Friday, October 30, 2015

Frankfort's $100 million bailout proves failure

Late last night, Congress caved in to President Obama on spending caps and the debt ceiling and tucked a $100 million ObamaCare Medicaid bailout to Kentucky into the bill.

The bailout -- total immediate cost about $7.5 billion for all states combined -- highlights yet another ObamaCare mess Congress and Obama only make worse by papering it over with borrowed funds. What happened is this: quickly increasing healthcare costs under ObamaCare have jacked up Medicare spending, resulting in a requested $55 a month in Medicare premiums for some beneficiaries, including those on both Medicare and Medicaid. Such "dual eligibles" get their premiums paid by state governments.

There are around 200,000 dual eligibles in Kentucky. At a $55 increase, Kentucky's Medicaid funds would have faced an additional $132 million cost in 2016 just for this. The unaffordable ObamaCare Medicaid expansion's pre-existing strains on state coffers would have been rocked hard by this hit, which should have been anticipated by Frankfort Obamacrats, but wasn't.

The budget agreement reduced this year's $55 Medicare premium hike to $15. This means the big hit is put off to next year, which changes nothing for Kentucky's biennial (two year) budget. And the unaffordable $132 million 2016 Medicaid increase for Kentucky taxpayers is now an unaffordable $36 million increase in 2016.

None of these facts prevented Al Cross' ObamaCare sycophants at the University of Kentucky from reporting falsely that the deal "eliminates" the increase. Typical.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Obama FDA attacks people trying to quit smoking

Cigarette smokers across Kentucky trying to quit smoking with electronic cigarettes face strong resistance from big-government types addicted to tobacco taxes. This is a fight for all of us to engage in, much like the Boston Tea Party was a fight for tea drinkers and non-drinkers alike.

The Obama Administration is attempting to wipe out electronic cigarettes by saddling the industry with extremely expensive Food and Drug Administration regulation which would raise costs dramatically and probably cause most of the industry to go away just as it is starting to have a measurable impact.

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey suggests more than half of people who have recently quit smoking (55%) use electronic cigarettes. Adam Mayer of Versailles, KY says electronic cigarettes helped him quit smoking.

"It's cheaper, tastes better, I feel better, it smells better, my sense of smell is better, it's faster than smoking, more convenient than smoking, and probably much less dangerous for you and others around you. Also, I don't have bronchitis every couple of months anymore," he said.

Ken Moellman of Independence KY agrees.

"It works and I feel better, too," he said.

The FDA is overreaching with their e-cigarette regulations by mandating ridiculously expensive regulation of all such products brought to market since February 2007. Imagine what it would be like if they did the same thing with cell phones. The difference here is e-cigs are being used to improve people's health and they are working. Free markets populated by free people have always made better regulators than government. H.R. 2058 in Congress now would rein in the FDA and allow the industry to continue to serve its ever-growing customer base.

Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green is the only Kentucky co-sponsor of this bill so far. Please ask your representative to help.

Non-smokers and people who don't use electronic cigarettes should come to the aid of these people while we can. Your business or a product that positively impacts your health could be next.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How Rand Paul can beat Boehner's budget bill

Boehner Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives will combine with Nancy Pelosi's Democrats to pass a smoke-and-mirrors budget bill as fast as possible, suspending the nation's debt limit and busting sequester spending caps. Senator Rand Paul has promised to fight the measure by any means necessary. His fight need not be in vain.

Moderate House Republicans claim falsely the bill makes cuts to Social Security Disability. This is a great place for Senator Paul to start shining light into this dark hole, because the bill simply moves money from Social Security Retirement to Disability without making needed reforms.

"Washington D.C. Republicans used to make fun of Obamacrats financing ObamaCare with billions of dollars stolen from Medicare, but now they are taking a very similar approach with Social Security Disability," said David Adams, Kentucky Progress publisher. "When Obama came into office, there were four million Americans on Disability and now there are twelve million. Addressing the fraud involved in this massive increase gives Senator Paul just the opening he is looking for."

