The thing about Republicans and health care reform is that Republicans SUUUUUUCK!
Yes, I said it, and if you disagree, then you suuuuuuck too!
Tell me, how many years have GOP politicians in the House and Senate had to write a bill that most everyone in their party could embrace since Obamacare came into being?
Could the answer be about 3 years shy of a decade?
Hmmm… so, let me see if I understand this correctly. The Republican party elite in Washington, DC couldn’t manage to cobble together a patient-centered, free-market-based, solution to the nightmare we call Obamacare in SEVEN FUCKING YEARS!
Is that about right?
Well, all I have to say about that is:
Mary Mayhew, commissioner of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services, knows her politics aren’t always popular.
“I can’t stress enough what an attack campaign it has been from the media for four and a half years,” Mayhew said Thursday at an anti-poverty forum in Washington, D.C., hosted by The Heritage Foundation.
Then there are the more personalized critiques: “There is a poet, or he calls himself a poet, and he sends me poems all the time,” she added. “They are not nice poems.”
Mayhew claims that detractors – who mostly take issue with welfare reforms enacted by Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, since his election in 2011 – have gone so far as to call her “Commissioner Evil,” and her and LePage’s policies a “War on the Poor.”
The irony, according to Mayhew, lies in the fact that her and LePage’s efforts actually aim to empower Maine’s poorest citizens. She says a third of the state is on welfare.
“The welfare hurricane doesn’t just destroy one family; it destroys generations of them,” Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, said at the event Thursday. “This work is about giving children a better chance for a future.”
To illustrate that point, Mayhew told a story of one of her first days on the job as DHHS commissioner, spent touring a substance abuse treatment facility for adolescents:
I was taken aback by one of the youth who came up to me – it was actually several youth, who were just completely focused on whether I could help them get disability. These were 15-year-old, 16-year-old young men clearly battling addiction, but they had decided that the answer for them was to pursue disability. And, frankly, as we all look at that pathway, that truly is committing individuals to a lifetime of poverty.
Since LePage assumed the governorship, Maine has reduced enrollment in the state’s food stamp program by over 58,000; currently, according to Mayhew, there are 197,000 people on food stamps, down from a high of 255,663 in February 2012.
Mayhew says the decline is due to eliminating the waiver of the work requirement previously attached to food stamps, as also witnessed in Kansas. Under the new legislation, recipients would need to work 20 hours per week, volunteer for about an hour a day, or attend a class to receive food stamps past three months.
LePage and Mayhew have also rolled back Medicaid eligibility through a series of battles Mayhew called “fierce.”
With a population of roughly 1.3 million, Maine had 357,000 individuals receiving Medicaid benefits when LePage took office. Today, 287,000 people are on Medicaid, according to Mayhew.
“What we have done truly has taken the arguments to the public to underscore what has been lost as that program grew out of control, never mind that the resources that had to be devoted to Medicaid were being taken away from education, infrastructure, and reduced tax burden on the state of Maine,” Mayhew said.
In August, Maine DHHS announced they planned to redirect $3.24 million in welfare savings to fund home care services for elderly citizens as well as the Meals on Wheels program.
Lastly, Mayhew touched upon Maine’s efforts to retool the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card programs, stating that Maine had over 15,000 open TANF cases when LePage took office. That number is down to less than 5,000.
LePage’s and Mayhew’s policies, as Mayhew herself highlighted, have not been without controversy.
Earlier this week, amid an ongoing dispute over EBT cards being used to wire money abroad, critics accused the LePage administration of using last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris to justify reforms.
“This proposal is really an example of fear-mongering at its worst,” Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, told MPBN News.
But Mayhew does not plan to back down – especially if it means reducing her own influence long-term, and shifting that responsibility to local non-profits.
“I can’t underscore enough that part of the issue is government is too big, my agency is too large, and people are trying to preserve their jobs,” she said.
“We have got to reduce the size and scope of these agencies if we are going to have communities really take on the responsibility of supporting these families and these individuals on those pathways [to independence].”
The Goals Of Donald J. Trump’s Veterans Plan
The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is absolutely unacceptable. Over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care. Corruption and incompetence were excused. Politicians in Washington have done too little too slowly to fix it. This situation can never happen again, and when Donald J. Trump is president, it will be fixed – fast.
The guiding principle of the Trump plan is ensuring veterans have convenient access to the best quality care. To further this principle, the Trump plan will decrease wait times, improve healthcare outcomes, and facilitate a seamless transition from service into civilian life.
The Trump Plan Will:
1. Ensure our veterans get the care they need wherever and whenever they need it. No more long drives. No more waiting for backlogs. No more excessive red tape. Just the care and support they earned with their service to our country.
2. Support the whole veteran, not just their physical health care, but also by addressing their invisible wounds, investing in our service members’ post-active duty success, transforming the VA to meet the needs of 21st century service members, and better meeting the needs of our female veterans.
3. Make the VA great again by firing the corrupt and incompetent VA executives who let our veterans down, by modernizing the VA, and by empowering the doctors and nurses to ensure our veterans receive the best care available in a timely manner.
The Trump Plan Gives Veterans The Freedom To Choose And Forces The VA To Compete For Their Dollars
Politicians in Washington have tried to fix the VA by holding hearings and blindly throwing money at the problem. None of it has worked. In fact, wait times were 50% higher this summer than they were a year ago. That’s because the VA lacks the right leadership and management. It’s time we stop trusting Washington politicians to fix the problems and empower our veterans to vote with their feet.
