Writings and observations

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Legislative cottage-related contributions returned (Boise Statesman)
Indigent defense changes ahead (Nampa Press-Tribune)
Pocatello gay rights petition (Pocatello Journal)
Sheriffs officequit over lack of PERSI (TF Times News)
Elder abuse penalties would rise (TF Times News)
Hot springs may become aquaponic farm (TF Times News)

Snow storm turns icy (Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, KF Herald & News, Roseburg News Review)
Medford teacher negotiation still on (Medford Tribune)
Spotty work history for Cover Oregon exec (Portland Oregonian)
Trains stopping at intersections (Roseburg News Review)
Many ansentees at area schools (Portland Oregonian)
Salem YWCA alters name, purpose (Salem Statesman Journal)

Obstacles for Skykomish River mini-dam (Everett Herald)
Scale-back for health exchange (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Longview port tax increase reviewed (Longview News)
Root fungus may be taking hold in trees (Port Angeles News)
Tribal fishing Boldt ruling in review (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
Varied backgrounds for area homeless (Spokane Spokesman)
Pierce County property taxes rise (Tacoma News Tribune)
Ice storm replacing snow (Vancouver Columbian)
Developer: oil terminal would kill waterfront plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Arrival of stink bugs (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The latter half of last week was dominated by weather, some serious weather. Snow dumped hard on western Oregon, and across much of the Cascades and parts of eastern Oregon too.

The storms weren’t fierce (the snow wasn’t accompanied by much wind), but the sheer volume of snow was greater than the region had seen in five years. It was enough to shut down the Legislature, along with all sorts of other organizations – schools, universities, some businesses and a lot of what didn’t really have to be open.

As Oregon moves past that unexpected mass of weather this week, what will be most notable to watch will be … statistics.

Thing is, Oregon (and most of the west) has badly needed a lot more precipitation this winter than it has been getting. Look at this week’s snowpack chart (in the environment section), and you’ll find that while most all the basins around the state last year at this point were running about normal in terms of available water, this year they tend to be running about half as much – low enough that if the trends up to the last week or so maintains, Oregon could hit some serious drought this summer.

That conclusion isn’t foregone, though. There are meteorologists who think Oregon could have a wet spring, and that surely would help avert a bad case of the dries. So would some good snowfall now.
So watch the numbers on the chart this week, and then again next week. They could be something of a forecast of the months ahead.

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Oregon Oregon column

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Mountain lion killed near Boise (Boise Statesman)
Critiques of state, CCA agreement (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Clearwater Paper says Lewiston site important (Lewiston Tribune)
Review of Idaho, Washington gambling (Lewiston Tribune)
Dorn’s McCleary plan for school funds (Moscow News)
Bolz will opt out of legislature this year (Nampa Press Tribune)
Electric grid upgraded around Firth (Pocatello Journal)
Rural broadband support measure advances (Sandpoint Bee)

Heavy snow hits again (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, KF Herald & News, Corvallis Gazette Times)
County official says commissioners knew of changes (Eugene Register Guard)
Graduation rates assessed (Hermiston Herald, Ashland Tidings)
Bureau of Reclamation water management (KF Herald & News)
Local film festival leadership change (Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher strike day 2 (Medford Tribune)
Bates plans dredge mining rule changes (Medford Tribune)
PERS legislation and local budgets (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Energy mandate rules may change (Portland Oregonian)
Salem YWCA splits from national group (Salem Statesman Journal)

500 with low income get vouchers (Everett Herald)
Ads coming to state web sites (Everett Herald)
Shooing terns from Columbia islands (Kennewick Herald)
Grandview will do free summer school (Kennewick Herald)
More Bertha damage (Seattle Times)
Questioning if there were 700K at fest (Seattle Times)
Idaho trap snares Canadian lynx (Spokane Spokesman)
WA House members pay rises (Tacoma News Tribune)
Heavy snow again (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)

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Briefings

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Pardon the crystal ball gazing, but by next January Washington state’s senior U.S. Senator, Patty Murray, will become the next majority leader of the Senate, succeeding the acerbic Nevada Senator Harry Reid.

