Rand Paul’s ACA Plan Would Do Away With Individual Mandate Wednesday, Jan 25 2017 

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday that would do away with the law’s major reforms, including the requirement to have health insurance or pay a penalty and the ban on insurers refusing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

Under the proposal, people wouldn’t be required to get health insurance, nor would employers be required to offer it. Instead, groups of people and small employers could come together to form “independent health pools” to negotiate rates.

“What we’d like is [for people] to get insurance through associations, and then you’d have leverage on cost and get insurance policies that would protect you from being dropped and from your prices go up if someone in your pool gets sick,” Paul said in a conference call Wednesday.

He added that Tom Price, the nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, has touted that idea.

These nonprofits would provide insurance through contracts with health insurers. Small businesses would also be able to come together across state lines to purchase health coverage under the plan.

The Affordable Care Act set a threshold for the quality of benefits sold – the Paul plan would do away with that. Health insurers would no longer be required to offer hospital stays, newborn care, mental health treatment or prescription drugs.

“Insurance companies would be able to market inexpensive insurance again,” Paul said.

Under Paul’s plan, health savings accounts would be the main way to purchase health insurance. Individuals could save an unlimited amount a year to pay for medical expenses, but that money would come out of their own pocket. The amount in the health savings account would be tax-deductible.

And for people with insurance through their employer, premiums would also be tax-deductible under the plan. The same wouldn’t apply for people buying their own insurance, but they could get a tax deduction on the premiums they paid.

Under the plan, individuals with pre-existing conditions could obtain insurance within two years of repeal and not face higher premiums or denial of coverage.

In terms of charity care, doctors could take a tax deduction for patient debt that hadn’t been paid. That would be limited to 10 percent of the doctor’s gross income for a year. That would take the place of the uncompensated care program, where the federal government and states reimburse a portion of this cost.

The bill comes after Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana announced another replacement plan last week. That plan would let states keep the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare. It would also keep the taxes enacted by the ACA.

Paul said that won’t work for voters.

“I don’t think a lot of Republicans will want to keep Obamacare. I suspect it’ll divide Republicans,” he said. “I also think that ‘if you like Obamacare you can keep it’ is not a rallying cry Republicans across the country will rally to. The vast majority thought that they were voting to repeal it, not keep it.”

In Other News… Rand Paul on ACA, Taco Bell’s new product, Lawrence in absentia Friday, Jan 13 2017 

Affordable Care Act: In the early morning hours this past Thursday, the Senate passed step one in its repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, says CNN, NBC News and New York Magazine. The Senate voted 51-48 along party lines. It wasn’t a complete slam dunk for Republicans, however, as one of […]

Rand Paul Might Stop An Obamacare Repeal. Here’s How Thursday, Jan 5 2017 

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he would not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare, without voting for a replacement plan on the same day. He made the comments on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“Here’s the great irony, this week we’re going to vote on a budget,” he said. “Everybody is hot and heavy to vote on this budget because they want to repeal Obamacare. But the budget they’re going to introduce will add $8.8 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years. So I told them look, I’m not going to vote for a budget that never balances.”

Paul formed the Senate’s first Tea Party Caucus and has said balancing the budget should be a more important priority than doing away with the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday, he met with members from the House Freedom Caucus to drum up opposition to the repeal if there’s no immediate replacement plan.

Congress is currently examining a process to repeal parts of the law, including the individual and employer mandates that say individuals must have health insurance, and that large employers must offer it to employees. If the bill is approved, these provisions would go away immediately.

The Medicaid expansion program and subsidies for people to buy insurance on the individual market would go away in 2019 or possibly after under the GOP plan. The part of ACA that keeps insurers from barring people with pre-existing conditions from coverage, and other consumer protections, wouldn’t be touched.

The reason why it would cost so much money, as Paul said, is Republicans don’t have a replacement plan.

Budget Buster

Imagine all the money that went into paying for Medicaid expansion, the subsidies and all the other little parts you have never even heard of – as a pie.

Most of the money pie are taken up by paying for the new people on Medicaid expansion and for people with subsidies for marketplace coverage. But those programs were paid for with new taxes on the health care sector.

So you get the money from the pie back, but then that has to go toward making up for the loss of those taxes.

The $8.8 trillion figure comes from a report by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan public policy think tank.

“Repealing the entire ACA would leave no funds available for ‘replacement’ legislation, and in fact would require” lawmakers to come up with other ways to save money to not contribute to the national debt, the group says.

Under repeal, 30 million more people would become uninsured by 2019, which is higher than the uninsured population pre-health law, according to the Urban Institute’s analysis of the budget resolution that would do away with the law.

