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Protect the Privacy of Your Medical Records |

I’ve had privately insured and Medicare patients – and at least two families visiting our town from Canada – ask me to keep records about one or another history or ailment. I told them I’d do my best, but explained the legal problems with Medicare laws. Since 1997, doctors have been prosecuted for refusing to allow Medicare auditors to see everything in the office. One woman doctor was arrested for refusing to unlock a drawer in her (private?) desk.

 

And now, the IRS wants control of your medical care.

 

The confidentiality of the medical relationship and records has to be maintained or patients will not disclose the true nature of their problems. This results in harm to the patient and prevents the physician from truly helping the patient.

via Protect the Privacy of Your Medical Records |.

Republicans, the Tea Party, and November

Because of the run-off win by incumbent Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran, there is a renewed effort to split the “Tea Party” from the Republican Party.

Forget for a moment that Senator Cochran was backed by the very Conservative former Governor Haley Barbour and appealed to voters who weren’t traditional Republican voters. (Or that Chris McDaniel voted in the 2003 Democratic Party Primary.)

 

The question is who will elect the winners – and choose the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House –  in November, 2014?

 

I‘ve addressed this false divide and question in the past.

 

 

We Republicans are the Tea Party. If you look at the Tea Party, you will see the Conservative foundation, the remnant that have opposed “centrists” and “moderates” for years. We are the ones who have known all along what the Dems relearn each election cycle, but some of our own never seem to: Americans are conservative, to the right of center. When all the couch potatoes woke up last year, we were the ones who were here to welcome them and give them somewhere to start.

Some of us sat out the 2006 and even 2008 elections to “teach them a lesson;” that they need to legislate like Republicans if they want us to support them. Where Republicans turned out to vote, we held offices. Where the Republican voters were no-shows, we lost ground and offices. In a few cases, Republicans crossed over in the name of Chaos and strong conservatives were narrowly defeated in the Primaries, leaving us with a choice between a RINO, a Democrat or an under vote. We ended up with candidates chosen by the least knowledgeable voters.

Well, that was successful, wasn’t it?

 

If there is a move to form a “Third Party,” let it be after the November elections.

Lawless County Clerk

Ignoring the law, another County Clerk unilaterally decides to issue marriage licenses. This is how the law has been undermined in California and other States. (And why it’s important to vote “down-ballot.”

That was on display in Colorado on Wednesday afternoon, when the county clerk in the liberal city of Boulder announced she would issue same-sex marriage licenses even though the 10th Circuit — which along with Colorado and Utah includes, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming — stayed its decision pending appeal. The state’s attorney general declared the licenses invalid because Colorado’s gay marriage prohibition is still the law, but Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall said she would continue to issue them until stopped by a court.

via Federal Court Rules That Gay Couples Have Constitutional Right To Marry.

Cheering free speech Supreme Court decision, Christian doctors warn of government enforcement of ideology : Resources : Christian Medical & Dental Associations

The 15,000-member Christian Medical Association, which along with other faith-based organizations had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case examining free speech and assembly rights, lauded the decision announced today in the case, McCullen v. Coakley.

“The Court simply reaffirmed that the First Amendment’s protection of peaceful speech and assembly is a cornerstone of this nation,” explained CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens. “Hopefully such decisions will begin to address the alarming growth of coercive assaults on the free speech of anyone deemed not politically correct by the government.”

The brief, submitted by the Christian Legal Society, sought to counter a Massachusetts law that had attempted to ban peaceful pro-life speech on public sidewalks, by prohibiting many citizens from entering a public street or sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion facility.

“The fact that the government was bent on not only banning peaceful speech and assembly, but also penalizing its citizens with fines and jail, demonstrates the type of coercion that can happen when governments decide to enforce their own ideology,” stated Dr. Stevens.

via Cheering free speech Supreme Court decision, Christian doctors warn of government enforcement of ideology : Resources : Christian Medical & Dental Associations.

“Buffer zone” Unconstitutional #Stand4Life #Prolife rules

This should have been obvious, but now it’s the ruling of the Court. Good news

Developing: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a Massachusetts law banning abortion-clinic protests within a 35-foot buffer zone violates the First Amendment rights of protesters, SCOTUSblog reports.

The court was unanimous in its judgment. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the opinion (PDF) for the court.

An earlier Massachusetts law had established a six-foot “no approach” zone around abortion clinics that barred leaflets, signs and counseling of persons within the zone absent their consent. It was replaced in 2007 with the new law generally barring people from public sidewalks and public ways within 35 feet of abortion clinics. (People entering the clinics, employees, police and people who happened to be walking by were exempted.)

SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein has this analysis: “The upshot of today’s ruling is that an abortion clinic buffer zone is presumptively unconstitutional. Instead, a state has to more narrowly target clinic obstructions. For example, the police can tell protesters to move aside to let a woman through to the clinic. But it cannot prohibit protesters from being on the sidewalks in the first instance. If in practice protesters still are obstructing the entrance, then it can consider a broader restriction.”

via 35-foot buffer zone for abortion-clinic protests violates First Amendment, SCOTUS rules.

 

From the majority opinion:

But petitioners do not claim a right to trespass on the clinics’ property. They instead claim a right to stand on the public sidewalks by the driveway as cars turn into the parking lot. Before the buffer zones, they could do so. Now they must stand a substantial distance away. The Act alone is responsible for that restriction on their ability to convey their message.

 

Updated to add the quote. BBN 6/26/2014 10:45 AM

All nine justices reject recess appointments in Noel Canning case – The Washington Post

UPDATE: A few quick observations. First, the central holding of the opinion for the Court is that the Senate gets to determine when the Senate is in recess, provided the recess is of sufficient length. This is significant in that it gives Congress the ability to prevent recess appointments.

