In the first test vote of the Denny map, the motion to table fails by voice vote.
Rep. Earle Banks (D - Jackson) has moved to lay the redistricting plan on the table subject to call. This should be the first test vote on the redistricting plan. Rep. Banks says he's asking for the map to lay on the table so the House will have time to adequately study the map. (The map is barely 24 hours old.)
Hospitals in Minnesota, and possibly elsewhere in the country have sunk to a new low in their debt-collection practices by employing collectors in emergency rooms, as well as labor and delivery rooms to pressure patients into paying up. The Minnesota attorney general revealed that Accretive Health, one of the nation's largest collectors of medical debt, regularly embedded debt collectors among hospital employees. The collectors, who looked like regular employees and sometimes had access to patients? medical files, would demand payment before patients received treatment and sometimes discouraged them from getting emergency care at all.
Employees at Accretive?s client hospitals ask patients to make ?point of service? payments before they receive treatment. Until she went to Fairview for her son Maxx?s ear tube surgery in November, Marcia Newton, a stay-at-home mother in Corcoran, Minn., said she had never been asked to pay for care before receiving it. ?They were really aggressive about getting that money upfront,? she said in an interview.
Ms. Newton was shocked to learn that the employees were debt collectors. ?You really feel hoodwinked,? she said.
While hospital collections at Fairview increased, patient care suffered, the employees said. ?Patients are harassed mercilessly,? a hospital employee told Ms. Swanson.
Patients with outstanding balances were closely tracked by Accretive staff members, who listed them on ?stop lists,? internal documents show. In March 2011, doctors at Fairview complained that such strong-arm tactics were discouraging patients from seeking lifesaving treatments, but Accretive officials dismissed the complaints as ?country club talk,? the documents show.
The attorney general, Lori Swanson, cited two federal laws that are violated by Accretive's practices, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, a federal law requiring hospitals to provide emergency health care regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay, and that by giving its collectors access to health records, Accretive violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Swanson further cited a state law that is broken when Accretive employees fail to identify themselves as debt collectors when accosting patients.
And don't assume that you need not worry about being confronted by debt collectors if you visit not-for-profit hospitals. The New York Times reports that just this week "Accretive announced it won a contract to provide ?revenue cycle operations? for Catholic Health East, which has hospitals in 11 states."
The Energy Report: Your firm has been in the investment business for over 120 years. Can you give us an overview of the energy markets and the challenges and opportunities that energy companies in Australia face?
Ivor Ries: Australia has historically been the quarry and energy source to emerging Asian economies. As a result, our economy is inextricably linked with the progress of China, Korea, Japan, India and the other Southeast Asian economies. Initially, we were mostly a supplier of minerals, but in recent years, the liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets have become a very large part of our economy. … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: Down-Under Energy Opportunities: Ivor Ries
Read The Full Article:
Well, this is starting to get interesting. All this spotlight on ALEC is really paying off. This is not only a Washington Post story, it's a for-profit college industry story. (Our ALEC backgrounder is here.)
David Halperin at the amazing Republic Report (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
Republic Report has learned that the Washington Post Company?s Kaplan for-profit college division, was, last year, a member of the controversial business advocacy group the American Legislative Exchange Council. Other major for-profit education companies also joined ALEC.Remember that ALEC's role in "education" is what drew the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to ALEC as well. Stripping down public education and feeding on the bones must be a major ALEC attraction. Here's Halperin on this:
Republic Report has obtained a July 2011 document showing Kaplan Higher Education and other for-profits as members of ALEC?s Education Task Force. This morning, in an email message to Republic Report, Mark Harrad, Vice President of Communications at Kaplan, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Company that includes Kaplan Higher Education, wrote, ?A unit of Kaplan was a member of ALEC for a one year period, which ended in August 2011.?
