In Other News…Rand Paul assault saga, Papa John’s says ‘no thanks’ to white supremacists, Lawrence mentioned in the Oscar race for polarizing ‘mother!” Friday, Nov 10 2017 

Unneighborly: Last Friday, Rene Boucher 59, a retired anesthesiologist allegedly attacked his neighbor, Sen. Rand Paul, while the senator was doing yard work. The New York Times and Boston Globe report Mr. Paul had just stepped off his riding lawn mower when Mr. Boucher raced onto the senator’s property and tackled him from behind. Sen. […]

Rand Paul’s Neighbor Pleads Not Guilty In Alleged Assault Thursday, Nov 9 2017 

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s long-time neighbor pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he assaulted the Kentucky Republican while he was mowing his lawn.

Rene Boucher only spoke to reply “yes sir” to a judge during a brief arraignment. He showed no emotion and kept his head down. Boucher faces up to a year in jail if convicted of fourth-degree assault.

Paul, who was not at the hearing, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that he suffered six broken ribs and has excess fluid around his lungs. The injuries have sidelined Paul from the Senate as he recovers at his home.

Warren County District Judge Brent Potter set a pre-trial court date for Nov. 30. Boucher has been ordered to stay away from Paul and the senator’s family.

Boucher’s attorney has called the situation “a very regrettable dispute” that was “trivial.” Boucher’s attorney left the courtroom Thursday without speaking to reporters.

Paul and Boucher have been neighbors for 17 years in a gated community.

Rob Porter, a close friend of the lawmaker, said this week that Paul doesn’t know why he was attacked. Paul was mowing his yard and had stopped to remove a limb when Boucher tackled him from behind, Porter said. Paul was wearing ear protection and didn’t hear Boucher coming, the friend said.

Rand Paul actually has six broken ribs and fluid around his lungs after assault Thursday, Nov 9 2017 

By Morgan Eads | Lexington Herald-Leader Five days after he was tackled outside his Bowling Green home, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul tweeted on Wednesday that his most recent medical checkup showed six broken ribs and fluid buildup in his chest.   I appreciate all of the support from everyone. A medical update: final report indicates […]

Lawyer For Rand Paul’s Neighbor Says ‘Trivial’ Dispute Led To Assault Tuesday, Nov 7 2017 

Days after Sen. Rand Paul suffered five broken ribs, the lawyer for the man who has been charged with assaulting Paul says that politics are not involved — and that it was a case of “a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial.”

The new details shed light on an attack on Paul in which he was reportedly tackled from behind while he was mowing the yard at his home in Bowling Green, Ky., on Friday afternoon. After police were called, officers arrested Paul’s neighbor, retired anesthesiologist Rene Boucher, setting off widespread speculation over what might have motivated the incident.

Boucher, a Democrat, has lived next door to Paul, a Republican, for 17 years, Boucher’s attorney, Matt Baker, said in a statement to member station WKU Public Radio. Here’s more from Baker:

“The unfortunate occurrence of November 3rd has absolutely nothing to do with either’s politics or political agendas. It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial. We sincerely hope that Senator Paul is doing well and that these two gentlemen can get back to being neighbors as quickly as possible.”

Paul’s senior adviser, Doug Stafford, has said that the injuries to the Kentucky Republican are painful and can be dangerous. It’s not known when the senator might be able to travel or return to work in Congress.

In an interview with local news WBKO Channel 13, Baker said, “It was absolutely not planned out beforehand.”

He added, “It’s just a disagreement — a long-standing disagreement between two neighbors.”

The dispute may have its roots in the senator’s yard. Citing neighbors and local Republicans, The New York Times says that Paul “has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood,” handling his yard according to his own ideas — the Times mentions pumpkins and compost — rather than following neighborhood rules.

The Times also says that Paul’s associates say he was set upon as he was getting off his riding mower. At the time, he was wearing ear protectors that kept him from hearing any sign of the impending attack, they say.

As we reported on Monday:

“Paul and Boucher live in a neighborhood in Warren County east of Bowling Green’s center, in an area where large houses sit on green lots. According to online records from the county jail, Boucher was released on a $7,500 bond on Saturday after spending nearly 24 hours in the facility. He faces a court date on Thursday.”

