Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fairy Tales, Absurdities, and COPN

by James C. Sherlock

We read in the Virginian-Pilot yesterday this statement from columnist Gordon Morse: “Covering indigent care and doing so in ways that do not undermine the entire health care system is central to the existence of COPN.”

In his column, he moved on to this common and reductio-ad absurdum corollary: “You can, as an alternative to COPN (or any regulatory structure), just throw it wide open and see what happens.”

Mr. Morse’s narrative about COPN — repeated endlessly by the law’s supporters — is that without COPN, poor people would be left to die on hospital steps. The story captures the hearts and votes.  It has worked for nearly 50 years and works today. 

Morse has been around forever and should know better. The fact is, COPN and healthcare facility licensing are separate sets of regulations in Virginia. Care for the poor does not depend upon COPN. At all. Never did.

Undeterred, Morse plays the compassion card face up. COPN supporters have no other card to show in polite company. Continue reading

First They Come for the Gas Pipelines, Then the Nukes, and Then… Your Gas Grill?

by James A. Bacon

As Virginia hurtles towards its brave new future of a net zero-carbon economy, the political class needs more data so it can figure out who else to regulate and what else to shut down. Our overlords have a good handle on CO2 emissions in the electric grid and the transportation sector, but Virginia’s economy is so big and sprawling that many carbon “polluters” have not been identified.

A bill submitted by Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, would correct that data deficiency. The bill would allow the state Department of Environmental Quality to conduct an inventory of “all greenhouse gas emissions” and to update it every four years. DEQ would publish the date on its website and show how emissions compared to the baseline. The bill has passed both the House and the Senate.

“Good policy requires good data and this legislation gives us the ability to get the data we need to craft good policy going forward,” The Virginia Mercury quotes DEQ Deputy Director Chris Bast as saying. Continue reading

AP Scores Tell a Familiar Tale

Credit: Virginia Department of Education

by James A. Bacon

There is happy news from the release of the latest College Board scores. Nearly three out of 10 of Virginia’s 2020 public high school graduates demonstrated college-level achievement on at least one AP exam, reports the Virginia Department of Education in a press release today. The percentage was down — from 28.8% last year to 28.6% this year — but only slightly. Additionally, the percentage of Virginia students earning a score of 3 or higher in the AP’s 5-point scale was 10th best in the nation, and significantly higher than the national average of 28.6%.

On the other hand, wide disparities persisted between the at which Asians (52%), whites (28.1%), Hispanics (24.3%) and blacks (9.1%) made the grade. The Northam administration has made “equity” the top educational priority of his administration, but Superintendent of Public Education James Lane acknowledged, “There are still wide disparities in participation in outcomes when we compare data for different student groups.” Continue reading

Demanding Openness about UVa’s Cost Structure

by James A. Bacon

Last week the University of Virginia Board of Visitors held a workshop to discuss next year’s increase in tuition, fees, and other charges and to hear input from the public — mostly students begging the board for relief from the ever-escalating cost of attendance.

A PowerPoint presentation released at the meeting essentially made the case for hiking tuition again, although the exact percentage will depend upon the level of financial support provided by the Commonwealth. The estimated increase for undergraduate, in-state tuition will range between 0% and 3.1%. Additional fees are set at $114.

The presentation reflects the Ryan administration’s spin on the numbers. It’s the job of the Board of Visitors to probe deeper. In this post, I will first summarize the administration’s stats, and then I will provide some numbers that the board should consider as it ponders the tuition increases.

“Tuition is last resort,” states a slide expressing UVa’s tuition philosophy. “[We first] look to other revenues and savings.”

We’ll see about that. Continue reading

COPN – Don’t Leave Home Without It

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes I think we don’t personalize the effects of Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program on individual Virginians in ways that are relatable. Nor do many understand the power of the hospital monopolies.

Many readers here have followed the progress of our reporting of the increasing and relentless suppression of competition in healthcare by COPN. I will offer in this essay a single example that may personalize it.

In 2009, the regulation, not the law, that defined the radius from your home of facilities that would be considered when seeing whether you are adequately served by existing open heart surgery facilities was changed as follows:

Title 12. Health » Agency 5. Department Of Health » Chapter 230. State Medical Facilities Plan » Part IV. Cardiac Services

Article 2
Criteria and Standards for Open Heart Surgery

12VAC5-230-440. Accessibility Travel time.

A. Open heart surgery services should be within 30 60 minutes driving time one way, under normal conditions, of 95% of the population of a the [ health ] planning district [ using mapping software as determined by the commissioner ].

Simple change. Thirty minutes was changed to 60 minutes. You surely did not notice. You were meant not to notice. And your elected representatives were not asked to vote on it. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

Jeanine’s Funday Memes, Bull Elephant

Progressives’ Next Target: Life Without Parole

by James A. Bacon

Progressives have all but won their battle to ban the death penalty in Virginia. Both houses of the General Assembly have voted to abolish Virginia’s death penalty, and Governor Northam is likely to sign the legislation. I’m OK with that. Our justice system is flawed. History has shown that too many innocent people have been condemned, and there is no walking back an execution if exculpatory evidence is found. But now the move is afoot to curtail life without parole.

The number of Virginia inmates serving life sentences now constitute 14% of Virginia’s prison population (and 15% of the nation’s). Since 2003, the number of such inmates has risen 66%.