For-profit colleges are the ultimate special interest. Many receive around 90 percent of their revenue from federal financial aid, more than $30 billion a year, and many charge students sky-high prices.We reported over a year ago on for-profit colleges ? "For-profit colleges fight back against gov?t attempt to make them deliver education". A great many are simply vultures. Doubt me? Click and read.
In recent years, it has been fully documented that a large number of these schools have high dropouts rates and dismal job placement, and many have been caught engaging in highly coercive and deceptive recruiting practices.
Yet when the bad actions of these predatory schools got publicly exposed, the schools simply used the enormous resources they?ve amassed to hire expensive lobbyists and consultants, and to make campaign contributions to politicians, in order to avoid accountability and keep taxpayer dollars pouring into their coffers.
Much of the action on for-profit colleges takes place at the federal level, where the money comes from, but states are increasingly taking an interest in protecting their residents from predatory practices ? through accreditation of schools, investigations of fraud, and other oversight. So for-profit colleges have come to ALEC to seek influence at the state level.The Republic Report article has more, including a list of major for-profit education players with ALEC ties.
ALEC, which advanced model laws on Stand Your Ground, the provision that could influence the outcome of George Zimmerman?s criminal case for the killing of Trayvon Martin, and on Voter ID, which makes it harder for low-income people, people of color, young people, the elderly, and the disabled to vote.Halperin has more; please do read the rest.
Why did the Washington Post Company, whose CEO proclaimed that Kaplan was committed to aiding the disadvantaged, support through Kaplan an organization that was doing these things?
And why hasn?t the Post disclosed in its coverage of ALEC that its Kaplan division was recently an ALEC member?
Dreamy zombie-eyed granny-starver? Paul Ryan has shrugged off (ha! get it?) his longtime girlfriend, nicotine-stained dominatrix Ayn Rand, after many years of masturbating to the now deceased crone's girlhood journals. It seems that no amount of 'trains[...]
Read The Full Article:
By Tom Kenworthy
Before long the tar sands issue won?t be just about imports from Canada via pipeline.
Utah, which has never met a dirty fuel it didn?t love, has been encouraging efforts to develop a home-grown tar sands industry. Construction on a project located on state lands in the eastern part of the state could begin by the end of the year, according to a story in Environment and Energy Publishing?s Energy Wire:
?It?s not just something that?s up in Canada,? Utah Tar Sands Resistance member Raphael Cordray told E&E. ?People don?t know it?s here in Utah. Our goal is to get the citizens of Utah to recognize that there?s a proposed tar sands site in Utah that could become the first commercial site in America, and what is at stake.?
Utah has about a third of the roughly 36 billion barrels of tar sands oil thought to be located in the U.S. Not all of that is estimated to be technically or commercially recoverable, however. Tar sands contain a form of petroleum called bitumen that can be refined into gasoline. But the process is costly, energy-intensive, and on a life-cycle basis releases far more global warming pollutants than conventional oil refining operations.
U.S. Oil Sands, the Canadian based company that is working to develop the Utah deposits, has leases on about 32,000 acres of land in the state. The company was granted permits to begin production by the state in 2009. But it faces a legal challenge from an environmental group, Living Rivers, which fears tar sands production will harm Utah?s desert and mountain landscapes.
Meanwhile, supporters of another dirty fossil fuel, oil shale, have been making a political ruckus in a number of counties in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming ? organized by a former Bush administration Interior Department official who now directs a Utah state office focused on energy development on federal lands in the state.
A number of county boards in the region have approved, or considered approving, a resolution taking the Obama administration to task for scaling back plans by the Bush administration to develop oil shale resources. Combined with efforts on Capitol Hill, this represents the beginning of an all-out election year push by Republicans to agitate for massive developments of dirty and impractical fossil fuels.
Oil shale ? not to be confused with shale oil deposits like those in the Bakken field in North Dakota ? is an energy developers? pipe dream. Though oil shale deposits in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah may contain an estimated 1.5 trillion barrels of recoverable oil, it has never been proven to be commercially viable in the U.S.
