Managed care woes hurting Ky. children
We at Kentucky Youth Advocates are concerned — and every Kentuckian should be disheartened — to hear that one of the new Medicaid managed care companies, CoventryCares of Kentucky, plans to terminate its contract with Appalachian Regional Healthcare.
Since Kentucky turned to managed care companies to operate Medicaid in November 2011, children on Medicaid and the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program have been moved too many times.
In the beginning, Kentucky's children on Medicaid were automatically assigned to one of three new managed-care plans. Then, many parents had to switch their children to another plan once they discovered the providers in their area weren't part of their assigned plan. If Coventry drops ARH, another 25,000 Medicaid members may have to switch plans.
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There were real hopes that managed care would help with continuity of care while saving money, but having to switch plans multiple times within in a few months only results in disruptions.
The governor and Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Audrey Haynes have a responsibility to step in and ensure the managed-care companies are doing more than trying to make a profit.
The verdict is still out on managed care, but a pattern of making people switch from one provider to another is not a promising opening chapter.
Executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates
Nitpicking good servant
I am a bit surprised that your paper ran a story that outlined the travel expenditures of Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife Jon Gassett.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources operates on a budget of $50 million that comes from the sportsmen and women of Kentucky. It receives no general fund dollars.
This department oversees enterprises that generate $4.5 billion a year in Kentucky, more than the entire Thoroughbred industry in the commonwealth.
Why a measly $1,500 travel bill or an $84 valet parking charge even ticks the meter mystifies me.
Very few CEOs of corporations of this size with an economic impact as big as KDFWR are held to this level of asinine scrutiny.
Gassett's leadership has led the commonwealth to at least a half-million acres of habitat where Kentuckians can recreate. During his tenure, KDFWR has weaved its way through many challenges to the million Kentuckians who hold licenses and enjoy hunting, fishing and boating.
If he spent somewhere in the range of $1,600 to do his job near home, then we're getting our money's worth. Think about it: $50 million to bring in $4.5 billion in revenue. That's about a 900 percent return on investment. If I could get in on that large of a return, I'd be all in and I'd pay Gassett a whole lot more than $1,600 for letting me.
Terrance J. Sullivan
Kentucky's 2004 Sportsman of the Year
In 1975, I was 23 years old and had a stay at the Hotel Caribe. The casino, La Frigata Restaurante, the beach and beautiful women walking the beach in Cartegena: great memories.
For us to think less of the Secret Service men involved in a prostitution scandal is a tragedy. For them, it will probably be a blessing in disguise; no doubt with their acquired skills (learned at taxpayers expense), they will be quickly picked up by some high-end security firm where they will make more money.
The call girl/prostitute or whatever she calls herself will probably wind up in some mags making a lot more money than she could ever have hoped for.
As for her $800 fee, that was taking advantage of a drunk and nothing more.
All in all, though, for those who like to travel, Cartegena is a very historic city and has some of the best sunsets I have ever seen. A nice stop while in the Caribbean.
Bring jobs back home
In response to the April 22 letters criticizing the Buffett Rule: It is always the same arguments from the right, but never good solutions.
Someone has to pay the taxes. If not, innovation stops, everyone falls into poverty, disease is rampant, revolt occurs and nobody wins.
Even the rich lose because their fortunes become worthless or are greatly diminished.
As a percentage of income, the poor are strangled with taxes. Those same business people complain about having to give back some of their income after using generous loopholes in the tax code not available to the average worker or pensioner.
They also refuse to admit they relied on those same people to purchase their services or product.
They didn't get rich on their own. Little people don't mind business people reaping profits, but what is wrong with paying more if they can afford more?
They talk about hurting job creation, but during the Bush years there was negative job growth after lowering taxes. Job creation went overseas.
Average workers saw their incomes shrink greatly while the rich saw their incomes increase by huge numbers.
The answer is to bring back the jobs from overseas and return the tax code to what it was when President George W. Bush took office. If businesses fail to bring the jobs back hit them with a 90-percent import tax, plus charge them Social Security and Medicare taxes for displaced workers.
Yeah, they would squeal, but the jobs would return faster than Mitt Romney can switch positions.
Science as faith
I was a little bemused to read the April 22 column by Robert Nelson, professor of environmental policy at the University of Maryland.
Is he actually advocating, as he seems to suggest, a ban on the teaching of environmental science in the public schools, under the doctrine of separation of church and state?
I must admit that I had never thought of the teaching of science in quite this light.
