Medicaid Work Reqs a Costly One

Anyone who has utilized the Illinois Medicaid program in recent years knows how difficult and broken the system is. Often, they make decisions without informing clients, sometimes leading to massive bills for low income workers, the disabled, the elderly, veterans, and parents. 

Enter the GOP plans to ‘overhaul’ the Medicaid program nationally by imposing work requirements on recipients.

I would call this effort an attempt to disrupt healthcare for millions of working Americans, veterans, the chronically ill, and many others. 

Waiting for Medicaid to respond to your application or submission of materials cannot only be extensive, it can lead to real damage to your health and bottomline. It also can leave you without healthcare coverage for the better part of a year which also leaves you with a whopping tax fine you have to pay. 

Now, imagine being disabled, chronically ill, a veteran, or elderly and adding another layer of red-tape to an already overstressed bureaucratic system that can’t handle the job it’s doing today.

It’s not just a terrible idea, it’s a deadly one.

Add to that the difficulties it would be to manage and oversee these new work requirements, these wait times for people who need healthcare extend from half a year to 9 months or longer.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick and in need of medical attention, I can’t wait around for someone to check to see if I’ve been looking for work. I also don’t want to be forced to go to the ER for a simple cold.

We have to do better. 

Under the current system, if you are disabled, you work, and you receive Medicaid, you have to meet a spend down every month. Sounds great, right? That would be the case if the system worked efficiently and effectively. It doesn’t. 

Too often, the burdens of meeting the spend down requirements are so high and time consuming that many don’t work in order to avoid losing the healthcare that keeps them alive and breathing.

People need more certainty when it comes to their healthcare,

not increased uncertainty.

That’s why cavalier and emotion-baiting proposals like this GOP proposal will only make it more difficult for the disabled, for veterans, and for the chronically ill. Also, these proposals will cost more money for states and the federal government to manage.

I want to make it easier for people to work

by getting the government red tape out of the way.

It shouldn’t be terrifying for these groups to get back to work, but it is. We can do better, and we must.

That’s what I will fight for when I’m your representative in D.C.

Fight to protect your healthcare, fight to get you back to work, and fight to stop cavalier actions that negatively impact the most vulnerable amongst us. 

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Picture Courtesy of Pete Marovich/Bloomberg, Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

2016 Primary Redux

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that President Trump and the GOP would take any opportunity to take the negative attention and focus off of their inability to govern and produce real results for the American people and turn the pundits and media on divisions within the left.

So, yet again, with information offered by someone who was accused of offering debate questions to one campaign, which she denied, is now offering another account about the primary in order to sell a book.

Is any of it true? Who knows? How could anyone know?

Donna Brazile has changed her story on so many issues throughout the last few years it’s difficult to know if she even knows the truth.

What is stunning is how some within the Democratic Party would use this opportunity to further discord and divisiveness within the Party, progressives, and independents.

All of this in a time where healthcare is on the line, tax cuts for the wealthy that will explode deficits and debt are being rushed through Congress, and threats at home and abroad are on the rise. 

We’re heading into the primary season where we will nominate those who will go against GOP incumbents across the country in gerrymandered districts that are exhausted by this style of politics.

I’m tired of some Democrats using President Trump’s own tweets and deflections for their own presidential ambitions. I’m tired of those obsessed about winning a fight that was over a year and a half ago about a primary involving two members of the Democratic Party and an independent.

Not only is the 2016 primary long over, we all have similar goals that we want to fight to achieve for the American people.

  • Better more affordable healthcare for all Americans.
  • Improved & affordable education providing opportunities for all Americans.
  • Sustained job and wage growth for all Americans.
  • An economic, judicial, and system of government that works for all Americans.

These old squabbles are as counterproductive as they are useful for Trump and the GOP to continue avoiding accountability and responsibility for any forward leaning vision for all Americans. 

Unless you have a time machine,

what good does this continued looking backward actually accomplish?

