Tennessee editorial roundup

The Commercial Appeal on mass shootings since Congress allowed the ban on new semi-automatic assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines to expire:

The oldest victim so far was Louise De Kler, 98, one of eight elderly residents killed in the rec room at Pinelake Health and Rehab in Carthage, North Carolina, in 2009.

The youngest was the unborn child of Crystal Holcombe, who was killed Sunday along with three more of her children in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

More than 500 Americans have been killed in 46 mass shootings by a lone gunman (two in a San Bernardino, California, shooting) since Congress allowed the ban on new semi-automatic assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines to expire in 2004.

During the 10-year ban, 94 people were killed in 14 mass shootings (five or more fatalities), including 13 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999.

Forty-six mass shootings in 14 years since the ban expired; 14 in the 10 years during the ban.

In 1996, Australia banned automatic and semi-automatic firearms, and bought back and destroyed more than 600,000 civilian-owned firearms.

There were 13 mass shootings in Australia in the 18 years before the ban. There has been one since. (In 2014, a man shot and killed his wife and three children, then himself.)

"Mental health is your problem here," President Donald Trump said after Sunday’s most recent mass shooting in America. "We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation."

Draw your own conclusions as you read this tragic timeline of mass shootings in America:

26 people at a Sunday church service in South Texas. Semi-automatic assault-style rifle. 11-5-17.

58 people at a music festival in Las Vegas. 23 firearms, including two modified fully automatic assault-style rifles. 10-1-17.

5 people at an awning company office in Orlando, Florida. Semi-automatic handgun. 5-5-17.

5 people at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Semi-automatic handgun. 1-6-17.

5 police officers in Dallas. Semi-automatic assault-style rifle, semi-automatic handgun. 7-7-16.

49 people at a nightclub in Orlando. Semi-automatic assault-style rifle, semi-automatic handgun with high-capacity magazines. 6-12-16.

14 people at a Christmas party in San Bernadino, California. Two semi-automatic assault-style rifles, two semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines. 12-2-15.

5 military service members at a recruitment center in Chattanooga. Two assault-style rifles (AK-47, AR-15). 7-16-15.

12 people at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Sawed-off shotgun, handgun. 9-16-13.

6 people in Santa Monica, California. Semi-automatic assault-style rifle with 40 high-capacity magazines. 6-7-13.

WASHINGTON (April 17, 2013) — A wrenching national search for solutions to the violence that left 20 children dead in Newtown, Connecticut, all but ended yesterday as the Senate defeated several measures to expand gun control.

27 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Two semi-automatic handguns, semi-automatic assault-style rifle, semi-automatic shotgun. 12-14-12.

12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Two semi-automatic handguns, semi-automatic assault-style rifle, shotgun. 7-20-12.

14 people at a center for immigrants in Binghamton, New York. Two semi-automatic handguns. 4-3-09.

WASHINGTON (June 27, 2008) — The Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on handgun possession yesterday and decided for the first time in the nation’s history that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own a gun for self-defense.

5 people in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University. Three semi-automatic handguns, shotgun. 2-14-08.

WASHINGTON (Sept. 12, 2004) — The expiration of the 10-year-old ban on 19 types of assault weapons yesterday drove up business at some gun stores and set off sparks in the political world.

Halloween is over for 2017. The really scary season starts today for many Americans seeking health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment for health exchanges lasts from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. Let the confusion begin.

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of government data for 2018 Marketplace plans indicates premiums are rising significantly in many counties across the country, in part due to the decision of the Trump Administration to cease payments to insurers for cost-sharing reductions.

However, The Associated Press reported that in an odd twist, low-income people in about half of U.S. counties will now be able to get a taxpayer-subsidized "Obamacare" policy for free, as the new study suggests some actions by the administration against the health law could backfire.

The study found that in 1,540 counties a hypothetical 40-year-old making $25,000 a year can get a basic "bronze" plan under the ACA next year for zero monthly premium. It’s partly as a result of administration actions that raised the underlying cost of insurance, leading to higher federal spending for premium subsidies.

The final number of counties with available free plans is certain to be higher because the Kaiser study only examined the 39 states using the federal HealthCare.gov website for sign-ups. In those states, nearly 60 percent of counties will have free bronze plans. People will have to shop around to find the plan best for them.

This year consumers in some areas had access to zero-premium bronze plans, but for 2018 it will be many more people. Bronze plans are not for everybody, since they typically have annual deductibles of $6,000 or more, the AP reported. But they may appeal to younger people or those who expect to have just a few doctor visits over a year.

Separately, the government also released official numbers Monday. The Health and Human Services department said sticker-price premiums are going up 37 percent for a hypothetical young adult buying a type of midrange "silver" plan.

Congress is stuck in inertia on health care reform while the government is shutting off government subsidies to insurers providing lower copays and deductibles to people with modest incomes.

"When the 18 million Americans in the individual insurance market — those are Americans, shop keepers, songwriters, farmers — men and women who don’t get health insurance from the government or on the job — when they begin enrolling on Wednesday, they’ll discover something very strange. Some of these 18 million Americans will be able to get their insurance for free — they will pay absolutely nothing for their premium. But others, others will see their premiums skyrocket far beyond the increases they’ve seen in recent years. . Some people still worry that continuing the cost-sharing payments is the same thing as propping up Obamacare, those are the words we hear, or bailing out insurance companies. In fact, just the reverse is true."

Alexander asked what is causing this strange phenomenon. He pointed the finger at Congress for not funding cost sharing reduction subsidies, or "CSR," for the 2018 plan year.

Alexander put it in plain language: Failure to continue the cost sharing subsidies is going to hurt taxpayers and it’s going to hurt unsubsidized Americans who have no subsidy to help buy their insurance.

It’s up to Congress to act. Nobody’s going to bail them out of accepting their responsibilities — especially not voters.

The (Nashville) Tennessean reported last week the Mountain Home facility has received four out of five stars in the department’s latest quality ranking of the system’s 150 hospitals.

Administrators at those hospitals say they have made improvements in recent months, but the rankings show their work is far from over. Our advice to them is to sit down with officials at Mountain Home to learn what they are doing right in providing care to veterans.

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