Louisiana warns 37,000 Medicaid recipients they may face loss of care over budget cuts

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Louisiana lawmakers made deep cuts to the proposed budget to make up for a $650 million shortfall, which could end a temporary tax funding Medicaid benefits. The governor also warned that both of the state’s medical schools might have to close and that several big hospitals may have to lay off staffers.

For Jamie Duplechine, a quadriplegic who has spent more than half of her 38 years in a wheelchair, it’s an endless source of amusement that three of the caregivers who watch her around the clock in her Louisiana apartment just happen to be named Shonda, Shamanda and Sherry.

Image: Shonta Faulk uses a harness to get Jamie Duplechine into bed

Image: NBC News

Karen Scallan is also on a first name basis with the caregivers who come to her suburban New Orleans home to help her take care of her 17-year-old son, who has Down syndrome — and free her up so she can work and take care of her 63-year-old husband, who suffers from diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

So when the letter arrived this week warning them that they were at risk of losing their health care services starting on July 1 because of their state’s budget crisis, they reacted the same way — with dread.

“I have staff with me throughout the day and night,” Duplechine, who was paralyzed at age 15 in a car accident, told NBC News. “They do my hygiene, my catheter care, my bowel care. They cook my meals, they bathe me, they drive me everywhere. Without them, I’m in a devastating state.”

 

More sadness at NBC News

Posted by Libergirl

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Georgia Lawmakers Punish Delta Air Lines Over NRA Feud

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Republican lawmakers in Georgia made good on a threat to eliminate a proposed tax break for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, after the carrier declined to reverse a decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association.

Earlier this week, Delta — the state’s largest private employer, with 33,000 workers statewide — was among numerous companies to announce that it would end discounts for NRA members in the wake of the mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Parkland, Fla., high school.

Ignoring warnings that taking on Delta could harm the state’s pro-business image, the GOP-controlled House, which had earlier approved a larger tax bill containing the exemption, voted 135-24 on Thursday for a new version stripped of the provision. Meanwhile, some experts have raised First Amendment concerns over the legislature’s punitive move.

More from NPR

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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Hopes to Impeach Justices Who Rejected Gerrymandered Map

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22-pennsylvania-gerrymander.w710.h473How could anyone take issue with the straightforward layout of the Seventh Congressional District of Pennsylvania? Illustration: OpenStreetsMap via Fair Districts PA

Someone has been giving Republicans ideas about doing away with courts that don’t rule in their favor. On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to stay a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that requires the GOP-controlled legislature to redraw the state’s gerrymandered congressional districts before the next election. One Republican state lawmaker responded by starting a push to impeach the five Democratic state justices who found the map in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

State Representative Cris Dush sent a memo to all members of the House seeking co-sponsors for an impeachment bill. In a speech to the chamber, he argued that the justices had “blatantly and clearly” contradicted the state constitution, and should thus be removed by the legislature.

“This is a usurpation of the sovereign power of the legislature under the Pennsylvania Constitution,” he said. “In the Constitution, it’s a contract between the people and the government that they hired to oversee them. And the sovereigns in this issue are God, the people, and the legislature — in that order.”

Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, state officials can be removed with the agreement of two-thirds of senators and a majority of the state representatives, according to ThinkProgress. Republicans control both chambers, though the state has a Democratic governor and President Trump won it by less than one percentage point. (The recent court decision was about the state’s congressional maps, not the state legislative districts.)

Republicans hold 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats, and redrawing the map could help the Democrats’ effort to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

Whether any Republicans will join Dush’s effort remains to be seen. GOP leaders told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they hadn’t discussed it yet. While they may not be willing to go as far as Dush, the legislature’s top two Republicans signaled on Monday that they may not be willing to accept the court’s decision. In a joint statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and House Speaker Mike Turzai said they would try to comply with the court’s order to redraw the maps by Friday, “but may be compelled to pursue further legal action in federal court.”

