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Guest Editorial

Information needed on health exchange switch

There has been little information disseminated to the public regarding Kentucky’s transition from kynect to the federal health insurance exchange.
That is troubling since the transition is reportedly set to occur on Nov. 1. This month, the federal government approved Kentucky’s plans to dissolve its health exchange. The exchange has been held up as a model of success to the rest of the country but was something Gov. Matt Bevin vowed to dismantle even before being elected.
Bevin followed through with his plans and the U.S. Cabinet for Health and Human Services approved the move, with a caveat from an HHS employee saying that it was important that the transition be clearly explained to consumers.
That was Oct. 4, and there still has not been information released by Bevin’s office to the media about how the transition is going to work.
Kynect, regardless of where you fall in supporting it, had a massive campaign to inform Kentuckians how to avail themselves of the system and people were paid as kynectors to help Kentuckians get into the system. Kentucky now has the smallest uninsured population it has ever had. Health care workers and other health advocates worry that is something that will change during a transition period that is not clearly outlined.
According to some reports, Kentucky will actually still have an exchange but will be using the federal as an enrollment platform.
For consumers to consider, there also is the contraction of the Kentucky health insurance market. Aetna, WellCare, Baptist Health and United Healthcare won’t offer individual health plans for 2017, according to the website
Adding to that worry is uncertainty about what will happen with the state’s Medicaid program. Bevin has asked for the feds to approve exemptions for the program that includes requiring people to pay for such things as vision and dental care with reward money they have earned either by working or doing community volunteer work and requiring sliding scale premiums. Bevin has said Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid would only be maintained if the waiver was approved. The comment period on Bevin’s application ended Saturday.
What will happen in either scenario, and the full impact, needs to be clearly explained to Kentuckians.

Darts & Laurels

Laurel: Gov. Bevin announced the development of the eKentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute in Paintsville on Wednesday last week. His promise of making eastern Kentucky the manufacturing excellence hub for the United States is a good start to improving the lives of a lot of out of work miners.

Dart: Officer Matt Ferguson of Owingsville, formerly of Paintsville, passed away on Thursday from liver failure. Ferguson graduated from Johnson Central High School and started is career in the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office before moving on to other things. He will be missed.

Laurel: The schools in Johnson County are taking steps to ensure that our children remain safe and protected in the event of violence on campus. Kudos to the teachers and staff who step up to prepare for such an event in the hopes that it never happens.

Dart: This last surge of hot weather is supposed to take us over the hump of summer and into fall toward the end of the week. Keep an eye out for torrential rain on Thursday and Friday – just in time for football!

Laurel: Paintsville Fire and Rescue and Deputy Terry Tussey, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, went above and beyond on Thursday to help rescue a 200lb mastiff and a Pomeranian caught in a fire in Van Lear. The huge animal was carried out on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to the vet clinic while being treated with oxygen.

Guest Editorial

Hypocritical moral outrage

By John Shindlebower
The Spencer Magnet

So America, do we really want to have this discussion?
You say you’re outraged, flabbergasted and offended that a 59-year-old man would make such crude and perverted remarks about a woman? You say his comments are akin to condoning sexual assault or worse?
You worry about what kind of damage such remarks being made public may do to our young people. We need to protect the innocence of our children, you say.
You watch the news reports of Donald Trump’s horrible comments caught on tape and quickly grab the remote. You cannot imagine such filth is dominating the nightly news. In order to escape, you change the channel because your favorite show “Game of Thrones” is coming on. It’s a needed respite from the evil in the real world, but you don’t seem to mind the show’s frequent depictions of sexual abuse, rape and gratuitous nudity.
Do you feel like a hypocrite? Perhaps you should.
In fact, those of us who are quick to point fingers and call out Donald Trump’s words from 11 years ago, should probably take a close look at what we allow piped into our own homes, and review what types of movies we support with our hard-earned money.
If our nation is truly outraged by what a man said, during what he thought was a private conversation with one other person, shouldn’t we also be outraged by messages equally or even more vulgar that are delivered over the airwaves and cable systems to millions and millions of homes every hour of every day?
Of course, to speak out against immoral television or movies makes one a prude. Groups like the American Family Association began voicing concerns more than 30 years ago at what they saw happening on television. Most Americans scoffed, and many who agreed that television was becoming too sex-oriented, were afraid to speak out. So down the slippery slope our nation has continued.
It seems that every year, new movies and television shows would push the envelope a little further, and occasionally someone would speak out. But the backlash by those in Hollywood and the media’s attempt to mislabel their concern as censorship, kept others from speaking up.
When television was new, shows like “I Love Lucy,” “The Honeymooners,” and “Andy Griffith,” entertained families with good, clean humor. Other shows like “Gunsmoke” and “Perry Mason” dealt with weightier issues of right and wrong, but good almost always prevailed over evil.
Things began to change, most notably in the 70s, and soon the standards were lowered. The same thing happened with the movies, and even to music.
Cable television allowed companies to circumvent certain Federal Communications Commission guidelines for profanity and nudity since they weren’t being transmitted over the public airwaves. VCRs allowed people to bring more adult-oriented movies into their home.
While it’s often said that art imitates life, the opposite is probably a more accurate description, especially when it comes to young people. They begin mimicking what they see on television and the movies, so as values and morality declined on screen, so too did they begin to decline in real life.
Today, the easy access to movies of all ratings, the never-ending number of channels available in most homes and the internet, has allowed the most vile, abhorrent material available to you, or to your children, simply with a few clicks of a button.
The feigned moral outrage over Trump’s objectifying women lacks sincerity from a culture who stands by and allows a certain fast food chain to peddle its hamburgers using half-naked women and sexual imagery.
It seems those screaming the loudest at Trump for his treatment of women, are from Hollywood. Let the irony of that sink in for a moment.
I hope this nation truly wants to have this discussion. Perhaps it will usher in a new push toward decency and protecting the innocence of our children.
But I doubt it. This discussion will last about 30 days, just until the election is over. The aim is to derail Trump.
So enjoy the self-righteous indignation for a few more weeks. After the election, our culture will rush to return to the depravity too many of us seem to enjoy.

