Virginia’s Top Stories in 2014

mcd convictedBy Peter Galuszka

The Year 2014 was quite eventful if unsettling. It represented some major turning points for the Old Dominion.

Here are my picks for the top stories:

  • Robert F. McDonnell becomes the highest-ranking former or serving state official to be convicted of corruption. The six-week-long trial from July to September of the Republican former governor and his wife, Maureen, was international news. In terms of trash, it offered everything – greed, tackiness, a dysfunctional marriage, a relationship “triangle,” and an inner glimpse of how things work at the state capital.  More importantly, it ends forever the conceit that there is a “Virginia Way” in which politicians are gentlemen above reproach, the status quo prevails and ordinary voters should be kept as far away from the political process as possible. It also shows the unfinished job of reforming ethics. The hidden heroes are honest state bureaucrats who resisted top-down pushes to vet dubious vitamin pills plus the State Police who did their investigative duty.
  • Eric Cantor loses. Cantor, another Republican, had been riding high as the 7th District Congressman and House Majority Leader. A wunderkind of the Richmond business elite, Cantor was positioned to be House Speaker and was considered invulnerable, at least until David Brat, an unknown college economics professor and populist libertarian, exploited fractures in the state GOP to win a stunning primary upset. Cantor immediately landed in a high-paying lobbying job for a financial house.
  • Terry McAuliffe takes over. The Democrat Washington insider and Clinton crony beat hard-right fanatic Kenneth Cuccinelli in a tight 2013 race. He bet almost everything on getting the GOP-run General Assembly to expand Medicaid benefits to 400,000 low income Virginians. He lost and will try again. He’s done a pretty good job at snaring new business, notably the $2 billion Shandong-Tralin paper mill from China for Chesterfield County. It will employ 2,000.
  • Roads projects blow up. Leftover highway messes such as the bypass of U.S. 29 in Charlottesville finally got spiked for now. Big questions remain about what happened to the $400 million or so that the McDonnell Administration spent on the unwanted U.S. 460 road to nowhere in southeastern Virginia.
  • Gay marriage becomes legal. A U.S. District Judge in Norfolk found Virginia’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and the U.S. Supreme Court pushed opening gay marriage farther. The rulings helped turn the page on the state’s prejudicial past, such as the ban on interracial marriage that lasted until the late 1960s.
  • Fracking changes state energy picture. A flood of natural gas from West Virginia and Pennsylvania has utilities like Dominion Resources pushing gas projects. It’s been nixing coal plants and delaying new nukes and renewables. Dominion is also shaking things up by pitching a $5 billion, 550-mile-long pipeline through some of the state’s most picturesque areas – just one of several pipelines being pitched. The EPA has stirred things up with complex new rules in cutting carbon emissions and the state’s business community and their buddies at the State Corporation Commission have organized a massive opposition campaign. McAuliffe, meanwhile, has issued his “everything” energy plan that looks remarkably like former governor McDonnell’s.
  • State struggles with budget gaps. Sequestration of federal spending and defense cuts have sent officials scrambling to plug a $2.4 billion gap in the biennial budget. It is back to the same old smoke and mirrors to raise taxes while not seeming to. Obvious solutions – such as raising taxes on gasoline and tobacco – remain off limits.
  • College rape became a hot issue after Rolling Stone printed a flawed story about an alleged gang rape of a female student at the prestigious University of Virginia in 2012. Progressives pushed for raising awareness while conservatives took full advantage of the reporter’s reporting gaps to pretend that sex abuse is not really an issue.
  • Poverty is on the radar screen, especially in Richmond which has poverty rate of 27 percent (70 percent in some neighborhoods) and other spots such as Newport News. Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones got a lot of national press attention for his campaign to eradicate poverty but it is really hard to understand what he’s actually doing or whether it is successful. The real attention in Richmond is on such essentials as replacing the Diamond baseball stadium, justifying a training camp for the Washington Redskins and giving big subsidies for a rich San Diego brewer of craft beer.
  • Day care regulation. Virginia has a horrible reputation for allowing small, home day care centers to operate without regulation. Dozens have children have died over the past few years at them. This year there were deaths at centers in Midlothian and Lynchburg.
  • The continued madness of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. This out-of-control slush fund in the tobacco belt continued its waywardness by talking with Democratic State Sen. Phil Pucket about a six-figure job just as Puckett was to resign and deny a swing vote in the senate in favor of expanding Medicaid. The commission also drew attention for inside plays by the politically powerful Kilgore family and giving $30 million in an unsolicited grant to utility Dominion.
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29 responses to “Virginia’s Top Stories in 2014

  1. WHAT? No UVA/RS fiasco?

    pretty good roundup I think. Will be interesting to see how others add/subtract or re-order the rank.