Terrorism, Immigration, & Precise Action

The terrorist attack in NYC is a tragedy. NYC officials are confident that this is an isolated incident by a lone wolf and there is no ongoing threat. And, yes, we must do more to protect people. How we do that is crucial to do with precision.

Enter the Trump Administration to take advantage of tragedy to sow further division regarding immigrants. He called for slashing immigration while blaming the Democratic Party for being obstructionist.

The contradictions are as ironic as the underlying fallacies behind it all.

First, it was the GOP that stood in the way of immigration reform just four years ago, not the Democratic Party. This reform package would have modernized our antiquated immigration systems, allowing for better tracking of those with expired green cards, opening up resources for more thorough screening, and creating a more safe environment for Americans.

Second, the extreme vetting and Muslim bans that President Trump and many within the GOP have been promoting have been found to be unconstitutional, ineffective, and used in online propaganda to recruit more terrorists like this lone wolf terrorist.

Finally, after the deadliest mass shooting in American history in Las Vegas, many people declared in the aftermath of the tragedy this was not the time to discuss doing something about terror, especially involving firearms. 

If you’ve not been paying attention, we’re still waiting for that debate and shouldn’t be holding our breath for one either. More than likely, the inability for Trump to face what happened in Las Vegas is due to a white man using firearms. He has no problem jumping to attack someone with a different color of skin. Both attackers terrorized Americans.

I’m tired of the double standards. Aren’t you?

  • I believe we should be talking about real immigration reform, not immigration deform. We need to be focused on real threats to our country, not some expensive unfunded Trump Wall that would be ineffective at stopping ladders and tunnels. 
  • I believe we should be debating how better to track visa overstays, not hyper focused on people who’ve been here for most of their lives, working, paying taxes, and living their lives for decades free from violent crime. 
  • I believe we should be talking about real policies that protect people instead of dividing the country on cultural and racial lines. 

That’s what we need in America today. Not more scapegoating, big talk designed to divide and deflect over a failed agenda and no results for the American people.

We need better wages for all Americans. We need more, better paying jobs. We need better schools and to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

We need policies that will actually benefit Americans, not further divisions.

That’s what I will stand up to support and fight for in Washington.

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Savings Drain, Wage Stagnation Major Concerns for Economy

Signs of strain emerge in the Trump-GOP economy, says Chandra and Golle of Bloomberg. When savings are drained, it limits consumer spending. This is especially troubling ahead of the holiday season and the all important 4th Quarter where many companies make it back into the black. 

The real problem here is stagnant wages in the era of record profits and record stock market numbers. It’s as confusing as it is wrong.

When the CEO and administrative class receive annual pay raises (sometimes in the millions) and laborers, union workers, and former union workers receive none, that’s a red flag for me. It should be for anyone who’s invested in their community and the broader economy. 

And, this elite group who has yet to pass on their record profits to their workers will receive the largest share of tax cuts from the Trump-GOP tax-cut plan. This is yet another already tried and failed approach that will bankrupt the Middle Class and Working Class, leaving the bill with our grandchildren. 

That’s unacceptable to me and will not lead to wage growth, will not rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, will not help our schools, workers, increase the number of good paying jobs, nor will it boost the economy. 

I will fight for better policies that will . . .

  • boost the earning potential for workers
  • create more opportunities for small businesses to thrive
  • remove barriers for small companies that are invested in their communities
  • rebuild our country’s infrastructure, creating jobs

As representatives, we have to fight for the People, not for big business and special interests. Tax cuts always feel good and make sense on a guttural level, especially for those of us in Illinois who pay too much in property taxes.

“If only they had more money, these CEOs and big companies could give you a raise and create more jobs.”

If this were the case, where were all the jobs and pay raises during the Bush tax cuts? Where are the jobs and bigger paychecks right now with record stock market closings?

Tax cuts for the wealthy have literally never helped the Middle and Working Classes.

