Skip to main content


Reposted from JoanMar by 2thanks

    Daily Kos' own ObamaCare guru, Brainwrap, has recently highlighted the story of Luis Lang in a number of posts here, here, here, and here, and on his own website. The story is particularly interesting and noteworthy because Luis Lang is losing his sight but gaining some valuable insight. This is Mr. Lang:



healthcare58



     On Wednesday, the Washington Post explained about Luis Lang to everyone who doesn't have an internet:

Lang’s story has gone wild on the internet, turning him into a symbol of a number of intertwined narratives about the law: How Republican opposition to the Medicaid expansion has created a coverage gap claiming many low income people; how justifiable confusion about the complicated law is fueling anger at it; and so on.



It all started when the Charlotte Observer reported that Lang, 49, a self-employed Republican handyman who has never bought insurance, developed “bleeding in his eyes and a partly detached retina caused by diabetes.” The paper reported that subsequent medical bills quickly ate up his savings, whereupon he turned to the Obamacare exchange. He discovered he earns too little to get a subsidy, yet he might not be able to get on Medicaid because South Carolina has not opted into the Medicaid expansion. He risks falling into the “Medicaid gap.”

The paper reported that his family blamed this on Obamacare, prompting criticism from bloggers and others, combined with a crowd-funding drive for his surgery. In a subsequent interview with Think Progress, Lang said he now thinks opposition to the Medicaid expansion is the culprit, is rethinking his GOP affiliation, and is going to try to get coverage from the law, though he still says he has issues with its implementation and blames both parties:

“Now that I’m looking at what each party represents, my wife and I are both saying — hey, we’re not Republicans!” Lang said….

“I put the blame on everyone — Republican and Democrat. But I do mainly blame Republicans for their pigheadedness,” Lang said. “They’re blocking policies that could help everyone. I’m in the situation I’m in because they chose not to expand Medicaid for political reasons. And I know I’m not the only one.”….

    He's right that he's not the only one. In fact, there are approximately 250,000 South Carolinians in the "Medicaid Gap." We at Support the Dream Defenders knew this was going to be a problem, so, back in April, we sent a Freedom of Information Act request to Governor Nikki Haley asking her: What are you doing to find out the extent of the damages you are causing? This was her response:



healthcare57



     As you can see, Governor Nikki Haley has pockets empty of fucks to give about Luis Lang or the other 249,999 or so individuals in South Carolina who are one chicken bone or one drunk driver away from personal bankruptcy (or spending the next 20 to 40 years of their lives going to court to explain to the judge why payments for the hospital's bill couldn't be made that month).

     Besides our surprising new ally, Luis Lang, there are other less surprising entities fighting back. One of those fighters is the South Carolina Hospital Association, which stands to lose billions of dollars because Governor Haley wants to be pure (evil). In fact, at the SCHA website, you can sign a petition about Expanding Medicaid in the state. The petition is kind of fun, in a way, as it goes after other big businesses that have received the Governor's largess:

The choice for our future. For decades, our state has doled-out billions of tax credits to companies like BMW and Boeing to grow our economy and enhance the quality of life in South Carolina. We’ve also offered hundreds of millions of dollars to build highways and deepen our ports to build a better future. By accepting the federal dollars offered to our state, the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business projects that the $11.2 billion in new federal dollars will result in 44,000 new jobs. With the positive economic impact and increased health care coverage, the positive return on investment is clear.
    We urge you to sign the petition, or better still, this one from CREDO.  

     Besides all of the other reasons for Medicaid Expansion, including less DEATH, better health, working population able to work more days, fewer bankruptcies, increased jobs, less need for expensive emergency room care, controlling the previously-skyrocketing effects health care had on state and the national budgets, increased revenue from jobs (South Carolina has a state income tax), the Federal Government pays for 100% of the expense until 2016, when it will gradually lower the percentage over time to 90%.

     Here's the problem: South Carolina has seen a huge increase in people who have signed up for traditional Medicaid--and the federal reimbursement rate for that program varies between approximately 50% to 73.05%. As you can see, those numbers are a lot smaller than 100% or 90%. Additionally, many more children are signing up for the Child Health Insurance Program ("CHIP"). These larger numbers will crush the South Carolina budget. As an aside, if the nearly one million children in Texas who are eligible for CHIP, but have not signed up, ever do, Governor Greg Abbott's state will be in dire financial straits. Of course, this acts as a disincentive for red state governments to aggressively seek out children who could use the health care.      


