Kentucky congressman says ‘Hell No’ to Obamacare replacement bill

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., listened during a committee session in 2013.

By Fernando Alfonso III

falfonso@herald-leader.com

A tweet from a Northern Kentucky congressman went viral Wednesday afternoon after he used his voting card to double down on his disdain for the American Health Care Act, the Republicans’ attempt to replace Obamacare.

Rep. Thomas Massie’s tweet features a photo of his “new” voting card and the words “HELL NO” on it. Within two hours after sending the message, Massie, who manages his own Twitter account, could not believe it had collected more than 8,200 likes and 3,000 retweets.

“I didn’t expect it to go viral. I thought maybe we’d get 5 percent of that,” Massie said over the phone in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s another version of Obamacare, in my opinion, and it’s not as well thought out. We need to leave the socialism to the socialists. If I thought the bill were a glass half full proposition, better than the status quo, I’d vote for it. But I think it will make insurance premiums go up.”


Sen. Rand Paul predicts House will vote down GOP health plan

“It’s important for Republicans to understand that once we pass something, we will own it,” Sen. Rand Paul said of the GOP health care plan. “If what we pass is not going to work, it’s a bad thing to own.”

jbrammer@herald-leader.com


The AHCA would replace the subsidies in Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, with a flat tax credit that would not account for income or local insurance prices. The new law would also allow insurers to charge older people five times what they charge younger customers, compared to three times under Obama’s health care law, according to the Associated Press.

Massie, a Republican, has made his displeasure over AHCA clear on Twitter over the past week through hashtags like #sassywithmassie.

“(The proposal) just won’t work and Republicans will get blamed for escalating health insurance costs,” Massie said. “The bill doesn’t do enough to reduce the cost of health care. I feel the momentum is against the bill. I don’t see any of my colleagues changing their votes and they’ve had 24 hours to switch people from a no to a yes to no avail.”

Angry constituents confront U.S. Rep. Andy Barr about GOP health care bill

U.S. Rep Andy Barr faced angry constituents in Richmond, Ky., during a town hall on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Barr was defending the Republican proposal to replace the federal Affordable Care Act.

Daniel Desrochers ddesrochers@herald-leader.com

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso

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CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO!

(KY) Senate approves bill to tighten reporting of toxicology screenings

For Immediate Release

March 14, 2017 

Senate approves bill to tighten reporting of toxicology screenings

FRANKFORT — A bill to tighten the reporting of toxicology screenings by Kentucky hospitals passed the state Senate today, clearing its way to become law pending the signature of Gov. Matt Bevin. 

House Bill 314, which was approved by the House of Representatives late last month, requires certain hospitals to report positive drug screenings to the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, including results from newborn babies who might have been exposed to controlled substances by their mothers prior to birth.  The measure is part of an ongoing effort to fight prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. 

The bill also permits federal prosecutors and medical professionals, including pharmacists, to use the state’s KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting) database containing reports of misuse of controlled substances. 

“For the KASPER system to be effective,  we need to stay on top of it,” said Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah. “We need every tool available to us.”

The bill passed the Senate 33-3 and now goes to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.

–END–

HB 314 :

AN ACT relating to controlled substance monitoring.
     Amend KRS 218A.202 to require certain hospitals to report positive toxicology screens to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services; permit federal prosecutors and agents to use KASPER; permit practitioners or pharmacists to review KASPER reports of birth mothers of potentially drug-exposed infants; remove a pilot program relating to real-time electronic monitoring; make other technical corrections; amend KRS 218A.240 to conform.

(KY) Who is this legislature working for?

March 14, 2017

As this session of the General Assembly winds down, its recurring theme has been the transfer of power to those who already have it.

The dramatic rush of legislation in early January produced the new Republican majority’s crown jewel, a right-to-work law weakening the labor unions that represent Kentucky workers.

Since then, there’s been a steady redistribution of power and influence to those who already enjoy power and influence, from those who have much less of both.

Victims of nursing-home negligence and medical malpractice lost power to the nursing home and medical industries and will now have to go through “medical review panels” before taking their complaints to court.

Neighborhoods lost power to developers who were given a weapon in the form of a costly bond requirement to take disputes over zoning decisions to the Court of Appeals.

Coal miners are losing to the operators of unsafe mines as a bill progresses that would result in fewer state mine-safety inspections.

