This morning in west central Missouri:
It’s a good day to #resist (March 22, 2017)
Rep. Ann Wagner is showing signs that constituent pressure might be getting to her. Many of us who’ve been writing and calling her, asking that she meet with us and take a little time to hear our concerns and take our questions, learned via her email newsletter that she held a “tele-townhall,” a tried and true dodge to avoid risking a little in person give-and-take. And she clearly thinks that that’s done the trick. Here she is patting herself on the back in a recent email newsletter:
With so much happening in Washington under President Trump’s new administration and our Republican-led Congress, it is important that I continue to hear what is on your mind at home. I am thrilled that more than 9,000 of you joined us for a tele-townhall conversation Thursday night, where we discussed issues ranging from healthcare to pro-life legislation.
Just to give you a little perspective, over 400,000 folks voted in the last 2nd district election but nobody I’ve heard from seems to be very clear about how the 9,000 folks who “thrilled” Annie by “joining” her on the call were selected for the honor from among that 400,000.
I’ve personally called Wagner’s office several times to ask that she hold a public town-hall – she’s right that there’s lots going on that will affect people in the 2nd district in very serious ways and we want her – hell, we need her – to hear and respond to our concerns. The response? I was told that I could sign up for her newsletter if I wanted to know what was going on chez Rep.Wagner – never mind that, as I told her “tele-staffer,” I’ve been signed up to receive them for a long, long time and Annie’s coy little newsletter driblets don’t really do the trick. Nobody mentioned a tele-townhall to me as a possibility. Which makes sense given that the latest event – which is the only one I’ve personally ever heard about, thanks to some generous Facebook info sharing – seems to have been a surprise for even the participants.
Nor are many of us, including, by all accounts, Wagner’s staff, sure about what it takes to get in on these surprise parties, at least according to some 2nd district residents who’ve been calling and asking how to be included. One person said that she called, left contact information, and asked to participate in the next tele-townhall, and, though the actual telephone event Wagner boasts about above was held later that day, the staffer taking her information said nothing at all about it. Nor was she called. Wonder why?
I have read a report from one person who participated in that call and have heard that another just missed the surprise call inviting her to join the event. But the fact that some folks had the opportunity to listen to Rep. Wagner does not mitigate the problem. If these events are meant to substitute for actual town-halls, why can’t constituents sign up for them? Why wait to be selected? An even more basic question is why aren’t constituents being notified ahead of time that one of these events is imminent so they can do whatever is necessary to participate? Why can’t anyone tell us what it takes to be included?
Wagner has email addresses for all of us who subscribe to her newsletter – which itself indicates interest in what she has to say. It would be easy to let us all know in advance and invite our participation when she’s planning to tele-gift us with her insights into the Trump world she seems to be embracing so wholeheartedly. It would actually be relatively trivial to set up a web-page form we could use to register for the teleconferences. Other folks do such things. I really bet that if Wagner actually cared about communicating with constituents, she could implement some process that would let us decide if we want to participate, rather than leaving us to wait breathlessly to be tapped whenever she feels like getting us – or some of us – on the line.
You don’t think she’s cherry-picking participants , do you?
The news has been full of reports about how “ugly” some Republican town halls have been over the past few weeks, prompting, comparisons to the boisterous town halls that Democrats endured during the nascent Tea Party years. There’s a big difference though, at least for Missourians. I well remember how valiantly, resolutely, and, yes, respectfully, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill handled the worked-up Tea Partiers – and some of them were, to put it mildly, really ugly.
Questions of how to conduct tele-townhalls aside, though, isn’t the real issue still that Rep. Wagner needs to take similar, face-to-face responsibility for what she is doing in Congress if she wants our respect – and our votes? Isn’t answering our questions – especially the ones that have got us hot and bothered – her job? If Wagner’s really a “representative” shouldn’t she do some representing? And if she isn’t going to represent all of us, at least by listening and responding to us, maybe she should retire. Or be retired.
Wednesday at noon nine individuals, residents of the 4th Congressional District, came to Representative Vicky Hartzler’s Harrisonville, Missouri field office to express their concerns with the republican attempt to repeal the ACA (“Obamacare”) and “replace” it with Trumpcare. Adam Timmerman, a Field Representative for Representative Hartzler (r), opened up the office to hear their concerns. He listened intently, took notes, and, like all of the constituents in attendance, was unfailingly polite throughout the hour long exchange.
