Tag Archives: Roberson

The Ever Entertaining GOP Primary in Nevada

Is it something in the water?  The main GOP candidates for the lieutenant governorship in Nevada are a real bunch.  Exhibit A, the Recall King (Roberson) whose efforts yielded a large Zero [LVRJ] and then there’s Exhibit B, the Scientology promoter. [NVIndy]

The GOP headliner in the governor’s race looks to be Trumpian Adam Laxalt [NVIndy].  Laxalt is the Koch Brothers’ own boy: “Laxalt has far outraised his opponents, cornering donations from the Adelson family that owns the Las Vegas Sands, Station Casinos and their owners, the Fertitta family. He has more of a structural advantage, garnering endorsements from sheriffs across the state, opening campaign offices and mobilizing large teams of volunteers. He also counts on support from outside groups such as Freedom Partners, part of a network run by conservative billionaires the Koch Brothers, which has paid for $1 million in ads to introduce Laxalt to Nevada voters.” [NVIndy] Interesting.  If one’s last name is “Laxalt” and there’s a felt need to use the services of Kansas based fossil fuel behemoths (Kochs} to “introduce” you to Nevadans, something may be amiss?

It seems like a fine year to be a Democrat.

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Filed under Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

The Suppression Six: Voting ID laws in the 2011 NV Legislature

A rogue’s gallery of the members of the Nevada Legislature who sponsored vote suppressing voter identification bills in the 2011 session.

None of these ALEC inspired bills passed.  Interesting… they all seem to have been sponsored by white Republicans…

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Filed under 2012 election, Nevada politics, Politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

Privatization Posse Rides With Rhee

“There they go again.”  The Privatization Posse rolled into Nevada with the most recent incarnation of plans to privatize our public education system. “The proposed bill would allow parents and teachers to petition school district officials to execute one of several federal recipes for school improvement, including replacing the principal and half the staff, closing the school or converting it into a charter school.”  [LVSun]

Consider the Source

The first clue to the ultimate intent of the legislation is the enthusiastic sponsor — Nevada’s very own right wing Tea Party state Senator Mike Roberson (R-LV).  The second clue is that the astroturf StudentsFirst organization founded by former Washington, D.C. school superintendent Michelle Rhee, is aligned with the Chamber of Commerce, and Republican Governors in Ohio and Michigan, and — not surprisingly — Florida’s Governor Rick Scott. [HuffPo]

The third clue is that the vultures are circling; here’s one example among many:

“In the venture capital world, transactions in the K-12 education sector soared to a record $389 million last year, up from $13 million in 2005. That includes major investments from some of the most respected venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, according to GSV Advisors, an investment firm in Chicago that specializes in education.  The goal: an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards, said Michael Moe, the founder of GSV.” [Reuters]

The Premise

The proposed legislation rationalizing the privatization of our public schools rests on the highly questionable premise that parents have “no voice” in the operation of their schools.   Not True.   At worst, this premise discourages parents and guardians from active participation in school district discussions by informing parents in advance that they are powerless in the face of overwhelming bureaucracy.   After spending many a less than thrilling hour attending school board meetings, I can say without much fear of too much contradiction, a packed room works wonders in terms of the enlightenment of school committee or board members.  Nothing so moves a recalcitrant principal to action as a few telephone calls from parents, and nothing is more appreciated by classroom teachers than calls from parents asking what they can do to get Johnny or Susie’s arithmetic grades up.

Parental involvement matters.  Better still, parents don’t have to adopt proposals for expensive consultants, pricey Silver Bullets from corporate vendors, and for-profit “management solutions.”   Corporate proposals for education are analogous to selling any other product — We, say the corporations, will do for  you what you don’t want to do for yourself.  And, that’s the premise of any private service, from selling carpet cleaning to lawn care — the corporation or firm will do for us what we do not wish to do for ourselves.

It’s ironic that while stoutly defending and “promoting” parental involvement in the education of their children, the proponents of the right wing privatization plans are essentially telling parents: Here’s a legislative answer to your desire for better education which allows you to outsource the education of your children to for-profit corporations.   And, IF your local elementary school is transferred to the management of a private corporation answerable to their shareholders from an elected board of education who are members of the community — then which organizational structure is obviously more closely accountable to parents in the LOCAL area?  In which structure do parents have more power?

