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June 4, 2018

'I think he's done a great job' McConnell says

 

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants Gov. Matt Bevin, once his sparring partner in a contentious Senate primary, to run for re-election.

"I think he's done a great job," McConnell said in response to a question on Friday at an event for Louisville business leaders.

Once political enemies, Sen. Mitch McConnell says Gov. Matt Bevin should run for re-election next yearOnce political enemies, Sen. Mitch McConnell says Gov. Matt Bevin should run for re-election next yearThe vote of confidence from McConnell is a marked shift from the dynamic between the two Republicans four years ago, when they quarreled often during Bevin's primary challenge to McConnell.

"Mitch McConnell seems to be focused on one job and one job only, and that's keeping his own," Bevin said in 2014, before ultimately losing his Senate bid.

During the race, McConnell's aides called Bevin an "East Coast con man," and McConnell used television campaigns to call Bevin dishonest, dub him "Bailout Bevin" and suggest he wasn't a "Kentucky conservative."

"Twenty years from now, we will all remember the time when the East Coast con-man thought so little of Kentuckians that he pathologically lied to us about absolutely everything until an undercover camera caught him red-handed at a a cockfighting rally," a statement from McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore read in 2014.

Bevin, meanwhile, called McConnell a coward and his campaign childish and also used his daughter to call McConnell a liar in one advertisement.

When Bevin won the Republican primary for governor in 2015, McConnell offered a brief statement: "I congratulate Matt Bevin on his victory and endorse him for governor," he wrote.

Bevin has yet to declare his intention to run for re-election as governor. He doesn't have to formally file until January.

But long before filing, candidates for governor normally announce their intention and file a "letter of intent" with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance so they can begin fundraising for their campaign. Bevin has not done so.

At this same point in his first term, Bevin's predecessor Democrat Steve Beshear had already raised more than $2 million for his re-election campaign.

By Darcy Costello
Louisville Courier Journal

June 3, 2018

Kentucky received the nation's first federal Medicaid waiver, allowing the state to require able-bodied enrollees to participate in "community engagement" activities

 

Work, school, caregiving or volunteerism -- at least 80 hours a month or lose their health insurance...

 

When it comes to her Medicaid coverage, Mary Ellen Guy feels like she's living in limbo.

Earlier this year, Kentucky received the nation's first federal Medicaid waiver, allowing the state to require able-bodied enrollees to participate in "community engagement" activities -- work, school, caregiving or volunteerism -- at least 80 hours a month or lose their health insurance.

The state's new regulations are set to begin July 1 in parts of Kentucky.

When Gov. Matt Bevin's office released information about the waiver in January, Guy feared losing her benefits.

The Greenville woman can't meet the 80-hour work requirement -- as it is most often called -- because she cares for her parents, Anna and Harold Guy, who are in their 80s.

Until two years ago, Mary Ellen Guy worked in Chicago as a leasing agent for Wirtz Realty Corp., but she resigned to return home when her parents needed her.

Working, school or volunteerism are not options right now. Anna Guy suffered a stroke earlier this year and needs around-the-clock assistance. Besides, Muhlenberg County's economy does not offer many professional positions for someone with Mary Ellen Guy's experience.

Even if the state's new regulations allow her, as her parents' caregiver, to keep her Medicaid benefits, she disagrees with the waiver and its requirements.

"For me, (Kentucky's Medicaid waiver) is a travesty," she said. "It's wrong on so many levels. You take one of the most important things -- health care -- and dangle it in front of people like a carrot."

Risks for working residents

State officials expect 95,000 Kentuckians to roll off Medicaid within the next five years.

That number includes people who may transition to commercial insurance as well as those who may fail to comply with new state requirements, said Kristi Putnam, Deputy Secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and program manager for the Medicaid waiver.

President Donald Trump listens to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin speak during a roundtable at the White House soon after Ky. became the first state to accept Medicaid work requirements.President Donald Trump listens to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin speak during a roundtable at the White House soon after Ky. became the first state to accept Medicaid work requirements.

Many who will lose benefits are already employed, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C.- based progressive think tank.

Most Medicaid recipients work, but they often face frequent job losses and fluctuating hours. Because of the instability associated with many low-wage jobs, the center estimates one in four enrollees may be at risk of losing benefits or experiencing interruptions in medical coverage each year because they will fail to be compliant.

"Approved and pending state work requirement policies are based on the assumption that people who want to work can find steady employment at regular hours," the national center reported. "This assumption is out of step with the realities of the low-wage labor market."

That is especially true in rural Kentucky, where the economy in some counties has not rebounded fully from the Great Recession.

Putnam said state officials have the authority to roll out the community-engagement requirement on a county-by-county basis. If a county's unemployment rates are high, the new requirements may be stalled.

"We know there are areas in the state that have challenges when it comes to job opportunities," Putnam said.

And, during the interview, she took issue with those who use the term "work requirements."

"Work is only one way to meet the requirement," Putnam said. The term community-engagement more accurately reflects the intent because people also can attend school, take care of their disabled children or volunteer at a park, for example.

Local concerns

Local Health Department officials have fielded lots of questions in recent months from anxious clients seeking answers about the new Medicaid waiver. At this early stage, the department's staff still struggles to understand the full impact, said Clay Horton, executive director.

In general, though, all able-bodied Medicaid recipients will see some changes. For example, they will have to provide documentation of work or volunteer hours.