Workers in chain restaurants lost to corporations that are being relieved of responsibility for wage, hour, health, safety and other violations affecting their franchises’ employees.

Kentuckians will lose part of the public highways to longer, heavier trucks as a favor to the poultry, aluminum and trucking industries (though Kentucky’s short-line railroad industry is also losing).

School districts will be allowed to employ certain relatives of school-board members as lawmakers dismantle historic anti-nepotism rules piecemeal.

And women — especially low-income and rural women — will have less access to safe, legal abortions as a male-dominated legislature imposes even more constitutionally questionable barriers. At the same time, bipartisan legislation that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations, such as breaks or unpaid time off, to pregnant or breastfeeding workers got nowhere.

The legislature’s new Republican majority is making Kentucky a guinea pig to test the theory that lowering wages and taking away Kentuckians’ rights will produce a better, more prosperous state.

In doing so, the new Republican majority is also carrying out the agenda of an organization founded and funded by the Koch brothers (who have plenty of power, influence and money) that opened shop in Kentucky in 2014. Americans for Prosperity does not report how it spends its money or where its money comes from. It does not give directly to candidates, but there’s no doubt its independent spending was a factor in last fall’s elections when Republicans won the House for the first time in almost a century and also in Gov. Matt Bevin’s victory in 2015.

Kentucky’s legislature and governors have long been captive to monied interests, most notably road builders and other state contractors.

This session is the first in which lawmakers have owed so much to out-of-state interests.

This session’s redistribution of power eventually will manifest itself in lawmakers’ hometowns and across their districts. They can pat themselves on the backs if, indeed, their constituents become more prosperous, healthy and safe as a result of their actions. If that’s not how it works out, however, voters will have to make a strong statement to be heard above the siren song of dark money.

CONTINUE READING…

This is the story of the FDA’s persecution of Samuel Girod.

 

By Sally Oh on March 1, 2017 | Comments 2 | Affiliate Disclosure

Here’s a video explaining the entire thing, transcript with links below.

Let’s be clear about a couple of pertinent facts:

1. The FDA made up arbitrary rules, then accused Sam of breaking those rules.

2. There are no victims. Samuel Girod has hurt no one.

3. FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs kill 1 person every 19 minutes. Merck’s FDA-approved Vioxx killed over 68,000 people. Nobody in Big Pharma goes to jail. They pay out billions in fines (after making billions in profits.) No companies close, nobody goes to jail. Nobody. Even after killing and harming 100s of thousands of people.

4. Sam Girod and his products have hurt no one.

The Story of the FDA v Samuel Girod

Samuel Girod and his family have been making and selling 3 all-natural herbal products for nearly 20 years. In all those years, one woman had a bad reaction to a salve (which Sam made right and the woman was fine).

No one has ever been harmed by the products, the Girods have pages of testimonials and scores of repeat customers.

The 3 products are: Original Chickweed, a beeswax, essential oils and olive oil salve; Sine-Eze, a blend of essential oils; and To-Mor-Gone, an herbal bloodroot product in a base of beeswax and olive oil aka “black salve”.

All of these products are currently ALSO made and sold online worldwide (including on Amazon) by other people using these same basic ingredients. The recipes are online as well, you can make them in your kitchen.

HOW IT STARTED

Sixteen years ago, in 2001, an FDA agent visited Sam at his home in IN and informed Sam that he could not claim his products could help skin cancer. At that time, the chickweed salve label said: “[g]ood for all skin disorders. Skin cancer, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.”

According to the FDA, when you make a medical claim about a product, that means the product is a “drug. Therefore you have to do years of testing, costing millions of dollars to prove the claim.

Sam had to change his label or do the testing.

So Sam changed the label, removing the reference to skin cancer.

He asked the agent to get back to him on what label would be acceptable to the FDA. The agent said she would within three weeks but she never did.

The label now said, “[g]ood for skin disorders. Dry skin, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.” No skin cancer reference.

Between 2001 and 2004, Sam was visited several times by FDA agents. When he asked the agents what was acceptable on the label, none would give
an answer.

Sam did not receive any further communication from the FDA until 2012.

In Jan 2012, someone called the FDA and reported that a store in MO was selling Chickweed Healing Salve and that medical claims were being made.

The FDA confiscated the products from the store and opened #Case 4:12-cv-00362-GAF on Sam. You will find a link to the complaint and a link to Sam’s answer in the transcript below.