Fiscal responsibility matters.  The Privatization Posse depends on the myth that private sector management is always cheaper and more efficient.  Not True.  They are cheaper. [BIPP]  They are not necessarily more efficient, nor do they necessarily provide a better outcome.

Management Issues:  There appears to be a generalized premise that public schools can fail, but charter schools do not.  Wrong.

“Of the approximately 6,700 charter schools that have ever opened across the United States, 1,036 have closed since 1992. There are 500 additional charter schools that have been consolidated back into the district or received a charter but were unable to open.”  [AJC]

So, from 1992 to 2011 6,700 charter school lost 1,036 to closure and another 500 to reversion.   That computes to a 22.92% failure rate, approximately 1 in 4.

What were the reasons for the failure: “There are five primary reasons for charter closures – financial (41.7 percent), mismanagement (24 percent), academic (18.6 percent), district obstacles (6.3 percent) and facilities (4.6 percent).” [AJC]

Combine the top two reasons for charter failure and we find 65.7% going down because of financial constraints and/or mismanagement.   Now we should return to the question of parental and voter involvement, because the solution offered by proponents of chartered education are NOT advising more parental control, to wit:

“As overseers of charter school performance, financially affiliated directors serve as an important link to external resources and support flowing into the school insofar as they act as a credible signal to other donors and sponsors. Additionally, the academic program supplied by the charter school must be of high quality and financial resources are properly managed by school administrators and governing board.”  [CharterNB] (emphasis added)

To whom are the charter managers and administrators responsible?  “Donors and Sponsors.”  Those are not necessarily voters and parents.

Getting Results

The essential question should be for all the abdication of parental influence in school management, and for all the public funds funneled to private education corporations and groups — do charter schools offer better education?

“Middle-school students who were selected by lottery to attend charter schools performed no better than their peers who lost out in the lottery and attended nearby public schools, according to a study funded by the federal government and released Tuesday.

This is the first large-scale randomized study to be conducted across multiple states, and it lends some fuel to those who say there is little evidence to back the drive for more charters.” [ChSciMon]

Similar results were obtained in a study of charter schools in Michigan. [MLive] [EJ.org] There is some evidence that urban low income areas may benefit from charter schools, but the notion that charter schools have an across the board advantage over the public schools is not substantiated by the research to date.

This is a Test

Q: If the research to date does not offer evidence that charter schools are necessarily any better at educating our children, then why should parents hand over their authority to directly elect school boards of education to boards of unelected corporate managers?

You may open your blue-book now.

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Filed under education, nevada education

Nevada’s not-so-smart ALEC’s?

Who are the ‘smart-ALECs’ in the Nevada Legislature?  Marc Morial, head of the National Urban League sums up the problem with the ultra-conservative organization which promotes ‘model legislation’ for the consideration of state legislatures:

It is bad enough that since its founding in 1981, ALEC has been the shadow author of numerous pieces of legislation aimed at boosting corporate power and profits, reducing worker rights, weakening environmental protections, and restricting voter rights.  Now, the organization is actively supporting a law which is moving this country back to the lawless days of the Wild West when it was common practice to “Shoot First and Ask Questions Later.”  That is not the kind of America we or our children deserve in the 21st century. [NUL]

What does ALEC want, and who in the Nevada legislature might be willing to introduce and support their legislation?

What’s on the ALEC agenda?

1. Bills to privatize public lands, and promote the interests of exploiters and polluters.   In 1995 ALEC supported the Sagebrush Rebellion Act, drafting model legislation to transfer ownership of unappropriated lands from the federal government to the states.   There is serious doubt that any of the bills introduced in western states, and passed in Utah, will withstand judicial scrutiny, but that doesn’t matter to the exploiters and polluters who want to bypass federal environmental rules.  [RSN] ALEC also sponsored a 1995 resolution encouraging rolling back the Endangered Species Act.

In case the federal government doesn’t get the message by 2013, ALEC has a draft resolution ready for members of state legislatures to introduce severely limiting the designation of national monuments, unless there is unanimous agreement from all parties.