Paul has not commented publicly on the incident, other than to issue a tweet saying, “Kelley and I appreciate the overwhelming support after Friday’s unfortunate event. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”

In addition to being neighbors, Baker said that Paul, who had a career as an ophthalmologist before going into politics full time, had worked with Boucher when both of them were practicing medicine.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In Other News…Paul joins Trump on Executive Order, Alberta Jones, a horse walks into a Super 8, Lawrence wins Lansing Award Friday, Oct 13 2017 

Friends Again: President Trump signed a new health care Executive Order on Thursday, says TIME. The president contends it will make lower-premium plans available that do not need to meet Affordable Care Act requirements. It also provides individuals the option of pooling together to be able to buy as a group. By his side, Kentucky […]

With Support From Rand Paul, Trump Revives Association Health Plans With Troubled Past Thursday, Oct 12 2017 

Association health plans that sell limited-coverage health insurance are back, under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump Thursday. Trump — as well as Kentucky’s two U.S. senators — touted the order as one that will allow Americans to access more affordable health care policies, but critics say the executive order could create more problems in the U.S. health care system.

Association health plans are formed by groups of people, small businesses or trade groups. They can form across state lines, and  proponents say the formation of these groups would give people power to negotiate better insurance prices.

But before the Affordable Care Act, these plans typically offered skimpy benefits and weren’t subject to state regulations. After the ACA was passed in 2010, it effectively killed these association health plans by requiring insurers to offer certain essential health benefits. Those included eliminating daily and annual caps on what the insurance would pay — caps which were often included in association plans.

These plans have long been touted by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who over the past several months has gone against most of his Republican colleagues in opposing numerous measures to  repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He is against upholding the ACA and keeping funding for the program, and he said association plans will give people an additional option.

“We think this holds great potential. There’s 11 million people in the individual market who are terrified of what they have,” Paul said in a news conference Thursday. “We want to let them join a group, and be able to bid prices down.”

And now that association plans are back, some are worried healthy people will flock to them in search of a better deal.

Limited Benefits, Unbalanced Risk Pools

Before the Affordable Care Act, association health plans could duck state insurance regulations, which were often more stringent than federal ones. And they did.

Tony Stuart is a California-based lawyer who won many cases on behalf of consumers who racked up big medical debt because these association health plans would not pay for many claims.

“[Association health plans are] a combination of limited benefit plans that don’t measure up to real health insurance. People get fooled,” Stuart said. “They think they’re buying health insurance, and they’re really not.”

Before the ACA passed, insurance with these plans was relatively cheap. And that was because the benefits were very skimpy, according to Stuart.

“In these particular companies’ policies, the chemotherapy coverage would cover $1,000 a day, and no more,” Stuart said. “Which was ridiculous because chemotherapy can cost $30,000 in a single day.”

Besides potentially causing problems for people who have the plans, association plans could create issues for people who stick with the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

Timothy Jost is a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law who specializes in health care. He said the ACA was specifically created to include both healthy and sick people to balance out the risk. But historically, association health plans often excluded sick people.

“They were happy to insure healthy people, but they had control over membership and discourage unhealthy people from applying or accepting them at all,” Jost said.

Jost said this could happen by creating membership requirements, like belonging to a certain gym.

And if the only people on the federal government’s Healthcare.gov marketplace are sick people who don’t qualify for association plans, this could stress the system with high-dollar medical claims.

President Trump said three government agencies will create regulations to set standards for these plans. The details haven’t been released yet, so there is the possibility that some of the ACA protections will remain in place. But that process will likely take months as the government will have to go through a comment period.

Rand Paul still a ‘no’ on Graham-Cassidy bill; calls amendments shifting Medicaid funds to swing senators ‘suspicious’ Monday, Sep 25 2017 

Sen. Rand Paul told reporters in Louisville on Monday that he remained opposed to the Graham-Cassidy bill expected to be voted on in the U.S. Senate this week, which is billed as another Republican effort to fulfill their promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Paul had already expressed his opposition to the […]

Some Big Names To Skip Fancy Farm But Politics, BBQ Still On Menu Tuesday, Jul 25 2017 

(Featured image: Crowd at Fancy Farm 2016)

The annual Fancy Farm picnic and political speaking event takes place next week in far-west Kentucky’s Graves County.

Though no major elections are scheduled to take place this year, state political leaders will still roll up their shirt sleeves and hurl insults at each other during the 137th iteration of the charity event.

Gov. Matt Bevin has declined an invitation to speak, citing a scheduling conflict. That means a public showdown between the Republican governor and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear will have to wait for another year.

Beshear says he will be in attendance — he missed the event last year to attend a family event.

Other confirmed speakers include Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover, Democratic House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins and Republican U.S. Rep. James Comer, whose district includes the area.

Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have not confirmed their attendance and are expected to be absent because the regularly scheduled August recess for Congress has been pushed back to allow Republicans time to hash out an Obamacare repeal plan.

St. Jerome’s Catholic Church has hosted the Fancy Farm Picnic since its inception in the 1880s. Each year, volunteers barbecue several tons of pork and mutton to sell to more than 10,000 attendees.

The political portion of the event has evolved into a raucous affair where speakers insult and tease opponents while the crowd heckles and chants.

