A new study by the Commonwealth Fund, "How States Stand to Gain or Lose Federal Funds by Opting In or Out of the Medicaid Expansion," shows that Texas clearly stands to lose the most of any state. Because of Rick Perry's refusal to expand Medicaid, Texas will forego over $9 billion in federal funds while Perry holds out for a Medicaid block grant that he'll never get.
We've known all along that Texas was walking away from billions of dollars - not to mention the thousands of residents who could have been insured. But this report synthesizes data from a variety of sources to provide new estimates of what exactly the impact on each state would be.
The Affordable Care Act is already making it possible for millions of uninsured Americans to access quality, affordable healthcare. This law will specifically benefit those of us in Texas, where we have the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation. That's why it's so important that we spread the word and help folks sign up.
It will also greatly benefit individuals under 35 years of age, who often have tenuous insurance situations -- insured through school or work for awhile, or perhaps on our parents' plans, but often changing circumstances enough that it can be tough to stay covered consistently.
The Affordable Care Act helps change all of that, and the previsions in the bill -- no more denials for pre-existing conditions or gaps in coverage, free preventative and contraceptive care, and no more caps on lifetime coverage.
There's a lot in the Affordable Care Act, but you don't have to take my word for it. Last week, I was lucky enough to watch the President address the White House Youth Summit about what the ACA does for young people. Watch:
With days remaining until the December 9 filing deadline, there have been several significant developments in the race for Texas' Class 2 US Senate Seat, currently held by incumbent Republican John Cornyn.
For Democrats, there are now five candidates running for the party's nomination. Joining the previously announced candidates of attorney Maxey Scherr and perennial candidate Michael "Fjet" Fjetland are millionaire dentist David Alameel, physician HyeTae "Harry" Kim, and LaRouche acolyte Kesha Rodgers.
David Alameel was last seen in 2012 running for the Democratic nomination in the Texas' newly created 33rd congressional district. He finished in 4th place behind then-State Rep. and now Congressman Marc Veasey, former State Rep. Domingo Garcia, and Fort Worth Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks. In 2012, Alameel spent $4.5 million to finish in fourth place. Most of Alameel's self-funding was poorly appropriated; his image was plastered around the metroplex on billboards, giant, expensive yard signs, where voters never heard his message. Further showing his skills at misappropriating funds, Alameel's 2012 campaign website for congress is still active, as is his 2012 Facebook page. Before running, Alameel had generously shared his millions with both parties. Sen. Wendy Davis (D) has received $30,000 in contributions from Mr. Alameel, but that is a shadow of the $165,000 Alameel has previously given to Greg Abbott (R), $250,000 to David Dewhurst (R), or $75,000 to Rick Perry (R).
Kesha Rodgers, who has filed for the Democratic nomination, should not be given any consideration of the vote by any Texas Democrat. Her primary policy platform is the impeachment of President Obama. She has also compared the President to Adolf Hitler, complete with a picture of Hitler's mustache photoshopped on President Obama's face.
Also running against Sen. Cornyn in the Republican primary are Ken Cope, conservative activist Christopher Mapp, Retired USAF officer Reid Reasor, former oil refinery employee Dwayne Stovall, and conservative radio host Linda Vega. John Myers and Jon Roland are also running as Libertarians.
Meanwhile, Maxey Scherr has released an introductory video of herself and her campaign. You can get to know Ms. Scherr through her video after the jump.
Reported by KHOU 11 News, students said their school principal, Amy Lacey, informed them over the intercom that they were prohibited from speaking Spanish during class. Several teachers also issued their own policy, threatening Hispanic students they would be written up or expelled from the classroom if they were caught speaking Spanish.
The controversy is finally being made known to parents and the public.
Breaking news in the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) case - former executive Jerry Cobb was indicted earlier this morning by a grand jury. The Austin American-Statesman was the first to report:
A Travis County grand jury has indicted Jerald “Jerry” Cobbs, an executive at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas who was involved in the awarding of an $11 million grant to a Dallas company without the required scientific and business reviews.
The first-degree felony indictment charges Cobbs with securing execution of a document by deception. According to the penal code, a person commits an offense if, with the intent to defraud, he causes another to sign or execute any document affecting the financial interest of any person.