2. Promote the interests of corporations, and corporate profitability.

“ALEC works fervently to promote laws that would shield corporations from legal action and allow them to limit the rights of workers. The group’s model legislation would roll back laws regarding corporate accountability, workers compensation and on the job protections, collective bargaining and organizing rights, prevailing wage and the minimum wage. ALEC is a main proponent of bills that undermine organized labor by stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights and “right to work” laws.They also push “regulatory flexibility” laws that lead to massive deregulation. It is no surprise that the director of ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force previously worked as a Koch Associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.”  [PFAW]

It’s no secret from whence came all the anti-labor legislation in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana.  Nor is it any dark secret about the source of model prevailing wage, or anti-collective bargaining legislation.  “In 2011, Republican governors and GOP-dominated legislatures introduced more than 500 anti-labor bills, many carbon copies of ALEC model legislation, all of them inspired by the group’s work. These proposals restricted collective bargaining, limited project labor agreements and shredded living wage laws and other labor standards.”  [IAFF] 2013 will, no doubt, not be any different.

There was a bit of leftover legislation, S.B. 41 which would have eliminated collective bargaining for local government employees, which by April 16, 2011 was a dead letter issue.   However, this wasn’t the only anti-union bill introduced in the last legislative session.  S.B. 342 removed all supervisors from bargaining units, and removed recognition from the scope of mandatory bargaining. The bill also made dues deductions optional.  S.B. 342 was sponsored by State Senators Roberson, Cegavske, Brower, Gustavson, Halseth, Kieckhefer, and Settelmeyer.   State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-8) proudly lists her affiliation with ALEC, since 1997, in her official bio.

There is confirmation in public sources of ALEC membership for Dean Rhoads, Greg Brower, Ben Kieckhefer, and Barbara Cegavske, current members of the Nevada Legislature.  [DB]

Senator Gustavson introduced S.B. 162, which prohibited school districts and teachers from negotiating transfers and reassignments. AB 555 was introduced on behalf of the governor on March 28, 2011, and included among other provisions a statement legislating one year contracts for all public school teachers.  ALEC has model legislation for these topics too.   Someone forgot to note that in Nevada all teachers already have one year contracts?

However, nothing says ‘promotion of corporate interests’ quite like legislation to repeal the minimum wage, and Senator Joe  Hardy (R-12) obligingly introduced S.J.R. 4 in the Nevada legislature to do precisely that.   Not surprisingly, ALEC has a model for this legislation as well.

3.  Bills to restrict voting rights and promote corporate influence.   There has been a deluge of anti-voting rights bills in recent state legislatures, and they are directly related to ALEC activity:

“ALEC is directly tied to the emerging trend among state legislatures to consider voter ID laws. Using false allegations of “voter fraud,” right-wing politicians are pursuing policies that disenfranchise students and other at-risk voters,–including the elderly and the poor–who are unlikely to have drivers’ licenses or other forms of photo ID. By suppressing the vote of such groups, ALEC’s model “Voter ID Act” grants an electoral advantage to Republicans while undermining the right to vote. In addition, ALEC wants to make it easier for corporations to participate in the political process. Their Public Safety and Elections taskforce is co-chaired by Sean Parnell of the Center for Competitive Politics, one of the most vociferous pro-corporate election groups, and promotes model legislation that would devastate campaign finance reform and allow for greater corporate influence in elections.” [PFAW]

Enacting burdensome regulations regarding voter identification and access to the polls has been a hallmark of ALEC model legislation.   Thirty three state legislatures considered such legislation in 2011 alone.  Wisconsin, Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina and Tennessee have passed such bills. [Nation]

Compare this piece of model legislation in regard to voter identification from ALEC to the inclusions of A.B. 327 in the 2011 Nevada Legislature. The legislation was introduced by Assemblyman John Hambrick (R-Dist.2). Assemblyman Hambrick does not list ALEC as one of his affiliations, but his sponsorship of A.B. 327 certainly places him firmly in the category of those doing ALEC’s bidding.  A.B. 327 wasn’t the only piece of legislation in the 76th Session which sought to suppress voting,  Assemblymen Lynn D.  Stewart (R-22) and Melissa Woodbury (R-23) sponsored A.B. 425, which would have required specific forms of voter identification.  Again, while their official bio’s do not reference membership in ALEC, they were more than willing to support ALEC’s voter suppression agenda.

The assault on voting rights didn’t stop with Hambrick, Stewart, and Woodbury, because Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-32 ) sponsored his own vote identification legislation, A.B. 431.   Assemblyman Cresent Hardy (R-20) placed yet another voter ID bill in the hopper, A.B. 434.  For those keeping score, no less than four members of the 76th Session of the Nevada legislature were ready and more than willing to place their imprimatur on bills to suppress the vote in Nevada elections, as per the ALEC agenda.