This is the complaint: http://bit.ly/27-on-120928-Girod-Amended-Complaint

This is Sam’s answer to the complaint: http://bit.ly/37-on-121228-Girod-Answer-Defenses


In fact, here are all the court documents on Sam’s entire case. There are two folders: the 1st is for the labeling, the 2nd is for the criminal indictment.


PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THE FULL STORY!

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO HERE!

Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens Week in Review

Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens
Week in Review

Members of the Senate took action on one of the issues of greatest interest to Kentuckians when we passed a major education bill this week that would begin aligning university funding with the state’s top postsecondary education goals.

Senate Bill 153, that I sponsored, changes Kentucky’s historical approach to college and university funding. In the past, postsecondary funding has been based on what each school received in the previous budget cycle. Under the proposal that the Senate approved this week, funding would instead be based on how well schools are helping the state reach major postsecondary education attainment goals. Among the goals the legislation focuses on are:

· Increasing student progress toward the completion of degrees or certification.

· Increasing the number and types of degrees and credentials earned by students, with a focus on those that lead to higher salaries, such as science, technology, engineering, math, health, and other areas of industry demands.

· Closing achievement gaps by increasing the number of credentials and degrees earned by low-income students and minority students.

· Boosting the accumulation of credit hours and the transfer of students from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to four-year postsecondary institutions.

Under the legislation, which was approved by the Senate on a 36-1 vote, the postsecondary funding formula would appropriate 35 percent of funds based on student success tied to outcomes, 35 percent would be tied to total student credit hours, and 30 percent would be based on supporting vital campus operations.

The new funding model would be phased in over four years to provide stability to postsecondary schools as they move to the outcomes-based formula.

The legislation also calls for a postsecondary work group to review the results of the new funding model every three years to make sure it’s achieving its goals. The work group would make recommendations to the General Assembly as needed.

Senate Bill 153 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration

During this midpoint week, we spent a large amount of time in committees and passing bills on the floor. Friday marked day 18 of 30 of the 2017 Session, so the window of time to pass legislation is closing. We passed quite a few important bills through the Senate, including:

  • Senate Bill 8 defunds organizations that fund abortions, such as Planned Parenthood;
  • Senate Bill 21 allows for the use of experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA if the patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness;
  • Senate Bill 107 gives the General Assembly a check-and-balance means of ensuring balanced boards of postsecondary institutions. This is another step to ensure the leadership at our state universities follow the law and act in the best interest of the students.
  • Senate Bill 122 establishes a Gold Star Sons and Gold Star Daughters special license plate for children of the armed forces who were killed overseas;
  • Senate Bill 159 requires all public high school students to pass a civics test in order to receive a regular diploma. This passing score would be a minimum of 60 percent and the questions would be pulled from the test required of all people seeking to become U.S. citizens.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, and your ideas for the future of our commonwealth. It is an honor to represent you in the State Senate.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

David Givens

Senate President Pro Tem

In chaotic scene, Rand Paul demands to see the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill

By Lauren Fox and Phil Mattingly, CNN

Updated 3:25 PM ET, Thu March 2, 2017

Rand Paul 3.2.17

Senator demands to see ‘secret’ Obamacare bill 01:59

Story highlights
  • Some House Republicans were being granted a chance to review an Obamacare repeal draft
  • GOP leadership has taken a new level of caution with their Obamacare legislation

(CNN)  Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul marched to the House side of the Capitol Thursday morning, knocked on a locked door and demanded to see a copy of the House’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which he believed was being kept under lock and key.

Aides in the room told the senator — before dozens of reporters in a crowded hallway — that there was no bill to see. In fact, it wasn’t the room where GOP members of the Energy and Commerce Committee were told to meet with staff to review the current draft of their bill at all. But that did little to dissuade Paul, openly critical to the House Republican leadership’s preferred path on the process, from making his underlying point.

“This should be an open and transparent process,” Paul said. “This is being presented as if it were a national secret, as if this was a plot to invade another country, as if this were national security. That’s wrong.”

    Paul ventured to the House Thursday afternoon after reports surfaced that House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee were being granted an opportunity to review the current draft of the Obamacare repeal legislation and ask questions behind closed doors.

    Opposed to the House legislation’s principles, Paul said he wanted to see the bill himself even though he didn’t serve on the committee.

    “I’m not allowed to read the working product so I can comment on it?” he said.