Oil shale is a rock that contains kerogen and must be heated to very high temperatures to release a synthetic oil. It has “one-third the energy density of Cap?n Crunch!“ Shale oil is conventional oil trapped in reservoirs found in shale rock formations.
Development of oil shale could have a significant impact on already stressed western water supplies, according to a 2010 study by the General Accounting Office. And a recent report by Western Resource Advocates shows that oil shale development would take huge amounts of energy, would have emit large amounts of global warming pollutants, and would increase air pollution problems in the interior West.
Tom Kenworthy is a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress Action Fund
There aren’t many things Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) doesn’t believe to be unconstitutional. While it probably would not be possible to count every essential law or program that violates Lee’s tenther understanding of the Constitution, a short list includes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, FEMA, the FDA, federal income assistance for the poor and national child labor laws.
So it’s really not that much of a surprise that he found yet another law he thinks is unconstitutional today. This time, it’s the entire Violence Against Women Act:
[The Violence Against Women Act] oversteps the Constitution’s rightful limits on federal power. Violent crimes are regulated and enforced almost exclusively by state governments. In fact, domestic violence is one of the few activities that the Supreme Court of the United States has specifically said Congress may not regulate under the Commerce Clause. As a matter of constitutional policy, Congress should not seek to impose rules and standards as conditions for federal funding in areas where the federal government lacks constitutional authority to regulate directly.
Once again, Lee might want to consider reading the Constitution before he behaves like he’s an expert in what it says. Although it’s true that Congress cannot prohibit domestic violence under its power to regulate commerce — unlike, say, a comprehensive regulation of the nation’s health care market, domestic violence laws are not economic regulation — the Constitution permits Congress to do a whole lot more than just regulate the nation’s economy. Specifically, the Constitution allows our national leaders to “to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” and there is simply nothing in the Constitution’s text that prevents Congress from providing for the general welfare by funding grants that states can use to combat domestic violence.
Lee, however, has made quite a political career out of ignoring the text of the Constitution — and wielding his fake Constitution to declare that pretty much any federal law that protects the sick, the unfortunate, the young, the old and, now, women is somehow unconstitutional.
Since news broke that Ohio mom Jen Tyrrell was ousted as her son’s den leader from the Boy Scouts for being gay, more than 154,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking for her reinstatement, and Tyrrell has appeared on multiple national media outlets to discuss the experience. Now, GLAAD digs up this clip of then-Senate candidate Mitt Romney saying that all people should be able to participate in the organization. Romney served on the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America for nearly a decade.
ROMNEY: I believe that the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country,” Romney says. “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.
Interestingly, Romney also banned the Boy Scouts from officially volunteering at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, although he said then that Boy Scouts couldn?t volunteer because most weren?t 18 years old, the mandatory minimum age the Olympics set for volunteers.
Eighty-three percent of Americans believe Medicare must be reformed in order to keep the program affordable and sustainable and 51 percent say a “great deal of change” is required, a new Harris Poll finds. A majority are reluctant to fund the necessary changes out-of-pocket, but do support changing the way providers are reimbursed for care — provisions that are included in the Affordable Care Act.
Interestingly, 48 percent of respondents — including 46 percent of Republicans — said they “support the Medicare program we have now, where people can choose the government run program or a plan from a private health insurance company.” Just 13 percent — and 26 percent of Republicans — would favor “a Medicare program solely run by private insurance companies.” The other results:
– 53 percent were opposed to raising taxes
– 60 percent opposed “increasing co-pays and deductibles so that out-of-pocket costs will increase”
– 72 percent support cutting the price Medicare pays for prescription drugs
– 57 percent are in favor of having people with higher incomes pay more for their Medicare benefits than people with lower incomes
– 54 percent support the proposal that doctors and hospitals be paid “based on quality and results, rather than the volume of care provided”
Currently, over 15 percent of the federal budget goes toward funding Medicare, and that number is expected to increase to roughly 18 percent by 2020.