Most pundits will say this is two years premature, that Reid intends to be Majority (or Minority) Leader through 2016. That may well be in fact what happens. The dynamics of the 2014 mid-term elections, however, will change that and history will tap Senator Murray.

She will be the first female to hold that position, but then she has constantly surprised friends and befuddled critics since the Mom in Tennis Shoes first jumped from the Washington State Senate to the United States Senate.

First, full disclosure – I go back with the Senator to the very beginning when she declared against the ethically challenged incumbent Senator Brock Adams in the 1992 Democratic primary.

The Seattle P-I assigned a reporter to do a profile before the primary and thus it was I took a call and was asked why I was supporting her. Because of my long association with Cecil Andrus, and my subsequent work with Kaiser Aluminum as the v p for government affairs some in the media at least thought my support was noteworthy.

My response became the lead: “Patty Murray is the right person, in the right place at the right time with the right message and she’s going to win.” Over a dozen lobbyists and government affairs types called to ask me if I’d lost my marbles.

Besides being smart, and having the courage of her convictions, Senator Murray is a tenacious campaigner, and one who opponents and critics constantly underestimate. Their bodies are strewn across the political landscape.

Consider: she is one of only two members of the Senate ever to defeat four sitting members of Congress – in her 1992 primary she defeated Congressmen Don Bonker; in the general she defeated Congressman Rod Chandler . In 1998, she defeated Congresswoman Linda Smith, and in 2004 Congressman George Nethercutt.

One could make that five if you counted former congressman and senator, Brock Adams.

Senator Murray has many assets but one not often cited is the obvious capacity to grow into the various roles she has had to play, from chair of the Veterans Committee to twice running the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Today, with the seniority she has accumulated she is chair of the Budget committee and sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee as well as retaining her seat on Veterans Affairs.

She is also a member of the Senate Democratic leadership along with New York Senator Charles Schumer who will probably be her primary competitor once Reid announces he is stepping down. Let me be clear—Senator Murray will be called by the time and circumstances to ascend to a razor thin Majority leadership. She will not lead a coup against Senator Reid nor step over the body of Senator Schumer. Neither move is in her nature.

The caucus will turn to her because once again she will be the right person in the right place at the right time with the right message.

Senator Murray is a proven consensus builder. Exhibit A is the sterling work she and her staff (She has always had outstanding staff) displayed in working with Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan to achieve a bi-partisan Budget agreement between the House and Senate.

This ability to smooth troubled waters will be of critical importance for the simple reason that if the Democrats hold onto the Senate leadership it may only be by a one vote margin. The party that wins control could come down to Alaska Senator Mark Begich’s race the results of which may not be known for several days.

Party leadership, though, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, will recognize that to achieve any legislative success going into the 2016 presidential race will require a different style in the Majority Leader’s office and someone whom the Republicans can trust and respect. That’s Patty Murray, not Harry Reid or Charles Schumer.

Senator Murray’s ability to rally women behind Democratic candidates is well proven and thus she will also garner credit for the Democrats continuing to hold the Senate.

Another commendable attribute: she always remembers those that help her. She called just the other day to ask how I was doing with my health challenges and faring in retirement. We had a nice 10 minute chat.

And during my several hospitalizations while being treated for my cancer at Huntsman in Salt Lake City in 2006 invariably I’d get a hand-written note of encouragement from her. She’s going to be a great Majority Leader. You just watch. She’s the real deal in the surreal world inside the Beltway.

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Carlson Washington

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Tough to improve Fairview Avenue (Boise Statesman)
truckers propose field tax increase for roads (Lewiston Tribune)
Ethic inquiry on McMorris Rodgers (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Materne opens processing plant at Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa gets new women’s shelter (Nampa Press Tribune)
Yellowstone quake a hoax (Pocatello Journal)
Winter storm hits (Pocatello Journal)
Pocatello council on initiative on gay rights (Pocatello Journal)
Bonner Commissioner Bailey seeks another term (Sandpoint Bee)
Bill tries to nullify EPA (Sandpoint Bee)
Bill would set jail time for CAFO filming (TF Times News)
Jerome plans overhaul for wastewater treatment (TF Times News)
Bill would require medical treatment for children (TF Times News)