Second, none of the justices were willing to accept the position of the Obama Administration, which was unnecessarily extreme. In choosing the make the recess appointments in the way it did, such as by not following precedents set by prior administrations (including Teddy Roosevelt) and filling some Board spots that the Senate never had time to fill, the Administration adopted a stance that was very hard to defend, so it could not attract a single vote.

via All nine justices reject recess appointments in Noel Canning case – The Washington Post.

Texas Ethics Commission Law & Regulation on Lobbying

You’ve probably seen the emails, Twitter posts and Facebook comments about the Texas Ethics Commission charges against Michael Quinn Sullivan (@MQSullivan) of Empower Texans (ET)/ Texans for Fiscal Responsibility for failure to register as a lobbyist.

 

According to my own personal scorecard, Mr. Sullivan and I agree about 95% of the time. I’ve heard him speak at Republican Women meetings and have followed his website and social media posts. (He and I disagreed on the 2013 scorecard.) He claims he’s a journalist and is protecting the rest of us from being silenced. However, Mr. Sullivan earns about $130,000 a year, and he solicits donations to help him influence Texas legislators.  In fact, Mr. Sullivan has registered as a lobbyist in the past. When did he stop being a lobbyist, and how did he determine that he was no longer a lobbyist?

The Texas Ethics Commission has made mistakes in the handling of this complaint, including closed door meetings, gag orders (or the equivalent), and there have been delays and down-right stalling when it comes to allowing MQS to confront the two legislators who filed the complaint against him. I’ve long objected to the need for filling out that paperwork, including my occupation and employer, when I buy a pin or meal at a New Braunfels Republican Women meeting.

 

Today, Mr. Sullivan had his hearing at the Texas Ethics Commission. It was live-streamed on the Internet (here). Mr. Sullivan refused to testify, repeating “On the advice of counsel, I’m not testifying today.” For hours.  In my opinion, that’s not brave and definitely not helpful.

 

In the long run, this is a question about the law. The State of Texas has published its rules and regulations. Even though I’m not a lawyer, the law and regulations seem clear to me. You can read them here.

 

DETERMINING WHETHER LOBBY REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED

Lobby registration is required if a person meets either one of two thresholds: the “compensation and reimbursement threshold” or the “expenditure threshold.” A “person” required to register may be a corporation, partnership, association, or other type of business entity as well as an individual. See Entity Registration.

COMPENSATION AND REIMBURSEMENT THRESHOLD

Under current Ethics Commission rules, a person who receives, or is entitled to receive under an agreement under which the person is retained or employed, more than $1,000 in a calendar quarter as compensation or reimbursement to lobby must register as a lobbyist. 1 T.A.C. § 34.43. (Compensation and reimbursement must be added together to determine whether registration is required. Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 103 (1992).) Compensation for certain communications, however, does not count toward the compensation threshold even though the communications may be intended to influence legislation or administrative action. SeeEXCEPTIONS FROM REQUIRED REGISTRATION, in this guide. Also, a person who crosses the compensation threshold is not required to register if lobby activity constitutes no more than five percent of the person’s compensated time during a calendar quarter. See EXCEPTIONS FROM REQUIRED REGISTRATION, Incidental Lobbying.

Compensation to Prepare for Lobbying. Compensation received for preparing lobby communications (for example, compensation attributable to strategy sessions, review and analysis of legislation or administrative matters, research, or communication with a client concerning lobbying strategy) is counted toward the compensation threshold. 1 T.A. C. § 34.3. If a person engages in preparatory activities, but does not actually communicate to influence legislation or administrative action, registration is not required. Id. A person employed by a lobbyist (or a person employed by the lobbyist’s employer who works under the lobbyist’s direction) to assist the lobbyist in nonclerical lobby activities must be listed as an assistant on the lobbyist’s registration. See Reporting Assistants.

You can look up the lists of lobbyists at the website, too.

The accusation that I object to is the claim that the TEC will come after the rest of us next. Not unless we are compensated (paid) for our lobbying and it’s a condition of our employment. Today, one of my friends on Facebook made the claim that the pro-life group, Texas Right to Life, is next. However, at least one of the lobbyists for TRTL registers during odd-numbered years.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I’m on the Board of Directors of Texas Alliance for Life. At least two of our employees are registered.)

Edit: http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/tedd/loblst09_04.htm  Mr. Sullivan was registered in 2009. BBN, 6/26/14 7:55 AM.

Do you feel male, female, American, other?

It's all in your headCan’t help worrying that I might be prosecuted for hate speech for insisting that physical evidence matters, but . . .  if a person can demand a corrected birth certificate based on his/her subjective feelings about his/her gender, why can’t an illegal alien access his/her own new birth certificate if they feel American?

And if it’s all in our heads, why make Medicare pay for surgery?

The same month that the American Medical Association voted that the physical body is irrelevant to gender, President Obama uses his pen to award physical privileges to those people who claim/decide/are born to be transgendered. But he’s doing it very, very quietly.

The latest wins came this month, when the Office of Personnel Management announced that government-contracted health insurers could start covering the cost of gender reassignment surgeries for federal employees, retirees and their survivors, ending a 40-year prohibition. Two weeks earlier, a decades-old rule preventing Medicare from financing such procedures was overturned within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Unlike Obama’s support for same-sex marriage and lifting the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay troops, the White House’s work to promote transgender rights has happened mostly out of the spotlight.

Some advances have gone unnoticed because they also benefited the much larger gay, lesbian and bisexual communities. That was the case Monday when the White House announced that Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In other instances, transgender rights groups and the administration have agreed on a low-key approach, both to skirt resistance and to send the message that changes are not a big deal, said Barbara Siperstein, who in 2009 became the first transgender person elected to the Democratic National Committee.

 

 

 

Conflicted messages about – and for – illegal immigrant children

Shelter boom MJonesPresident Obama celebrated illegal immigrant children as “Champions of Change” at the White House the same day the Vice President traveled to Central America to convince – bribe? – governments and parents not to send their children here.

