Politicians never cease to amaze me. Yesterday, I was at an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the featured speaker. During his speech, he said that we do not face enemies only from the outside but that our enemies from the inside are just as bad. He specifically mentioned the IRS and Lois Lerner targeting people because of their positions on issues. His remarks were similar to those reported by the Texas Tribune from a speech he gave at a recent RedState gathering.
After his remarks, Abbott answered questions from the audience, one of which centered on the controversy over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups. Abbott used the topic to bring up a recent report that former IRS official Lois Lerner disparaged the South in emails related to the scandal.
“I got news for Lois Lerner: Lois Lerner needs to be wearing pinstripes,” Abbott said. “You know what they say — orange is the new black.”
(Read Abbott at RedState: Texas “Ground Zero” for Tea Party on TexasTribune.org)
This morning, the Houston Chronicle wrote an editorial about Gov. Abbott’s own version of the thought police, appropriately titled Dirty tricks?
In emails obtained by the Texas Tribune, the governor told aides he wanted to “see the financials” of Janda’s nonprofit Community Health Choice, an insurer affiliated with the Harris Health System. “I’m told by informed sources that most of these entities are rolling in dough,” Abbott wrote.
His policy director, Drew DeBerry, forwarded the petulant note to other aides, requesting that they compile information about the hospital system’s profits. “By engaging in this ridiculous editorial, this specific hospital has now put themselves on the list” of facilities whose finances the aides should review, DeBerry wrote.
(Read Dirty tricks? on HoustonChronicle.com)
Write an editorial with views different from our governor, get yourself and your firm on his hit list. That is utterly amazing.
And so very, very wrong.
What’s even worse is that when you read the source article for the Chron editorial, the hypocrisy of the governor seeps through your screen.
The governor’s skepticism about how big a financial hit Texas’ public hospitals are taking by caring for the state’s sizable uninsured population is a crucial consideration to a $17.6 billion problem Abbott inherited when he was elected last year.
That’s the size of a pot of mostly federal money — known as the uncompensated care pool — that for four years has reimbursed Texas’ safety-net hospitals for care they provide to people who cannot afford to pay. The Obama administration has made clear the future of that funding, which expires in September 2016, could be in jeopardy because of the state’s refusal to expand government health coverage to the poor through Medicaid.
Abbott has accused the Obama administration of “coercive tactics” in its method of doling out hospital funding. But emails obtained by The Texas Tribune show the governor and his advisers are actively pursuing negotiations with the feds about how to hold on to as much of that federal money as possible.
On July 15, Crawford, Abbott’s policy adviser, asked to have “an off-line conversation” with Traylor, the health commissioner, about the federal funding. She attached some talking points about the importance of the Medicaid waiver.
“Without supplemental payments, some private hospitals may eventually be forced to make the business decision to stop serving poor people,” she wrote. “This means the ‘safety net’ falls apart because there are not enough public hospitals in Texas to serve everyone.”
(Read Abbott Courting Feds for Health Care Money, Emails Show on TexasTribune.org)
It is becoming clearer and clearer that Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and other stalwart Republicans are correct when they insist that Texas should be expanding Medicaid if we want to meet the state’s healthcare needs.
Sad that it takes such hypocrisy from Gov. Abbott for me to see it.
And about that need to see Lois Lerner in pinstripes and orange is the new black comment? What’s good for the goose…