There are no statewide or legislative races scheduled this year, which could dampen the frenetic energy of recent Fancy Farm picnics.

Last year’s picnic was notable because of the presidential election, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s challenge of incumbent Sen. Rand Paul and races for the state House of Representatives —  which ultimately led to Republicans gaining control of the chamber for the first time in nearly a century.

The year before, Bevin defied expectations by winning a crowded primary election and later winning the Kentucky governorship, becoming only the second Republican to do so in more than four decades.

Bevin criticized the bombastic tone of the Fancy Farm speeches over the last two years, though the rowdy atmosphere hasn’t abated.

This year’s event will be emceed by former Democratic House Speaker Bobby Richardson, who left the General Assembly in 1990.

Recent emcees have alternated between representatives of the two major political parties — Republican operative Scott Jennings last year, and Kentucky Sports Radio Host Matt Jones, a Democrat, the year before.

The picnic will be held on Saturday, August 5 at 10 a.m. CST with the political speaking beginning at 2 p.m. and aired live on KET.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • State Sen. Stan Humphries, Republican
  • State Rep. Richard Heath, Republican
  • U.S. Rep. James Comer, Republican
  • House Speaker Jeff Hoover, Republican
  • House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, Democrat
  • Attorney General Andy Beshear, Democrat
  • Agriculture Commission Ryan Quarles, Republican
  • State Auditor Mike Harmon, Republican

Organizers are still waiting for confirmation from the following:

  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican
  • U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, Republican
  • Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Democrat
  • Treasurer Allison Ball, Republican
  • Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton, Republican
  • State Senate President Robert Stivers, Republican

Rand Paul asked VA to meet with UofL president to discuss Jewish Hospital alternative for replacement VA hospital Wednesday, Jul 19 2017 

Sen. Rand Paul asked the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in June to meet with University of Louisville interim President Greg Postel to discuss an idea he had pitched to Paul weeks earlier — that the VA consider buying the downtown Jewish Hospital from KentuckyOne Health as the site for a replacement VA hospital instead […]

Rand Paul Doesn’t Support GOP Health Bill Thursday, Jun 22 2017 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has unveiled the newest version of a bill to replace many provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Negotiations over the much-anticipated bill were held in private, with even some Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul criticizing the secretive process “with little time to fully evaluate the proposal.”

Paul issued a statement Thursday saying he wasn’t ready to vote in favor of the new bill because it doesn’t fully repeal Obamacare.

“It does not keep our promises to the American people,” Paul said. “I will oppose it coming to the floor in its current form, but I remain open to negotiations.”

A vote on the measure is expected next week.

If no Democrats vote in favor of the bill, McConnell can only afford to lose two votes out of the 52 Republicans in the Senate. In case of a tie, Vice President Mike Pence would have the option to cast a tie-breaker.

The proposal would by 2024 phase out funding for states like Kentucky that elected to expand their Medicaid programs under Obamacare.

It would also end the requirement for people to buy health insurance, and employers of a certain size would no longer have to provide coverage for employees. It would eliminate taxes on the wealthy and insurance companies, but keep a provision that allows parents to keep their children on their insurance plans until age 26.

During a speech on the Senate Floor Thursday, McConnell said the plan was the product of dozens of meetings.

“It’s time to act,” McConnell said. “Because Obamacare is a direct attack on the middle class and American families deserve better than its failing status quo.”

He also chided Democrats for indicating they wouldn’t support the Republican-crafted plan.

“They can choose to keep standing by as their failing law continues to collapse and hurt more Americans, but I hope they will join us instead to bring more relief to families who have struggled under Obamacare for far too long,” McConnell said during his Senate remarks.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, criticized the proposal for its tax breaks and changes to Medicaid.

“Any senator who votes for this bill is clearly prioritizing a meaningless political victory over the health and livelihoods of the American people,” Yarmuth said in a statement.

McConnell blames the Affordable Care Act for rising health insurance premiums and says insurance companies pulling out of Obamacare markets show that the program is not working.

In Kentucky, five companies that sold insurance on Kentucky’s health exchange in 2016 pulled out of the program for 2017. The Kentucky Department of Insurance approved requests by the remaining companies to charge higher premiums.

The proposal, which is dubbed the “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” would change how states fund their Medicaid programs by shifting to block grants or per capita caps on spending.

The bill would also let states apply waivers to disregard some mandates of the Affordable Care Act, like the law’s ban on insurance companies charging higher premiums for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

After the bill was announced, videos showed protesters being forcibly removed from outside McConnell’s Capitol office.

“U.S. Capitol Police handles security in the Capitol complex,” said McConnell press secretary, Stephanie Penn, when asked for comment about the protests.

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