“…I would like my story to be heard, too. And there’s just so much uncertainty about this act, about how it’s going to affect people. Who’s going to lose insurance? And, and, all I ever hear is it will be their choice. But it’s not always a choice. It’s whether you choose to eat, you choose to pay rent, you choose to pay your mortgage, or you choose to have insurance. And I know many people disagree with me, but I agree that health care should be a right, it should be a right by our government…”
“…I think she [Representative Hartzler] is not listening to her people in her district. I think when we get on the phone, um, that is not a good test of the members of her district at all. Town meetings is a good test for that. You can’t get on the phone and take five different people to talk and get a feel of the thousands of people she represents. And she is our voice, she’s not big business or insurance’s voice. Or the party line voice. She is not. We should be able to connect with her and talk with her and give her our worries and concerns and on our issues in this district…”
One of the constituents was concerned with the “facts” presented by Representative Hartzler (r) on a recent district telephone conference call with constituents:
“…if she [Representative Hartzler] truly wants to serve her constituents I think she needs to gain access to these things [facts], which is about a fifteen minute Internet search, actually. I’d be happy to send her those links as well as articles from numerous medical journals that have come out in support of ACA. And then she would have the information she needs to vote, to make a knowledgeable vote, for those individuals that she serves…”
“…Missouri did not expand Medicaid. And, on top of that if Trumpcare does get passed almost an additional forty thousand people in her district alone will not have any health insurance. Now that comes back to when, you know, they wait ’til they’re deathly ill or really, really sick, they go to the emergency room. They can’t pay that bill. So, who does?…”
Eight of the nine individuals present supported continuation and improvement of the ACA (“Obamacare”) and opposed its repeal and the implementation of Trumpcare. With one individual, an apparent libertarian, it was difficult to tell what he thought.
Welcome to Missouri’s 4th Congressional District.
There’s this Donald Trump and Paul Manafort Russia thing in the news today.
From Jason Kander (D), via Twitter:
Jason Kander @JasonKander
Recall that Manafort worked for Trump “for free.” We now know the Russians had already paid him $10m per year to influence US politics.
7:48 AM – 22 Mar 2017
And a follow up:
Jason Kander @JasonKander
Every conversation with Manafort was a conversation with a Russian asset.
7:54 AM – 22 Mar 2017
Ouch. Alrighty then. Again, what’s next?
“…I believe that unquestionably Donald Trump is a threat to the fabric of our country and our values…”
“…resisting what Donald Trump is trying to do is an act of patriotism…”
Last Thursday Missouri Democratic Party Chair Stephen Webber spoke at the monthly Johnson County Democratic Club meeting in Warrensburg.
Stephen Webber (D): …You know, like a lot of us I was in a fog. I, I could not believe, I still cannot believe that Donald Trump’s president of the United States. [laughter] Just, I will never…
Voice: A nightmare every fucking morning. [laughter]
Stephen Webber (D): …I will never come to terms with that…
…So I realized pretty quickly that if you’re in it for the right reasons you can’t quit. You have to keep working on these issues. These issues don’t go away. You know, it’s not like, it’s not like children said, well, an election happened and I don’t need education anymore…
I’ve had two messages from people around the state. Uh, the first is that I believe we have a moral obligation to oppose Donald Trump. [Voices: “Yes.”][applause]…
…Donald Trump is something different. Donald Trump goes beyond a simple policy disagreement. Right? My disagreement with Jeb Bush is on policy. I think his policies are wrong. Uh, I don’t think that Jeb Bush as a human being is a threat to the nation. I believe [crosstalk], maybe, it’s debatable.[laughter] But I believe that unquestionably Donald Trump [Voice: “Horrible human being.”] is a threat to the fabric of our country and our values. [applause]…
…And I think that he needs to be resisted and opposed by all people, by all Americans at all times. And I think that resisting what Donald Trump is trying to do is an act of patriotism…
Stephen Webber (D): …People say, well, Republicans believe in low taxes. No they don’t. They don’t care about low taxes. They care about low taxes for billionaires. [Voice: “Yeah.”] They do not care about the tax rate for anybody else. And it is be, it is beyond easy to prove that…
…They don’t care about low taxes for citizens. They care about keeping their billionaire donors happy. And that’s it…
…Trumpcare is a disaster for rural Missouri. It is a disaster for rural Missouri. It is a disaster…it’s a disaster for rural Missouri. Here’s why. [crosstalk] Yeah. Here’s why. It hurts hospitals. It’s gonna cutoff, uh, access to care, but it specifically targets rural areas. Because what it does is, one, keeping with our theme, the Republicans said, okay, the only policy outcome we actually care about is that billionaires get a tax break. Right. So if you start designing your health care plan with the idea that billionaires have to get a tax break you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna benefit normal ordinary working Americans. So, they repeal some taxes, tax cuts to the wealthy. And then they said, okay, how are we gonna try to offset that cost? And what they decided to do was, they’re taking subsidies that are going right now to help, uh, help Americans purchase health insurance and they’re capping those subsidies…
The process for 2018 and beyond has already started (March 18, 2017)
Artist Hugo Kriegel added two more minutes to his worldwide 1440 Clock street art project this past weekend in downtown Warrensburg.
He’s been working on this project for close to ten years. He paints the hour and minute (on a large scale) at the time he starts painting (with permission) in public places, films the process, compresses the film into sixty seconds, then places that minute in its location into a video ribbon that functions as part of a twenty-four hour clock.
The completed minutes in Warrensburg:
A short documentary on the work in progress:
The on site preparation for 13H58 started a little after noon, painting started at 1:58 p.m., and finished at 9:30 p.m.