4. Bills to restrict the application or implementation of federal statutes in the states and territories.   This is the realm of the 10th Amendment campaign, launched by ALEC in 1995. There is, once more, a handy bit of model legislation from ALEC to be used to draft a “10th Amendment” resolution by a state legislature.  We should not be surprised then that AJR 4, introduced in the 76th Nevada legislative session sounds almost exactly like the ALEC model.   The sponsors of AJR 4 were Assembly representatives Goedhart, Goicoechea, Hansen, Grady, Hambrick, Hammond, Hardy, Kirner, Kite, Livermore, Stewart, Woodbury, and Halseth.

5. Bills to promote the NRA’s campaign to remove restrictions on firearms.   Perhaps the most topical item on ALEC’s agenda is the organization’s promotion of the NRA agenda on guns.   Senator Gustavson’s S.B. 176 would have removed any restrictions on concealed firearms, and section 2 of A.B. 231 would have accomplished the same end. A.B. 231 was sponsored by  Assembly members Goedhart, Hardy, Ellison, Goicoechea, Grady, Hambrick, Hickey, Kirner, Kite, Sherwood, and Stewart, along with Senators  Gustavson, McGinness, and Rhoads.

While not the blanket permission sought in ALEC/NRA “carry on campus” [MMA] model legislation, S.B. 231 would have allowed guns on campuses with approval. At the risk of repetition, the bill was sponsored by Assembly members Goedhart, Hardy, Ellison, Goicoechea, Grady, Hambrick, Hickey, Kirner, Kite, Sherwood, and Stewart.

Even more to the contemporary point, NRS 200.120 was amended in 2011 to incorporate a “stand your ground provision” as sought by ALEC and the NRA.   Assembly Bill 231 (NRS 200.120) is summarized as follows:

“Under existing case law, there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force if the person using deadly force is not the original aggressor and reasonably believes that he or she is about to be killed or seriously injured. (Culverson v. State, 106 Nev. 484 (1990)) This bill provides that under the defense of justifiable homicide there is no duty to retreat if the person using deadly force: (1) is not the original aggressor; (2) has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used; and (3) is not actively engaged in conduct in furtherance of criminal activity at the time deadly force is used. [NVLeg]

Now, find the names in the list of sponsors of A.B. 231 we’ve seen before: Assemblymen Oceguera, Anderson, Kirkpatrick, Atkinson, Hambrick; Aizley, Benitez-Thompson, Bobzien, Bustamante Adams, Carrillo, Conklin, Daly, Diaz, Dondero Loop, Ellison, Flores, Frierson, Goedhart, Goicoechea, Grady, Hammond, Hansen, Hardy, Hickey, Hogan, Horne, Kirner, Kite, Livermore, McArthur, Munford, Neal, Ohrenschall, Segerblom, Sherwood, Smith, Stewart and Woodbury.”

If past practice is any guide at all, the members of ALEC in the Nevada Legislature in 2013, and those who are not ALEC members but who promote ALEC’s corporate sponsored agenda, will be relying yet again on the “model legislation” offered by those corporations which feel they should be subject to less oversight and regulation, lower taxes, and more influence in our elections.

The health of a representative democracy requires citizen participation.  What ALEC and its allies are offering are auctions instead of elections, and corporatism and financialism instead of free market capitalism.  This perspective is all the more reason for citizens to be vigilant in regard to who is promoting what legislation in our state legislatures — and Nevada is no exception.

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Filed under 2012 election, conservatism, labor, Nevada economy, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, privatization, public lands, Vote Suppression

Quick Roundup: Fires, Flashes, and Files

** See the Reno Gazette Journal for updated information on the Washoe Drive Fire in the Reno/Carson City area.  The paper also has an updated map of the fire area. Carson Now has a more detailed map.

** Nevada Republican donors are filling campaign coffers in an effort to wrest control of  the Nevada State Senate. [LVSun report] The Secretary of State’s office has launched “Aurora” a searchable data base for campaign finance information.  [NNB] Assembly Republicans selected Reno Assemblyman Pat Hickey to head their caucus. [LVSun]  Governor Sandoval isn’t sorry he backed Rick Perry. [RGJ]

** The Aurora site is a bit slow loading, but does contain interesting information.  For example, one of the major donors to State Sen. Michael Roberson’s campaign treasure is the Dollar Loan Center, Sioux Falls, SD. [report]  DLC is quick to point out that they are not a payday lender, but an alternative for the “unbanked” or “running short.”  DLC, like Wells Fargo, charges $7.50 per $100.00 borrowed, meaning there’s a 261% annualized interest rate over a two week payment cycle. [LVRJ]

** The Secretary of State’s office also reports: “The elections division reports that 27,933 active Democratic voters and 14,922 active Republican voters were moved to inactive status. At the end of December, 395,845 active Republicans and 446,679 active Democrats are registered in Nevada. In all, the total number of active voters in December is 56,832 less than in November.”  Inactive voters are not disqualified, all that’s required to return to active status is that they vote in the next election or affirm their voter registration information.