Winter hitting hard (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
School graduation percentages vary (Portland Oregonian, KF Herald & News, Pendleton East Oregonian)
Groundwater shutoffs discussed (KF Herald & News)
Cuts possible at Southern Oregon University (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Homeless center at Ashland (Ashland Tidings)
Medford school trike begins (Medford Tribune)
Corrections pays some workers for not working (Portland Oregonian)
Gun bill generates debate (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Everett College union lawsuit moves (Everett Herald)
Charges for more bikini baristas (Everett Herald)
Tri-Cities developer Young dies (Kennewick Herald)
Winter storm hits hard (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Lockdown at Clallam prison continues (Port Angeles News)
Seahawk parade sell phone use daunted system (Seattle Times)
Tesoro will increase rail car contingent (Vancouver Columbian)
Concurrance on replacing Zaepfel Stadium (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

At the end of 2013, United Van Lines checked moving tickets for the year and found the greatest percentage of people for whom the company hauled household goods went to one state. Oregon.

More than 61% of all interstate moves made in Oregon last year were for people coming from some other place. Lest you think this is some small sampling, the company tracked 129,000 trips in the country for the period. And Oregon topped the pack. Washington D.C. had led the list for the previous five years but – in 2013 – dropped to fourth,

Why Oregon? Why do so many folks want to come here? What is it about the place? What makes our real estate so desirable? Oh, lots of answers could be the Pacific Ocean, the Cascades, Mt. Hood, a good and varied climate, better environment, outdoor activities, cleaner water, better air quality and on and on,. You hear all those a lot.

My take is – as usual – different. I think people come here because we’ve “got our s*%t together.”

“Oh, Momma, look what he said!”

Well, it’s true. We do have it together. Especially politically. Compared to a couple dozen other states, we’re downright – rational. Oh, we’ve got some dim bulbs and political zeroes. One of them is actually the chairman of the Oregon Republican Party. But we’ve got him right out there on a stick where he can be seen so we know what foil-hat-idiocy he’s up to. That’s different. In North and South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas – especially Texas – residents have allowed them to go underground – into the legislatures and governor’s bedrooms. Real folks lost control.

But here – in Oregon – we’ve kept the system pretty balanced and most of the loonies penned up. When you think back a couple of years, we ran an evenly divided House of Representatives with dual Speakers from different parties and duplicate committee chairs and, all in all, it went very, very well. How many other states could do that today? The two major parties get along most of the time around here. That sort of sends messages to folks in other states that we’ve “got our s*%t together.”

“Good Lord, Momma. He said it again.”

And it’s still true. Nobody here is trying to stop “undesirables” from voting. Nobody here is living under legislated “uterus attacks.” The governor is not talking secession. We’re not drug-checking people who just happen to be unemployed at the moment for whatever reason. We’re not even making food stamp recipients take a leak in a bottle!

Idaho, for example, used to have a slogan: “Idaho is what American was” which they really can’t say anymore ‘cause the nation’s reddest state is falling further behind with an increasingly flat earth contingent that has pretty well contaminated government. Idahoans have lost control. Oregon’s Republicans and Democrats still “Howdy” each other and the state is better for that. “Oregon is still what it was,” I guess.

We, in Oregon, even vote differently than voters in most other states. By mail. And it works! The only fraud we’ve had in recent years was a couple of over-zealous office volunteers messing up a few ballots. We caught ‘em. I think they were escorted to the border. Idaho, maybe.

We’ve got a lot of clean industry percolating along in a relatively stable economy that’s the envy of lots of other states. Our tax base is stable. We’re welcoming to the retired who like our more moderate ways. We’ve got an education system that – for the most part – is the envy of others. We’re not on top but we’re a long way from the bottom. Just goin’ along.

With the possible exception of three or four Southwest Oregon counties, we value diversity. Not just because it makes things more colorful. But because it adds value to our economy. It’s good for business – our neighborhoods – our relationships with each other – and it works wonders when raising our kids.