By Margaret Hartmann/NYMag

Posted by The NON-Conformist

NC’s Final budget delivers hits to legal services, emergency judges, Department of Justice

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It’s only been a little over 24 hours since the North Carolina General Assembly introduced its final budget and its already well on its way to a House vote after passing the Senate on Tuesday.

There is plenty to read in the 438-page document and plenty to get confused about. Below are a few highlights from the Justice and Public Safety budget:

Raise the Age

Lawmakers have finally agreed to raise the juvenile age of prosecution from 16 and 17 years old to 18 years old. The final budget allocates $519,600 the first fiscal year toward “Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act Planning” and $478,000 the second fiscal year.

The budget policy decision mandates that 16- and 17-year-olds who are accused of committing misdemeanors and two classes of felonies no longer be automatically prosecuted in the adult criminal system.

The policy decision also increases the information available on juveniles to law enforcement and establishes a juvenile jurisdiction advisory committee to help with implementation. You can read more about the decision beginning on page 309 of the budget.

The proposed budget would cut $1.7 million in legal services programs across the state, affecting those most in need and almost assuredly creating unequal access to justice.

The Access to Civil Justice Act funds all traditional legal services programs, including Legal Aid Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC), Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Pisgah Legal Services.

As written in the final budget, the provision means that $1.50 of every court fee imposed in District and Superior Courts would no longer be distributed to the North Carolina State Bar for legal services. It could also mean reducing LANC staff across the state by 50 to 60 or more positions.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

Forget the war on drugs: Alcohol ruins more lives than all other drugs combined

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Why aren’t policy makers wringing their hands over this?

Image: Michigan.gov

While our current political conversations often involve concerned discussions about marijuana’s imagined dangers or potential benefits (recall that the most recent Republican and Democratic debates both dedicated time to the question of pot legalization), our most problematic relationship actually seems to be with alcohol. America, it seems, has a drinking problem—and studies indicate it is only getting worse. There are real reasons, in addition to the pressing issue of mass incarceration and the failure of the drug war, for us to start thinking seriously about the cost of our increasing reliance on alcohol when we consider the ravages of drug use. Particularly since the toll of alcohol, though often left out of that conversation, actually outpaces those of every other legal and illicit drug combined.

Drinking is on the rise in the U.S. Precipitously. A study released this year from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation finds that heavy drinking among Americans rose 17.2 percent between 2005 and 2012. Not only are Americans drinking more, but in an increasing number of cases, they’re consuming those drinks in rapid succession.

More from Alternet via Salon

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Mississippi Newspaper Shames State Lawmakers for Silence on Confederate Flag

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Image: Clarion Ledger via Mediate

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GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker can’t wait to start arresting doctors for performing abortions

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Image: Raw Story

Wisconsin GOP lawmakers are hell bent for leather to make sure that women are unable to get a perfectly legal abortion after 20 weeks — no matter if they have been raped or are a victim of incest — and Gov. Scott Walker is standing by and more than willing to help handcuff the doctors and have them hauled away.

A bill before the Wisconsin legislature would make it illegal for anyone who performs or attempts to perform an abortion after 20 weeks subject to three and a half years in prison, in addition to a $10,000 fine.

Anti-choice Republicans are pushing the bill through — assigning it more importance than working on the budget — and, according to Rep. Jesse Kremer (R), Gov. Walker is fired up to sign it. As for instances of rape and incest: too bad, victims. Jesse Kremer and Scott Walker are only looking out for your best interests.

Kremer used what could be charitably called an “unfortunate” term, when talking about allowing an exception.

“As a husband, father and EMT, I feel absolutely terrible for a woman who’s involved in one of those heinous crimes,” Kremer said. “However, that does not mean we should put carve-outs in this bill that would essentially double down on that awful situation and selectively decide which children should and should not be inhumanely tortured to death by tearing them apart, limb from limb.”

More from the Raw Story

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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