Archive for March, 2015

As Easter approaches… Can Insure Tennessee rise from the legislative grave?

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Senate Health Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, tried to explain why he first said he would vote yes, days later voted no on Insure Tennessee earlier in the session then more recently voted yes:

In an article on Humphrey on the Hill, Crowe said amendments made to the pilot program were key in his decision to change his vote. The amendments include a “lockout provision” for enrollees who fail to pay premiums. An additional provision asks Governor Haslam to wait to put the plan into effect after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on health insurance exchanges is announced.

Some speculation is that Mr. Crowe is merely a puppet of Ron Ramsey, doing his bidding, in initially killing Insure Tennessee. The backwoods boys have repeatedly shown a deep hatred of ObamaCare and vote consistently against the welfare of Tennesseans.

This week, the legislation will go to Senate Finance and on to similar committees in the House. Many see Crowe’s explanation as unbelievable.

Recently a half page article appeared in several area newspapers calling Rusty Crowe and Ron Ramsey out on their failure to move Insure Tennessee forward. Days after the ads are carried in papers, it is reported calls flooded several offices as the ad requested the public to do. Rusty Crowe then votes “yes”, of course, the following ad had nothing to do with his change of heart… SURE

The ad is as follows:

USE OF THIS SPACE IS PAID FOR BY AN INFORMED AND CONCERNED BIPARTISAN GROUP OF CITIZENS FROM CARTER, JOHNSON, SULLIVAN, UNICOI, AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES DISGUSTED BY THE BETRAYAL OF OUR INTERESTS

REPRESENTED BY THE FEB. 4, 2015, VOTE TO KILL GOVERNOR HASLAM’S INSURE TENNESSEE MEDICAID EXPANSION BILL. WE SAY,

NOT IN OUR NAMES.

THE PROBLEM

In crafting the Affordable Care Act, Congress and hospital associations created a provision to deal with uncompensated care. Medicaid expansion to 138% of poverty would cover the low-income uninsured whose basic needs emergency rooms are required to meet. In exchange, hospitals would forgo federal reimbursement for uninsured care. The government would pay 100% Medicaid expansion cost for three years and 90% thereafter. In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the ACA as constitutional, but allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion provision. However, in 2014, hospitals would lose federal reimbursement regardless of their state legislature’s choice. Our legisla-ture has rejected Medicaid expansion, leaving our hospitals and 280,000 low income workers stranded, the lifeline dangling just out of reach. Our hospitals lost hundreds of millions of dollars last year and stand to lose billions. Tennessee’s economy lost as well. Some rural hospitals have already closed, and all are at varying degrees of risk. Partici-pating states will receive our lost billions.

HEROES AND A SOLUTION
In 2013, Governor Bill Haslam, his staff, and hospital professionals began crafting Insure Tennessee, an alternative to Medicaid expansion which would 1) satisfy the federal requirements, 2) cover 280,000 uninsured low-income workers, 3) meet our hospitals’ financial needs, and 4) address issues raised by political conservatives. Polling revealed popular, bipartisan approval at 62%. Insure Tennessee gained official federal approval in 2014. Low-income workers could have personal and less costly routine care. Hospi-tals would be relieved of a debilitating financial burden—three goals met with a professionalism to make us proud.

A REPREHENSIBLE RESULT

Insure Tennessee failed in an ad hoc committee, chaired by Sen. Rusty Crowe, after insultingly brief discussion. A mere seven senators, all chosen by Sen. Ramsey for that purpose, killed it. Public comment and full assembly vote were denied. All Tennesseans, Republican and Democrat, lost.

WE DEMAND A DO-OVER

East Tennessee counties sent Ron Ramsey and Rusty Crowe to Nashville to represent our interests. It’s the widely popular Governor, a fellow Republican, whom these two have chosen to insult and hinder. It is the hospitals in their own districts they have chosen to cripple. Mr. Ramsey manipulated this travesty. He reconfigured the standing Health and Welfare Committee temporarily for his purposes. It is widely understood that he removed not only the bill’s sponsor, but three members who are medical profes-sionals, replacing them with six whose “NO” votes were assured. Mr. Ramsey left Mr. Crowe as chairman and a reliable “NO” vote, despite the fact that Mr. Crowe had as-sured hospital leadership in his district of his support. Mr. Crowe and Mr. Ramsey need to hear from us.