Actual tax relief targeted and specific for workers and small businesses, that would be great! I can get behind that. But, for these massive companies and these multimillion dollar CEOs? No. 

I’m tired of waiting. Aren’t you?

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Applaud Opioid Talk, Verify Actions

It was good to see the President come out with policies that may help alleviate the opioid crisis. This crisis has expanded from opioids and exploding into heroin use. That adaptive expansion as access to opioids is decreased is even costlier public health crises like blood borne pathogens and STDs.

Putting forward government resources to fund research into non-addictive painkillers is something much needed, and, frankly, something the GOP often sacrifice to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.

Let’s applaud the talk then verify the resources and actions.

It’s also great to see the President be in favor of mental health treatment for those in the throes of addiction, as well as those within the criminal justice system.

Let’s applaud the talk then verify the resources and actions.

Attempting to eliminate some of the worst opioids on the marketplace and to limit patients to 7-day prescriptions can help decrease overdoses.

Let’s applaud the talk then verify the resources and actions.

Also, the focus on drug courts being a pathway forward for those caught up in addiction and the criminal justice system was a welcome one.

Let’s applaud the talk then verify the resources and actions.

The President chose to declare this a national public health emergency over a national emergency, which is unfortunate. That means there will be no additional funds without Congressional legislation. We all know how difficult it is for this GOP-controlled Congress to pass anything.

What was sorely lacking from Trump’s proposal was a national needle exchange program coupled with outreach programs.

Needle exchange programs might be controversial for some, but these have prevented HIV, Hepatitis, and other blood borne pathogen outbreaks. Vice President ended access to needle exchange programs in Indiana and created an HIV outbreak while Governor of the Hoosier State.

That level of shortsighted and reactive policymaking leads to costly chronic conditions that spread across communities and regions, usually under the radar. The threats of blood borne pathogens inside high risk groups can go unnoticed, undiagnosed, and untreated for years or even decades.

These types of public health crises are devastating to a region’s healthcare, social welfare, and community infrastructure. It creates division, prejudice, and animosity about complex health risks that aren’t tangible to many.

So, yes, I applaud the President coming forward today and talking about policies that might put a dent in the opioid crisis. I will be here watching for the funds and the actions to make their way to rural areas like the 15th District.

Here, we have more of a rolling heroin and opioid crisis unfolding. We have to tackle all, through prevention, maintenance, mental health, healthcare, and drug courts.

We can make real progress on this national emergency. We need real resources, real funds, and real actions, not just talking from a podium. 

Let’s applaud the talk then verify the resources and actions.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Reynolds/Pool via Getty Images

Opioids, Marijuana, & Economy

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‘Cockeyed’ Fundraising in the 15th

In a recent news article by the News-Gazette, Tom Kacich highlighted the “cockeyed” fundraising numbers in the race to take back the 15th District for the People.

He’s right; the fundraising figures are completely out of balance. 

If money alone wins elections, Rep. John Shimkus will win, and he has over a million cash on hand, which he spends lavishly. Over 90% of that money is contributed by PACs and special interests. That doesn’t sit well with me, nor most voters.

All of our campaign’s funds are from individuals, not special interests nor PACs. We’ve also out-raised the other Democratic candidates in the race for the year in only one quarter.

Most constituents don’t vote for a candidate that has pockets lined with big money and special interests, especially when that 20 year incumbent’s record doesn’t align with benefiting the People of the 15th District. That’s what I’ve found when I discuss the issues impacting residents across Central and Southern Illinois.

The People are concerned with paying their bills, lagging wages, healthcare, and a lack of leadership in Washington that will make a difference in their communities.

I might not be wealthy, and I know personally the toll that healthcare can take on every aspect of a person’s life. Each one of us has the ability to make a difference with our ideas, knowledge, and experience.

As long as I’m still alive, I’ll be here fighting the good fight, fighting for others, and fighting to make life better for our communities. We all remain relevant as long as we don’t quit and don’t give up that fight.

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