    Outside the small House office, the chaotic scene continued with a handful of Democrats demanding they, too, see the legislation, which aides continued to say was not even in the room. Two Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, asked aides if the bill was ready, only to be rebuffed.

    “I want to see the bill. I want to read the bill,” New York Democrat Paul Tonko said, noting that as far as he knew, Republicans were still planning to move forward with a markup on the legislation next week.

    At one point, the GOP staff allowed Hoyer, Rep. Joe Kennedy and a dozen or so reporters into the room to inspect it themselves. It was, in fact, bill-less.

    Hoyer proceeded to hold an impromptu news conference near a bust of President Abraham Lincoln a few feet away from the misidentified room. He then held an imaginary conversation with the 16th president about what Hoyer said was the poor state of the Republican Party.

    Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, downplayed perceptions of secrecy in a statement Thursday.

    “Reports that the Energy and Commerce Committee is doing anything other than the regular process of keeping its members up to speed on latest developments in its jurisdictions are false. Simply put, Energy and Commerce majority members and staff are continuing to discuss and refine draft legislative language on issues under our committee’s jurisdiction.”

    Leadership has taken a new level of caution with Obamacare repeal and replace reconciliation drafts after a leaked version of the bill in progress was circulated to news outlets last week.

    House aides told CNN that the review process was simply part of regular procedure of giving their members an opportunity to review the current draft and ask committee staff questions. The committee — along with a second panel responsible for the repeal legislation — is tentatively shooting to consider their respective pieces of legislation as soon as next week.

    The leaked draft — which aides say was outdated — drew condemnations from conservatives who pledged to oppose any final bill and set off a new round of internal divisions that threatened to endanger the repeal process before it even gets off the ground.

    CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO…

    Louisville drug task force halted amid scandal

    USA Today Network Beth Warren, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal Published 7:54 p.m. ET Feb. 28, 2017 |

    636238935477448408-ups-worldport-strupp-18018.jpg

    An elite Louisville task force that intercepted shipments of heroin and other illegal drugs at UPS’ worldwide hub — considered a “primary” drug pipeline for the region — has been disbanded following a police scandal.

    Louisville Metro Police had led the multi-agency task force for more than a decade, until a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last year uncovered a large theft by one of the task force’s on-duty detectives.

    LMPD pulled the task force — which included federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations — out of the shipping giant’s Worldport air hub in September and reassigned LMPD detectives to other narcotics operations, a Courier-Journal investigation has found.

    “Losing that is a major setback,” said Louisville Metro Councilman David James, head of the council’s public safety committee.

    James, a former LMPD narcotics detective, said he had assisted task force members several times in intercepting drugs at the shipping hub.

    “Worldport, while they are a tremendous asset to our community, the drug dealers see it as a tremendous opportunity for their businesses — making that one of their primary ways in the region for distributing drugs and funds,” James said.

    ►MORE FROM THE CJ: Concealed guns bill ‘on life support’

    Narcotics investigators across the state are anxiously watching to see if the task force can be restored and operations resumed inside the 5.2 million-square-foot UPS facility, located at Louisville International Airport and billed as the heart of UPS’ global air network.

    Former LMPD detective Kyle Willett pleaded guilty to

    Former LMPD detective Kyle Willett pleaded guilty to $74,000 theft (Photo: provided by Louisville Metro Police Department)

    Much of the illegal drugs are shipped from Mexican cartels, said U.S. Attorney John Kuhn, who is over federal prosecutors in the Western District of Kentucky. Investigators have used drug-detecting dogs to intercept packages headed to Louisville or through Worldport en route to other destinations.

    “It’s so important that this task force be reconstituted,” Kuhn said. “We’re having productive conversations with UPS. They don’t want to be shipping poison.”

    The task force was disbanded after veteran LMPD Detective Kyle Willett — once featured on the true crime TV show “48 Hours” — admitted intercepting packages, headed from drug dealers to larger suppliers, and taking them to his car several times last year. From January through August, he stole more than $74,700, according to his guilty plea in federal court in December. He is awaiting sentencing.

    Police are still dealing with the ripple effects of his crimes.

    “It’s disappointing,” LMPD’s Deputy Chief Michael Sullivan said Tuesday of Willett’s actions and the ensuing fallout. “We suspended what we were doing out there because we wanted to find out what was going on.

    “We’ll look at policies and practices and see what we did right and what we did wrong,” he said.