Health policy expert Edwin Park said what is likely to happen if this repeal goes through without a replacement is the collapse of the insurance market.

“You’d have consumer protections like the prohibition against denying coverage with people with pre-existing conditions remaining in place, but at the same time no subsidies to buy coverage in that market, no individual mandate,” said Park, who is vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research and analysis group. “As a result, the only individuals who are likely to enroll are likely those who are sickest.”

Paul echoed that sentiment on “Morning Joe.”

“There are many health care analysts who are predicting bankruptcy for insurance companies and a massive insurance company bailout within first 6 months of repeal,” he said. “Adverse selection gets worse if you get rid of the individual mandate.”

On Wednesday, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said in a news conference that Democrats have no plans to help Republicans come up with a replacement for the ACA.

“It’s not the Democrats that would be pushing 20 million people off insurance,” he said. “It’s the GOP’s obligation to come up with a proposal.”

The Mighty In Other News…2016 Year in Review Friday, Dec 30 2016 

Well, well, well, 2016. We can call you a lot of things, but boring isn’t one of them. Nyquist was the favorite for your 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby, and for good reason, it turns out. He won. Lexington’s Chris Stapleton took home a couple of Grammy awards for “Best Country Album of the […]

Rand Paul Checks Trump On Secretary Of State Picks Wednesday, Dec 7 2016 

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has become an outspoken assessor of President-elect Donald Trump’s potential nominees for secretary of state, going out of his way to criticize several candidates for their hawkish foreign policy views.

Paul, a non-interventionist who has clashed with his party on foreign policy issues during his first term in office, is in a rare position to influence who Trump taps to be the next secretary of state.

A nominee would have to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, with 10 Republicans and 9 Democrats on the panel, Paul represents a key swing vote.

So far, Paul has publicly stated that he would not support the nomination of former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, citing his support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He’s also cast doubts on the prospects of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, questioning the candidates’ views on foreign intervention.

Kentucky’s junior senator and the president-elect were bitter rivals when the two were vying for the Republican nomination for president. Dropping out of the race in February, Paul was slow to support Trump’s nomination but eventually gave a quiet endorsement of the New York businessman.

Now Paul says he’s trying to make sure Trump picks “someone who agrees with Donald Trump.”

“Donald Trump said nation building was a problem, regime change was a problem, the Iraq War was a mistake,” Paul said on CNN last week.

Over the years, Paul has criticized the U.S. role in the Middle East, arguing that the country needs to be more selective about foreign involvement.

Paul has criticized the GOP for being “too eager to go to war” and also slammed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for being a “war hawk.”

In a 2014 speech, Paul said the country shouldn’t be “sentimental” about its foreign enemies, but “we also can’t be blind to the fact that drone strikes that inadvertently kill civilians may create more jihadists than we eliminate.”

Paul has also cast doubt on Trump’s consideration of retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus for secretary of state, questioning how Republicans could confirm him “with a straight face.”

In 2015, Petraeus pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information; during the presidential race this year, Republicans skewered Democratic nominee Clinton for using a private server to handle classified emails.

Rand Paul Cruises To Reelection Over Democrat Jim Gray Wednesday, Nov 9 2016 

Republican Sen. Rand Paul has won reelection to his seat, defeating Democratic challenger Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington.

Paul won all but seven of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

In his victory speech, Paul quoted the rock group Pink Floyd and said government needs to get out of the way of individuals’ creativity.

“The goal should be to set you free,” he said. “To leave you alone. To have a government so small you can barely see it.”

Paul is at the end of his first term in the Senate. He was part of a crowded field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president but suspended his campaign at the beginning of this year.

Paul rarely mentioned Gray’s name during the campaign, instead attacking Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Paul defeated Gray by 14 points. Gray won Fayette, Jefferson and a handful of other counties in the central part of the state.

In his concession speech, Gray said Democrats still have something to look forward to in Kentucky.

“We have earned the right to celebrate the good works of this campaign,” he said, adding that “our season is coming.”

Paul rode a Republican wave in Kentucky that also swept the presidential race and many state House elections in the state.

Here’s A Brief Guide To Election Day 2016 Sunday, Nov 6 2016 

You probably thought the day would never arrive, but Tuesday is Election Day.

In Kentucky, not only will voters choose a president, they’ll determine which political party controls the state House of Representatives (and perhaps the legislative agenda in Frankfort).

There’s also a bitter U.S. Senate race, and in Louisville, Congress and half of the Metro Council seats are on the ballot, along with school board races. We’ll have more coverage of those on Monday.