** The Secretary of State’s office inserted a handy count down clock on the home page so we can all know that as of today there are 289 days (+ hours, minutes, and seconds) before the November 6, 2012 general election.  Good Grief!.

** And so for 289 days we will have candidate Romney telling us he’s lived on the real streets of America [TP] (as opposed to inside the perimeter of US 495 with the rest of the D.C. villagers).  Those “real streets” would include a $12 million ocean front mansion in California, a $10 million home in New Hampshire, and a lovely townhouse in Belmont, Massachusetts.  [WashMonthly]  Or, do we have another 289 days of the Romney campaign telling us that his tax returns are a “non-issue?” [ThinkProg]Then there’s the possibility of another 289 days of trying to contain the Bain Capital connections….[TPM]

** Speaking of capital gains, Jared Bernstein has more to say today that is well worth a click and read.  Investment isn’t statistically connected to tax rates, but to the tax games played by advisers who tell their clients how to make “everything” a capital gain so as to avoid income taxes.

** Digging out?  Only 26 of the 363 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States have recouped the jobs lost during the recession.  [BusInsider]

** Recommended reading: The San Francisco Federal Reserve has a report on the suburbanization of poverty.

Despite its persistent association with the “inner city,” poverty has shifted toward the suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past decade. Using data from the 2000 census and the 2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates, this research brief examines the changing geography of poverty in the Bay Area and its implications for the community development field.

The report (pdf) is worth the 2.07MB download.

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Filed under employment, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Romney, Sandoval

Personal and Political, Information, Info-tainment

Politics gets personal:  Not that the Santorum presidential bid is going anywhere, but Mr. Family Values was involved in Nevada’s infamous L’Affair Ensign. [Las Vegas Sun] The Silver State will now have another 11 months of blustering from the potential state senate GOP caucus chair (Sen. Michael – Dangerous Driver – Roberson) who believes that the Democrats have been picking on the Gop’ers. [RGJ]  Nevada potentate, Sheldon Adelson, is bankrolling the Gingrich assault on Willard Mitt Romney, [SlashPolitics] leaving us with an interesting scene in which an ultra-conservative beneficiary of deregulation and financialism is attacking one of the prime proponents of deregulation and financialism. [see more at TPM]

Politics trumps rationality:  Conservatives are cheering the decline in public sector employment shown in the last report from the Department of Labor.  “Maybe, conservatives argue, the economy will improve when more teachers, police officers, and firefighters are unemployed and unable to spend and invest.” [WashMonthly]   There’s a hint here — it is more important to conservatives to shrink government (at all levels) than it is to create jobs.

“Government employment changed little in December but was down by 280,000 over the year. Job losses in 2011 occurred in local government; state government, excluding education; and the U.S. Postal Service.”  [DoL]

There are those who will argue, illogically, that the decline in government jobs causes an increase in private sector employment.  See! Look! Private sector employment is up because public sector employment is down.  The assertion falls apart when we look at the way we calculate our gross domestic product.

GDP = C + I + G + (X-M)

That would be consumer spending + gross investment + government spending plus (exports minus imports.)  David Leonhardt calls the reduction in public sector employment an “unforced error.”  When we subtract public sector activity from our calculation the gross domestic product is reduced, and the lack of public sector employment becomes a drag on the total economy.  In other words, austerity never produces prosperity.

