Why Millions of Children Could Lose Their Health Insurance in 2018

Why Millions of Children Could Lose Their Health Insurance in 2018

There are 8.9 million children in the U.S. whose health depends on the federally-funded Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and in a matter of months — and in some cases mere weeks — these children could be out of luck.
It could be said that Congress faces a race against the clock.
Unlike the tax bill, CHIP is an immensely popular piece of legislation.
If reauthorization doesn’t happen, the vast majority of states will run out of money by the end of spring, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
He spoke tearfully while holding his 7-month-old son Billy, who has undergone several operations to address a congenital heart condition.
“Now CHIP has become a bargaining chip — it’s on the back burner while they work out their new tax plan,” Kimmel said.
“This is not just a failure of one program,” Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, said on Tuesday.
“This is the failure of Congress for the last 43 years to do their work on time.
Right now, there’s talk of keeping the program funded through the larger government funding bill that Congress has to pass by Dec. 22 in order to avoid a government shutdown.
Republicans will likely need Democratic votes to pass it, and Democrats could potentially hold out their support if the package contravenes their priorities: a dearth on non-military funding, perhaps.

Hippie Jack brings hope and help to “invisible people”

Hippie Jack brings hope and help to “invisible people”

But they have Hippie Jack and Mrs. Hippie, beacons of hope in a rainbow-colored bus.
Stoddart, a gray-bearded man more well known as Hippie Jack, has spent the better part of his 66 years living in the hills photographing those whom society has overlooked or looked down upon.
Now, he and his wife, Lynne, return that kindness.
They host music festivals on their farm to collect food and clothing, and they drive their rainbow-colored Hippie Bus along the twisting two-lane roads to the top of the Cumberland Plateau to help the neediest among them. “If it wasn’t for Hippie, I’d be done had.”
The mountain people around them, those who had been there for generations, were still making whiskey and raising their own meat.
In turn, Jack Stoddart documented the spirit of life on the Plateau.
When the music stops and the campers go home, Lynne Stoddart goes to work sorting the donations.
Jack Stoddart doesn’t believe there are undeserving people.
At 82 years old, Cravens has lived on the Cumberland Plateau all her life.

Local church will hold food distribution services year round

Local church will hold food distribution services year round

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 135 W Main St., will be holding a monthly fresh food distribution program year round with the aims of feeding over 200 families who are food insecure.
Sarah Schaaf, who has been a pastor at St. Paul’s for eight years, said that the church and its partners want to provide fresh food and personal care products to those who might not have access to them otherwise. “We want people to feel welcome and give them an opportunity to get fresh produce and other food items,” she said.
Marion County had 10,105 people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, formerly called food stamps, in October, according to a report by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
St. Paul’s in Waldo held its first fresh food produce market in October of 2015 after being urged to do so by Lutheran Social Services, based in Columbus.
Since 2017, the church has been offering food distribution services the first Thursday of every month between April and October and serves around 150 families.
However that changed when Hal Clase, who has been a member of the church for 10 years, offered a location for winter distribution.
Clase, who owns All Occasions Catering, said that his business had constructed a barn in November of 2016 and thought it would be a good place to host the produce market during the winter months.
Schaaf said they have on average 30-50 volunteers at each event including members of other churches.
The church reported that 209 people, each representing one household were served and almost 11,000 pounds of food was distributed at the last produce market.

OPINION: Populism officially died last week

OPINION: Populism officially died last week

This month marks 10 years since the Great Recession — and thereby the social movement it unleashed — was born.
The Occupy Movement demanded a pound of flesh from Wall Street, as well as an entirely new social contract.
Why should (BEG ITAL)they(END ITAL) get free health care when I’m living paycheck to paycheck?
Of course, the main reason these workers couldn’t get a job was that there weren’t enough jobs to be gotten.
Did they get the great economic de-rigging they demanded?
Instead, a week ago, the Trump administration began dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a post-financial crisis creation designed specifically to protect the little guy from scam artists and swamp creatures.
And then, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Senate passed the most plutocratic, regressive, system-rigging piece of tax legislation in decades.
A bill that allows multimillionaires to pass on their estates tax-free.
Republicans know how unpopular it is, and they just don’t care.
Populism, at least as a political force capable of extracting meaningful policy concessions, is truly, officially, undeniably dead.