Continue Reading

Fri May 15, 2015 at 04:38 PM PDT

Spotlight on Courage ~ StDDs Week 37

by JoanMar

Reposted from JoanMar by 2thanks

No! Poverty is not to be blamed for the murder of Michael Brown. Lack of opportunities did not take the life of Freddie Gray. The "absent black father" was not responsible for killing Walter Scott. Police officers, armed with the legal authority of the state and under the aegis of their departments, murdered those men.

In addition to changing the laws, we must also change the culture that allows police officers to think that they are a law unto themselves; that they are lords and masters of those whom they swore to serve and protect. To make that change we need outside agitation for sure; but even more importantly, we need those on the inside to make a stand against the lawbreakers in their midst.

Are there any Frank Serpicos to be found anywhere? Who will step forward? The problem is even worse than it was in the 1970s.

Today the Blue Wall of Silence endures in towns and cities across America. Whistleblowers in police departments — or as I like to call them, “lamp lighters,” after Paul Revere — are still turned into permanent pariahs. The complaint I continue to hear is that when they try to bring injustice to light they are told by government officials: “We can’t afford a scandal; it would undermine public confidence in our police.” That confidence, I dare say, is already seriously undermined. (Frank Serpico, October 23, 2014).

[Frank Serpico is a retired New York City Police Department officer who is famous for blowing the whistle on police corruption in the late 1960s and early 1970s, an act that prompted Mayor John V. Lindsay to appoint the landmark Knapp Commission to investigate the NYPD. Much of Serpico's fame came after the release of the 1973 film Serpico, which starred Al Pacino in the title role. (Wikipedia)]




I am pleased to report that all is not lost. There is some glimmer of hope. Bravery and honor are not only to be found in our history books. There are two examples of that which we need that should be getting a lot more publicity than they have thus far: Joe Crystal and David C. Couper. David C. Couper was Madison’s chief of police from 1972 to 1993 and is now an Episcopal priest in Wisconsin:

David C. CouperWhen I talk publicly about the problem of deadly force and disrespect, many white people look at me with puzzled eyes. They don’t know what I am talking about because, as it turns out, they have had little, if any, contact with police. Not so for those men and women of color in my audience. They know—and they know all too well. Recent discussions have helped us understand that “unconscious bias” is inherent in our species; what is needed is being able to identify and manage it. (A Police Chief's Call for Reform by David C. Couper)
One of the voices that stood out for me during the Baltimore Uprising for Justice was that of Joe Crystal. He was being interviewed by someone on MSNBC and my reaction was, “now you come forward?” Turned out I spoke too soon.

Joe Crystal had been doing the right thing even while he was a member of the Baltimore Police Department. He went up against his brethren in blue and in so doing, put his life on the line. BuzzFeed did an extensive piece on Crystal in what one of our members described as a "bloody awesome story." What he had to reveal was both "gripping and nauseating." You can read the whole sad account for yourself, but just one paragraph that captures a culture out of control...from top to bottom:

Joe Crystal, a whistleblower while a policeman in Baltimore
Crystal turned to the police union. He told Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police president Bob Cherry about the harassment, and he said that Cherry told him the department “was blood in blood out, and that’s why [the violent crimes unit] was mad at me,” and maybe he should consider going to another department. (Cherry didn’t respond to interview requests for this story.) Crystal hoped to transfer out of his unit. He asked a sergeant, the old family friend, where he could go. As Crystal wrote in his journal, the sergeant told him that no supervisor wanted him because he was “a rat.” The sergeant then said, “You better pray to God you’re not the star witness against Gialamas, ‘cause your career is already fucked, but if you are the star witness against him you should just resign.” (Breaking Baltimore's Blue Wall of Silence, Buzzfeed)
Is there any help to be had anywhere? How about a lieutenant?
On the advice of another sergeant, Crystal met with the lieutenant in charge of a violent repeat offender squad about a possible transfer. The lieutenant told him, he wrote in his journal, that he didn’t want him on the squad because he had snitched. The lieutenant said, “’When you are on the VRO squad you have to do things in the gray area,’ and he did not think I could do that.”
We need more than two good men. We need hundreds of good men to make a difference. To change the culture from within. We thank Joe Crystal and David Couper for following in the grand tradition of Frank Serpico.

Where are the others?

