- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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June 3

Herald-Leader, Lexington, Kentucky, on Bluegrass area’s federal workforce funds:

It was a small story but important news that Fayette and the 16 other counties in the Bluegrass Area Development District finally reached an agreement on how to manage over $12.8 million in annual federal workforce funds.

The Bluegrass area workforce program - intended to train workers and match them with employers - is better known for administrative shortcomings than job placement successes.

With this agreement, a new federal law and more state oversight, a new board can focus on giving regional workers a better shot at a good job. The agreement must be ratified by the legislative bodies in all 17 counties before it can go into effect.

Even though a separate, supposedly independent workforce board exists, an examination by the state auditor early last year found that the Bluegrass ADD was basically calling all the shots, paying all the bills and providing all the services - without bidding any of them out. The auditor’s report was very critical of what it called a conflict-ridden structure.

Lexington-Fayette County, home to about half the workers in the district, was rankled because it received far less than half of the funds. That, with the issues raised by the auditor, led to Lexington’s effort to split off and gain control over its share of the funds.

The compromise keeps the workforce area together but gives Lexington more influence, with the mayor always serving as a co-chair of the workforce board.

The other co-chair will be elected by the county judges in the 16 other counties. Those two co-chairs will nominate members to the workforce board, set goals and develop strategies for developing employment opportunities.

Equally important, under the new system the jobs of administering the funds and providing services must be separate, and all services will be contracted through competitive bidding.

This compromise provides a path to an effective, transparent and cooperative approach to developing skilled workers and creating more jobs in this region. It deserves the support of Lexington’s Urban County Council and the county fiscal courts.

Online:

http://www.kentucky.com

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May 29

The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on dispatch costs in Radcliff and Vine Grove:

A 225 percent rate increase for a vital service can be overwhelming. Nobody embraces that kind of news - even if the rate increase is divided over two years.

But what if a neighbor agreed to provide the service for $130,000 less than your most basic cost. That would be a great deal, right?

The impact of Radcliff’s planned increase for dispatch services provided to Vine Grove can be seen from both perspectives.

Price always involves a changing perspective. This year, gasoline prices of $2.59 per gallon seem high relative to previous months. A year ago, anything less than $3 per gallon would have been cause for celebration.

Radcliff operates the dispatch center, which serves both northern Hardin County cities. Among other advantages, that joint operation provides for more rapid mutual aid and coordination between law enforcement and other emergency responses.

Radcliff will more than double the fee it charges Vine Grove to dispatch its police in two bi-annual increments that are both more than 50 percent of the current rate.

Since 2007, Radcliff has charged its neighbor $20,000 annually for the service. That’s eight years with no adjustment in rate while Radcliff has borne the brunt of staffing and equipment expense.

Starting in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, Radcliff plans to charge $31,600 with an increase to $45,000 annually.

There’s logic behind the new price. Radcliff Chief Financial Officer Chance Fox explained the first increase is structured to reflect the salary of one of Radcliff’s eight dispatchers. The second would reflect the projected employment package of a single dispatcher.

Basing the price on one-eighth of its staff costs seems reasonable from Radcliff administration’s perspective. Dealing with more than double the costs seems painful to those who must work out Vine Grove’s budget.

Radcliff does have the advantage here. Vine Grove Police Chief Kenny Mattingly said if Vine Grove hired dispatchers, the salaries alone would be $175,000 annually - about four times the Radcliff projected bill of $45,000. That expense does not take into account all related benefits, utilities for the operation or any equipment.

As Vine Grove looks at its options, it also should consider Radcliff’s perspective and the effective rate it still will enjoy moving forward.

Online:

http://www.thenewsenterprise.com

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May 31

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Obamacare being dangerous to health:

The road to hell is not only paved with good intentions, but with serious unintended consequences.

Let’s test this premise by examining a couple of recent revelations surrounding the Affordable Care Act.

A poll by the American College of Emergency Room Physicians revealed emergency room visits are rising since “Obamacare” was implemented.

How can this be? President Barack Obama and those who supported the Affordable Care Act assured Americans there would be fewer emergency room visits.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear made similar claims, although he was on target in noting that emergency rooms are “the most expensive place to get care.”

The reason emergency room visits are rising is related to a surge of people who became eligible for Medicaid under “Obamacare,” some 500,000 in Kentucky.

Because many physicians don’t take Medicaid patients because of that program’s low reimbursement rate, more people utilize emergency rooms for their health care needs.

Local hospitals are not immune to this unintended consequence. Both local hospitals report more people using the emergency room as their primary care outlet.

Now consider a recent headline from The (Louisville) Courier-Journal that read “ACA forcing cuts, layoffs in Kentucky, report says.”

The story below the headline expressed concerns of the Kentucky Hospital Association that member hospitals would have a net shortfall of $1 billion in revenue by 2020 as a result of losing more money under “Obamacare” than they gain in revenue as a result of the law’s expanded coverage.

Consider the implications of this shortfall.

The same Courier-Journal story reported 7,700 hospital staff cuts in the state, services shut down and some smaller hospitals, particularly in rural areas, facing concerns about their very survival.

What we take from all of this is that because of the unintended consequences of “Obamacare,” Kentuckians can see the perfect storm on their horizon.

In an emergency, when minutes can literally mean the difference between life and death, our citizens could arrive at an emergency room filled with more patients with fewer staff to attend them.

For a person who needs immediate emergency care from an auto accident, stroke or heart attack who must cross several county lines to get to a hospital because their county’s facility was forced to close, the prospect is even more grim.

Given all this, we believe it is entirely reasonable to require the “Obamacare” product to come with the following warning label: “Given the falsehoods surrounding this product and its unintended consequences, ‘Obamacare’ poses a risk not only to your wallet, but to your health and life as well.”

Online:

http://www.bgdailynews.com

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