The artist, from France, living in New York; a friend, Norwegian, living and working in Ethiopia, who used her vacation time and flew 38 hours to get to Warrensburg from Addis Ababa to help; and six other people from Warrensburg who thought painting on a wall and filming the process on a hot Sunday afternoon would be kind of fun.
Hugo Kriegel is my cousin.
The Missouri Medicaid environment:
Missouri’s GOP legislature has been adamant that they will never take up the Obamacare offer to provide health care coverage for poor Missourians by expanding Medicaid coverage. In fact, they’re trying to jump the gun on Trumpcare’s not-so-stealthy attack on Medicaid with SB28, which would request “a global waiver from HHS to transform the state’s Medicaid into a block grant program, which would be federally capped and adjusted for inflation, state gross domestic product, population growth and other factors.” This move would , according to health care advocacy groups, “cut necessary funding for healthcare services for Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.”
The Good News
Given this anti-Medicaid predisposition in the state, it’s all the more surprising to learn that, thanks to Democratic former governor Jay Nixon, Missouri took aggressive advantage of the provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (a.k.a. Obamacare), the 2703 grant program, that allocated funds so that 25 Missouri community medical centers could experiment with providing a wide range of coordinated – mental, physical, dental and counseling – services in a community “health home” environment. The results in Missouri have been wildly successful:
According to a review by the Missouri Department of Mental Health, the results of the 2703 grant program in that state have been impressive. The more than 23,000 Missourians who have received care under the health home initiative met or exceeded six of nine benchmark goals for disease management after the ACA-supported expansion. For patients with diabetes alone (America’s most costly disease, at approximately $332 billion a year), the number with controlled blood glucose levels rose from 18 percent to 61 percent. The percentage of patients with hypertension and cardiovascular disease who controlled their blood pressure went from 24 to 67 percent, and their good cholesterol levels soared from 21 to 56 percent. On the cost side, hospitalizations and emergency room visits for this group dropped 14 percent and 19 percent respectively. This saved the state $31 million just in the first year of the program, and the savings have continued, according to Natalie Fornelli, manager of integrated care at Missouri’s Division of Behavioral Health. In 2015, Missouri’s health home program won the American Psychiatric Association’s Gold Achievement Award for community health services. The program is now considered a national model.
The Bad News:
Under Trumpcare, the funding that supports these programs is likely to disappear:
At the national level, the fate of the 2703 program is also in doubt. It’s possible that, as Republican lawmakers in Washington and the Trump administration wrestle with the complexities of repealing and replacing Obamacare, they’ll conclude that failing to continue the 2703 grants will likely cost more in tax dollars than it saves, even as it would deprive hundreds of thousands of poor, mentally ill Americans the coordinated treatment that can save their lives. But, as Sidney Watson, a professor at the Saint Louis University School of Law and an expert on health care access for the poor, observes, Trump’s new Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, “has expressed a lot of skepticism about the Medicare and Medicaid demonstration centers.”
Tom Price? Skepticism? No kidding. They guy believes in freedom. Freedom to die, that is. As Politico notes, Price’s “vision for health reform hinges on eliminating much of the federal government’s role in favor of a free-market framework built on privatization, state flexibility and changes to the tax code.” He’s a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a far right fringe medical group that declares Medicare “evil” and “immoral.” You can bet that they and their most prominent member, Tom Price, don’t think much of Medicaid either. The better a federal health program does, the more these fools believe it saps our moral fiber, inculcates dependency and undermines physician freedom – the whole right wing drill, in other words..
Those of you who are calling your representatives and senators and begging them to save our health care, forget about the truly awful AHCA and maybe just fix Obamacare’s relatively minor problems, might also want to bring up the 2703 program and its proven success here in Missouri. Surely the Republicans can’t be so stupid that they’ll argue with success. Or, on second thought, maybe they will.There is that whole Dump and Dupe AHCA effort. If that isn’t arguing with success – Obamacare increased the ranks of the insured by 20 million, after all – then I don’t know what is.
Representative Holly Rehder (r) ran unopposed in the November 8, 2016 General Election.
Via the Missouri Ethics Commission:
C111145: Friends Of Holly Rehder
Committee Type: Candidate
Party Affiliation: Republican
Po Box 1868
Sikeston Mo 63801
Established Date: 07/29/2011
Information Reported On: 2017 – January Quarterly Report
Beginning Money on Hand $96,126.44
Monetary Receipts + $101,014.93
Monetary Expenditures – $6,686.33
Contributions Made – $5,000.00
Other Disbursements – $0.00
Ending Money On Hand $185,455.04
Why, that’s enough left over to run a small town in Missouri…
Yesterday at the Missouri Ethics Commission:
C111145 03/18/2017 FRIENDS OF HOLLY REHDER Greg Hoberock 1 Oak Ridge Drive Washington MO 63090 Self Business Owner 3/17/2017 $5,200.00
Hard times. Those $100,000.00 contribution checks aren’t pouring in anymore.