The Stop Disability Fraud Act of 2014 never got off the ground in Congress, but now would be a great time for Rand to dust it off and start it moving. It's embarrassing to watch Republicans campaign on cutting waste and never follow through when they have the chance. This moment of conservative discontent is Rand Paul's big chance.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Beshear legacy: missing billions, hidden details

A newly released official report from Frankfort shows a $2.8 billion increase in budgeted state debt since Gov. Steve Beshear took office in December 2007, while another, more detailed financial report required by law to be released before Election Day remains hidden from the public.

The Semi-Annual Report of the Kentucky Asset/Liability Commission indicates state appropriation-supported debt as of June 30, 2015 was $8.9 billion. On December 31, 2007, when Beshear was sworn into office, it was $6.1 billion. Another document, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), shows state government net assets declining from $17.3 billion in 2007 to $10.0 billion on June 30, 2014. The 2015 CAFR is required to be released by the end of September, according to KRS 48.800(3), but is nowhere to be found.

A state finance official stated on background that the report would appear after the November elections.

"Even after blowing $3.7 billion in federal 'stimulus' funds and ignoring billions more in accumulated unfunded pension liabilities, Governor Beshear has obliterated $10 billion in state assets since he has been in office, while annual revenues steadily increased," said Kentucky Progress publisher David Adams. "The Beshear legacy is not just one of fiscal mismanagement, but also of lying, spinning and hiding information Kentuckians need to judge whether to grant continued power to his political party or his family."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Make Kentucky a free market mecca

A new Gallup poll suggests support among American adults for marijuana legalization is close to sixty percent. In Kentucky, it is probably higher. Kentucky still has a great opportunity to lead on this front by declining to join states attempting to enrich public coffers with marijuana revenue.

Marijuana is food and should be taxed as such. In Kentucky, that means no sales tax. Kentucky needs freedom and real economic growth far more than it needs another direct revenue stream for state government. Dismantling the black market for marijuana in Kentucky would improve public safety beyond that which has happened in other marijuana states by eliminating demand for black market dealers. This real price competition would create a magnet drawing in people from all over the country.

Marijuana legalization and the creation of a real free market for its distribution remains a great political issue for those who lead the way in making it happen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Matt Bevin should weigh in on bullying

Gov. Steve Beshear wants to set up another expensive state agency to "prevent bullying" in state schools. Of course. That's what people like him do. Jack Conway will be all over it if he gets the chance.

My guess is Matt Bevin would handle it better. He should say so.

Kentucky doesn't need legislative hearings to debate how to define bullying and we certainly don't need to spend more money on some kind of ill-conceived "war on bullying," for Heaven's sake.

"Ridiculous 'zero-tolerance' policies which punish self-defense as well as coming to the aid of a bullied child serve only to embolden bullies and worsen the atmosphere in our schools," Kentucky Progress publisher David Adams said. "Jack Conway would have us create a new touchy-feely bureaucracy when all we lack is a little common sense. Bullies don't need group therapy and sensitivity training nearly as much as they need adults who won't coddle them in their bad behaviors."

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hillary blames GOP for Obama Medicare mess

The ObamaCare law raised Medicare payroll taxes, booked "savings" by reducing payments to Medicare providers and has raised healthcare costs dramatically. Given that her claim to fame is trying unsuccessfully to do the same thing to us two decades ago, Hillary Clinton took the opportunity of ObamaCare wreaking further havoc on state budgets to blame Republicans.

"This is outrageous and senseless and Congress must act to fix the law," Clinton told Politico. "At a time when out-of-pocket medical costs are already rising, we cannot afford to let Republican obstructionism pile additional costs on our seniors. I urge the Republican candidates for president to call on their congressional majority to end the games and protect our seniors."

This Clintonian nonsense deserves a swift response.

"Obamacrats didn't need a single Republican vote to force us into ObamaCare and Hillary Clinton missed every chance she had to stop this before it happened," said Kentucky Progress publisher David Adams. "Now she wants congressional Republicans to jump up and spend $10 billion this year we don't have to save her and her Washington D.C. friends from their latest embarrassment. No, throwing good money after bad to address damage that can only be fixed by repeal of ObamaCare is not why America elected Republican majorities in Congress. Go fish, Hillary."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Jack Conway channels Bernie Sanders, blames "market forces" for KY ObamaCare failure

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway took on the tone of his party's leading presidential candidate, avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, in blaming the failure of Kentucky Health Cooperative on "market forces," when the blame belongs completely to government.

