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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
Number of posts: 47,004

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Wisconsin: State budget includes repeal of Medicaid whistle-blower provision


The repeal of the law — no more than a few words and a reference to a section in the state statute — was included in an omnibus motion on Medicaid by the Joint Finance Committee and drew little attention. There were no hearings or even public discussion by the committee.

"Whose idea is this?" asked Nola Hitchcock Cross, a Milwaukee lawyer who has won multimillion-dollar settlements involving Medicare and Medicaid fraud. "It's just shortsighted and dumb. It's telling Wisconsin that we are not going to collect this money."


Cross represented a whistle-blower in a lawsuit that recently led to a $31.5 million settlement with PharMerica, which provides pharmacy services to nursing homes and other institutional customers as well as other services in 45 states. The lawsuit alleged the company illegally dispensed drugs, such as OxyContin and fentanyl, without valid prescriptions, and falsely billed the government for them.

Cross also represented a nurse in a lawsuit against Odyssey Healthcare Inc., one of the country's largest providers of hospice care and now part of Gentiva Health Services, that led to a $25 million settlement.

The Wisconsin Republicans don't want to discourage these corporations from bilking the taxpayers. Note that it's corporations, not patients, that were exposed by the old whistleblower law.

Medicaid Refusals Create New Mason-Dixon Line


The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent refusal to pull health-care subsidies from some 6.4 million Americans over some imprecise wording in the Affordable Care Act was a mercy. But health care remains a stark and shameful instance of the nation’s failure to overcome persistent racial disparities.

That owes in part to an earlier Supreme Court ruling. Originally, the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion was supposed to be implemented across the board, in every state. But the high court gave states the option of rejecting the expansion. This led to the shocking coverage gap we have today.

As of the beginning of this year, 3.8 million low-income adults lacked health insurance as a result of these rejections. These are people with incomes too high for their states’ regular Medicaid programs but too low to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for private coverage.

Those pushed beyond the health care margins are disproportionately people of color. The Kaiser Family Fund has calculated that 27 percent of the uninsured are African-American and 24 percent are Latino. Most of these people live in states of the Old Confederacy.

More at the link.

Squat Wanker's presidential campaign logo needs a little fixing ...

From this ...

To this ...

Hmmmm, looks familiar ...

Thanks to http://www.bluecheddar.net/?p=42865#more-'

A well-right-of-center colleague just sent me an email, subject "Go Obama!"

It has a single link...


A done deal, Obama to create Basin and Range monument

WASHINGTON — A vast sweep of rural Nevada marked by lonely desert valleys, craggy mountain ranges and both ancient and modern art will become the newest addition to the nation’s inventory of protected landscapes today.

President Barack Obama will sign a proclamation designating the Basin and Range National Monument on 704,000 acres — 1,100 square miles — of Lincoln and Nye counties, the White House announced Thursday night.

It will be the second monument created in Nevada within eight months and will join 21 others in the West and more than 100 around the country.

Using his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906, Obama today also will sign proclamations creating the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in Northern California and the Waco Mammoth National Monument in a fossil-rich area of central Texas.

I believe the Republicans efforts to limit the creation of new parks, and sell off our existing national parks, will hurt them next November.

I’m a proud member of the Purity Police.

That said, “purity” in a political candidate is not a reasonable expectation. Even the candidates with whom I most closely align have significant policy positions that differ from my own. I get that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” candidate from a policy perspective, and if there was, he/she would still have to demonstrate two more qualities: The perfect ability to get elected and the perfect ability to advance good legislation.

“Perfect”, you see, is an absolute, so grammatically there is no “perfecter” or “perfectest”. It’s “more nearly perfect” and “most nearly perfect.”

And those are the candidates I want representing the Democratic Party – the most nearly perfect ones we can muster. And that’s why I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m part of the Purity Police. I want our party to advance the most nearly perfect policies and candidates that we can.

So when you accuse me of being a “purist” I take that both as a complement and as an admission that you knowingly don’t support the more nearly perfect policies and candidates that the party has to offer in favor of lesser candidates and lesser policies.

And I wonder why that would be.

Wisconsin: Another bomb in Wanker's "budget" - Payday Loan Expansion

from my email ...


The State Legislature pushed through a potentially very damaging provision in the state budget that is now before the Governor. Please call the Governor's office, (608) 266-1212, right now - even after hours - and leave a message: VETO THE EXPANSION OF THE PAYDAY LOAN INDUSTRY. It will only take a minute.

Background: At the very last minute, the Joint Finance Committee added language which would dramatically increase the amount of business that could be done by predatory Pay Day Loan businesses. As the article linked here makes clear, the new law would allow predatory lending establishments to get involved in all kinds of businesses, ranging from insurance to liquor stores, thus increasing their capacity to squeeze even more money from the people who can least afford it.

Besides being bad policy that makes it easier to exploit vulnerable people, it is a policy change that was introduced in a very undemocratic way. There has been no hearing on the matter, and no public discussion. There is not even a single legislator willing to claim it as his or her idea. It is something the legislature is ashamed of: it is why it was done by night.