Politics trumps accuracy:  Bain Capital Management (former CEO Willard Mitt Romney) isn’t in business to be a “Job Creator,” it exists to improve the position of the investors.  “Bain’s modus operandi was to invest in companies, leverage them up with debt, and then sell them off for scrap, allowing Bain’s investors to walk away with huge profits while the companies in which Bain invested wound up in bankruptcy, laying off workers and reneging on benefits.”  [Think Progress]

Then there’s the part about paying taxes:

“Romney gained no personal tax benefit from the legal operations in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. But aides to the Republican presidential hopeful and former colleagues acknowledged that the tax-friendly jurisdictions helped attract billions of additional investment dollars to Romney’s former company, Bain Capital, and thus boosted profits for Romney and his partners.”  [LATimes]

Ergo, it is perfectly OK in Republican circles to note with dismay that people who don’t earn enough in annual wages and salaries to be liable for federal income taxes are “leeches upon the rich.”  However, it is perfectly acceptable to allow capital management firms to use off shore tax havens to protect the rich from their tax liabilities.

The Amen Corner:

“First and foremost, sports-style coverage oversimplifies politics, reducing complex issues to either/or propositions. Binary thinking is fine for the make-believe realm of athletics, where matters are dramatic by design: defined conflict, clear-cut resolution, heroes (your team) and villains (the other guys). Referees and instant replay when necessary.

Politics, on the other hand, is confusing, nuanced and muddled. Today’s ally is tomorrow’s foe; various interest groups have equally legitimate claims and grievances; democratic legislation is the product of soggy compromise, providing not the best solution but rather the one the greatest number of people hate the least. Outright victories are rare. Desultory ties are the norm.”  [Atlantic]

However, this doesn’t prevent the cable news broadcasts from presenting political news as if it were an athletic contest.  So, instead of background information and context concerning the level of the federal debt, we got who was scoring more points with the public.  Instead of contextual analysis and accurate information about the state of health care insurance coverage in the United States, we got poll numbers on the  ‘popularity’ of health care reform.  Instead of perceptive and insightful discussions of foreign policy, we get two pundits talking past one another.  Bill Moyers was right:

“Because market-driven television has failed to provide a true marketplace of ideas it has betrayed the founders’ belief that constitutional freedom of the press would produce an uncensored competition of ideas, opinion, and information, giving Americans the means to think as citizens. What we have instead is a very narrow range of political debate usually between partisans of two parties both deeply corrupted by their complicity with the media and their dependence on big money.”  [Moyers]

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Filed under 2012 election, Adelson, Economy, Ensign, media, Nevada politics, Taxation

The Great Repeal Bamboozle: Not What The Doctor Ordered

Nevada State Senator Mike “Dangerous Driver” Roberson predicts his Republican caucus will control the 2013 Senate, State Senator Mo Dennis (D-LV) begs to disagree.  [NNB] Republicans would like to pick up the Clark District 6 seat, currently held by Allison Copening (D-LV).  Having a heated contest for a State Senate race isn’t exactly news — what is interesting is that the GOP candidate, Mark Hutchison is leading Governor Sandoval’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act and Patients’ Bill of Rights.

What is it that Mr. Hutchison would like to see reversed?  It’s all well and good to appeal to the GOP/Tea Party knee jerk reaction to repeal “Obamacare” in general, but some voters may find it hard to swallow the specifics.

If “Obamacare” is repealed the following items will be lost:

(1) There will be no online reference site on which consumers can compare health insurance plans to see which one fits family needs and resources.

(2) There will be nothing to prevent a health insurance corporation from refusing to coverage to children who are deemed to have a pre-existing condition.

(3) There will be nothing to prevent a health insurance corporation from arbitrarily rescinding a policy when a policy holder becomes ill or injured.

(4) There will be nothing to prevent a health insurance corporation from placing lifetime limits on a health insurance policy.  If a person or family members is seriously ill or injured, and the limit is hit — YOYO (you’re on your own).

(5) There will be no regulation of annual limits on health insurance coverage.

(6) There will be no external review process for challenging the decisions of health insurance corporations.

(7) There will be no independent offices in the states to assist policy holders with questions about enrollment, rights and responsibilities, health education, and complaints and appeals.

In short, the health insurance giants can revert to the very practices which drove people away from affordable health care — junk policies with benefit limits, pre-existing condition policies which excluded infants born with birth defects, arbitrary rescission of coverage when a person became ill.  But wait! There’s more:

(8) Small businesses will lose their tax credits for making health insurance available to their employees.   Phrased in common Republican parlance, this means a tax increase for small businesses which provide health insurance plans for their workers.

(9) There will be no requirement that health insurance policies cover preventative services like mammograms, prostate cancer screening, and colonoscopies.

(10) There will be a decrease in the procedures available to the government to reduce waste and fraud in Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP programs.

