On Saturday, I speculated what David Humphreys’ denouncement of Jay Ashcroft was a prelude to. I received this note from his lobbyist, Jorgen Schlemeier…
“Dave, your assessment of David Humphreys’ statement is reading it through a political lens. He is neither attempting to remove himself from politics nor encourage an opponent to Ashcroft, but instead his intent is one of policy, which is to get the law changed. Jorgen”
Unsustainable Healthcare System… Dateline Poplar Bluff
Washington Post has a must-read article about average folks getting crushed by medical bills. It’s written from Poplar Bluff. See it here.
The people being sued arrived at the courthouse carrying their hospital bills, and they followed signs upstairs to a small courtroom labeled “Debt and Collections.” A 68-year-old wheeled her portable oxygen tank toward the first row. A nurse’s aide came in wearing scrubs after working a night shift. A teenager with an injured leg stood near the back wall and leaned against crutches.
By 9 a.m., more than two-dozen people were crowded into the room for what has become the busiest legal docket in rural Butler County…
So far this year, Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center has filed more than 1,100 lawsuits for unpaid bills in a rural corner of Southeast Missouri, where emergency medical care has become a standoff between hospitals and patients who are both going broke. Unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of personal debt and bankruptcy in the United States according to credit reports, and what’s happening in rural areas such as Butler County is a main reason why. Patients who visit rural emergency rooms in record numbers are defaulting on their bills at higher rates than ever before. Meanwhile, many of the nation’s 2,000 rural hospitals have begun to buckle under bad debt, with more than 100 closing in the past decade and hundreds more on the brink of insolvency as they fight to squeeze whatever money they’re owed from patients who don’t have it.
The result each week in Poplar Bluff, a town of 17,000, has become so routine that some people here derisively refer to it as the “follow-up appointment” — 19 lawsuits for unpaid hospital bills scheduled on this particular Wednesday, 34 more the following week, 22 the week after that. Case after case, a hospital that helps sustain its rural community is now also collecting payments that are bankrupting hundreds of its residents….
A billing manager from the hospital took the stand and said Poplar Bluff’s prices were in line with other hospitals in rural Missouri. She mentioned the high cost of providing care at rural hospitals, which must pay higher salaries in order to recruit doctors, nurses and specialists while also suffering more from federal cuts to Medicaid and Medicare compared with urban hospitals.
[Daniel] Moore began to question her about each charge on his client’s itemized receipt. Why, he asked, did it cost $800 to spend approximately 40 seconds with a doctor? Why was the hospital charging $211 for an oxygen sensor that was on sale for $16 at Walmart? Then Moore asked about three identical charges on the bill labeled “IV Push,” which each cost $365…
Lobbyist Brian Treece was re-elected as Columbia mayor less than six months ago, defeating former State Rep. Chris Kelly 64%-36%. It’s years now until the next mayor’s race, but Treece is having a $1,000-per-person fundraiser on Sept. 5 at the Columbia mansion of real estate mogul Otto Maly, co-hosted by former Mayor Bob Pugh and low-income tax credit titan Jeffrey Smith. See it here. The early to start fundraising has one observer wondering if Treece could be eyeing another office?
Late last week, Governor Mike Parson made appointments. The Missouri Housing Development Commission appointments will be watched closely, as that’s the apparatus through which Eric Greitens shut off the state low-income housing tax credits. The legislature failed to pass reforms last session, and some believe Team Parson is mulling an “administrative fix” to the issue.
· Larry Ferrell, of Cape Girardeau, was appointed to the Public Defender Commission.
· Gary Fuhr, of Imperial, was appointed to the Public Defender Commission.
· Garrick Hamilton, of St. Louis, was appointed to the Missouri Housing Development Commission.
· Tracey Lewis, of Kansas City, was appointed to the Missouri Housing Development Commission.
· Mel Tjeerdsma, of Maryville, was appointed to the Northwest Missouri State University Board of Regents.
· Robin Wenneker, of Columbia, was appointed to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.
· Michael Williams, of Kansas City, was appointed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators.
· Former Rep. Courtney Curtis formed a new LLC: Curtis Technology Group LLC.
· Looks like the bootheel is the part of Missouri most likely to face “water stress.” See the Washington Post map here.
· Springfield News Leader reports that College of the Ozarks was named “the nation's most conservative and LGBTQ-unfriendly campus” by Princeton Review. See it here.
Keep Government Accountable - $7,500 from Cynthia Metcalfe.
David Sweeney added TKFC; and deleted GCFC LLC.
Michael Anthony Williams added University of Missouri System.
Zach Wyatt-Gomez added Missouri Department of Revenue.
Happy birthdays to Rep. Donna Pfautsch, Tim O’Connell, and Mark Siettmann.