I’m not surprised at the United Van Lines numbers. But I don’t think our attractiveness to outsiders is all the doing of the media advertising programs out of Salem. No, I think a lot of people want to come here because they don’t hear the name “Oregon” bandied about in negative media messages. Stories about racial profiling or purging unwanted minorities from voter registrations or a legislature hellbent on criminalizing lifestyles and personal choices. We aren’t known for sending little people to Congress wearing tin beanies who put chewing gum in the wheels of democracy. We have a relatively quiet and productive political system that usually functions as it should. We sort of hold to the moderate path in all things.

For folks from Oregon reading this in other places, I’d bet you miss the place and harbor some thoughts about eventually “coming home.” For others who aren’t firsthand familiar with the place, you’ll likely come on out for a visit one of these days. And when you do, there’s good chance you’ll like what you see. You might even call United Van Lines and make it permanent. ‘Cause we’ve got out s*%t together.”

“MOM!!!”

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Oregon Rainey

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Idaho State Police not investigating CCA (Boise Statesman)
Barbieri’s spending count way off (Boise Statesman)
DBSI finance trial begins (Boise Statesman)
Debate over ‘religious freedom’ bill (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
More profits for Clearwater Paper (Lewiston Tribune)
Regulators hit Syring home park at Moscow (Moscow News)
Pre-K pilot effort proposed at legislature (Moscow News)
Sex abuse charge at juvenile facility (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa school levy considered (Nampa Press Tribune)
Winter storm compning (Pocatello Journal, Sandpoint Bee)
Approval of Chubbuck events center (Pocatello Journal)
Power County may change utilities ordinance (Pocatello Journal)
Would be jumper not giving up (TF Times News)

School graduation rates varied (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette Times)
No money for climate hub at OSU (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Winter storm coming (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Corvallis Gazette Times)
Eugene schools still quiet on civic stadium (Eugene Register Guard)
Utility district funds rejected (KF Herald & News)
Klamath reviewing pot dispensary options (KF Herald & News)
Ashland still considering filing regs (Ashland Tidings)
Teachers at Medford on verge of strike (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Jacksonville may ban pot stores (Medford Tribune)
No bond measure for BMCC this year (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Stanfield’s new fee on utlity bills (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Teachers at Portland vote to strike (Portland Oregonian)
Video lottery public health issues (Portland Oregonian)
Nordstrom pulls out at Lloyd Center, Vancouver (Portland Oregnian)
Did Cover Oregon mislead feds? (Portland Oregonian)
Gun legislation arises (Salem Statesman Journal)

Boeing cost-cutting may be damaging itself (Everett Herald)
Quarter-mill donation for wine center at WSU-Tri (Kennewick Herald)
Annexation process bill dies at legislature (Kennewick Herald)
Seahawks celebration (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News, Port Angeles News)
Smelt dipping legal for a month (Longview News)
Jail levy could go to voters (Longview News)
Death of oldest member of Klallam Tribe (Port Angeles News)
Third day of Clallam corrections lockdown (Port Angeles News)
Idaho law may bar ‘revenge porn’ (Spokane Spokesman)
Nordstrom closes at Vancouver (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark considers effect of waiving fees (Vancouver Columbian)
Money possible for Yakima water projects (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

In 40 years of public service, one of the more egregious examples of government misconduct I witnessed was endured by Wallace McGregor, a Spokane businessman, geologist and entrepreneur. Now in his 80’s, he is decency, honesty and tenacity personified.

His fortitude is inspiring; and, the callous disregard displayed by the National Park Service for he and his partners’ valid property rights is deplorable. They have been victimized by an uncompensated taking, pure and simple.

It is a cautionary tale inasmuch as it could all too easily happen to any citizen who inadvertently gets in the way of an agency of the federal government that chooses to operate as a rogue elephant and a law unto itself.

Wally’s case is a classic example of “no good deed goes unpunished.” The origin of this unbelievable account was their recognition that a valid, proven up patented mining claim containing literally billions of dollars worth of copper, silver and gold was better off not being developed. Their 360 plus acres ended up within the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park created by the Alaska National Interest Lands and Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980. They accepted the higher and better use Congress opted for by placing their Orange Hill claim and surrounding area into a National Park.