OUR MESSAGE TO SEN. CROWE (PHONE: 615-741-2468)

1. The Governor is owed an apology for the rude and cavalier treatment of his accomplishment.

2. You betrayed your district’s medical community, its premier economic mover, and 280,000 working people.

3. Your loyalty belongs to us, not to Mr. Ramsey and out-of-state big money handlers.

4. Stand on your own two legs, re-open hearings with the original Health and Welfare Committee members, and join the Governor in doing the most economically wise and morally decent thing.

OUR MESSAGE TO SEN. RAMSEY (PHONE: 615-741-4524)

1. You are not Governor. We soundly rejected you, remember?

2. Your reputation as a bully follows you. No amount of language, no matter how carefully crafted, disguises what you’ve done. Actions always speak the loudest.

3. You could consider that you’re being used by those powerful out-of-state conglomerates and super PACs who certainly seem to guide your every move. If you can’t detect the boot on your own neck, the rest of us can. It doesn’t build a legacy.

4. If your justification for accepting support from the out-of-state conglomerates and super PACs is that you and they agree ideologically or in principle, does that include the crippling of our state’s hospitals?

5. Neither Democrats, President Barack Obama, Governor Haslam, the out-of-state conglomerates and super PACs, nor the seven “NO”-voters (whether true believers or simply cowards) are responsible for the failure of Insure Tennessee. You are.

6. When hospitals in rural counties fail, as they will, it will have been by your doing. When our local hospitals have to cut staff and services, it will have been by your doing.

When overworked doctors and support staff make mistakes, you’ll have created the conditions for those mistakes.

7. The legislators we elect deserve the right to show us their own brand of leadership, and sense of what’s right, without fear of retaliation.

NASHVILLE IS A HARD CASE, BUT IT’S NOT HOPELESS. IF YOU AGREE, CALL AND SAY SO.

Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) has been instrumental in bringing Insure Tennessee back from the Ramsey dug grave. Yarbro is a prime sponsor of SJR 93, along with Republican Senators Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) and Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville). Ramsey insists the bill (Insure Tennessee) will not survive. As Easter approaches, could Insure Tennessee rise from the legislative grave?

47 Republican “TRAITORS” Senators

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

The following is an excerpt for the editorial on the 47 Senators who sent a letter to Iran, undermining US efforts to forge a nuclear treaty with Iran:

“They are an embarrassment to the Senate and to the nation.

How the executive and legislative branches come to terms in the event that Obama presents his version of a done deal to America will be of grave national and international concern. There will be no place for juvenilia, and there should not have been at this expectant juncture.

Rather than offer objections domestically in robust debate, as is their obligation, ringleader Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and his band trespassed on presidential turf by patronizing Iran’s leaders with the suggestion “that you may not fully understand our constitutional system.”

The plain intent was to sabotage Obama by pushing the Iranians into balking at a deal out of fear that a turn of the U.S. political wheel could doom the pact in the not-so-distant future.”

The Most Important Legislation in Tennessee?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

1353206437-lgNashville – Guns! Guns! Guns! — Guns continue to dominate the agenda of the Tennessee Legislation. 27 gun bills top of the legislation agenda. How can so many gun bills be warranted? The TNGOP continues to pander to the NRA lobby who owns them! So many important issues remain unanswered in regards to guns – permit fees, where you can carry them, what kinds you can own, etc. — will dominate discussion at the General Assembly this week. There does not seem to be much room for other real issues that affect hard working Tennesseans. But there are few measures that could get some attention if they come up in committee.

Once again, it’s gun week at the General Assembly. The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to take up 27 bills related to handgun permits, exploding ammunition and a vast array of Tennessee gun laws. The House Civil Justice Subcommittee is set to debate 22 gun bills. Most of the bills ease restrictions on where and when people can have guns.

Several proposals, most related dismantling the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare” are set for discussion this week. One bill calls on the attorney general to sue the federal government on behalf of those people who face possible fines through the Affordable Care Act for not having insurance. The same committee will hear the bill that would prevent the state from setting up a health exchange under the law.

One bill, from Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, calls for cameras to be worn by police. The bill could face some hurdles — there are no GOP sponsors.

Someone texting while driving faces a maximum fine of $50. Someone caught driving without a seat belt faces a $10 ticket for the first offense and a $20 ticket for each additional offense. The fines for both offenses will jump to $250 if a new bill becomes law.

One bill will ban the use of such cameras used to give traffic tickets.

There are no bills scheduled to discuss job creation, improve education, increase the minimum wage or address the important issues facing hard working Tennessee families. But who needs a job when you can have a gun?