 

And yet, children entering the US illegally today are being told – sometimes by US lawyers – that they can stay if they say they are victims of abuse or refugees from violence. US Border Patrol representatives tell us that very few are returned to their country of origin.   In the meantime,  they are sent to a growing number of shelters like the Fort Worth Catholic Charities, which is celebrating the one year anniversary of its government contract.

 

 

We keep hearing from people like Rand Paul, Grover Norquist and Rupert Murdock that we must support “comprehensive immigration reform” that would allow people already here illegally to stay. Wouldn’t that just create a new incentive for more illegal immigrants?

And our heart strings are being pulled in order to convince us to change our immigration laws:

 

A January hearing featured the muffled coos of a toddler in the back row. A 2-year-old Honduran girl named Jennifer Tatiana came in the arms of her mother. The child was the respondent in the case, as those headed for a possible deportation are called. At the government’s request, a venue change was granted to Atlanta where the mother now lives.

Jennifer Tatiana sucked her thumb through the proceedings.

 

Unintended Consequences

While President Obama celebrates the chaos that is the result of his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), I doubt that most of the people who sympathize with the plight of illegal aliens are aware of the harmful consequences of what seems to be compassion.   Real people, many of them children, are in harm’s way because they have been misled into believing that they will receive “permisos and be allowed to stay in the United States.

The danger goes far beyond the strain on US Border Patrol due to this year’s abrupt change in numbers and demographics:

  • Southwest border apprehensions: (Oct. 1- May 31) 323,675, a 15 percent increase from fiscal year 2013.

  • Rio Grande Valley (South Texas) border apprehensions: (Oct. 1-May 31) 163,542, a 74 percent increase from fiscal year 2013.

  • Southwest border apprehensions of Other-than-Mexican citizens: (Oct. 1 – May 31) 162,757, 50 percent of the total Southwest border apprehensions.

  • Rio Grande Valley (South Texas) border apprehensions of Other-than-Mexican citizens: (Oct. 1-May 31) 122,070, 75 percent of total Rio Grande Valley apprehensions.

It even goes beyond the danger to us all from diseases entering the Country, like rabies that killed a man from Guatemala last year (after he had been in several holding facilities and two hospitals),  drug-resistant tuberculosis found in a man from Asia last year and other illnesses that result from close quarters with poor hygiene.

The men, women and children from Guatemala, El Salvador and other countries who risk death on the ride in and on top of “La Bestia,”  in order to (illegally) cross Mexico report extortion, rape and physical abuse by the Mexican Federal police and the cartels.  Others aren’t that lucky:

 

Mexico’s Human Rights Commission estimates that at least 20,000 migrants get kidnapped every year in Mexico, often with the assistance of local police or other officials. The gangs hold the migrants and demand hundreds or even thousands of dollars for their release.

Then, the children are tagged “UAC’s” (Unaccompanied Alien Children) and shipped all over the country to what amounts to “undisclosed locations.” State and local Child Protective Services are not allowed to see the children or investigate the conditions they’re held in, because of Federal bureaucrats. The response to a recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of minors who were abused in government “shelters” seems to be a ban on transparency, imposed on the Border Patrol agents and the caseworkers taking care of the children. Because of the surge, 90% of the children are now released to the custody of non-relative sponsors when the parents can’t be found , and then lost to follow up:  “Only 40 percent of those accused of being in the United States illegally ever show up for court, according to former federal immigration Judge Mark Metcalf.”

 

The abuse and danger are likely to follow them where ever they try to find work and a place to live.  I was doctor to one family who was still trying to qualify for the 1986 Reagan amnesty through 1998, although everyone in their families knew the couple didn’t meet the criteria of that amnesty. They had children who were born in Texas, but a Houston lawyer convinced them that registering the births or applying for Medicaid would endanger their status. (Perhaps it was more the thousands of dollars they paid him each year?).  They couldn’t afford a place to live and couldn’t get a good job because of their status. I doubt that the system is any  better, even with Obama’s DACA and his Administration’s dismissal of thousands of immigration cases.

 

Repeating the mistakes of the past, even out of compassion, only puts more of those we would help in danger.

Justice Department’s Latest Action Violates Federal Immigration Law

There is one big problem with Holder’s plan to fund legal representation for illegal aliens: It violates federal law. Federal immigration law (8 U.S.C. §1229a) lays out the rules governing removal proceedings in the immigration courts, which are administrative courts run by the Justice Department, not Article III federal courts. Under Section 1229a(b)(4)(A), aliens have the “privilege of being represented, at no expense to the government, by counsel of the alien’s choosing.” Thus, there is no question illegal aliens can be represented by lawyers in immigration removal proceedings, but it also is clear representation cannot be at the expense of the government.

via Justice Department’s Latest Action Violates Federal Immigration Law.

Obama honors law breakers, denies “Dreamers” responsible for border crisis

WHemptymicHow’s this for  (I can’t think of a decent way to say this other than a poke in the eye  with the middle finger) from President Obama?

 

 

The White House will honor 10 young adults on Tuesday who came to the United States illegally and qualified for the president’s program to defer deportation actions.

Each person has qualified for the government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which delays removal proceedings against them as long as they meet certain guidelines.

They will be honored as “Champions of Change,” the White House said in a statement Monday because they “serve as success stories and role models in their academic and professional spheres.”

They emigrated from Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, India, Taiwan and the Philippines, and many of them work in professions related to immigration policy or have helped launch initiatives that promote reform.

 

 

Get that? Not only are they recipients of Obama’s back door illegal amnesty executive order, these “Dreamers” work to further undermine our Nation’s immigration laws!

 

 

 

The honorees have all worked to support comprehensive immigration reform in some way. They include a ThinkProgress writer and two people involved with Mi Familia Vota, ”a national non-profit organization working to unite the Latino community and its allies to promote social and economic justice through increased civic participation” by, among other things, ”expanding the electorate through direct, sustainable citizenship, voter registration, census education, GOTV and issue organizing in key states.”

