Saturday, December 17, 2016

75% of fictitious Obamacare applications were approved in a GAO test.

People are not supposed to wait until they get sick and then enroll in Obamacare.  Most people are enrolled during an open enrollment period. People who have a life changing event however, such as losing insurance coverage or getting married may enroll when it is not an open enrollment period. These people get to enroll in what is called a "Special Enrollment Period" (SEP).

To ensure that these people really are eligible for enrollment in a health plan, potentially including a subsidy, and not abusing the system and enrolling just when they get sick, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which maintains the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, established rules requiring that the applicants provide supporting documentation to support their claim that they had had a "triggering event" making them eligible for a SEP enrollment.

Recently the General Accounting Office (GAO) conducted a test of the eligibility for enrollment in a health plan in an SEP, to determine if people are being properly screened.  The GAO created 12 fictitious Obamacare applications.  Nine  of the 12 of GAO's fictitious applications were approved. Three were denied. For five of the 12, the GAO provided no supporting documentation but the Marketplace approved them anyway.

This is alarming. In 2015, 1.6 million individuals made a plan selection through an SEP.  These very well may have been sick people who waited till they got sick to buy insurance.  To read the GAO report follow this link.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Beacon Issues Second Warning to Nashville Metro Council

BY BRADEN H. BOUCEK, The Beacon Center, December 8, 2016  -Today, we, along with Southeastern Legal Foundation, wrote the Nashville council for a second time regarding their affordable housing mandates. If this is the first you have heard of the issue, an affordable housing mandate forces developers of residences to use a complicated formula set by the city to sell their homes at below-market prices. In other words, the city is forcing people to lose money on something they sell. All of this is just to address an alleged crisis in affordable housing that does not exist.

This is price control, pure and simple. It is unnecessary. It does more harm than good. It does nothing to address the larger problem even in the best of cases. And even if none of this was true, forcing a property owner to lose money on homes that they build makes as much sense as addressing hunger by making a grocer lose money on the produce they sell.

We have written this second letter in the hopes that Nashville will fix the law. The law is illegal and unconstitutional for the reasons we explain at length in the letter. So ultimately Nashville will be forced to fix the law after ordered by a court. Responsible lawmaking can avoid this. We are happy to help.

There’s a particular reason to revisit the law. It was only supposed to be about residential apartment units. Everyone involved believed this to be true. Yet, buried in the law is an easily overlooked loophole that demands that “all proposed residential developments” who trigger the law “shall comply.” Nashville officials have told concerned parties to ignore that “shall” because the law is not supposed to impose the same obligations on residential units. The plain language says different. If this is a mistake, Nashville should fix it.

For us, litigation is a last resort. But when cities are willfully indifferent to the rights of others and won’t change even when warned, there is no choice. Litigation, however unfortunate, is sometimes necessary. It is all too easy for lawmakers to figure people will just bend instead of spending the time and money to protect their constitutional rights (which is why public interest litigation is so important). They may be right in most cases. This is not how a constitutional republic is supposed to work.

We hope for the responsible consideration of Nashville lawmakers.
You can read the full text of the second letter here.

My Comment: I am immensely pleased with the work of the Beacon Center. They are one of the organizations I financially support.  I appreciate their successful efforts to combat Nashville government's progressive agenda and defend our constitutional rights. To learn more about The Beacon Center, to get on their mailing list,  or make a contribution, follow this link

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Nashville ranks 7th in list of Best Performing Cities in America

The Milkin Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic think tank that "works to improve lives around the world by advancing innovative economic and policy solutions that create jobs, widen access to capital, and enhance health,"  has just published their annual Best Performing Cities list and Nashville ranks number seven, up from 18 in 2015 on the Big Cities list which ranks the largest 200 cities in America.