    ►READ MORE: 3-day pain pill limit easily passes House

    ►SEE ALSO: Ky. House considers changes to drivers’ licenses

    UPS must consent to allow the task force back on its private property to initiate drug investigations, Kuhn said, otherwise detectives would be required to have a search warrant, hamstringing investigators battling the region’s heroin and opioid crisis.

    “The task force removed itself from Worldport. We did not remove them,” UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot said.

    UPS has continued in-house security measures to intercept illegal packages and has called in LMPD and various law enforcement across the country, Mangeot said. He declined to discuss specifics.

    “What we have here is a rogue cop. It’s exceedingly rare.”

    News of the FBI investigation spread through Louisville’s police force and to reporters, who pressed the department and city officials for information Sept. 16. That night, LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell sent a news release announcing that Willett and one of his fellow task force members, Thomas Barth, had been placed on administrative reassignment after the force received information they “may have violated federal law.”

    Willett and Barth were part of a task force that in 2011 had earned a competitive spot in the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, a designation by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that requires federal, state and local partnerships. Investigators with Kentucky State Police and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were also part of the task force.

    Their HIDTA team, known as the parcel interdiction task force or Airport Interdiction Unit conducted frequent inspections of shipments headed to or through Louisville in a partnership with UPS as well as other shipping companies like DHL Express, Fed-Ex and the United State Postal Service, which Kuhn said also are used by drug traffickers.

    Within days of the task force pulling out of Worldport, LMPD officials also halted participation in the HIDTA program, which had augmented the task force with about $200,000 annually and linked its members to a network of resources and training.

    Appalachia HIDTA executive director Vic Brown, who oversees 34 HIDTA initiatives in Kentucky and three other states from his London, Kentucky, headquarters, said LMPD officials told him in mid-September they were suspending requests for HIDTA funding — after the FBI investigation of the task force was made public.

    “We didn’t cut off funding,” Brown said. “They came to us and said, due to the incident that happened, the task force is no longer operating.”

     

    A California drug task force called LMPD last year to report something amiss at Worldport. Chief Steve Conrad referred the case to the FBI. The federal investigation included watching task force members on video surveillance. Something they discovered lead to the initial criminal investigation of Barth.

    Five months later, the department hasn’t issued any news releases on the task force or any follow-ups on Barth.

    The detective didn’t want to discuss the investigation with a reporter, according to his attorney, Steve Schroering. But Schroering said he was told several weeks ago that Barth wouldn’t face criminal charges federally or at the state level.

    “Tommy Barth did not break any laws whatsoever and he’s looking forward to resuming his career with the police department,” Schroering said.

    On Monday, Mitchell confirmed an ongoing internal investigation by the Professional Standards Unit, which evaluates if any departmental policies or procedures have been violated. Neither Barth’s attorney nor the department spokesman would discuss the nature of the ongoing investigation.

    But Schroering said “there was never any allegation that Tommy Barth stole anything. He’s on light duty, administrative duties, not out on the street actively patrolling. He’s certainly hopeful he’ll remain with LMPD.”

     

    Kuhn confirmed that Willett was the only task force member his office planned to prosecute.

    “What we have here is a rogue cop,” the U.S. Attorney said. “It’s exceedingly rare.”

    Still, he acknowledged that rebuilding trust between UPS and law enforcement will take time.

    He has discussed intensifying management and oversight of the task force, possibly designating Homeland Security in a co-leadership role with LMPD.

    LMPD’s Sullivan called discussions with UPS “very preliminary,” too early to predict how the task force would be structured. He said the department is still reviewing policies and procedures of the operations to see if adjustments need to be made.

    “We’re having productive conversations with UPS. They don’t want to be shipping poison.”

     

    “We want to make sure we have the systems in place to mitigate the possibility of these types of things happening in the future,” the deputy chief said.

    “Obviously, being a major hub, it’s very important. There’s definitely a need for us to be there.”

    Kuhn, who is on the Appalachia HIDTA executive board, said, “It’s understandable UPS would be concerned about this, but I’m confident we can take care of their concerns.”

    As to whether the task force could resume participation with the HIDTA program, Brown said:  “If they come back to us with a proposal and are back to work, we would consider funding it again.

    “We’re just waiting for the dust to settle,” he said. “I don’t know what the future holds for it.”

    Reporter Beth Warren can be reached at (502) 582-7164 or bwarren@courier-journal.com.

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