 

And that Deferred Action program is exactly why Central American mothers and fathers are bringing their children 1800 miles through Mexico – or sending them on alone – often at the mercy of not only the cartels, but Mexico’s own Federal police:

 

Bercian Diaz said they found corruption in the Mexican government.

“They were asking for 500 pesos, 600 pesos. The federals took that money from us,” she said.

She said the Mexican federal police and immigration officers asked for money to “turn the other way.”

“The immigration officers took 1,500 pesos,” Bercian Diaz said.

 

 

In the meantime, White House press secretary Josh Earnest mocks Republican legislators:

“I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in the ability of Republican members of Congress to divine the thoughts and insights of children in Central American countries,” Earnest answered. “My point is, I’m not sure this withstands a whole lot of scrutiny.”

 

and Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson says he doesn’t believe the reports from 230 illegal aliens’ own explanations about why they are crashing our borders:

 

As it turns out, the Republican explanation does withstand a whole lot of scrutiny. Recent days have been filled with anecdotal reports, from local news outlets in Central America to major American newspapers, citing immigrants who say they came because they believe U.S. law has been changed to allow them to stay. And now comes word that Border Patrol agents in the most heavily-trafficked area of the surge, the Rio Grande Valley sector of Texas, recently questioned 230 illegal immigrants about why they came. The results showed overwhelmingly that the immigrants, including those classified as UACs, or unaccompanied children, were motivated by the belief that they would be allowed to stay in the United States — and not by conditions in their homelands. From a report written by the agents, quoting from the interviews:

“The main reason the subjects chose this particular time to migrate to the United States was to take advantage of the “new” U.S. “law” that grants a “free pass” or permit (referred to as “permisos”) being issued by the U.S. government to female adult OTMs traveling with minors and to UACs. (Comments: The “permisos” are the Notice to Appear documents issued to undocumented aliens, when they are released on their own recognizance pending a hearing before an immigration judge.) The information is apparently common knowledge in Central America and is spread by word of mouth, and international and local media. A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the U.S. urged them to travel immediately, because the United States government was only issuing immigration “permisos” until the end of June 2014…The issue of “permisos” was the main reason provided by 95% of the interviewed subjects.”

. . . Several Republican senators cited the Border Patrol report in the hearing with Secretary Johnson last week. Johnson said he had not seen the paper. “The document you read from, I have never seen,” Johnson told Republican Sen. John Cornyn. “It’s supposedly a draft document. I don’t know that I agree with the assessment there.”

“Well, they’re interviews with 230 of the people detained coming across the border,” Cornyn said.

“I’m not sure I agree that that is the motivator for people coming in — for the children coming into south Texas,” Johnson answered. “I think it is primarily the conditions in the countries that they are leaving from.”

 

 

Oh, that photo? That’s the result when I clicked on the Google News headline for the WH press release about the event. But, hey! What’s another Obama website fail?

New York: to Grant Undocumented Immigrants State Citizenship?

This Bill hasn’t passed, and the article doesn’t indicate that it has much chance. However, isn’t this news just one more (giant) magnet for illegal aliens?

(And wouldn’t the rest of the US have to subsidize Medicaid?)

While Congress drags its feet on immigration reform, New York State lawmakers are mulling an immigration bill of their own: It would grant state citizenship to some noncitizen immigrants, including undocumented residents, allowing them to vote and run for office. Under the New York Is Home Act, noncitizen residents who have proof of identity and have lived and paid taxes in the state for three years could apply for legal status that would let some qualify for Medicaid coverage, professional licensing, tuition assistance, and driver’s licenses, as well as state and local—but not federal—voting rights. The responsibilities of citizenship would also apply, including jury duty.

via In New York, a Bill to Grant Undocumented Immigrants State Citizenship – Businessweek.

Texas State Guard is our militia

Wonder if this group may be the answer to our border problems?

The Texas State Guard is one of three components of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF), operating under the command of the Adjutant General of Texas and the Governor as Commander-in-Chief of all state military forces. The TXMF includes the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard.

The mission of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) is to provide mission-ready military forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities; and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

Headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, the TXSG functions as an organized state militia under the authority of Title 32 of the U.S. Code and Chapter 431 of the Texas Government Code.

via Home – Texas State Guard.

Open Letter to Legislators on “A minor border crisis”

I’ve sent a copy of this letter to all my State legislators (slightly edited for each):

What can we do to help moderate what appears to be the makings of an international crisis due to the numbers of families and vulnerable, unaccompanied children entering our country?

Please see this post about the issue at WingRight.org, “A minor border crisis.” I am concerned that the unaccompanied minor children in these stories are being used in a political ploy designed to beat away at the resistance to “immigration reform.” Whether that is true or not, they are suffering physical and sexual abuse and abandoned due to the inadequate system in place at this time.

As to the “practical action” that I mention in the blog post, perhaps we could utilize the systems for handling refugees that the State of Texas built after Katrina.

Our goal should be to return these children and families with minor children to their homes in their own country immediately after they are caught and funding for the effort should come from the Federal government. Since I’m not sure we can count on this Administration to agree, Texas must take the lead.

I’m offering to work as a volunteer anywhere I can be of assistance, whether as a doctor and/or doing the “scut work” in coordination of the effort.

Thanks!
Beverly

A minor border crisis

4 yr oldYes, that’s a 4-year-old.

Of the  168,000 caught illegally entering the United States in the Rio Grande Valley from October, 2013 to May, 2014, 33,000 were “unaccompanied” minors.   Since 75% are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, we are also supposed to believe that they traveled the entire length of Mexico not only without their parents, but without the Mexican authorities even noticing.

 

In the meantime, many have reported physical and sexual abuse in “shelters.”

 

The root cause of the influx is obvious. Our President is aware of the lawlessness and is using the children in a in a political ploy to beat at the resistance to immigration reform in the US.  (“Obama delivered a commencement address at a technical school in Worcester, where he said 30 to 40 percent of the students were children of immigrants.”)

 

And now, we hear that ICE releases 90% of the children to “sponsors.” Not just with family members, but with “friends* already in the country. Who is to say what happens to the children when the authorities can’t even keep up with their whereabouts? Are they being further abused and trafficked?

 

No one knows. There doesn’t seem to be any way – or any effort? – to track them once they are released.

 

The simplest and most urgent need would be to close the border to more illegal crossings. At the same time, we must convince Mexico to stop ignoring the passage of hundreds of thousands illegally making their way through that country. We should also begin to track at least the minors we have already taken into custody after they are released. Finally, we must return these children and families to their homes in their own country.

 

 

This is not the time for hyperbole and political grandstanding, but for practical action. My concern is not only that our national security and sovereignty is severely compromised: If our current immigration and border control policies result in human trafficking and child abuse, we may see a lasting international debacle.

Medicaid backlog creates payment hassles for physicians | Medical Economics

And the docs will pay if the patient doesn’t qualify . . .

 

Though 6 million new patients have enrolled for Medicaid coverage due to expansion of the program, media reports say that nearly half of those enrollment applications have yet to be processed.

Because of the bureaucratic backlog, physicians might get stuck waiting even longer on Medicaid reimbursements for patients who have yet to receive authorization. In addition, practices may incur costs from patients who signed up for but were denied Medicaid coverage.

via Medicaid backlog creates payment hassles for physicians | Medical Economics.

We will not be suckered by elitist Republicans

George Rodriguez explains the new #RPT Immigration plank. Hint: there’s a reason it was placed in the “Sovereignty” subsection.

Opposing them were citizen delegates — taxpayers, consumers and ordinary citizens who see their lives growing more difficult because the American dream is slipping away. They saw the “Texas Solution” as a cheap-labor plank masquerading as Hispanic outreach that would complicate an already out-of-control immigration crisis.

Grassroots conservatives over the past year also began to realize that the “Texas Solution” was light on enforcement. Given that over 160,000 illegal immigrants have been detained on the South Texas border since October 2013, these conservatives knew that any immigration solution must start with border security.

The new party platform truly addresses immigration in several ways.

via We will not be suckered by elitist Republicans.

What Cantor’s Defeat Means « Commentary Magazine

Perhaps that #RPT Immigration plank wasn’t a fluke, after all. This is much bigger than the Tea Party, alone. Or the Tea Party is bigger than anyone thought!

 

Eric Cantor wasn’t supposed to lose. His own pollster had him up by, get this, 34 points the other week. He’d raised nearly $5 million, and in the past two weeks spent $1 million against his rival’s $79,000. Not enough.

**********

So is this a case of the Republican Right eating one of its own to prove a point? Perhaps. Or it could just be he was hit by a perfect storm of anti-Washington sentiment and his own advocacy for an immigration bill that made him a whipping boy for ratings-hungry radio chatters. He lost touch with the voters in his own district and was done in.

via What Cantor’s Defeat Means « Commentary Magazine.

Immigration crisis 101: Why the wave of incoming kids, and what to do? – CSMonitor.com

The border patrol is coping with the swell by releasing many of the migrant mothers with children on their own recognizance, with a date for a deportation hearing in hand. Some of the unaccompanied minors are being released to the custody of parents or relatives in the US. One flaw in that approach: Only 40 percent of those accused of being in the United States illegally ever show up for court, according to former federal immigration Judge Mark Metcalf.

How is this influx different from past immigration waves?

Overall illegal immigration into the US is about half the rate of its apex in 2005. It plummeted with the rise of the Great Recession and high US unemployment, beefed-up border security, and a stronger economy in Mexico. At the peak of illegal entries, immigrants apprehended from Central America accounted for 400,000 border-crossers. The total is now at about 180,000, but it is rapidly pushing up.

What’s different this time is that the undocumented immigrants from Central America are disproportionately younger, apparently trying to escape from strife-torn and murder-wracked countries. Many of the children are reported to be seeking to join their undocumented parents or relatives already in the US.

via Immigration crisis 101: Why the wave of incoming kids, and what to do? – CSMonitor.com.

Why Are Children Flooding the U.S. Border?

Government officials from Guatemala and Honduras have also gone to speak to the children. None appeared to have been kidnapped, robbed or abused during their journey through Mexico, which is a departure from the common experience of transmigrants. The children also said that it had taken them between less than a week to cross through Mexico, a voyage that typically takes migrants about a month.

via Why Are Children Flooding the U.S. Border?.

Immigration Plank of Republican Party of Texas Platform 2014

Amendment to Preliminary 2014 Platform of the Republican Party of Texas Submitted by Peter Batura, SD 17

http://www.netarrantteaparty.com/wp-content/uploads/immigration-plank.pdf

America is proudly a nation of immigrants. Throughout our history, our nation has attracted productive, industrious and gifted people to America because she is exceptional, and those immigrants and their descendants helped make America the world’s unrivaled economic and military superpower. It remains imperative to create fair and consistent procedures that will again enable freedom-loving, hard-working and law-abiding immigrants to join us, by providing them an efficient, practical method of legal entry, so they can lawfully take positions where their labor is needed, without exploitation or harassment.

Our national interests are poorly served by our broken, embattled, and outdated immigration system, and patchwork attempts to mend its deficiencies will not prepare us to continue to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex global economy that demands the legal movement of people to fill jobs at all skill levels. An efficient, profamily and market-based system will provide a more workable solution that is compassionate, equitable and respects the rule of law.

But by failing to create a rational and effective system that encourages and facilitates legal immigration to the benefit of the nation, Congress has forced states to deal with the consequences of a broken immigration system, including human, sex and drug trafficking, the direct criminal activities of cartels and gangs. This situation must end so America can, once again, enjoy the fruits of a vibrant and beneficial system of legal immigration.

In addition, with 92 million Americans not working, the labor force at 36-year low and a lethargic economy, the United States of America can ill-afford a guest worker program designed to depress wages.

The following outlines specific actions needed to address these critical issues:

• Secure the borders through

o Increasing in the number of border security officers
o Increasing joint operations and training with local law enforcement, DPS and the Texas State Guard
o Contiguous physical barrier coupled with electronic, infrared and visual monitoring

• Ending In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants

• Enhancing state smuggling laws

• Prohibiting sanctuary cities

• Prohibiting the knowing employment of illegal immigrants

• Providing civil liability protections for landowners against illegal immigrants

• Protecting the ability of law enforcement officers to inquire of the status of someone in custody

• Modernizing Current Immigration Laws to address the following:

o Any form of Amnesty should not be granted, including the granting of legal status to persons in the country illegally
o We support replacement of the current employment visa system with an efficient cost effective system
o We support ending country of origin quotas
o We support ending the annual green card lottery

• Once the borders are verifiably secure, and E-Verify system use is fully enforced, creation of a visa classification for non-specialty industries which have demonstrated actual and persistent labor shortages.

On the Immigration Plank of the Republican Party of Texas

I am proud of the heritage of our Republican Party of Texas as welcoming citizens of all backgrounds who hold faith, family and freedom as our principles and who ask others to simply follow the law.

 
Now, I’m hearing – and reading on Facebook – that it’s the fault of myself and the Republican Party of Texas that ObamaCare was forced on us at midnight on New Years’ Day *and* that it’s my fault that there are (an estimated) 12 Million illegal aliens have entered and are currently residing without status in the US.

 
Absolutely, unequivocally: NO!

 
This exact line of “reasoning” from the Chair of the Platform Committee, Tom Mechler, is what made me join the fight against what came to be known as the “Provisional Visa Program,” but was formerly the “Texas Solution.” Until Mechler made these claims, I was hoping for a blending of the positions of the two groups. (I was even called a “liberal” on a post on this blog.)

 
It’s not our fault! We have petitioned our State and Federal Legislators, our Governor, our Party. Some few of our citizens have joined patrols and militias and have been vilified. This week, many of us took our time and effort to testify to the subcommittee considering the Immigration Plank.

 
They didn’t listen. Instead, the leaders who initiated the battle over the “Texas Solution” engaged in overt gamesmanship.

 

 

The language that was printed under the heading of the “Minority Report” failed because the vote in Committee, actually on a motion to replace the language we later saw as the “Committee Report,” was a tie. At 15-15, there was no 50%+1 majority vote and the previous language prevailed. I had been told that the Chair voted to break the tie, when in fact the motion failed because he did not vote.  TJ Scott, the delegate to the Committee from SD 14, led the “minority.”

 

 

Rather than allowing Mr. Scott, the author, to read the “Minority Report,” Chairman Mechler chose his man to read the “minority report.” Mr. Ramsey (SD 7), moved to immediately amend the Committee’s report, jumping right over the** “minority report.” (Ramsey even claimed to be the author, but was forced to retract that claim from the stage.  He later said that he was talking about being the author of the amendment.)

 
I believe that TJ spent nearly all day Friday trying to determine the proper procedure. He did exactly what he was told was the correct thing. He was misled.

 
In fact, I was the first to turn in an amendment (and the 6th), but the Chair decided that the order of amendments were submitted meant nothing. The only thing that mattered was getting to a microphone first. Then, he gave the mic to Mechler, who gave it to Ramsey.

 

 

 

Fortunately for all of us, one of our members was able to win the battle of the microphones and presented an amendment that was truly a compromise. (I’ll publish the new Immigration plank as soon as it’s online.)
The newest argument is that the Delegates passed the Amendment without knowing what we were voting for. (Totally ignoring that they voted for what Chairman Munisteri repeatedly called “the Ramsey language,” presented the same way, without a paper copy.) That is certainly not true for me. The clerk read the entire amendment out loud and we were able to read along with her. I was able to understand what I was voting for and trust that the bulk of the delegates who voted with me are just as capable of understanding.
There is no call for deportation in the Final 2014 Platform. There is a demand that the magnets which draw the illegal aliens to our State be ended. There *is* approval of a guest worker visa when needed. It does not micro-manage the details of the visa.

 
(BTW, doesn’t it seem odd that some people are demanding a “living wage,” while others advocate adding millions of low-income workers through a guest worker program?)

 

 

Finally, I hope that the Republican Party of Texas will post the Final 2014 Platform on-line so that we can all review exactly what we are discussing. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to read the Platform for common ground, rather than the differences.

We Republicans remain the Party of life, liberty and property. We are the Party which best defends the Constitution of the State of Texas and the United States and faith, family and freedom!

*** Edited 6/8/14 at 9:48PM to correct the statement that Mr. Ramsey moved to amend the “minority report, by inserting “the Committee’s report, jumping right over the.” Of course, Mr Ramsey made the motion to amend the Committee’s report, after reading the minority report.

Update at 10:40 PM, clarification about that tie vote in the Committee.

The Texas Solution – just some thoughts

going to convention keep it redIt looks as though one of the big fights at next week’s biennial State Convention of the Republican Party of Texas will focus around the “Texas Solution,” a plank in the 2012 Platform. (See below **)  As usual, I have an opinion or two to share.

Of course, as a 2014 delegate, I’m not sure how I’m going to vote until I see the drafts.  I do know that – as in the past – I won’t allow one plank – or even several planks – to overcome my support for the only Party that protects life, liberty, property and is unquestionably the best defender of vulnerable life and marriage. If I’m willing to work with the Party, rest assured that I will be more than happy to work on common ground with the people in the party who have different opinions.

 

I do agree with most of the 2012 Texas Solution. I am most concerned with maintaining our Republican Party support of the rule of law rather than expediency and appeal to emotion. For the most part, I disagree with the parts that were left out, along with the Solution’s call to end birthright citizenship “without exceptions.”

 

I was a member of the 2012 Platform Committee. Due to pressure from influential Texans, we voted on the Solution at the very last minute, when we had no time to debate or win support proposed amendments. Our report was due at the printers at a given time, so we had a strict time line.

