Opponents of expanding TennCare as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act say the country can’t afford to add to the national debt. But hospitals in Tennessee are pushing back, saying the money amounts to just seven-thousandths of one percent of the country’s red ink.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Wright Pinson held up a sheet of paper with a pin dot in the middle, representing the potential savings for no expansion compared to the country’s $16 trillion debt.
“I think that you would agree that weighing all of the conflicting politics and data, the health and welfare of the citizens of Tennessee far outweigh this dot,” Pinson said.
The federal government would cover 100 percent of the costs in the first three years. Pinson says the state should take the money and worry about the future later.
Gov. Steve Beshear is being pressured from both sides of a controversial bill that would strengthen legal protections for religious freedom in Kentucky.
Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, are urging Beshear to veto the measure. They say the law could allow someone claiming religious freedom to discriminate against gays and lesbians, undermining civil rights protections in cities such as Lexington.
Religious groups, including the Kentucky Baptist Convention, are asking the governor to sign the bill. They say it gives higher legal standing to someone who claims the government infringed on religion. The courts would still rule on the matter.
The General Assembly passed the bill on Friday. Beshear said Tuesday he hasn't looked at it yet.
The WKU men's basketball team received a hero's welcome Tuesday afternoon after their trip home from the Sun Belt Conference championship. Monday night's win in the title game means WKU will play in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.
After being congratulated by fans outside E.A. Diddle Arena, sophomore forward and Bowling Green native George Fant said he wasn't thinking about what tournament seed the Hilltoppers will receive this Sunday.
"I don't know what we deserve. I don't really want to get into that. I'm just happy with the fact that we're there. For a team that was supposed to be the seventh-best team in our conference, to do this two years in a row is unbelievable," said Fant, who scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds in Monday night's win over Florida International.
Sophomore guard T.J. Price also refused to predict what seed he thought WKU would receive. The Louisiana native says he can't wait to experience the excitement of the NCAA tournament again.
"Just the feeling...when you step out on that court there's no better feeling ever. I remember last year how I felt, and I've always said I wanted the same feeling again, and now I get that chance," Price told WKU Public Radio.
With no deal and time running out, a special session is becoming more likely for Kentucky lawmakers to reform the underfunded pension programs for state employees, Gov. Steve Beshear said on Tuesday.
It's unlikely that the General Assembly will address pension reform before legislators leave Frankfort after Tuesday for a brief period called the veto break, Beshear said. Legislators have
Two pensions bills aimed at reforming Kentucky's underfunded pension system havebeen locked in a stalemate between both chambers of the state legislature, with both refusing to accept a bill based on procedural technicalities.
While legislative leaders have met routinely since last week on the pension issue, Beshear said they are still far apart—meaning a special session is becoming more likely.
Kentucky lawmakers reached a deal Monday in a conference committee on legislation addressing issues with special taxing districts.
The committee adopted a new proposal that would require special districts to present their annual budgets or any new fee increases to their local fiscal court. But the compromise on House Bill 1 does not allow the fiscal court veto or approval powers of the special district's actions, as Senate Republicans had recently suggested.
Special taxing districts are usually sewer districts, library boards or other quasi-governmental public service entities. In November, the auditor's office released a report that said half of Kentucky's special taxing districts aren't following rules on filing budgets or submitting audits. But those districts, the report said, spend more money than Kentucky spends on Medicaid or infrastructure.
The compromise is supported by Republican state Sen. Damon Thayer and Auditor Adam Edelen, as well as many Democratic lawmakers. Edelen says the change will help transparency of the districts.
Gov. Steve Beshear will lead an international business trade mission to Canada this summer. The trip will be the first-ever trade mission of the Kentucky Export Initiative, and will be aimed at boosting commerce between the Bluegrass State and America’s northern neighbor.
Canada already serves as Kentucky’s number one export destination, with the commonwealth exporting $7.3 billion in products and services there in 2012. That’s more than four times the total goods and services exported to Kentucky’s number two trading partner, Mexico.
The Kentucky trade mission will take place June 4-7 in Toronto.
A state official says there were “egregious” failures of Kentucky’s child-protection system leading up to the 2011 death of a Christian County toddler. Community Based Services Commissioner Teresa James spoke Monday to an independent panel investigating the deaths or abused and neglected children.
Three-year-old Alayna Adair died from head trauma, and her father is scheduled to go on trial in September for murder. Child-protection worker Donna Currey will go on trial in May. She resigned and was indicted for tampering with public records.
Following Alayna’s death, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Currey was told to look into suspicious injuries on Alayna three weeks before her death. An internal probe found the Currey never saw the toddler and lied about investigating the complaint.
Community Based Services Commissioner Teresa James called the case unfortunate, but added she doesn’t believe it’s indicative of the work being done across the state by social workers.
The superintendent of Mammoth Cave National Park has announced the south-central Kentucky attraction has begun to implement budget cuts related to the sequestration. Sarah Craighead says Mammoth Cave is prepared to cut five-percent of its budget.
In the first effects of the cuts that will be felt by the public, the Houchin Ferry and Houchin Ferry campground did not open this week as scheduled. Houchin Ferry shuttles vehicles across the Green River near Brownsville.
In a previous interview with WKU Public Radio, Superintendent Craighead mentioned there will fewer cave tour options this summer, as well.
"We will not be hiring about seven seasonal tour guides that we intended to hire for the summer. And as a result we will eliminate a couple of the tours, because we won't have the guides available to give those tours," Craighead said.
An engaged couple and five children killed in a weekend house fire in southern Kentucky died from smoke inhalation, investigators said Tuesday as they worked to determine the cause of the blaze.
Trooper Shane Jacobs said those who died Saturday in the blaze in the Knox County community of Gray were 27-year-old Jesse Disney; his fiancée, 22-year-old Nina Asher; her three children, 3-year-old William Gray Jr., 2-year-old Camden Gray and 8-month-old Abigail Gray; and two family friends, 2-year-old Paiten Cox and 2-year-old Brielle Cox.
Paiten Cox would have been 3-years-old on March 23. The Cox children were friends of the family who were spending the night.
Investigators were trying to pinpoint the cause of the fire and have said it could take some time before the cause is determined. Jacobs said autopsies were done Monday.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) isn't ready to throw its weight behind a possible Kentucky Senate run by actress Ashley Judd. Politico reports the group's executive director, Guy Cecil, called Judd just one in a "handful of quality candidates in Kentucky" who could take on U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Cecil, in a conference call with reporters Monday, refused to deny a separate report in the Louisville Eccentric Observer that said the DSCC is reevaluating Judd, while giving a second look at another possible Democratic Senate challenger: Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Citing a poll that shows 55 percent of Kentuckians view McConnell unfavorably, Cecil described the Louisville Republican as "one of the most unpopular senators in the country."
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman has reported Judd has told advisors that she plans to announce her Senate candidacy around the time of the Kentucky Derby, which is May 4.