Kentucky New Era
Gov. Matt Bevin’s pledge to dismantle Kynect, the state’s successful health insurance exchange, will probably be accomplished long before he secures an agreement with the federal government to make changes in the Medicaid expansion program.
While we’re hopeful Bevin will make significant improvements in the expanded Medicaid program, which is part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, we are less enthusiastic about his insistence to do away with Kynect.
Kynect and expanded Medicaid are the two main components of ACA, which is also called Obamacare, and both are optional to the states.
Kynect has been nationally recognized as one of the most efficient and successful programs to come out of the federal health care law. But Bevin has said Kynect is a duplication of services because there is already a federal exchange, HealthCare.gov.
The problem with Bevin’s argument is that he fails to follow a basic tenant of conservative philosophy, which is that most government services are best delivered at the local or state level rather than the federal level. With few exceptions, federal programs are inherently inefficient compared to state-run programs.
There is a legitimate concern among supporters of Kynect that Bevin is taking down the state exchange mainly because of its association with Obama, who is widely unpopular among Kentuckians.
At this point, it is unclear how much Kentucky will have to spend to dismantle Kynect, and that’s a question that needs to be settled before the state health exchange is shut down.
The previous administration, under Gov. Steve Beshear, estimated it would cost $23 million to dismantle Kynect. That figure is probably an over-estimate, but Bevin has not been able to give any estimate other than saying it will be “a small fraction” of Beshear’s figure.
Kentucky spent about $57 million in federal grant money to create Kynect. Shouldn’t the federal government expect some reimbursement from Kentucky for dismantling something built with federal dollars that is working so well?
And there are some questions about whether this plan will actually end the duplication of services that Bevin says he opposes.
Audrey Tayse Haynes, who was the health secretary under Beshear, recently said the state will have to maintain a call center for Kentucky residents in addition to the federal call center, Al Cross wrote for the Kentucky Health News blog. “We’re going to have a different kind of duplication of services,” she said.
Bevin isn’t likely to back down from his pledge to dismantle Kynect, but more and more, this does not look like a good move for the state.
Darts & Laurels
A laurel to Johnson County High School’s participation in the BARR program. Heading problems off at the pass is a good way to keep students focused on education.
A dart to the fallout of the heavy snow that caused damage to the marina, school buildings, vehicles, and snow plows.
A laurel to members of the All-District Band for their hard work and consistent practice ensuring that they represent their school and community well.
A dart to potential price gougers. People in need shouldn’t have to face additional struggles.
A laurel to the US 23 Country Music Highway Museum for adding items honoring Miss Dixie to the Tom T. Hall exhibit. It’s always nice to see the “behind the scenes” people get their due.
2016 primaries reflect true national turmoil
By Jim Paxton
The Paducah Sun
The 2016 presidential race has for a time been entertaining. The success of such bombastic candidates as Donald Trump on the GOP side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic far left have been a source of amusement for the many who enjoy seeing traditional politicians squirm.
But most in the media and elsewhere dismissed the popularity of Trump and Sanders as a passing fad, a sort of voter temper tantrum, if you will, that would run its course by the time the real primary voting began.
If polls mean anything, that’s not happening. The Iowa Caucus is Feb. 1. New Hampshire votes eight days later. Polls over the past weekend show Trump winning Iowa and running away with New Hampshire. Even more surprising is the surge by Sanders, who describes himself as a socialist. Some recent polls show Sanders edging ahead of heretofore-presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Iowa and crushing her in New Hampshire.
All politics aside, these developments are really pretty extraordinary in terms of what they say about the mindset of the country. An article in Sunday’s Paducah Sun discussed an Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs poll that showed more than 60 percent of Americans have little to no confidence in the federal government to address the nation’s top problems. We think that view is directly reflected in both presidential primaries, where for the moment traditional candidates are on the outs with many voters.
But is public discontent so high that voters might really go down this path, nominating Trump and/or Sanders?
Concern about that prospect is particularly high on the GOP side, because of what Trump advocates. Columnist Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, wrote in the Sun last week that, “We are already seeing the disturbing normalization of policies and arguments that recently seemed unacceptable, even unsayable. Trump proposes the forced expulsion of 11 million people, or a ban on Muslim immigration, and there are a few days of outrage from responsible Republican leaders. But the proposals still lie on the table, seeming regular and acceptable. But they are not acceptable. They are not normal. They are extreme, and obscene and immoral.”
Gerson strikes on what for us is the most disturbing aspect of the Trump candidacy - not that Trump would say what he says, but that Americans in great numbers would embrace it as the right path for the nation.
Sanders for his part would fundamentally change the American economy. He proposes to raise taxes by more than $1 trillion a year, including imposing a 90 percent tax bracket on people (including many small businesses) earning more than $1 million a year. He would use that to fund an enormous expansion of the welfare state, including government health care and expanded entitlements such as Social Security.
Those who are disaffected with the state of the economy under President Obama’s policies haven’t seen anything when one considers the damage Sanders’ policies would do. But Sanders has become enough of a worry to prompt the president to come to candidate Clinton’s defense earlier this week, when the president dismissed Sanders as a “bright, shiny object” (thus impugning voters’ intelligence, which is nothing new for Obama).
We understand the current political angst of Americans. But the solution is not to head down the reactionary path, on either side of the political spectrum. We remind ourselves that in elections of the recent past, early polls and early primaries have produced more than a few head fakes. This year may prove no different. But the mood of the nation is unlike anything in our memory, and regardless of the political outcome, we find it disturbing.
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to the Rotary Club of Paintsville for showing us through their scarf project that there are many ways to “be a gift to the world.”
A dart to using a pit bull to assist with a crime. Pit bulls only want to please their owners and are so often mistreated.
A laurel to the improved financial position of the City of Paintsville. There is still a whole lot of work to be done and problems to address, but it’s good to see things moving in the right direction.
A dart to winter storm Jonas and the hazardous mess he dropped on us.
A laurel to all of the road crew workers who endure perilous conditions to help us keep on trucking. Thank you!
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to Citizens National Bank for their recent merger with Alliance Banking Company in Winchester. Citizens now operates 13 offices throughout, Boyd, Carter, Floyd, Greenup, Johnson, Lawrence, Magoffin, Pike and now Clark Counties.
A dart to the tough economic times that are causing layoffs throughout the area.
A laurel to Johnson County’s Grand Jury for their recent indictment of 17 individuals, now it is up to the courts to follow through with stiffer punishments for breaking the law.
A dart to the alleged “inappropriate” contact with a minor from an adult male who reportedly is a Paintsville/Johnson County 911 operator and volunteer fireman.
A laurel Johnson County Judge/Executive R. T. “Tucker” Daniel for his recent inquiry into payments from other stakeholder counties to the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center. As Daniel said, “he understands that tough economic times can take a toll on county governments, but that everyone must be held responsible for their bills.”