Continue Reading
Reposted from Raul Grijalva by Denise Oliver Velez

Yesterday, I was grateful to spend time honoring the amazing women in my life for the sometimes thankless – yet always vital – job of being a caring mother. Mother’s Day is a time to honor the sacrifices of all the mothers in our lives who spend day in and day out providing for their children.  They unselfishly give themselves on every level, and are a true testament of the strength and fortitude required to raise a family.

As we honor our mothers across the United States, I want to recognize the hundreds of mothers who won’t be receiving flowers or cards, despite tremendous personal sacrifices to provide the best possible life for their children. I’m speaking of the mothers who are ensnared in our broken immigration system, being held in family detention centers that are nothing less than prisons for themselves and their children. On the very day that we honor motherhood, how can we allow these women and their children to suffer behind bars?

Each and every day, our laws deprive these mothers and their children of their liberty and their due process, holding them in jail-like detention centers right here in our own backyard. Most of these detainees are asylum seekers fleeing terrible violence in their home countries. They arrive at our borders seeking safety and protection for themselves and their children. Instead, they wind up behind bars without due process or even consideration of the terrible circumstances they are fleeing.

In 2009, the Obama administration terminated large-scale family detention due to numerous human rights abuses. Unfortunately, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reversed previous policy curtailing the detention of children last summer and opened a temporary family facility in New Mexico and two new, permanent, privately run facilities in Texas. Soon after opening, reports of unimaginable conditions began to emerge from inside: allegations of sexual abuse by guards and staff; children experiencing weight loss, anxiety, and depression; spoiled food and contaminated drinking water; lack of access to social services to cope with trauma and abuse, as well as the re-traumatizing effects of incarceration, and no access to legal counsel for their asylum cases.

While I spent Mother's Day with my family, honoring the mothers in my life, I couldn’t help but think about all the mothers who have to spend even one more day in detention, wondering if and when they and their children will ever be released.

Mothers like Delmy Cruz, detained at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas with her 11 year old son who refuses medical care, even with a fever, because the medico is where he was told he was going when guards put him and his mom in isolation. Despite a pending asylum case, Delmy and her son have been detained for over ten months already and have been denied bond. She was one of almost 80 mothers at Karnes who launched a hunger strike during Easter Week to protest their unjust detention and mistreatment. Now, another holiday has come and gone, and Delmy and her son remain trapped inside.

These mothers have bravely endured great risks and sacrifices in order to do what any parent would do: everything in their power to keep their children safe. Child welfare experts have shown time and time again that detaining children is detrimental to their physical and mental health. Detention also re-traumatizes their mothers, many of whom are survivors of gender based violence, and need access to appropriate services in order to heal and be able to care for themselves and their children.

Being a mother is the hardest job in the world, and we need more than cards and flowers one day a year to honor the sacrifices and commitment of all mothers. It’s time for our country to end the practice of detaining mothers and children once and for all. If we truly wish to make our immigration system more humane, protect vulnerable women and children, and keep families together, we can start today by ending family detention.

Discuss
Reposted from Daily Kos by Denise Oliver Velez
screenshot clip from John Oliver video  showing flags of US territories
Flags of U.S. colonial territories
The right to vote in the United States does not include every U.S. citizen of voting age. I'm not talking about racist felon disenfranchisement that keeps over 6 million voters off the rolls, or the latest efforts by state legislatures to restrict voting rights—like the one in Texas that was labelled as racist by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or recent breaking news about voter suppression in North Carolina.

I'm talking about laws that have been on the books in this country for over 100 years that keep citizens of U.S colonies (which we have dubbed "territories") from the full-rights of citizenship. This includes our internal colony of the District of Columbia, where citizens have only a non-voting representative, which was instituted in 1801. The results of this travesty can be seen in the Republican overlords' decision to override a reproductive rights law passed in the District of Columbia. This time the excuse is "religious liberty."

Jump below the fold for more.

Continue Reading
Reposted from JoanMar by 2thanks
Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming
Governor of Wyoming, Matt Mead.
    The Support the Dream Defenders group at Daily Kos has sent Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") requests to 21 Red State governors or legislators on the topic of Medicaid Expansion. We have asked these governors and legislators to produce all documents showing what they are doing to ascertain how many people they are killing and bankrupting by failing to Expand Medicaid.

     We have received seventeen responses so far.

     The seventeenth response was quite a story in itself. So, let me tell you about it. There's this place in the Western portion of the United States called Wyoming, and it has a Governor who calls himself Matt Mead. The state has a very poor reputation for transparency when it comes to FOIA document requests (45th in the country), so we expected some pushback.