Kentucky Democrats have a lot to lose Tuesday. The state House is the last legislative chamber controlled by Democrats in any southern state. If Republicans can net four more seats, they’ll have power over the entire legislative process in Frankfort.

You can read some of our coverage of the battle over the Kentucky House here:

Kentucky Democrats, Republicans Pull Out All The Stops In Fight Over State House

McConnell: Ky. Needs GOP Control Of State House To Grow Economy

Will Donald Trump Help Republicans Win The State House?

 

Paul vs. Gray

In what began as a sleepy contest, the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Rand Paul and Democratic challenger Jim Gray finally heated up at this year’s Fancy Farm picnic.

Since then, the two men have lobbed attacks at one another — largely via news releases and written statements. That is, until they finally came face-to-face for their only debate on Halloween night.

Gray accused Paul of having “wild-ass philosophies and theories.” And Paul repeatedly tried to link Gray to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Obama (both are unpopular in the Bluegrass State.)

A poll released early on Monday by Runswitch PR showed Paul with a 10-point lead in the race.

You can read our coverage of the Senate race here:

When and where can I vote?

Polls open at 6 a.m. local time and close at 6 p.m. You can find your polling place and check out sample ballots here.

And if you see any problems at the polls, we want to know about it! WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting is one of several newsrooms across the country partnering with ProPublica for its Electionland project. Electionland aims to seek out and scrutinize any problems at the polls that prevent voters from participating in the 2016 election.

To learn how you can be involved, go here.

How long will I have to wait in line?

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes estimates 60 percent of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots on Tuesday. Grimes said that’s on par with the turnout from the 2012 presidential election, when 59 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In 2008, the turnout was 64 percent.

Who am I voting for?

In addition to choosing a new president, elections are also scheduled for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislative seats. In Louisville, 13 of 26 Metro Council seats are up for election, as well as school board seats.

When will I know who won?

We’ll be live on 89.3 WFPL beginning at 7 p.m. — that’s when polls close in Western Kentucky and when statewide results start rolling in. We’ll also have coverage throughout the evening at wfpl.org.

Hey Kentucky, Help Us Track Poll Problems On Tuesday Thursday, Nov 3 2016 

Kentuckians have heard allegations, intimations and forecasts of a “rigged” election and “large-scale voter fraud” in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election. Perhaps you saw them shared on Facebook, heard them from a candidate or in an email from a friend.

What gives?

Well, WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting is here to help sort it out.

KyCIR is one of several newsrooms across the country partnering with ProPublica for its Electionland project. Electionland aims to seek out and scrutinize any problems at the polls that prevent voters from participating in the 2016 election.

But we can’t be in every polling station. We need you.

Text ELECTIONLAND to 69866

Text ELECTIONLAND to 69866

Help report on your voting experience. Sign up now by texting ELECTIONLAND to 69866. That’s right, text that single word to 69866.

We’ll check in on Election Day to find out how long it took you to vote and whether you had or saw any problems.

We’d love to hear from you:

–How long did it take to vote? Did long lines cause people to walk away without casting ballots?

–Were there any issues with ballots or polling equipment? Were you or someone else wrongly turned away?

–Did you observe other people running into difficulties?

You can follow us on Twitter for updates from across Kentucky. Electionland will be providing nationwide updates on Twitter and online. Read more about the project here.

Grimes Predicts 60 percent Voter Turnout On Tuesday Wednesday, Nov 2 2016 

Kentucky’s top election official estimates 60 percent of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots on Tuesday.

Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said that’s on par with the turnout from the 2012 presidential election, when 59 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In 2008, the turnout was 64 percent.

Grimes said 47,000 people have cast in-person absentee ballots, up from 37,000 at this same time four years ago. The state has also issued 39,700 mail-in absentee ballots, of which 26,000 have been returned.

A record 3.3 million people are registered to vote in Tuesday’s election. For president, in addition to the Democratic and Republican candidates, Kentucky voters will have 23 registered write-in candidates to choose from. Elections are also scheduled for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislative seats.

Why Go There? A Linguist Dissects Jim Gray’s ‘Wild-Ass’ Zinger Tuesday, Nov 1 2016 

Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul and his opponent, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray squared off Tuesday night in their only face-to-face debate of the election season. For an hour, they talked about the future of coal, Kentucky’s heroin problem, and more.

But it was one particular turn of phrase, used by Gray, that caught people’s ears. It includes a word for the human posterior.

I looked into the phrase. Listen in the player above (or here) — without your kids in the room.

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