CPRIT came under scandal when it became clear the agency, which was created to fund cancer research in Texas, was redirecting millions to GOP donors. The Dallas Morning News was the first to uncover Abbott's negligence:
Abbott’s absence from CPRIT’s crucial deliberations was hardly unusual. Though state law grants a seat to the attorney general or one of his staff members, Abbott never has attended any of CPRIT’s 23 meetings. Even as the agency was barreling toward near-death, he sent an aide to fill the chair.
In the more than four years he served on the state cancer agency's governing board, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott exercised no oversight as the agency made misstep after misstep in awarding tens of millions of dollars to commercial interests.
The state's top lawyer and watchdog instead appointed one of his deputies, who missed about a third of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Oversight Committee meetings, and, by all accounts, was not much of a presence in the agency's questionable decision-making.
We will have more on this story as it develops. Watch our full video on CPRIT below the jump.
Tom Pauken announced Thursday that he would not file to run for Governor in the Texas GOP primary. Pauken served as Texas Republican Party Chairman in the 1990's and more recently as Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission. Pauken was thought to be Greg Abbott's chief opponent with the highest name ID, but said he could see "no realistic path to victory." The once-fiery tone he used to lob attacks on Abbott's conservative credentials has cooled in his realization that his campaign was "nowhere near" where they needed to be financially or organizationally.
Pauken's attacks on Abbott were not unlike those coming from the Democrats warning of more of the same, Rick Perry-style cronyism and an allegiance to big monied special interest over everyday Texans. The other common attack revolves around a campaign tactic Abbott continues to employ - silence on important but controversial issues. Ideally Abbott would like to leave his primary without committing himself to some very unpopular positions that are held by his base.
See what else Pauken has said about Abbott and Wendy below the jump.
Yesterday, fast food workers from across the United States took part in the largest fast food strike to date. Workers staged a one-day strike to protest for a raise in the minimum wage. They were pushing to raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to a living wage of $15 an hour, as well as for the right to form unions.
The strikes began a year ago in New York City and have gained traction as more workers in more cities have begun to participate in the campaign to receive a living wage. Yesterday's protests took place in over 100 cities nationwide, including here in Texas.
See where Texans protested for higher wages, and why a living wage is important, after the jump.
It takes some audacity to make a campaign pit stop at a school that you've fought to defund, but that's exactly what Greg Abbott did this week.
Plano ISD is one of the many school districts that had their funding drastically slashed after the $5.4 billion public school budget cuts in 2011. Abbott defended those severe cuts in court, but the court ruled that Plano ISD and other school districts were not being funded adequately.
The school district had to lay off 190 teachers in response to the lack of funding, but that didn't stop Abbott from speaking this week to the same educators whose jobs he threatened.
The passing of Nelson Mandela brought the world to a halt late yesterday, and has continued today as people from all over reflect on his profound grace, courage, and his leadership in bringing healing after turmoil to the people of South Africa.
Around the world, many have publicly commented and paid their respects to South Africa's first black president, who was elected after spending 27 years imprisoned for his efforts to fight the apartheid and their racist white-minority rule that oppressed the country.
"We've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth," said current U.S. President Barack Obama, the first black leader of his own country who said his first public activism was an anti-apartheid protest. "He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages." Senator Wendy Davis said "He was a hero who brought different groups together to improve the lives of all. He fought for the very soul of democracy - that everyone have a voice in their government."
And even our Senator Ted Cruz shared kind words and condolences to Mandela's family and the people of South Africa. Unfortunately, the response to his statement on his Facebook page did not reflect this sentiment.
And while Ted Cruz's Facebook page has never been ground zero to discover human intellect and compassion, the outpouring of racism, bigotry, and ignorance was absolutely unprecedented to see for a man who had just recently passed and did so much for the country he led. Instead, the majority of comments referred to Mandela as a communist and a terrorist. This tastelessness should be considered not just a low for Republicans, but for Texans and Americans all over. Cruz should be ashamed of his supporters for this level of tastelessness.
Read some of the horrible responses below the jump.
We're excited to break some big news from EMILY's List: today they're announcing their endorsement of Senator Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor!
This endorsement is actually a pretty big deal: it comes with political clout, and the potential of strong financial support. EMILY's list works hard for its endorsed candidates.