     On March 10, 2015 the Office of Wyoming Governor Matt Mead received our FOIA requests. Seven days later, the Special Counsel for the Governor of Wyoming sent us the letter pictured below, with a final sentence that could have been, "These aren't the droids you're looking for."


healthcare26

     What manner of gobbledygook is this: "The Office of the Governor is not the custodian of records that may be responsive to your request"? Well, if he thought his Jedi Mind Tricks would work on Support the Dream Defenders, he was mistaken. We sent a letter right back asking him, if the Office of the Governor didn't have records pertaining to the Office of the Governor, then who had them?

     Thinking that perhaps his Jedi Mind Trick would work this time, the Governor's Special Counsel shot back:


healthcare34

     Well, that was enough footsie for us, so we sent an immediate reply, which we like to call our "Lawsuit to follow" letter. In it, we explained that we wanted the documents in the Governor's office that are responsive to our requests, or we wanted a definitive, "No, we have no such records." We gave the Special Counsel seven days upon receipt of the letter to reply, or we would file suit in the District Court in Laramie, Wyoming.

     Our group prepared the lawsuit, but it became moot when the Special Counsel lay down like an old bird dog:


healthcare54

     As you can see, we finally got our response, and it is much as we expected: Governor Matt Mead cares nothing about the number of people he's killing and bankrupting. Our slightly hardball tactics not only garnered the response we wanted (and expected), but the Governor's Special Counsel reiterated his answer twice in that last paragraph:

healthcare55


     The sweet smell of victory! It's like your opponent saying, "We surrender, and, oh, by the way, you know that we concede defeat, right?"

Alabama on Our Minds

     Now, that was a nice chapter in this story, but we need your help to reach a happy ending in our book. We need a volunteer in Alabama to re-send an FOIA request to Governor Bentley. The state of Alabama has a residency requirement for FOIA requests, which means that we need a volunteer who lives in Alabama to send the request to his or her Governor. Do you have the time to help out 325,000 of your fellow Alabamians who would receive health care with a Medicaid Expansion? Please send me a private message or volunteer in the comments below. Thank you.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Kerry Eleveld by Denise Oliver Velez
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) takes part in a roundtable of young Nevadans discussing immigration as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, Nevada May 5, 2015.   REUTERS/Mike Blake - RTX1BQ0H
Hillary Clinton at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Addressing a roundtable of Dreamers in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton did exactly what immigration activists were hoping for—she not only endorsed "full and equal citizenship" for undocumented immigrants, she pledged to expand on President Obama's immigration actions.

"As president, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further," Clinton said. "There are more people – like many parents of Dreamers and others with deep ties and contributions to our communities – who deserve a chance to stay.  I'll fight for them too."

She lauded President Obama for implementing deportation relief for Dreamers and their parents, saying, "he had to act in the face of inaction" and adding that Republicans had stalled immigration reform for "politically motivated" reasons.

Clinton also reminded the televised roundtable that "not a single Republican candidate" is consistently calling for a pathway to citizenship.

"When they talk about 'legal status,' that is code for 'second-class status,'" she said.

Though Clinton stopped short of making a commitment to pass immigration reform within a certain time frame, she said it would be among her top priorities within her first year in office.

Immigration activists seemed instantaneously thrilled by Clinton's comments.

Frank Sharry of America's Voice

She went there. She's talking about expanding executive action to cover people who didn't get covered under Obama's actions. BOOM!
@FrankSharry
For more on their reactions and Clinton's immigration comments, head below the fold.
Continue Reading
Reposted from Daily Kos by Denise Oliver Velez

Proportion of Google queries containing the “N-word” by designated market area, 2004–2007.

Colors changed so the map can be seen by all. Original is below the fold.
Click to enlarge

There are neighborhoods in Baltimore in which the life expectancy is 19 years less than other neighborhoods in the same city. Residents of the Downtown/Seaton Hill neighborhood have a life expectancy lower than 229 other nations, exceeded only by Yemen. According to the Washington Post, 15 neighborhoods in Baltimore have a lower life expectancy than North Korea.

North Korea.

And while those figures represent some of the most dramatic disparities in the life expectancy of black Americans as opposed to whites, a recent study of the health impacts of racism in America reveals that racist attitudes may cause up to 30,000 early deaths every year.

The study, Association between an Internet-Based Measure of Area Racism and Black Mortality, has just been published in PLOS ONE and has mapped out the most racist areas in the United States. As illustrated above, they are mostly located in the rural Northeast and down along the Appalachian Mountains into the South. How they did it and what it may mean are below the fold.