Susan Collins and the Duping of Centrists

Susan Collins and the Duping of Centrists

But it sure looks like a bum deal now.
Here’s the back story: Collins said that she would vote for the recent Senate tax bill so long as Republicans leaders promised to pass other legislation — in the near future — that would reduce the bill’s knock-on damage to health care programs.
Collins decided that was good enough, and on Dec. 2, she became one of 51 yes votes on the tax bill.
When Collins describes her deal, she makes it sound both ironclad — her word — and substantial.
Tax cuts and health care cuts are inexorably bound.
Her strategic error is the one that holds lessons for other would-be centrists.
Republican leaders — not just Trump, but McConnell and Ryan too — have moved sharply to the right.
Collins made the mistake of chasing after an impossible deal.
She wanted to position herself between the two political parties, and she wanted to protect Medicare and Medicaid.
In Trump’s Washington, other centrist Republicans are going to face a version of her dilemma, again and again.

Public auditor: Several deficiencies in Guam’s handling of $8.5M FestPac funds

Public auditor: Several deficiencies in Guam’s handling of $8.5M FestPac funds

Frank San Nicolas/PDN Guam spent at least $8.5 million to successfully host the 2016 Festival of Pacific Arts, but a public auditor’s audit showed several deficiencies in the handling of event funds, including $89,000 in questioned costs.
The report said the FestPac festival director spent $30,000, in two payments, for six six-person outrigger canoes out of the CAHA programming budget although the only quote on file was from the awarded vendor.
Of $8.5 million in cash received for hosting FestPac, $8.1 million came mostly from government of Guam appropriations plus federal funds while $436,000 was from donations, sponsorships, fundraisers and vendor fees.
According to the attorney general, GVB and CAHA events management services contractors were not required to follow GovGuam procurement laws and regulations.
The public auditor recommended that the FestPac committee provide the festival huts procurement files to the attorney general for review. “This $3.1 million spent by CAHA must comply with Guam procurement law and regulations,” the audit report says.
Of the remaining $135,000 that CAHA spent, the audit found that $53,000 in FestPac-related goods and services purchased did not follow Guam procurement law and regulations.
The FestPac committee also transferred some $164,000 to the Guam Department of Education, the remaining funds in the FestPac checking account.
Their response also states the $89,000 in questioned costs is only one percent of total expenditures.
The Committee concluded their response by stating that since their inception they’ve worked with the OPA to ensure funds were utilized efficiently and properly accounted for.

State high court rules for employer in comp benefits dispute

State high court rules for employer in comp benefits dispute

Reprints Gloria Gonzalez A West Virginia appeals court affirmed a decision denying workers compensation benefits to a retired employee receiving Social Security benefits.
The case began when Fouad Hassan, a long-time employee at Wheeling, West Virginia-based metals and mining product producer RG Steel Wheeling Inc., filed two applications to reopen his claim for permanent total disability, one on March 9, 2015, and one on June 16, 2015, according to the decision in Hassan v. West Virginia Office of Insurance Commissioner published by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia on Thursday.
Over the years, Mr. Hassan suffered several compensable injuries, according to the decision.
He retired on April 21, 2011, and began receiving Social Security disability benefits that same year and then Social Security retirement benefits in April 2015, after he reached age 66.
On July 10, 2015, the claims administrator denied Mr. Hassan’s permanent total disability application – a denial Mr. Hassan appealed to the Office of Judges, which also denied his appeal after determining he was no longer eligible for permanent total disability benefits and was barred from introducing evidence to show his disability.
Under West Virginia law, claimants cannot be awarded permanent total disability benefits if he or she terminates active employment and is receiving full retirement benefits under the Social Security Act, the court’s ruling noted.
“Because the evidence of record shows that Mr. Hassan terminated his active employment and is receiving full old-age Social Security benefits, it was appropriate to dismiss his claim for permanent total disability benefits,” the court said.
The facts and legal arguments were adequately presented, and the decision-making process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the court said in issuing its memorandum decision, which means the court’s ruling is not subject to appeal by the dissatisfied party.
A company spokesperson and an attorney for Mr. Hassan could not be immediately reached for comment.