Darts & Laurels

Laurel: Welcome to Paintsville eKentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute! This new training center is taking out of work miners and teaching them to transfer their hi-tech skills to CNC manufacturing machines. So far they’ve had 100 percent placement getting students into jobs that utilize these new skills.

Dart: The number of cases of horrendous abuse of children reminds us daily that the world can be a dark place and we need to look out and protect our youngest, most precious citizens from those who wish to harm them.

Laurel: One of the best parts of fall is the annual Van Lear Haunted Museum, which started this past weekend. The creepy air of the museum combined with actual reports of unexplained phenomenon makes it a popular stop as a warm up for Halloween.

Dart: The trend of dressing up like a clown to scare people just needs to stop. Copycat clowns are popping up around the country, and so are incidents where the clown is getting arrested or even shot. Don’t let a stupid trend be the reason for someone in our community getting hurt.

Laurel: The Johnson County Health Department is hosting a series of “Get Moving Johnson County” walks to promote diabetes prevention. The next one will be on Saturday, Oct. 15 along the Paintsville Lake-Kiwanis Trail starting at 8 a.m. The perfect weather and cool temperatures make this an event not to be missed.

Guest Editorial

Transparency: a tired refrain

By John Nelson
The Advocate-Messenger

For 40 years I’ve been having this conversation with newspaper readers, with elected officials, public employees — even their lawyers, who often are less ignorant of the law than they are adept at looking for ways around it — and it’s getting old.
If you think that sounds condescending, then I’ll bet you think this song is about you … and it is.
Transparency is the name of this tune, and it is about everyone. If you’re a voter, it’s about your ability to trust your government and all of its extensions. If you also happen to be a public servant, it’s about your ability to gain and maintain the trust of all the rest of the voters. It’s about your responsible handling of the information with which you have been entrusted, and it’s about your willingness and responsibility to account for your actions.
You’re being transparent if you are obeying those laws. If you’re not, be prepared to be viewed as irresponsible, defiant, arrogant, controlling, suspicious and having something to hide. There are additional relevant adjectives, but you get the gist.
Unfortunately, some public agencies just don’t care. They appear determined to undermine open meetings and open records laws, forcing their opponents into court and spending taxpayer money to pay the legal fees. Public relations be damned.
Institutions of higher learning are now among those trying hardest to avoid the sunshine, to hide in the shadows.
The University of Kentucky has sued its student newspaper in an attempt to avoid complying with an attorney general’s order to release information — even to the attorney general himself — about how it handled allegations of sexual misconduct by a professor. The independent student newspaper will have legal fees in the tens of thousands, at least. Fortunately, it has financial support from the professional community.
Northern Kentucky University is requesting a gag order be issued in a lawsuit over the school’s handling of an alleged rape in a dorm three years ago. The victim claims the school and police mishandled the investigation. A local newspaper, on its own dime, has asked through its lawyer to intervene.
If you are the parent or prospective parent of a college student, you deserve to know how these problems are being handled. Hell, if you pay taxes, you deserve to know.
The universities argue they are trying to protect the privacy of the victims. But the identities of victims have in no way been revealed by either the professional or student media, and they wouldn’t be even if they were in hand. The universities know this. They are kidding no one about their real motives.
What they don’t want is anyone but their lawyers diving into their policies or the way they handled the situations in question. They don’t want to be examined or held accountable publicly. That’s all we can assume, based on their actions.
But the schools aren’t alone in their accountability fears. The Kentucky Horse Park Commission recently tried to keep a Lexington Herald-Leader reporter from an “invitation-only” meeting about the future of the park. How is that justifiable? It’s not, and after some pressure, the reporter eventually was allowed into the meeting. But the commission’s notion that it could get away with a secret meeting on so broad a topic is incredibly frustrating.
These are just the most troubling and visible in a recent wave of incidents occurring at every level of government almost every day. There are state agencies, city councils, fiscal courts and school boards across Kentucky that often act in either complete ignorance or complete disdain for the laws requiring they conduct business openly.
Most public agencies and officials try to do the right thing, and most who don’t are usually undereducated or ill-advised. But it doesn’t take much of an effort, or a law degree, to understand the rules, rules that are handed to all elected officials on their first day.
A responsible local press spends a good deal of its time educating and re-educating public officials about what their responsibilities are under the law, and holding them accountable. It’s easier in some communities than in others. But there is no denying that 40 years since this state passed laws that attempt to guarantee transparency, enforcing them remains a challenge.
So while this tired refrain is getting old, those of us who care will continue to put it to music whenever necessary.

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