. Welcome to “You’re Not Helping,” my contribution to the crusade.

you're not helpingRock the Slut Vote, you’re not helping.

I rock. I vote. But when I hear the word “slut,” I cringe. Why? Because it’s a horrible word, derogatory by definition, and you can’t change the actual meaning of a word by owning it. If the word starts off innocuous and somehow acquires an unfavorable tinge over time, it has potential. The word “liberal” comes to mind. There’s nothing wrong with being liberal or being a liberal, but over the years, the right wing has worked hard to hijack the term, and some liberals have come to prefer calling themselves progressive. Today, bold progressives are determined to take back ownership of the liberal label, and it’s doable because liberal didn’t start out as a slur. In fact, it started out as a good word, taking root from the Latin liberalis “of freedom.”

But slut? Not so much. It’s always been a negative. A dirty woman. A promiscuous woman. A slovenly woman. Declaring you want to own a word that inherently means something unflattering is absurd, ill-informed, and feeds right into the hands of the men you’re aiming to disempower. Branding yourself with an insult starts you at a disadvantage, and considering we already make less money and hold fewer positions of power, the last thing we need is another obstacle to equality – let alone a self-imposed one.

According to an ABC News interview with Susan McMillan Emry who founded “Rock the Slut Vote,”

“The site aims to ‘re-appropriate’ the word ‘slut’ so that Limbaugh and other Republicans cannot use it to ‘bully and silence women,’  Emry said. ‘It’s really about taking the power away from that word more than it is about Rush Limbaugh,’ she said. ‘He gave the word the notoriety but we are trying to take it back.”

Rush and his fellow conservative cronies didn’t make “slut” famous. It’s been used for far too long by many a man aiming to control and demean a woman. And frankly, I find Emry’s little “You Might Be A Slut” quiz offensive. I don’t want the word  “slut” anywhere near the life choices and values I believe in.

Emry can call herself whatever she wants. I’m liberal like that. But if she’s truly committed to getting women more politically engaged and inclined to vote – if she’s really as angry as she claims – then she should channel that rage into owning words and actions that intrinsically celebrate women, not disparage them.

→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized

Leave No Trace

August 21, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Well, that was quick. Would have been nice to get a heads-up so we could have pulled some content before it all disappeared. Oh well. Onward and upward.

Current.com today

Current.com today



Update: Since this means all links to any content once housed on the Current website are now dead links, I’ll work on getting some of my columns and segments uploaded here shortly.

→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized


August 15, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Last Day on set at Current

Behind scenes at Current on last day 

→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized

What’s Cookin’

August 14, 2013 · Leave a Comment

jacki cookingAs many of you know by now, tomorrow – August 15th – is the last day for Current which means the last airing of Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show on this particular channel. Al Jazeera America bought Current in January, and it’s launching all new programming next Tuesday.

I feel so fortunate to have been recruited to join Steph’s show about 18 months ago and even luckier to have been so warmly welcomed into the fold of the Stephanie Miller community.

Of course, I’ll miss the daily broadcast banter, but I’m not really going anywhere. I’ll be as active as ever online, and you are more than welcome to connect with me on here or through Twitter or Facebook.

First up after the show is catching up on sleep. Mom’s coming to visit, and then I’m heading off on a long-overdue vacation. That rounds out August. After Labor Day, I should have a better idea of what’s on tap worth sharing on the work front.

Until then, a huge thank you to everyone who’s been so incredibly kind and supportive during my time w/ Current.

Definitely more to come!

→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized

Come On In

July 1, 2012 · Leave a Comment

jax on tytWell…um…hi!

Time for an update, I suppose.

If you found me here via Current, The Stephanie Miller Show, TYT, Full Court Press, or some other related outlet, you’re probably slightly curious as to what this is and why it lives.

When I left CNN in 2007, I was looking for a way to stay engaged in the online world as I figured out my next steps. I’d bought my name domain years before simply to protect it from being snagged by someone else for whatever ridiculous reason that might have happened. So I set up a blogger account and started writing about whatever felt relevant in the moment. I documented the surprisingly decrepit condition of my new rental apartment and the absurd process of getting it cobbled back together. I covered politics and pop culture developments from the comfort of my living room couch – when I finally found one that fit through the doorway. I declared my desire to work on health care reform, and six months later, I found a way to do it.

Once I joined HCAN, I used the site to help publicize the day-to-day work we did to try to get quality, affordable health care for everyone. Now that I look back through posts from those couple of years, I’m thrilled to have a record of every step of the fight and how we felt about it as it was unfolding.

The site slowed when I left for Spain in April 2010, and once I got back to DC, I continued to take time off to unwind and regroup. I tried to pick up the pace again after moving to Miami in 2011, but something felt different. I didn’t have the same passion for keeping the blog up-to-speed. I moved it over to WordPress with the intention of folding it into something larger, but then I changed my mind.

About 3 months ago, I made a big decision and came out to Los Angeles for the opportunity to work for Current. It’s a role that continues to evolve, but I’ve found a real kindred sprit in Stephanie Miller, and her team has been incredibly generous in making me feel like a true part of the family. As of this week, I have three new jingles. Crazy, right?

Update: I’ve handed off the Bill Press baton and now get to sleep in until about 3:30am. I also do early morning news cut-ins for Full Court Press hosted by Bill Press out of DC. You can catch them at the top of each hour – 3, 4, and 5am PT.

Later in the morning, I’m tasked with bringing you little news nuggets after Stephanie’s show at 9 and 10am PT.

Recently, I’ve been participating in health care reform coverage for TYT on Current, TYT’s live online show, and Michael Shure’s TwenTYTwelve. Getting to continue to champion a cause I feel so strongly about has been a real gift.

And I’ve started a column on Current.com called You’re Not Helping which calls out women – and sometimes men – whose actions are working against our gender’s greater good.

So that’s the scoop in a nutshell. I do have a Facebook page, but it’s always been on the private side, and I’d like to keep it that way for now. I’m less possessive of Twitter, and you are more than welcome to follow and/or communicate with me there through @JackiSchechner. I’m totally open to suggestions, story ideas, general comments, etc.

With all that said, feel free to poke around. The site dates back almost 5 years now. I’ve noticed there are some broken links and missing images which I may get around to fixing someday, but until then, there’s plenty to explore. If you’re so inclined, of course.



→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized

Where I Am

March 28, 2012 · Leave a Comment

current logo I’m on Current doing live political news updates every hour at the top of the hour from 6am to noon ET. That would be 3am to 9am in Los Angeles.

I’m in Los Angeles.

Not sure you get Current? Here’s where it is on some major cable and satellite providers:

  • AT&T Uverse: Channel 189
  • Comcast: Channel 107
  • DirecTV: Channel 358
  • Dish Network: Channel 294
  • Time Warner Cable: Channel 103 (NY), Channel 142 (LA)
  • Verizon FiOS: Channel 192

You can also check by zip code on the Current site. I pop up during Full Court Press with Bill Press and Talking Liberally with Stephanie Miller – both smart, interesting, engaging shows. Come hang out.

→ Leave a CommentCategories: Uncategorized