Thursday, July 19, 2018

Terror Expert on What He Saw Going into Summit: Media Is Completely Off-Base

There was great consternation and outrage among the media and Democrats — as well as some Republicans — following President Donald Trump’s summit in Helsinki, Finland, with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While the harsh criticisms and shouts of “treason” from the hard left and NeverTrump right are more than a little disconcerting, they are not the least bit surprising as that sort of reaction has become rather predictable in this day and age.

Indeed, the stage was set ahead of the summit for just such a reaction by the media and Democrats, who displayed their “glaring hypocrisy” with regard to their coverage of Trump’s diplomatic meeting as opposed to the diplomatic meetings held by former President Barack Obama or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

That was the message delivered on “Fox & Friends” on Sunday morning by former U.S. Army Special Forces member and anti-terrorism expert Jim Hanson, who pointed out the disparate ways in which Trump, Obama and Clinton were treated by the establishment and media following their particular dealings with Russia.

Co-host Pete Hegseth began the segment by recalling Clinton’s embarrassing attempt in 2009 to hit the “reset” button with Russia, using a hokey red plastic button that actually had the wrong Russian word printed on it to symbolize the development in U.S./Russian relations.

“And Hillary walks into that meeting asking for nothing with her giant button that actually said ‘overcharge’ in Russian, and she’s telling them, ‘ok, you can have whatever you want from us,'” Hanson said.

“Even a more glaring example was when President Obama was talking to (then-President) Medvedev of the Russian Republic and tells him, ‘after my next election I’ll have more flexibility,'” he continued.

“Now that is him admitting that he was lying to the American public during that election cycle, and afterwards he would give Russia what they wanted. But yet, where is the outrage? Where is the press saying we should investigate that?” Hanson asked.

Hegseth asked what sort of “flexibility” Obama was referring to in that particular remark, and if it meant allowing Russia to annex Crimea, invade Ukraine or even meddle in our elections.

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“All of it, and that’s the problem Pete,” Hanson replied. “You know the entire focus and entire stature of the Obama foreign policy was cringing capitulation, it was ‘America last’ — ‘what do you guys want, what can we give you’ — and it ended up making the world a much more dangerous place.”

“In that case they were actually talking about missile defense, so the security of the entire free world for any attack by any crazed person with missiles — which could have included the Russians — is being put at risk because Obama was willing to go ahead and bow down,” Hanson said.

“And now, the media at that point in time had nothing to say, now President Trump wants to have a less antagonistic relationship with the Russians, maybe get them to stop hurting us with North Korea, stop hurting us in Syria, and all of the sudden it’s the worst thing that ever happened,” he continued.

“It’s glaring hypocrisy,” Hanson concluded, to which Hegseth could only reply, “Absolutely it is, every single day of the week.”

When Obama and Clinton reached out and tried to make nice with Russia, they were applauded by the liberal media and establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle, even as Putin and Russia took full advantage of the naive good faith extended by Obama and Clinton.

Now Trump is seeking to tone down the harsh rhetoric and smooth out the rough relationship between the U.S. and Russia and he has been attacked and smeared as some sort of Putin puppet that has sold out his own nation by the same folks who cheered similar efforts by Trump’s predecessors.

If that isn’t glaring hypocrisy, nothing is.



How Expanding Medicaid To Able-Bodied Adults Is Stripping Care For Disabled People

Over the last several years, states that expanded Medicaid to able-bodied adults have seen costs skyrocket and patients lose access to critical medical care. Yet despite this disastrous track record, many are recklessly rushing to expand Medicaid in their states.

On July 6, Medicaid expansion advocates delivered boxes full of signatures to Idaho’s secretary of state to place the issue on the state’s ballot in November. Just one day earlier, another ballot drive collected enough signatures to expand Medicaid in Nebraska. In Maine, pro-Medicaid lawmakers are preparing to raise fresh new taxes to grow the program.