They expected the Park Service would commence negotiations that would result in a reasonable buy out of their in holding, one that would reflect their investment and some modest return on that investment. By no means were they asking for an exorbitant amount, but rather a reasonable return on a modest investment and recognition of their valid property right. If they made a “mistake,” it was not filing a Mine operating plan.

They reasoned why engage in a charade when they acknowledged the higher and better national interest determined by Congress. They never dreamed 30 years later they would still be subjected to what can only be described as unconscionable shuck and jiving, obfuscation, outright lies and legal wrangling all designed to outwait Wally and his partners.

Governor Andrus calls it “hornswoggling.” He even wrote a letter to the then Interior Secretary Ken Salazar suggesting that the secretary could resolve this conflict by ordering the Park Service to engage in an “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR) process. Salazar refused to do so.

The NPS may have succeeded in ignoring one man’s property right, but in a larger sense it is coming at a cost – loss of public faith and confidence in the agency – that is the sine qua non of any government agency.

The one reservation Andrus had about the Alaskan lands debate even in the late 1970’s was putting the National Park Service in charge of land management.

During a 10 day media tour of the proposed Alaska national interest lands he led in the summer of 1979 he shared his reservations with Craig Medred, a reporter for the Juneau Southeast Alaska Empire newspaper. He told Craig it might be best to designate most of the areas as parts of the nation’s wilderness system instead of the park system, the difference being that Andrus thought the Forest Service did a much better job of incorporating itself into communities and working with local interests than did the Park Service.

Governor Andrus foresaw the beginnings of an elitist attitude that has arrived in full force today with the NPS often acting in an arrogant, high handed manner, especially with its neighbors in the parks within Alaska.

It is with dismay he reviews accounts of the rude manner in which the agency treated Wally and his partners. It is with dismay he reads accounts of NPS police descending upon some poor Alaska gyppo miner with pistols drawn and rifles pointed.

Somewhere along the way the NPS lost its direction about its role in serving the public in a way that both protects the environment for future generations to enjoy and respects the constitutional rights we all have as citizens of the United States.

Andrus takes a back seat to no one in the fight to protect the crown jewels of the park system, as he dubbed them, but the record also shows that wherever there were valid proven up mineral rights and mine plans showing intent to develop, Andrus and his staff cooperated in establishing access corridors for those valid claims if owners preferred development to purchase of the valid property right.

When our government, or any agency of it, starts trampling on one of the rights almost unique to America, but a right clearly responsible for helping our capitalist system to grow and prosper, and a right not nearly as recognized and respected throughout the rest of the world, we have incontestably started down the path of decline and decay.

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Carlson

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Tract near library may be developed (Boise Statesman)
Farm bill helping forests (Boise Statesman)
Counties on who pay for indigent health (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow considers pedestrian routes, disabled (Moscow News)
80 mph speed limits? (Pocatello Journal)
Keough wants boating act revised (Sandpoint Bee)
Tablets in jail (TF Times News)
Schools getting set up for wireless (TF Times News)
More debate over Snake canyon jump (TF Times News)

Benton County cracks down on e-cigs (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Regional climate center set for Corvallis (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Parking plan draws outrage (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Independent board for OIT? (KF Herald & News)
Drought called for Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Ashland monitors drought conditions (Ashland Tidings)
Viral hit on Ashland ISP (Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher battle goes critical (Medford Tribune)
Medford might expand sports park (Medford Tribune)
Abuse at Eagle Point school, legal settlement (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton discusses drone tests (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Bill to end some chemical in child products (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon cub removed from endangered list (Portland Oregonian)

Bed bugs at Snohomish work center (Everett Herald)
Former school chief gets reprimand (Kennewick Herald)
Kelso considers drug shelters (Longview News)
Clallam corrections continues lockdown (Port Angles News)
Clallam hearings examiner named (Port Angeles News)
Elk deaths tagged to infection (Port Angeles News)
Microsoft’s new CEO reviewed (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune)
New police contract released (Spokane Spokesman)
Avista seeks higher rates (Spokane Spokesman)
Boeing South Carolina work said incomplete (Tacoma News Tribune)
Special transportation session proposed (Vancouver Columbian)
Farm bill helps Yakima area crops (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

On a tribal bulletin board this week these chilling words were posted: “Due to budget issues, Contract Health Service will be on Priority One until further notice.”