Perhaps we should ban the teaching of physics and chemistry as well. I understand that there is a significant minority who also believe in these doctrines.
Writer of great promise
The April 22 column, "My time with the champ," written by Thomas Mims is excellent and interesting writing.
The high school senior, who wrote about his friendship with Wildcat Darius Miller, shows great potential for a future in newspaper writing or other kinds of writing.
May his future be positive. May he have a positive outcome in his battle with cystic fibrosis. May his college years help him continue developing his writing skills.
I hope to read more of his bylines in the future.
Polly Jo Green
Real hunger games
In response to the box office frenzy, my grandson and I went to see The Hunger Games.
It was explained to him in advance, as with most all movies, that this was fiction, the imagination and ideas of one person as to a story line and outcome.
My grandson understands this and is not frightened by scary or science fiction movies.
We have wonderfully profound discussions of the ifs, ands and buts of fiction and the amazing way in which a writer can weave his or her imagination into an intriguing story.
After viewing the movie, my grandson asked, "Could this really happen in our world?"
After pondering the great separation today between the haves and the have-nots, the ever-expanding gap between the richest and the poorest, and our governmental leaders wielding their out-of-control power in support of well-heeled political donors, I was hard- pressed to tell him it could not.
City budgeting, politics
Put safety over public golf courses
For the second time in as many days, Lexington's citizens have been placed at increased risk from the city's choice to brownout fire-protection services.
First, a man suffering a heart attack found no help at an empty fire station. Next, browned-out fire stations led to a slow, eight-minute response time as a family's kitchen burned.
The brownouts are the decision of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. While the mayor and council have decided that brownouts of fire protective services are an effective way to save money, they have also continued to place a priority on operating five public golf courses at a significant loss.
In 2011, Lexington golf operations budgeted $4.36 million worth of expenses while receiving $2.50 million in revenues, totaling a deficit of $1.86 million.
That year, 88,706 rounds were played on Lexington-owned golf courses. That's a subsidy of $21 every time a golfer teed up. Eighty-eight thousand times.
These golf courses are operated continuously year-round, rain or snow, never closed or "browned out." Clearly, the city's leaders feel spending on golf is a higher priority than spending on fire safety.
The annual budget is the ultimate statement of policy priorities. If Lexington's mayor and council wish to prioritize public safety, they have an opportunity to demonstrate it in the 2013 budget.
Kentucky Club for Growth
Let parks officials make improvements
A few months ago, the council took the handcuffs off city golf course management, and it now allows the courses to be run as a business. Expenditures are now reviewed by golf management, marketing programs are in place to generate more rounds to be played, rates can be adjusted by course management (within bounds) to maximize play, personnel sharing is under constant review and a workable budget is now in place.
The plan is projected to cut the 2011 subsidy by over 40 percent in 2012. These extremely positive actions are to be applauded by council as a progressive business approach to a negative economic situation. The original proposal was the typical reaction to close or sell some courses in this economic downturn.
Councilman Jay McChord now proposes that a subsidy number be decided for city golf. Council agreed to evaluate the business later in the year to review successes, but McChord is once again bringing back his bias.
Does McChord also push initiatives to privatize parks, baseball fields, tennis courts, bike trails, etc.? Or perhaps to start charging citizens for the use of these facilities, in addition to the taxes we pay? Will McChord come to the table with a subsidy number backed in analysis and fact or a number the private course owners have supplied?
Please stop the negative bias toward golf and start looking at other areas to cut costs, such as not running the street sweeper down residential streets every month.
Mayor forgot to laud police efforts
On April 10, Mayor Jim Gray gave his budget address for 2013 to the city council.
He gave praise and kudos for the fine job that the men and women of the Divisions of Fire and Corrections did during the "celebration" of the 2012 NCAA championship.
I, too, would like to commend them on a job well done.
But what does disturb me tremendously, as president of the Fraternal Order of Police, is the lack of recognition or even mention of the fine work conducted by men and women of the Lexington Police Department that night.
These were the officers who walked into the crowds amidst flailing bottles and rocks being thrown at them, gave a valiant effort at seeking out and arresting the troublemakers while making it safe for the rest of peaceful celebrants and did their job, as usual, with restraint and professionalism.
I am certain the omission was a direct result of the lack of a current collective bargaining agreement by the FOP, although one has nothing to do with the other.
Last week I sent the mayor a letter asking for an apology to his police officers for his blatant omission of their efforts on NCAA night in his address to the council.
He owes that to his officers.
And he owes them his thanks.
Still waiting for both.
President, Fraternal Order of Police