(11) There will be no improved access to health  insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

(12) Parents will not be able to help their children (under 26) by putting them on their own insurance plans.

(13) There will be no program to help early retirees maintain their employer-plan health care coverage.

(14) There will be no incentives for states to administer procedures for challenging unreasonable health insurance rate hikes.

Does repealing “Obamacare” still sound like a good idea?  Tax increases for small businesses that offer health plans? No requirement that basic health insurance policies cover preventative screenings?  Decreased resources to fight waste and fraud in Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP?  Returning to the Bad Old Days when a health insurance corporation could arbitrarily rescind a policy when a person or family member was ill or injured?  And, no way to challenge unreasonable rate hikes?

(15) The program to provide state loans, loan forgiveness, and scholarships to those who want to train as primary care providers in under-served areas.  There will no longer be a program to help support primary care providers in rural areas, which constitute 68% of the under-served parts of the country.

(16) There will be no funding for community health center construction. On February 19, 2011 the Republican controlled House of Representatives voted to cut $1.3 billion from the health center program. [Change.Org]  Representatives Heck (R-NV3) and Heller (R-NV2) voted in favor of these funding cuts. [roll call 147]

(17) There will be no further efforts to help senior citizens with prescription medication costs to close the infamous “do-nut hole.”

(18) There will be no requirement that there be free preventative health care services for senior citizens, and..

(19) There will be no further efforts funded to improve care for senior citizens after they leave a hospital.

(20) There will be no task force assigned to make suggestions to Congress about how to reduce costs and prolong the availability of the Medicare program.

(21) There will be no further efforts to improve home based health care services for disabled people.

Not to be too blunt about it, but this isn’t exactly a recipe for Keeping Grandmother Healthy Longer.

(22) However, here’s the provision that has the health insurance corporations beating the drum for repeal:

“To ensure premium dollars are spent primarily on health care, the law generally requires that at least 85% of all premium dollars collected by insurance companies for large employer plans are spent on health care services and health care quality improvement. For plans sold to individuals and small employers, at least 80% of the premium must be spent on benefits and quality improvement. If insurance companies do not meet these goals, because their administrative costs or profits are too high, they must provide rebates to consumers.”  [HHS]

Notice that the law doesn’t require the insurance giants to spend 85% of their total revenues on health services and health care quality improvement.  It requires that they spend 85% of the PREMIUMS COLLECTED on health care services.

Insurance companies have two revenue streams, premium collections and investment revenue.   The new law doesn’t say anything about the way a health insurance corporation spends its investment revenue.  It does say that it must spend 85% (or 80%) of its premium collections — paid by its customers for health care ON HEALTH CARE.  Not advertising, not CEO salaries, not perks for the corporate headquarters, not stock buy backs…

(22) There will be no reduction of the subsidies paid to health care corporations for offering their highly profitable Medicare Advantage policies.  While the opponents of Obamacare are calling the reforms a “government takeover” of health care, the government has been quietly subsidizing the health insurance corporations for offering Medical Advantage plans — even thought these are profit makers for the corporations.  We could call this another excellent example of “corporate welfare.”

“Today, Medicare pays Medicare Advantage insurance companies over $1,000 more per person on average than is spent per person in Traditional Medicare. This results in increased premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries, including the 77% of beneficiaries who are not currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. The law levels the playing field by gradually eliminating this discrepancy.  People enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will still receive all guaranteed Medicare benefits, and the law provides bonus payments to Medicare Advantage plans that provide high quality care.” [HHS](emphasis added)

These are the elements of the ACA/Patients’ Bill of Rights that have already gone into effect, while the health insurance corporations have been seeking ways to characterize the reforms as “socialism,” and “a government take-over.”  This is a bit disingenuous since what the corporations are really upset about is having to pay for health care services (instead of tossing the premium collections into the overall revenue pot) and losing their government subsidy for the Medicare Advantage plans.

More provisions will be actualized in 2012, and there is a handy one stop listing for these here.   It’s a 2014 proposal that has drawn the most fire:

“Under the law, most individuals who can afford it will be required to obtain basic health insurance coverage or pay a fee to help offset the costs of caring for uninsured Americans.  If affordable coverage is not available to an individual, he or she will be eligible for an exemption.”

