Archive for October, 2014

Texas Medicaid Expansion and Control of Epidemics

October 4, 2014

An Ebola case in Texas should give us pause to think about what Medicaid expansion would mean in controlling epidemics. Diseases know no jurisdictional boundaries and we should expect more isolated cases of Ebola. However, one or a few closely-connected cases of a disease are not an outbreak or epidemic. What stops an outbreak is the public health infrastructure including PREVENTIVE measures such as vaccines and sanitation standards, INVESTIGATIVE work such as lab testing and contact tracing and medical TREATMENT and care of patients.

“What does Medicaid expansion have to do with this?” you might ask. It provides access to care for those who lack resources. In Texas, you have to be very poor to qualify for Medicaid. Now, because of the Affordable Care Act, if your income is at least at or above the federal poverty level you can buy health insurance on a sliding scale making your out-of-pocket costs affordable. But what about the millions in that gap too “wealthy” for Medicaid but too poor for subsidized insurance? That is who Medicaid expansion is intended to cover, so that EVERYONE can go to a doctor when they are sick or to receive preventive vaccines and exams. Our federal tax dollars return to Texas, saving State government BILLIONS. Doctors and hospitals get paid for providing the care, 300,000 jobs get created and local taxpayers are freed from costs for uncompensated care.

Access to care is a huge part of preventing the spread of diseases like Influenza or Ebola.   For example, we currently have about 1 million food workers in Texas and, in part because of their substandard wages, many fall in that gap with no access to care and no paid sick leave. So, instead of seeing a doctor when they are sick with easily-transmitted colds and flu, they go to work, handling the food you eat and the plates or boxes you handle. YOU catch whatever they caught and the disease spreads.

An Ebola outbreak is not likely in Texas because it is hard to transmit, but we endure outbreaks of highly-contagious vaccine-preventable diseases like flu and measles (with dozens of deaths each year). There is NO economic or moral reason for Texas to refuse to expand Medicaid. Wendy Davis, as Governor, and Leticia Van De Putte as Lt Governor will do it, while their Republican opponents will not. Vote November 4 to protect everyone from disease outbreaks.

Corruption With a Capital “C”

October 4, 2014

This was written 9.29.14, so again, I’m slow in getting it posted here

From the musical “The Music Man:”

“Trouble, oh we got trouble,

Right here in River City!

With a capital ‘T’

That rhymes with ‘P’

And that stands for ‘Pool'”

In this case the “pool” is millions of our “pooled” business incentive funds inappropriately doled out by Texas Republican leaders, often to Republican political donors.

Connect the dots:

  • Texas creates the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), the 2nd largest funder of cancer research. An official in that organization was indicted for dispensing funds inappropriately.
  • Texas creates the Major Events Trust Fund to draw major events to the state. The San Antonio Express-News is reporting discrepancies with the $250 million application for Formula One racing.
  • Texas creates the Texas Enterprise Fund to draw large employers to the state. An audit revealed funds were dispensed without proper review, some without the recipient even submitting any application at all.
  • Rick Perry is indicted for using his authority to coerce removal of the Travis County District Attorney who oversees the Public Integrity Unit which is responsible for prosecuting State corruption. He wanted her resignation so he could appoint her replacement – 3 guesses why.

It’s not as though incentive programs aren’t a good thing; they are. But these cronies have been going about it all wrong and that speaks directly to your vote in the November election. They’ve run these programs without adequate oversight, transparency and accountability to prevent corruption and abuse from which they politically benefited.

The central players in these scams are:

  • Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed officials running these funds – and the officials themselves, one already indicted.
  • Attorney General Greg Abbott failed to exercise direct oversight responsibility for CPRIT and general oversight responsibility for all State transactions. He also ruled as Attorney General that the public wasn’t entitled to see applications submitted to the Texas Enterprise Fund.
  • The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts failed to set up and follow transparency and financial accountability of these funds.

Are your dots connected? Even some Republicans realize they need to save their party from itself. Vote for the “best people for the job” to end this corruption: Wendy Davis for Governor, Sam Houston for Attorney General, Mike Collier for Comptroller. All have proven themselves honest, expert in their fields, and devoted to the people of Texas.

The Goober in the First Texas Gubernatorial Debate

October 4, 2014

This was dated 9.22.14.  Just a little slow posting it here

“We hide, you don’t seek, but vote for us anyway, because…hmm, because…um, because we’re not Barack Obama.” That’s the 2014 campaign strategy for Texas Republicans. They avoid debating Democratic opponents or participate in debates of limited viewing availability. They must know they have nothing of substance to offer most Texans and Texas businesses. Instead, they rely on attack ads laced with lies, innuendo and smears of the President, funded by billionaires like the Koch brothers, whose interests they serve.

That was evident in the first gubernatorial debate between Senator Wendy Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott. I betcha didn’t even see that debate which flashed for one hour across difficult-to-locate viewing screens. But Davis took on Abbott on our behalf. Background: When more than $5 billion was cut from public education in 2011, Wendy Davis tried to stop it with a filibuster.   School districts across the state sued Texas and, as Attorney General, Abbott defended the State against the schools. A judge has now ruled the school funding unconstitutional but Abbott is appealing. In the debate, Davis called the cuts what they are, harmful and stupid. Abbott pretended he had to continue the appeal when in truth he can drop it at any time and direct the legislature to properly fund our schools.

Regarding the immigration issue of refugee families and unaccompanied children, Abbott repeated the tea party myth that our border is insecure when it has never been as secure as it is today. He pretended President Obama’s leniency for DREAMers was what drew families from Central America when that’s not the case. Abbott supported Rick Perry’s grandstand of sending practically useless troopers to the border. Wendy Davis, on the other hand, said she supported secure borders and the Federal responsibility, but she would first ASK the border communities what they needed to handle the influx of refugees. There’s a novel idea! She seeks humane and practical solutions while Abbott just wants to grandstand and lie about President Obama.

There were other issues discussed I’ll have to relate later, as I’ve reached the word limit. However, I laughed with Davis when, during the segment where candidates ask each other questions, Abbott asked Davis if she regretted voting for President Obama–as if that had anything to do with a Texas Governor’s job! Bottom line: Vote for the “best man for the job,” which in this case is clearly the woman, Wendy Davis.