    In our area – one of the top stories is the dynamic tolling/HOT lanes of I-95 to Nova… a big change for thousands of commuters in our area.

    • oops – I did miss it:

      “College rape became a hot issue after Rolling Stone printed a flawed story about an alleged gang rape of a female student at the prestigious University of Virginia in 2012. Progressives pushed for raising awareness while conservatives took full advantage of the reporter’s reporting gaps to pretend that sex abuse is not really an issue.”

      and probably a fair way to put it.

      the NUMBER ONE STORY – though – is touched upon with Peter’s assessment of how the story is viewed – politically.

      In fact, more and more on most issues these days -whether it’s health care or immigration or gay marriage or poverty or education or energy or regulation or climate – and other issues – there is a widening – hard-edged partisan divide.

      Further – it’s often not about finding better solutions – it’s about an inability to find solutions – sometimes even in one party – an unwillingness to actually try to find a better solution – just a clinging to the status-quo – because agreement on (mostly) on the Conservative side is not possible.

      The tougher, more controversial, more intractable dilemmas are no longer solvable by compromise.. apparently.

      take the rape issue – it’s not really about reform – as much as it is about each sides attitudes about the motivations of the other side.

      Conservatives see “feminists” on a jihad about something that is more in their own minds than real – and Progressives see conservatives as denying obvious realities in an effort to cling to their own views that frats/guys are not typically rapists..

      if someone – like the POTUS does studies – they are accused of trying to force their agenda on the issue with a bogus study.

      nevermind the other side has no study they consider more objective – nope – they don’t need no stinking study and anyone who dains to do it – is clearly already on the side of the feminist nazi’s..

      If the POTUS get’s involved – it becomes a conspiracy with the POTUS in bed with the feminists – pun intended.

      so – when the POTUS gets up to give the SOTU this January – it’s becoming an increasingly more difficult proposition to put a hopeful face on our country’s ability to address issues.. when we know the opposition will then put up their “response” to the SOTU – and it will be one of blame and gloom and doom… with great dollops of just totally bogus psudo-solutions with undefined meanings like “patient-centered health care”.

      BAH HUMBUG!

  2. I agree this is a pretty good summary of 2014. I don’t see the issue with unregulated daycare, however. All a city or county needs to do is pass an ordinance, regulating what the state doesn’t. Fairfax County does this today, and, according to some elected officials (e.g., Gerry Connolly), we are the county with the fewest powers in the Commonwealth. LoL. Perhaps, local officials aren’t really interested in regulating child care centers. That’s what it looks like to me.

  3. Gun related violent crime continued to fall as gun control laws were repealed and gun sales soared. Conservatives pointed out the lack of connection between selling guns to law abiding citizens and gun crime. Liberals moved to thwart the falling crime statistics by proposing the reinstatement of many of the gun control laws that bear no relationship to gun crime. In related news Gov McAuliffe is considering a ban on large containers of soda and renaming the state Bloombergia. McAuliffe was quoted as saying, “As long as he keeps sticking money in my pockets I’ll keep proposing laws that have no chance of passing.”.

  4. That’s a pretty good list of top stories, Peter.

    I object mainly to one statement, that conservatives “pretend that sex abuse is not really an issue.” Either you are deliberately misconstruing what conservatives are saying (at least on this blog) or you simply fail to understand what they’re saying. What I (and others) have argued is that the “epidemic of rape” is far more complex and nuanced than how it’s portrayed by the left. Treating the occasional Hannah Graham-style rape-murder with drunken party hook-up sex as a unitary phenomenon is less than helpful.