"Federal law prevented health co-ops from hiring management with industry experience, so the Kentucky Cooperative was run by government hacks," said Kentucky Progress publisher David Adams. "When the Cooperative filed Kentucky's lowest health premiums for 2014, it was easy to predict they would get the sickest people who had no place else to go and that this would take them under. Insurance regulators could have prevented it, but like Jack Conway and the hacks running the co-op, they really thought the federal government would clean up all their messes. Blaming market forces for this is like Jack Conway blaming spoons for making him fat."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

'Obamacrats R Us' opening in Lexington, Louisville

The dismal Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange's end of year spending binge launched today with news the state's medical insurance bureaucrats plan to open retail sales locations in Lexington and Louisville malls for three months beginning November 1, according to the Kynect web site.

Specific locations were not divulged, but expect to see "Obamacrats R Us" in the most expensive available retail space.

"Don't hold your breath waiting for fiscal restraint from these people," said Kentucky Progress publisher David Adams. "Anyone who blows through a quarter billion dollars setting up an ObamaCare web site can't be expected to make it through Christmas without wasting tens of thousands more on posh suburban backdrops for photo-ops."

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tell Rand Paul to investigate Frankfort Obamacrats

The Kentucky Health Cooperative quietly went out of business over the weekend, but not before posting staggeringly bad results with American taxpayer dollars. The in-your-face waste, fraud and abuse deserves congressional hearings and prosecutions as a serious start to reversing ObamaCare's damage.

In 2014, the Cooperative, run by former state insurance bureaucrats, booked $173.2 million in premium payments and incurred $349.4 million in claims on capital including $123.8 million in loans from the federal government. That alone should indicate at least two things: the money to repay the American people does not exist and the millions in salaries and perks for Cooperative management was ill-spent and probably fraudulently so.

"The same people who have been regulating health insurance into the ground in Kentucky in recent years sucked up massive federal loans for the ill-fated Kentucky Health Cooperative debacle, creating a trail of victims along the way," said Kentucky Progress publisher David Adams. "They deserve open hearings in Congress and fair trials before being frog-marched off to prison."

Friday, October 09, 2015

Watch for a $100 million Frankfort Medicaid bomb

If a proposed $55 a month increase in Medicare premiums gains approval this month, Kentucky taxpayers will be hit with another $100 million a year Medicaid bill in 2016 no one in Frankfort is addressing publicly.

That's because some 200,000 Kentucky Medicare recipients are also on Medicaid, which means the state pays their premiums.

The executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors sounded an alarm to the New York Times about this issue, though he didn't mention Kentucky specifically.

"This is a huge issue for states," Executive Director Matt D. Salo said. "To finance Medicare, the federal government would shift billions of dollars in costs to state Medicaid programs."

Idaho, which has about one-fifth as many Medicare/Medicaid "dual eligibles" as Kentucky, projects an additional $20 million cost. California, with about six times as many dual eligibles, expects to pay an additional $550 million a year.

The Medicare premium increase should be made official later this month.

"The Beshear administration's rosy projections for Medicaid expansion in Kentucky very stupidly didn't consider the impact of the Medicare unfunded ticking time bomb," said Kentucky Progress publisher David Adams. "At the very moment logic dictates we should be running away from federal healthcare manipulation as fast as we can, Kentucky Democrats have us curling up with it on the floor and counting down to zero."

Friday, October 02, 2015

Run, don't walk, away from KY Health Cooperative

In the week since regulators ordered the nation's largest ObamaCare health cooperative to shut its doors, Kentucky politicos have been silent about our Kentucky Health Cooperative, which is in even worse shape and faces imminent collapse.

Matt Bevin should not let this one go another week.

"When the Kentucky Health Cooperative dissolves -- and no one seriously expects that to be an 'if' anymore -- real people are going to be hurt because of unpaid claims," said Kentucky Progress publisher David Adams. "Jack Conway and Steve Beshear want to keep the truth hidden from their victims until after the election. The perpetrators of this sham rest easy at night expecting Matt Bevin to quietly let it go."