The Governor needs to veto the provision and instruct the legislature to have the courage to debate the issue on its own merits, rather than try to sneak it into the budget.

Wisconsin: Democrats sue state election officials over 2011 redistricting


A dozen Democrats sued election officials Wednesday over legislative maps Republicans drew in 2011 that helped give them a firm grip on state government.

The lawsuit comes two years after a panel of three federal judges in separate litigation redrew two Assembly districts and blasted GOP lawmakers for drawing the maps in secret. That panel found the two districts on Milwaukee's south side violated the voting rights of Latinos, but it upheld all the other legislative maps, allowing Republicans to keep their advantage in elections. The new lawsuit seeks to change that by arguing the maps are so partisan as to be unconstitutional.

"This case we hope will be the election law equivalent of Brown v. Board of Education," said Milwaukee attorney Peter Earle, referring to the landmark school desegregation case. "We will establish a national standard that can be used reliably into the future."


Democratic voters from around the state brought the case in federal court in Madison against members of the state Government Accountability Board, which runs elections but was not involved in drawing the maps. It has the backing of a group called the Wisconsin Fair Elections Project that was formed to promote nonpartisan redistricting.

Which is cheaper, buying insurance or a state legislature?

If you're talking about Wisconsin, the legislature is cheaper than insurance!


State budget provision exempts Enbridge from Dane County insurance requirement

Dane County’s efforts to require a Canadian company to carry special environmental insurance for a pipeline running through the county could see its actions reversed by a last-minute state budget provision added by Republicans Thursday.

The provision, which was added to the proposed state budget anonymously, would block a county measure to require Enbridge Energy to carry$25 million in pollution insurance before it can proceed with a planned pipeline capacity expansion.

Under the change, towns and counties would be blocked from imposing additional insurance requirements. Although the measure did not specifically mention Enbridge, the company has been feuding with Dane County for months over pollution insurance.

Enbridge’s Line 61 carries Canadian tar sands crude across Wisconsin from Superior to Flanagan, Illinois. The 42-inch pipeline is powered by 13 stations along the route, including one in northeastern Dane County. The company is adding pumping horsepower to increase the line’s average annual capacity from 400,000 barrels to 1.2 million barrels a day.

Enbridge? Enbridge? Hmmmm, where have I heard that name before. Oh yeah ...


Hillary Clinton's Keystone XL Crony Lobbyists Problem

DLA PIPER employees and PACs contributed $480,150 to Hillary Clinton's 2008 run, making it the largest single source of funds for a corporate entity to Clinton.

DLA PIPER partner James Blanchard, a former Governor of Michigan, served as Michigan Chairman of Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, and was rewarded by President Clinton with the post of U.S. ambassador to Canada (1993-96). He also was a key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. According to Public Citizen, Blanchard was one of 22 "Bundlers for Hillary Clinton who have registered as Federal Lobbyists."

The government of Alberta retained Blanchard to lobby Washington last year. According to lobbying disclosure records reviewed by Climate Action Network Canada (p. 9), Blanchard and other DLA Piper lobbyists had more than 80 interactions with U.S. officials and politicians in the year beginning March 1, 2009, on behalf of the Government of Alberta. Blanchard alone billed over $300,000 in fees.

Blanchard sits on the board of major tar sands pipeline company Enbridge, which spilled roughly 20,000 barrels of oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River last year, and tried to hide the fact that the spill involved tar sands crude. Enbridge's pipelines move the lion's share of tar sands crude into the U.S.

The Monster from the Black Lagoon, AKA Scott Walker's Executive Budget

Here it is, horror upon horror hidden in 638 pages of "budget." Some of the awful policies in this document have already been exposed (e.g., ending public records, pillaging the Wisconsin Retirement System) and Walker has had to walk them back.

More remain. Let's find them and expose them all.


Met with Russ Feingold yesterday.

Yesterday I travelled to the metropolis of Plover, Wisconsin to meet Russ Feingold. I knew I was at the right place when I noticed all the cars had bumber stickers touting Democratic candidates (including serveral "Bernie" stickers). Russ is running for the US Senate, trying to re-take the seat that Sunspot Johnson won from him in the Tea Party wave of 2010.

Since 2013, Russ has been working for President Obama as a special envoy to the Congo, where his efforts helped prevent a war.

(See http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024649803 for more on this.)

Russ spent about 45 minutes speaking with supporters one-on-one, then addressed the gathering of perhaps 100. He stumped for State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), then explained why he was again running for the Senate. He minced no words, pointing out how extreme the national Republican party has become and how dangerous they are to America. He was also critical of Wisconsin's Republicans and their efforts to undermine public education. He recounted his own education here in Wisconsin and indicated he was personally offended by Republican's demonizing of teachers particularly and union members and working class folks generally.

It was great to meet him (again). I congratulated him on his work in the Congo and thanked him for running. Please support this true progressive if you can.


Oh yeah, this beauty was in the parking lot ...

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