Why are these words frightening? It means the underfunded local unit of the Indian Health Service is out of money on an important line item. It means that unless your illness is serious — threatening life or limb — you will have to wait.

Sometimes that wait can be deadly. And it’s wrong. It reflects a system that is out of balance and the consequences are life threatening to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

A couple of years ago, at a Senate hearing, a story was told about a heart attack patient who was left on a gurney with a note taped on her thigh that read: “If you admit this person, understand we’re out of contract health care money. Do it at your risk.”

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is supposed to eliminate this underfunding. The complicated mechanism is designed to increase the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives with basic insurance, Medicaid, tribal insurance, or a policy from a marketplace exchange, money that then goes into the Indian health system directly. The Affordable Care Act is designed to substantially increase third-party billing, a revenue stream that does not require appropriation from Congress. And, I should add, a revenue stream that could add a couple of billion dollars to the Indian health system. Full funding … in theory.

So what’s the problem? Why is there a bulletin board warning patients that’s there is not enough money?

The main reason is that critics of the Affordable Care Act are determined to make certain that this law is a wreck. Instead of figuring how to make it so, many so-called leaders are working overtime to tank every aspect of the act.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said it was time to “recognize reality” and “deal with the people that are currently covered under Obamacare.”

But that was then. Now three Republican senators, Richard Burr (N.C.), Tom Coburn, (Okla.), and Orrin Hatch (Utah), are launching a campaign to start the debate all over, promoting a “replacement” plan for Obamacare. That plan would make it even more difficult to fund the Indian health system. “Under our proposal, restrictions that limit the ability for veterans, service members, and individuals receiving care through the Indian Health Service would be removed in order to ensure that these individuals also have the ability to benefit from health savings accounts in managing their health care needs and expenses,” according to the plan.

This bill would also repeal the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. And treaty rights? Gone. Unfunded.

That Republican bill will go no where as long as President Obama (or another Democrat) is in office. But a second, more serious, threat to the law is occurring in state capitals across the country. The way the law was drafted, the primary funding vehicle was to expand Medicaid to buy insurance for people who are currently uninsured. (According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, that’s one-in-three American Indians and Alaska Natives.)

The federal government made this a good deal for the states: Paying all of the cost for the first three years and nearly all of the cost after that. Half the states have said “no.” Republicans are using this as their line in the sand again Obamacare.

A study published last week in Health Affairs said that this approach has serious consequences, the failure of Medicaid expansion will result in premature deaths. “We predict that many low-income women will forego recommended breast and cervical cancer screening; diabetics will forego medications, and all low-income adults will face a greater likelihood of depression, catastrophic medical expenses, and death,” the study reported. “Disparities in access to care based on state of residence will increase. Because the federal government will pay 100 percent of increased costs associated with Medicaid expansion for the first three years (and 90 percent thereafter), opt-out states are also turning down billions of dollars of potential revenue, which might strengthen their local economy.”

The study’s authors, Sam Dickman, David Himmelstein, Danny McCormick, and Steffie Woolhandler, charted the number of uninsured who would miss out on treatment and estimated a range of potential early deaths, some 7,000 to 17,000 across the country. Many of the “no” states have large American Indian and Alaska Native populations. Roughly half the Indian health system is in states without Medicaid expansion.

Conservatives are already discounting the Health Affairs report. Chris Conover counters: “I can state with great confidence that the authors have grossly overestimated any mortality gains to be had from Medicaid expansion.”

But in neither study was there data or anecdotes about tribal communities with a bulletin board post warning patients that the clinic is out of money.

Mark Trahant is the 20th Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is a journalist, speaker and Twitter poet and is a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Comment on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TrahantReports

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Trahant