Below is what they said of Nashville:

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN, ranks seventh in this year’s index, having shot up 11 places to enter the Top 10. Employment in the metro rose 10 percent faster than the national average from 2010 to 2015, and this explosive growth earned the region eighth place on the five-year job growth measure. The metro also earned eighth place in one- year high-tech GDP growth, but this was off a small base since high tech represents a much smaller share of the regional economy than it does in the national economy. However, despite not having the high-wage high-tech industries that have driven growth in the majority of the Top 25 best-performing cities, the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin metro has experienced significant wage growth in recent years as the local labor market tightened, ranking 27th on the one-year measure and ninth on the five-year metric. Transportation equipment manufacturing, which includes auto manufacturing, has been a major contributor to the metro economy, with 900 jobs added in 2015.
The 10,000 jobs added since 2010 have more than made up for jobs lost during the recession. Despite cooling national demand, the region’s major manufacturers have announced multimillion-dollar investments in their local facilities, including $160 million pledged by Nissan to build a supplier park adjacent to its factory in Smyrna 39 and GM’s investing of more than $900 million in its plant in Spring Hill. With recent announcements of 650 new hires to staff a third shift to start in January 2017, GM clearly expects demand for its Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia lines to remain high. 40 Strong demand for office space and housing fueled by the growth of white-collar jobs and in-migration has stimulated growth in the construction sector. Employment for specialty trade contractors and in the construction of buildings combined rose by 3,750 in 2015.
Knoxville, Tennessee ranked 80th on the list, Chattanooga 101, and Memphis 149. All of Tennessee's large cities improved their ranking from 2015. If you read the report you can see the components that went in to the rankings. To view the report, follow this link.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Mayor Barry Names Brian Kelsey (not the Senator) to Serve as Chief Strategy Officer for Metro (update)

Position will focus on holding Metro Government accountable and improving city business processes

Brian KelseyPress Release, NASHVILLE, Tenn. (December 13, 2016) – Starting in January, Brian Kelsey will become Metro Nashville’s first Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) focused on ensuring the government is delivering the very best level of services and accountability to the citizens of Nashville. As CSO, Kelsey will work across Metro departments and agencies to develop and implement strategies to promote collaboration and align the Metro budget with the needs and priorities of Nashville’s residents.

“Brian Kelsey will be a great addition to our team in Metro, emphasizing bold, innovative strategies to operate a more transparent and effective government for the people of Nashville,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “While government isn’t a business, we can seek out and adopt successful business tools that will improve our operations and lead to better outcomes for constituents.”

Kelsey most recently served as Principal of Civic Analytics, an economic research and planning firm based in Austin, Texas, and was on faculty in the Community and Regional Planning Department at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to founding Civic Analytics, Kelsey was a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Economic Development Administration, where he engineered the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a collaboration of 16 federal agencies focused on supporting innovative, inclusive approaches to regional development.

“I’m grateful to Mayor Barry for the opportunity to work with Metro Nashville to help improve government operations in a way that has a meaningful, positive impact on the lives of average citizens,” said Kelsey.

The Chief Strategy Officer position was a recommendation from the Strategic Budgeting and Innovation Project Public Investment Plan (PIP) presented during this year’s innovative budgeting process. This PIP addresses changes to the budget process in order to make it more citizen-centered, capitalizing on the changes made for the FY2017 process to ensure future ones are connected to community priorities and accessible to the public. As approved, this will make budget and performance data available to citizens and ensure departments are held accountable for resource allocation.

“Nashvillians should be confident that their tax dollars are being used efficiently to improve their quality of life in Davidson County,” said Metro Finance Director Talia Lomax-O’dneal. “Brian Kelsey, with the leadership of Mayor Barry, will be a critical component of our strategy to ensure our budget priorities are meeting the needs of Nashville.”

Kelsey will engage with Metro department heads, employees, and citizens to design and implement changes that will lead to improved government functions. He will also work with Metro’s Chief Data Officer to better collect, analyze, and publish data that can be used to make more informed decisions.
In October, Nashville was one of 16 new cities selected to participate in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative – one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance the use of data and evidence in the public sector. The initiative has inspired 90 U.S. mayors to use data and evidence more effectively to improve services and has engaged over 1,700 city employees on performance management, analytics and other leading practices. What Works Cities has produced 130 resources that cities around the world are using to improve their communities and drive better outcomes for residents.