Under a Trump Administration, all veterans eligible for VA health care can bring their veteran’s ID card to any doctor or care facility that accepts Medicare to get the care they need immediately. Our veterans have earned the freedom to choose better or more convenient care from the doctor and facility of their choice. The power to choose will stop the wait time backlogs and force the VA to improve and compete if the department wants to keep receiving veterans’ healthcare dollars. The VA will become more responsive to veterans, develop more efficient systems, and improve the quality of care because it will have no other choice.
The Trump Plan Treats The Whole Veteran
We must care for the whole veteran, not just their physical health. We must recognize that today’s veterans have very different needs than those of the Greatest Generation.
The Trump Plan Will:
1. Increase funding for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and suicide prevention services to address our veterans’ invisible wounds. Service members are five times more likely to develop depression than civilians. They are almost fifteen times more likely to develop PTSD than civilians. This funding will help provide more and better counseling and care. More funding will also support research on best practices and state of the art treatments to keep our veterans alive, healthy and whole. With these steps, the Trump plan will help the veteran community put the unnecessary stigma surrounding mental health behind them and instead encourage acceptance and treatment in our greater society.
2. Increase funding for job training and placement services (including incentives for companies hiring veterans), educational support and business loans. All Americans agree that we must do everything we can to help put our service men and women on a path to success as they leave active duty by collaborating with the many successful non-profit organizations that are already helping. Service members have learned valuable skills in the military but many need help understanding how to apply those skills in civilian life. Others know how to apply those skills but need help connecting with good jobs to support their families. Still others have an entrepreneurial spirit and are ready to start creating jobs and growing the economy. The Trump plan will strengthen existing programs or replace them with more effective ones to address these needs and to get our veterans working.
3. Transform the VA to meet the needs of 21st century service members. Today’s veterans have very different needs than those of the generations that came before them. The VA must adapt to meet the needs of this generation of younger, more diverse veterans. The Trump plan will expand VA services for female veterans and ensure the VA is providing the right support for this new generation of veterans.
4. Better support our women veterans. The fact that many VA hospitals don’t permanently staff OBGYN doctors shows an utter lack of respect for the growing number female veterans. Under the Trump plan, every VA hospital in the country will be fully equipped with OBGYN and other women’s health services. In addition, women veterans can always choose a different OBGYN in their community using their veteran’s ID card.
The Trump Plan Will Make The VA Great Again
The VA health care program is a disaster. Some candidates want to get rid of it, but our veterans need the VA to be there for them and their families. That’s why the Trump plan will:
1. Fire the corrupt and incompetent VA executives that let our veterans down. Under a Trump Administration, there will be no job security for VA executives that enabled or overlooked corruption and incompetence. They’re fired. New leadership will focus the VA staff on delivering timely, top quality care and other services to our nation’s veterans. Under a Trump Administration, exposing and addressing the VA’s inefficiencies and shortcomings will be rewarded, not punished.
2. End waste, fraud and abuse at the VA. The Trump plan will ensure the VA is spending its dollars wisely to provide the greatest impact for veterans and hold administrators accountable for irresponsible spending and abuse. The days of $6.3 million for statues and fountains at VA facilities and $300,000 for a manager to move 140 miles are over. The Trump plan will clean up the VA’s finances so the current VA budget provides more and better care than it does now.
3. Modernize the VA. A VA with 20th century technology cannot serve 21st century service members and their needs. The VA has been promising to modernize for years without real results. The Trump plan will make it happen by accelerating and expanding investments in state of the art technology to deliver best-in-class care quickly and effectively. All veterans should be able to conveniently schedule appointments, communicate with their doctors, and view accurate wait times with the push of a button.
4. Empower the caregivers to ensure our veterans receive quality care quickly. Caregivers should be able to easily streamline treatment plans across departments and utilize telehealth tools to better serve their patients. As we have seen from the private sector, the potential for new, innovative technology is endless. Abandoning the wasteful and archaic mindset of the public sector will give way to tremendously effective veteran healthcare.
5. Hire more veterans to care for veterans. The more veterans we have working at the VA, the better the VA will be. They understand the unique challenges facing their community. To increase the number of veterans hired by the VA, this plan will add an additional 5 points to the qualifying scores of veterans applying for VA jobs.
6. Embed satellite VA clinics in rural and other underserved areas. The Trump Administration will embed satellite VA clinics within hospitals and other care facilities in rural and other underserved areas. This step will ensure veterans have easy access to care and local hospitals and care facilities can handle the influx of patients without backlogs while tapping the specialized knowledge of VA health specialists.
DAY 1 (PART 1) – PRIVATE SECTOR PETITIONERS: SHARYL ATTKISSON, JASON LEOPOLD, DAVID MCGRAW, LEAH GOODMAN, AND TERRY ANDERSON
DAY 1 (PART 2) – PRIVATE SECTOR PETITIONERS: TOM FITTON, CLETA MITCHELL, NATE JONES, LISETTE GARCIA, GABRIEL ROTTMAN, AND ANNE WEISMANN
DAY 2 – PUBLIC SECTOR OBSTRUCTIONISTS: JOYCE BARR, MARY HOWARD, MELANIE PUSTAY, KAREN NEUMAN, AND BRODI FONTENOT