"Some may have co-pays or be required to pay premiums," Horton said. "Also, some of their benefits, like dental and vision coverage, will shift to an alternative benefit plan called My Rewards, where the participant must earn dollars through completing education or community engagement activities."

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, some regional counties had uninsured rates as high as 22 percent.

"Our community suffered much under that reality," said Suzanne Craig, GRDHD's Daviess County Community Access Project coordinator. "We are sure there will be some obstacles, but we have confidence, given our past environment, that the community will rise to the challenge."

Last year, Medicaid clients made up about 30 percent of the health department's revenue. The biggest portion of those clients were children, pregnant women, parents and the medically frail.

"These groups shouldn't see as many changes to their coverage and requirements," Horton said.

Right now, the health department doesn't know of any direct impact to its revenue, but there could be an indirect impact if some clients lose coverage.

More than 13 percent of Owensboro Health Regional Hospital's net patient revenue comes from Medicaid, said Russ Ranallo, vice president of finance.

"We have patient financial advocates at the hospitals and clinics that assist our patients with applying for Medicaid coverage," Ranallo said. "We expect the reduction to be minimal."

Brandon Taylor, an Owensboro dentist and director of Community Dental Clinic, opposes the proposed My Rewards program. The Kentucky Dental Association and Dental Technical Advisory Committee are against it, too.

The My Rewards program -- which Putnam said will roll out statewide on July 1 -- requires recipients to engage in volunteerism, finish their GEDs, take smoking cessation classes and more to earn enough points to cover dental and optical needs, Taylor said.

In addition, recipients will be docked points if they go to an emergency room for anything not considered to be an emergency. Toothaches may fit in that category, Taylor said.

"So a possible scenario is that someone worked to accrue enough points through community engagement only to lose them when their face swells in the middle of the night due to an abscessed tooth. Now, they are unable to have the tooth extracted because they do not have enough points," he said.

Taylor wants emergency dental procedures excluded from the My Rewards program. "These procedures should be a guaranteed benefit to Medicaid recipients."

Lack of communication

Earlier this year, Mary Ellen Guy called WellCare, which provides her Medicaid coverage, looking for an answer to her question: Under the waiver, will she be able to keep her Medicaid benefits as her parents' caregiver?

WellCare representatives told her providing care at least 80 hours a month should protect her benefits. However, at the time, they offered no guarantee.

It's been hard to get answers, Mary Ellen Guy said, because agencies in charge of Medicaid aren't sure of the details yet.

She received a brief letter with no details months ago from state officials, which told Medicaid recipients to expect upcoming changes. But, since then, nothing.

"When something this major is going to change, it needs to be handled in a more organized way, and the communication should be handled better," she said.

Putnam said state officials wanted to get more information out before now.

However, in the state's defense, she said the federal government approved Kentucky's waiver on Jan. 12. Technology updates and policy refinements were needed before communication could start in earnest.

In the meantime, the Medicaid waiver staff enlisted the help of a citizen-engagement team that interviewed residents to learn what parts of the waiver were confusing and how the state could communicate better.

Putnam said state officials will focus on getting the word out during the next two weeks. "Communications are coming."

By Renee Beasley Jones
Messenger Inquirer

May 30, 2018

LeBron - America's King James Version

By Glenn Mollette

A couple of million Americans will be watching closely as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors compete for the 2018 NBA championship. LeBron James, a 6'8, 250 pound man who plays for the Cavaliers is the King James Version of basketball.

I was recently in Cleveland, Ohio while the Indiana Pacers were in town. Interestingly the Pacers were staying in my hotel and I saw them often on the elevator or the hotel lobby. The evening I was there I went down to the lobby in search for a snack and then headed back to the elevator when two men walked across the lobby area briskly and entered into the elevator first. I followed them on and was a bit awestruck that one guy with a baseball cap was large. He was maybe 6'8 or 6'9 and very stocky. I never mean to stare but this man looked familiar. He never looked at me to engage but kept his eyes on the elevator. By the time they got off the elevator I knew I was riding with the king of basketball - LeBron James.

Two weeks later I was back in Cleveland and had the opportunity to watch James and the Cavaliers play the Boston Celtics in the third game of their series. He scored 27 points and had 12 assists, just another night's work for James.

While NBA television viewership doesn't sound big, the NBA reached a television deal with ESPN and Turner Sports for 24 billion dollars over a nine year stretch in October of 2014. Thus, all NBA players earn very nice paychecks but especially King James. Forbes says James earned $86 million in 2017, including a $31.2 million salary and a whopping $55 million in product endorsements. James penned one Nike endorsement deal for $90 million dollars while he was still in high school. He has a net worth of $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. His salary for 2018 is $33,285,709. His total earnings for 2018 are reported to be about 85.3 million dollars. His salary is actually the second highest behind Stephen Curry who reportedly makes $34,682,550. This does not include Curry's endorsement money.

While LeBron's salary is mind boggling his stats as a player are whopping numbers as well. He has averaged 27.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds every game in 2018. For his entire 15 year NBA career he has averaged 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists every game. So far during the NBA 2018 finals he has scored over 40 points seven times putting him hot on the heels of Jerry West who scored over 40 points eight times in the NBA playoffs in 1965 when he was 26 years old.

I predict he gets over 40 at least twice in the Golden State series and expands his kingdom's reign.

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Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.


Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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