Continue Reading
Reposted from JoanMar by 2thanks
MLK makes a point.
If there is one name that has been uttered more often than Freddie Gray's over the past week, it has been that of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. We know that the criminal, heartless Right Wing Media have been doing their darnedest to claim the civil rights icon as their own. They have been on a mission to remake Dr. King into their own image. That last sentence isn't even exactly true; they have been busy whittling down the man into a one-dimensional, wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed battering ram to be used against the very people for whom he fought.

Let's take a look at what the man actually preached ... and let's place his words in context and in the spirit in which they were intended.

Become mal-adjusted:

I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic effects of the methods of physical violence and to tragic militarism. I call upon you to be maladjusted to such things. (Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Power Of Nonviolence” (1957).)
What did Martin Luther King really say about riots as they have to do with political activism and civil rights (and not the results of ball games)?
I contend that the cry of "black power" is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we've got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. (Martin Luther King, Jr., "The Other America".)
In other words, no justice, no peace. It is an act of malice - intended to inflict serious psychological damage - to demand peace from the hurting and disenfranchised even as you dispense justice to only those who share your skin color and or socio-economic background.

After using the word "thug" to describe young rioters in Baltimore, Erin Burnett was asked, (paraphrasing as best as I can remember) "Then what do you call members of the police who broke Freddie Gray's spine?" To which Ms. Burnett replied, "I don't know what happened. I will wait on the courts to decide. You remember how that whole 'hands up don't shoot' was found to be a total lie."

Michael Brown and Freddie Gray are dead. Justice, some wise person said long ago, should not only be done, but also be seen to be done. There's no justice to be seen anywhere in these cases; primarily because journalists are very well adjusted to, and accepting of, these incidents of injustice happening again, and again, and again.

What if we were to apply this quote from Dr. King to American Law Enforcement Officers?

Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: It seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
The police are the patriarchal formal leaders who have been foisted on our communities and invested with the power to slap us upside the heads if mothers won't do it; or eliminate us if and when they feel like it. Violence is the tactic used to whip us into shape.  When the oppressed revolt, however briefly, against aggressive over-policing, they are castigated and condemned as "thugs." No winning for black folks.

What to do about this fucked-up state of affairs?

One awesome member of Support the Dream Defenders said this:

"In times of uncertainty and turmoil in the past, Americans have fought back in four principal ways: at the ballot box, by long-term populist appeals, with protests, and through legal action."
Protest is of the utmost importance right now. We applaud and support those who have taken to the streets to let their voices be heard, those gathered in New York, in Philadelphia, in Washington DC, in Chicago, in Ferguson, and in Baltimore.

As our young people and others of good conscience take to the street, we invite our friends to help us with the fight on the legal action front.

We need revolutionary changes to policing in this country. We do not claim that we have all the answers, but the Michael Brown Over-Policed Rights Act provides at least some of the answers.

As you may know, Support the Dream Defenders crowd-sourced the Michael Brown Over-Policed Rights Act at Daily Kos in the fall of 2014. Over 700 Kossacks supported our effort. Our finalized bill quickly gained the support of the NAACP and the ACLU. The NAACP forwarded our bill to members of Congress, and we distributed it to members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other progressive members of Congress. President Obama signed into law a small piece of our bill in December 2014. The Department of Justice included part of our bill in their recent report on Ferguson, Missouri. Our state version of the MBOPRA is currently in committee in the Kansas legislature. The final version of our law: Michael Brown Over-Policed Rights Act of 2015 (Federal)






Action Steps:


Please contact your U.S. senators and representatives and ask them to support our Michael Brown Over-Policed Rights Act.

Two helpful websites:

How to Contact Your U.S. Senator

How to Contact Your U.S. Representative

Please note the information to include in an email to your representative or senator, such as your address, etc.
Continue Reading
Reposted from Media Watch by Denise Oliver Velez

In October of 2010, Fox News launched the Fox News Latino website in order to mitigate the massive disadvantage Republicans faced with Latino voters. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the nation and their voting power is increasing with each election. So even though the Republican Party has been alienating this constituency with blatantly detrimental policies, Fox News was determined to try to save the GOP from its own prejudices.

Fox Nation vs. RealityCheck out the ALL NEW 2nd volume of my ebook...
Fox Nation vs. RealityThe Fox News Cult Of Ignorance.

See the original version of this article published on News Corpse.