    • re: ” What I (and others) have argued is that the “epidemic of rape” is far more complex and nuanced than how it’s portrayed by the left. ”

      are you calling ALL media “left”?

      why do you do that?

      can you give me an example of media that did not report the RS story as provided?

      you guys seem to slide back and forth as to what you consider the “media” to be?

      seems to me that you have to go to the far right wacko-bird media to get the story you prefer…

      from the Washington Examiner:

      ” The truth is, we don’t know how many women have been sexually assaulted on America’s college campuses, but legislation based on overblown statistics won’t lead to safer campuses, just more fear.”

      my question is – what do they think the real number is – we know it’s not zero – and more importantly – what do they think should be done – as opposed to – opposing what they do not like?

      like a lot of other issues – they seem uninterested in getting the facts – much less providing their alternative path to dealing with the issue.

      you can’t do business this way Jim – unless you are really just a yahoo without any real idea of how to deal with the issues.

      1. deny the issue and 2. – deny needing to do something.

  5. re: ” but legislation based on overblown statistics won’t lead to safer campuses, just more fear.”

    and I just want to point out to you and Reed that “legislation” emanates from Congress – and then is sent to the POTUS to be incorporated into the Administration.

    why is it that you and Reed talk about the administration instead of the legislation that originates in Congress?

    when will you INCLUDE in your criticism – Congress?

  6. Jim,
    Thanks for the compliment but I do agree with Larry that “the media’s” supposed complicity in some kind of pro-feminist propaganda plot on campus rape is dubious. Guess what “liberal” newspaper did the most significant reporting questioning the veracity of the Rolling Stone report? The “leftist” Washington Post (just ask TMT who despises Fred iIatt although Hiatt is really a closet neocon for Chrissakes!)

    I think everyone realizes that in some cases rape allegations by women against men are fallacious. But I also think that there is something to unwanted sexual advances on campus. They are typically initiated by the male side. The issues are complex and alcohol is a factor. I asked my own child what was going on and she said she wasn’t sure because she never got into the Greek scene but there was a lot of solidarity at the school to (1) do something positive about making sure the pre-sex rules are understood by all and (2) to strengthen ties among faculty, administration and students. I really don’t see what kind of ominous ideological disaster these moves imply.

    Your problem is that you never got over the strident radicalism by some leftish students back in the 1970s who were solidly against Vietnam and for women’s rights, etc.

    I also find it very odd that Teresa Sullivan is also being pilliored for giving what I think to be a measured and responsible response. Had it happened when Casteen was president would the same allegations be made that he is some kind of social engineer? I bet he agrees with what Sullivan is doing. Maybe you might ask him.

    And also, the Hannah Graham situation seems to be a very different situation as you (sort of) note. I know because I went to the general area where her body was found to report a story and it’s a completely different situation. There’s been a lot of sadness at U.Va., a couple high profile murders, some suicides and now Rolling Stone. Still, this cannot top the mad killing spree at Virginia Tech as far as an enormous tragedy.

    • I do “get it” that the principled opposition disagrees with the “left” view of issues but where we part company is how the right – wants to attack the left -then walk away – even if there really is an issue that needs addressing.

      In the good old days -Conservatives would not only object to the left – but they would weight in on what they thought the issue was – and then advocate THEIR solution.

      In the modern era – the right is virtually devoid of solutions.. their main goal in life is to “count coup”.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counting_coup

      I’m sick of the right’s cowardly approach to issues.. these days..

      either step up .. come up with your own view and approach to deal with it, or get the hell out of Dodge.

      for the record – yes the feminists have way too much influence but the right is feckless and cowardly … as the gauntlet line on a Florida A&M bus…

    • Peter, my complaints about Fred Hiatt are not related to his politics. Rather, I object to his total lack of ethics on the editorial board of the Post. He is likely the most dishonest “journalist” to ever work for the Post. To advance his agenda (which is basically to screw Virginia, most especially taxpaying NoVA), Hiatt writes and publishes untrue statements; hides facts; covers up for Lee Hockstader’s lies and ignorance; and prohibits the publication of any op-eds that dispute the Post’s rants about NoVA. Hiatt also knows very little about Virginia. I’d love to humiliate him in a debate on any Virginia public policy issue.

      I’ve poked him for years for the dishonest editorials supporting the Mark Warner tax increases that cost Fairfax County taxpayers $107 M the first year in exchange for $7 M in new aid to FCPS and that enabled 49 local jurisdictions to cut real estate tax support for their public schools. His editorials consistently beat up on Chap Petersen and Steve Shannon – both Democrats – who fought Warner to get more money for FCPS.

