Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Buzz for 2-3-15

Haslam Appeals To Faith in Final Insure Tennessee Pitch

FCC Chair says agency will nix state laws that block broadband

FCC will seek heavier regulation of the Internet

AP story on Haslam’s Insure TN speech

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told lawmakers Monday evening that his proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans is needed to improve lives and fix a “broken health care system.”
Haslam convened a special session to discuss the plan, a two-year pilot project called Insure Tennessee. The deal calls on state hospitals to pay the $74 million state share to draw down $2.8 billion dollars in federal Medicaid money to offer coverage to more uninsured Tennesseans.
“Issues surrounding health care are complex, and the politics can seem difficult, but there are few challenges facing our state or our country today as great as those presented by our broken health care system,” Haslam said in a joint address to the House and Senate. “I just don’t believe that we can sit back and do nothing.” LINK

Haslam Appeals To Faith in Final Insure Tennessee Pitch

Gov. Bill Haslam urged lawmakers to consider their religious faith as they make up their minds about his Insure Tennessee proposal to expand Medicaid.
Haslam referred to the parable of the Good Samaritan to explain why he developed Insure Tennessee, his proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 more Tennesseans.
“My faith doesn’t allow me to walk on the other side of the road and ignore a need that can be met, particularly in this case, when the need is Tennesseans who have life-threatening situations without access to medical care,” Haslam said to a joint session of the General Assembly Monday night.The governor didn’t appear to change many minds, however. Though Democrats support the proposal, only a handful of Republicans have committed to vote for it.
The reference to the Gospel wasn’t lost on lawmakers. But several, like Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield), said their obligation is to constituents.
“That’s in the Bible, not the Constitution," he said of the Good Samaritan. "It’s not a political mandate.” LINK

Memphis doctor encourages parents to vaccinate children

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama spoke out against parents who are choosing not to vaccinate their children. His comments come on the heels of the measles outbreak. In an interview with NBC News, Obama told parents to not doubt “indisputable” science.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 102 people in 14 states reported having the measles in January, and most of those cases stem from a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to Disneyland in California.
“To borrow a phrase from an old commercial years ago, we’ve come a long way, baby. People do not appreciate the illness themselves and what it causes,” Doctor Helen Morrow with the Shelby County Health Department said.
Dr. Morrow said every parent should vaccinate their child. She said about 15 years ago, false reports were put out saying vaccinations were linked to issues like autism.
“We have been fighting this battle since then, people want to associate vaccines with ill effects,” Morrow said.
According to Dr. Morrow, people in Tennessee seem to be following what the doctors order. A survey of the last 24 months shows out of 1,450 people, only about one percent of those are choosing not to be vaccinated, and in Shelby County, there were no reports. LINK

FCC Chair says agency will nix state laws that block broadband

State laws that obstruct towns and cities from building their own broadband networks are likely to fall at the end of the month, as a result of an upcoming vote by the FCC slated for a public meeting on February 26.
“After looking carefully at petitions by two community broadband providers asking the FCC to pre-empt provisions of state laws preventing expansion of their very successful networks, I recommend approval by the Commission so that these two forward-thinking cities can serve the many citizens clamoring for a better broadband future,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in statement on Monday.
The upcoming vote concerns two cities — Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina — that filed petitions with the FCC last year to rule that state rules restricting their fiber build-outs are inconsistent with federal law. LINK

New Federal Courthouse in Nashville Included in Obama Budget

President Barack Obama's budget proposal includes $181.5 million for a new federal courthouse in Nashville.
U.S. Rep.
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Jim Cooper, a Nashville Democrat who has long advocated for the new courthouse, lauded Monday's announcement a "critical next step" in getting the facility built. The city has been waiting for federal funding for a new courthouse since the current complex was deemed inadequate in 1992. LINK

Both Sides Dig In for Insure Tennessee Special Session

The looming session is plagued, however, by pending legal arguments such as a U.S. Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, to be argued March 4 that could affect anything Tennessee does.
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Randy McNally (R-District 5) also has requested an opinion from the state attorney general on legal issues tied to the governor’s proposal. Groups such as Americans for Prosperity, an organization backed by billionaire brothers Charles and
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David Koch, are opposing the measure, contending the long-term financial liabilities of ballooning costs and the lack of a reliable exit clause are serious problems. AFP contends Tennessee should watch how other states end participation in Obamacare and see if the federal government sues them or withholds traditional Medicaid funds, which could put vulnerable residents at risk.
“We are calling on our state officials to reject Obamacare expansion in Tennessee,” says Andrew Ogles, state director of AFP in Tennessee.
“Despite any guarantee from an untrustworthy Obama administration that we can ‘try it before we buy,’ this is the same administration that said, ‘If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.’ Our state does not need to go down the same disastrous road.”
On the other side, Coalition for a Healthy Tennessee, which includes numerous conservative groups such as the Business Roundtable, contends the proposal makes sense for the state.
“Tennessee’s plan is unique and if it’s passed it will be blueprint for the country,” says Charlie Howorth, executive director of the Tennessee Business Roundtable, a member of the coalition. “I think the governor’s shown true leadership in this.”
Both sides launched ad campaigns in the days leading up to the special session, which could last from one to two weeks. LINK

FCC will seek heavier regulation of the Internet

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler plans to introduce a proposal that would reclassify high-speed Internet service as a public utility, according to a person who has consulted with the FCC on the forthcoming proposal.
The person insisted on anonymity because Wheeler had not yet spoken publicly about his plans. Wheeler will hold a press briefing about his proposal on Tuesday. Wheeler promised the FCC would vote on the rules at its Feb. 26 meeting, so following FCC procedure, he must present them to colleagues by this Thursday.
By making broadband a public utility, the FCC would gain far more power to regulate the kinds of network-access arrangements that Internet providers make with content providers, such as Netflix(NFLXTech30) and Google (GOOGLTech30).
Currently, Internet providers can charge content companies to provide direct access to their networks, which speeds up streaming and download speeds for broadband customers.
Under the proposed new rules, the FCC would ensure that broadband companies don't unfairly discriminate against content providers by creating "slow lanes" on the public Internet, according to CNNMoney's anonymous source. But there might still be "fast lanes."
If, for instance, a video streaming service like Netflix feels it is being unjustly charged for the distribution of its content, it will be able to bring a case before the FCC, according to the current draft of the proposal.
"There's a cop on the beat, but we're not going to tell you what's illegal yet," the person said. LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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