My Comment:  The press release does not state the salary of the new position or if the position is funded in the current budget.
Update: According to a Tennessean report the position pays $115,000 a year.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Safe Access Tennessee supports the Medical Cannabis Act of 2017

By David Hairston The hopes and dreams of many Tennesseans became fulfilled today with the announcement that a full medical cannabis bill will be sponsored in the 2017 Session of the Tennessee General Assembly. Representative Jeremy Faison (R) of the 11th District (Cocke, Jefferson and Greene Counties) and Senator Steve Dickerson (R) of Nashville (Davidson County) announced their sponsorship of the legislation at a news conference at the State Capitol this morning. The proposed Bill encompasses a comprehensive program for controlled patient access to cannabis-based medicines.

Key elements of the legislation proposed include:
• Restores the medical freedom to use cannabis as a medicine under defined medical conditions (see below)
• Limits access to medical use
• Establishes quality control regulations
• Provides freedom to conduct research without interference from federal bureaucrats
• Promotes healthcare industry economic development without violating Federal Law
• Delivers economic development to economically distressed counties
• Allows more valid treatment options to patients and doctors
• Frees citizens and medical professionals from federal overreach on cannabis in healthcare
• Provides extra funding for law enforcement, K-12 Education, and drug education and rehabilitation
Dr. Dickerson and Representative Faison developed the Medical Cannabis Act of 2017 after numerous constituent visits, consultation with medical and legal experts and fact-finding missions to other states. They have started the collaborative process of a winning the majority of votes in both legislative branches. Medical conditions envisioned in the Legislation (all have a strong peer review scientific basis) include:
• Cancer
• M.S.
• Painful Peripheral Neuropathy
• Intractable Pain
• Refractory Seizures
• Seizure Disorder
• Spasticity
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Cerebral Palsy
Safe Access Tennessee stands in support of the Medical Cannabis Act of 2017 and encourages its members, supporters and the public to support this legislation.

Safe Access Tennessee is a non-profit organization founded by and for the disabled and their caregivers. Affiliated with the Americans for Safe Access, Safe Access Tennessee advocates for medical cannabis only and holds no opinion on and does not advocate for the legalization of alcohol or recreational marijuana.

Quotes from Safe Access Tennessee Board Members and the Senate and House Sponsors concerning the Medical Cannabis Bill of 2017.

Stacie Mayes Mathes – Board Member – Greene County
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Rep. Faison the last few years on the CBD law and this new Medical Cannabis bill. When 75% of Tennesseans are in support of medical cannabis we need to begin listening and start acting. I'm very encouraged that this year will be the year Tennessee listens to the citizens who need help and then provides that need.
Sandy McClurg Bush – Board Member – Knox County
It has been wonderful to see firsthand and also hear about all of the patients with epilepsy in Tennessee that have had success using cannibidiol (CBD) since that law was passed. My hope is that with this new bill, we can expand that treatment and success to more patients with more medical conditions using even broader therapies. It's really tough getting a phone call from a fellow parent of a sick child and having to tell them that their child's illness isn't covered under the current law. I'm very grateful that Representative Faison and Senator Dickerson want to help all of the patients in the state.
David C. Hairston – Board Member – Davidson County
This is the best Christmas present ever to sick and suffering medical patients in Tennessee. Upon passage, Patients will have new medical options – real medical freedom.” And “We pray our Medical refugees in Colorado can return home to freedom soon.
Dr. Steve Dickerson - Senate Sponsor
As a doctor I see patients every day who will benefit directly from this needed medicine. Now is the time for our state to pass this bill and provide relief to Tennessee patients.
Representative Jeremy Faison – House Sponsor
We need every patient who desires the freedom to choose a cannabis based medicine in conjunction with their Doctor to call their State Representative and State Senator and ask them to support the Medical Cannabis Act of 2017.