      I’ve complained about the blatant refusal of the editorial board to acknowledge the $200 M annual subsidy from taxpayers to overweight trucks, as Hiatt rants for higher and higher gas taxes. The Post even refused to publish an article on the UVA study that found the huge subsidies. I dared Hiatt to address the study showing that, despite significant increases in transportation taxes and funding, there will be no noticeable improvement in traffic congestion in the Greater D.C. area. I’ve slammed him for focusing on Delegate Comstock’s no vote on transportation tax increases while ignoring the similar no votes of Senators Petersen and Ebbin and Delegate Surovell. I’ve challenged him to explain the fact that, in expanding Medicaid, both Oregon and Washington experienced large increases in ER use, when the Post claims Medicaid expansion will cut down on ER use.

      I and others have written several op-eds challenging the Post’s “raise taxes at all cost” editorials, but none are ever published. Point to any op-eds that challenge editorials on Virginia.

      Fred Hiatt is a dishonest man, who borders on evil. He lacks ethics and is the Post’s own version of Joseph Goebbels when measured against the truth. Bezos should fire Hiatt as soon as practicable.

      • I think it’s safe to say that TMT has his own view about things – that I don’t agree with much of what TMT is saying here either but how does that make Hyatt dishonest?

        and on the ERs – did TMT think change would happen overnight? Why is he not willing to wait a bit to see what plays out?

        ” Increased Service Use Following Medicaid Expansion Is Mostly Temporary: Evidence from California’s Low Income Health Program”

        clearly – it’s going to take time for existing habits to change.. but the main benefit of getting folks to see primary care is the ultimate cost of NOT detecting and treating disease – like diabetes – until the person has had it undetected for years and shows up with massive cardiovascular damage – hundreds of thousands of dollars – that taxpayers will pay for rather than them paying for primary care – to treat and manage diabetes.

        I just don’t see how supporting MedicAid Expansion is “dishonest”.

  7. TMT,
    Full disclosure, I have been working for Fred’s section for nearly five years and knew him when we were both Moscow correspondents together. I don’t agree with you.

    Peter

    • Peter, rebut my allegations. Even Post reporters question Hiatt’s integrity, as do a number of Democratic officeholders in Virginia.

      Larry, the reason I harp on ERs and Medicaid expansion is because supporters of expansion argue publicly that expanding Medicaid coverage in Virginia will reduce ER usage and provide overall savings. Both the states of Oregon and Washington expanded Medicaid and found ER visits by the newly covered went up, not down, and increased the overall costs of covering indigent health care expenses. A number of people have pointed this out and have asked the simple question: why won’t t his happen in Virginia? Yet, supporters simply refuse to answer the question.

      Peter if you are buds with Hiatt, ask him to explain why Virginia won’t experience a result similar to what occurred in Oregon and Washington. Dollars to donuts, Hiatt won’t answer, but will continue to scream for Medicaid expansion.

      When Hiatt was on a rage for higher gas taxes in Virginia, I sent him materials showing the huge taxpayer subsidy to overweight trucks and asked him to address the issue in the editorials. Hell, the Post didn’t even report on the underlying story. Despite the wall of separation between reporters and the editorial board, why did a Post reporter tell me he received pressure not to write any critical articles about then Governor Tim Kaine? Another sign of honesty? Hiatt is extremely dishonest based on the evidence. If I’m wrong, show me examples. Rebut my allegations.

      • TMT – have you read this:

        Sen. George Barker says uncompensated care has fallen 30 percent in states that expanded Medicaid

        POLTIFACT —->>>> True

        http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2014/aug/10/george-barker/sen-george-barker-says-uncompensated-care-has-fall/

        ” The article cites a study from the Colorado Hospital Association that looked at 30 states, 15 with Medicaid expansion and 15 without. In the states with expansion, hospitals had charity care decreases from an average of $2.8 million per hospital in the first quarter of 2013 to $1.9 million per hospital in the first quarter of 2014, a 32 percent drop. And out-of-pocket charges decreased from 4.7 percent of all charges to 3.1 percent of all charges — a 34 percent drop. Meanwhile, Medicaid charges surged from 15.3 percent to 18.8 percent, a 19 percent jump.

        While the survey covered a short period of time, the difference between hospitals in states with Medicaid expansion and those without was stark. States that balked at Medicaid expansion saw little change in their uncompensated care levels, the study found.”

        re: rebut my allegations..

        TMT – ANYONE can make such claims but they don’t mean anything at all if you cannot substantiate them… can you?

        you conflate the gas tax with overweight trucks.. guy… they are not connected … there are no studies to show this.. it’ s your own idea…

        You complain about Warner – but it was McDonnell that increased the gas tax – and what did you say then? nothing? admit it TMT – you’re pretty partisan guy.. you hammer the politicos you don’t like but then give a bye to the ones you do like – on the same exact issues.

        be honest TMT – you know you do this guy.

        • Glad to see Barker’s material. It’s the first bit of cost data that I’ve seen from proponents. Normally they just say Medicaid expansion will save money. But they still need to address Oregon and Washington.

          My gripe with Hiatt is he regularly makes the claim Medicaid expansion will save Virginians money, but doesn’t talk about contrary evidence. But Larry thinks Fred should get a pass. Why? If you owned a failing newspaper, would you give a pass to the head of the editorial board who makes statements he cannot support?

          Liberals make the argument that Medicaid will save money for taxpayers and the insured. What does that mean? The increase in Medicaid costs for adding and maintaining coverage for the newly covered is less than the costs for providing indigent care. Correct? If not, how do you save money? And if you don’t save money, the argument is a lie. And its impossible to sell the idea that taxpayers need to pay more to provide free health care to work-age indigents. Show me the evidence Medicaid expansion saves money and I’m on board.

          Why do Democrats and media lefties get a pass? Either they should stop arguing Medicaid expansion is cheaper than the status quo or prove it. Barker is the first Democrat to come up with any data. But they still need to address Oregon and Washington. Why won’t we see higher use of ERs as those two states did with Medicaid expansion. What provision in the law will prevent this?

          The Washington legislature considered an amendment that limited the number of paid ER visits, but it was defeated by Democrats in control. The result was ER visits and Medicaid costs jumped. Under the Democrats’ plan in Virginia what will prevent higher costs? Give me the language, not “oh give it time.” The Washington legislature voted to give it time and found ER visits jumping.

          My gut feeling is that, overall, the Democrats know Medicaid expansion will cost more than the status quo. But who cares when you are trolling for votes.

          Here’s where I learned about overweight trucks. http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2009/01/weight-matters.html You even commented on the post.

          If the truckers don’t pay the costs of repairing the damage they cause, the money has to come from taxpayers. I’ve asked Hiatt to explain why taxpayers should subsidize overweight trucks. Yet all he does is blather on about the need for higher taxes. Why isn’t this a sign of his dishonesty? I tried twice to make this point, among others, in an op-ed, but the Post doesn’t allow op-eds that challenge the need for higher taxes in Virginia. Everything I’ve written about Fred Hiatt is true.

          • re: ” Glad to see Barker’s material. It’s the first bit of cost data that I’ve seen from proponents. Normally they just say Medicaid expansion will save money. But they still need to address Oregon and Washington.”

            and you have to admit – that we did not get to the ER problem overnight and it’s not likely to get fixed over night. why are you so quick to pronounce it a failure?

            “My gripe with Hiatt is he regularly makes the claim Medicaid expansion will save Virginians money, but doesn’t talk about contrary evidence. But Larry thinks Fred should get a pass. Why? If you owned a failing newspaper, would you give a pass to the head of the editorial board who makes statements he cannot support?”

            You mean the same way you say the opposite? It’s called opinion … and no I don’t think Hyatt deserves a pass but I also don’t think holding an opposite opinion from a reader is “dishonest”.

            “Liberals make the argument that Medicaid will save money for taxpayers and the insured. What does that mean? The increase in Medicaid costs for adding and maintaining coverage for the newly covered is less than the costs for providing indigent care. Correct? If not, how do you save money? And if you don’t save money, the argument is a lie. And its impossible to sell the idea that taxpayers need to pay more to provide free health care to work-age indigents. Show me the evidence Medicaid expansion saves money and I’m on board.”

            no. you miss the most important part and that is that REGULAR care detects disease early and offers the opportunity to manage it instead of it going undetected until the person ends up with 400,000 worth of cardiovascular treatment paid for by taxpayers.

            you keep thinking these folks don’t use the ER as much if they are not covered. You’re wrong. they WAIT until they are dying then they show up to get heroic and expensive care..

            “Why do Democrats and media lefties get a pass? Either they should stop arguing Medicaid expansion is cheaper than the status quo or prove it. Barker is the first Democrat to come up with any data. But they still need to address Oregon and Washington. Why won’t we see higher use of ERs as those two states did with Medicaid expansion. What provision in the law will prevent this? ”

            there is no pass TMT. you just have a different view – and I think it’s wrong and have pointed out to you how you ignore the most important aspect of regular care – even regular care at an ER will head off delayed treatment that is very expensive.

            You may well – in the early going see more visits to the ER but even that is better that putting off care until you are dying.. but if you’d take a look at some of the provisions -you will see that the ER benefit has a large co-pay… while the primary care a low one – and at the same time hospitals will get lower subsidy reimbursements AND the ability to legitimately turn folks away and refer them to primary care.

            “The Washington legislature considered an amendment that limited the number of paid ER visits, but it was defeated by Democrats in control. The result was ER visits and Medicaid costs jumped. Under the Democrats’ plan in Virginia what will prevent higher costs? Give me the language, not “oh give it time.” The Washington legislature voted to give it time and found ER visits jumping.”

            TMT – it has taken years to make changes to Medicare, MedicAid AND employer-provided – to move them towards most cost-effective programs. Why do you insist that the Medicare Expansion has to work perfectly right away?

            Democrats voted to CUT 700 billion in Medicare subsidies for Advantage programs and you know what the GOP did – they demonized the Dems for cutting Medicare.

            In Virginia – you know one of the things that MedicAid – ALREADY pays for with nary a whimper from folks like you? Nursing homes for people who own their own homes.. why don’t you complain about that?

            I think the short answer here is that you do NOT want the expansion to work to start with and I’m at a loss as to why you would not since the goal is to ultimately save money…

            be honest.. guy.. isn’t that your basic view?

            “My gut feeling is that, overall, the Democrats know Medicaid expansion will cost more than the status quo. But who cares when you are trolling for votes.”

            that’s just total BS… and you know it. We’re talking about people who WORK – we’re talking about people in rural Va who can’t even afford a dentist or corrective lenses.. these are people that the expansion would cover.

            and if you are so worried about it costing more why are you not worried right now about the nursing homes and the Medicare Advantage subsidies?

            your view is inconsistent. You seem to be fine with some subsidies but not with others. why?

            the reason you are guaranteed coverage – cannot be denied for a pre-existing condition on your employer-provided insurance – is the govt. What would happen to you if you were not guaranteed that the insurance company could not cut you? so you depend on the govt to give you access to health care – but you resent it for helping others.. how can that be a principled position?

            “Here’s where I learned about overweight trucks. http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2009/01/weight-matters.html You even commented on the post.”

            need other credible info…

            “If the truckers don’t pay the costs of repairing the damage they cause, the money has to come from taxpayers. I’ve asked Hiatt to explain why taxpayers should subsidize overweight trucks. Yet all he does is blather on about the need for higher taxes. Why isn’t this a sign of his dishonesty? I tried twice to make this point, among others, in an op-ed, but the Post doesn’t allow op-eds that challenge the need for higher taxes in Virginia. Everything I’ve written about Fred Hiatt is true.”

            I’m not convinced this is the case to start with as we do have weight limits and we do enforce them…

            I just don’t see a solid connection where you can demonstrate quantitatively and qualitatively the cause and effect.. and so you did not convince Hyatt of your view on this? so how in the world does that make him “dishonest” – because he does not agree with your view?

            geeze..

          • Larry, I like your thoughts, but you tend to play “hide the pea” a lot. You change the questions on the floor.

            I have been challenging statements by elected Democrats and the Post to the effect that Medicaid expansion will save money. These statements have not been qualified by saying that, in X years, the savings will start. Rather, they have made bald statements that Medicaid expansion will save money — period. Last winter I asked my state senator, Barbara Favola, why won’t Virginia experience an increase in ER expenses and overall costs as which happened in Oregon and Washington. Her reply is that it won’t happen because Virginia will have a managed care plan. That is a ridiculous answer. First, we don’t know whether Oregon and/or Washington also have managed care for Medicaid recipients. Second, her answer assumes a covered individual who feels a need for treatment will first contact his/her PCP to get a referral to go to an ER. That’s simply absurd. My question remains unanswered.

            Your answer assumes the newly covered changed their behavior. That’s not true. The data from both Oregon and Washington showed that, after receiving coverage from Medicaid, people went to the ER more often than they did when they had no coverage whatsoever. The total costs were higher after Medicaid expansion than before. The argument made by Senator Favola and others, including Fred Hiatt, is contradicted by the experience in Oregon and Washington. The facts contradict what you are writing.

            Medicaid expansion makes fiscal sense when the total costs for expanding and maintaining the expansion are less than the total costs for providing uncompensated care to the same number of people over the same time period. We have two pieces of evidence (actually three): 1) Oregon and Washington; 2) Senator Barker’s information; and 3) the experience of North Carolina, which had to cut aid to K-12 twice because of increased Medicaid costs. Medicaid is the fastest growing expense in Virginia’s budget. The Democrats are simply looking for more ways to buy votes.

          • “Larry, I like your thoughts, but you tend to play “hide the pea” a lot. You change the questions on the floor.”

            well sometimes – because the proffer proposition is wrong on it’s face.

            “I have been challenging statements by elected Democrats and the Post to the effect that Medicaid expansion will save money. ”

            TMT – do you think if you had done that at the beginning of ANY new program it would have been useful?

            “These statements have not been qualified by saying that, in X years, the savings will start. Rather, they have made bald statements that Medicaid expansion will save money — period. ”

            but no different than those who say the opposite, .. who really knows before hand?

            “Last winter I asked my state senator, Barbara Favola, why won’t Virginia experience an increase in ER expenses and overall costs as which happened in Oregon and Washington. Her reply is that it won’t happen because Virginia will have a managed care plan. That is a ridiculous answer. First, we don’t know whether Oregon and/or Washington also have managed care for Medicaid recipients. Second, her answer assumes a covered individual who feels a need for treatment will first contact his/her PCP to get a referral to go to an ER. That’s simply absurd. My question remains unanswered.”

            because you have not done due diligence on your own to find out. There are methods to discourage ER use once someone has insurance to include higher co-pays and mandatory referrals instead of treatment.. Just as in Virginia which has chosen to NOT provide MedicAid to any able-bodied adult – while at the same time providing nursing home care to those who own their own homes.

            these are policies that each state can elect to implement and I agree with her – Virginia is among the most tight-fisted states in the country on MedicAid benefits (with the exception of the nursing homes) – so I’d fully expect a “managed care” approach

            but you are wrong twice – because Virginia will get BILLIONS of dollars for the expansion – and it’s NOT money from the general fund – it’s earmarked money that will always be there unless Congress repeals it – and even if they do – then we just quit the program anyhow.

            “Your answer assumes the newly covered changed their behavior. That’s not true. ”

            it assumes that there are policies put into place that discourage ER use and encourage PC use and TMT – you yourself are subject to the same policies in your own employer-provided policies – with regard to what they will cover for an ER visit and what they will not.

            “The data from both Oregon and Washington showed that, after receiving coverage from Medicaid, people went to the ER more often than they did when they had no coverage whatsoever. The total costs were higher after Medicaid expansion than before. The argument made by Senator Favola and others, including Fred Hiatt, is contradicted by the experience in Oregon and Washington. The facts contradict what you are writing.”

            why do you ignore the Colorado Study? why do you selectively choose to believe one thing and ignore the others?

            “Medicaid expansion makes fiscal sense when the total costs for expanding and maintaining the expansion are less than the total costs for providing uncompensated care to the same number of people over the same time period. We have two pieces of evidence (actually three): 1) Oregon and Washington; 2) Senator Barker’s information; and 3) the experience of North Carolina, which had to cut aid to K-12 twice because of increased Medicaid costs. Medicaid is the fastest growing expense in Virginia’s budget. The Democrats are simply looking for more ways to buy votes.”

            no – you’re wrong. It’s longer term. Someone who gets regular care is saved from falling into a very expensive catastrophic illness that you will pay for.

            how can you possibly know ahead of time how well that will work – or not – or what mid-course corrections might be needed to get it to work better?

            in your world – how does anything change ? you purposely fail to see the possibilities and what is possible if you build something – change it – and eventually hone it into something that works well.

            you seem to want proof positive of something BEFORE it is even tried.