The endorsement is also a sign that Senator Leticia Van de Putte is viewed as a serious contender in the race, and will have the support she needs to campaign hard. Not every female candidate is formally endorsed by EMILY's List -- it's a big early score for the Senator, and a sign that our all-female top of the ticket will have serious support.
It's also a reminder not to count Van de Putte out. The four Republican candidates for Lite Gov are a collection of extremist right-wing ideologues. They all want to repeal the 17th Amendment, the direct election of US Senators. The four Republicans running are virulently anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant -- basically, anti-anyone who doesn't vote in a Republican primary run-off.
EMILY's List will be able to help amplify the contrast between Senator Van de Putte's record of leadership on issues affecting veterans, families, and students, and the extremists vying to face her in the general election.
Read more about why this is important below the jump, and check out the statement from EMILY's List on the endorsement!
Since start of the Affordable Care Act rollout on October 1, one thing we've heard a lot about are insurance cancellations, as people discover that their current policies aren't compliant with the new health care law. Many people have been surprised to receive letters from their insurance companies informing them that the cancellation of their non-compliant policies means they'll soon be forced to pay much higher premiums for coverage.
But just because an insurance company has been saying it may not necessarily mean it's true. The state of Texas has been overseeing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act much less closely than other states--and that means that insurance companies have been able to get away with a lot more here than in other places. And because of that, people who are getting cancellation letters from their insurance providers may not be getting the full story.
Read about how insurance companies are misleading consumers after the jump.
Previously, Burnt Orange Report posted about Democratic candidate recruitment and how Democrats have been outpacing Republicans when it came to finding challengers to run for various legislative seats. Since then, Democrats have continued to grow their challenger leads with new candidates declaring for federal and state legislative seats. Including their incumbents, Democrats are now competing in 22 of 36 congressional seats, 8 of 16 Texas Senate seats, 79 of 150 Texas House seats, and 5 of 7 seats on the State Board of Education.
This matters because for every Republican legislator that is distracted, trying to protect their own political career, that Republican will not be campaigning or donating to Greg Abbott and the rest of the Republican statewide ticket.
Democrats will need more candidates to declare and file for legislative seats from now until the filing deadline which ends next week, Monday, December 9, to force Republicans to play as much defense as possible. Check out Burnt Orange Report's candidate trackers to see where Democrats still need candidates to declare and file before next Monday:
If no Democrat is listed as running for office in your area, contact your county chairman and ask if one is. If there is not, why not you? Ask your chairman what needs to be done so you can run for office. You can verify what district you live in here.
After the jump is a complete list of legislative seats where Democrats are still needed for the 2014 general election.
The purported candidates I am hearing about -- and nope, I don't know their names but my understanding is that should they file, they will add even more regional diversity to our already strong ticket -- will also help Democrats field what may be our most robust statewide ticket since 2002. Whoever runs will be challenging an incumbent Republican.
Below the jump, read about why these races matter -- especially to all women working in Texas.
It's time for Republicans to dust off the old Obamacare-is-socialist attacks, because HealthCare.gov is open for business. Acknowledging that "poor execution in the first couple months on the web site clouded the fact that there are a whole bunch of people who stand to benefit," the Obama Administration is now encouraging traffic to the site and reminding everyone that the deadline to receive coverage on January 1, 2014, is December 23.
On just Sunday and Monday of this week, 29,000 people selected and enrolled in health plans through HealthCare.gov, which surpasses the website's record for the entire month of October. And over one million people accessed the HealthCare.gov website on both Monday and Tuesday of this week without any major issues, thanks in part to a new online queue or "waiting room" that puts users on hold if the site gets too crowded.
If you don't have health insurance, it's time to get a move on. Starting January 1, almost everyone who doesn't have health insurance will have to pay a fee, in addition to paying all health care costs out of pocket. Despite the fact that it's generally the same price to pay the fee or get health insurance, a recent Gallup poll finds that "Republicans without health insurance are just as likely to pay the fine imposed by the federal health-care law as they are to obtain coverage to avoid the penalty" at a rate of 46 to 45 percent. Meanwhile, 80 percent of Democrats plan to get coverage, while only 15 percent plan to pay the penalty.
In a spirit similar to that of the Republicans who would rather pay higher costs and forego coverage than accept the ACA, Texas is trying to make it as hard as possible for you to enroll. Read how after the jump.