Click here to LIKE/SHARE this On Facebook

Continue Reading
Reposted from Tortmaster by 2thanks

... And he knows it.

     We sent Freedom of Information Act requests to every Red State governor or legislature who refused to Expand Medicaid. Thus far, eleven red state governors and one red state legislature have responded to our requests. Of the twelve total responses received, only one respondent admitted to having any documents, whatsoever, showing how many people he or she may be killing and bankrupting because that state refuses to Expand Medicaid.  

     That would be Texas.

     Every other state is positively incurious about the number of people they may be killing or bankrupting in their home state. So, in a perverted way, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is at least ahead of them. He has an idea how many people he may be killing. In response to our FOIA requests, which asked for any documents showing what he has done to find out how many people may be dying because he refuses Medicaid Expansion, he provided a 75-page document.


1.  More Dead Than We Expected.

     The document was shocking to us. We knew that there was no good reason to refuse to Expand Medicaid, and we knew that it was a decision that would either save or cost a lot of lives. We didn't realize how many. You see, we have used a Harvard Study which indicates that between 1,840 and 3,035 will needlessly die in Texas every year without Expanded Medicaid. That Harvard Study, in pertinent part, provides as follows:

"In Texas, the largest state opting out of Medicaid expansion, 2,013,025 people who would otherwise have been insured will remain uninsured due to the opt-out decision. We estimate that Medicaid expansion in that state would have resulted in 184,192 fewer depression diagnoses, 62,610 fewer individuals suffering catastrophic medical expenditures, and between 1,840 and 3,035 fewer deaths."
    This Harvard Study dealt with the entire nation; Greg Abbott had another study in his possession that dealt only with Texas, written by Texans, for Texans. The report, entitled Expanding Medicaid in Texas: Smart, Affordable and Fair, can be found in the files of the Governor of Texas and in its full PDF glory here. It provides as follows:
"Experience in other states indicates that failing to expand Medicaid would result in an estimated 8,400 premature deaths each year."
    That's a lot of dead Texans each year. A lot of people who have diabetes but cannot afford medication; who have diabetes and don't know it; who have undiagnosed but treatable heart conditions, high blood pressure or cancers. That's a lot of potential pap smears and mammograms that Texans will not receive. "The state leads the nation in the rate of people without health insurance — roughly one in four Texans." With approximately one million Texans in the "Medicaid Gap," it probably shouldn't have been a surprise to us that as many as 8,400 will die annually, and before their time, because of Governor Abbott's failure to Expand Medicaid. It's as if you wiped Liberty City, Texas right off the map. Then did it again every year:

healthcare40

     Kind of an ironic name--Liberty City--as it represents the deadly repercussions from Texas state government thumbing its nose at the Federal Government for no good reason, while the casualties pile up each year.


2.  The Only Evidence of Death and Bankruptcy Abbott Has....

     The only document Governor Abbott, a former Attorney General, has to help him decide how many people will die in his state each year without Medicaid Expansion indicates the number to be 8,400. He doesn't even have another document from some Koch-funded think tank claiming that only three people will die. The only information he has to make an informed decision about how many people he is bankrupting each year is that there will be approximately 62,610 of those woebegone folks.

     The Governor has not afforded his people due diligence much less due process. A person accused of murder in Texas gets better treatment than the working poor.  

The Rights Afforded to a Murder Defendant in Texas Versus the Rights Afforded to the Working Poor



healthcare42
    On a side note, please consider this: You would think that a person fighting ObamaCare tooth and nail would be the first to step up to the plate and protest against it. Not Greg Abbott. Here's his just-released Income Tax Return for 2014. As you can see from the screengrab below, Abbott put his money where his wallet is:

healthcare43


3.  The Other Document.

     We also requested documents in the possession of Governor Greg Abbott that would show how many Texans without health insurance have received treatment in Texas hospitals during the last reporting period. The Governor provided an eight-page report from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services indicating that hospitals in the state lose billions of dollars annually because of the failure to Expand Medicaid.

     In 2012, Texas hospitals spent $22.538 billion on health care provided to the uninsured in that state.

     To give you some perspective on that, if Greg Abbott was going to pay for all those hospital charges with his own tax payments, and he paid $104 in taxes every year, it would take him two hundred and sixteen million, seven hundred and eleven thousand, five hundred and thirty-eight and one-half years to do it.

     According to the report, uncompensated hospital charges in Texas rose from $17.51 billion in 2010 to $18.312 billion in 2011. It then jumped more than five billion to $22.538 billion in 2012. The picture will soon turn even bleaker, as the Federal Government may not be helping Texas out with those deficits in the future.

