Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Last Call For Welcome To Bevinstan, Con't

Well it's good to see that the Lexington Herald-Leader has finally caught up to where this blog was two weeks ago on noting that Kentucky counties that gained the most from Medicaid expansion overwhelmingly voted for Bevin to cut their own health care.

The 66 percent of Owsley County that gets health coverage through Medicaid now must reconcile itself with the 70 percent that voted for Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin, who pledged to cut the state's Medicaid program and close the state-run Kynect health insurance exchange. 
Lisa Botner, 36, belongs to both camps. A Kynector — a state agent representing Kynect in the field — recently helped Botner sign up for a Wellcare Medicaid card for herself and her 7-year-old son. Without that, Botner said, she couldn't afford the regular doctor's visits and blood tests needed to keep her hyperthyroidism in check. 
"If anything changed with our insurance to make it more expensive for us, that would be a big problem," Botner, a community college student, said Friday at the Owsley County Public Library, where she works. "Just with the blood tests, you're talking maybe $1,000 a year without insurance." 
Yet two weeks earlier, despite his much-discussed plans to repeal Kynect and toughen eligibility requirements for Medicaid, she voted for Bevin. 
"I'm just a die-hard Republican," she said. 

Maybe I've been overthinking this.  Maybe rural Kentuckians are just goddamn stupid after all. Stupid or racist?  We may never know.

Owsley County Judge-Executive Cale Turner, a Democrat, said the election results didn't surprise him. His constituents wanted to express their opposition to Democratic President Barack Obama and what they perceive as "the liberal agenda" on social issues, Turner said. 
"To be honest with you, a lot of folks in Owsley County went to the polls and voted against gay marriage and abortion, and as a result, I'm afraid they voted away their health insurance," Turner said. "Which was their right to do, I guess. But it's sad. Many people here signed up with Kynect, and it's helped them, it's been an absolute blessing."

Oh well.  They'll just blame Obama for that too, I guess.

The trend seemed to hold across the state. At Transylvania University, political scientist Andrea Malji said she has crunched state data and found a "99 percent confidence level" between the counties' Medicaid enrollment levels and their gubernatorial choices. The larger the Medicaid numbers, the more likely they were to back Bevin, she said. The lower the Medicaid numbers, the more likely they were to favor the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Jack Conway. 
So Bevin — who said during the campaign that "the fact that we have one out of four people in this state on Medicaid is unsustainable" — racked up votes in rural, mostly poor counties where far more of the local population than that holds a Medicaid card. This was true even in traditional Democratic Party strongholds, such as Pike and Breathitt counties. 
Malji, who is from Pulaski County, where Bevin captured 72 percent of the vote, said she heard people back home denounce "Obamacare" while thousands rushed to sign up with Kynect. They didn't seem to realize that Kynect, Kentucky's response to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is the same thing as Obamacare, she said. 
"There's either voter disconnect here, where the people weren't thinking about or weren't aware of Bevin's stance on health care, or these counties just have higher levels of social conservatives who thought it was more important to vote on social issues," Malji said.

Hanlon's Razor again: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."  Or perhaps we should call it Bevin's Razor.

It's going to cut deep here.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article45093165.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article45093165.html#storylink=cpy

Syrian Shutdown, Con't

The indispensable Steve M. plays devil's advocate and predicts the Obama administration will ultimately lose on Syrian refugees, much like closing Gitmo has led to numerous attempts by Democrats in Congress to stab Obama in the front, much less the back.

And if this can't be legally blocked by governors, the courts, or a Republican Congress, I'm predicting raw George Wallace-style resistance by the governments of the Southern states especially -- or, perhaps, confrontations involving angry True Patriots with AR-15s. As I've said before, I lived through busing in Boston. I know how ugly this sort of thing can get if at least some of the people holding government power reject the rule of law.

We've been through this sort of thing before in the Obama years. The president wanted to close Guantanamo, send some of the detainees to stateside penal facilities, and conduct trials in New York City. The backlash was fierce, and no one had his back -- and please recall that this was in 2009 and early 2010, when his party had large majorities in Congress. (The mayor of New York, Mike Bloomberg, who'd endorsed Obama in 2008, ultimately stabbed him in the back on this.)

When Obama's opponents have an ideal opportunity to prey on voters' fears, they'll do it, relentlessly. So this is going to be a losing battle for the White House.

I have to say that given the history of Democratic cowardice and Republican hatred, I suspect that a bill to either defund Syrian refugee relocation or giving Congress authority to vote in a moratorium on refugees from Country X will pass with veto-proof margins or as part of must-pass budget legislation and that Democrats will come to the White House and tell the President that the battle is over for this reason:

Yes, there are a lot of red states on that list. But there are also a lot of states that are generally counted as unswervingly Democratic in presidential elections (Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin), plus a couple that are regarded as tossups but were won by Barack Obama twice (Florida, New Hampshire). I know the president won't be on the ballot in 2016, but his first secretary of state probably will be. 

This is going to go like Gitmo.  President Obama will continue to fight for the right thing, but by the time November 2016 rolls around, you won't find a Democrat outside of the few remaining safe blue states who will back him.

Republicans win completely when assisted by Democratic fear and cowardice, and nothing makes that happen faster than America's virulent Islamophobia stoked by the right and enabled on the left. We know how this ends: why didn't Obama keep his promise? He failed us.

And Congress will escape blame once again.  I don't want to admit it, but in the end we're not much different than we were in November 2001. Greg Sargent:

A major new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests these GOP lawmakers and candidates may be reading the mood of the overall public — and GOP voters in particular — with dispiriting accuracy. 
The poll finds that Americans overall agree by 56-41 that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and the American way of life. Meanwhile, Americans are almost perfectly split on the value of immigration: 47 percent say immigrants strengthen the country with hard work and talent, while a depressingly high 46 percent say they are a burden on the U.S. because they take jobs, housing and health care. The CEO of PRRI tells religion writer Sarah Posner that the findings show an “increased xenophobic streak” among the American public overall.

We have learned nothing in 14 years.

Drugged Up And Everywhere To Go

Republicans are realizing Big Pharma charging ridiculous, monopoly-level prices for drugs sold to Republican-voting Seniors is a big, big problem for Republicans, and with an election coming up, suddenly Republicans want to do something about it.

A U.S. House of Representatives investigative panel said it plans to hold a 2016 hearing on skyrocketing drug costs, a move that comes at a time when Valeant Pharmaceuticals International is facing increased scrutiny into its pricing practices.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform said on Monday the panel is conducting a thorough investigation into drug pricing and has reached out to drug companies to gather information.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging launched a new probe into drug pricing at Valeant and Turing, signaling growing bipartisan agreement on the need to review the rising cost of prescription drugs in the United States.

Democratic members have pressed House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, for months to invite Valeant Chief Executive J. Michael Pearson to testify at a hearing over his company's massive price increases of two heart medicines.

The top Democrat on the investigative panel, Elijah Cummings, had previously urged the panel to subpoena Valeant. On Monday, Cummings also sent a letter to Pearson requesting interviews with a handful of Valeant executives who were directly involved in the operations of specialty pharmacy Philidor Rx Services.

According to a letter seen by Reuters, Cummings asked Pearson to make employees Gary Tanner, Bijal Patel and Alison Pritchett available for "transcribed" interviews.

"Troubling new allegations suggest that a group of Valeant employees helped launch Philidor's business in 2013 and have remained involved in its daily operations," Cummings wrote.

Not that I expect too much from Jason Chaffetz, but he's going to have to at least pretend like busting Valeant is something that might happen someday if he wants to keep his job.

We'll see.


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