Illinois medical payments for comp claims 24% higher than other states

Illinois medical payments for comp claims 24% higher than other states

Medical payments per workers compensation claim were 24% higher in Illinois than the median for other states examined in a new study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.
Medical payments per comp claim in Illinois grew 3.1% per year on average from 2012 through 2015, according to the study released Thursday by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based institute.
The study examined medical payments, prices and utilization in Illinois compared with 17 other states and found that medical payments in Illinois were higher due to prices and utilization of services by nonhospital providers, according to the study.
Physical medicine such as chiropractic visits was a key driver of higher than typical medical utilization, accounting for more visits per claim and services per visit in Illinois than in the other states studied.
The number of visits per claim was 26 in Illinois compared to a median of 20 visits for the other states, according to the study.
“Recent public policy discussions in Illinois have focused on reducing workers compensation costs and making the state more attractive to businesses,” Ramona Tanabe, Boston-based executive vice president and counsel for WCRI, said in a statement.
“Among the areas of interest are causation of the injury, medical fee schedules, insurance premiums and permanent partial disability benefits.”

Under New Tax Plan, the Cost of Aging Could Rise

Under New Tax Plan, the Cost of Aging Could Rise

The Senate bill would keep a deduction for medical expenses intact.
The more money that people had to spend this year, the more they would lose next year if the House prevails and the deduction disappears.
The Solon, Ohio, couple have about $130,000 in expenses for Mr. Godbole’s round-the-clock, in-home care.
Meet Kae Yates, who had to spend over $75,000 this year.
But it stands to reason that people who need long-term care will spend some of the highest amounts, given the high cost of nursing homes and similar care.
Cutting deductions for medical expenses does make the year-end chore easier.
Now imagine that one gets a deduction for medical expenses and one does not.
Take the income down to $75,000 (where the extra $25,000 for the medical costs to pay the $100,000 in bills would come from sources or savings that are not subject to income tax) and the household with the ability to take the deduction would end the year with $6,826 more.
After all, the quicker that sick, older people run out of money because of higher tax bills, the sooner they will need Medicaid to pay for their long-term care.
The very same federal government that would no longer permit people to deduct high medical expenses.

California moving forward with comp drug formulary starting Jan. 1

California moving forward with comp drug formulary starting Jan. 1

The California Division of Workers’ Compensation is proceeding with its evidence-based drug formulary for medical providers treating injured workers starting Jan. 1, 2018, the division announced on Thursday.
The drug formulary, the implementation of which was delayed six months for regulators to make adjustments, establishes a list of medications available to injured workers.
It’s a trend in workers compensation, as several states including Washington and Texas have passed similar formularies in an effort to improve prescribing behavior and to limit opioids medications for pain.
California’s formulary includes a cap on opioid prescribing on the first fill with provisions for doctors to submit to a review process to prescribe further.
It also gives patients already on a regular regimen of opioids and their doctors three months to eliminate, reduce or justify the prescription.
For pain management, the formulary relies on anti-inflammatory drugs, which medical experts have said lack the addictive side effects of opioids.
“The adoption of the drug formulary is a step forward for California’s injured workers and should help address the overuse of high-risk medications such as opioids,” the division’s Administrative Director George Parisotto said in a statement.
“It is expected to improve patient care and ease approval of appropriate treatment.” The formulary will be part of the state’s Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule, which contains guidelines on treatments for injured workers and is based on medical treatment guidelines created by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, according to the division.