The leaders of these campaigns argue that expanding Medicaid will provide health care access to the needy. Unfortunately, expanding coverage to able-bodied adults imposes enormous harm on Medicaid’s traditional enrollees, which include individuals with severe developmental and intellectual disabilities, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. When a state expands Medicaid, the federal government covers 95 percent of the cost of treating every able-bodied patient. However, the federal government only covers 30 to 50 percent of the cost of treating Medicaid’s sicker patient populations.

In response to these federal incentives, 33 states and the District of Columbia opted to spend billions on millions of new able-bodied Medicaid enrollees and subsequently spend less on Medicaid’s sicker patients. A common tactic states use to limit health care access to disabled Medicaid patients is to place them on waitlists. Nearly 250,000 disabled children and adults are stuck on waiting lists for home and community-based services in states that expanded Medicaid to able-bodied adults. In Maryland, more than 36,000 sick individuals must wait on average for seven years and six months before they can receive services.

Tragically, many never receive the care they need. Since 2014, an estimated 22,000 sick patients have died on waiting lists in states that expanded Medicaid. After Arkansas expanded Medicaid, the state’s waiting lists increased 25 percent while 74 children and adults suffering from physical and mental impairments died waiting for care. There is no question that poor able-bodied Americans need reliable coverage, but states should not expand Medicaid to these individuals at the expense of society’s most vulnerable patients.

Fortunately, the Trump administration recognizes there are more effective ways to expand health insurance to low-income people and is developing a series of reforms to make health insurance more affordable. For starters, the Department of Labor recently finalized new regulations to let small businesses band together and offer workers less expensive insurance through association health plans (AHPs).

By pooling workers from multiple employers into a larger risk pool, AHPs would allow small businesses to provide lower cost insurance. The health care consulting firm Avelere estimates AHPs would offer coverage that is nearly $3,000 less expensive than insurance currently provided by small businesses and $10,000 less than insurance found in the individual market.

The Trump administration is also developing rules to make health insurance more affordable for individuals without access to employer-based coverage. In early 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services introduced new regulations to allow individuals to purchase short-term insurance for up to 364 days. These types of insurance products are exempt from Obamacare’s costly insurance regulations, which allows insurers to charge 70 percent lower premiums on short-term insurance than conventional insurance.

Prior to Trump, President Obama limited the duration of short-term plans to just 90 days, which reduced their appeal to low-income consumers who can’t afford Obamacare’s expensive insurance options. Fortunately, the Trump administration expanded the duration of these plans, which will offer relief to millions of Americans who lack health insurance. But these bits of relief are temporary and only patches on a government-centered health care system that Congress needs to decentralize to ensure better services for those who most need them.

Medicaid’s proponents may claim that expanding this bloated government program is the only way to deliver health insurance to uninsured families. But the reality is state and federal policymakers have a range of tools to remove government barriers to affordable coverage. Also, unlike Medicaid expansion, these reforms won’t endanger the health of America’s most vulnerable patients. The time for Congress to address these problems with an Obamacare replacement is overdue.



VA Nursing Home Scandal Exposes Substandard Government Health Care

It seems like every time there’s a full moon, there’s a new scandal at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. This time it has to do with the VA’s operation of nursing home facilities for America’s veterans. The troubled agency has been hiding the poor quality of the care it provides at its veterans homes compared to similar facilities in the private sector.

A recent editorial at USA Today summarizes the findings of its investigative reporting with The Boston Globe:

Most Americans, when they think of the VA, envision a vast bureaucracy of care centers for millions of the nation’s veterans. That it is. But who knew the agency also runs a network of nursing homes?

Well, it does, and it turns out—thanks to recent coverage by USA TODAY and The Boston Globe—that many of those nursing homes suffer from health delivery concerns similar to those that plague some VA hospitals and clinics.

About 46,000 veterans annually are cared for in 133 of these homes nationwide. Some are located on Department of Veterans Affairs hospital campuses, and some are separate facilities.

The VA rates these nursing homes for quality, but internal appraisals showing that 60 homes with the lowest ratings were kept secret from the public until reporters pressed. Moreover, in some crucial measurement standards, including reports of pain, VA homes performed substantially worse than private-sector alternatives....

It’s a problem that exists because politicians have exempted the VA’s bureaucrats from the transparency requirements imposed upon private-sector nursing home facilities.