David urges you to share this press release with your local newspaper and to repost it on your Facebook page or elsewhere.  For more information, you may contact David. 
David C. Hairston
Safe Access Tennessee
1024 General George Patton Rd
Nashville, Tennessee 37221
+1 615 545 0405

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Will Pinkston defers indefinitely charter school moratorium

by Jason Gonzales, The Tennessean - Board member Will Pinkston asked to indefinitely defer a vote that would place a moratorium on any new charter schools after alleging the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce interfered.

Pinkston also said pro-charter groups Stand for Children, Nashville Rise and the Tennessee Charter School Center interfered with the vote. During the meeting, however, he particularly called out the chamber.

... The language of the policy, also deferred, called for the superintendent to require every application to include the exact address and owner of the proposed school site. The policy also would require detailed information on renovation costs, construction costs and proof of financing for the facility. (read more)

My Comment: Will, The Chamber or other groups of citizens "interfering" is not like the Russian's interfering. The last time I checked we were still a democracy and citizens had the right to petition their government.  I think you have let your position go to your head.  It is a shame that you continue to want to condemn children to failing schools and protect the teachers union and the bureaucracy.  Children should come first.  We need more choice; not less.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How cost-burdend are Nashville renters? How do we compare to other Metro areas?

From Andrew Woo
Hello Rod,

There are more than 110 million renters in the US, and housing affordability is a major concern for many renters across the country. To better understand the challenges they face, we dug into Census data on renter cost burdens across the US. Nationwide, more than half of renters pay more than 30% of their income in rent.

Our report will be released on Thursday, 12/15. Here are some of the highlights you might be interested in:

  • 46.3% of Nashville metro renters were cost-burdened in 2015, making it #21 for affordability out of the nation's top 100 largest metros.
  • Affordability is driven by both rent and income; from 2005-2015, rents in Nashville increased by 14.3%, while renter incomes increased by 16.7%.
  • Nationally, metros in the Midwest and Texas tend to have relatively low shares of cost-burdened renters, while metros in Florida and Southern California ranked worst for affordability.
You can preview the full report at this link. We also have data from 2005-2015, for more than 450 metros across the US. Is this something that your audience might be interested in? You can find more of our analysis of rental price data and trends on our Rentonomics blogIf you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at

Andrew Woo
Data Scientist, Apartment List

My Comment: 
Please note, that we are not getting worse, but are actually getting better.  Incomes are increasing at a faster rate than rents.  That is not the only measure of course.  Not all incomes are rising at that rate.  In my view, we would be better to focus on increasing incomes and lifting people out of poverty rather than attempting to force property owners to sell their product at a below market price.  Fighting high rents by rent control is like fighting hunger by telling Krogers what prices they can charge for groceries.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Trump's pick of Rex Tillerson bodes well for the environment

Environmental activist who have been upset that President-elect Trump picked a global warming skeptic to head the EPA should be comforted by the Secretary of State pick of Rex Tillerson. The CEO of Exxon accepts the theory of global warming and supports a carbon tax.

I have always thought environmental activist were hypocritical about their effort to curtail carbon emissions.  Most have never embraced a revenue-neutral carbon tax. They support a carbon tax that increases the size of government, it they support the approach of a carbon tax at all. They prefer heavy-handed command and control, big government coercion over economic forces. I think many environmentalist are economics deniers.  There liberal ideology is more important than effectively combating climate change.  Most also oppose atomic energy and natural gas obtained by fracking.  The switch from coal to low-emission clean natural gas has done more to reduce carbon emission than all government action but if it were up to environmentalist we would not have had the increased production of natural gas.

I accept the theory of climate change.  I have always thought that if we are to effectively fight climate change, the solution would come from those who believe in the science of economics and market forces, and those who support the clean energy of atomic power, not from environmental activist and global warming alarmist. I think there is reason to be encouraged that we will make advances in combating climate change in the selection of Rex Tillerson to head State.