 

 The Committee narrowly voted against an amendment (made in spite of that deadline) that would have added a requirement that the process for a worker’s permit begin in the applicant’s country of origin.  If we support allowing them to apply at an office in the US, we not only repeat the mistake of the Reagan amnesty of 1986 (encouraging an influx of illegal aliens hoping to qualify), we increase the vulnerability of the current illegal alien.  Applicants would have to walk into a government facility, admit to being here illegally (whether they entered illegally or over-stayed a visa) , and our laws would need to either punish (fines), forgive or ignore his admission that he broke the law.

I am in favor of a very few exceptions to the above in the case of young adults who were brought here by parents when they were minors, but reached the age of majority.  In those cases, the applicants don’t actually admit to breaking laws and we don’t have to ignore the rule of law.

 

 

However, I’m firm on the opinion that minors should live with their parents, even if the parents go back to their home country.

 

I disagree with the people who want to shut down immigration completely and those who want to end birthright citizenship (although minors with citizenship would need to go home with their parents at the end of the work visa until they aren’t minors).  I also disagree with those who hold that people who have permits shouldn’t be allowed to bring their families. Our Party supports the family.

 

You may notice that I haven’t given links or names of the people who are talking about the Texas Solution. That was on purpose, because I don’t want to add to what is already acrimonious in-fighting.  These are truly “just some thoughts” of my own. What do you think?

 

 

**The Texas Solution as it appeared in the final 2012 Platform of the Republican Party of Texas:

The Texas Solution – Because of decades-long failure of the federal government to secure our borders and address the immigration issue, there are now upwards of 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States today, each of whom entered and remain here under different circumstances. Mass deportation of these individuals would neither be equitable nor practical; while blanket amnesty, as occurred with the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986, would only encourage future violations of the law. We seek common ground to develop and advance a conservative, market- and law-based approach to our nation’s immigration issues by following these principles:

1. Secure Our Borders – The U.S. Border must be secured immediately! We demand the application of effective, practical and reasonable measures to secure our borders and to bring safety and security for all Americans along the border and throughout the nation.
2. Modernize the United States Social Security Card – We support the improvement of our 1936 Social Security card to use contemporary anti-counterfeit technology. The social security card will not be considered a National ID card for U.S. citizens.
3. Birthright Citizenship – We call on the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of the United States to clarify Section 1 of the 14th amendment to limit citizenship by birth to those born to a citizen of the United States with no exceptions.
4. Create an Effective and Efficient Temporary Worker Program – A national Temporary Worker Program should be implemented to bring skilled and unskilled workers into the United States for temporary periods of time when no U.S. workers are currently available. The program should also require:

• Self-funding through participation fees and fines;
• Applicants must pass a full criminal background check;
• Applicants with prior immigration violations would only qualify for the program if they paid the appropriate fines;
• Applicants and/or Employers must prove that they can afford and/or secure private health insurance;
• Applicants must waive any and all rights to apply for financial assistance from any public entitlement programs;
• Applicant must show a proficiency in the English language and complete an American civic class;
• Temporary Workers would only be able to work for employers that deduct and match payroll taxes;
• All participants would be issued an individual Temporary-Worker Biometric Identification ard that tracks all address changes and both civil and criminal court appearances as a defendant.

Early Voting Today, Primary Run Off

VOTE

Did you know that Comal County Voters can vote in any of the Early Voting locations in your Texas County?  Did you know that the sites are open 7 AM to 7 PM, today?

If you happen to pass one of the Comal County Early Voting places while out and about today, you can stop in and vote, even if it’s not your usual voting location. (Take your photo ID!)

I hope you will vote for these people:  Lt. Governor: David Dewhurst,  Attorney General: Dan Branch, and Comal County Commissioner, Precinct 4: Jen Crownover.

Here are the four Early Voting locations in Comal County:

Comal County Elections Office
178 E. Mill St. Ste. 101, New Braunfels, TX 78130

Bulverde/Spring Branch Library
131 Bulverde Crossing, Bulverde, Texas 78163
Church In The Valley
14181 Hwy 306, Canyon Lake, Texas 78133

Garden Ridge City Hall
9400 Municipal Parkway, Garden Ridge, Texas 78266

The Texas Republican Primary Run Off Election Day is Tuesday, May 27.  On election day, you will have to go to your particular precinct voting site.

 

Sen. Deuell challenges Texas Right to Life over “slanderous” ads | Dallas Morning News

Remember: Senator Bob Duell was instrumental in convincing the medical community to adopt voluntary procedures to protect patients and families affected by the Texas Advance Directive Act, even though actual amendments to the law have been blocked by the very people attacking him.

How much “freedom” does a third party Political Action Committee have in their paid ads? Is it wrong to challenge them legally when the ads are blatantly false?

In this case, the ad opens by implying that Senator Duell is responsible for the too-short 10 day period allowed to find alternate care when the family or patient disagrees with the doctor at the end of life.

Senator Duell was not in the Senate when the Texas Advance Directive Act was passed in 1999. Members of the PAC, Texas Right to Life, were present and lobbied in favor of the Act.

In contrast, Senator Duell has for years been a strong advocate for amendments that would have increased the power of families to protect their loved ones in the case of disputes with the doctor.  The amendments would have changed the waiting period to at least a month before any disputed decisions by the doctor would take effect.

As to the challenge, Senator Duell has excellent support for his case:

The Texas Catholic Conference and Catholic Bishops of Texas, who supported Deuell’s bill, have debunked the claims. They said that Texas Right to Life “has tried to stoke fear through ridiculous claims of non-existent death panels and assertions that doctors are secretly trying to kill patients. Both claims are absurd.” The Catholic Conference also ripped Texas Right to Life for spreading “fabrications” about the position of Catholics on the issue.

via Sen. Deuell challenges Texas Right to Life over “slanderous” ads | Dallas Morning News.

Marriage of three women

Down the slippery slope, we have a “throuple,” a three-woman marriage, performed in Massachusetts in August of last year. One of the women is now expecting a baby.