 

4.  The Obama Administration Tightens the Pressure on Florida and Texas and Other Non-Medicaid Expanding Red States.

     Every year, the Federal Government provides what amounts to massive block grants to states, which the states can then use to pay to hospitals that provide services to the uninsured. This has been provided as part of the Medicaid program. In this way, hospitals would receive direct payments from Medicaid for covered individuals, and they would receive the Medicaid "subsidy" or block grant money for uncovered individuals.

     Those huge block grants--in the billions of dollars each year--will stop in 2015 and 2016 because of Medicaid Expansion.

     The theory was this: Once Medicaid was expanded, there would be no need for the additional block grant subsidies for hospitals, as people would either have private insurance or be covered under the Expanded Medicaid. The second document we received from Governor Abbott described the situation succinctly:

Health Care Reform Impact. One of the supplemental Medicaid payments that greatly contributes to the Medicaid surplus is the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payment. The DSH program was created to compensate hospitals that give care to a disproportionate amount of low income and uninsured individuals with a lump sum payment. Health care reform will impact DSH payments starting in 2016. The assumption is that when the individual mandate takes effect, the need for supplemental payments to cover the uninsured is less. The ACA requires HHS to reduce DSH payments.

     Of course, nobody counted on Republican governors and state legislatures allowing their citizens to die or to go bankrupt for no earthly reason.

     Texas and Florida and other wanna-be new-confederate states like South Carolina want the Federal Government to continue paying their hospital buddies with these block grants; they don't want the Federal Government to help the people with Expanded Medicaid. The Obama Administration has said, "Not so fast!" It has let these states know that the money to reimburse hospitals for care to the poor and working poor is there to be had--as soon as the states Expand Medicaid. One source reported:

"The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services indicated to Texas officials Thursday that whether the state expands Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would factor into the renewal of a multibillion-dollar Medicaid funding stream next year, according to state officials.

Federal officials requested a call with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, during which they outlined their position, Linda Edwards Gockel, a spokeswoman for the Texas health agency, said in an email to National Journal.

The call came the same day that Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he would sue the Obama administration, accusing CMS of pushing the state to expand Medicaid by leveraging $1 billion in federal Medicaid funding, which is up for renewal this summer and helps cover some uncompensated care.

CMS said in a letter to Florida this week that one of the three principles it would use to evaluate the program, known as the Low-Income Pool, was that 'uncompensated care pool funding should not pay for costs that would be covered in a Medicaid expansion.'

...

Texas's uncompensated-care funding pool, part of a broader Medicaid waiver, is coming up for renewal in September 2016. According to the Texas Hospital Association, the program provides more than $3 billion to Texas hospitals for uncompensated care."

 
     Hypocritical Governors like Scott and Abbott and Haley want Federal money to pay to their buddies at the hospitals, but not a penny to provide Medicaid for their poor and working poor constituents.


5.  Abbott's Growing a New Class of Citizen in Texas: The Health Care Bankrupt.

     The Harvard Study quoted and linked above indicates that, because Governor Abbott refuses to Expand Medicaid in Texas, there will be 62,610 new bankrupts in Texas every year. Sure, many of those folks will be dead prematurely--an estimated 8,400 of them--but that leaves 54,210 every year to either file for bankruptcy or be harassed by hospital attorneys for the next forty years of their lives. That's like a Texas city the size of Victoria dying or going bankrupt every year.

HEALTHCARE41

     All because Greg Abbott wants to be pure. Or, because Greg Abbott and his fellow travelers don't want the American people to see the Federal Government working and helping people, while at the same time reducing the deficit, creating jobs and straightening the heretofore explosive health care cost curve. Or, perhaps Abbott is just an asshole. I don't know the answer. I do know that the evidence at his disposal--there being no contradictory proof--is that he will kill approximately 8,400 Texans every year and bankrupt 62,610.    


NOTE:  This is a community diary, which could only be written because of the efforts and activism of a number of people who belong to the Support the Dream Defenders group at Daily Kos. Their contributions are always appreciated. I am proud that they let me work with them!
Continue Reading
Reposted from Maggie's Farm by Denise Oliver Velez

Tuesday in Phoenix, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's civil contempt hearing began, and the first day was a doozie. US District Judge Murray Snow ordered Sheriff Arpaio to appear at the hearing because the bigoted blowhard had arrogantly defied the judge's orders following Melendres v. Arpaio. In that 2007 incident, argued by the ACLU, the court found that the sheriff's office did indeed use race as a determining factor in traffic stops and other detainments, the very definition of racial profiling.