Under federal regulations, private nursing homes are required to disclose voluminous data on the care they provide. The federal government uses the data to calculate quality measures and posts them on a federal website, along with inspection results and staffing information. The regulations do not apply to the VA.

The VA has “got this whole sort of parallel world out there that’s hidden,” said Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. “I still can’t get over that this information is not available to people who are looking for a veteran’s home. That’s just unacceptable.”

That doesn’t mean that the VA’s bureaucrats don’t know how bad the care provided at its nursing home facilities has been. Not only do they know, they’ve been hiding the problem from the public since the beginning of the Obama administration:

The VA has relied for more than a decade on an outside company, Wisconsin-based Long Term Care Institute, to conduct inspections of VA nursing homes and report back to the agency.

The VA banned the public release of institute reports after the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2009 published the findings from one report detailing “significant issues” at the VA nursing home in Philadelphia, including poor resident grooming and pest control. In one case, a patient’s leg had to be amputated after an infection in his foot went untreated for so long his toes turned black and attracted maggots.

The VA said the reports are internal quality assurance documents “protected” from disclosure under federal law. However, in their announcement last Tuesday releasing the nursing homes’ star ratings, VA officials said they would also release the long-term care reports. They didn’t say when.

Not that the VA’s internal ratings of its care match up well with private sector nursing home facilities. The VA’s bureaucrats appear to be systematically overrating their performance.

Even higher-ranking VA nursing homes scored below private nursing homes on individual quality measures last year, the internal documents show.

The VA assigned three stars to its nursing home in Livermore, California, even though the facility scored worse on average than private facilities on six of 11 criteria. Residents reported being in pain at dramatically higher rates and experienced general declines and developed sores at slightly higher rates.

There’s much more to the story, especially about the personal dimensions of how the VA’s substandard care at its nursing homes has harmed a number of veterans.

From a public-policy perspective, however, the story illustrates how government-provided health care is not only failing the Americans who are dependent upon it, but also how poorly the health care provided by the agency at its 133 nursing home facilities compares with the nearly 16,000 nursing homes that operate in the private sector outside of the VA system.

At a minimum, the VA’s role in operating nursing homes should be reduced, so that veterans not requiring specialized care unique to their health status as veterans are free to choose nursing homes in the private sector, with the VA contributing funds to their care at those higher-quality facilities.



Hater Arrested For Stealing Campaign Signs That Had a GPS Tracking Device

Congressman Tom Reed, a Republican representative seeking re-election in New York’s 23rd District, grew a little weary of having his campaign signs stolen.

The signs feature the phrase “Extreme Ithaca Liberal,” a shot at the opposition party in the area who have resorted to extreme platforms and now extreme measures to combat Republicans.

And it’s not the first time they’ve disappeared. Volunteers for a Democrat opponent were caught removing signs while still wearing their campaign stickers in 2018. Another woman admitted taking them down because they were “rude” earlier this month.

With a pattern firmly established, Reed’s campaign got clever and installed a GPS tracking device in one of their signs.

Sure enough, an activist from a prominent “resistance” group in the area was tracked down and confronted when the sign disappeared.

Reed’s campaign manager Nick Weinstein showed up on the doorstep of Gary McCaslin, to which the accused took exception to being tracked down.

“I can’t believe this, Nick. You tracked this sign to my house?” an exasperated McCaslin asked. “Is Tom Reed that desperate that he has to put little thing like that inside of a sign and track it?”

Weinstein was able to get the sign returned but McCaslin refused to return the tracker, instead suggesting they call the police.

“So we did,” the campaign wrote on their website. “And, after law enforcement reviewed our videos, Gary McCaslin was charged with petit larceny, punishable by up to a year in jail and a one thousand dollar fine.”

Weinstein accused Reed’s opponents of being “willing to go to criminal lengths to try and hide their Extreme Ithaca Liberal agenda from the public.”

McCaslin, who is scheduled to appear in court on July 19th, had his lawyer argue that he was simply a citizen acting “out of decency” by picking up the signs, or as he called it, “taking out the trash.”



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