All men and women may take advantage of the “benefit’ of marriage. However, it required a redefinition of marriage for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman. Such a redefinition was never required to allow the black man and woman to drink from the water fountain or for a black man  to marry a white woman or a black woman to marry a white man.

Once the redefinition began, what is there to stop anyone from making their own meaning?

I agree that freedom and the recognition of rights means that I will live among people who don’t agree with me. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for over forty years; I know that reality very well! However, I don’t have to sit quietly while throuples and others change laws to force me to involuntarily subsidize their choices. It is the duty of the ones desiring change to prove it beneficial or harmless *prior* to the change. Instead, we saw illegal acts by the mayors of San Francisco and other cities, lawsuit after lawsuit, after lawsuit . . . And suddenly: “it’s the law of the land!”

Edited – Added that last paragraph – BBN

 

Van De Putte doesn’t represent Texas voters (Planned Parenthood)

We are beginning to hear how great for the State of Texas it is that Leticia San Miguel Van De Putte will be the Democrat nominee for Lieutenant Governor in November. The story is that she will cause more Latinos to register to vote in the hopes that she will represent the 38% of Texas voters better than the Anglo man who will be nominated by the Republican Party.

Think so? I don’t.

Democrat Senator Judith Zaphirini nominated Senator Leticia Van de Putte for Senate President Pro Tempore on the opening day of the Texas 83rd Legislature on January 8, 2013:

Zaphirini speech, Opening day 2013 Texas Senate

http://tlcsenate.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=9&clip_id=284
Move the cursor to 45 minutes in, when Senator Zaphirini introduces Leticia Van de Putte’s children and grandchildren. Listen to the words, watch the faces around her.
“Six children, six grandchildren! What blessings! I’m not sure at what point in time Senator Van De Putte became such an advocate for Planned Parenthood, but her children are so glad that it wasn’t earlier than it actually was.”

American Academy of Family Physicians resignation

AAFPI wrote a very difficult letter today. I  resigned from the organization that is supposed to support Family Physicians in our education, practice management and good medical care of our patients. Instead, the American  Academy of Family Physicians too often strays toward forcing its members to be complicit with controversial policies such as condoning gun control and over-the-counter contraceptive drugs, and condemnation of “reparative therapy” for homosexual patients, even when those patients are unhappy with their sexuality. I write about my main conflicts and the “final straw” in the letter:

 

It is with great regret that I write this letter as notice that I have decided not to renew either my Texas or American Academy of Family Practice membership. While I am still a family doctor, neither the Texas Academy of Family Practice (TAFP) nor the American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP) represent my political or ethical views.

The political, social and ethical controversies were the main reason I remained in the Academy for the last few years since I left full time practice. I hoped that I could make a difference by volunteering my time and money as an active participant in the Texas Academy, the National Conference of Special Constituencies, the AAFP list serves, the Academy Legislative meetings in DC and our annual AAFP Congress of Delegates.

From the time of Hillary Clinton’s closed meetings on healthcare to the endorsement of the passage of the ACA before it was written, the political actions of the AAFP leaders has disappointed me in Washington, DC. Our practice hassle factors have grown and grown, too often with the blessings of – and sometimes due to the experiments with alternative methods of practice by – the Academy.

The AAFP advocated for elective abortion before I joined as a Student member and I accepted that the burden of persuasion was on those of us who disagreed.

However, the Academy’s decision to advocate for the redefinition of marriage in 2012 and the refusal to reconsider the extracted Resolution on marriage neutrality at the 2013 Congress of Delegates in San Diego were the final proof that there’s no tolerance for family doctors who hold conservative politics or traditional ethics in the Academy.

Unfortunately, our TAFP spokesperson to the 2013 AAFP Reference Committee on Advocacy misrepresented the Texas Delegation’s instructions from the Directors on marriage. As I remember the discussion and vote, the intention was to allow the Texas delegates wide latitude in voting on any final form of the Resolution.

I hereby resign from the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians and as a Fellow of the AAFP.

 

I waited to resign after nearly 30-year membership until the last minute before being dropped (for lack of paying my annual dues). There were several reasons for my hesitancy. For one thing, I didn’t want to be an undue influence on other members when they considered whether or not to write that hefty annual check to the Academy. For another, while I will continue to work with the AAFP and the Christian Medical and Dental Association to protect the right to life, marriage, the conscience rights of doctors within the profession of medicine and the specialty of Family Medicine, I do believe that it is important to work to persuade from within the organization. The biggest problem with finally writing the letter was that I was looking for a way to somehow keep my integrity while allowing the Academy to claim to represent me.

However, now that I’ve resigned, please consider sharing my letter with your family doctor. Many of them are unaware of the policies that our professional organizations push on good doctors of today and the students and residents who will be our doctors of tomorrow.

Texas doesn’t have State property taxes

I’m reading Republican primary run off ads stating that our Republican State Legislators and, in particular, the leader of the Senate – the Lieutenant Governor, David Dewhurst – haven’t done enough to lower property taxes. Well, those candidates are indulging in the worst sort of campaigning, since there are no State property taxes in Texas!

Here are the sources of State revenue in Texas: http://www.texastransparency.org/State_Finance/Budget_Finance/Reports/Revenue_by_Source/revenue_hist.php . The fact is that the bulk of Texas revenue comes from our sales tax and the return of tax money from the Federal Government.

In 2006, Lt. Governor David H. Dewhurst led the Senate when they cut and limited the amount local governments may assess as property tax rates and the property assessments those taxes are based on.

Unfortunately, the local districts *and their voters* raised those taxes up to the limit in some districts.

In areas such as Houston and Harris County, the appraisals are being *inflated* and/or *rising* nearly 100% due to the good economy there.  It seems that the problem is at the School Districts, City Councils, and County Commissioners Courts, not at the State legislature.

Again: there is no State property tax in Texas. The solution to high property taxes is in your home town, not Austin.

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