  8. Here’s a story (very late in the year) that may turn out to be much bigger than the initial reporting:

    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/a-domain-name-company-is-starting-a-mini-google-fiber-to-compete-with-comcast

    If Tucows is successful in Charlottesville, it may offer some hope for smaller, rural cities facing the “all economic growth will center in huge metros” narrative that seems to dominate economic thinking right now.

    • well I’m all for them to succeed but they have a hard row to hoe because the internet moves on fiber-optic cable and while I do not know the specifics of the economics of it – I do know this – that neither Comcast nor Verizon lay that cable in rural areas for the most part and I presume they don’t because it takes so long to recoup the costs from lower density settlement patterns…

      Used to be a few years ago – that folks would move to the rural areas as long as they had telephone and electric service… now days, I hear endless complaints from those folks who struggle with HughsNet or Wild Blue or a newer one called Excede.

      laying cable in rural areas is pretty straight forward these days – just use a water-witch and you lay new cable right beside existing cable without cutting it …

      Of course – maybe the plan is not to worry about rural and just urban places.

      we’ve had some broadband folks – Virginia Broadband – but they seem to be either under-capitalized or some other issues because they’ve not expanded as fast or as much as they originally promised – so perhaps that’s a partnership opportunity.

      Of course – some also will express the idea that making the internet readily and more cheaply available in the rural areas will incentivize “sprawl”.

      • This is why I enjoy the blog….that’s an interesting comment about rural internet access and sprawl…..huh…..

      • Larry, fully agree with your assessment of rural broadband. But, in a way it’s no different from plain old telephone service (POTS), electricity, natural gas, city water and sewer. The costs are high and the demand is low.

        • TMT- if we go back though to when Byrd took over the county roads there were two goals – the first was obvious – to allow people who farmed in the rural areas to get their stuff to markets… farm-to-market roads but the second part was less obvious – it was to provide the right-of-way for telephone and electricity – both subsidized – with the hope that increased access to communications and electricity would result in increased productivity and a better life for those who were enabled to be more productive.

          if you buy into any of that – and I realize you may not – then would provisioning of the internet to rural areas – also allow some folks to be more productive via online means?

          • A big part of the problem is the morons at the FCC (both under Ds and Rs). They’ve kowtowed to AT&T and Verizon, by adopting rules that ultimately prohibit rural telcos (and anyone else providing telecom) from charging other providers to terminate traffic. Robodialers and telemarketers get to use the local networks for free and the end user customers must pay for terminating all calls. It’s pretty hard to get investors or lenders to put money into a network that can be used for free.

          • hmm.. not sure I understand what “terminating” means… when it comes to robocalls etc.

          • Historically, the telephone company that receives a call from another carrier for termination to the first company’s end user customer has received some compensation from the second carrier for use of the first carrier’s network. If you make a call to me over AT&T Wireless to my home phone (Verizon landline), AT&T bills you for the call (either per call or in a bundle of minutes) and then pays something to Verizon for its part in handling the call. The only exception historically has been for local calls where calling volumes are relatively equal. Ergo, in most situations the calling party paid rates that recover the costs for the termination of the call.

            The FCC, under both Rs and Ds, has decided this is not a good idea. Effective around 2020, carriers will be required to terminate calls for other carriers for nothing and recover all their costs from their end user customers. So the rate for robocallers goes down, and the rate for local service (wired or wireless) goes up.

            The incremental costs for terminating calls is pretty small, so long as the customer has a connection. And, as you point out correctly, the costs for wired or wireless “lines” in rural areas is higher than in urban ones.

            Based on 30 some years in the business, I think the carrier terminating the call should be paid something for use of its network.

          • thanks for explaining.. I’m largely ignorant of the issues you describe although I’m quite sure I can formulate an opinion if I have to!

            I’d be OPPOSED to making it easier/cheaper for SPAM calls.. I get too many already… and with the help of technology – once I know the number – I just shut it out and if it is undisclosed – they get denied also..

            I think technology is going to solve a lot of this.. once people understand the technology that is available and how to use it.

          • A number of state attorneys general have filed a petition with the FCC to request development of a plan to block unwanted robocalls with prerecorded messages, which are much more irritating to consumers and businesses. While no one knows what the answers are, this is a very important proceeding because the status quo is not acceptable to the public. And Congress is justifiably putting heat on the FCC.

  9. You forgot oil trail derailment in Lynchburg…

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