Below is a recent statement from Rex Tillerson on the topic of climate change and a carbon tax:

At ExxonMobil, we share the view that the risks of climate change are serious and warrant thoughtful action. Addressing these risks requires broad-based, practical solutions around the world. Importantly, as a result of the Paris agreement, both developed and developing countries are now working together to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, while recognizing differing national responsibilities, capacities and circumstances. In our industry, the best hope for the future is to enable and encourage long-term investments in both proven and new technologies, while supporting effective policies.

Which is what we are doing. We have long supported a carbon tax as the best policy of those being considered. Replacing the hodge-podge of current, largely ineffective regulations with a revenue-neutral carbon tax would ensure a uniform and predictable cost of carbon across the economy. It would allow market forces to drive solutions. It would maximize transparency, reduce administrative complexity, promote global participation and easily adjust to future developments in our understanding of climate science as well as the policy consequences of these actions.
To read more follow this link.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Corker to play key role in Secretary of State approval

Michael Collins, USA TODAY, Washington -Sen. Bob Corker ... will have a critical role in the confirmation process for the man who got the nod. ... Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced his panel will hold a confirmation hearing for Tillerson in early January. ..... Corker be responsible for grilling the man who beat him out for the job, .....  In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors the nation bestows on foreign citizens. Some Republican senators, including John McCain of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are raising concerns over Tillerson’s relationship with Russia. “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryofState,” Rubio, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote on Twitter. ... Corker’s office said Monday his committee also will hold hearings in January on Russia’s possible involvement in the presidential race. ....  Corker praised Tillerson in a statement but did not directly say whether he would support his nomination. “Mr. Tillerson is a very impressive individual and has an extraordinary working knowledge of the world,” he said. “I congratulate him on his nomination and look forward to meeting with him and chairing his confirmation hearing.” Corker, who had been on Trump’s short list for secretary of state, said the president-elect called him Monday night and told him he was nominating Tillerson. (read more)

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Jamie Isabel to challenge Mary Mancini for Chair of TN Democrat Party.

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean - Jamie Isabel, a former Metro Nashville councilman from 2003 to 2007 and owner of Dalmatian Creative Agency, recently informed members of the the state Democratic Party's executive committee that he will run for the chairmanship.

Current TNDP party chairwoman Mary Mancini, a progressive activist from Nashville tapped two years ago for the job, has already said she will run for a second term. (Read more)

My Comment: I'm pulling for Mancini. She is the kind of Democrat we need promoting the Democrat Party in Tennessee.  Please keep Mancini!

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Hypocrite Mancini blast Republicans for closed caucus meeting.

In a classic case of "the pot calling the kettle black" this week, Tennessee Democratic Party Chair women Mary Mancini blasted Tennessee House Republicans for asking the press to leave a Republican House Caucus.  House Democrats routinely do the exact same thing.  Read about it here: Tennessee Democrats blast GOP for 'secret meetings,' but they also meet behind close doors.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

GOP lawmakers Steve Dickerson and Jeremy Faison to introduce medical marijuanna bill

by Jake Lowary, The Tennessean -    Medical marijuana will again become a topic of discussion and legislation during the 2017 legislative session.

An announcement from the House Republican Caucus on Friday said an official announcement will come next week from state Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, who are planning to introduce legislation about medical marijuana. (keep reading)

My Comment: I fully support the effort to legalize medical marijuana and also think we should legalized or at least decriminalize recreational marijuana.  Legalizing medical marijuana is a reasonable proposal even it one opposes pot use for fun.  Marijuana has proven successful in treating nausea as a side effect of Chemo cancer treatment, in the relieve of pain, treatment of seizures, treatment of depression  and other conditions. I am proud of Jeremy Faison, and Nashville's Senator Steve Dickerson for leading this effort.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories