Monday, February 9, 2015

TN Legislature Voted Against Majority of Tennesseans on Insure TN CPI Buzz 2-9-15

Committee disregards the truth on Insure Tenn.

Mistrust, disinformation, lack of legislative leadership, outside groups sank governor's health plan

Lawmakers take Tennessee backwards with Insure TN vote

Our state legislature made a terrible mistake. Every Tennessean will suffer because Governor Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan was defeated.
Our legislature turned down a $900 million gift from the federal government, money that could have boosted our state’s economy. This boost was completely free to state taxpayers because of Haslam’s shrewd negotiations.
Insure Tennessee was better than free because it would have brought home federal tax dollars that Tennessee is now giving to other states—including Republican states—that already accepted Medicaid expansion. Retrieve our money!
Worst are the health impacts. An estimated 200,000 of our working poor risk bankruptcy with every doctor visit or hospital stay. They need medical care. Their chronic illnesses get worse untreated. Their cancers won’t be discovered until Stage 4. Some will die without help.
The legislature’s told them, essentially, to quit work. The very poor often get free medical help through Medicaid. But the working poor want to climb out of poverty, not slide back into it. We should help them work their way up, not down. LINK

Committee disregards the truth on Insure Tenn.

We commend Haslam for having the courage to propose a plan he knew would meet with stiff resistance from his own party. State Sen. Ed Jackson, a Republican from Jackson, is a member of the Health and Welfare Committee and voted in the minority.
Haslam’s plan was tied to the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, in that it would have tapped a stream of federal money provided under the act for states to expand Medicaid.
But Haslam’s plan was decidedly not Obamacare. It relied on providing insurance through the private marketplace, not the government. It would have encouraged people to take responsibility for their health, to make wise choices about health care and to contribute to the cost of health care.
The plan was also a lifeline to the health care industry and those employed by that industry. That’s because the Affordable Care Act cut certain reimbursements to hospitals with the understanding that those cuts would be offset by the expansion of Medicaid, basically providing the hospitals with more paying customers.
The Health and Welfare Committee has left hospitals to account for that lost revenue on their own, meaning job cuts and fewer services. Small rural hospitals are hardest hit by this situation. Haywood Park Community Hospital in Brownsville closed last year in part due to the failure of the legislature to expand Medicaid. Methodist Fayette Hospital in Somerville is expected to close in March. Dozens of other hospitals are in danger of closing.
All this makes the state less attractive for economic development. Potential employers want a healthy workforce. They want access to health care. The closure of the hospital in Brownsville, for instance, makes the nearby megasite less attractive to a major manufacturer. LINK

Harvard-educated teacher can't be principal in Tennessee

Ashley Croft's teaching resume reads something like this: Bachelor's in education from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College. Master's in educational leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Six years of teaching experience, including being recognized as a Distinguished Educator of the Year in 2013 by the Tennessee Education Association.
Despite the credentials and experience, Ashley Croft can't become a principal in Tennessee — not under the state's licensure process.
Since 2009, the state allows only for principals to graduate from an approved in-state college or university master's program. Out-of-state applicants must have at least three years of experience as a principal to receive a license. For Croft to advance her career, she will have to leave.
"I certainly understand why the policy exists, so someone isn't coming from an out-of-state diploma mill," Croft said. "But that's sorta throwing out the baby with the bathwater."
Recently, Croft and her sister, Marissa, took aim at the process by filing an online petition on telling the state to amend its policies. So far, the petition has gained more than 700 signatures.
"We grew up playing teacher," Marissa Croft said. "I was always the student, and Ashley was always the teacher. And that's what she wanted to be — through high school, Vanderbilt, teaching in Nashville — and then she felt like to make more of a difference, she needed to go further."
So Ashley Croft went to Harvard in 2013, a school heralded for recruiting the world's best and brightest.
"You don't say no to Harvard," she said.
It wasn't until she enrolled there that she found Tennessee's licensing process doesn't recognize Harvard's program. That is because the approved secondary schools teach to the state's Instructional Leadership Standards, aimed at setting high standards for effective leadership based upon research and best practice, according to Ashley Ball, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Education. LINK

Columnist question on Insure TN flop: Haslam incompetence or ‘I got mine; screw you’?

I can’t decide which is more telling about last week’s health care train wreck in Nashville:
1. The fact that Gov. Bill Haslam stood by for two years, allowing Obamacare bogeymen to fan flames of distrust in everything associated with the White House, and then thought he could sweep in and change everybody’s mind through a special legislative session?
Or —
2. The fact that six of the seven Republican senators who killed Insure Tennessee in committee, denying health coverage to 280,000 low-income citizens, are — ta-da! — conveniently enrolled in the state’s medical insurance plan?
If it’s No. 1, Hizzoner needs a refresher course in Politics 101.
Right or wrong, you can’t be “agin” something and then suddenly be “fer” it. At least you do at your own peril.
Perception too often is reality. It doesn’t matter that Insure Tennessee differed from the federal Affordable Care Act; what matters is that opponents of both linked them like blood brothers. LINK

Sen. Dolores Gresham was MIA on Insure Tenn

We were disappointed to see a key voice missing from public discussions about Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan — the voice of state Sen. Dolores Gresham, a Republican from Somerville.
Gresham was absent when Haslam made a special trip to West Tennessee to talk about his plan, which would have provided health insurance to an estimated 280,000 poor and working poor in Tennessee.
Gresham was absent in a front page story in this newspaper on Feb. 1 that shared the stances of legislators from West Tennessee on the plan (she failed to respond to several calls seeking comment).
And Gresham was absent from any public discussion we saw of the plan before it was killed by a Senate committee last week.
If there was anyone who should have been in favor of, and out front in lobbying for, Insure Tennessee, we expected it to be Gresham. Why? Because she, more than anyone, should understand that the plan was not about politics or Obamacare.
It was about access to health care, particularly in rural areas. LINK

Jobe, Former Fox 13 News Head, Takes Job with State House Democrats

The man who, as news director, raised the profile — and the ratings — of WHBQ-TV, Fox 13, for several years of late, and who served in the same capacity for WMC-TV, Action News 5, before that, has a new job and a new challenge.

As of this week, Ken Jobe began serving as press secretary of the House Democratic caucus in Nashville. He serves as a media spokesman for the 26 Democratic representatives (out of 99 in the full body), and, as those numbers indicate, has yet another up-by-the-bootstrap circumstance to deal with. LINK

Mistrust, disinformation, lack of legislative leadership, outside groups sank governor's health plan

Gov. Bill Haslam told state legislators Monday night their upcoming decision on his health coverage plan for the working poor was "about who we are" as a state.
"My faith doesn't allow me to walk on the other side of the road and ignore a need that can be met ... particularly when the need can be met without cost to our state, with money that our state is currently being taxed for and is sent elsewhere," he said.
Less than 48 hours later, seven Republicans on a Senate committee killed the governor's plan, Insure Tennessee.
Did the stunningly swift defeat describe 'who we are'?
Not according to polling, which indicated majority support for the governor's plan among Tennessee registered voters and GOP voters in particular. And Haslam, whose popularity rating exceeds 80 percent, was backed by the Tennessee Hospital Association, Tennessee Medical Association, chambers of commerce and the Tennessee Business Roundtable, whose membership is a Who's Who of the state's largest businesses, law firms, banks, manufacturers and corporate employers.
"It's actually extraordinary what happened," Haslam said. "Huge economic forces, and we didn't move the needle." LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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