Following the Melendres verdict in 2011, which was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court a year later, in 2013 Judge Snow ordered three major reforms: Arpaio must end his infamous immigration roundups (neighborhood "sweeps"), turn over video evidence from traffic stops, and install a court-appointed monitor to oversee compliance. Arpaio did none of this; in fact, he destroyed video evidence and continued his sweeps. Having run out of patience, last month Judge Snow, a George W. Bush appointee, ordered Arpaio and several key deputies to appear at this week's four-day contempt hearing.

Immediately after the judge announced the hearing, Sheriff Arpaio tried to buy his way out of the mess—admitting his guilt and promising to donate $100,000 to a civil rights organization if the judge would cancel the contempt hearing. Judge Snow said no and the proceedings began yesterday; he will decide if Arpaio and four key deputies are guilty of civil contempt or perhaps whether the case should move to a criminal phase.    

The hearing's first day was explosive, and not in a good way for the sheriff. First, his lead attorney resigned, stating a conflict of interest since he also works for Maricopa County.

Tom Liddy, one of Arpaio's attorneys, abruptly quit, citing a conflict of interest and saying he was "filing an application to withdraw from the case."
Another long-time Arpaio attorney, Tim Casey, had jumped ship back in November, leaving only one of the original three-person legal team. The worst turn for Sheriff Arpaio, however, was the testimony of two former deputies, who essentially said the sheriff willfully ignored Judge Snow's orders. "Willful" is key here, since it would lead to a criminal trial.
Sgt. Brett Palmer testified Arpaio's immigration tactics were driven by public relations and media attention, and never complied with court orders to stop Arpaio's highly publicized immigration roundups.
ACLU attorney Cecilia Wang said the sheriff ordered Palmer to detain immigrants, even though there was no cause, so he could "come and do a press conference." What a surprise, Sheriff Arpaio seeks the cameras! Another former deputy corroborated Palmer's testimony.
Another of the sheriff's top brass, retired Executive Chief Brian Sands, testified he made several suggestions as to how the sheriff's office should comply with the court orders, all of which he said the sheriff ignored.
According to the Arizona Republic, the two "statements were the strongest support yet for claims that Arpaio's failure to abide by Snow's orders were deliberate." And that was Day One—better than any soap on TV. It looks like Sheriff Arpaio will take the stand today or tomorrow. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Wow!
Well, the hearing took a strange turn today. On the stand Wednesday and Thursday, Sheriff Arpaio did pretty much what everyone expected: admitted his guilt, apologized for defying Judge Murray Snow's orders, and blamed underlings for his conduct. But then, toward the end of his testimony, the sheriff said this:

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio dropped a bombshell in court Thursday when he said his former lawyer had hired a private investigator to look into the wife of the federal judge presiding over a contempt of court case against the sheriff.
We've always known Joe Arpaio is a vindictive official—often investigating, indicting or otherwise harassing politicians, activists and others who object to his police state tactics. Now this! The judge's wife no less. Pass the popcorn.
Discuss
Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by Denise Oliver Velez
Assemblywoman Lucy Flores speaking at campaign rally, September 2012.
Democratic House candidate Lucy Flores
On Wednesday, former Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who was the Democrats' 2014 nominee for lieutenant governor, kicked off a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy. So far, Flores only faces state Sen. Ruben Kihuen in the primary, though several other metro Las Vegas Democrats are eyeing the seat. Hardy lucked into a blue seat Obama won by 10 points, and he's not going to have an easy time holding on next year with presidential turnout likely to boost Democratic fortunes.

Flores badly lost last year's lieutenant governor race by a 59-34 margin, though it might be unfair to blame her for the wide defeat. Democratic turnout was terrible thanks not just to the GOP wave but because Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval was left virtually unopposed at the top of the ticket, leading to a landslide win for him and surprising victories for his party further down the ballot. (These same circumstances contributed to Hardy's unexpected win over Rep. Steven Horsford.)

Flores also has an interesting life story: She grew up poor, joined a gang as a teenager, and even served time in a juvenile detention center, but she later turned her life around in dramatic fashion. Even though both Kihuen and Flores are well-liked by retiring Sen. Harry Reid, the Silver State's number-one political power-broker, the primary might very well get crowded, and Flores's background could help her stand out from the pack.

Discuss
You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.

RSS

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site