This is the “individual mandate,” which was originally a Republican idea as a way to get away from single-payer proposals, from Mark Pauly (G.H.W Bush administration:

I see it in the latter way. We thought it was a good idea to do everything possible to encourage people to get insurance. Subsidies will probably pick up the great bulk of the population. But the point of the mandate was that there are a few Evil Knievals who won’t buy it and this would bring them into the system. In our version, the penalty was effectively equal to the premium of a policy. You paid the penalty and you got the insurance. [WaPo]

And from AHIP:

America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, made a stunning announcement, saying it favored universal coverage and supported a law that would stop insurers from rejecting applicants because of preexisting conditions.”Universal coverage is within reach,” the group said in a historic press release.After being adamantly opposed to reform during the Clinton years, AHIP said it had changed its mind — based on one condition: Any reform plan had to require that all individuals have insurance or pay stiff penalties.AHIP’s reasoning was simple: Many of the uninsured are healthy and under age 35. They either have jobs that don’t offer insurance or they didn’t pay for insurance because they were certain they wouldn’t get sick.Having this group in an insurance pool spreads risk. Without an individual mandate requiring them to get insurance, Americans could wait until they got sick and then sign up for insurance — a trend that would mean only sick people would be paying premiums while running up huge bills. In this scenario, healthy people would have no need to buy insurance — a financially disastrous situation for insurance companies. [McClatchy]

It’s interesting that the Free Market idea (individual mandates) has become the lightning rod for criticism since the original notion was to spread risk in a way compatible with health insurance corporation profitability.

The right wing laments about a highly generalized, and all too often false, rendition of health care reform needs to be met with some very specific questions about exactly what part of the health care reforms are objectionable.  And, voters need to know that what they find objectionable (junk policies, arbitrary rescission policies, and pre-existing condition exclusions) aren’t what the industry finds objectionable (having to pay for health care services from premiums collected, and losing their government subsidies for Medicare Advantage plans.)

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Filed under Health Care, Heath Insurance, Heck, Heller

Roberson’s Rules of the Road: There Are No Rules — For Me

State Senator Michael Roberson (R-NV5) went to a Party party, during which he announced: “Commenting on some of the laws that just took effect, Roberson said Republicans would take back the state senate. “You’re not going to see all that bad legislation passed. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been breaking the law everyday for a week now,” he said of the ban on cellphones while driving.” [NNV]   Breaking the law every day for a week now?  Breaking the one law that might have prevented a major portion of the  3,500 distracted-driver accidents in Nevada this past year?  One that might have prevented some 60 fatalities in the past five years on Nevada roads?  [NDOT]

Senator Roberson has selected a singularly interesting law to break, Nevada having joined 34 other states with similar “bad” legislation to prevent, or at least try to alleviate, the number one cause of automobile accidents — distracted driving; and, the number one cause of the distractions — cell phone use.  [SA.com]

Not too put too fine a point to it, but by “breaking this bad law” Senator Roberson is more dangerous to his fellow travelers than (2) speeding, (3) drunks, (4) reckless drivers, (5) rain soaked roads, (6) red light runners, (7) stop sign runners, (8) and teenagers with shiny new licenses.  He is more to be feared than (9) night vision impaired drivers, and (10) badly designed automobiles.

He is placing more people in peril than (11) those doing unsafe lane changing, (12) wrong way drivers, and (13) those who make improper turns.  He is putting more people at risk than people who (14) tailgate, (15) drive under the influence of drugs, (16) drive in snow, or (17) drive in icy conditions.  He is more likely to cause a wreck than someone having (18) road rage, or (19) hitting a pothole, or even (20) falling asleep at the wheel.  He is more dangerous than (21) tire blowouts, (22) fog, (23) deadly curves, and (24) animal crossings.  He is even more dangerous than (25) street racers.  In short, of the 25 top reasons for automobile accidents in the entire nation, Senator Roberson has selected to brag that he’s driving in the most dangerous way possible.

The Nevada Department of Transportation has some good advice for the rest of us on the roadway — so that we can be alert to the dangers posed by Senator Roberson?

Before driving, secure your cellphone in a place such as the glove box where you will not be able or tempted to access it while driving.

 Make any necessary phone calls before or after driving. If you must make a call while driving, pull over to a safe area such as a parking lot before making or receiving a call or texting. Note: do not park directly off to the side of the road to make a call. This is not safe due to the proximity to moving traffic. (emphasis in original)

Better still?  Senator, Turn the Thing Off. Obey the law, and have some respect for your fellow citizens.

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Filed under Nevada legislature, Nevada politics