Life-long imprisonment, progressives argue, does not add to public safety because the majority of violent offenders “age out” of criminal conduct as they get older.

Funny thing about that. Murder victims don’t “age out” of anything. They’re dead. But in the minds of progressives, murderers are, in their own way, victims, too. Victims of society. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Sunday Memes

Jeanine’s Sunday memes at Bull Elephant

UVa Committee to Study Free Expression Issues

Leslie Kendrick

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia has created two new committees: one to articulate the university’s commitment to free expression and inquiry, and another to examine naming and memorials on the grounds (as the UVa campus is referred to).

“We are working to give voice to our commitment as an educational institution to the free and open exchange of ideas, and to grapple with the complexities of our University’s history and the names that we honor,” Ryan said in making the ann0uncement. “These committees will help us forge a path forward as we continue to address these issues as a community and as a nation.”

First Amendment expert Leslie Kendrick, vice dean of the School of Law, will chair the Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry. According to UVAToday, the group will craft a statement that “identifies the role that free expression and free inquiry play in UVA’s academic enterprise and how they shape engagement with the ideas of others.”

UVa officials did not explain what prompted the creation of the committee, but the university has been racked by a number of free speech/free expression controversies recently. Continue reading

Unlikely to Go Well – Unimaginable Amounts of COVID-Related Money and the Rush to Spend It

Awards made by HHS using emergency supplemental appropriation funding appropriated in March and April 2020.

by James C. Sherlock

The federal government is charged to distribute $7 trillion in supplemental COVID-related supplemental funding already appropriated or pending.  

Real money, and we will have borrowed every penny. 

Hard to comprehend that much money. That is 7 million million dollars.

I will try here to reduce that to human scale.  At full scale, as is the point here, no government system that we have in place can manage it well.

To illustrate the point, I drilled way down into data from a single federal department, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to see for all of us how some of the ocean of federal COVID money has been distributed so far.

You see on the map that the total amount of grants alone made by HHS alone from the COVID supplemental appropriations passed in March and April of 2020 alone is north of $26 billion; $470 million of that has gone to Virginia governments and private entities to date. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Sunday Memes

Jeanine’s Sunday Memes, Bull Elephant

For “Cultural Competency,” Try Reading Two New Bios of Frederick Douglass

by Hans Bader

The General Assembly is moving toward requiring history teachers to study black history. SB 1196, passed by the state senate, would mandate teachers seeking a license or license renewal to have training in “cultural competency” and complete board-approved instruction in African American history.

I worry about these “cultural competency” requirements, and whether schools will teach bizarre racial stereotypes under the guise of cultural competency. For example, the Seattle Schools, under the guise of teaching cultural competence, made bizarre claims, such as that individualism is racism, that only whites can be racists, and that “future time orientation” – planning ahead – is a stereotypically white characteristic that minorities shouldn’t be expected to exhibit. As a black Supreme Court Justice disapprovingly noted in a 2007 ruling, “The Seattle school district’s Website formerly contained the following” examples of what it called “cultural racism’: “emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology” and “defining one form of English as standard.”

These disturbing claims came from Pacific Education Group, one of America’s most famous diversity-training firms, which has been hired by school districts in Virginia, Maryland, and many other states. It has promoted some of the crudest imaginable racial stereotypes, such as claiming that “white talk” is “verbal, impersonal, intellectual” and “task-oriented,” while black talk is “emotional.”

Let’s hope that the Pacific Education Group is not involved in designing Virginia’s Black History curriculum. In the meantime, it is now Black History Month and Virginians should consider inoculating themselves against Critical Race Theory-infused thinking by reading about one of America’s great thinkers and orators, Frederick Douglass. Continue reading

Blacks, Republicans Most Distrustful of Vaccine

Question: Which comes closest to your view regarding the COVID-19 vaccinations recently approved by the FDA?

by James A. Bacon

One out of five Virginians (19%) say they will never get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a poll of 1,039 people conducted by the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University. The demographic groups most resistant to the vaccine are Republicans, 24% of whom responded that they would “never” get the vaccine, and African Americans, 26% of whom said the same.

In contrast to the Wason Center poll I criticized yesterday, this one seems to be well constructed and yields significant insight into Virginians’ attitudes toward the COVID epidemic.

Among other findings: Continue reading

Is the Wason Center Doing Push Polling for the Democratic Party?

Relax, the headline is totally facetious. The Wason Center at Christopher Newport University is an independent organization that values its integrity. It is not doing push polling for Democrats. But you’ve got to wonder if the results would have been any different if the two had been working in sync.

Here’s the question Wason asked in a poll the results of which were released yesterday: “If you were making up the budget for the Virginia state government this year, would you increase, decrease or keep spending the same for…”

Continue reading

Probably a Coincidence – COPN, the Monopolization of Health Care and the Marginalization of the Poor

by James C. Sherlock

The Business of Healthcare in Virginia

I have been asked many times about how freer markets in healthcare can coexist with our need to treat the poor. I will try to briefly cover some of the complexities of the answer to that question.

And I will show that of all of the government healthcare control systems, COPN is the only one that has proven to disproportionally hurt poor and minority populations by its decisions and their effects.  

And it does so by design. Continue reading